November 19, 2020 • Food5 min read

Christmas trimmings snackdown: UK’s favourite festive foods

City Pantry analyses top recipe data and search trends to reveal which festive foods prove the most crucial to the nation’s ideal Christmas dinner.

When it comes to Christmas dinner, many Brits are fiercely protective of what they feel makes the perfect festive feast - whether it’s the turkey, the roast potatoes, or even the brussels sprouts. And while we’re all entitled to our opinions in the workplace, we wanted to find out exactly what the most important elements of the main meal are, so you know what’s really worth looking for in your corporate christmas hampers this year.

Using search trends and data from the nation’s leading recipe site, we looked into some of the most popular festive recipes to determine which components are key, what the nutritional breakdown of different dishes looks like, and to crown the UK’s top Christmas pudding. What we found may shock you…

Brussels sprouts named more popular than roast potatoes

Christmas Dinner Items Ranking Tiers

One of the biggest debates among Christmas dinner enthusiasts is whether mashed or roast potatoes come out on top - but our data shows that both pale in comparison to the humble brussels sprout. In fact, potatoes sit on the bottom tier with side staples like peas, cabbage and carrots, while sprouts sit in the second-highest tier alongside gravy - trailing just behind the classic turkey.

The recipes that contained sprouts were found to be better received by reviewers than those that contained potato, and appeared more frequently across dishes than bacon, cabbage or lamb - all of which missed out on the top spots.

Most popular Christmas Dinner Meats Tiers

But for those who aren’t keen on vegetables, the biggest question is which meat makes the perfect centrepiece for the festive feast. Despite turkey taking the top spot in the overall ingredient ranking, it’s beef that’s the nation’s preferred meat - while surprise entrants include venison, pork and salmon.

Are meat-based, vegan, or vegetarian mains better?

But Christmas dinner isn’t all about meat, of course - there are those of us who opt for plant-based recipes, whether it’s due to a dietary requirement, catering for vegan guests, or trying to lower our meat intake. In fact, the research shows that more of us are choosing plant-based festive food now than ever before, as searches for ‘vegan Christmas dinner’ have seen a 250% increase in interest over the last five years, while vegan food queries have tripled in popularity.

Some good news for those of us who are leaving out meat is that vegan recipes are 19% easier to prepare than veggie or meat-based dishes, and boast 144 fewer calories on average per dish. In fact, the average vegan dish carries just 362 in calories, takes 69 minutes to prepare, and holds an average review of 4.6/5.

Christmas Dinner Nutritional Breakdown

However, it’s vegetarian dishes that are the best choice for those who are looking to eat healthier on Christmas, as they boast the lowest calorie count and have less than half the average salt content of vegan or meat-based dishes. But no dish is completely sin-free, as vegetarian dishes also have over double the saturates as vegan alternatives.

Generally though, those of us who opt for plant-based or meat-free dishes at Christmas are less likely to consume more than our recommended amount of calories, fat, saturated fats, sugar, and salt, as the meat-based dishes featured prove unhealthier on the whole.

And for families who find themselves pressed for time when it comes to meal prep, they may want to steer clear of meat-centered dishes as they take an average of 100 minutes to prepare - which translates to more than an hour and a half per dish.

Cuisine Comparison – Average Prep Time

Mince pies revealed as the nation’s favourite Christmas dessert

So we’ve dealt with the mains and side dishes - what about dessert? For many Brits, this is the most important part of the meal. And with so many recipes available online to choose from - a quick Google search shows about 534 million results for ‘christmas dessert recipes’ - it can be tricky deciding which pudding will suit everyone’s tastes.

But sometimes keeping it simple is the best option, as our analysis shows that it’s the humble mince pie that’s the nation’s favourite seasonal sweet treat. The classic pastry beat out other favourites like gingerbread men and chocolate logs for the top spot.

Most Popular Festive Desserts Tiers

As with all sweet treats, the data also serves as a reminder that it’s important to enjoy mince pies in moderation over the festive period. The desserts analysed were found to be packed with carbs, most likely due to their high sugar content, which means they contained an average of over 21g extra carbs per recipe than the centrepieces.

Summary

At City Pantry, we know that Christmas will look a little different for many workers this year, as office parties are held virtually instead and families may be forced to spend the holiday apart. That’s why we created our corporate christmas hampers to help bring the nation back together on the big day - and keep them happy until New Year’s too, as the study also found that Brits rate leftovers as the best part of Christmas dinner.