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10 Typical Christmas Dishes in Portugal
Manuela Azevedo

Traditionally, Portuguese families gather on December 24, and traditional dishes from each region are served at the dinner table. Due to its Christian heritage, it is also traditional to set up the nativity scene, either on the streets or in people's homes near the Christmas tree, as well as going to Missa do Galo (traditionally celebrated at 00:00 on December 25). But one of the most important traditions of the festivities is the cuisine so typical, the dishes of cod, roasted turkey or octopus. For dessert, you cannot miss the “Bolo Rei” filled with candied fruits or dried fruits, in addition to the delicious traditional fritters: filhós, sonhos and rabanadas.

Stewed Cod

Dinner on the 24th of December is known as "consoada" and the cod being one of the ex-libris of Portugal has to be sovereign of this very special night.

Cod is, par excellence, a typical dish of the most special dates, but in this evening, cod is present in the vast majority of houses and comes drizzled with olive oil, always well accompanied by a whole egg, potatoes, cabbages, onions, carrots, turnips and other seasonal vegetables.


Although in most homes the dominant dish is cod, there are always other options, whether or not it was a Portuguese house. Octopus is also very traditional in the night of consoada, roasted or grilled with plenty of garlic and olive oil, also Portuguese, it is one of the most appreciated delicacies of the season.

Farrapo Velho ou Roupa Velha

Now let's talk about the dish that usually exists on every table on December 25th, the old rag or old clothes appears as the use of surpluses from the previous day's dinner. It is a dish widely used in the Mediterranean diet and basically consists of “reinventing” the already cooked ingredients that are left over from Christmas eve. Once again everything is sautéed in garlic and olive oil to give it a different flavor, after everything is ready to be served and it is wonderful.

Roasted Lamb

The Christmas dinner menu varies geographically. But, in addition to cod, which is practically a unanimous recipe, the lamb is not limited to the tables of families in Beira Alta. It is found on tables all over the country mainly at lunch on December 25th, it consists of a well-seasoned lamb, roasted in the oven that is accompanied by roasted potatoes and there are even those who accompany with roasted chestnuts.

“Bolo Rei”- ( King Cake)

Now we get to the desserts and sweets section. Bolo Rei can be considered the sovereign and the most Portuguese of all Christmas sweets, but in fact it is originally inspired by the French Gâteau des Rois. It is a cake in the shape of a crown and consists of a dough identical to that of brioche, garnished with plenty of dried fruits and covered with shiny candied fruit. As some don't like these extremely sweet fruits, Bolo Rainha is also the option. The Queen Cake is basically the same recipe, but without the candied fruit.

“Rabanadas” – (French Toast)

French toast, golden slice, broken slice or egg slice, for this specialty there are not only one or two, but four different nomenclatures. Rabanada is a sweet sliced ​​wheat bread that, after being soaked in milk, wine or sugar syrup, is passed through eggs and fried or roasted. They are served sprinkled with cinnamon sugar or drizzled with sugar syrup or honey.


Another one of the well-known delicacies in Portugal and which responds by different names depending on the geography. Formigos ou Mexidos is a Portuguese sweet dish typical of Minho and Trasmontano Christmas. The way this dish is made reflects a lot of the country's history. It is a sweet created by more modest families who, although with little monetary conditions, always managed to gather a little hard bread, the honey from the bees, the eggs of the hens there and the skin of a lemon, and thus the Mexidos or Formigos.

“Sonhos” - (Dreams)

“Sonhos” of Christmas or simply “Sonhos” are another sweet typical of Portuguese gastronomy, traditionally made in the Christmas season. Christmas Sonhos are fried, with a spherical shape and an orange exterior and a yellow interior. The ingredients include milk, lemon peel, salt, wheat flour, eggs and oil for frying. The sonho dough is prepared in several steps, involving boiling the milk with the lemon peel and flour and adding the eggs. Frying follows, with spoonfuls of dough in hot oil, shaped into a ball, which must be fried on both sides. During frying, dreams usually find themselves alone. Finally, they can be served sprinkled only with sugar, with a combination of sugar and cinnamon or with a syrup.

“Filhós” – (Donuts)

Filhós, is a Portuguese gastronomic specialty of Natal. It is made with flour and eggs, sometimes also with pumpkin and orange zest, fried in olive oil, or other vegetable oils. It is often sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. In Portugal it is also known simply as "fried". In some villages they are known as "fried cakes".


Aletria is a dessert made with pasta and eggs. In each region, aletria has particularities - greater or lesser mass, with or without egg yolks. In Beiras the aletria is compact in consistency and can be cut into slices. In Minho the consistency is creamier and is another of the most traditional sweets on a Christmas dessert table and present in almost every home in the country.

Recipes, Christmas, Tradition, Portugal, Culinary, Bacalhau
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