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Lumpy gravy tops the list of common Christmas Dinners mishaps

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Six million Brits will sit down to a ruined dinner this Christmas Day, a study has revealed. Getting the timings wrong, undercooking the turkey and soggy vegetables mean more than one in ten adults face an unappetizing festive meal this year.

Lumpy gravy, burnt or overcooked turkey, forgetting to put something into the oven and even forgetting to turn it on at all will also mean a less than perfect meal for some.

It also emerged that 12% refuse to cook a Christmas lunch again following a disaster in the past, while a third rely on frozen and pre-prepared food to get them through the annual meal unscathed.

Last year, TV presenter Gary Lineker was one of those who committed a ‘red card’ Christmas Day cardinal sin by putting his turkey in the oven and walked away without actually switching it on.

Nigel Broadhurst, Buying Director at Iceland Foods, which commissioned the research, said:

”Being in charge of preparing and cooking the Christmas lunch is a daunting task for most of us.

”There is usually a houseful of hungry people waiting for the meal, which is one of the highlights of the year.

”But there is so much which can go wrong from forgetting to buy something, to messing up the timings and even forgetting to put something in the oven.

”And if you do make a mistake with the meal, it’s not like you can pop to the nearest shop to get a replacement on Christmas Day.”

The study of 2,000 Brits found that 29% have ruined a Christmas lunch at some point in the past – with almost one in ten admitting the meal they made was completely inedible.

Four in ten admitted the failure was down to poor planning, while 31% forgot to buy something important – but 16% claim the messed-up meal was down to something beyond their control like a power cut.

Lumpy gravy is the most common Christmas food mishap, followed by failing to get everything ready at the same time, having the oven set too high or low and overcooking the vegetables.

Forgetting to put everything in the oven completed the top five.

Uncooked or burnt turkeys, forgetting to switch the oven on, dry and overcooked potatoes and even having a turkey which is too big to get in the oven are other likely reasons for ruined lunches.

Other mishaps on the list include not setting the timer, not keeping track of how long things have been cooking for, not allowing enough time for the turkey to defrost and dropping parts of the meal on the floor.

The study also found that more than one in ten have had a guest refuse to eat a meal they served up, with 18% having had to go to someone else’s for lunch because theirs was completely ruined.

28% are so scared by a previous mishap that they are dreading having to cook this year’s meal.

It also emerged that one in three are planning to use frozen potatoes or veg, or pre-prepared food, to avoid a Christmas Day disaster.

But instead of being honest about their cheating, 19% shamelessly try to pass the frozen or pre-prepared contributions as their own home-made efforts.

Nigel Broadhurst added:

”Planning is the key to a successful Christmas lunch to make sure that everything goes in and out of the oven at the right times.

”And don’t be afraid to use a few frozen or pre-prepared ingredients – no-one is going to begrudge you if it results in a tasty and hassle-free meal.

”All our joints are ‘roast from frozen’ so, whatever you choose to carve, we’ll ensure you a stress-free Christmas.

”And that’s probably the best present a Christmas lunch cook could ever ask for.”


1. Making/serving lumpy gravy
2. Not getting all the food ready to serve at the same time
3. Setting the oven too high/low so the turkey doesn’t cook as you had planned
4. Overcooking the vegetables
5. Forgetting to put something in the oven
6. Undercooking the turkey
7. Burning the turkey
8. Forgetting to switch the oven on
9. Burning the potatoes
10. Not being able to fit the turkey into the oven
11. Forgetting to buy/make pigs in blankets
12. Forgetting to set the timer on the oven / not keeping track of timings
13. Forgetting to buy cranberry sauce
14. Not leaving enough time for the turkey to defrost properly
15. Making / serving lumpy custard
16. Dropping vegetables or the roast onto the floor
17. Forgetting to buy a Christmas pudding
18. Adding too much brandy to the Christmas cake
19. Forgetting to buy sprouts
20. Forgetting to get the turkey out of the freezer