What the Royal Family Eats on Christmas Day, According to Their Personal Chef

The royal family sticks with the same Christmas meal, year after year after year, according to former royal chef Darren McGrady. Here's what's on the menu.

Chef Darren McGradySteve Meddle/Shutterstock

From 1982 until 1998, Chef Darren McGrady cooked for the royal family, designing and executing their day-to-day menus and catering their official and private events. In 1998, he moved to the United States with his wife, Wendy, and later penned Eating Royally; Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen.

So what does the royal family eat on Christmas?

According to McGrady, a lot, Marie Claire UK reports. The day begins with a hearty pre-church breakfast that includes eggs, bacon, and sausages. Post-church lunch includes a “salad with shrimp or lobster, and a roasted turkey, and all of your traditional side dishes like parsnips, carrots, Brussels sprouts and Christmas pudding with brandy butter for dessert.” Don’t miss these 10 other royal family holiday traditions you might want to steal for yourself.

But wait, there’s more.

Queen Elizabeth II Christmas speechShutterstock

After watching the Queen’s Christmas speech at 3 p.m., afternoon tea is served—with fruitcake. And that’s just the warmup to the royal Christmas buffet dinner, which includes 15 to 20 different items, featuring a variety of roasted meats carved right at the table (think: standing rib roast, turkey, ham), seafood, cooked vegetables, gingerbread cookies, a flaming pudding served with brandy butter, and libations like cherry brandy and hard cider. Here is the food item that the late Queen Elizabeth ate every day since childhood.

As far as favorites go, McGrady has said that these are the perennial favorites of the royal family for their Christmas dinner:

  • Potted shrimp – a buttery spread made with chopped, seasoned, and cooked shrimp served on toast points.
  • Beef Bourguignon – this could actually be made with venison as well, for which Queen Elizabeth II has at times expressed a preference.
  • Shredded Brussels sprouts with onions and bacon – no garlic, of course, since garlic is one of the 9 foods Her Majesty doesn’t eat.
  • Bubble and squeak – a traditional British dish of mashed potatoes mixed with chopped cabbage, to which McGrady added kale for a healthy boost.
  • Date apple pastry – a simple and rustic baked dessert made with dates and apples rolled in the dough.

Next, check out these rarely seen and wonderfully nostalgic royal family Christmas photos.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York–based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest and in a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction, and her first full-length manuscript, "The Trust Game," was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.