Most people think of turkey and ham when they think of Christmas dinner, but Italy has its own special Christmas traditions that go beyond spaghetti or lasagna.
Here, this blog will expose you to the Italian Christmas food specialties you never had! Every Italian region has its own unique Christmas specialty.
Although these traditional dishes may not be as well-known in the U.S., you should try them on your next holiday trip to Italy! Here are some of the most famous and delicious Italian Christmas food traditions.
The starter of our Italian Christmas food list is Cicchetti. These are small appetizers or snacks that Italians enjoy at Christmas time.
These snacks were traditionally served to guests after finishing the main meal and before a trip home. However, it’s believed that these small bites inspired the idea of serving hors d’oeuvres at cocktail parties.
A few of my favorite Cicchetti are crostini, which is toast with toppings like prosciutto or mushrooms. Also, sardines in olive oil; meatballs with marinara sauce; and panzanella salad. I hope you’ll give them a try!
2. Bread Pudding
Bread pudding is a traditional dessert for Christmastime in the United States. It’s also a popular Italian Christmas food, albeit slightly different.
In Italy, bread pudding is typically a savory dish made with stale bread, cheese, or eggs and served as an appetizer or side dish. In addition, the bread pudding is usually eaten at room temperature or cold, not warm like its American counterpart.
3. Sticky Toffee Pudding
In Italy, Sticky Toffee Pudding is a holiday favorite. It’s made by coating an English dessert with toffee sauce and whipped cream.
Moreso, the dish can be served on its own or with ice cream, depending on the eater’s preference. This dish is called Torta Della Nonna in Italy, which translates to Grandma’s Cake. This is likewise a delectable Italian Christmas food you should try!
4. Chicken Piccata
Chicken piccata is a dish that originated in Italy but has been adapted and added to many different cultures.
It’s typically made by coating chicken breasts in flour and saute them with butter, then adding white wine to create a sauce. Lemon juice is squeezed over the whole thing, followed by capers and parsley.
The dish is often served with pasta or rice on the side, but it can also be eaten alone as a main course. It’s not always easy to find great restaurants during the holiday season, especially when traveling! That’s why we put together this list of our favorite Italian Christmas food.
5. Spaghetti Pie
Spaghetti pie is a unique combination of two of the most famous dishes in Italy: spaghetti and pizza. It’s often called Italian Lasagna, but it’s not really lasagna at all since there are no layers of pasta.
Instead, spaghetti pie is made by layering uncooked noodles with sauce and cheese, then baking it until the cheese melts.
On the one hand, Italian lasagna typically has three layers – meat sauce, béchamel or white sauce, and pasta sheets.
And on the other hand, spaghetti pie has just one layer of noodles, so that it can be eaten without utensils. This makes this dish much simpler to prepare than the traditional Italian dish.
Spaghetti pie, an Italian Christmas food, is usually served as a side dish alongside more substantial fare like roast beef, sausage, and peppers.
6. Chicken Alfredo
Chicken Alfredo may not seem like a traditional Italian Christmas food. However, it is actually one of the most popular dishes served during the holidays in Italy. It is typically made with pasta, cream, butter, and Parmesan cheese.
Further, Chicken Alfredo is often the dish of choice for modern Italians to serve at their Christmas celebrations. The dish’s popularity is likely due to its rich taste and versatility as a side dish or main course.
7. Crock Pot Spaghetti
Crockpot spaghetti is a must-try for any family looking for new recipes to try this holiday season. With only a few ingredients, this dish, which is a sumptuous Italian Christmas food, couldn’t be easier to make.
Even if you’re not the biggest fan of spaghetti and meatballs but still want something Italian-inspired, this recipe is perfect for you. This dish can also be made gluten-free by substituting the flour with gluten-free flour.
8. Italian Sausage Pasta
Italian sausage pasta; is an Italian Christmas food. Love the sound of that? You’re going to love the taste too! This is an excellent dish to serve at an Italian-themed Christmas celebration.
It’s hearty and flavorful, yet simple enough to prepare with just a few ingredients. Plus, the al dente pasta provides a nice contrast in texture to the rich, spicy meat sauce.
Serve this dish with a side salad for a well-rounded meal that will fill your guests up. It fills up without leaving them feeling weighed down after their holiday feast.
9. Chicken Parmigiana
Chicken Parmigiana is a traditional Italian Christmas food that is served on Christmas Eve as the main course.
The chicken breasts are first dipped in eggs, then bread crumbs, and finally fried to a crispy brown. They are then placed over spaghetti sauce with melted mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, and fresh basil.
In fact, Chicken Parmigiana has been associated with the Italian-American community for many years. Additionally, it is often served at weddings or other family celebrations.
This dish is usually considered to be an Americanized version of the classic dish from Italy called Pollo alla parmigiana (chicken parmesan).
10. Pasta Carbonara
Pasta Carbonara is a dish that originated in Rome, Italy, and was first documented by the Italian writer Giovanni Ruffini in 1887.
The dish has its origins in ancient Rome, where it was called pasta Alia Romana and was served with black pepper and pecorino cheese.
Pasta Carbonara is made from eggs, bacon or pancetta (or guanciale), Parmesan cheese, salt, and black pepper.
Furthermore, the pasta is cooked in a pan with the bacon until just before it becomes crisp but not browned. Freshly grated or finely chopped pecorino cheese is added to the pan, and beaten eggs until the mixture becomes creamy.
Hot pasta water is added to create a creamy sauce in some recipes. All in all, this is a very creamy and nourishing Italian Christmas food.
Lasagna is one of the most popular dishes eaten during the festive season. Known in Italy as lasagne, it’s a baked dish made with layers of pasta, cheese, tomato sauce, and various other ingredients.
The word lasagna comes from lasaña, a Spanish dish that was introduced to Italy by Catherine de Medici when she moved there.
The word lasagna means layers in Spanish. Pasta originated in China and was introduced to Italy sometime during the 11th century. It became popular in Northern Italy, where it was served with soups or used as a filling for ravioli or cannelloni dishes.
12. Chicken Scallopini
Chicken scallopini is another Italian Christmas food to serve at your next holiday dinner. Chicken scallopini takes some time to prepare, but it will be worth it in the end. To make this dish, you’ll need butter, capers, anchovy fillets, salt, and pepper to taste.
And also, fresh sage leaves, clove garlic, minced and boneless skinless chicken breast cut into strips or chunks about 1/4 inch thick by 2-inches long.
In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter, then add the capers and anchovies. Next, cook for about 2 minutes until they’re browned; finally, take off the heat and let cool for five minutes.
13. Fettuccini Alfredo
Fettuccini Alfredo is a type of pasta dish that’s often served with cheese and butter. It’s made by boiling the noodles in water, then combining them with a sauce of cream, cheese, and butter. The dish originated in Rome, Italy, and is named after the restaurant where it was first served.
What’s more about this Italian Christmas food? Fettuccini Alfredo is typically eaten as a main course for lunch or dinner.
This food item is great for anyone who loves pasta dishes but wants to switch things up this holiday season.
14. Parmesan Chicken Manicotti
As an Italian Christmas food, Parmesan Chicken Manicotti is a twist on the traditional manicotti pasta dish. The chicken is first cooked with onions and garlic. Then it is mixed with ricotta cheese and heavy cream to create the creamy filling.
Once the manicotti shells are stuffed, they’re topped with grated Parmesan cheese and baked until golden brown. It is delicious, whether served alone or with spaghetti sauce.
15. Italian Pork Chops
Italian Pork Chops are a delicious and festive dish to serve during the holidays. The pork chops are marinated in Italian with garlic, rosemary, oregano, red pepper flakes, and olive oil.
The pork is then cooked in a skillet or oven until it reaches desired doneness. Moreover, this recipe is perfect for those who want to add new traditional dishes to their holiday table.
Italian Pork Chops can be served with potatoes or pasta as a side dish and roasted vegetables on the side too! Either way, you are sure to be satisfied by this Italian Christmas food!
16. Spaghetti Casserole
Many people know about eggplant parmesan, but have you ever heard of spaghetti casserole? Spaghetti casserole is similar to lasagna because it contains layers of pasta and a tomato-based sauce.
Besides, this dish is popular in Italy during the holiday season, where it’s often served with a side of garlic bread.
Like lasagna, spaghetti casserole can be made with or without meat. Try making this dish for your next gathering, and watch everyone’s eyes light up as they take their first bite! We are far from being done with this Italian Christmas food list. Let’s carry on!
17. Bruschetta Chicken
Bruschetta chicken is a new twist on an old favorite. Bruschetta is traditionally prepared with bread, tomatoes, and basil, but what if we added some protein? This dish will satisfy your taste buds and keep you full throughout the holidays.
In addition, we recommend serving this dish with a side of polenta to make it even more filling. To prepare this Italian Christmas food, you’ll need the following:
- Olive oil
- Cloves garlic, minced
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cherry tomatoes (halved)
- Balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
- French bread (torn)
18. Easy Spaghetti
Still, we have Easy Spaghetti up next on our list of Italian Christmas food. Eating spaghetti for Christmas may seem strange, but it has been around since the 1800s.
It all started when someone came up with the idea of adding tomato sauce to the recipe. This went on to become a common way of eating spaghetti throughout Italy.
19. Stuffed Artichokes
Another popular dish that is traditionally eaten in Italy during this time of year is stuffed artichokes. The dish consists of stuffing an artichoke with breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and parsley.
Then, bake it until golden brown and crispy on top. Serve this Italian Christmas food to your guests and see them in the fullness of their tasty nature!
20. Easy Tortellini Salad
It’s the holiday season, and you’re looking for new Italian Christmas food to surprise your family. One that isn’t turkey, ham, or chicken.
One that isn’t covered in gravy or cranberry sauce. Well, look no further than this Easy Tortellini Salad recipe!
Moving on, this salad is perfect for cold winter days and even better when combined with a red wine vinaigrette dressing. This easy-to-make dish will become an instant family favorite! Enjoy!
21. Caprese Stuffed Avocados
Caprese Stuffed Avocados are the perfect dish for your next gathering. They’re not only a delicious addition to your menu, but they are also a beautiful centerpiece on the table. Plus, everyone loves avocados and tomatoes! Try this at your next party!
Now, here are directions to make this specialty of Italian Christmas food: first, cut ripe avocados in half and remove the pit with a spoon.
Next, slice an onion and place it in the bowl of your food processor along with large basil leaves, cloves of garlic, salt, and olive oil. Mix well until smooth; finally, enjoy!
22. Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Salad
Italian Christmas food is often lumped into a few categories, like pasta and pizza. But there’s so much more to discover.
What are the first words that come to mind when you think of Italian food? Is it tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese, and pepperoni?
If so, it’s time to expand your horizons! In Italy, they celebrate many different types of foods during their holiday season. One of these festive dishes is the Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Salad.
Further, when translated from the original Italian word Insalata di pasta Fresca, this dish means fresh pasta salad. It consists of penne tossed with fresh mozzarella balls, green peas, tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes), chopped basil leaves, and grated Parmesan cheese.
23. Zuppa Toscana
Zuppa Toscana is a soup that originates from the region of Tuscany and combines potatoes, heavy cream, bacon, kale, and other veggies.
The dish is typically served with cheddar cheese or Parmesan cheese to form a cheesy crust on top. Plus, this soup can be made as an appetizer or main dish, depending on your preferences.
However, Zuppa Toscana is not a more popular Italian Christmas food at the typical Italian-American Christmas dinner table. However, it’s worth trying out!
24. Chicken Florentine Soup
Chicken Florentine Soup, also known as Pollo Alla Fiorentina, is a dish that has been served in Florence for centuries. It’s made with spinach, bacon, and onions and seasoned with nutmeg and pepper.
Plus, it is topped with breadcrumbs and eggs, then baked in a casserole until the top turns golden brown.
That being said, the dish is traditionally served with a crusty loaf of bread to sop up the sauce left on your plate. One bite of this hearty soup will make you feel like you’re sitting by an open fire on a cold winter day while the snow falls outside.
25. Lasagna Soup
This lasagna soup is a twist on the traditional favorite Italian Christmas food. Lasagna soup has all the flavors of your favorite lasagna, but you can enjoy it anytime in a soup.
The ingredients are similar to what you might find in a traditional lasagna – ground beef, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and spinach.
But instead of layering them between noodles and cheese, they are cooked together in a pot with broth until everything is tender.
Once it’s done cooking, it’s topped with Parmesan cheese and served with crusty bread for dipping. It doesn’t get much better than this!
26. Italian Chicken and Vegetable Soup
This soup is a classic dish served during the holiday season and is one of Italy’s most traditional dishes.
This dish takes hours to prepare, but it’s worth the wait. First, the whole chicken must be boiled in salted water for an hour.
Next, all of the vegetables are cut up and added to a pot with a lot of olive oil until they’re soft enough to eat. Lastly, we add some salt and pepper before adding them to the boiling chicken broth and let it cook for another hour or so.
The soup is then ready! If you’re looking for a new Italian Christmas food to try this year, consider Italian chicken and vegetable soup!
27. Sausage Tortellini Soup
Sausage tortellini soup is a delicious and hearty dish, perfect for cold weather. It’s best made with a flavorful broth, like chicken or beef.
To start making this Italian Christmas food, cook the meat until it’s browned. Then add chopped onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pot.
Next, add salt and pepper to taste before adding your broth of choice (chicken or beef), plus some dried parsley flakes.
Bring the mixture to a boil before adding in your favorite type of tortellini, such as cheese tortellini, along with some diced fresh tomatoes that have been drained well.
Lastly, give it all a good stir before reducing the heat to simmer, and let it cook for 20 minutes or so until the soup has thickened slightly.
28. Tomato Mozzarella Salad
Tomato Mozzarella Salad is the perfect Italian Christmas food. It’s delicious, simple to make, and perfect as a side dish or meal.
To prepare it, start by slicing an onion into rings and adding olive oil to a pan over medium heat. After that, add the onion rings and sauté for 5-10 minutes until they are translucent but not browned.
29. Spinach and Tortellini Salad
Spinach and Tortellini Salad is a delightful take on a classic spinach salad. The tortellini provides a great protein punch, but the sun-dried tomatoes make this dish.
Plus, the savory flavor of the tomatoes pairs well with the spiciness of the basil, creating a perfect balance.
If you’re unsure how to make it or just need some inspiration, check out our Spinach and Tortellini Salad recipe! Consider this delicacy if you don’t want a flop regarding your Italian Christmas food!
30. Bruschetta Caprese
Similarly, Bruschetta Caprese is also the best Italian Christmas food you’ve never heard of. This delicious appetizer combines a slice of toasted bread with fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella cheese.
The ingredients are then seasoned with olive oil and salt before being served warm. Try garnishing this dish with fresh thyme, balsamic vinegar, or extra virgin olive oil to make it more festive.
Equally important, Bruschetta Caprese is a great appetizer at any party because it’s easy to make. Not only that, but it can also be tailored to your guests’ tastes by adding different herbs or toppings.
Bruschetta Caprese is also perfect for entertaining since all you need is bread, tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella cheese.
31. Mozzarella Sticks
Italian Christmas food is the epitome of comfort food, so it makes sense that a ton of dishes make their way onto the table this time of year.
Mozzarella sticks are one of those foods, and they’re just as good at Christmastime as they are any other day.
They’re easy to make and taste great with marinara sauce. Make some for your next family get-together or your holiday feast!
So why am I talking about mozzarella sticks on a blog about all things Christmas-related? Because these cheese sticks have been in the culinary spotlight lately.
Not just because they taste awesome but also because they remind us that we don’t need to spend a lot to fill up our bellies during the holidays.
32. Olive Garden Breadsticks
One of the best things about the holidays is all the delicious food. The holiday season is a time for family and fun but also indulgence. With all of the feasts and gatherings, it’s easy to go overboard during this time of year.
But what if I told you there are healthier options out there? Olive Garden recently launched its new breadsticks that are perfect for either an appetizer or an accompaniment to your meal.
Plus, the new breadsticks come in two varieties: garlic parmesan and olive oil with salt. Talk about a delectable Italian Christmas food; the Olive Garden breadstick is the one!
33. Mini Deep Dish Pizza
I didn’t know what I was getting into when I tried this, but it was one of the best things I have ever eaten.
The original recipe is actually a little different (and much more difficult to make) than most, but the result is absolutely worth it. Important to note the crust is made with a lot of mozzarella cheese and olive oil.
As a result, it’s very soft in the middle and crunchy on the outside. It’s topped with basil and tomatoes and baked until hot and bubbling. You never know what you are missing till you try this Italian Christmas food.
34. Cheesy Garlic Bread
Cheesy Garlic Bread is a traditional Italian dish that we eat at Christmastime. It is also known as Bruschetta, Toasted Bread, and Crouton.
Usually, it is seasoned with garlic and olive oil, topped with fresh tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese, then broiled until the cheese melts.
This cheesy garlic bread makes for a perfect appetizer or side dish for any holiday celebration. Done with this Italian Christmas food list? Not yet! Continue reading.
35. Homemade Bruschetta
Next up on this Italian Christmas food roll is the Homemade Bruschetta; this is a great dish to serve at your holiday party. Meanwhile, it is easy to make and can be made ahead of time as well.
Uniquely, Bruschetta makes a great appetizer while you are cooking dinner or a first course. The best part about this dish is how simple it is to make, with just 5 ingredients.
To make this dish, you will need tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt, and balsamic vinegar.
36. Mozzarella Bites
Looking for a new Italian Christmas food in this blog? You are right, of course! When it comes to holidays, finding new and exciting recipes can be hard. So why not try something different this year?
These mozzarella bites will make your guests feel like they’re in Italy. Not only are they easy to make, but they’re also delicious! The best part is that you can prepare them ahead of time, so you don’t have to worry about cooking on the big day.
37. Fried Ravioli
If you’re feeling a little left out because you don’t know what foods are typically served at an Italian Christmas feast, we have some good news for you!
Many dishes may not be as well-known in America, but they are delicious and perfect for any holiday meal.
One of these is fried ravioli. Ravioli is traditionally a type of pasta, but if deep fried, it takes on a whole new form.
Fried ravioli is typically stuffed with cheese and served with tomato sauce or cream sauce as dipping sauces. It’s quick to make and has a crunchy outer layer that holds the warm gooey cheese inside.
38. Italian Bread
Italian bread is one of the most iconic symbols of a traditional Italian meal; thus, not left out of the Italian Christmas food list.
It’s eaten at breakfast, lunch, and dinner and served as an appetizer with an espresso or to dip in olive oil.
The best Italian bread is made from high-quality ingredients. And they are baked in wood-burning ovens for at least eight hours to create a crispy crust with a chewy center.
39. Focaccia Bread
In Italy, the most common Italian Christmas food served at this time of year is Focaccia Bread. This delicious dish is made from pizza dough that’s been enriched with olive oil, salt, and sometimes herbs.
The dough is then stretched out into a large round shape and baked in an oven until it becomes crisp and golden brown on the outside.
Furthermore, Focaccia bread can be served warm or cold as a side dish for any Italian feast. It also makes for a great snack when dipped in olive oil.
40. Pistachio Dessert
Pistachio Dessert is a traditional holiday dessert in Italy and probably the best Italian Christmas food you may have never heard of. Pistachio Dourte is a kind of pudding made from milk, sugar, egg yolks, and pistachios.
Next, the pistachios are ground into a paste, and the mixture is cooked over low heat until it thickens. The dish can be served warm or cold with whipped cream or ice cream on top and almond slivers for decoration.
41. Italian Pignoli Cookies
Pignoli cookies are a popular Italian cookie. They are small, sweet, and crunchy cookies that typically have a cinnamon flavor.
Uniquely, the name pignoli comes from the word pine cone in Italian, which is what the cookie resembles. These cookies are traditionally eaten at Christmastime. You can’t get disappointed with this Italian Christmas food!
42. Torta Della Nonna
Torta Della Nonna is an eggless cake with a cream cheese base and hazelnuts as the main ingredient. It’s also traditionally made at Christmastime because it’s so rich and filling.
In fact, this particular Italian Christmas food can last through the holiday season without spoiling or going stale.
43. Yule Log
Yule Logs, or Bûche de Noel, is an Italian twist on the French dessert. A traditional Yule Log is a rolled-up cake with chocolate ganache filling and whipped cream frosting, usually in the shape of a log. The cake is then decorated with seasonal decorations like holly and berries.
The name Yule Log originates from Christmas celebrations in England when families would bring fresh logs into their homes to keep them warm during winter festivities.
Zeppole, also known as zeppoli, is a traditional Italian Christmas food. The dessert is traditionally served on January 6th of the new year.
Zeppole are made from flour, eggs, sugar, and grated cheese, then fried in hot oil. The dough is dropped in balls into the hot oil, puffing up and turning golden brown.
In some regions of Italy, zeppole may be filled with cream or jam before being fried. Then it can be served with powdered sugar and lemon zest.
Torrone is a traditional Christmas dessert that’s unique to Italy. It’s a nougat-like candy made from sugar, honey, and egg whites, which are whipped until they become stiff. Then almonds, pine nuts, and chopped hazelnuts are added to the mixture.
Once all of the ingredients are mixed and pressed into a pan, they’re left to dry for two or three days before being cut into squares or pieces.
The result is a light, crispy treat that pairs well with coffee or hot chocolate. Why not try this Italian Christmas food and give your thoughts on it later?
The last on this Italian Christmas food list is Pannetone. It is a sweet, rich Italian cake that is traditionally served during the Christmas season.
The cake gets its distinctive flavor from the zest and juice of oranges, lemons, and limes. Other ingredients include eggs, butter, sugar, flour, and baking powder.
The dough is often made in two loaves which are baked separately. Then they are squished together to form one large cake with a soft, spongy texture that becomes denser as it cools.
If you’re looking to get into the Christmas spirit or just expand your knowledge of Italian cuisine, there are a lot of different dishes to try.
Here are some popular and lesser-known dishes that can be found in Italy during this time of year.
Christmas isn’t Christmas without plenty of delicious food on the table, and Italy has some specialties you’ll want to be sure not to miss out on.
This article includes the most popular Italian Christmas food list that is sure to give your family and friends a taste of old-world Italy this holiday season.