Christmas Recipes: Traditional Bread Sauce to Go With Turkey

Roast turkey with all the trimmings is the commonest meat served up for a traditional Christmas dinner in the UK. The usual American accompaniment to turkey, particularly at Thanksgiving, is cranberry sauce because that’s what the Pilgrim Fathers feasted on when they first arrived in the US and discovered the cranberry bogs of Massachusetts.

Bread Sauce: Alternative to Cranberry Sauce on Christmas Day

However, there are other sauces that can be made to accompany a Christmas turkey which do not require a ready supply of fresh cranberries. One of those alternatives could be this recipe for a simple white onion sauce. Another traditional English accompaniment is bread sauce made using cloves to give it a winter warming touch – the recipe for which is given below.

This bread sauce can be made the day before and stored in the fridge overnight. To reheat, either ping in the microwave for a couple of minutes or transfer the sauce in an ovenproof dish, cover it with foil and let it gently heat through in the oven for half an hour or so alongside the roasting potatoes.

Recipe for Traditional Christmas Bread Sauce


  • ½ pint milk (full fat is best but semi-skimmed will do)
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 1 small white onion
  • 2 cloves
  • Small pinch of dried mace
  • ¼ lb fresh (rather than stale or dried) breadcrumbs
  • ½ oz butter or margarine
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Peel the onion but leave it whole
  2. Put the onion in a small saucepan
  3. Cover the onion with the milk and add the cloves, mace and peppercorns
  4. Simmer the onion, milk and spices very slowly for about 20 minutes or so until the milk has picked up the flavours of the onion and spices
  5. Put the fresh breadcrumb into another suitably sized saucepan
  6. Using a fine sieve, strain the flavoured milk over the breadcrumbs and then discard the onion, peppercorns and spices
  7. Beat the breadcrumbs and onion flavoured milk together until the crumbs have soaked up all the liquid
  8. Season the bread sauce well with freshly ground rock salt and black pepper and add the butter or margarine
  9. Simmer the sauce gently, stirring all the time until the butter or margarine has melted and has completely mixed in with the milky soaked breadcrumbs
  10. Serve the bread sauce hot in a warmed side dish and encourage guests to add a tablespoon or so to the side of their Christmas roast turkey

Readers who are planning their Christmas day menus may also be interested in these two articles:

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