Traditional Italian Christmas Food in Italy (40+ Recipes)

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Traditional Italian Christmas Food in Italy (40+ Recipes). From appetizers to the Feast of the Seven Fishes and Italian Christmas desserts, you will taste Italian Christmas foods in this post!

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Make these recipes this season and enjoy learning about the culinary traditions of an Italian Christmas meal, just as you would enjoy another Italian meal experience with our Traditional Italian Easter Recipe Dinner Menu Ideas (35+Recipes) and 65+ Best Side Dishes to Serve with Prime Rib. Search for more Classic Italian Recipes.

Italian Christmas Markets (Video)

Let’s view this beautiful video of an Italian Christmas market in Trento, Italy, to get in the holiday spirit. My dear friend Elisabetta sent this to me. Enjoy!

Note: I left the sound on so that you could hear singing and the Italian language. You can mute the audio if needed.

Now, onto the Italian Christmas food and traditions…

Traditional Italian Christmas Food in Italy

Christmas in Italy, both in Northern Italy and Southern Italy, is pure magic.

Italian families gather around large tables and enjoy endless spreads of traditional foods. Many of these recipes are family recipes that are passed down from generation to generation.

Every holiday meal is a memory with the gift of food, laughter, and love that keeps on giving year after year. The food is the center of every table, but it is the traditions, slow-style eating culture, and appreciation for the delicacies prepared that truly make Italian Christmas food special.

Enjoy this post with Traditional Italian Christmas Foods in Italy (40+ Recipes). I hope you can try some recipes this holiday season and on other special occasions.

Christmas Eve – Feast of the Seven Fishes

On the 24th of December in Italy, La Vigilia di Natale, many Italian families celebrate by arranging their nativity scene and attending Christmas Mass. Before leaving for mass, or even after the mass, we return home and gather around a table filled with seven unique seafood dishes.

A traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner consists of different seafood dishes.

You can use a few different kinds of fish and vary the preparation to cut down the work. Every Italian family makes a variety of different fish dishes. Depending on your taste, you can create different ways to serve and prepare the fish.

Most common, the fishes include baccalà (salt cod), capitone (eel), calamari (squid), frutti di mare (shellfish), and more. Try this Easy Crab Cakes Recipe or check out my guide on how to cook frozen ravioli.

seafood- bread- crackers- appetizer

Potatoes and Octopus

The combination of flavors in this salad is beautifully balanced. The sweetness of the octopus, the earthiness of the potatoes, and the zing of the light lemon dressing create a harmonious blend that is refreshing and satisfying. A taste of my hometown!

Italian Octopus Salad Recipe with Potatoes (Insalata Di Polpo) in a large round serving platter. Side of lemon and bread.

Stuffed Clams

There’s nothing quite like a plate of warm and delicious Italian-baked stuffed clams to transport your taste buds to the coastal towns of Italy. Perfectly cooked clams, brimming with a flavorful mixture of crispy breadcrumbs, oregano, fresh parsley, and aromatic garlic.

Best Italian Baked Stuffed Clams on a plate with lemon wedges and parsley.

The number 7 is symbolic in Catholic traditions. There are many references to the number seven. From the seven sacraments, the seven deadly sins, and the seven days it took for all of Creation to come into existence.

Eating fish on Christmas Eve is an ancient Italian and Catholic tradition. It comes from Roman Catholics avoiding meat and dairy on the eve of certain holidays, and Southern Italy (where I am from) is well known for its beautiful coast, which is full of fresh fish and other seafood.

Classic seafood recipes are carefully created, preserved, and passed down through families for generations. 

Italian Stuffed Calamari Recipe in Tomato Sauce

stuffed calamari with tomato sauce served in a plate with crusty bread . Cut open and bite taken out of calamari.

Steamed Mussels and Clams Recipe

Steamed Mussels and Clams Recipe (with Wine and Garlic). These mussels and clams are steamed in a flavorful broth of shallots, parsley, garlic, and white wine. It all comes together in 30 minutes and in one pot. You’ll want a loaf of crusty bread to sop up the delicious juices.

pot with mussels and clams, bowl with mussels and clams and toasted bread.

Stuffed Salmon Recipe with Shrimp and Crab

This stuffed salmon is surprisingly light with a simple stuffing of lightly sautéed shrimp in garlic and olive oil and a mixture of fresh crab, bell peppers, parsley, lemon, and bread crumbs for an added crunchy topping. It is a fresh and delightful seafood dish.

More seafood and fish recipes.

large serving platter with fillets of stuffed fish. Garnish lemon wedges and parsley.

Crispy Baked Cod Recipe

Flaky cod fillets topped with seasoned lemon, garlic, and parsley, then baked to perfection! It is easy to make and makes the perfect fish dish to serve for the Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Crispy Baked Cod with Panko Recipe on a plate with lemons, parsley, and garlic in the background

Spaghetti alle Vongole

This delectable recipe combines perfectly cooked spaghetti with tender and juicy clams, creating a symphony of flavors that will transport you straight to Italy. The star of the show is the garlicky and aromatic sauce, made with white wine and olive oil, which infuses the pasta with an irresistible taste.

Spaghetti alle Vongole Recipe (Pasta with Clams)- on a plate with a fork. Fresh parsley and lemon as garnish. Fork is twirling the spaghetti on a fork.

Flounder stuffed with crabmeat

It is easy to make with little mess to clean and super flavorful! The flounder is mild and slightly sweet with a delicate texture and pairs well with the tangy and savory flavors of the lemon butter garlic sauce.

Baked Flounder Recipe with Lemon- fish with sauce after it is baked. Serve with lemon wedges.

Pesce Spada alla Siciliana

Famous in Calabria and Sicily, the Pesce Spada alla Siciliana is a beautiful example of fresh and flavorful South Italian cuisine.

This traditional Italian Christmas food consists of a swordfish fillet topped with a puttanesca sauce made from olives, tomatoes, and capers. It is typically paired with a full-bodied, dry white wine from the South to bring out the amazing flavors.

Traditional Italian Christmas Day Lunch

Tortellini en Brodo Soup Recipe (Italian)

This Italian Christmas soup is humble, simple, and comfort food from the inside out. Originating from Emilia Romagna, this classic egg pasta is stuffed with fillings, including veal, ham, Parmigiana cheese, and nutmeg. You can also find vegetarian fillings.

We eat this humble dish to celebrate the true and simple meaning of Christmas. Before the fancy main mealdesserts, and Christmas presents, in Italy, we start out

This homey soup served for Christmas Eve dinner or Christmas day lunch takes us back to how the Christmas story began in a humble manger.

tortellini en brodo soup in a bowl

Antipasti (Italian appetizers)

 Antipasto is traditionally thought of as the appetizer course of an Italian meal and contains an assortment of cold items such as cured meats, cheeses, olives, and vegetables. It can also include an assortment of cold or hot small seafood dishes that are often shared.

Italian Deli Meats and Homemade Bread

Enjoy a classic Italian antipasto platter with the BEST homemade bread recipe. It is perfect for any family gatherings and large parties during this festive period.

bread recipe, no knead bread, Italian antipasto, charcuterie, best bread, best homemade bread recipe

Crispy Calamari Air Fryer Recipe

Crispy Calamari Air Fryer Recipe (easy and light)- These crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside “fried” calamari are simple to make in the oven or the air fryer! This is a healthier version of an Italian family favorite.

Plate of air fried calamari with lemon wedges and lemon slices side of sauce.

Primo (Italian First Course)

Examples of Italian Christmas foods for the first course include risotto, pasta dishes, seafood or butternut squash ravioli, soup and broth, gnocchi, polenta, casseroles, or lasagne.

Lasagna (Lasagne) or Lasagna Bolognese.

Italian families always serve traditional pasta al forno or lasagna at their Christmas table. This is a classic Italian lasagna recipe with meat sauce my Italian family has made for generations. I know you will love it too! I wrote a story about my love for lasagna here: Sunday Story: Lasagna Love.

Try the vegetarian variety- Authentic Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna with Tomato Sauce.

a slice of lasagna on a plate with a fork

Homemade Ravioli

Nothing spells love more than homemade pasta! This is the perfect recipe to bring the family together during the holiday festive season. It is satisfying and rewarding to eat mouthwatering tender egg pasta with a classic cheese and spinach filling.

Homemade ravioli in sugo al pomodoro red sauce on a plate with a fork. Ready to eat.

Taste for perfect ‘al dente’ texture. You want a slight bite and a soft, tender texture. Read How to Cook Fresh or Frozen Ravioli Pasta (Instructions) for precise details!

Wondering what to serve with ravioli? Here are some ideas for you: What to Serve with Ravioli (50 best side dishes)!

Secondo (Italian Second Course)

You can find anything from fish dishes to meat entrees for the second-course portion of the Christmas Day main course menu.

Try our classic Roast Lamb. In Central Italy, you’re likely to find meat on the Christmas table such as Roast Lamb is very popular, served with roasted potatoes, and an Italian Fennel, Citrus, Pomegranate, and Salad, or Italian Salad with Pears, Walnuts, and Gorgonzola.

Perfect Pork Tenderloin with Fennel. You will love this juicy pork tenderloin paired with the delicate and slightly sweet flavor of the sautéed shallots and fennel.

Prime Rib Roast Recipe. You will love the flavorful crust with Italian herbs and tender meat with all the pan juices!

Serve this perfect prime rib roast with the best-mashed potatoes and green beans or your favorite side dishes. Also, try- Steak in a Pan (Perfect Recipe).

thick slice cut from prim rib roast on a cutting board.

Best Beef Tenderloin Recipe and Creamed Spinach. The most tender cut of beef packed with great flavor! This is a foolproof beef tenderloin recipe any home cook can master.

close up of platted roast beef tenderloin with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. A side of horseradish sauce.

Dolci (Italian Desserts)

Italian Christmas Desserts! This is, of course, the best part of any meal. Make a sweet ending to a delicious meal with these Italian Christmas desserts and sweets.

Authentic Sicilian Cannoli 

The traditional cannoli originated in the Sicilian city of Palermo. This is the BEST Authentic Sicilian Cannoli Recipe! It comes straight from Sicilia, Italy, from my friend Lili. See the step-by-step photos of the entire process!

Traditional Italian Panettone

Perhaps the most traditional Christmas bread comes from Milan. Panettone has a beautiful tall, dome shape and is more bread than a cake; its sweet dough is studded with candied fruits and raisins. It is one of my favorite Italian Christmas-time sweets.

traditional panettone top down of final cooked cake. Golden Christmas star in background.

I love to gift mini panettone to friends and neighbors to wish them a Merry Christmas!

Panforte

This dessert is similar to dense fruitcake. It is a sticky, chocolatey sweet with a hint of spice it is the traditional holiday dessert from Siena in Tuscany.

This decadent treat contains no flour and is loaded with cocoa, fruits, and nuts, sweetened with local honey, and spiced with traditional holiday flavors.

Pandoro

Pandoro is a golden Christmas cake/bread from Verona that is a traditional dessert for Christmas dinner in Italy. This moist, sweet bread is served with icing sugar dusted over the top and sometimes studded with chocolate. I love to eat it with homemade jam.

Italian Struffoli

Resembling Christmas tree ornaments with colorful glitter, struffoli is an iconic holiday treat all over Italy, especially in Napoli or Naples.

children;s hands reaching for Struffoli on a platter

A giant tower of fried dough balls (similar to little zeppole) is drizzled with honey and formed into the shape of a Christmas tree or wreath, then showered with colored sprinkles.

Biscotti (Italian Cookies)

Christmas holidays aren’t complete without family baking and making an assortment of Christmas cookies! The best part about Italian Christmas foods is the sweet treats ;). Here are some traditional Italian Christmas sweets for you!

Classic Italian Almond Biscotti Recipe (Cantucci)

This Classic Italian Almond Biscotti Recipe (Cantucci) is a blank canvas to create various biscotti flavors. Read all the tips to master this classic and simple Italian biscotti recipe.

Basic Italian Biscotti (Cantucci) Dough with chocolate drizzle

Soft Amaretti Cookies (Italian Recipe)

Soft Italian Amaretti Cookies are soft and chewy with a touch of lemon zest. These cookies are easy to make and delicious! This is a Sardinian recipe.

You will love this original recipe for these soft Italian bakery-style amaretti cookies! The perfect recipe for leftover egg whites from Italian Pastry Cream (Crema Pasticcera) or Italian Pastry Cream (Crema Pasticcera).

Soft Amaretti Cookies Italian Almond Cookies on a cake plate

BEST Italian Wedding Cookies (Anginetti)

The BEST Italian Wedding Cookies (Anginetti). The texture of these soft cookies is amazing (similar to butter cookies), and they melt in your mouth! They are perfect for a Christmas cookie tray.

Italian Butter Cookies Recipe (bakery style)

This simple Italian Butter Cookies Recipe (bakery style) is just like the kind we buy in Italy from the local bakery shop, but better! This cookie recipe requires seven basic ingredients and takes 1 hour to make. You can’t beat these soft, rich, melt-in-your-mouth butter cookies.

They make the perfect holiday season cookie (or sweet treat any time of year)!

Heart Thumbprint Cookies Recipe with Jam

In Italy, you will find these cookies all year round in specialty bakeries. They are filled with sweet homemade jams and dusted with powdered sugar or rolled in crushed almonds to give a crunchy exterior texture.

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Italian Chocolate Spice

Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies Recipe is an easy one-bowl chocolate cookie that is soft and cake-like with plenty of chocolaty flavor and a hint of warm spice. This is an old family recipe you will love.

chocolate spice cookies on a plate with pieces of chocolate, orange and spices, in the background.

Fig Cookies

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Pine Nut Cookies

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Orange Olive Oil Cake Recipe (Italian)

This Italian Orange Olive Oil Cake Recipe is an easy one-bowl recipe. The soft texture and honey-sweet taste will leave you craving more after your first slice. It is simply irresistible, with the most tender crumb and a lovely orange flavor.

cake and wreath

Traditional Italian Christmas Recipes

I hope you enjoyed this post on traditional Italian Christmas food in Italy! Share it with a friend and enjoy the tasty recipes and traditions.

If you are in Italy during the holiday season, visit the local Christmas market, where you will find regional specialties and get a glimpse of Italian Christmas traditions.

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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6 Comments

  1. While the Italians in Italy do serve seafood on Christmas Eve, the Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian American traditions. The people in Italy have never heard of ” The Feast of the Seven Fishes”.

    1. Yes, that is correct! I was born and raised in Italy. My audience is mainly Italian-American. I do explain this in the blog posts and other posts. I apologize if that wasn’t clear.

  2. I was able to live in southern and central Italy for about 2 years and I have loved reading about your recipes on your website, including all of these delicious Christmas recipes. All of these delicious recipes are just how I remember them during this time of year. I have been looking for authentic and wonderful recipes like yours for years and I am so grateful to you for being willing to share your recipes, your traditions, and some of your wonderful family stories. Thank you for sharing!
    In bocca al lupo e Buon Natale!