The 12 cooks of Christmas – in books

From Mary Berry’s gingerbread house to vegan recipes, resources we need this season

Christmas cooking can be joyous and daunting in equal measure but thankfully some of our favourite kitchen companions, the people we turn to for foolproof cooking tips and fail-safe recipes, have made their resources available to us in the form of their Christmas cookbooks.

Neven Maguire’s Perfect Irish Christmas

Neven Maguire’s formula of chef expertise brought into the home kitchen works particularly well with Christmas cooking, it means there is plenty of make-ahead advice, timings for the big day and recipes written with groups in mind. All the usual suspects are there, turkey, ham, stuffing, sides and sauces along with some vegetarian options and plenty of traditional desserts.

Must try: MacNean frangipane mince pies with brandy butter

Gizzi’s Season’s Eatings

This is a fun and approachable book from food writer, chef and television presenter Gizzi Erskine, covering winter celebrations from Halloween to New Year’s Eve. Charade suggestions are next to charcuterie boards tips and you’re sure to find some twists on Christmas classics.


Must try: Chocolate and salted caramelised chestnut yule log

Nigel Slater’s The Christmas Chronicles

Written more like a diary than a cookbook, it’s a beautiful collection of his thoughts, recipes and brilliant observations on the festive season and all that goes with it. Quite possibly the perfect Christmas book for 2020, it will keep you busy at home throughout December if you let it.

Must try: Herb-flecked, sprout-studded custards

Delia’s Happy Christmas

For traditionalists, Delia Smith’s new book ticks all the boxes. Her decades-old recipes have been used time and again in millions of households, reason enough to put your full trust in her for yuletide advice. The book is laid out in an eight-day plan that covers parties, buffets, Christmas Day and according to Delia’s philosophy most of the food should be prepared in advance.

Must try: Braised red cabbage with apples

Great British Bake Off: Christmas

The original BBC Bake Off may be no more but its legacy lives on in this lovely Christmas book. Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood reveal the secrets to their classic Christmas dishes including perfect mince pies and Christmas pudding and past winners and contestants share their favourite seasonal recipes.

Must try: Mary’s gingerbread house

Nigella Christmas

Nigella Lawson’s no-nonsense approach to cooking always brings a welcoming air of reassurance to the Christmas madness. With her readable recipes, she lures you and tells you it’s all going to be okay if you follow her simple advice. The book begins with cocktails easing you into the more trying cooking, and there are countdowns, party advice and of course her world-famous brined turkey recipe.

Must try: Spiced and superjuicy roast turkey with allspice gravy

Darina Allen’s A Simply Delicious Irish Christmas

The doyenne of Irish cooking’s Christmas recipes all in one place is an invaluable resource for any cook. Spanning almost 400 pages of recipes, there are 36 starter options, every version of seasonal side you could wish for and a host of mains to choose from.

Must try: Turkey liver paté with sourdough toasts and onion marmalade

Elizabeth David’s Christmas

Nigella fans who already have her book will appreciate a copy of this. Elizabeth David just happens to be one of Nigella’s favourite food writers and one of the most revered cookery writers of the 20th century. This smart reprint is made up of her collected Christmas recipes, notes, articles and wonderful writing.

Must try: Turkey with herb and butter stuffing

Gaz Oakley’s Vegan Christmas

If you’re looking to recreate Christmas classics as vegan fare then this is the book for you. Chef Gaz Oakley has compiled an extravagant selection of vegan versions of the usual suspects and pretty much everything made from scratch. There’s a ‘no turkey’ wrapped in Gaz’s streaky ‘bacon’, starters of ‘smoked salmon’ and ‘scallops’ and even a vegan cheese and paté board.

Must try: Gaz’s vegan ‘jaffa cakes’

Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection

Mary combines time-honoured festive favourites with a Christmas Day countdown, sample menus, shopping lists and tips on preparing ahead and freezing. Her recipes are expectedly easy and practical from canapes to Christmas roasts and much more, in between she covers all the bases for festive family feasting.

Must try: The ultimate chocolate roulade

Christmas with Kim-Joy

Another one for the Bake Off fanatics this time from viewers favourite Kim-Joy who was a finalist in the Great British Bake Off 2018. She is known for a commitment to cuteness when it comes to her baking and decorating and her Christmas book stays true to form. There are detailed tips for decorating and vegan options for fillings and bakes.

Must try: Festive bunny madeleines

Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook

This comprehensive 400-page-plus guide is packed with Jamie’s know-how and covers all the bases for Christmas cooking. Classic recipes, roasting tips, all the trimmings, veggie options, leftovers, party ideas and even edible gifts. As with all Jamie’s books the recipes are easy to follow, tried and tested and use accessible ingredients.

Must try: Jerk ham with rum spiced marmalade