Christmas Tips and Tricks For Cooking This Holiday

Words: Crush

Cooking the grand festive meal can cause stress, and with family, everyone has their ‘two cents’ worth. Don’t listen to them, listen to us, your trusted friends in food. We run through some simple Christmas tips and tricks to ensure that every dish turns out perfectly.

Easy Christmas Tips and Tricks

From juicy turkey to crispy crackling, we’ve got all the Christmas cooking tips you need.

Juicy Turkey

Avoid a dried-out turkey by shoving a lot of butter (and we mean a lot – nearly 250 g) under the skin of the bird. Also, bard it with strips of fatty bacon over the crown for extra juiciness.

Christmas Tips and Tricks

Carving Techniques

This is important if you’ve cooked a turkey for Christmas lunch or dinner. First up, hold the wing by the tip, cut it at the midsection, and then repeat with the other wing. Secondly, hold the leg, cut through the leg and the body, and then twist off; repeat with the other leg. Thirdly, using the tip of the knife, cut along the breast bone until you can remove the breast.

Carve the breast piece in any way you like to serve. This part is important, mainly due to your guest’s preferences – slice the dark meat from the legs and wings. Finally, serve all the meat and pour leftover juices over the sliced meat. This tenderises the meat and gives it extra flavour.

Quick Turkey

When it comes to a festive spread, no table is complete without a turkey. However, turkey takes a long time to roast and it can be frustrating if you don’t have room in your oven. For a quicker cooking time, spatchcocking or butterflying the turkey helps. If you’re not too sure how, ask your local butcher to do it for you.

Crunchy Crackling

Make sure that your pork crackling is perfect by following our easy pork cracking guide for making the crispiest crackling ever.

Great Gravy

Making gravy is much easier if you use a roasting pan that is stove-proof. Roughly slice some onions and place in the roasting tray below the turkey. Once your bird is done, you’ll be left with soft onions and loads of pan juices. Simply pop the roasting tray onto the stove and make your gravy right in there, then strain out the onions and bits.


Use your oven wisely, put dishes together in the oven that can cook at the same temperature. For example, your turkey can roast on one rack and your potatoes or other roots can cook below it. Plan your menu according to the amount of space in your oven, stove top and fridge. There’s more than one way to roast a bird. Get your braai, steamer, air fryer and fridges involved in preparing the meal.

Don’t Let The Dishes Pile Up

This one is a no-brainer, but most people are messy cooks, so we need to just lay it out for all of you. When you’re cooking, especially a big feast, dirty pans, dishes, knives, veggie peelers, you name it – they add up.

It’s crucial to wash-as-you-go to clear up some valuable surface space. Also, no-one wants to be left with a monster pile to get through when you’re stuffed with turkey and gammon.

Roast that Roast Right!

If you’re serious about crafting the juiciest roast, these two tricks are for you…

First thing, don’t use a roasting pan, treat your oven as a braai and place your meat right onto one of your oven grill racks. If this sounds weird, bear with us; roasting meat without the interference of a pan allows for the heat to be distributed evenly. Simply place a sheet of tin foil on the oven rack underneath the rack you’ve placed your meat, place a roasting tray over that – this will catch all your drippings and make for an excellent gravy base – then oil up your meat and place it straight on the rack.

If you’re worried about cleaning the rack afterwards, just use an onion, it’ll wipe everything away in no time. Secondly, once your meat is done and it’s resting, flip it upside down. This will allow all the juices to flow back into the meat.

Roast Potatoes

We all love roasted potatoes during Christmas time – there are a couple of tips to getting maximum flavour and crispness. The first trick is to parboil them – do this in salted water and add a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, this helps breakdown the surface of the potato. Once parboiled, toss the potatoes in a colander to create texture on the surface (the oil gets into all those crevices). Then dust with a bit of flour before frying or roasting to give them extra crunch. For maximum flavour and crispiness, pour hot oil over the potatoes (preferably duck or turkey fat) after you’ve seasoned them and right before you start cooking them.

Zest Up Your Christmas Pudding

The best part, dessert. Add some extra flavour to your puddings this year by grating zest into the pudding mix. Lemon, orange or grapefruit adds a refreshing citrus note that cuts through the heavy dinner or lunch you just had.

Need an amazing turkey recipe? Try this one, it’s filled with bacon and apple stuffing.

Christmas Tips and Tricks

Check out these fab festive recipes; you’ll also need great sides and desserts.

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