Christmas foods – 7 of our Italian favourites

7 of our favourite Italian Christmas foods - pandoro with bow

As much as we love a classic roast turkey dinner with all the trimmings, there are so many wonderful Italian treats to indulge in over the Christmas period. Although festive traditions vary from region to region in Italy, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite Italian Christmas foods that are widely enjoyed, from sweet treats to a traditional seafood feast.

Panettone – probably the most recognisable of Italian Christmas foods

Panettone is one of the most delicious, and well-known, festive Italian treats, and we can never get enough of it come Christmas time. This soft, sweet bread is enriched with raisins, citrus, almonds, and butter, and can come in many sizes, from a huge sharing loaf to small individual versions. We like it served just as it is, while it’s still super fresh and fluffy, but if it’s been open a few days and is starting to go stale, we recommend popping it in the toaster for a minute and serving it with butter. It also makes a great edible gift!

Check out our panettone recipe here:

Delicious Panettone Stuffed with Mascarpone on a plate


Christmas foods you will want to eat all year round

You won’t find a Christmas table in Italy that doesn’t feature pasta of some sort, and in regions like Bologna, tortellini is a firm favourite. Although we enjoy the filled pasta all year round here in Britain, it’s a staple at Christmas time and will usually feature between antipasti (starters) and secondi (main meal). Tortellini at Christmas typically includes some sort of meat filling, in keeping with the richness of the festive meal.

Tortellini at a market stall


Although not technically a Christmas-specific treat, biscotti is often enjoyed throughout the festive season and makes a popular edible gift for a loved one. Made from ground almonds, the Italian biscuit is baked twice for added crunch, and often features sweet additions such as nuts, chocolate, or dried fruit. Try one dipped in a strong coffee for the ultimate pick-me-up.

Check out our recipe here:

7 of our favourite Italian Christmas foods - Biscotti

Cassatelle Di Agira

Interesting Christmas foods to add to your repertoire

Think of these as an Italian alternative to mince pies. Hailing from Sicily, sweet shortcrust pastry is filled with a rich filling of chocolate, almonds and citrus, then shaped into half moons and lightly baked. A final dusting of icing sugar creates the perfect snowy scene – a new twist on the traditional mince pies to add to our Christmas foods!

Cassatelle di Agira

Feast of the Seven Fishes

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a traditional meal enjoyed on Christmas Eve in Italy, in which a selection of fish and seafood dishes are enjoyed in anticipation of a meat-focused meal on Christmas Day. The meal typically includes seven different seafood recipes and hails from southern Italy, where it is also referred to as La Vigilia.

7 of our favourite Italian Christmas foods - feast of the seven fishes


Often confused with panettone, pandoro is another sweet Italian loaf popular around Christmas and New Year. Originating from Verona, it’s traditionally shaped like an eight-pointed star, sweetened with vanilla, and dusted generously with icing sugar, to represent the Italian Alps near Verona.

7 of our favourite Italian Christmas foods - pandoro


Hailing from Tuscany, Panforte is a traditional sweet treat made with candied fruit, nuts, honey, and spices. It’s crunchy, chewy, and very moreish – you’ve been warned, it will soon become one of your go-to Christmas foods

Try making Panforte here:

7 of our favourite Italian Christmas foods - panforte

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Flavours Blog

Food, Recipes, Lifestyle and Travel blog – by the Flavours Holidays team.