How to rescue a Christmas dinner disaster – from lumpy gravy to underdone turkey, there's a fix

Save your Christmas dinner from failure with these brilliant tips

In a year where not much seems to have gone the way we expected, we can only hope that Christmas dinner goes as planned. But even if there are a few problems along the way, it's easy enough to style them out with our guide to how to rescue a Christmas dinner disaster.

Get those last-minute finishing touches just so with out Christmas ideas

With a few tricks up your sleeve – and by keeping a couple of freezer faithful on hand – you can overcome most mishaps.

What to do if you run out of fridge space

Cool bags with ice packs are handy for keeping cheese, butter, salad stuff and drinks chilled for a day or two. But keep meat, fish, pate, dips, soft cheese, cream and creamy desserts in the fridge.

If it’s cold out remember you can store prepared food in the back garden, and most vegetables will be ok in a cool garage or shed. One of our team always stores veg in her car boot...

Related: Experts reveal the best ways to organise a freezer and store food to last

What to do if you can't get everything in the oven

kitchen area with oven and white drawers

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Allow time to cook the turkey first – it’ll keep warm for an hour covered in foil. Then you can cook the roasties and pigs in blankets at a higher temperature.

What to do if the turkey is taking too long

christmas dinner with roasted turkey and food dishes

(Image credit: Future PLC/Sean Calitz)

If the turkey is taking forever, keep hunger pangs at bay by rustling up bruschetta with ciabatta, pesto and Parmesan shavings. If you don't have Parmesan, Cheddar will do!

What to do if the turkey is underdone

Carve the turkey, lay the slices in a roasting tin, pour over some gravy or hot stock and simmer until cooked through. This will keep the meat moist so it won't dry out.

What to do if your roast potatoes aren’t crisp

roasted potato dish with spoons

(Image credit: Future PLC/Sean Calitz)

Sprinkle them with a little polenta, increase the oven temperature and cook for further 10-15 mins until crisp. You could also use semolina. It also helps to cook potatoes in a metal pan, rather than a glass or ceramic dish, as they will crisp up better.

What to do if you burn the veg

Burnt veg can be quickly replaced with frozen peas simmered with shredded lettuce, chopped spring onions and a dash of cream.

What to do if your sprouts are always soggy

Spice up your sprouts by frying them up in butter, and tossing through some smoked streaky bacon or pancetta. Michel Roux Jnr has another solution if you prefer something spicier

'Try shredding sprouts and then stir frying them with a little spicy chorizo,' Michel recommends. 'It really livens them up and makes a very pleasant change from boiled stinky mush.'

What to do if the gravy is lumpy

christmas dinner gravy in green casserole dish

(Image credit: Future PLC/Sean Calitz)

This should be a simple fix. Stir the gravy with a hand whisk and then pour through a sieve into a warmed jug. No one will know!

What to do if your cranberry sauce is sharp

Don't overdo the sugar. Instead add the zest and juice of a very juicy orange.

Alternatively, if you have a shop-bought jar on standby, Phil Vickery has a smart hack: 'I use shop-bought cranberry sauce and add brandy and orange to it,' he admits.

What to do if you forget the Christmas pudding

italian pudding on blue table and spoons

(Image credit: Future PLC/Charlotte Tolhurst)

If you run out of time to make a pudding a tub of good quality vanilla ice cream makes an instant Italian pud (affogato) with a shot of hot espresso coffee poured over.

Related: Christmas dinner hacks that are frankly genius

It has the added advantage that it should keep you awake long enough to enjoy the Queen's speech. Happy Christmas all!

Amy Cutmore
Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is Editor-in-Chief, Homes Audience, working across the Future Homes portfolio. She works on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.