The 20 best easy Christmas recipes | Food

Whatever you are thinking of cooking, for however many, relax. It doesn’t need to be difficult. We’ve got your Christmas covered with 20 simple festive treats. From penne al vodka to pumpkin and chestnut soup, or traditional roast turkey to Malay-spiced duck, we offer seasonal comfort for a range of meals. There’s rum-glazed ham, Danish roast pork belly, and Shanghai-style dumplings made for leftovers. Nathan Outlaw shares his fisherman’s stew, and Lopè Ariyo her citrus-baked salmon. For something sweet, there’s snickerdoodles, strudel and a boozy pear trifle. These are simple, professional secrets to a stress-free Christmas. A gift from us to you.

An impressive, burnished ham to have hot as an alternative festive roast on the day, or cold for easy meals in the lazy days after Christmas

For some, it’s not Christmas dinner without roast turkey and stuffing. This year, make it a small bird for a small gathering, and get ahead on the trimmings to keep the day stress free

Roast turkey, chestnut and sausage stuffing, and gravy



Roast turkey, chestnut and sausage stuffing, and gravy by Lindsey Bareham. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

Jacket potatoes get the festive treatment with smoked salt, extra-crisp skins and a moreish dip (a perfect way to use Christmas stilton)

Nigel Slater’s salt-crust potatoes with blue cheese and goat’s curd.



Nigel Slater’s salt-crust potatoes with blue cheese and goat’s curd. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

A giant pot of seafood makes for a simple but luxurious celebratory meal for any occasion over the festive period

Nathan Outlaw’s Fishmas stew



Nathan Outlaw’s fishmas stew. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

Everyone’s favourite comfort dish is the perfect companion to Christmas ham or roast chicken, and an ideal way to use up cheeseboard leftovers

Yotam Ottolenghi’s mustardy cauliflower cheese



Yotam Ottolenghi’s mustardy cauliflower cheese. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin

The quickest, no-fuss festive roast stars the classic pairing of pork and apple – perfect to have on Christmas Eve, like they would in Denmark

Pork belly with apple and thyme by Trine Hahnemann



Pork belly with apple and thyme by Trine Hahnemann. Photograph: Jean Cazals/The Observer

Winter root vegetables are given a fragrant twist in this hearty vegetarian side dish that doesn’t suffer from being made in advance

Pan-roasted parsnips and carrots with cumin butter by David Tanis



Pan-roasted parsnips and carrots with cumin butter by David Tanis. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

When Christmas is more about enjoyment than effort, this roast chicken and sauce is far more impressive than the relaxed method would suggest

Diana Henry’s chicken pot-roasted in milk, bay and nutmeg



Diana Henry’s chicken pot-roasted in milk, bay and nutmeg. Photograph: Laura Edwards

This sweetly sour, spiced cabbage adds a burst of colour to the table, and brilliantly complements rich roast meats or cheese-based dishes

Christmas braised red cabbage by Paul Cunningham



Christmas braised red cabbage by Paul Cunningham. Photograph: Kate Whitaker/The Observer

These classic American sugar cookies will fill your kitchen with the warming seasonal scent of cinnamon – remember to leave one out for Father Christmas

Claire Ptak’s snickerdoodles



Claire Ptak’s snickerdoodles. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

Simple, spicy, vegan, and the best use for a surplus of sprouts, this take on fried rice is perfect for the in-between days of Christmas

Meera Sodha’s sprout nasi goreng



Meera Sodha’s sprout nasi goreng. Photograph: David Loftus

With brilliant colours and fresh flavours that pop, this is a main course guaranteed to bring cheer to any table

Citrus-baked salmon with beetroot boiled potatoes by Lopè Ariyo



Citrus-baked salmon with beetroot boiled potatoes by Lopè Ariyo. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

Gently spiced poached pears star in this take on the traditional trifle that’s easy to assemble and customise to taste

Boozy poached pear trifle by Ravneet Gill



Boozy poached pear trifle by Ravneet Gill. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

Duck is the perfect roast for two, and here the rich meat and sauce are infused with Malay-inspired spices

Coconut and lemongrass roast duck by Mandy Yin



Coconut and lemongrass roast duck by Mandy Yin. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

A warming stew for cold December days, or ring in the new year like the Italians do – with sausages and lentils for luck. Here’s to 2021!

Sausages, lentils and lemon by Joe Trivelli



Sausages, lentils and lemon by Joe Trivelli. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

A crisp base with a savoury, creamy topping that can be on the table in half an hour – everyone needs a recipe like this up their sleeve at Christmas

Rosemary, goat’s cheese and mushroom tart with pink peppercorns by Rukmini Iyer



Rosemary, goat’s cheese and mushroom tart with pink peppercorns by Rukmini Iyer. Photograph: Unknown

Smoky ham and earthy chestnuts bring the taste and spirit of the season to this hearty, comforting soup

Pumpkin, bean and chestnut soup by Jeremy Lee



Pumpkin, bean and chestnut soup by Jeremy Lee. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

Making this easy, kitsch pasta dish is a festive tradition for one of our favourite chefs – one taste and it’s sure to become a tradition for you, too

Penne al vodka by Joe Trivelli



Penne al vodka by Joe Trivelli. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

This simplified take on a Ukrainian festive dessert makes a change from traditional Christmas pudding

Poppy-seed, pecan and apple strudel by Olia Hercules



Poppy-seed, pecan and apple strudel by Olia Hercules. Photograph: Joe Woodhouse

One of the best ways to use leftovers – and make a little go a long way. You can fill dumplings with pretty much anything, but stuffing and chopped sprouts work particularly well

Christmas dumplings by Michael Zee



Christmas dumplings by Michael Zee. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer