Traditional Christmas Foods Across America

REGION BY REGION, THESE ARE WHAT’S ON OUR CHRISTMAS TABLES

Blue Smoke Holiday Dinner
Blue Smoke’s Holiday Dinner

Every family has their own Christmas food traditions. From hearty Christmas breakfasts to lavish Christmas dinners and everything in-between, what we eat on Christmas says a lot about us, from where we live to what our ancestral heritage is. Some traditional Christmas foods vary by region, while some can be found on Holiday tables from coast to coast. 

Read More: Christmas Desserts to Try in 2023

What Foods Are Traditionally Served on Christmas?

Every family in every part of the world serves their own traditional Christmas foods, but in the U.S., some are enjoyed nationwide: 

Traditional Christmas Foods By Region

New England

New England Christmas food traditions are anchored in the foods brought over by the region’s earliest European settlers. Roasted Christmas goose makes more appearances on Christmas tables in the Northeast than in any other region, as well as eggnog, mince pies (individual-sized pies filled with sweet dried fruit), and traditional British-style Christmas pudding.

Shirley Chung’s Ms. Chi’s Peking Goose
Shirley Chung’s Ms. Chi’s Peking Goose
Bourke Street Bakery Fruit Mince Pie
Bourke Street Bakery’s Fruit Mince Pie

Mid-Atlantic

Crab cakes are always a popular Holiday dish in the Mid-Atlantic states, along with oysters, biscuits, and country ham pie further south. Shoofly pie and Smith Island Cake are popular Mid-Atlantic desserts.

Boatyard Bar & Grill’s Maryland Crab Cakes
Boatyard Bar & Grill’s Maryland Crab Cakes
Miller's Bakery Shoofly Pie
Miller’s Bakery Shoofly Pie

Midwest

Classic Midwestern Christmas foods include casseroles (especially green bean casserole, cheesy broccoli casserole, and Tater Tot casserole) and cheese balls. Scandinavian influence extends into the Christmas table as well, via foods like Swedish meatballs, lutefisk, and mashed rutabaga and turnips. For dessert, kringles – buttery, flaky, fruit & nut-filled Danish pastries – are also popular.

O&H Danish Bakery’s Kringle
O&H Danish Bakery’s Kringle
O and H Danish Bakery’s Apple Kringle
O&H Danish Bakery’s Apple Kringle

South

Ham – especially country ham – is a more common Christmas main dish in the South than elsewhere in the country, along with sides including mac & cheese and cornbread. Lechon, or spit-roasted pig, is a popular main course in Latin American and Spanish Southern households. Rice also makes an appearance on Southern Christmas tables, and on the Gulf Coast, shrimp and other Gulf seafood isn’t an uncommon sight. Pumpkin and pecan pies are popular Southern Christmas desserts.

The Original Turkey’s Smoked Ham Dinner
The Original Turkey’s Smoked Ham Dinner
Cochon Butcher’s Ham Dinner
Cochon Butcher’s Ham Dinner

Southwest

There’s a lot of Mexican influence in the food traditions of the Southwest, many of which have spilled over into Christmas. Tamales are a very popular Christmas dish in Texas and other parts of the Southwest, along with corn roasted in its husk, empanadas, dishes adorned with red & green chile, and biscochitos, a crisp New Mexican butter cookie flavored with cinnamon and anise.

El Bolillo Bakery’s Pork & Hatch Chile Tamales
El Bolillo Bakery’s Pork & Hatch Chile Tamales
El Charro Cafe Tamales Choose Your Own Pack
El Charro Café’s Choose Your Own Pack Tamales

Nationwide

Even though every region has some traditional Christmas foods to call their own, far more Christmas foods are universally enjoyed across America. While there’s no specific Christmas breakfast, many families enjoy a hearty meal of eggs, bacon and other breakfast meats, and toast or biscuits

Many families’ Christmas dinners closely resemble Thanksgiving dinner, although turkey isn’t mandatory – many families will instead roast a ham, prime rib, pork shoulder or loin, or (less frequently) a goose instead. Popular Christmas side dishes include mashed potatoes & gravy, dinner rolls, corn, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and roasted vegetables. 

For dessert, Christmas cookies – usually butter cookies stamped into Christmas-inspired shapes and decorated with icing – are a popular snack all season long, as are mince pies, gingerbread cookies, Bûche de Noël (rolled chocolate cakes meant to resemble the Christmas Yule log), panettone (a sweet, fluffy bread popular amongst Italian families), and – of course – the timeless (and ageless) fruitcake.

Lawrys Prime Rib
Lawry’s Prime Rib
Settepani Restaurant & Bakery Nutella Panettone
Settepani Restaurant & Bakery’s Nutella Panettone

If you’re still looking for Christmas food inspiration, look no further than Goldbelly’s wide variety of Christmas dinners, Christmas side dishes, and Christmas desserts, along with plenty of incredible Christmas food gifts!

Dan-Meyers
Dan Myers

Dan Myers is Goldbelly’s Senior Content Manager and Senior Editor of the Goldbelly Blog. He joined Goldbelly in 2020, and as the company’s primary copywriter he also writes copy for all brand marketing initiatives including marketing emails as well as on-page descriptions for all new merchants and products.

Before joining Goldbelly, Dan spent seven years as Deputy Editor for The Daily Meal, a food and drink website. During his time there, he wrote everything from news briefs to major tentpoles including the 101 Best Restaurants in America and the 50 Best Burgers in America, forming a base of knowledge that has served him well at Goldbelly.

Prior to joining The Daily Meal, Dan founded and spent several years running a neighborhood blog called Here’s Park Slope, based out of the neighborhood in Brooklyn. Its primary focus was on the opening and closing of local businesses (especially restaurants), and it was named Brooklyn’s Best Neighborhood Blog by The L Magazine.

Dan graduated from NYU with a degree in Communication & Mass Media, and still lives in Brooklyn with his wife Janie and French Bulldog, Nugget.