Four ways for UK restaurants to elevate Christmas menus

From creative food waste strategies to evolving plant-based possibilities, Christmas is a time for festive innovation, with Egg Soldiers discussing on-trend menu areas for UK restaurants
Christmas turkey
Here at Egg Soldiers, we love nothing more than getting creative in the kitchen.

And, with December fast approaching, our thoughts are turning to Christmas dinner menus, with the team actively brainstorming ways of adding extra touches of flair to traditional plates and discussing strategies for minimising and utilising food waste across the season.

And so, with one eye on Christmas 2023, here are a few bite-sized ways of making UK Christmas offerings stand out:

Get In The Sharing Spirit
Spectacular centrepieces are always a great way of bringing people together at Christmas, with sharing a fundamental of the season.

  • Consider decadent Christmas sausage roll wreaths (easily switched to plant-based, if needs be); creative charcuterie boards; or luxurious brioche wheels with gooey cheese centres.

  • Go big with colourful sharing platters, mix-match plates, gravy boats, serving bowls and silverware, or take a run on a theme and have them all tie together.

  • Where possible, utilise the carving, serving and pouring of applicable dish elements within eye-shot of your diners, delivering memorable Christmas dinner theatrics.

  • Leave candles and glitter off the tables and let colourful sides do the talking, sides such as roast pumpkin or beetroot with roast parsnips – sides that help the spread come alive!

Mini Christmas bites
Ignore cheese and pineapple on cocktail sticks and flaccid potato wedges with a sour cream dip, and instead bring the festivities to life by inventing mini-mouthfuls that deliver rich, festive flavours with each bite.

  • Give family favourites like pigs in blankets a new lease of life by spicing them with exotic flavours, like 'nduja and honey.

  • Try a one-bite Christmas dinner by stuffing freshly baked crispy potato skins with turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings.
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Food waste festivities
With the ongoing cost of living crisis casting a cloud over the holiday season, we’re also exploring ways to make food go further by reducing food waste. Being creative in the kitchen isn’t just about whipping up new flavour combinations; it’s also about clever cooking using what you already have.

  • Scraps like vegetable peelings and salmon skin can be baked to make delicious homemade crisps. And allowing people to serve themselves tends to result in less waste on the plate and more that can be put in the fridge and taken out later.

  • Ballotine and stuff the legs of your turkey. This will give them their own stand-out point of difference and encourage people to eat more of them!

  • Don’t let panettone go to waste! Innovate with surplus or overstocked puddings by using slices for French toast; crumble up pieces to use as rich cheescake crust; make a bread and butter pudding panettone, soaking the layers in custard and brandy; or use chunks in ice cream with marmalade for a seasonal dessert special.

  • Zest or peel strips off your citrus fruit just before you cut it to juice it for a recipe. Keep the zest/peel in the fridge and add it to anything from stuffings to cakes and the peel strips into drinks. It makes everything a bit nicer and means you don’t have the mismatch of naked lemons sitting around going mouldy or fragrant peel going in the bin.


Plant-based possibilities
Plant-based Christmas menu items are now something of an essential across UK hospitality, with a growing number of restaurants delivering innovative, decadent meat-free riffs on classic holiday fare.

  • On its Christmas 2022 menu, vegan French bistro Refuel Your Soul elevates its plant-based turkey supreme roll with three, decadently dairy-free elements: chestnut mousse, truffles and cepes cream, and gratin dauphinois. By effectively replacing dairy-based cream and milk, traditionally luxurious main course additions and side dishes can easily be revamped to reach a vegan audience.

  • At Cafe Van Gogh, the 100% vegan, non-profit restaurant based in Brixton (London), the team are offering a Christmas main course of smoked tofu, leek and blue cheese pithivier with parsnip purée, buttered savoy cabbage and a port and chestnut sauce. Take inspiration and use festive puff pastries as vehicles for flavourful plant-based combos, with rich, sticky vegan gravy a must.

  • The humble cauliflower has been a go-to for plant-based brands for a while now, with steaks, wings and mince among its many meat-esque applications. Consider boiling and then mashing it with gruyère cheese, thyme and garlic to make a low-carb pommes aligot alternative that everyone will want seconds of.
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