20 December 2019

What do people eat in Spain at Christmastime? Traditional Spanish Christmas foods

As with all meals, the Spanish simply want to eat well. The Christmas and new year season calls for food prepared to please. Meals around this time are celebratory gatherings that go on deep into the night and include plenty of sweets and flowing wine. Read on to find out what people typically eat in Spain at Christmastime.

A large board of ham, sausage and cheese
Entremeses with cheese and meats

Sopa de Galets

This is a typical soup that’s served across Catalonia for Christmas. The galets are large shell-shaped pasta and are sometimes stuffed with minced meat or simply served floating with a delicious broth.

Galets soup
Galets soup

Seafood

The Spanish want to eat well and for an occasion like Christmas, they spare no expense. It’s common to see seafood at the Christmas Eve dinner, which typically includes prawns or lobster, either fresh or in a seafood soup or stew.

Entremeses

In Spain, a large board of the country’s most famous offerings – jamón, chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage), manchego cheese – can be shared and eaten. Entremeses usually consist of these starters that will set the scene for the upcoming Christmas Eve meal. It’s also the prime time to eat jamón (when is it not?) as many people gift a full leg of ham to slice away at over the year.

Entremeses with cheese and meats
Entremeses with cheese and meats

Roast Lamb or Suckling Pig

Both roast lamb and suckling pig are traditionally eaten in the region of Castilla y León, however, many Spaniards will eat one of these at their Christmas Eve dinner.

Polvorones and Mantecados

Polvorones and mantecados are similar cookies that can be found around Christmastime twisted into colourful paper packaging. Polvorones are called that (polvo means dust) because of their light, powdery texture. A mantecado is made with manteca – lard – and plenty of sugar.

Polvorones and Mantecados
Polvorones and Mantecados

Turrón

Turrón is one of the most popular and well-known sweets that appears in Spain around Christmas. A type of nougat made with almonds, the selection of this dessert are endless. You’ll find stacks of all different kinds varying in price, flavour and consistency in shops and supermarkets.

Turròn with nuts and honey
Turròn

Roscón de Reyes

Once the 6th of January hits, the celebrations finally come to a close. This is the day that the 3 Kings are said to have visited the baby Jesus and it is when children typically receive their presents. The custom is to eat the roscón de Reyes, which is round in shape and sprinkled with sugar or candied fruit. Usually, there is a little trinket inside – a figurine of baby Jesus or a euro coin for those who are not religious. Whoever receives this piece will have a lucky year.

Roscón de Reyes
Roscón de Reyes

Mazapán

Mazapán (marzipan) is another popular staple at the Spaniard’s Christmas sweets table made with ground almonds and sugar. The sweets are often molded into cute and interesting shapes.

Coca

The coca can be either savory or sweet and is long and flat. The one eaten around Christmastime in Spain is sweet and made with flour, eggs and ground almonds. It is also characterized by its flavour of anise and often contains pine nuts.

Pestiños

Pestiños come from the region of Andalusia. They are similar to donuts in that they are little pieces of dough that are deep-fried in olive oil. They can be powdered with sugar or dipped in honey.

Cava

Cava is Spain’s equivalent of the French Champagne. As special occasions call for bubbles, this is what flows freely during the festive celebrations.

Person pouring cava into glasses
Cava