Alternative Christmas Dinner

christmas lunch planning

2020 hasn’t exactly been the year that we expected, with many of us having experienced cancelled events and most of our plans going by the wayside. With the festive season just around the corner, any hope of having a normal Christmas seems unknown right now. Will it be an alternative Christmas that we have to look forward to? Who knows? But it’s a possibility that we may need to plan for. One element of the season which has already seen change over the years is the much anticipated Christmas dinner.  

For years, Turkey was the traditional choice when it came to choosing meat for our festive feasts. But recently, people have been opting for alternatives, shunning tradition and cooking something different on December 25th. Searches for ‘alternative Christmas dinner’ reached over 12,000 in December 2019 and more than 2,300 people searched for ‘Christmas turkey alternatives’ during the same month.  

Google searches (Dec 2019 UK)

  • Alternative Christmas dinner – 12,970 
  • Christmas meal ideas – 33,460
  • Christmas turkey alternatives – 2,340
  • Alternatives to turkey at Christmas – 2,250

 So Why Are People Shunning Tradition? 

Turkey is notorious for having a lengthy cooking time, as well as the prep and planning that it requires. Many opt for something simpler to cook, allowing them to spend less time in the kitchen on Christmas day and more time with their families. 

Another reason why people are making the switch could be the number of leftovers which come with cooking turkey, with many spending the days after Christmas dishing up curries or turkey sandwiches to try and use up the leftover meat. 

 What Else Are People Dishing Up?

So what alternatives are people choosing over turkey? Even with the option of cooking whatever you want on Christmas day, many still opt for a roast of some kind. Searches for ‘Christmas chicken’ reached over 14,000 in December last year, while ‘Christmas beef’ was searched over 15,000 times.  

As well as a roast with all the trimmings, steak dinners also seem to be on the rise for Christmas feasts. December 2019 saw a high number of people looking up ‘Christmas steak’ which in Google, delivers over 260,000,000 results.

With social distancing and rules on households mixing, it’s predicted that demand for smaller joints of meat could rise due to less number of guests allowed around the Christmas table.  

Google Searches (Dec 2019 UK)

  • Christmas Chicken – 14,780
  • Christmas Beef – 15,630
  • Christmas Pork – 7,360
  • Christmas Lamb – 17,720
  • Christmas Steak – 5,380 

Healthy Options 

With Christmas being a time of indulgence, many are now looking for healthy alternatives when it comes to festive dishes. A quick search of ‘healthy Christmas dinner recipes’ delivers over 150,000,000 results in Google. There was even a high number of searches for ‘Christmas salad’, over 11,000 in December last year. 

In terms of choosing healthy options for a Christmas dinner, going traditional could be the best option. Roasted turkey typically contains less than 5 gram of fat per portion and nearly 30 gram of protein, whilst pork shoulder has around 8 grams of fat and lamb contains a staggering 24.5 grams of fat. 

MeatFat per 90g portionProtein per 90g portion
Turkey Roasted4.1g28.1g
Pork Shoulder Joint Roasted7.9g27.7g
Beef Joint Roasted5.7g30.6g
Chicken Breast Roasted3.6g30.2g
Lamb Shoulder Joint Roasted24.5g10.9g

So is a traditional turkey dinner that bad for your waistline? As well as turkey being low fat, there’s also the other elements of a classic Christmas feast which may not be as unhealthy as it’s made out to be. Sprouts, a popular veg option for Christmas dinner, only has around 30 calories per portion, whilst parsnips contain just 20 calories.  

FoodCalories Per Portion
Roast Potatoes322
Pigs in Blankets x290
Stuffing Ball50

Do People Still Want Turkey?

Although there are a high number of people looking up alternatives, it seems turkey still has a place on many of our Christmas tables. Last year, there were over 1 million searches for Turkey Crown in December alone, with over 100,000 searches for turkey breast too. So there’s still many out there wanting the traditional touch when it comes to their festive feast. Sales for the whole turkey in the UK have also remained high. According to Statista, sales volume increased by 57% from 2009 to 2019.  

Google Searches (December 2019 UK)

  • Turkey Crown 1,049,460
  • Whole Turkey 10,180
  • Turkey Breast 110,480
  • Boneless Turkey 36,450
  • Bronze Turkey 39,580
  • Frozen Turkey 91,330 

In 2019, Tom Hixson reported a high number of sales for steak during the festive period. Although turkey still came out on top, this was closely followed by ribeye, Chateaubriand and sirloin, showing that many are looking for a steak dinner as well as a traditional turkey lunch for Christmas. 

So will a traditional Christmas be on the cards for you this year? Or will it be an alternative festive feast to end 2020 with?  

Data sources –


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