15 Traditional Italian Christmas Dinner Recipes
Christmas dinner traditions vary throughout the different regions of Italy, but are guaranteed to involve a feast, including fish and seafood dishes on Christmas Eve and an abundance of rich and comforting pasta and roast meat dishes on the big day. We've compiled this collection of authentic recipes — from calamari in red wine and tomato sauce to homemade pear and gorgonzola ravioli — so you can celebrate Christmas dinner in true Italian style. Guaranteed no one will leave hungry! Buon Appetito!
Swordfish a la Siciliana
A rich, sweet tomato, onion, raisin, pine nut, and olive sauce is spooned on top of swordfish steaks and baked for a very elegant fish dish that's perfect for a special occasion like Christmas dinner. "This is the best baked swordfish, or any fish, I've eaten!" says home cook JBALESTER. "It is truly an authentic Italian recipe, even better than what I've enjoyed there over the years!"
Sandy's Chicken Saltimbocca
Traditionally, saltimbocca is made with veal at Christmas but this version uses boneless chicken breasts. They are stuffed with fresh sage leaves and wrapped in slices of prosciutto, then pan fried in a delicious butter and white wine sauce. Serve this simple, yet elegant dish as part of your Italian Christmas feast and you'll hear no complaints!
Zuppa di Pesce e Frutti di Mare (Mediterranean Seafood Soup)
Italians love to serve a warming seafood soup for dinner on Christmas eve. Use your favorite selection of fish and seafood in this recipe, and add cognac instead of white wine for a Christmas treat! Serve with toasted garlic bread and top with parsley. You can use any remaining fish stock for a seafood risotto on Christmas day.
Christmas Eve Manicotti
Italian savory crepes, known as crespelle, are filled and baked in a béchamel sauce and traditionally served as a main dish on special occasions, including Christmas. In this version, the homemade crepes are filled with a vegetarian spinach and ricotta mixture, but you can easily vary the filling.
Calamari with Tomato Sauce
This pasta dish with fresh squid cooked in a red wine and tomato sauce is very popular in Italy over the festive period. You'll need to use a thicker pasta like linguine or tagliatelle to scoop up the delicious sauce. "Our family always has this on Christmas Eve as one of the seven fish dishes typically served," says recipe contributor ELEANOR1052.
Italian Romanesco Cauliflower Salad
"This is a traditional salad from Naples, known as Insalata di Rinforzo, which is typically served at Christmas time," explains recipe submitter linacavezza. "It's lovely and colorful as it uses cauliflower, lime green Romanesco, and dark green broccoli and is jazzed up with olives and red pickled peppers. It is served with a lemon-based vinaigrette and sometimes anchovies and capers." Add bell peppers instead of the pickled peppers if you prefer.
Sweet and Sour Sicilian Tuna
Seared tuna steaks are served with caramelized onions with a light sweet-sour sauce in this incredibly simple but sophisticated fish dish with minimal ingredients to boot. "My grandmother made this recipe every Christmas Eve as part of the Feast of the Seven Fishes," says recipe contributor JoAnna. "We still make it today and it is my all time favorite!"
Chef John's Porchetta
Chef John shows you how to make a simpler version of the classic Italian pork roast called 'porchetta' for a mouth-watering and incredibly tasty Christmas dinner. A pork shoulder is generously seasoned with herbs, orange zest, and garlic before it's roasted and served with an anchovy, vinegar, and parsley sauce. Serve with roasted apples and potatoes. "Amazing!!!" says Allrecipes Allstar tcasa. "I made this for Christmas dinner. I looked like a cooking super star!"
Lots of Sicilian families celebrate Christmas with their own version of this national dish 'pasta con le sarde', so if you love anchovies and pasta, this recipe is perfect as part of your Italian Christmas menu! This recipe brought back happy memories for reviewer Jacqueline Brown: "My mom is Italian and makes this same recipe every Christmas Eve! This dish should be pleasantly oily with a light, anchovy flavor mixed with the buttery, garlicky bread crumbs."
Italian Shrimp and Scallop Risotto
This authentic risotto is made with shrimp and scallops but you can use other types of shellfish, such as calamari, clams, or mussels. As long as you use the freshest seafood you can get your hands on and good quality fish stock, your Christmas guests will be in for a treat with this sensational Italian risotto!
Quaglie Alla Melagrana (Quail with Pomegranate)
Quails are marinated in a sweet pomegranate, orange, Marsala wine, and fresh mint mixture, then wrapped in pancetta and roasted. Serve the quail with reserved sauce, orange segments, and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds for a delectable Christmas dinner, Sicilian style!
Tortiera di Alici (Italian Baked Anchovies)
Every family in Naples has there own version of this iconic Italian dish that encompasses layers of baked anchovies that are arranged in a circular pattern with a mix of bread crumbs, capers, garlic, and parsley. "You can add tomatoes to the mix, as well as olives or different herbs," suggests recipe contributor Gabriella.
Prune and Olive Chicken
This hearty Italian dish, also known as Chicken Marbella, is made by roasting chicken with garlic, prunes, olives, capers, and white wine for an incredibly tasty meal when served with pasta or a pilaf. It's a great choice for Christmas dinner, plus leftovers reheat well.
Homemade Pear and Gorgonzola Ravioli
Winter pears and blue cheese make a winning combination in this homemade ravioli recipe that's perfect for a stunning pasta dish at Christmas. You can get ahead by making both the pasta and the filling in advance. Serve the ravioli with a simple butter and sage sauce so you don't lose the delicate flavors in the filling.
Italian Marinated Seafood Salad
An abundance of cooked seafood, including scallops, shrimp, mussels, and calamari are marinated in a lemon-herb dressing, then spooned on top of salad greens for a colorful Christmas dish. Garnish with slices of lemon and red onion, and serve with fresh Italian bread.