Want a delicious homemade Christmas lunch without cooking much on the day? You + freezer = bessies forever

Put Christmas on ice, not on the rocks! Here’s how to freeze your favourite festive dishes, so you can just chill.

 

1. Roast potatoes

Betcha didn’t think you could freeze potatoes. But you can. 

 

How: par-boil your peeled and chopped spuds for 5 minutes, drain and cool. Freeze in a single layer on a baking tray covered with cling film. Once frozen, pop into freezer bags until ready to cook.

 

Cook: roast from frozen in a hot oven, in very hot oil as you would normally, for 50-60 minutes. You can do the same thing with parsnips or carrots too, (just par-boil for 3 minutes instead of 5).

 

Freeze for: up to 3 months

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Extra crunchy freeze-ahead roast potatoes

Photograph: Tara Fisher

 

2. Red cabbage

Actually improves if you make it in advance as all the flavours mingle and develop. If you do freeze it, leave the apple out of the recipe (otherwise it will turn to mush – not nice).

 

How: follow this recipe, cool and transfer to a freezer bag. Squeeze all the air out of the bag and freeze.

 

Cook: defrost at room temperature (about 3-4 hours), then slowly reheat on the hob. Add a splash more water if needed.

 

Freeze for: up to 3 months

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3. Mince pies

Christmas in a mouthful. Keep a stash in the freezer so you don't run out. You'll need to bake a double batch if you make these brownie mince pies – they are very moreish!

 

How: freeze cooked mince pies in the muffin or cupcake tray you make them in. Once frozen, knock out of the tray and put into freezer bags. 

 

Reheat: straight from the freezer in a hot oven (200°C / fan 180°C / gas 5) for 25-30 minutes.

 

Freeze for: up to 3 months

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Mince pies

 

4. Saucy sauces

Don't faff with cranberry sauce or bread sauce on the day – just make ahead and freeze.

 

How: once the sauce has cooled, transfer to a zip-lock plastic food bag, seal and freeze. Leave some space in the bag for the sauce to expand (no-one needs a frozen explosion).

 

Cook: plonk the bags of frozen sauce in a bowl of lukewarm water until defrosted, then tip sauce into a  saucepan and reheat until piping hot. If your bread sauce looks too thick when you reheat it, add a splash of milk.

 

Freeze for: cranberry sauce: up to 3 months. Bread sauce: up to 1 month

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Bread and cranberry sauce

Photograph: Maja Smend

 

5. Glorious gravy

Add the juices from your Christmas turkey to your defrosted gravy before decanting into a jug.

 

How: make, cool, then transfer to a plastic container and freeze. Don't overfill the container – the gravy will expand a bit when it freezes.

 

Cook: defrost in the fridge overnight, then warm in a saucepan while the turkey’s having a rest.

 

Freeze for: up to 3 months

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Turkey gravy

Photograph: Tara Fisher

 

6. Xmas stuffing

If you have NO oven space because that bird's so big, cook and cool your stuffing before freezing (it'll only need heating through on the day).

 

How: make up your stuffing, then freeze in an ovenproof dish (just make sure it says 'freezer safe' or something similar on it). Or, if you're feeling fancy, roll into walnut-sized balls, freeze on a baking tray and chuck in a freezer bag until you need. 

 

Cook: defrost your stuffing in the fridge overnight, then when you're ready to cook follow the timings in the original recipe. Ensure it's hot in the middle before serving (icy stuffing is a crimbo no-no). 

 

Freeze for: up to 3 months

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Pork, prune and pistachio stuffing balls

Photograph: Martin Poole

 

7. Super sprouts

Yep, you can even freeze baby Brussels.

 

How: boil for two minutes, drain, then run under cold water – this keeps them bright and green. Drain well and freeze when cold.

 

Cook: heat from frozen in a large pan with lightly fried pancetta and chestnuts. A sprinkle of sea salt, grind of black pepper and knob of butter is all you need to season and glaze.

 

Freeze for: up to 3 months

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Brussels sprouts with almonds and chorizo

Photograph: Maja Smend

 

8. Brandy butter

Love butter? Love booze? Keep this in the freezer all year round – it's amaaaazing spread on toast.

 

How to: dollop onto clingfilm, cover and roll into a sausage shape. Pop in the freezer.

 

Thaw out: overnight in the fridge.

 

Freeze for: up to 3 months

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Brandy butter

Photograph: Dan Jones

 

9. Crimbo cake

Freeze leftover fruit cake and you can whip it out at Easter again to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

 

How: cut your cake into slices, wrap in cling film then foil and freeze. Good portion control too, btw.

 

Thaw: leave to defrost (still wrapped up) at room temperature. Unwrap a few hours later, make a cuppa and bring back those merry memories.

 

Freeze for: up to 6 months

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Quick and easy Christmas cake

Photograph: Dan Jones

Before the big chill ...

  • Clear out and defrost the freezer (you'll probably need all the space you can get)
  • Label and date everything (those icy packages all look the same)
  • Make some space for milk, butter and bread (whatever happens, you WILL need toast and tea)

 

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