The best jelly or sauce to serve with roast meat

What’s the best jelly or sauce to serve with roast meat?

Most people have heard of serving Cranberry Sauce with turkey, but there are many other options for delicious accompaniments to serve with your Sunday roast or Christmas dinner – and with the leftovers too. As always, it’s all about personal preference – but these are good starting points…

A bit of history…

Traditionally a sweet, slightly sharp, fruity sauce or jelly is often served alongside roast meats to provide a contrasting flavour to the salty, savoury and sometimes fatty meat itself. In some traditions the idea is to serve a sauce made from ingredients which would have surrounded the animal in life – the belief being that those flavours will naturally work well together.


So the Christmas tradition of turkey with cranberry sauce has been borrowed from the North American thanksgiving combination of turkeys and cranberries. In fact, the cranberry sauce we make is made with European cranberries, which are slightly smaller and tarter than the American ones, and I think give a better flavour when made into sauce, especially as the whole berries are included.

Venison and game

Wild game such as venison or pheasant would be served with Rowan Jelly, which has a delicious tart, tannin-y flavour. Hedgerow Jelly also works very well with game, for those who prefer a slightly sweeter flavour – with elderberries, hawthorn, damsons and brambles.


Roast pork would be served with apple sauce or apple jelly. We make Apple & Chilli Jelly, it’s not wildly spicy but the little bit of heat provided by the chillis works well with the sweetness of the apples and really does taste good with pork, which can often be a bit fatty.

Lamb and mutton

Mint Sauce is a traditional accompaniment to lamb or mutton – another meat with a reputation for being a little fatty, although modern trends have changed and this is usually no longer the case. The flavours still work really well together, and our mint sauce is made with cyder vinegar which adds a further dash of sweet-astringency, which goes very well with lamb or mutton.


A classic combination is roast beef with horseradish sauce – although we haven’t yet perfected a recipe which preserves the wonderful firey flavour of fresh horseradish, we do sell the plants so you can grow your own (see a previous blog for a recipe for homemade horseradish sauce). Redcurrant Jelly is also traditionally served with beef or lamb, it has a beautiful deep red colour and full berry flavour, or for those who prefer something less sweet, Rowan Jelly also works very well.


Redcurrant Jelly is a good match for poultry such as roast chicken, though for the darker meat of roast duck or goose, I would choose the lovely autumn berries of Hedgerow Jelly. Bramble & Apple Jam would also work well with duck or goose.


How to serve them

All these jellies and sauces can be served on the side along with the meat, and the jellies can also be used to make gravy to accompany the roast. Simply stir a spoonful of your chosen jelly into the hot gravy as you make it to add some extra flavour and a lovely sheen. Just be careful using jellies as part of a glaze or for basting meat while it cooks, because the sugar content can blacken easily in a hot oven – barbecue marinades and blackening is a subject for another post!

Cranberry Sauce can be served straight from the jar, or it can be warmed in a pan with a dash of port and a few strands of orange zest to make an even more Christmassy sauce.


Of course, there is no need to stick to these suggestions and if you have a personal preference then that should definitely come before any condiment rule-book. I have heard of Blackcurrant Jam served with duck and Gooseberry Jam with chicken…and no reason why not!


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