It's that time of year again when the magic is in the air, and there's nothing quite like sitting down at the table to enjoy a delicious Italian Christmas dinner. Get ready to experience a burst of vibrant, fresh flavors that perfectly capture the essence of the holiday season in Italy. This is the real deal - an authentic Italian Christmas menu that celebrates the rich culinary traditions of the country!
Buon Natale! The holiday season is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than with an authentic Italian Christmas dinner?
As an Italian American trained chef, I am excited to share my tried-and-true recipes for a traditional Christmas feast with you. These delicious dishes will transport you straight to Italy, no matter where you are.
While Christmas Eve usually consists of a classic celebration called the Feast of Seven Fishes, a seafood extravaganza from Southern Italy, today we're diving into what to enjoy on Christmas Day.
Depending on which region of Italy you're from, the dishes and traditions may vary. But one thing is for sure - food plays a central role in an Italian Christmas celebration.
From the light and zesty seafood dishes of the coast to the grand finale of the Italian Christmas desserts, we're taking a delicious journey through Italy, one authentic dish at a time.
There truly is something for everyone in this guide to hosting an Italian Christmas dinner. I guarantee that your family and friends will be impressed!
So grab a glass of wine, put on some festive music, and let's get cooking!
Why you'll love this authentic Italian Christmas menu
- Whether you're an experienced home chef or just starting out in the kitchen, these recipes are made to be super easy to follow.
- Each recipe takes inspiration from traditional Italian Christmas dishes, bringing you an authentic taste of Italian holiday cuisine in the comfort of your own home.
- With a variety of dishes to choose from, you'll have plenty of options for creating your personalized dinner menu. Plus, these recipes are versatile enough to cater to different dietary restrictions or preferences, from vegetarian to gluten-free!
- This Italian Christmas dinner is not just about food; it's about making unforgettable memories with your loved ones. So get ready to have a great time, laugh, bond, and enjoy some delicious food together!
Appetizers for an Italian Christmas dinner
To start off your Italian Christmas dinner, you'll want to serve some traditional appetizers that are sure to get your guests' taste buds excited.
Italy is famous for its antipasti, which means "before the meal." These small bites are meant to stimulate the appetite and bring people together before the main course.
Here are some of my favorites:
A classic Sicilian eggplant dish made with sweet and sour flavors, better known as "agrodulce." This recipe is made with eggplant, olives, tomatoes, and celery as the base. Perfect for an antipasto platter.
Roasted Mushroom and Goat Cheese Crostini
This simple but elegant appetizer is perfect for entertaining, especially around the holidays, but is casual enough to enjoy at family dinners, too.
Honey Roasted Plum Crostini with Burrata + Prosciutto
This recipe is an easy appetizer that's sweet, salty, creamy, crunchy, and full of flavor. While I tend to make this most often in the summer, it's fantastic any time of year.
Rosemary Maple Roasted Pecans
These roasted pecans are great served as a holiday appetizer, snack, or on top of salads. They also make for a perfect homemade gift. All you need are 4 simple ingredients!
Brown Butter Pumpkin Galette with Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese + Sage
Making a sweet and savory pumpkin galette is a fun twist on traditional holiday dishes. Topped with caramelized onions and creamy goat cheese, this galette is full of warm flavor and sure to impress.
Classic Creamy Lobster Bisque
A rich and creamy soup made with fresh lobster, heavy cream, and a touch of sherry. This decadent bisque is perfect for a special occasion like your Italian Christmas dinner.
Easy Smoked Salmon Puff Pastry Tart
These elegant and flavorful puff pastry bites are filled with smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, and a squeeze of lemon. The perfect finger food for any holiday gathering!
Farinata di Ceci: Italian Chickpea Pancake (Socca)
A savory Italian chickpea flour pancake that’s soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, and is made in under 15 minutes with just 3 basic ingredients.
Easy Roasted Italian Long Hot Peppers
These roasted long hot peppers are a delicious classic Italian appetizer. I make this one often, as it takes just 5 ingredients and 20 minutes to make. You can enjoy them solo or serve them on an antipasto platter with crusty bread. Any leftovers work well added to sandwiches or salads for an extra burst of flavor.
Oven Baked Beet Chips
These beet chips are light and crisp, salty and satisfying. They're made in the oven, so they're healthy too!
Meyer Lemon Marinated Olives
These marinated olives are quick and easy to make and perfect for any holiday gathering! You only need 8 ingredients to whip up these flavorful bites for your next Italian Christmas dinner.
When it comes to antipasti, the possibilities are endless. If none of these make it onto your Christmas menu, consider making a traditional antipasto platter.
You can fill it with a variety of cured meats, Italian cheeses, pickled veggies (like these Meyer lemon olives), and Italian focaccia.
Want even more options? Skim my list of delicious Italian appetizers and choose a few to start off your dinner with a bang.
Traditional Italian Christmas main courses
For the main course of your Italian Christmas dinner, you'll want to serve traditional dishes.
Here are some must-try options:
Authentic Italian Lasagna Alla Bolognese
An authentic Italian version of lasagna alla bolognese with homemade béchamel sauce and a classic beef ragù. It takes some time to make, but it's definitely worth it!
Cacio e Pepe
A classic Roman dish made with spaghetti, black pepper, and Parmesan cheese. The key to this dish is getting the right balance of flavors. A simple yet delicious meal in under 20 minutes.
Linguine alla Carbonara with Peas and Bacon
A classic pasta dish made with spaghetti, eggs, pancetta or bacon, and Pecorino Romano cheese. This dish is typically enjoyed at Easter in Italy but makes a great addition to any Christmas dinner.
The Best Italian Meatballs
There's nothing quite like a plate of these classic Italian-style meatballs. This recipe is easy to make and made with three different proteins - perfect for a hearty main course.
Authentic Italian Beef Braciole
Beef Braciole is an Italian favorite that fits just right on an Italian Christmas dinner table. The flank steak is rolled with parmesan cheese, golden raisins, pine nuts, breadcrumbs, and herbs before being cooked in a tomato sauce until it's fall-apart tender. Serve over creamy polenta or your favorite pasta.
The Best Authentic Italian Sunday Gravy (Sugo)
This recipe for Italian Sunday Gravy features a long-simmered tomato sauce with tender chunks of pork, sausage, and meatballs. It's the ultimate comfort food, perfect for any special occasion.
Wild Mushroom Risotto
This wild mushroom risotto recipe is the perfect dish for an Italian Christmas! Making risotto requires patience and attention, but the results are always worth it. This simple and utterly delicious main course (or side dish) can be made in under an hour!
The Best Crispy Chicken Parmesan Recipe
Our traditional Chicken Parmesan (or Chicken Parmigiana) is a classic dish featuring crispy panko-crusted chicken breast, lusciously melted fresh mozzarella, and a tangy homemade marinara sauce. Perfect for an affordable family dinner and ready in a little over an hour!
Easy Baked Italian Sausage and Peppers
This hearty dish is perfect for feeding a crowd. Sliced Italian sausage, bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes are roasted in the oven until caramelized and flavorful. Serve with crusty bread or over pasta.
Unbreaded Eggplant Parm
This is my mom's famous recipe for eggplant parm, and it is both EASY and HEALTHY because it's baked, NOT fried! The best eggplant parmesan recipe ever!
Italian Style Roasted Turkey for the Holidays
Infuse your holiday turkey with flavors from Italy. This recipe uses herbs like rosemary and sage, along with butter, garlic, and white wine, for a juicy and flavorful turkey that's sure to impress your guests. If you've never had the chance to carve a turkey yourself, my step-by-step tutorial will make it a breeze.
Incredible Whole Roasted Chicken with Herbs
This flavorful and juicy chicken is infused with Italian herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage. It's perfect for a smaller Christmas dinner or as a substitute for turkey.
Roman Chicken Cacciatore
You can't go wrong with this traditional chicken dish simmered in a tomato and wine sauce. Bone-in chicken thighs slowly braised in a flavorful sauce with hints of garlic and rosemary. Easy to make and very wallet-friendly!
Easy Oven Roasted Whole Beef Tenderloin
If you're looking for a show-stopping main course that's sure to impress your guests, consider serving a whole roasted beef tenderloin. Simply seasoned with salt and pepper, this tender and juicy beef is delicious.
Italian Christmas side dishes
No Italian Christmas dinner is complete without delicious side dishes to round out the meal. Here are some traditional options to consider:
Homemade Sweet Potato Gnocchi
These sweet potato gnocchi are a delicious twist on the classic. Sweet potatoes give these pillowy dumplings an extra boost of flavor, and they pair perfectly with sage brown butter sauce.
Sautéed Broccoli Rabe (Rapini) with Garlic and Oil
Also known as rapini, this is a classic Italian side dish that's very easy to make. Broccoli rabe is cooked with fresh garlic and crushed red peppers until tender for the perfect bite!
Zucchini alla Scapece
With just five ingredients and 30 minutes of your time, you can make this healthy vegetarian dish for your Italian Christmas dinner with a few spices, garlic, fresh mint, and an abundance of zucchini!
Escarole with Olives and Capers
Escarole is a bitter green that's popular in traditional Italian food. This recipe is a simple version, tossed with capers, olives, and garlic and finished with a sprinkle of crushed red peppers for a spicy kick.
Roasted Cauliflower with Breadcrumbs, Capers, Almonds + Raisins
Sweet, crunchy, salty - that's what comes to mind with this roasted cauliflower recipe! An incredibly simple yet tasty vegetarian dish. My secret surprise? Golden raisins.
Brussels Sprouts with Anchovy Caper Butter
This is one of my all-time favorite recipes for Brussels sprouts. Salty anchovy caper butter is the perfect match for roasted, caramelized sprouts. I recommend serving this on bread, but you can also enjoy solo.
Italian Christmas desserts
And, for the grand finale, here are some traditional Italian desserts to end your Christmas dinner on a sweet note:
Easy Authentic Italian Pignoli Cookies
Pignoli cookies are a traditional Italian almond-based cookie made with pine nuts, almond paste, and egg whites. Deliciously sweet and nutty, they're the perfect finish to any authentic Italian meal.
Meyer Lemon + Cardamom Tart
For a unique and refreshing dessert, try this Meyer lemon and cardamom tart. The creamy filling is infused with tangy lemon and warm cardamom for a burst of flavor in every bite.
Grandma's Old Fashioned Custard Pie
For a classic and comforting dessert, try this old-fashioned custard pie. The creamy and smooth custard filling is made with a touch of nutmeg and vanilla for an extra pop of flavor.
Grandma’s Old Fashion Apple Pie
The perfect balance of tart apples, warm spices, and buttery crust will make you feel like you're at your grandma's table again. Serve this apple pie with some vanilla ice cream for the ultimate indulgence.
Cranberry Meyer Lemon Pie with Gingersnap Crust
Tart cranberries and tangy Meyer lemons make for a perfect combination in this delicious pie - and it makes a beautiful addition to any Italian Christmas dinner.
Easy Cranberry Tart with Almond Frangipane
Cranberries may not be a traditional ingredient in Italian cuisine, but this tart combines them with classic frangipane filling for a delicious and unique dessert. Baked in a buttery shortbread crust!
4 Ingredient Flourless Chocolate Soufflé Cakes
This rich and decadent cake is perfect for chocolate lovers. It's flourless, making it gluten-free, and has a light and airy texture that's similar to a souffle.
Ricotta Pear Cake with Rosemary + Orange
This simple yet elegant cake is a great way to end your Italian Christmas dinner. A light and moist ricotta-based cake is studded with pears, rosemary, and orange zest for a flavorful and fragrant dessert. Serve it with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for an extra treat.
Christmas Eve is celebrated with a big dinner called "Cena della Vigilia," or "Feast of the Seven Fishes. This traditional meal includes seven different seafood dishes, typically featuring clams, shrimp, and baccala (salted codfish). It's a delicious way to begin the Christmas celebrations!
When it comes to wine, Italians often choose a red or white based on the main course that's being served.
For example, if you're serving beef tenderloin, a full-bodied red like Chianti or Barolo would pair perfectly. If you're having fish, opt for a light and crisp white wine like Pinot Grigio or Verdicchio.
And, of course, it wouldn't be an Italian Christmas dinner without some Prosecco for toasting and celebrating!
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