Parsnip, cranberry & chestnut loaf

Parsnip, cranberry & chestnut loaf

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(30 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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10th Oct, 2013
I have a very fussy vegetarian fiancé and I've made this for him for the past two Christmases. The first time I used cranberry jelly from a jar instead of making my own and I didn't fiddle around so much with the parsnips, I also only lined the tin at the bottom instead of lining the whole tin and found that some of it got stuck. The second time I made it, I stuck closer to the recipe and lined the whole tin and it came out brilliantly. Although my partner is the only vegetarian in my family, the loaf was entirely demolished by the end of the day, everybody loved it and I'm certainly thinking of making it for the third year on the run. :)
27th Feb, 2013
Really nice and suitably festive as a veggie alternative at the Christmas Day table . . . I overlooked the parsnips a little in an attempt to crisp them up to add a bit of colour to the top layer but didnt spoil it at all. I'll definitely make this again as it was well liked by all.
8th Feb, 2013
Fabulous recipe, really special and very tasty. Great alternative to meat for special occasions or you could serve it as a very posh accompaniment with meat/poultry/game.
1st Jan, 2013
I was very disappointed with this recipe as it was fiddly to make, took nearly 3 hours in total (not 1.5 & 30 mins prep time) and the parsnips ended up soggy. As I was making this for Christmas dinner, I'm glad I made my trusted nut roast alongside this or we'd have had the vegetarians at our dinner very disappointed. I would have categorised it as Moderate or Moderately difficult definitely not easy. However, I will persevere with it and try it again! Also, where does one buy Mace from? I live in London and couldn't find it anywhere!
9th Dec, 2012
Could you use premade cranberry sauce for this? Seems like extra hassle/not sure if I'll be able to find cranberries...
22nd Nov, 2012
I tried this out as a potential for vegetarian Christmas dinner as it looks good in the picture. I made the suggested amendments (2 eggs, substitute handful of mushrooms for some of the breadcrumbs) & it just held together. But flavour was disappointing. Family ate it all, but not enthusiastic. They said it tasted too much like stuffing mix. I think that might be on account of the large quantities of sage & onion & perhaps I over-processed the mix a bit too much in endeavour to ensure it stuck together. Don't know why it's categorised as easy when cutting thin parsnip slices from hot veg is a bit fiddly. We won't be having this at Christmas - want something more exciting flavour wise.
4th Nov, 2012
Made this last year for Christmas, then again for a family party in the new year. Everyone voted it delicious. Leftovers froze well too.
30th Dec, 2011
Um, I made this for Christmas day, dividing mixture between two 450 ml loaf tins which is what I have. tasted great, added the recommended (thanks) 2 eggs and some mushrooms. All held together a bit but at one end parsnip layer and some mix stayed stuck in the tin so it didn't look quite like the picture. Wondered if lining all sides of tin would help rather than just long strip? I did it for an hour covered with foil then 15 mins without, and am trying freezing one loaf tin's worth.
30th Dec, 2011
Yummy! I made this for my xmas lunch (everyone else is a carnivore) and I really enjoyed it, I have frozen the rest for future use. Unfortunately I had already made cranberry sauce so I did have too much cranberry sauce so I have frozen that as well......fingers crossed. The loaf was fiddly but easy to make and did look and taste festive on the day.
28th Dec, 2011
I made this for Christmas day for my vegetarian guests. It looked great on the table and was enjoyed by everyone including the meat eaters! I made it about 3 weeks in advance and froze it - this worked really well and was a real bonus when preparing a celebration meal for 12. I took the loaf out the night before to thaw and put it back in the tin then reheated it in the oven at 180 for 30 - 45 minutes before turning it out onto the serving dish. I will certainly do this again - easy to prepare, freezes well, looked great and enjoyed by all!


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