Parsnip, cranberry & chestnut loaf

Parsnip, cranberry & chestnut loaf

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(31 ratings)

Prep: 30 mins Cook: 1 hr, 30 mins


Serves 4 - 6
A modern take on the nut loaf, this makes a great vegetarian centrepiece for Christmas Day or a special dinner

Nutrition and extra info

  • Vegetarian


  • kcal819
  • fat36g
  • saturates11g
  • carbs117g
  • sugars71g
  • fibre15g
  • protein14g
  • salt0.86g
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  • 4 tbsp butter, plus a little extra for greasing



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 3 onions, chopped



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 15g pack sage, 6 leaves reserved, rest shredded



    Popular in both Italian and British cookery, sage has long, grey-green leaves with a slightly…

  • 200g pack cooked chestnut



    'Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...' that kitsch old Nat King Cole song perfectly…

  • 100g walnut



    Walnuts are one of the most popular and versatile of all nuts. When picked young, they're…

  • 100g breadcrumb
  • ½ tsp mace
  • 1 egg, beaten



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…

  • 500g cranberry


    A tart, ruby-red coloured berry which grows wild on shrubs throughout northern Europe and North…

  • 175g caster sugar
  • 550g parsnip, choose long, thin ones if you can, peeled then halved lengthways



    The fact that the parsnip is a member of the carrot family comes as no surprise - it looks just…

  • 1 tbsp honey



    Honey is made by bees from the nectar they collect from flowers. Viscous and fragrant, it's…


  1. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a large non-stick pan, add the onions and gently cook for 10-15 mins until very soft. Stir in the sage for 1 min, then tip into a large mixing bowl. Pulse the chestnuts in a food processor until chopped into small bits, then tip these into the bowl with the onions and repeat with the walnuts. Now add the breadcrumbs, mace, beaten egg, 1 tsp salt and some pepper and mix everything together well.

  2. Tip the cranberries and sugar into a pan and simmer for about 8-10 mins over a high heat. The sugar will melt and cranberries will pop and become saucy – keep bubbling until sticky. Set aside to cool. Grease a 900g loaf tin, line with a long strip of baking parchment that covers the bottom and two ends, then grease this as well.

  3. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Throw in the parsnips and boil for 3½ mins. Drain well. From the thinner ends, cut off lengths of parsnip that fit widthways across the bottom of your loaf tin. Keep going until you have enough to snugly line the base of the tin. Roughly chop all leftover parsnip and mix into the nut mixture.

  4. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Mix the parsnip lengths with 1 more tbsp butter and the honey to coat, then fit them into the tin. Top with ¹/³ of the nut mixture – pack it down well and smooth the surface. Spread ¹/³ of the cranberry sauce on top, leaving a small gap around the edges. Top with the remaining nut mixture and pack down as before. The loaf can be made up to 24 hrs ahead, then covered and chilled, before continuing. Cover with foil then bake for 1 hr.

  5. To serve, melt the remaining 2 tbsp butter in a small pan and sizzle the reserved sage leaves for a minute. Splash water into the remaining cooked cranberries until saucy. Loosen around the sides of the loaf with a round-bladed knife if you need, then turn out. Drizzle with the sage butter and leaves. Serve in slices with extra cranberry sauce.

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Comments, questions and tips

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30th Dec, 2016
The end result was very tasty, but it was very crumbly as mentioned previously, so didn't quite end up as the picture. It also took me much longer than 30 minutes to prepare.
9th Jan, 2016
This just didn't work for me at all, used all the tips in the comments but it just fell apart when serving it up. I had enough mixture for 2 so I cooked the next one uncovered to see if that might work better but it just went to a dark horrible mush. I did as someone suggested and had it as a pate with some crackers but that was about all it was fit for!
31st Dec, 2014
I've cooked this a few times now. It's always a hit and I am often asked for the recipe - no greater accolade! Highly recommended.
26th Dec, 2014
Looks and tastes fabulous! In a rush, I didn't follow the instructions properly and mixed the cranberry sauce in with the nuts & parsnips, so it didn't have the nice stripe when I cut into it, but it stayed together well and definitely no bitterness which is what the reviewer before me commented on , so maybe not such a bad thing
26th Dec, 2014
This was a hit! I took the advice and added an extra egg, sprayed the loaf pan, and used parchment paper to cover the bottom and all sides, and it stuck together perfectly and looked beautiful. I only used one onion because it was huge. I also roasted my own chestnuts, which apparently you have to really watch them. I recommend taking them out a couple minutes after you start to smell the aroma as over half of mine burned (but the wonderful aroma had just gone away a couple minutes before). I didn't have any more, so I added cashews to make up for it, and it was delicious. I also sliced my parsnips in quarter-inch strips and fit them in the pan before boiling. Didn't have caster sugar, so I used organic cane sugar, and the cranberries were delish! I'll definitely make this again.
3rd Dec, 2014
I obviously did something wrong as mine tasted horrible and bitter. By the previous comments I'm tempted to try again but not sure where it went wrong.
25th Dec, 2013
I never leave comments on recipes, but I really wanted to express how thrilled I am with this dish! I took a chance and made it for Christmas Eve dinner without ever trying it before and fed it to a crowd of meat-loving folk (major pressure!). Everyone loved and raved about it! I made it vegan by substituting 2 flax eggs (2 TBSP ground flax + 6 TBSP water mixed and let sit for a minute to thicken) for the 1 large egg called for since a few people expressed that 2 eggs were needed to properly bind. The butter was replaced with Earth Balance (an awesome vegan butter we have here in Canada). Also, I made this recipe gluten-free by substituting the bread crumbs for gluten-free rice based ones found in a local health food store. I also took the advice to slice the parsnips and cut them to size before boiling them and pressing the final mixture in the loaf pan very firmly. It came out beautifully and held it's form very well. This recipe is definitely going into the archives for future holiday dinners and is fairly easy to make. Thank you so much for sharing!
20th Dec, 2013
Just made this for a Christmas eve dinner with my veggie family. Going to serve with the red wine veggie gravy on here, roast pots and veg. So easy to make and smells divine. I have added an extra egg after reading the comments here. I plan to let it cool and then freeze it so I dont have to think about Christmas eve dinner and I can focus on christmas day dinner instead! Easy! Just got to remember to get it out of the freezer!
sassassassas's picture
20th Dec, 2013
I feel some of the comments about this recipe are a little unfair! Its super tasty, looks stunning and is very easy. It seems people have two key issues: preparing the parsnips and making sure it doesn't fall apart. For the parsnips, prepare them in the right shape for the bottom of the tin before you cook them - quicker, easier and makes no difference to the end result. To keep it together, use a large egg, mix well, and then press down really, really, really well! Line the tin every which way you can and it will turn out nicely and look beautiful.
17th Nov, 2013
Made this today as a trial for Christmas Day. Stuck to recipe apart from using dried sage rather than fresh. Google said to divide the quantity by 3 when using dried, so I used about 5g. Seemed like a lot but it turned out great! Also, I couldn't find cooked chestnuts so I roasted my own. Next time I will use an extra egg (mine was fine until it came to slicing it!!) and will roast the parsnips for appearance. Tasted great!


7th Dec, 2016
Can you make ahead and freeze and if so any good tips for doing it successfully? Thanks
goodfoodteam's picture
9th Dec, 2016
For best results, we don't suggest freezing this one. We do however have a number of freezable nut loaves, like this fennel & chestnut loaf, a Persian pilaf nut roast and this mushroom nut roast. We hope one of these appeals.
12th Nov, 2016
Does this loaf freeze?
goodfoodteam's picture
15th Nov, 2016
Thanks for your question. We do not recommend freezing this dish but it can be made up to 24 hours ahead.
21st Dec, 2013
can I freeze the parsnip cranberry and chestnut loaf?
Zeno of Elea
29th Dec, 2016
Replace the processed sugar in the sauce with 1 peeled juiced orange and 1tblsp of honey. Also added 1tsp of Marmite to the nut mix. Went down a treat as a Christmas Turkey alternative. Nice hot, but better cold.
21st Dec, 2013
Do not even think about cooking your own chestnuts unless you happen to be at one with the little brown things. 300g uncooked turned into 175g cooked and after over an hour of painstaking effort I was not going to make any more! Those round brown demons will haunt my nightmares...