Food & Drinks Comment
Home » Blog » Food & Drinks » Catalan Christmas Dinner

Catalan Christmas Dinner

Celebrating Christmas in Catalonia guarantees an extensive Christmas dinner and lunch with the family, around a beautifully decorated table full of delicacies. But what exactly do they eat in Catalonia for Christmas? As a born and bred Barcelona resident, I’ve had the pleasure of celebrating many Christmases in Barcelona and can therefore tell you all about the most popular Christmas dishes in Catalonia. In this post, I’ll tell you about the typical Catalan Christmas dishes and give you tips for putting together the ultimate Catalan Christmas menu.

15x Typical Catalan Christmas Dishes

In Catalonia, we gather with the family for three meals during Christmas: first the Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve (December 24), then the Christmas lunch on Christmas Day (December 25), and finally, the Sant Esteve lunch (December 26), which is celebrated as a kind of second Christmas Day in Catalonia.

You can imagine that a lot is eaten during all these festive meals. Let’s take a look at the most popular Christmas dishes in Catalonia.

Christmas Lunch with my Family in Barcelona
Christmas Lunch with my Family in Barcelona

1. Cóctel de Gambas

Prawns are often on the Christmas menu in Catalonia, whether they’re cooked, grilled, or served as part of a dish, like the famous cóctel de gambas.

The cóctel de gambas is a refined and refreshing start to a typical Christmas dinner. It’s a cocktail of peeled shrimp, served in a glass, often with a creamy cocktail sauce (mayonnaise, ketchup, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce), iceberg lettuce, and lemon.

This delicacy is usually enjoyed as an appetizer during the Christmas dinner. Its light and flavorful character makes it a perfect choice to start the meal.

2. Canapés

Canapés are a series of small bites served on toast, ranging from seafood to meat and vegetarian options. They are colorful and flavorful, often artfully presented.

You can use a variety of ingredients and make combinations, such as pate with caviar and salmon eggs, Philadelphia cheese with pieces of smoked salmon, shrimp with avocado, or Manchego cheese with membrillo (quince jelly).

Canapés are common during festive cocktail moments, as light snacks before the main dinner.

3. Escudella i Carn d’Olla

The escudella i carn d’olla is a distinctive dish from Catalan cuisine and a variation of the Spanish cocido. It’s distinguished by the addition of elongated meatballs, the pilota, and the use of black and white botifarra (sausage), alongside pasta shells, called galets.

Actually, the escudella is the soup made with the broth that results from cooking all the ingredients (vegetables, chickpeas, and various meats, or the carn d’olla). The soup is traditionally served with large pasta shells, the galets, and pieces of the pilota, a large meatball. The remaining vegetables and meat from the soup are served as a side dish.

The escudella i carn d’olla is often enjoyed on the first day of Christmas. It is also known as sopa de galets; in that case, the remaining vegetables and meat are not served alongside it.

4. Zarzuela de Pescado y Marisco (Sarsuela)

Zarzuela de pescado y marisco is a delightful Catalan seafood stew. It combines a mix of seafood like prawns, squid, and various fish in a flavorful tomato sauce. This dish is often served on special occasions, including Christmas Eve, and is beloved for its rich flavor.

5. Suquet de pescado (Suquet de Peix)

Suquet de peix is a traditional Catalan fish stew. It combines a mix of fish with potatoes and almonds in a delicious sauce. Suquet de Peix is a popular dish during the Christmas period and is often served with a delightful white wine.

6. Canelones (Canelons)

Canelons are stuffed pasta tubes, similar to Italian cannelloni. Traditionally, canelons are eaten on Boxing Day (Sant Esteve), a day when Catalans often reuse leftovers from the Christmas meal. The canelons are then covered with a rich béchamel sauce and grated cheese and baked in the oven.

Canelons for Sant Esteve
Canelons for Sant Esteve

7. Pavo Relleno a la Catalana (Gall d’Indi Farcit)

Pavo relleno a la catalana is a Catalan style stuffed turkey, prepared with minced meat, nuts, and dried fruits. Pavo relleno a la catalana is a common main dish during Christmas dinner.

8. Pollo Rustido a la Catalana (Pollastre de Nadal al Forn)

Pollo rustido a la catalana is Catalan style roasted chicken, often marinated in a mixture of garlic, herbs, and lemon. This dish is a popular choice for Christmas dinner, especially for its juicy taste and aromatic herbs.

9. Cochinillo al horno (Garrinet al Forn)

Garrinet al forn is roasted suckling pig, a traditional Christmas dish known for its crispy skin and tender meat. It’s a classic Christmas dish that adorns festive tables.

10. Pato a la Catalana (Ànec a la Catalana)

Ànec a la catalana is duck prepared in the Catalan style, often marinated in sweet sauces like plum or pear sauce. It’s a delicious choice for those looking for a refined Christmas dish with a Catalan twist.

11. Redondo relleno al horno (Tall Rodó Farcit al Forn)

Redondo relleno al horno, also known as Tall rodó farcit al forn, is a Catalan Christmas dish similar to stuffed beef or pork tenderloin.

This dish consists of a large piece of meat, usually beef or pork, stuffed with a tasty filling. The filling can contain various ingredients, such as minced meat, herbs, nuts, dried fruits, and spices, giving it a rich and savory flavor. After the meat is stuffed, it is roasted in the oven, resulting in a juicy texture and golden-brown crust.

This dish is popular during Christmas celebrations and special occasions, and it’s an excellent choice for those looking for an impressive and flavorful main course to serve during the holidays.

12. Dorada al horno (Orada al Forn)

Orada al forn is oven-baked sea bream. Often served with roasted vegetables, this dish is a light and healthy Christmas meal and a great choice for fish lovers who prefer a lighter Christmas meal.

13. Tronco de Navidad (Tronc de Nadal)

Tronc de Nadal, also known as the Yule log, is a traditional Catalan dessert shaped like a log. It typically consists of a genoise cake (a light sponge cake) filled with cream and covered with chocolate icing.

Tronc de Nadal is the perfect dessert after Christmas dinner, a festive highlight for those with a sweet tooth.

14. Pastel de Navidad (Pastís de Nadal)

Pastís de Nadal simply means Christmas cake. This cake can come in various shapes and flavors, but is often associated with chocolate and decorated in a Christmas theme. Such a Christmas cake is a beautiful addition to the table and makes the perfect end to Christmas dinner or lunch.

15. Turró, Neules, Polvorons

Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without the traditional Spanish Christmas treats. Turró (in Spanish, turrón) is a type of nougat made from almonds, sugar, and honey. Neules are thin, round, crispy wafers, and polvorons are sweet, soft, crumbly cookies.

They are typical sweets enjoyed around the Christmas period, often as dessert or with coffee, during the so-called “sobremesa” (the time spent talking together after eating).

Spanish Christmas Treats
Spanish Christmas Treats

Making a Catalan Christmas Menu Yourself

Now that you know what the most popular Christmas dishes in Catalonia are, you might be wondering how best to combine them to put together a Christmas menu. Below, I’ll show you how to make a traditional Catalan Christmas menu and which recipes you’ll need.

Appetizers for a Catalan Christmas Menu

  • Cóctel de gambas: a refreshing start with shrimp;
  • Canapés: various bites on toast;
  • A selection of fine meats and cheeses.

Starter for a Catalan Christmas Menu

  • Sopa de galets: shell pasta and meatball soup.

Main Courses for a Catalan Christmas Menu

  • Canelons (stuffed cannelloni) or Redondo relleno al horno (stuffed beef or pork tenderloin).

Side Dishes for a Catalan Christmas Menu

  • A fresh salad.
  • Baguette.

Desserts for a Catalan Christmas Menu

  • Pastís de Nadal (Christmas cake);
  • Various types of turrón (Spanish nougat) sliced;
  • A platter full of Christmas treats like chocolate bonbons, neules, polvorones, mantecados, and figuritas de mazapán.

Drinks for a Catalan Christmas Menu

  • A good bottle of red or white wine;
  • A beautiful carafe filled with water;
  • Cava for toasting;
  • Coffee to finish.
Catalan Appetizer Bites
Catalan Appetizer Bites

With these recipes, you can easily make a traditional Catalan Christmas menu.

Now I’m curious: have you ever celebrated Christmas in Catalonia or made a Catalan Christmas menu? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.

Other blogs you might also like:

Trendy Hotels in Barcelona

10 Trendy Hotels in Barcelona for a Stylish Stay

Barcelona, the vibrant metropolis on the Mediterranean coast, is known for its incredible architecture, lively culture, and cosmopolitan character. It’s no wonder that you can find a wide range of trendy hotels here that perfectly suit the modern traveler looking ... Read more
Restaurant review Honest Greens Barcelona

Restaurant Review: Honest Greens

Are you looking for a healthy and trendy lunch spot in Barcelona? Then I have something exciting for you today. Honest Greens is a fantastic restaurant chain that has recently arrived in Barcelona. Their healthy menu, which changes with the ... Read more
Supermarkets in Barcelona

Supermarkets in Barcelona

If you live in Barcelona or are temporarily visiting the city and staying in an apartment, chances are you’ll need to do some grocery shopping. But which supermarkets in Barcelona are recommended? What kind of products can you find there ... Read more
Photo of author
Hello! My name is Marta, and I am a born and raised Barcelonian. I love introducing people to Barcelona, especially the Barcelona known to locals. In Barcelona, I am always looking for fun places and tips that I can then share with you, with the goal of helping you experience Barcelona like a local.

Marta Rubio

Leave a Comment