14 best vegan Christmas dinner essentials, from meat-free mains to plant-based puddings

·15-min read
These plant-based options are both tasty and hassle-free (iStock/The Independent)
These plant-based options are both tasty and hassle-free (iStock/The Independent)

The past few years has seen a step change in attitudes towards veganism, with campaigners, politicians and scientists alike shining a light on the benefits of a plant-based diet.

One in four Britons has reduced the amount of animal products they consume since the start of the pandemic, with health and the environment among the main drivers. That means hundreds of people could be about to have their first vegan Christmas.

For those used to turkey and all the trimmings followed by Christmas pud with lashings of cream and a laden cheese board, the shift can seem drastic – at first. That is until you discover the vegan Christmas dinner alternatives out there. Theres everything from beautiful starters, spectacular meat-free centrepieces and gorgeously indulgent puddings to enjoy before vegging out in front of the Queen’s speech.

We can guarantee that you won’t struggle to find the perfect vegan Christmas dinner foods with such an array of delicious products on supermarket shelves. In fact, the only challenge you may need to prepare for is having to explain veganism to your gran and arming yourself with a cache of comebacks when your great uncle asks, “But where do you get your protein?”

How we tested

We’ve done the legwork to compile a bumper round-up of the best vegan Christmas dinner foods available in the run-up to the big day. We’ve included options for each course, from the starter to the cheese board, and for different palates – even those who prefer an alternative to the traditional roast.

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Everything included has been taste-tested by our guinea pigs, who were lucky enough to have already enjoyed several Christmas dinners before we even reached the month of December. In testing, we evaluated a range of factors, including the price of the products, ease of preparation, portion sizes, aesthetics and, chiefly, taste. All you need to do is stock up and get in the mood for a festive meat-free feast.

The best vegan Christmas mains for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Waitrose & Partners vegan jewelled roast with a fruity centre: £9, Waitrose.com

  • Best starter – Morrisons vegan smoked salmon and cream cheese starter: £5, My.morrisons.com

  • Best turkey alternative – Aldi plant menu no turkey crown with vegan bacon: £4.69, Groceries.aldi.co.uk

  • Best vegan wellington – Morrisons the best vegan vegetable wellington: £5, My.morrisons.com

  • Best indulgent vegan roast – Vegusto vegi-roast with no-moo: £9.99, Greenbaysupermarket.co.uk

  • Best Christmas ham alternative – Sainsbury’s plant pioneers no gammon with maple glaze: £15, Sainsburys.co.uk

  • Best lazy vegan Christmas dinner – Tesco finest vegan Christmas dinner box for two: £35, Tesco.com

  • Best vegan alternative Christmas dinner – Vorrei Italian hampers vegan Christmas lunch with organic prosecco: £89, Ethikel.com

  • Best vegan stuffing – Aldi specially selected vegan sage and onion stuffing balls: £1.99, Groceries.aldi.co.uk

  • Best vegan Christmas dinner trimmings – M&S plant kitchen vegan selection: £25, Christmasfood.marksandspencer.com

  • Best condiment – Tracklements cranberry, port and orange sauce le parfait: £5.95, Russellsbutchers.com

  • Best light dessert – Waitrose & Partners vegan winter pudding: £5, Waitrose.com

  • Best vegan cheese board – Applewood and Ilchester vegan festive cheese selection: £6.75, Thevegankind.com

  • Best vegan mince pies – Oggs 4 luxury handmade mince pies: £2.50, Ocado.com

Waitrose & Partners vegan jewelled roast with a fruity centre

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

If you can’t bring jewels to the dining table at Christmas, when can you? And this stunning centrepiece is a sure-fire way to dazzle all, whether they are vegan or not, with gems galore. The vegan roast is mushroom based for a surprisingly meaty texture, and the earthy, savoury flavours are complimented wonderfully by sweet fruits, nuts and seeds that add a satisfying chewy, crunchy bite. Running through the centre is a delicious clove-spiced apricot centre.

Our tester found it easy to prepare (simply bake in the oven) and enjoyed it with non-vegan family members – including a meat-loving four-year-old – who gobbled it up with gusto. This hearty roast serves four people, with each getting a decent portion, which is not at all bad for under £10.

Buy now £9.00, Waitrose.com

Morrisons vegan smoked salmon and cream cheese starter

Best: Starter

Rating: 9.5/10

We’ve all seen those elegant dishes that we wish we could recreate at home, but would likely struggle to present something even remotely similar. This visually striking and tastebud-pleasing vegan starter is one of them, except no assembly or preparation is required – all the arduous work has been done for you.

Arranged in two clear plastic bowls are ribbons of cured carrot, cubed potatoes, capers and roquito red pepper pearls, all sitting atop a creamy, cheesy, herby base. The carrots, with their robust smoky taste, are an excellent plant-based alternative to smoked salmon and the capers and peppers add a piquancy that cuts through the creaminess for a well-rounded starter. The dishes are available in packs of two, one per person.

Buy now £5.00, My.morrisons.com

Aldi plant menu no turkey crown with vegan bacon

Best: Turkey alternative

Rating: 9.5/10

For something that resembles a traditional Christmas turkey crown, this vegan alternative is a great match. It comes wrapped in realistic-looking streaky bacon and is rolled around a cranberry and chestnut stuffing. The vegan turkey has one of the best plant-based meat textures we’ve tasted – it is pleasantly firm and not at all slippery – and the smoky bacon further enhances the meaty flavour. The stuffing, meanwhile, has texture and a delightful balance of sweet and earthy flavours.

Also, cooking this roast couldn’t be easier: put it in a hot oven for just an hour, and it’s ready for serving up with all the trimmings. We recommend serving up to three hungry diners or four with smaller appetites. The turkey crown is not available just yet, but we expect you can place your orders soon enough.

Buy now £4.69, Aldi.co.uk

Morrisons the best vegan vegetable wellington

Best: Vegan wellington

Rating: 8.5/10

A well-made beef wellington can be an impressive addition to the Christmas dinner table, but they are entirely un-vegan friendly. That is unless you order in this beautiful alternative from Morrisons that is suitable for vegans. Running through the centre is a firm chicken-style meat alternative, wrapped in an earthy, nutty mix of chestnut duxelles and vegetables, which tastes a little like a traditional stuffing. Dotted throughout are juicy cranberries and apricots, which add sweetness, while wholegrain mustard brings a delicate acidity.

Our tester brushed the wellington with plant-based milk before baking to create a glistening pastry, and we love the leaf design on the top. This serves three, with each getting a generous portion.

Buy now £5.00, My.morrisons.com

Vegusto vegi-roast with no-moo

Best: Indulgent vegan roast

Rating: 8/10

We were most intrigued by this vegan roast. In the packaging, it looked a little like a formed meat product. But after a bake in the oven, it becomes a juicy, flavourful joint. Slicing reveals a delicious meat alternative, which has a light almost sausage meat-like flavour and texture, laced with herbs. Inside is a creamy, oozy vegan cheese centre layered with carrot. It’s like an indulgent vegan kiev.

We loved how quick and easy this was to prepare and cook – it needs less than half an hour in the oven – but would recommend basting with a good vegan stock to keep the outside moist. We’d urge anyone with leftovers to slice it thinly for a fantastic vegan turkey sandwich. This roast is perfect for three hungry diners and is suitable for freezing.

While it’s currently out of stock, you can sign-up to receive an email notification the second it’s back so that you can bring this delight to your dinner table.

Buy now £9.99, Greenbaysupermarket.co.uk

Sainsbury’s plant pioneers no gammon with maple glaze

Best: Christmas ham alternative

Rating: 7/10

Sainsbury’s wins the prize for innovation this Christmas. We’ve never seen anything that looks quite so convincing as this no gammon joint. It’s made from wheat and pea protein and features realistic score marks on the top, which becomes fabulously glossy when baked with its sticky maple glaze. The texture is firm, incredibly “meaty” and is marbled with what looks like the fat you’d see in a real ham, which was not something all our testers loved.

It has the saltiness of a traditional gammon, and the flavour is sweet and smoky, but if you don’t like the texture and taste of real meat, then this is one to avoid. But we appreciate the creativity and novelty of a vegan Christmas ham alternative. This no-gammon will be available online from 9 December.

Buy now £15.00, Sainsburys.co.uk

Tesco finest vegan Christmas dinner box for two

Best: Lazy vegan Christmas dinner

Rating: 8/10

The mere thought of knocking up a full spread on Christmas day is enough for some rookie cooks to break out in a cold sweat. But there is a way to enjoy a delicious centrepiece and all the trimmings with a readymade meal kit, like this from Tesco, which includes everything – even the crackers.

The star of the show is a tasty no beef wellington with a meaty centre enrobed in flaky pastry that is accompanied by scrummy roast potatoes, mini vegan sausages, a selection of vegetables (we especially loved the thyme roasted carrots and parsnips), stuffing, onion gravy and cranberry sauce. There’s even a spiced Christmas pudding with silky vegan brandy sauce for dessert and a 37.5cl bottle of champagne to really celebrate the day. The preparation really couldn’t be any easier with the cooking done in the oven and microwave in under an hour.

Buy now £35.00, Tesco.com

Vorrei Italian hampers vegan Christmas lunch with organic prosecco

Best: Vegan alternative Christmas dinner

Rating: 7.5/10

Not everyone loves a roast dinner, but everyone absolutely needs an extra special lunch at Christmas. As an alternative to traditional British fare, this Italian meal hamper is exceptional. It has everything needed to create a three-course vegan meal, and the ingredients are top quality.

Start your festive feast with an antipasto of sweet, herby grilled peppers, earthy artichoke hearts, intensely flavourful Sicilian aubergine caponata and rich sun-dried tomato bruschetta. For the main course, there is Gragnano fusilli bucati pasta with a sublime porcini mushroom and san marzano tomato sauce, before rounding the meal off with a generous slab of organic artisanal panettone that is bursting with sweet raisins.

Of course, no Christmas meal is complete without a glass or two of fizz, so it is lucky that this meal kit comes with an organic vintage prosecco. This Christmas treat is by far the most expensive we tried, but we put that down to the superior quality of the ingredients.

Buy now £89.00, Ethikel.com

Aldi specially selected vegan sage and onion stuffing balls

Best: Vegan stuffing

Rating: 9/10

A roast without stuffing leaves much to be desired. But many of the readymade stuffing in supermarkets are made with sausage meat and, therefore, are unsuitable for vegans. Fear not, though, because Aldi’s stuffing balls are entirely plant-based, so they are perfect for everyone around the table.

The little nuggets of stuffing have a superb texture and brilliantly herby flavour, just as good as traditional non-vegan stuffing. They’re also incredibly easy to prepare and are ready to serve after just over 15 minutes in the oven. Best of all, you can stock up and make sure there’s plenty of stuffing balls to go around because they’re unbelievably reasonable at under £2 for a pack of 12. Like other Aldi Christmas product, this one will be available soon so keep an eye on its website.

Buy now £1.99, Aldi.co.uk

M&S plant kitchen vegan selection

Best: Vegan Christmas dinner trimmings

Rating: 9.5/10

What comes with the centrepiece is arguably what makes a good Christmas dinner. Preparing and cooking several vegetable accompaniments can take a considerable amount of time, though, and the process requires plenty of oven and hob space. This vegan selection box saves you that time and space by bringing together triple-cooked roast potatoes, red cabbage, a cauliflower and leek bake, pigs in blankets and apple and cranberry stuffing balls that just need heating up on the day.

We were sceptical about how well pre-cooked roast potatoes would turn out, but the result was pretty astonishing – they were some of the best roast potatoes we’d tasted (including those homemade from scratch). The red cabbage is sweet and syrupy with festive spice notes, and the cauliflower and leek bake is a creamy, cheesy wonder that was ever so filling. Meanwhile, the pigs in blankets got a big thumbs up from a meat-eating teenage tester, and the stuffing balls taste as good as they look with their rosemary sprig and fresh cranberry garnish.

This is made to serve four people, and we found it more than adequate for two adults and two teenagers. While M&S’s Christmas delivery service is all booked-up already, Christmas products will be available in-store throughout December.

Buy now £25.00, Marksandspencer.com

Tracklements cranberry, port and orange sauce le parfait

Best: Condiment

Rating: 9/10

A sharp-sweet cranberry sauce is always needed to cut through the richness of a big roast, and we think we’ve found “le parfait” one. Tracklements’ condiment is a fruity, chunky sauce, packed with plump, zesty fruits and a nip of port for that ultra-festive feel. It went well with every savoury dish we tested and was a super addition to our vegan cheese board (more on that in a bit). It’s quite pricey, but a little goes a long way, and you can reuse the clip-top glass jar.

Buy now £5.95, Russelsbutchers.com

Waitrose & Partners vegan winter pudding

Best: Light dessert

Rating: 8/10

Traditional Christmas pudding is a divisive food in our tester’s home, so Christmas dinner calls for two puddings to keep everyone happy. This cold vegan winter pudding makes a terrific alternative to finish off the meal. Packed between slices of meltingly soft bread soaked in a gorgeous, spiced fruit sauce are juicy blackberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and apples for a sweet, fresh and zesty finish that is brilliant with vegan cream.

The deep red layered dome also looks marvellous and is sure to charm ooohs and aaahs from dinner guests as it is brought to the table. This pudding serves four and is suitable for home freezing. It will be available for ordering soon.

Buy now £5.00, Waitrose.com

Applewood & Ilchester vegan festive cheese selection

Best: Vegan cheeseboard

Rating: 8.5/10

If this is your first Christmas as a vegan and you’re worried that could mean no cheese board, fret not. A selection box of plant-based cheeses is the answer. This one contains four delicious blocks that are the perfect size for an after-dinner cheese board. Included is the popular smoked Applewood, spicy Mexicana, a classic melting mature cheddar, and a blue cheese alternative with a blue spirulina vein. Just add the crackers, apple, grapes, nuts and cranberry sauce and pour yourself a glass of full-bodied vegan red wine for a stellar vegan cheeseboard experience.

Buy now £6.75, Thevegankind.com

Oggs 4 luxury handmade mince pies

Best: Vegan mince pies

Rating: 9.5/10

We couldn’t put together a Christmas food roundup without mentioning mince pies. We have to make the most of them at the time of year when it’s acceptable to eat them at breakfast, lunch and dinner. And we especially love these mince pies from Oggs. The delicious pastry case is crammed with sweet, spicy, juicy fruits and topped with a pastry star and dusted with powdered sugar for a truly festive morsel that is ideal with a glass of mulled wine. Besides the excellent quality and taste of the pies themselves, they come in environmentally friendly packaging that includes a recyclable cardboard box and biodegradable plastic.

Buy now £2.50, Ocado.com

The verdict: Vegan Christmas mains

As you can see from our roundup, vegans are spoilt for choice this Christmas, with several options for each course of the big meal.

We’d recommend kicking off the feast with Morrisons’ vegan smoked salmon and cream cheese starter before having our overall winner of the products – the Waitrose & Partners vegan jewelled roast with a fruity centre – for the main.

The roast has an exquisite flavour and a delightful texture that vegans and meat-eaters alike will love. Pair it with M&S’s bumper vegan selection of scrummy veggies and accompaniments, and you’ve got yourself a marvellous vegan Christmas dinner with all the trimmings that could rival a turkey any day of the week.

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