A look at traditional Christmas recipes from all around the world

A look at traditional Christmas recipes from all around the world

Christmas is around the corner, and countries across the globe have different dishes they like to eat as they celebrate.

Did you know in Japan, many eat KFC for Christmas due to an ad from the 70s? Demand is so great that reservations have to be made to eat at a KFC on Christmas Day, and an online service has been created for deliveries.

While we aren’t sharing any recipes for replicating KFC’s beloved chicken, below are a few dishes and recipes that are traditional around the world that you can make this holiday weekend.

Poland: Barszcz (Polish beet soup)

Recipe from The Spruce Eats


  • 4 whole beets, about 1 pound, (or 2 cups sliced canned or jarred beets)

  • 4 cups stock (chicken, beef, mushroom, or vegetable)

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar)

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • Salt, to taste

  • Black pepper, to taste

  • Boiled potatoes, optional

  • Chopped fresh dill, optional


If using fresh beets, heat the oven to 400 F. Wrap beets in aluminum foil and place them on a baking dish. Roast until tender, about 30 to 45 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, peel, and slice into strips or julienne. If you prefer, julienne some for garnish and dice the rest.

In a medium pot, bring meat or vegetable stock to a boil. Add the cut beets, garlic, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper.

Simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve hot with optional boiled potatoes and garnish with chopped dill.

Philippines: Bibingka (Filipino coconut-rice cake)

Recipe from The New York Times


  • 2 cups rice flour

  • ½ cup glutinous rice flour

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar

  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted, plus more melted butter for the topping, and butter for greasing pan

  • 1½ cups of coconut milk

  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 banana leaf (optional)

  • 1 salted duck egg, sliced (optional)

  • 1 cup grated queso de bola or cheddar cheese

  • ½ cup grated coconut, for topping (optional)


Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together rice flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in melted butter, coconut milk and eggs. Whisk the mixture until smooth.

Wash and dry banana leaf, if using, and line a 9-inch cast-iron skillet with it. (One leaf should be enough, but if more are needed, make sure to overlap leaves so there are no gaps.) Butter the leaf, and trim edges leaving a 1 to 2 inch overhang. Alternatively, generously grease the skillet with butter.

Pour mixture into skillet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top with salted egg and cheese. Return skillet to oven until bibingka is golden and browned, and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes more. Brush with more melted butter and sprinkle with coconut, if desired.

Goa: Sorpotel (Indian pork curry)

Recipe from Masala Herb


  • 2.2 pounds of boneless pork meat with some fat on it

  • ½ onion sliced

  • 2 green chili pepper slit into half

  • 2 cups water

For the curry paste
  • 3 inch ginger

  • 20 cloves garlic

  • 15 piece black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 10 piece cloves

  • 3 inch cinnamon stick

  • 1 cup vinegar coconut or white wine

  • ½ cup oil

  • 6 piece green chili pepper chopped fine

  • 4 medium onion chopped fine

  • Salt pinch

  • 2 tablespoon feni optional


Grab a big pot and place your previously rinsed pork meat into it, together with the sliced onion, slit open green chilies and 2 cups of water. Keep it on medium heat and cover the pot to parboil the pork meat for about 20-30 minutes or until it is tender.

In the meanwhile prepare the Masala paste. Combine the Kashmiri chili, fresh ginger root, garlic cloves, black pepper, cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon stick, vinegar, oil, and some water if necessary in a blender to a smooth paste. Keep aside.

Once the meat is tender, take it out and dice it fine (even the fats will give flavor and melt anyway).

Keep the meaty water stock aside.

Heat up a pan and fry your diced pork pieces batch by batch until they get some color.

At the same time, heat up a big pot and fry your chopped green chilies and onions until they turn golden brown.

Add all the cooked pork meat to the fried chilies and onions and stir fry for 2 minutes. Then continue to add in the curry paste and salt together with the meat stock and the Feni.

Mix it all well and bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer the sorpotel. Stir frequently and cook it until it thickens, then keep aside.

Best served with flavored butter rice or Pulao rice or lemon rice.

Finland: Lanttulaatikko (Finnish mashed turnip casserole)

Recipe from Food.com


  • 1 large turnip, peeled

  • 1⁄8cup breadcrumbs

  • 1⁄8 cup breadcrumbs

  • 1 large egg

  • 1⁄2 cup brown sugar

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon of cinnamon

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ginger powder

  • 1⁄8 cup breadcrumbs and nutmeg

  • Salt & pepper


Boil turnip until tender (15-20 minutes). Remove the turnip and allow it to cool.

When cooled, mash the turnip with a potato masher or ricer in a medium bowl. Mix in all other ingredients.

Put the mixture in a casserole dish and bake in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour. The casserole should be brown and fully cooked through.

Note: in the USA, “yellow turnips” are sold as “rutabagas”.

Mexico: Ponche Navideño (Mexican Christmas punch)

Recipe from Goya


  • 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers (flor de Jamaica)

  • 6 quarts (24 cups) water, divided

  • 20 cloves

  • 2 oranges

  • 2 cups drained tejocotes from 1 jar (32 oz.)

  • 1 package (14 oz.) of frozen whole guava

  • 6 sticks from 1 package (14 oz.) of frozen whole sugar cane

  • 1 medium apple, chopped (about 1¾ cups)

  • 1 medium pear, chopped (about 1½ cups)

  • 1 cup pitted prunes (about 6 oz.), chopped

  • 1 cup walnut halves (about 4 oz.)

  • ½ cup raisins

  • 4 cinnamon sticks

  • Rum, brandy or tequila, to taste – optional


Bring hibiscus flowers and 1 qt. (4 cups) water to boil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and let steep for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, press the sharp side of 10 cloves into one orange. Repeat with remaining cloves and orange. Quarter oranges.

Strain the hibiscus mixture into a large (10-12 qt.) pot; discard solids. To pot, add the remaining 5 quarts. (20 cups) water, clove-studded orange pieces, tejocotes, guava, sugar cane sticks, piloncillo, apple, pear, prunes, walnuts, raisins and cinnamon sticks. Bring water mixture to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve piloncillo. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring gently, until flavors are completely infused and the fruit is tender for about 1 hour.

To serve, ladle drink and fruit into serving mugs. Add liquor, if desired. Serve warm or chilled.

Sicily: Buccellati

Recipe from Martha Stewart


  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons whole milk

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Grated zest of 1/2 orange

  • 1 cup dried Black Mission figs, stems removed

  • 3/4 cup raisins

  • 1/2 cup honey

  • 1/4 cup brandy

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1 pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

  • Grated zest of 1/2 orange

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted and finely chopped

  • 2 large egg whites, beaten

  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Dough: In a food processor, pulse together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter and pulse until the largest pieces are the size of peas. Add eggs, 1 tablespoon of milk, vanilla, and orange zest; pulse until a dough forms. If the dough seems dry, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of milk.

Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a rectangle, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

Filling: In a food processor, pulse together figs, raisins, honey, brandy, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, orange zest, vanilla, and salt until thick paste forms. Transfer the paste to a bowl and stir in pecans. Measure a heaping 1/4 cup of filling, place it on a piece of plastic wrap, and roll it into a log about 10 inches long. Freeze until firm. Repeat the process with the remaining filling (you should have about 10 logs).

Working with one rectangle of dough at a time, place dough on a lightly floured sheet of parchment. Roll out the dough to a 15-by-10-inch rectangle, a scant 1/4 inch thick. Transfer parchment to a baking sheet; refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat the process with the remaining dough.

Cut each rectangle of dough crosswise into five 3-inch-wide strips. Position one strip of dough on the work surface with long sides parallel to the edge of the work surface. Place one log of filling along the upper edge of the long side of each strip. Fold the remaining dough over the filling to enclose it. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, seam-side down. Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. Repeat the process with the remaining dough and filling.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut logs into 2-inch pieces. Using a paring knife, make 2 cuts on one side of each piece, being careful not to cut all the way through. Shape each piece into a crescent, with the cuts on the outside of the crescent. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake, rotating halfway through until bottoms are brown and tops are light golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

Glaze: Whisk together egg whites and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Mix in vanilla. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a very small round tip. Pipe glaze over cookies; let stand until set. Glazed cookies can be stored in an airtight container, between sheets of parchment, at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Puerto Rico: Pasteles

Recipe from The Spruce Eats


For the pork filling:
  • 2 pounds pork shoulder, diced

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 4 small sweet peppers, chopped

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons recaito, or Puerto Rican sofrito sauce

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon adobo seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon ground oregano

  • 1 bay leaf

For the masa dough:
  • 4 pounds yautía, or malanga, peeled
  • 6 green plantains

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 2 tablespoons recaito

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

For the wrapping:
  • 1 tablespoon achiote oil

  • Kosher salt, for boiling water


Brown the diced pork in olive oil in a large nonstick skillet.

Add the sweet peppers, chopped onion, recaito, garlic, adobo, oregano, and bay leaf, stirring well. Cook until the pork is no longer pink inside. Remove the bay leaf from the mixture and set aside to cool.

Make the masa dough: In a large bowl, grate the peeled yautía and the green plantains (or cleaned and peeled yuca). Use disposable gloves, as uncooked plantains will stain your hands and kitchen towels.

Blend the grated roots in a food processor until creamy.

Place the masa over a cheesecloth or a fine-mesh sieve for at least three hours so the excess moisture drips out.

Once the masa is ready, stir in the garlic, recaito, salt, and enough of the achiote oil to moisten the dough and add a little color. You are now ready to assemble and wrap the pasteles.

Wrap the pasteles: Prepare a work surface to assemble and wrap the pasteles. If you have friends helping you, set up an assembly line. Prepare 20 (10 x 5-inch) banana leaves, 20 (8 x 4-inch) rectangles of parchment paper, and 20 (18-inch) pieces of kitchen string.

For each pastel, lay out a piece of parchment paper, topped with 1 piece of banana leaf. Brush achiote oil in a rectangular shape on the center of the banana leaf.

Spread 1 1/2 to 2 spoonfuls of masa onto the center of the leaf.

Add 1 spoonful of pork filling and top with another spoonful of masa.

Bring the edges of the banana leaf over the top of the pork filling. Then repeat with the other side of the banana leaf so that the masa completely covers the top of the filling.

Bring the edges of the banana leaf together and fold down over the top.

Fold the edges of the banana leaf underneath the package.

Bring the top and bottom edges of the parchment paper over the top and fold or roll down the edges to make a horizontal seam. Tuck the ends under.

Tie with a string in both directions. At this point, you can freeze any pasteles you are not going to cook and eat right away. Place them in resealable bags, date, label, and freeze.

Cook the pasteles: Bring a stock pot of salted water to a boil. Place the pasteles in the water, making sure they are submerged. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Using tongs, remove the pasteles from the boiling water and place them on a plate. Carefully cut the string of each with kitchen scissors and very carefully open the banana leaves and parchment paper. Place the pastel on a serving plate.

Germany: Feuerzangenbowle (traditional burnt punch)

Ingredients (for 10-12 glasses)

  • 2 oranges

  • 2 lemons

  • 8 1⁄2 cups dry red wine

  • 1 stick cinnamon, about 2-3 inches long

  • 5 cloves

  • 1 dash ginger, grounded

  • 1⁄2lb sugar loaf

  • 2 cups brown rum


Wash the oranges and lemons thoroughly, pat dry and cut into slices or wedges.

In a large pot add red wine, oranges, lemons, cinnamon and cloves. Heat up slowly, but let not boil.

Move the pot from heat and place it on a heating surface similar to what you use for Fondue.

Add ginger.

Place the sugar loaf above the red wine mixture (about 1 inch above the surface). You can use special “fire tongs”, which are made for this purpose. You can also a kind of wire netting to place the sugar loaf on.

Soak the sugar loaf with rum and light up the alcohol. The sugar will melt and drip into the wine. Add rum (little by little) to keep the fire burning until the sugar loaf is used up.

After the sugar loaf is used up stir gently and serve. If you like you can also use orange or lemon wedges too.

Note on how to light the rum: Put the rum into a small scoop and light it “outside” the Feuerzangenbowle and then pour it over the sugar loaf.

Ukraine: varenyky (pierogies)

Recipe from Allrecipes


  • 5 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened

  • 1 cup evaporated milk

  • ½ cup water

  • 6 medium potatoes, cut into small cubes

  • 2 large onions, finely chopped

  • ½ cup butter

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  • salt and pepper to taste

Alternative filling:
  • 1 pound sauerkraut

  • 2 large onions, finely chopped

  • ½ cup butter

  • 3 cups finely shredded green cabbage

  • 1 cube chicken bouillon

  • 2 teaspoons pepper


To make the dough, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the soft butter and evaporated milk; stir gently until all the liquid is absorbed. Add water only as needed, kneading continuously until the dough sticks together. Place dough into a greased bowl, turn to coat, and let rest for 30 minutes.

To make the potato filling, place potatoes into a saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a medium skillet, over medium heat. Saute onions in butter until tender. Mix the onions into the potatoes along with the cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To make the sauerkraut and cabbage filling, pour the drained sauerkraut into a large saucepan. In a medium skillet, saute 2 onions in 1/2 cup butter until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir the onions into the sauerkraut along with the cabbage and chicken bouillon cube. Cook over low heat until the liquid evaporates. Season with pepper and remove from heat. Allow the mixture to cool, then run through a grinder or food processor.

Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out to 1/8 inch in thickness. Cut into 3-inch circles. Place one tablespoon of filling onto one side of the circle. Fold the other half over and press the edges to seal. Place finished dumplings onto a floured tray and keep covered.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop 10 or so dumplings into the water at a time. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, then remove to a colander to drain. Place finished dumplings onto a lightly oiled dish and turn them to coat with a thin layer. This will keep them from sticking together. Serve dumplings with fried onions and sour cream. Cooled dumplings also can be fried in oil and butter for a nice crispy surface.

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