A Rapid Guidebook to Standard Italian Christmas Foods

Probably you program to vacation to Italy for the holidays.  Possibly you’re Italian-American asking yourself if your family recipes are basically “regular.” Or possibly you just appreciate understanding about all matters foodstuff from the Belpaese. No matter the purpose, you may perhaps request, “What Food Is Served Throughout Xmas In Italy?”  Below is a rundown of […]

Probably you program to vacation to Italy for the holidays. 

Possibly you’re Italian-American asking yourself if your family recipes are basically “regular.” Or possibly you just appreciate understanding about all matters foodstuff from the Belpaese. No matter the purpose, you may perhaps request, “What Food Is Served Throughout Xmas In Italy?” 

Below is a rundown of what foodstuff is served throughout the peninsula throughout the festive period: 

Small Christmas tree in Venice

What Is The Main Christmas Meal In Italy?

To understand Italian Christmas food, let’s communicate about how the holiday break is celebrated. Italians generally linger about meals longer than People, and that is particularly the situation during Christmas, exactly where meals might extend over 6 hours. 

Whilst the vacation year operates from the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th as a result of Epiphany on January 6th, Xmas is celebrated more than three times from the 24 to December 26th.

La Vigilia di Natale (Xmas Eve)

Thanks to its Catholic background, where by it truly is prohibited to take in meat the night in advance of a religious holiday, Christmas Eve is a meat-cost-free meal. 

Alternatively, you can obtain a lot of seafood. If you go to a current market on the 23rd or 24th, you are going to see the fishmongers operating on overdrive to fulfill the several orders. 

In Central and Southern Italy, the feast is recognised as “Cenone della Vigilia” a multi-course Christmas Eve dinner that typically includes appetizers, pasta, and fish. The aim is on contemporary, just prepared dishes with a seafood centerpiece like baccalà (salt cod) or capitone (eel). 

Il Giorno di Natale (Xmas Working day)

In Northern Italy, a Christmas Day lunch is considerably additional frequent than a Christmas Eve celebration, and rather considerably any foodstuff (which include meat) is all right to provide. Throughout the nation, this is a working day to acquire with family members and make Xmas lunch an all-working day affair.

Il Giorno di Santo Stefano (Boxing Day)

December 26th is also regarded a holiday getaway in Italy, and it is really a different working day when most Italians gather for but another household lunch. 

Generally on this working day, folks will reinvent their leftovers, aka avanzi, into new dishes. Say, with leftover pasta mixed into eggs for a frittata or roasted or braised meats shredded into a pasta sauce. 

Casoncelli Pasta In Bowl

Standard Italian Xmas Food 

As with practically all matters in Italy—from language to pasta shapes—it varies regionally. But, you normally find seafood dishes on Christmas Eve while roasted meat, pasta, and soup or vegetable sides are served on Christmas Working day. And, of course, there are desserts aplenty!


Christmas foods in Italy contain quite a few programs, and, following the appetizers of antipasti, pasta or risotto is the first program. 

Northern Italy

In Piedmont, you are going to find classics like agnolotti in broth or tajarin served with pancetta or mushrooms along with crowd-pleasers like ravioli (frequently a spinach pasta or filled with meat). 

In the meantime, in Trentino-Alto Adige, the nearby dumpling recognized as canderli designed with cheese,  butter, Parmigiano Reggiano, and sage are a lot more widespread. 

In Lombardy, you may come upon the traditional Mantoan pasta of pumpkin and amaretti Tortelli or find casoncelli from Bergamo served in broth. 

For the reason that rice is a major crop in Northern Italy, risotto also abounds, specially in Venice, where risi e bisi (rice with peas) is served.

Central Italy

As a person of the food items capitals of Italy, it’s no surprise that most in Emilia Romagna serve traditional pasta dishes like lasagna Bolognese. 

All over central Italy, from Bologna by Tuscany and in Le Marche, you’ll find tortellini o cappelletti served in a prosperous, sluggish-cooked broth. Also, in the Marche, they generally provide the tomato and meat pasta identified as maccheroncini di Campofilone.

Southern Italy

Almost every single corner of Southern Italy has a classic pasta dish they make on Christmas. 

In Campania, you can expect to encounter spaghetti with clams (somethings with fish roe or bread crumbs included. In Puglia, the classic orecchiette con Cime di Rapa (ear-shaped pasta with broccoli rabe) receives a twist with the addition of anchovies or tuna. In the meantime, in Sicily, the iconic pasta con le sarde, pasta with sardines, is common.

Finally, in Calabria, baked pasta is just just one of 13 programs served in a traditional Christmas Day menu alongside with sausage and broccoli rabe, meatballs, and ‘nduja salame.


You may well have read of the Feast of the 7 Fishes. But the meal is an Italian-American principle and not 1 of the traditions in Italy. Numerous folks visiting Italy during the Christmas year expect Italians to try to eat the food on Christmas Eve. Even so, you find seafood served on Christmas Eve in Italy.  

Northern Italy

Though seafood is additional widespread in the South this time of calendar year, there are a number of traditional dishes. For case in point, eel is cooked in parchment paper in Lombardy, whilst there is typically polenta with salt cod in the Veneto location. 

Central Italy

Like in the Veneto, in nearby Emilia Romagna, you obtain a couple types of baccala or salt cod dishes where it truly is steamed or even fried. Down in Lazio, then make salt cod and eel, and over in the Molise, there is a twist on salt cod made with bay leaves, oregano, pine nuts, and raisins.

Southern Italy

Residents in urban areas like Naples like to make eel dishes. They might grill their eel, deep-fry it, or roast it. As stated previously, quite a few kinds of pasta use seafood, from mussels to clams to salt cod and calamari. Many others choose anchovies. In addition to making pasta with anchovies, some Italians bake anchovies with bread crumbs and capers. 

Poultry and Meat

On Christmas Day, roasted and braised poultry and meat consider center stage.

Across Italy

Many families in Italy like to serve a roasted capon as their key class on Christmas Working day. A capon is a rooster that a farmer castrates just before it will become mature. This helps make the meat much more flavorful, even as the rooster receives older. 

Some family members provide two capons, boiling 1 and roasting the other. You can stuff your capon with walnut stuffing and then try to eat it with its normal juices spooned in excess of its top rated. 

A holiday dish well regarded to Italians but not to Us residents is quaglie con melograno or quail with pomegranate. Parts of quail are marinated in pomegranate juice and then braised or roasted. You can also discover guinea fowl that are roasted and stuffed with floor meat and spices. 


In the Val D’Aosta area, you are going to encounter carbonade, a meat dish cooked in red wine typically served with goat salumi, whilst in Piedmont, the classic bollito misto often would make an overall look. In Friuli, there is a dish made with broccoli rabe and cotechino pork sausage though tripe is also extremely frequent. 

Real to type, the Tuscans serve the classic chicken liver crostini and dishes like roast guinea fowl,  duck, or even bardiccio, a kind of sausage designed with spiced pork and fennel. The Umbrians usually roast guinea fowl or pigeon, while roast lamb or braised beef is typical in Abruzzo. 

Italian Walnut Cookies


There are numerous classic Italian desserts you can serve on Christmas, and no Italian Christmas meal is full devoid of cookies, be they walnut shortbread cookies, Zaletti, or traditional biscotti. But there are also holiday getaway-certain desserts:

Northern Italy

It isn’t Xmas in Lombardy right up until a panettone is served. This brioche-like sweet yeasty Christmas cake originated in Milan, and it is generally regarded an Italian fruitcake mainly because it is historically made with dried fruit or nuts. A quality panettone will be weighty for its sizing and fairly expensive as it has loads of eggs and butter. If you might be in Milan, head to Pasticceria Martesana, where they market panettone calendar year-round. 

Around in Verona, the identical but different Pandoro is king. It is buttery, star-formed, dusted with powdered sugar. Both are delightful topped with whipped cream or clean fruit or even toasted with butter and served with espresso. Try them for on your own at Eataly.

Central Italy

In Tuscany, you are going to discover beloved sweets like ricciarelli ( tender almond flour cookie) and panforte (a fruit and nut sweet from Siena during Xmas as effectively as much less-common dishes like castagnaccio, a cake made with chestnut flour, pine nuts, and raisins.

In Abruzzo, a chestnut puree is discovered alongside with almonds in caggionetti, a fried sweet ravioli. 

Southern Italy

To us, it seems the desserts get sweeter and much more various the farther South you go in Italy. As these, it really is a lengthy listing of what you will locate throughout Xmas. 

In Sicily, classics like cassata and cannoli are normal, though the tower of minimal fried dough and honey, recognised as struffoli, is ubiquitousThroughout Italy, but specifically in the South, you’ll discover the nougat known as torrone. 

You never need to have to fly to Italy to get great Italian food (nevertheless, if you want to, we are in this article to assist strategy your journey!) In this article at Salt & Wind Journey, we have all types of Italian recipes you can increase to your getaway distribute.

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Image Credit: Mini Panettone By Susan Brooks-Dammann Christmas Tree in Venice By Vero

Sharron Hermanson

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