A taste of Spain: Spanish Christmas table


Holiday traditions bring family and friends together in celebration. Spanish Christmas table blends food, beverages and the holiday in a celebration to remember.

The holiday season in Spain is a moment in the calendar seasoned with delicacies hard to resist. Nochebuena – Christmas Eve – is a huge culinary event in Spanish homes. Tables are carefully laid down to receive a parade of fine tastes and local treats. Whether you have booked a Christmas trip to Spain, or you are simply dreading the idea of yet another roast turkey, here you can pick different ideas for a Spanish Christmas table with an authentic taste of Spain.

It is possible to breathe a festive atmosphere throughout December in every Spanish home. Christmas Eve might be the most important dinner, but great dishes are also served on Christmas Day, New Year, and the Epiphany (January 6). Whatever the case is, meals are often pantagruelic: starters, first and second courses, and tempting hyper-caloric deserts populate the Spanish Christmas table.

Iberico ham (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images).

Oysters or prawns might follow, as well as fish or seafood soup. Typical of the season is the pavo trufado (Christmas turkey with truffles). This favorite recipe that has survived generations and always makes it to the Christmas table. Main dishes include roasted meat, turkey, but also ham and lamb cooked in different ways. Vegetables served for Christmas include thistle and cabbage.

Seafood is a leading character in the Spanish Christmas table (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images).

The most traditional dessert: Spanish Turrón

No matter how much you’ve indulged in your holiday meal, it’s hard to refuse a dessert. The Spanish tradition calls for a massive use of honey, almonds, and nuts. The most coveted Christmas treat for those with a sweet tooth is, of course, turrón (almond nougat). This candy mainly comes in two very distinctive varieties.

Turrón: a traditional Christmas candy (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images).

There’s the soft or blando type, known as turrón de Jijona. In this variety, the almonds make a sweet paste together with honey. Then, there’s the turrón de Alicante, in Spanish also called duro o crujiente). Instead, this one  is a crunchy block with big pieces of almond in it.

Two kinds of shortbread are also part of the Spanish table: polvorones and mantecados. However, people are replacing them with chocolate turrones and simpler ideas.

Related Story: Learn which wines better pair with your Spanish dinner

Midnight toast with traditional Spanish beverages including cider, cava or sherry (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for GLSEN).

A Spanish toast

Meals end with a midnight toast. Glasses can be filled with Jerez dulce (sweet sherry), but also with cider or sparkling cava. Always with a dose good wishes for the New Year to come.

The Spanish Christmas table isn’t limited to just the people living in Spain. Spanish food, beverages and flavors of the season can be enjoyed by everyone.

Buen provecho!