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Monday, December 20, 2021

The 10 most typical Spanish Christmas dishes


In a few days, we'll be celebrating Nochebuena (Christmas Eve), one of the most important nights of the year, and as such, the menu chosen for dinner must be very special. For the occasion, families usually prepare recipes that they don't make during the year, with the idea of offering something different. Here are some of the most typical Spanish Christmas dishes.

Spain is a very culturally and gastronomically varied country. For this reason, Christmas dinners are different in different regions. What's more, there are even places like Catalonia where they don't celebrate Christmas Eve, but the tradition is to have a great family meal on December 25. The products that are consumed in Spain on these dates vary according to the area and according to the raw materials that exist in the place. However, as in France, despite not having a common dish par excellence, there is a tendency to consume high-quality or highly elaborated products to give that special and magical touch to the night. Thus, in Galicia seafood is the main protagonist, spider crabs, lobsters, crayfish, prawns, crabs and much more, marinated with white Ribeiro wines.

In the Basque Country, on the other hand, they opt more for fish and elvers, although without neglecting shellfish either. In addition, traditional desserts such as goxua or intxaursalsa stand out. Further south, in Castilla-La Mancha or Andalusia, stuffed turkey tends to have a leading role. And always, anywhere, you will find specially made sweets.

Cordero lechal (Roast suckling lamb)


Roasted lamb is a typical recipe from Castilla-La Mancha, but at Christmas it is present throughout the country. The meat of the suckling lamb is that of an animal of about 25 or 30 days of life, which is why it is so delicious. It is not necessary to add spices because they will only hide its flavour. It is one of the tastiest Spanish Christmas recipes. 

(Lamb certainly is the most popular choice for Christmas throughout Spain. In the Canary Islands you would be more likely to encounter a goat kid, cooked on the barbecue.)

Cochinillo al horno (Roast suckling pig)


Baked suckling pig mixes the crunchy texture of its skin with a juicy meat. It is a famous dish in Segovia and Ávila and has become one of the most typical Spanish Christmas recipes.

Besugo al horno (Baked sea bream)


One of the most classic fish recipes is the baked sea bream. It is a very simple recipe but its price can be high. You can also find it from a fish farm at a more affordable price. It is one of the classic Spanish Christmas recipes.

Escudella de Nadal

Escudella de Nadal (Christmas Soup)


Escudella i carn d’olla, the so-called galet soup, Escudella, is one of the traditional dishes of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands. It is one of the most used Spanish Christmas recipes in those communities. Galets are a pasta shaped like shells, which instead of being stuffed, is cooked together with some small meatballs, separately, on the one hand the broth with galets and the meatballs on the other. There is a particular version of this soup that can be called "Escudella de Nadal" (Christmas soup) or "sopa de galets" (galets' soup) and it is very typical on Christmas Day. 

Escudella de Nadal - recipe in English.

Bacalao con coliflor (Cod with cauliflower)


A humble and cheap dish that has been served during Christmas in northern Spain and Galicia. If the ingredients are of quality, the result is extraordinary. It is another of the most typical Spanish Christmas recipes.

Cocido murciano con pelotas Avicentegil, CC BY-SA 4.0

Cocido de pelotas (Stew with meatballs)


Cocido de pelotas (stew with meatballs) is a tradition as the main dish on Christmas Day in the Murcia region. In fact, a cup of soup with meatballs on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day is never missing from any Murcian table.


Cardo de Navidad (Christmas Milk Thistle)


The milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is part of the gastronomic heritage of Navarra, Aragon, La Rioja and the Basque Country. The Christmas thistle made with the stalks is cooked accompanied by nuts, clams or ham. Another of the most typical Spanish Christmas recipes. (In foods, milk thistle leaves and flowers are eaten as a vegetable for salads and a substitute for spinach. The seeds are roasted for use as a coffee substitute. Don't confuse milk thistle with blessed thistle (Cnicus benedictus).

Pavo relleno (Stuffed turkey)


Turkey is the dish that many families choose for Christmas Eve dinner and that we most associate with Christmas, perhaps due to the influence of Anglo-Saxon culture, where it is an irreplaceable dish for these dates.

Calamares rellenos (Stuffed squid)


One of the most typical Spanish Christmas recipes that are chosen as an alternative to meat and fish is stuffed squid in any of its variants.

Arroz con leche (Rice pudding)


It is a classic of Asturian desserts for the Christmas holidays. Its preparation requires patience but the result is a sweet with an irresistible creamy texture. One of the most typical desserts in Spanish Christmas recipes.

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