If there is any dessert I absolutely love and adore it must be a Christmas trifle. Or a trifle in general. My selection of trifle recipes grows a little bit further every year. And what’s more important; making a trifle is so easy to do. Here I give you all my tips for making the perfect Christmas trifle this year. No need to look for other Christmas desserts!

Easy Christmas Trifle

Easy Christmas trifle recipe

We have all seen the classic English traditional trifles which usually consist of jam, cake and fresh fruit. My version of the trifle is not much different. I use a lot of store-bought ingredients so you can literally whip up this Christmas trifle in something like 10 minutes. Also you can prepare most of it upfront. So how easy is that for this holiday season! Let’s start with what you need to have to go into the trifle.

  • First you need a large bowl, a glass bowl is best, to get things started. I used a bowl I bought specifically for this purpose but you can use any kind of bowl you like. You could even make individual
  • You need sponge cake, pound cake or regular cake. You can also use chocolate cake if you prefer. Or maybe you even have some cranberry cake leftover. That would be perfect to use. But really you can use any type of cake.
  • You need poached pears but you can easily replace those by other fresh or seasonal fruits. I just happen to really love it with poached pears.
  • You need a good jelly or jam. I used cranberry jam as I thought that would work perfectly well with this festive trifle. But you can also use cranberry sauce.
  • I used crumbled meringue here but you can also use gingerbread cookies, lady fingers or graham crackers. Whatever cookie you prefer is fine.
  • I topped it all of with double cream, whipped to soft peaks and ended with fresh fruits on top.

What is a trifle?

Traditionally an English trifle is a dessert that consists of several layers of cake, jam, fruits and such. Topped with whipped cream. In a lot of cases, the classic English version uses some kind of alcohol to soak the cake in. To be honest, that is not my favorite way to eat this. I do use cake at the bottom of the trifle bowl, but I leave the alcohol out. You can add that if you want. And if you’re looking for a recommendation on what alcohol to include; think about something like amaretto, marsala wine or limoncello. That would be my favorites if I had to choose.

Easy christmas trifle

This trifle is not so different from a classic one, other than the fact that I like to use the store-bought ingredients for ease of use and for speed. Because let’s face it; at Christmas time there is already enough to think about in the kitchen. You might want to cross Christmas dessert of your to do list. It is also perfect if you have to feed a large crowd.

Most of the things in this Christmas trifle are available in regular grocery stores. Some items might vary in name country by country but in general you get the idea.

Can I make the easy Christmas trifle in advance?

Yes you can. I wouldn’t add the cream on top just yet, but in general you can prepare about 80-90% of the trifle the day before. The flavors actually get even better after a while, so this delicious dessert will become even more delicious after a day. I wouldn’t go for longer then a day though.

Building the trifle

Once you’ve got your ingredients to make the trifle you can start building it up. The base is your cake. I slice fairly thick slices and place them in the bottom of the bowl. It won’t fit perfectly as the bowl is probably round and the cake is not. But you can break it however you like. It’s also fine if it overlaps somewhat.

Then comes the cranberry jam of which I make a pretty thick layer as well. On top of the cranberry jam you pour ready made custard. If you want you can of course use your own. In which case you want to use cooled custard at this point. Another option is to use vanilla pudding. On top of the custard comes the poached pears. For this you want to slice the pears and make a large layer of those as well. On top of the pears you crumble the meringues (or other cookies) and those are then topped with the whipped cream.

I like to use a piping bag to make it look prettier, but you can also just spoon it in. It will look pretty regardless of how you do it. To top of the trifle I use lots of fresh fruits. In the season I tend to go for red fruit, something like fresh strawberries or fresh raspberries will work wonders. It looks pretty and Christmassy. And it’s a great way to make an impression on the Christmas table.

To finish it off you can dust it with icing sugar. I think anything looks nicer with icing sugar right?

Christmas trifle


Obviously there are many variations you can bring to this easy Christmas trifle. You can swap out the vanilla custard for banana pudding for instance. You can use chocolate cake or grate dark of white chocolate over the top of the trifle. You can make thin layers and make more than one. I tend to go for just one layer of each ingredient but if you have a particularly large bowl you can make more. You can use an assortment of different cookies or add some cranberry sauce on top of the trifle as well.

I like to add chopped dark chocolate to the top as a crunch. Or some roasted nuts would work really well too.

Easy christmas trifle

Christmas trifle with poached pears

5 from 3 votes

Delicious and easy to make Christmas trifle. It will be the star of your Christmas table
Decorative clock showing preparation time
Prep time 15 minutes
Cooking time 10 minutes
Total time 25 minutes

8 people


  • 1 large bowl about 20 cm in diameter


  • 500 ml custard
  • 1/2 pound cake sliced
  • 1 jar cranberry jam 400 gr
  • 500 gr poached pears
  • 500 ml double cream
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 4 pieces meringue ready made

  • Take a large bowl or use individual glasses and start by making a layer of the cake.
  • On top of the cake you divide a thick layer of cranberry jam. If you have fresh cranberry jam or sauce you can also use that here.
  • On top of the jam you place a layer of the custard. Over this you divide all the poached pears. It's easier to cut them in not too small chunks.
  • On top of the poached pears you crumble the meringue. This is how far you can make the Christmas trifle in advance.
  • Shortly before serving you whip the double cream with the sugar. Put in a piping bag and divide over the meringue. End with some fresh fruits.

Nutrition Information per portion

Calories: 498kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 128mg | Sodium: 200mg | Potassium: 320mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 40g | Vitamin A: 1125IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 165mg | Iron: 1mg


The nutritional values above are calculated per portion. The details are based on standard nutritional tables and do not constitute a professional nutritional advice.

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Simone van den Berg

Food blogger from the Netherlands. Loves good food. Likes to create healthy and easy recipes for daily use, but also loves the occasional sweet dish. Lives in the Netherlands with her two cats; Humphrey and Buffy. Profession: Food photographer, food blogger, recipe developer and nutritionist