An Italian Christmas Dinner

Classic Christmastime Dishes and Desserts from all Around the Bel Paese

There is no one "traditional Italian Christmas dinner" as it varies widely according to region and town, but you can feel free to mix and match your favorites from each region to create your own Pan-Italian holiday feast! 

  • 01 of 10
    Vin brule - Italian mulled wine
    Vin brûlé - Italian-style mulled wine. Westend61/Getty Images

    It's great to have a big pot of this ready, kept warm over the lowest heat possible, so that you can dispense steaming mugs of it to holiday guests as they arrive -- and it makes your kitchen smell wonderfully festive!

  • 02 of 10

    Filled Pasta in Broth

    Tortellini in Brodo
    Tortellini in brodo. Nico Tondini/Getty

    Start off the meal with small, filled pasta dumplings in broth (either cappelletti or tortellini) -- a part of a traditional Christmas or New Year's meal in many parts of Italy.

  • 03 of 10
    Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni
    Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni. Georgia Glynn Smith/Getty

    I love to make this baked, stuffed pasta dish for Christmas -- they're delicious, quick and simple to make -- and the red, white, and green colors go well with both the Christmas season -- and the Italian spirit! 

  • 04 of 10

    Bolognese-Style Lasagna (Lasagne alla bolognese)

    Lasagne Alla Bolognese
    Lasagne Alla Bolognese. © Kyle Phillips

    Another wonderful baked pasta dish, this type of lasagna is made with a tomato-based meat sauce (ragu'), besciamella (a simple white sauce), and plenty of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. 

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  • 05 of 10

    Stuffed Turkey-Breast Roulade

    Turkey Breast Rolls Stuffed with Ham and Mushrooms
    Turkey Breast Rolls Stuffed with Ham and Mushrooms. Getty

    Turkey is a traditional part of Christmas dinner in many parts of Northern Italy. These rolls of turkey breast, stuffed with ham and mushrooms, make an attractive -- but also quick and easy -- Christmas dinner main dish.

  • 06 of 10
    Cime di Rapa, Broccoli Raab, Prepared by Da Pino in Taurasi
    Cime di Rapa, Broccoli Raab, Prepared by Da Pino in Taurasi. © Kyle Phillips,

    A traditional Christmas contorno (vegetable side dish) from the Puglia region. 

  • 07 of 10
    Italian Yule-Log Christmas Cake (Tronchetto di Natale)
    Italian Yule-Log Christmas Cake (Tronchetto di Natale). Verdina Anna/Getty

    This is a real showstopper dessert that is actually not as difficult to make as it is impressive to look at. You can use whatever type of filling you like, and add extra decorations (such as meringue "mushrooms") for added effect.

  • 08 of 10
    Panettone - Italian Christmas Cake
    Panettone - Italian Christmas Cake. Anthony Masterson/Getty

    The most well-known of all Italian Christmas treats, Panettone, a light, fluffy yeasted cake studded with candied fruit, hails from Milan but by now is ubiquitous throughout Italy and Italy communities around the world. If you have any leftover -- it makes a great breakfast, lightly toasted and buttered, or even prepared as French toast!

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  • 09 of 10

    Riciarelli - Soft Almonds Cookies from Siena

    Ricciarelli cookies
    Ricciarelli cookies. Monzino/Getty

    These delicate almond cookies from the Tuscan town of Siena are popular during the holidays and a great lighter dessert option for your Christmas table.

  • 10 of 10
    Struffoli
    Struffoli. Linda Lewis/Getty

    These tiny, crisp-fried morsels of dough are covered in honey and colorful sprinkles and they're an essential part of a traditional Naples-style Christmas feast.