A turkey is typically the bird of choice for Christmas feasts. But, let’s be honest, this is no ordinary Christmas.
So, we asked some of the UK’s top independent retailers, who can deliver food straight from the farm to your door, for their suggestions of the best turkey alternatives for this festive period.
We looked for a real variation in what comes in the boxes from seafood platters, potentially for a Christmas Eve dinner, to full on feasts for Christmas Day, with potential for lots of leftovers.
We’ve also included options of beef and gammon that will give you flexibility through from Boxing Day until the New Year.
To make our selection, we chose boxes from high-welfare farms with free-range animals, from producers who farm in tune with nature. A lot of the produce is organic, too.
Last year, boxes were determined months in advance. However, what’s available this year is changing even as we write this. So, while order dates take you right up to Christmas, we recommend you order as early as possible to get what you truly want on the Christmas table.
If you’re looking for vegan or vegetarian options then here’s a brilliant guide on vegan mains for Christmas.
A note on packaging: Typically food is delivered in a cardboard box and kept fresh with wool (wrapped in plastic) ice packs. If you are a repeat customer, some box schemes offer to take this back and recycle it properly for you. If not, separate the wool from the plastic lining. The wool can go in home compost bins (if your council puts out food waste bins) or in the rubbish for landfill – it’s a natural fibre and breaks down in six to 12 months.
The outside wrapper of the wool goes in your recycling. All frozen blocks can be used again as ice packs. If freezer space is limited, the ice packs made from water can be drained and the plastic wrap put in your recycle bin. If the ice packs are gel then these are not recyclable, but most box schemes allow you to send them back. Happy feasting!
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Ethical Butcher luxury Christmas hamper
Feeds: A lot! (see below)
Last order date: 14 December
If you’re the type of person who likes to prepare for any eventuality then this is the box for you. One click will have your centrepieces sorted for the whole of the festive period. If used to its fullest potential (i.e. you’re clever with leftovers) The Ethical Butcher team says it can provide the meat centrepiece for 20 meals for four people.
This is a box of truly quality meat, even the burgers are 100 per cent grass-fed beef with no fillers or no grains – and taste incredible. The hamper offers carbon-neutral rapeseed oil, cheese and honey to accompany the ingredients and fresh curry paste to make a leftovers curry.
The Ethical Butcher favours farmers who are using one or more forms of regenerative agriculture and some have taken measurements to prove they are running carbon-neutral – or even negative – operations. Their beef and lamb is Pasture For Life-certified as a minimum. And you truly can taste a difference.
Contents: Large Award winning Soy-Free chicken; Chicken Liver (250g); 8x Chicken thighs; Lamb shoulder (bone in); 12 x Lamb cutlets; Chicken Bone Broth by SPRING; Mellow Yellow Carbon neutral British Rapeseed Oil; Pestle - Tikka Curry Paste; Lye Cross Farm Organic Mature Cheddar; The Bee Lady - Single Origin Honey (220g); 6x Venison & Lamb Sausages; 4x Beef burgers (600g total); 4x Pork ribeye cutlets; 1x Pack of 100% pasture raised beef frankfurters; 6x Prime Beef Steaks; Beef Roasting Joint (2-3 kg); 1 Mince beef (500g); 4x Iron Age Pork Ribeye/Cutlets; 3x Crown & Queue x Ethical Butcher charcuterie pack
Eversfield organic Christmas beef banquet box
Feeds: Eight people
Last order date: 20 December at 10am
This beef banquet box was very exciting to receive and the rib of beef makes for a show-stopping centrepiece. The genius of this box lies in its recipe cards, which couldn’t be easier to follow and spell out timings to make cooking effortless. The result is a stunning roast, with leftovers that lasted two of us for five days. The wine, I’m afraid to say, did not last quite so long.
Eversfield Organic is a fresh, Soil Association-certified organic food delivery scheme. Its top-quality produce ranges from wild game to charcuterie and vegetables.
Contents: Trimmed 28 day dry aged rib of beef 2.4kg; Honey smoked streaky bacon 184g; Pork chipolatas 340g; Wholegrain mustard; Potatoes 2kg; Carrots 1kg; Red cabbage; Brussel sprouts 500g; Clementines 1kg; White onions 1kg; 2x Garlic; Rosemary 30g; Pancetta 70g; Chestnuts 200g; Salted butter 200g; Cahors chateau de la marjorie tradition plus recipe cards
Field & Flower premium fish box
Feeds: Five to six people
Last order date: Sunday 13 December at 9pm
Although not exactly an alternative to a full Christmas lunch, this box of well selected fish, from trout to salmon and mackerel sustainably sourced and smoked from Scotland to Hampshire, will certainly see you through the festive period, in various forms. If there’s only two of you, use the trout for a traditional Christmas Eve fish dinner, it's devine and will just fall apart, while the smoked salmon quite rightly is perfect to partner with your scrambled eggs on Christmas morning.
The rest of the box can become a fantastic platter on Boxing Day if you don’t want leftovers from yesterday’s lunch. Our highlight is the smoked salmon pate, which is lemony and fresh and will certainly be a welcome change from meat heavy dishes. Serve it on crackers or on thinly sliced toasted sourdough.
Field & Flower has devoted itself to building a sustainable food system. It offers a flexible subscription service, and it’s safe to say the amount of meat and fish you get for your money is generous.
Contents: Scottish Smoked Salmon (200g); Smoked Salmon Pâté (150g); Centre Cut ChalkStream Trout (550g); Severn & Wye Smoked Fish Platter (125g); Smoked Mackerel Fillets, Peppered (200g); Smoked Haddock Fillets (260g)
Peelham Farm organic economy Christmas hamper for two
This hamper provides everything you need for a seriously tasty roast for two (or four), with leftovers. It’s also the perfect accompaniment if you are also considering cooking a turkey. Make sure you save the gammon stock for Boxing Day soup.
Peelham Farm is working without a huge marketing team, so the photography isn’t representative of the quality it offers. Meat arrives straight from the farm to your home, chilled and ready to cook or freeze. It has been perfecting a range of organic charcuterie and salami made from its free-ranging pigs and organic and PFLA-certified sheep and beef for the past 15 years.
Contents: Organic Gammon (dry-cured, boned and rolled) (1kg); Organic gluten free Pork & Sage Sausage Meat (500g); approx. 10 Organic Gluten-free Pork Chipolatas (300g); approx 8 slices Organic Dry-cured Streaky Bacon (300g)
Fish for Thought Christmas seafood buffet box
Feeds: Six people
Oh for the days of impromptu dinner parties! This box offers maximum reward with minimal effort: the perfect seafood grazing evening with a couple bottles of chilled white, Christmas music in the background and lots of laughter around the table. Together the options create the taste of the sea, but the rockefeller Oysters are without a doubt the star of the show.
If you don’t have an oyster knife for shucking, then don’t let that thwart your plans – a quick google search will present an array of ideas, some safer-sounding than others.
Contents: 200g pack Superior Smoked Salmon (Fresh), 1kg pack Plump Peeled Atlantic Prawns (Frozen), 2 x Oysters Rockerfeller Kit, 150g Pot Smoked Mackerel Pate (Fresh), 150g Pot Smoked Trout Pate (Fresh), 150g Smoked Salmon Pate (Fresh), 120g Jar of Avruga Caviar
Pipers Farm Christmas Eve feast box
Feeds: 10 people
Last order date: 17 December 2020
This box is a joy to receive and a great way to get into the festive spirit, why wait until Christmas Eve, we ask? The super sticky honey glaze is without a doubt an upgrade from the Coca-Cola hams of Christmas past and the cheeses and Piccalilli are the perfect accompaniments in terms of creating a balanced grazing session of sweet and sharp flavours, which is why the bottle of sparkling wine works especially well. We also added some crackers to the mix, because, well, why not!
Pipers Farm is based in Devon, the 50-acre family farm works in tune with nature and 25 other family farms in the surrounding areas. It is widely recognised for its succulent meats and creative cuts – and has won a whole host of accolades to prove it.
Update: It has now sold out of Christmas delivery slots, but you can still order in time for New Year with both 30 December and 31 December slots still available.
Contents: 2kg Unsmoked Saddleback Gammon, Super Sticky Honey Glaze, Handmade Piccalilli, 200g Clothbound Mature Cheddar, 250g Baron Bigod, raw milk brie, 300g Oxford Blue cheese, Bottle of Castlewood NV Brut
Farmison & Co’s luxury steak and caviar Christmas hamper
Feeds: Two people
Last order date: 21 December
The ultimate indulgence for two, this steak and caviar hamper says you’re doing Christmas your way this year. And you're making it special. The heritage breed chateaubriand has been dry aged to make it tender and give it a deep flavour. It truly is melt-in-the-mouth when topped with the truffle butter. The “gift-set” the caviar comes in is a nice touch. There's a really fun mix of flavours when it comes to the chocolate, which are all stunningly delicious.
Packaged in a wicker basket, this hamper also works well as a gift. Or as a surprise date night. The serving instructions are especially welcome if you're a less confident cook.
Farmison & Co work with small farmers in the north of England and offer a collection of rare and heritage breed meats.
Contents: 15g Kings Imperial Caviar; Chateaubriand of beef (550g); 90g Sublime Truffle & Parmesan Butter; 4x 20g Pump Street Chocolate Mini Bars
Fosse Meadows free range Christmas cockerel hamper
Feeds: Six people
Last order date: 21 December 2020
With the industrialisation of chicken, cockerel – more expensive and difficult to rear – largely became a thing of the past. But, these award-winning cockerels are making a comeback and with good reason, they’re just like chicken – only richer, with more depth of flavour. Served with Fosse Meadow’s homemade cranberry sauce and stuffing mix, this is basically the best Christmas dinner cooked from scratch, just not solely by you. To make the goodness last longer, wait until Boxing Day to indulge in the Leicestershire Picnic Pie and pate. Your patience will be rewarded.
Update: The cockerel is now sold out for Christmas but there are still chickens available which would also make a good alternative. The USP of Fosse Meadows is that the chickens are grown to 81 days. Why is this significant? Well, an average supermarket chicken is grown to around 35 days, so a Fosse chicken lives more than twice as long. This allows them to grow at a natural rate, antibiotic free. They are also free-range and foraging in meadows that aren’t sprayed with fertilisers or pesticides.
Contents: Cockerel – 3kg-3.5kg; 220ml cranberry & clementine Sauce; 175g Free range chicken liver pate; 500g Homemade Leicestershire picnic pie; Lemon, thyme, parsley and cranberry stuffing
The verdict: Christmas dinner delivery boxes that aren’t turkey
These boxes are all so different and packed with taste and value, it’s hard to pick an overall winner. A special mention goes to The Ethical Butcher who proves that quantity does not always come at the expense of quality. It has a variety of boxes on offer, if you're looking for a little less meat this Christmas!
Lizzie Rivera is founder of sustainable lifestyle site Live Frankly
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.