Festive Christmas table set up for dinner with white lights in the background

Italian Christmas Dinner

What is a traditional Italian Christmas dinner?

A traditional Italian Christmas dinner usually consists of a roast, likely a braised pork roast, some vegetables, and a pasta dish. They also often serve seafood, such as prawns or mussels. But just like in the U.S., every Italian family has its own traditional food items for holidays. Any family favorite, including lasagna, is an excellent choice for Christmas dinner. And, of course, there will be wine, either red or white. On special days like Christmas, Italian families also like to serve Prosecco.

A traditional Italian Christmas dessert is definitely panettone. This dome-shaped sweet bread is made with candied fruit and raisins and is a holiday staple. Other traditional Italian Christmas desserts include the classic tiramisu and panna cotta—a traditional Italian custard served with any sauce you like.

    What are some Italian Christmas traditions?

    Christmas in Italy is all about being merry with friends and family. They also like to give gifts, just like in the United States. While Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) brings presents the night before Christmas, Italians also give gifts on Epiphany, or the twelfth day of Christmas.

    PanettoneWhat candied fruit is served on Christmas Eve?

    The jewel tones of candied fruit are perfect for making any holiday treat look truly special. The most traditional way to include candied fruit on Christmas Eve is to serve panettone, but there is no wrong way. Dipping cannoli in candied fruit makes for a stunning dessert display.

    Feast of Seven FishesWhat is the Feast of the Seven Fishes?

    Some Italians and Italian Americans always abstain from meat before a feast day. So for Christmas Eve, they celebrate the sea in an elaborate meal of seven different fish dishes, known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Opinions differ about where the idea of “seven” comes from. Some say it’s to honor the seven sacraments, some the seven days in which God made the universe, and some the seven virtues. Even the seven deadly sins get attribution. Whatever reason you like best, the Feast of the Seven Fishes is a beloved Christmas tradition for many of Italian heritage.

    Shrimp RatatouilleIf I only have 30 minutes, what pasta dishes can I serve and still practice Christmas traditions?

    Several wonderful pasta dishes can be cooked in about 30 minutes. And if you have more than 30 minutes, you have lots of options, many of which don’t require you to be at the stove the entire time.

    An elegant but quick meal is mussels in white wine sauce or frutti di mare, which is seafood in a white wine and tomato broth. A hearty yet easy option is a pesto pasta salad. Or you could do Alfredo with a cream sauce. Adding a little lemon zest will elevate the sauce and takes almost no time at all.

    If you have up to an hour and 30 minutes, we recommend these recipes: weeknight chicken pomodoro, chicken Marsala linguini, one-pot shrimp ratatouille pasta or Tuscan white bean soup. The sky’s the limit!

    LasnageWhat baked pasta dish that includes fresh basil and meat sauce can I include for a traditional Italian Christmas?

    Lasagna is both one of the oldest and most traditional Italian pasta dishes. We have a great recipe from Mama Fresina, a former owner of our company. For a slightly different take on baked pasta at Christmas, you can also try baked ziti.

    Italian RoastIs an Italian roast with red pepper typically an Italian American meal?

    Both Italians and Italian Americans love a roast. The traditional Italian cooking method is to braise the meat with white wine, tomato sauce, and red pepper flakes. This method is similar to what the French call a daube, and it produces a succulent, flavorful meat.

    Red WineIs red wine served with every Italian meal?

    Red wine may not be served with every Italian meal, but at Dagostinos, we believe it’s served at every good one.

    Joking aside, the Italians believe, and there is evidence to back this up, that red wine aids digestion, which is part of the reason that red wine is such a part of traditional Italian cuisine. It also stimulates conversation, which is also an important part of a great meal.

    Red pepper pasta sauceWhat Italian Christmas food is served with red pepper?

    Red pepper pasta sauce is a beautiful Italian dish to serve at Christmas. This sauce is usually made with red peppers, but many Italians also include a green or yellow pepper as well, to cut the sweetness and add depth to the flavor. Give it a try!