With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about what kind of delicious Christmas meals you want to make to wow family and friends.
Find below a handpicked selection of 15 flavorful and festive French, Portuguese and British recipes is sure to impress your guests this holiday season!
I wanted to share my experience when it comes to the festive recipes in France, Portugal, and Britain where I spend most of my life.
French Christmas Eve – La veillle and Noel
Many french families will start with round-or square cutted pate, platter (plateau of charcuterie) cold meats, followed by a little salted jelly and cabbage filled with minced pork meat.
Starters will vary pretty much from region to region. Well, as you can imagine you can get salmon with blinis, readily available in circular small size packets
Next, just add a bit of creme fraiche on top of the salmon sprinkled with chopped “ciboulette” (chive) and you will definitely attract people’s attention with this “amuse-gueule”- called a savoury starter.
As you may already know, France is half-surrounded by sea, so the scallops are abundant therefore, largely available in every supermarket or local market.
And it’s sort of affordable hence its popularity at this time of the year.
How to cook scallops?
As far as I am concerned, I would keep it traditional. No fancy stuff or extra work. So, lay them in a blazing hot pan with a table-spoon of unsalted butter
An even more indulgent option that in contrast is more expensive would be the delicious oysters.
By the way, to a good majority of French people these are the big favourites during the festive period.
Here is how you do it
If you are going to buy or have already bought smaller oysters, I’d recommend eating them raw in their natural shell with a few drops of lemond jus and a coupe of champagne.
Now if you bought larger oysters, these are best enjoyed “au gratin” in other words, this means baked in the oven with small cubes of butter, herbs, chopped garlic completely covered with breadcrumbs.
In case you are wondering, the French do celebrate Noel on Christmas Eve or as we call it “Le Réveillon” (Dec. 24th).
Traditional Christmas dinner tables in France are more likely to display turkey (Dinde) with chestnut stuffing, mashed or roasted potatoes, cranberry sauce, and a variety of vegetables. But before modern days, the goose was the bird for the average family.
Try Raymond Blanc’s perfect roast turkey recipe.
Like many more countries around the globe, we go out for lunch or visit family members for a relaxing Christmas Day lunch.
It’s not a surprise that during the festive period, it is common to indulge oneself with great food and drinks for a couple days.
Depending on the region, many househods’ choices would be roast duck or venison which is also a popular French Christmas dish and many people in France will have their festive dinner on Christmas Eve or before their midnight church service.
5 to 7 main Christmas dishes are probaly made across the country but it depends very much on the region.
For example in Brittany’s they often start with small savoury bits in soup or platter of oysters. Fresh smoked salmon with mousse is also presented.
France South – Provence region
Many families in the Provence region prepare their set menu and wine list before Christmas eve for an exquisite table d’hote.
You’d be in for a surprise as this is very hearty (copieux) food, where thousands of French households will serve their families turkey or “capon” ( is a castrated rooster) for their Christmas eve.
Of course, cheeses and 13 desserts will follow which represents Jesus and his 12 apostles.
Other regions, especially in Toulouse, opt for the “magret de canard”, known as duck breast.
French Bouchee de Noel with Chocolate Yule Log
This unique take on the classic French “buche de noel” cake is the star of the show and I am sure it will turn heads at the Christmas dinner table.
The recipe calls for a fluffy vanilla sponge cake, rolled with hazelnut 70% black chocolate, and topped with orange icing and tiny slices of almonds.
Tip: Roll it out with kitchen cloth full of sugar (spread evenly).
Completely indulgent and perfect for transforming any dinner into a special event!
The traditional Christmas dinner usually involves multiple courses, but this Bouchee de Noel cake is the star of the show.
The recipe is easier to make than it looks – the sponge cake is made with self-raising flour and eggs, and takes less than 30 minutes before it’s ready to be rolled up with the hazelnut chocolate filling.
Once it has been baked, cooled and filled, all that’s left is to spread a delicious orange icing over the top and sprinkle slices of almonds for texture.
An elegant finale to any festive spread!
Britain Christmas meals to wow your guests
In the UK, it is common to buy smoked salmon and serve it simply with fine butter bread squares, and spread a fresh zest of lemon juice to make it more savoury on the palate.
However, there is good news for vegetarians, yes they might enjoy this spinach ricotta roulade or modify as you wish.
You might pick a few great recipes here: Jamie Oliver recipes
As you are probably aware, the main attraction in Britain is roasted turkey with roast potatoes, served with the likes of carrots, parsnips, brussel sprouts, and red cabbage. Serving cranberry and bread sauce and gravy.
When it comes to side dishes the Brits do like their pigs and blankets (tiny bacon-wrapped sausages) and if they are meat lovers they will also throw the gammon in the oven.
To finish it off, you season salt, pepper and gravy, with bread sauce and cranberry sauce.
If you are interested in a bespoke French Cuisine dining experience in your very own home – you may as well try it.
The most bought piece is the very own Christmas pudding made by the great Raymond.
After the usual greetings, drinks and some dazzling cheeses, olives, pasteis, crevettes topped with a porto sauce to impress you.
Like any other annual festivity, Portuguese people do love to celebrate Christmas and nourish themselves with family and friends.
To begin with they often start with a variety of cheeses, olives, bread, soup, and maybe pasteis de bacalhau or crevettes.
Since I remember, Christmas’ Eve is served with a light soup followed by “bacalhau cozido” or unsalted cod cooked in water with a zest of milk and a drop of vinager.
Then it is taken out to be garnished with potatoes cut in half, cabbage, carrots and hard-boiled egg, finally drizzled with great quality extra virgin olive oil.
This is also known a “consoada”.
Some of Portugal’s traditional festive recipes include a wide selection of amazing and generous dishes.
Among the most popular for the festive period are:
“Bacalhau a Portuguesa” is served with potatoes, boiled egg, and green vegetables.
From north to south, the Portuguese food should surprise you with their very best Christmas starters, lunches and dinners.
Oh yes, I can assure you that you are in for a lavish festive meal for large appetites.
On Christmas day in Portugal there are over 6-7 main dishes and many desserts that will suit even the fussiest of eaters. Whilst for meat lovers, turkey is generally top of the list in many regions across the country.
The Portuguese like to stuff their turkey which is called “peru recheado” and is prepared in a very similar way to stuffed turkey that the English enjoy.
Other than Portugal’s most iconic “bacalhau” dish, there are many more that are also very popular during the Christmas holidays. I am not covering them all here, but mention the ones I know or like best.
You will find that people inland do like a variation and that is called “cabrito assado no forno” or oven-roasted lamb.
I tried this once in the past, and I must say that it’s really tasty, with delicious juices and crispy roast potatoes.
Many consider this dinner to be one the most delicious and most traditional Portuguese Christmas sustenance.
The desserts in the “Peninsula Iberica” are often rich, but nevertheless delicious and can be washed down with great wines and some delicious Port.
Here are some that I like:
The rice pudding or “arroz doce as the Portuguese call it, is made essentially at Christmas. But it may be served during the new year and other holidays. Its origins go back to the 16th century.
The creamy rice leaves a sweet flavour in your mouth thanks to the accentuated lemon and powdered cinnamon flavours. Usually kids and their grand-parents draw leaves or flowers made of cinnamon on top.
To be honest this dessert has been one of my family’s favourites for Christmas Eve dinner, for years.
This is a light fluffy festive brown, sugary pastry essentially made for Christmas Day and New Year.
Until today, grandmas and grand-children prepare the dough during Christmas Eve or just before going to Midnight mess, which is the tradition in Portugal.
So, the next day, everyone grabs a spoon and starts rolling the batter around a table spoon. You just have to heat up some oil and fry the almost egg-shaped batter until crispy.
Depending on the region, people will shape the amazing pastry in round, oval forms or something in between.
The best way to eat it is to roll it in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.
Other famous seasonal treats in the Portugal:
We call it the “Rabanadas”, a favourite all over the country at Christmas.
“Toucinho do céu (pudding) is also a traditional delicious dessert that can be found in Portugal and Spain.
There are two to three variations. Or maybe more. (See recipe).
Have you ever had a Christmas in France, Portugal or Britain ? Tell us in the comments below what did you eat?
Which dinner do you prefer?