An Amazing Make-Ahead Italian Christmas Dinner Menu
A few years ago, I thought it’d be fun to try something new and host an Italian themed Christmas dinner. Having the same foods year in and year out was tiring, especially since many of the Christmas dinner recipes are similar to what we eat on Thanksgiving. My grandpa on my dad’s side is Italian and so every Christmas Eve as I kid, I remember us having garlic bread, linguine and clam sauce, lasagna and chicken cutlets. I loved that we did something different from other families and was always really excited for Christmas Eve dinner.
When I decided to host an Italian themed Christmas dinner, it was really difficult coming up with uncomplicated Italian recipes that kids would also eat (I hadn’t had my daughter at that time but I did have nieces and nephews). This is why I decided to make a menu that has a lot of pre-cooked, quick and simple recipes since I know that moms (and most other people) don’t have a ton of time on their hands. It’s also nice to have food that is pre-made (but homemade) so that you can actually enjoy your family on Christmas day.
So the recipes…My grandma wasn’t Italian but she married one so by default she made amazing Italian food because that was what my grandpa liked best. She made awesome lasagna, baked ziti, meatballs, the list goes on and on. She didn’t have the most legible handwriting though. This is what I have to work with…
Instead of trying to dig up the family recipes, I thought that I’d enlist the help of some other awesome bloggers who have recipes that remind me of what my grandma used to make for our family meals.
Not all of these menu ideas are necessarily served during a traditional Italian Christmas dinner but I tried to find recipes that you can either make ahead or that are quick and effortless to make the day of. Likewise, I attempted to find recipes for food that kids will actually eat. I really hope that you enjoy these fresh flavors of Italy!
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Italian Christmas Dinner Menu
Drinks: Prosecco or Chianti
I’m not a huge wine drinker but there is something nice about a glass of wine with a delicious Italian dinner. I also love wine in the Winter (it just warms you so much better than beer). My dad bought me this Ruffino Prosecco Wine when he was visiting this past weekend and it’s perfect for the holidays! This is a sparkling Italian wine and it’s also fairly inexpensive. If you prefer red, I’d recommend a Chianti because it goes great with lasagna (which we’ll get to, don’t worry). Even better, pick up a few bottles of each type and you’ll really have a rocking Christmas party!
Appetizer: 5 Bread Dipping Oil Recipes by Swanky Recipes
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m obsessed with bread and oh my gosh, bread and a dipping sauce? I’m in heaven. These dipping oil recipes are perfect for a holiday dinner because you can whip them up in a few minutes yet everyone will be impressed when you tell them you made these from scratch. I think all 5 of these dipping oil recipes from Swanky Recipes will work well for an Italian Christmas dinner so go ahead and choose whichever one you prefer (or you can even make all of them!)
Appetizer: Best Homemade Giardiniera (Hot or Mild) by The Daring Gourmet
I absolutely love anything pickled! I partially found out that I was pregnant with Amelia because I couldn’t stop eating pickles during Thanksgiving dinner and then again a few weeks later at my nephew’s birthday party. Giardiniera is delicious! It’s so tangy that I can’t stop nibbling on it when it’s served as an appetizer. The Daring Gourmet’s Giardiniera is great because she shows you how to prepare it step by step and gives you the option to make it mild or hot (I prefer hot but I’m from California so I love spicy food). Her page shows how to can the Giardiniera so you could make pints of them months in advance, if you wanted to. I actually like the idea of making a jar for Christmas dinner and then giving the remaining jars to guests as Christmas gifts! Canning the Giardiniera prior is perfect because then the day of, all you have to do is open a jar. How easy is that?
Appetizer: Mozzarella Stuffed Italian Meatballs by Spoonful of Flavor
Meatballs are always a hit at any holiday family gathering but these meatballs take it up a notch. Inside the meatballs, there is “real mozzarella cheese”, as my grandpa would say. This makes them deliciously cheesy. My grandpa would definitely approve! I love Spoonful of Flavor’s meatball recipe because they seriously take under half an hour to make! You can also stick a little toothpick in them, making them easy to serve to guests. FYI to parents though, there is wine in the marinara sauce. Usually wine will cook out but if you’re worried about it, you can always prepare a separate sauce for the kids to enjoy.
Salad: Italian Chopped Salad With Fresh Italian Dressing by Small Town Woman
I seriously love salad during the holidays. It’s extremely refreshing to bite into a delicious salad since most holiday foods aren’t necessarily healthy for you (but they are oh so good). This salad is full of salami, mozzarella, tomatoes, and my favorite, pepperoncini peppers. It’s a beautiful dish to look at, is quick to prepare, and has tons of flavor. I love how Small Town Woman makes her own Italian dressing for this salad as well. Your guests will definitely be asking you for this recipe before they head home!
Vegetable Side: Easy Garlicky Sauteed Broccolini by She Loves Biscotti
I just adore this recipe! It’s very similar to how I cook broccolini for my family but She Loves Biscotti adds nuts to the party which brings this broccolini to another level! This recipe is so simple but the flavors are completely well-rounded and enormously fresh tasting. This is a perfect addition to any meal because it adds something light and healthy, as well as, only taking 15 minutes to prepare!
Entree: Classic Lasagna by Great Grub, Delicious Treats
As a kid, lasagna was always a go-to meal when we went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. That’s because it’s such a comforting, crowd pleasing food. If the entire family was visiting, we’d have over twenty people for dinner. That’s a lot of lasagna! Good thing it’s the perfect food to make ahead of time and freeze (just make sure you remember to give yourself enough time for it to defrost). Before the holidays, my parents still make lasagna and freeze it so that they can spend time with us when we’re visiting. It’s also great because you can make a few batches at a time without putting in much extra effort. A few weeks before Christmas, cook one tray for dinner with your family that night and freeze another tray to save for Christmas day. Even though we traditionally used ricotta cheese, I love Great Grub, Delicious Treat’s idea of using cottage cheese. It’s a great way to cut the calories a bit (though I mean it’s lasagna, just enjoy yourself for the night and work out extra hard the next week).
Entree: Oven Roasted Turkey Breast with Herbs and Wine by Chew Nibble Nosh
I had to add a turkey recipe because it’s not really Christmas without turkey (and from what I’ve read, most Italian’s today do eat turkey on Christmas so hey I’m not getting too crazy here). I love this recipe by Chew Nibble Nosh because it just uses the turkey breast instead of the entire turkey, making this the perfect recipe for anyone who doesn’t have a ton of time on their hands (it takes less than 3 hours!) Delicious Italian herbs and white wine (or apple juice if you prefer for the kids) make this turkey really stand out. I definitely think this turkey recipe may just be your new go-to recipe for a stress-free Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner!
Dessert: Panettone Italian Christmas Sweet Bread by An Italian In My Kitchen
So looking at this picture is seriously making my mouth water. The kids are gonna go crazy for this dessert (especially if you use chocolate chips). You can always buy a panettone loaf but if you’re comfortable baking at all, I would really recommend trying this recipe. Everything just turns out so much better if it’s made from scratch. This bread really doesn’t take much hands-on time, it just needs to rise awhile. This would be perfect to make the weekend before Christmas and then pull out for dessert the day of. Then all you have to do is just sit and wait to hear the compliments start rolling in! It’s best to eat the bread within 3 days though.
If you’re not sure what sort of panettone mold to use, check out this Panettone bread pan from Amazon.
There you have it guys! A stress-free Italian Christmas dinner menu. So turn on your Frank Sinatra Christmas album (my favorite of all time), light a few candles and enjoy a delicious Christmas dinner with your friends and family! Bon appétit!