43+ Recipes Perfect for an Authentic Italian Christmas Dinner (2024)

Table of Contents
Why you'll love this authentic Italian Christmas menu Appetizers for an Italian Christmas dinner Eggplant Caponata Roasted Mushroom and Goat Cheese Crostini Honey Roasted Plum Crostini with Burrata + Prosciutto Rosemary Maple Roasted Pecans Brown Butter Pumpkin Galette with Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese + Sage Classic Creamy Lobster Bisque Easy Smoked Salmon Puff Pastry Tart Farinata di Ceci: Italian Chickpea Pancake (Socca) Easy Roasted Italian Long Hot Peppers Oven Baked Beet Chips Meyer Lemon Marinated Olives Italian Chick Pea Fritters with Veggies Traditional Italian Christmas main courses Authentic Italian Lasagna Alla Bolognese Cacio e Pepe Linguine alla Carbonara with Peas and Bacon The Best Italian Meatballs Authentic Italian Beef Braciole The Best Authentic Italian Sunday Gravy (Sugo) Wild Mushroom Risotto The Best Crispy Chicken Parmesan Recipe Easy Baked Italian Sausage and Peppers Unbreaded Eggplant Parm Italian Style Roasted Turkey for the Holidays Incredible Whole Roasted Chicken with Herbs Roman Chicken Cacciatore Easy Oven Roasted Whole Beef Tenderloin Red Wine Braised Short Ribs Italian Christmas side dishes Homemade Sweet Potato Gnocchi Sautéed Broccoli Rabe (Rapini) with Garlic and Oil Zucchini alla Scapece Escarole with Olives and Capers Roasted Cauliflower with Breadcrumbs, Capers, Almonds + Raisins Brussels Sprouts with Anchovy Caper Butter Classic Potato Gratin Italian Christmas desserts Easy Authentic Italian Pignoli Cookies Meyer Lemon + Cardamom Tart Grandma's Old Fashioned Custard Pie Grandma’s Old Fashion Apple Pie Cranberry Meyer Lemon Pie with Gingersnap Crust Easy Cranberry Tart with Almond Frangipane 4 Ingredient Flourless Chocolate Soufflé Cakes Ricotta Pear Cake with Rosemary + Orange Ricotta Cheesecake with Plums FAQs FAQs

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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!

43+ Recipes Perfect for an Authentic Italian Christmas Dinner (1)

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:

Eggplant Caponata

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Italian Chick Pea Fritters with Veggies

This nutritious recipe uses chickpea flour and lots of veggies! They're crispy, salty, and also vegan, and gluten-free! While this is a delicious authentic Italian appetizer, it's also a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables too.

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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 theseMeyer lemon olives), and Italian focaccia.

Want even more options? Skim my list ofdelicious 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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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 tutorialwill make it a breeze.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

These short ribs are slowly braised in red wine and beef broth until they fall off the bone tender. Perfect for a chilly winter night or as the main course for your Italian Christmas dinner.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Classic Potato Gratin

A creamy and cheesy side dish that's sure to please. Thinly sliced potatoes are baked in a mixture of heavy cream, garlic, nutmeg, and Parmesan cheese until golden and bubbly.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Ricotta Cheesecake with Plums

Making a ricotta cheesecake is a very Italian thing to do. This version incorporates plums for a fruity and tangy twist on the classic dessert. A perfect way to end a holiday meal!

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What do Italians eat on Christmas Eve?

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!

What type of wine pairs with an Italian Christmas dinner?

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!

Did you make any of these recipes and LOVE it? Please leave a star ⭐️ rating and/or comment to help other readers!

43+ Recipes Perfect for an Authentic Italian Christmas Dinner (2024)


What does a traditional Italian Christmas dinner consist of? ›

Lasagna, Stuffed Manicotti and other cheesy baked pasta dishes are a hit with all ages—this is classic Christmas fare in Southern Italy. Even a simple pasta dish with a light tomato sauce can serve as a tasty side dish for braised meats, Italian sausage or baked chicken entrées.

What are the traditional Italian Christmas dinner courses? ›

Regional Christmas first courses: Central Italy

In the Marche region, spaghetti with seafood. In Lazio, pasta with broccoli in broth or pasta with tuna sauce. Then in Abruzzo, spaghetti alla chitarra with prawn sauce triumphs (with their delicious fried cod coming in at a close second).

What is Italy's Christmas menu? ›

Linguine with lobster, spaghetti with clams, paccheri ai frutti di mare (short pasta with mixed seafood)…you name it. Whole roasted fish with potatoes is often served as a secondo, and Christmas cookies often appear before the midnight mass.

What makes the best Christmas dinner? ›

You likely will want to choose a main first, like a turkey, Christmas ham, casserole or other show-stopping dishes. Then, you can compliment your main with Christmas side dishes and holiday appetizers. And of course, you can't forget about sweet Christmas desserts and festive co*cktails to sip on throughout the night!

What does Italy eat for dessert on Christmas? ›

Panettone. This holiday favorite is originally from Milan but you can find it at many specialty markets and bakeries these days. The raisin-studded sweet bread even doubles as an edible Christmas gift. Get the Panettone recipe at Preppy Kitchen.

What type of dessert is eaten in Italy during Christmas? ›

Panettone. Panettone is a traditional Italian sweet bread that you will find in Italy over Christmas and New Year. Born in Milano, in the north of Italy, It's got a light, slighlty sweet dough stuffed with dried fruit such as raisins, candied orange, candied citrons and lemon peels.

What is the Italian 7 course Christmas dinner? ›

The Feast of the Seven Fishes (Italian: Festa dei Sette Pesci) is an Italian American celebration of Christmas Eve with dishes of fish and other seafood. It is not a "feast" in the sense of "holiday", but rather a grand meal.

What do Italians eat for Christmas breakfast? ›

Since Christmas Eve dinner is part of the celebration, the traditional Italian breakfast items for this time of year include leftover pandoro, a sweet bread, or panettone and panforte, two types of fruit bread.

How do Italians decorate at Christmas? ›

Italian Christmas decorations include door wreaths and street (and window) lights, like in many other places in the world. But we also have local and traditional decorations like the Presepe and the Ceppo.

What is the number one Christmas meal? ›

According to a 2020 survey, turkey's the main event for 73% of Americans, with prime rib (69%), roast beef (66%), steak (65%), chicken (64%), roast pork (64%) and ham (62%) also coming in as popular contenders.

What is the most bought Christmas food? ›

The 5 best selling Christmas foods for your business include:
  1. Mince Pies. It's only right that we start this list off with arguably one of the best things about Christmas time, mince pies. ...
  2. Chocolates. Another popular food commonly associated with Christmas festivities is chocolate. ...
  3. Stuffing. ...
  4. Mulled Wine. ...
  5. Christmas Pudding.
Nov 28, 2023

What is the most popular Christmas dish in the world? ›

What are the Most Popular Christmas Foods Eaten Around the World?
  • Roast turkey or ham, a standard main course for holiday dinners.
  • Eggnog, a rich and creamy beverage made with eggs, milk, and spices. ...
  • Gingerbread cookies and houses are popular festive treats and decorations.

What is a special tradition Italians have during Christmas? ›

One of the most loved Italian Christmas traditions is presepe or nativity scenes. Nativity scenes depicting the birth of Jesus are spread throughout homes, churches and squares all over Italy. In fact, it seems that no matter where you're in the country, there's always one close by.

What do Italians do on Christmas day? ›

Some Italians start celebrating with a nice dinner on December 24th, while others prefer a light meal — preferably without meat — and wait for a huge Christmas lunch, the day after. However, the midnight Mass at the local church is a tradition from the North to the South.

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