REGION BY REGION, THESE ARE WHAT’S ON OUR CHRISTMAS TABLES
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:
- Prime Rib
- Baked Ham
- Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
- Green Bean Casserole
- Candied Sweet Potatoes
- Roasted Vegetables
- Sugar Cookies
Traditional Christmas Foods By Region
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!