Discover the ease of the holidays with our guide on how to prepare Christmas dinner in advance. Take the stress out of Christmas morning and spread the work and some of the food costs by preparing your festive favourites well in advance. Our classic, make-ahead Christmas recipes are all freezable and can be simply reheated on the big day. Savour the holiday spirit without the fuss, a pre cooked Christmas dinner is ready to serve and sure to impress.


Find all the essentials, from roast potatoes, Yorkies and stuffing, to mince pies and Christmas cake. These ten easy recipes can be made fully or partly in advance, then frozen or stored in the fridge, helping you to dive into the holiday cheer with a pre-made Christmas dinner.

We've also created a Christmas cooking timeline that tells you what to make when in the lead-up to the big day.

If you're looking for more practical advice and recipe ideas to help you get organised this Christmas, see our freezable Christmas recipe collection, plus read our guides on make-ahead Christmas desserts and make-ahead Christmas starters.

Christmas pudding in a ceramic bowl with greaseproof paper

Make-ahead Christmas cooking timeline

Up to three months ahead (September-October):

More like this

• Make, keep, and feed the Christmas cake

• Make, keep, and feed a classic Christmas pudding

• Make and freeze gravy

Up to one month before (November-December):

• Prepare and freeze mince pies

• Prepare and freeze roast potatoes

• Prepare and freeze stuffing

• Prepare and freeze pigs in blankets

• Cook and freeze Yorkshire puddings

• Make and freeze bread sauce

Up to a week before:

• Make and keep the cranberry sauce

10 classic make-ahead Christmas recipes

1. Make & mature Christmas cake

Christmas pudding in baking parchment with a spoon on top

This traditional festive fruitcake is best made well in advance, and can be fed regularly with brandy, sherry, whisky or rum. Traditionally baked on Stir-up Sunday (the last Sunday before Advent), this cake just gets better the longer it has to soak up the flavours and develop a moist, rich texture.

Try more Christmas cake recipes.

2. Easy mince pies


Nothing says Christmas like a freshly-baked mince pie, and these pretty pastries are sure to impress. Fill melt-in-the-mouth shortcrust pastry with our zesty homemade mincemeat and pop in the freezer up to a month ahead, ready to be baked from frozen at a moment's notice.

Unbelievably easy mince pies recipe

Discover more mince pies.

3. Golden roast potatoes

Roast potatoes in a dish

Don't spend time peeling potatoes on Christmas morning – this hearty side can be made up to a month in advance, so you can relax and enjoy the festive fun. Par-boil then freeze for crispy spuds nobody will guess weren't made on the day.

4. Super-simple cranberry sauce

Cranberry sauce in a ramekin

Tasty trimmings make all the difference with your roast. This classic cranberry sauce requires just three ingredients, and can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.

Try more cranberry sauce recipes.

5. Best ever Yorkshire puddings

Four Yorkshire puddings

Don't disappoint with droopy Yorkies – get a perfect rise with our light and fluffy make-ahead puds. Using only four ingredients, this recipe couldn't be easier and can be frozen for up to a month.

Check out more Yorkshire puddings.

6. Pigs in blankets with a twist

Sausages wrapped in bacon on a baking tray

Turkey beware – this meaty side-dish might just steal the show! Give classic pigs in blankets a twist by adding dried fruit and mustard for a delicious kick. Wrap your sausages with streaky bacon and freeze. On the day, bake until sizzling and golden, then sit back and watch them disappear as soon as they hit the table.

Find more pigs in blankets recipes.

7. Make-ahead gravy

Gravy boat filled with gravy

Homemade gravy beats shop-bought sauce no matter the time of year – and on Christmas Day, this recipe will take your roast to the next level. Keep for up to three days in the fridge or freeze for up to three months. When you heat to serve, add the roasting juices from your turkey for a luxurious finishing touch.

For a veggie alternative, try our make-ahead madeira gravy.

8. Sautéed salted red cabbage with cranberries

Sauteed red cabbage with cranberries on a blue serving dish

Inject some vibrant colour and fruity flavour into your Christmas Day dinner with this tasty veggie side. Pop in the fridge for up to two days.

See more red cabbage recipes.

9. Sausage & Bramley stuffing

Sausage & Bramley stuffing loaf on a grey serving board

This sausage stuffing is packed with festive flavours, combining classic sage and onion with Bramley apples. Prepare two-three days ahead if you have room in the fridge, or up to two months ahead if you're planning to freeze.

Check out more Christmas stuffing recipes.

10. Butterscotch Christmas pudding

Christmas pudding topped with butterscotch sauce and nuts

Finish your feast the traditional way with a fruit-filled steamed pud, topped with butterscotch sauce and mixed nuts. Make early to allow the festive flavours to mingle – keep in the fridge for three days, or in the freezer for two to three weeks.

Discover more of our Christmas pudding recipes.

Want more tips to get ahead?

Top tips for freezing food
Make-ahead Christmas desserts
Freezing food at Christmas
Top 10 Christmas canapés you can make ahead
Christmas menu ideas
Christmas dinner ideas


When do you start preparing for Christmas? Share your top tips for getting ahead in the comments below...

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