10 Traditional Christmas Dishes That You Will Eat in Portugal

Spending Christmas in Portugal is an incredible experience I recommend to everyone. The atmosphere is so warm and cozy. Families spend the Christmas evening together around the chimney, play board games together, eat the yummiest traditional Christmas dishes ever and wait for Santa Claus to come.

In today’s article, I want to introduce you to the 10 traditional dishes that you will eat in Portugal. On Christmas’ eve, the dinner tables are filled with so many delicious dishes you certainly will love! Christmas in Portugal is all about warm-hearted houses, being grateful for all the good things in our lives, getting together with the people we love and cherishing them.

If you love this festive time of the year, you will love it even more while in Portugal because food is a big deal when it comes to Christmas dinner. Mothers, aunts, grandmas are in the kitchen preparing their best Christmas dishes thanks to recipes that are in the family for generations! If you enjoy mom’s type of cooking, you will be served in Portugal. From main dishes to desserts, Christmas dinner in Portugal is the yummiest. Read on and find out 10 traditional christmas dishes that you will eat in Portugal!

Peru recheado


For Thanksgiving, people in the United States usually have stuffed turkey. In certain regions of Portugal, we do as well! As you will learn from reading on my article, the codfish most traditional dish is the one you will find in every table on the night of Christmas’ eve, but some people also enjoy having stuffed turkey at the table, with mashed potatoes and beets. In Portuguese, it’s called “peru recheado“.

The recipe for the turkey stuffing can be different from one house to another. Some cooks do it with vegetables, other rather make the stuffing with meat. You will find many stuffed turkey recipes on the Internet.

Bacalhau com todos


© Terra do Bacalhau

The Bacalhau com todos is the most traditional Portuguese dish you will get to eat for Christmas. It is such a simple dish but the Portuguese love it, and so will you!

The Bacalhau com todos is simply composed of boiled potatoes, cabbage, eggs and codfish fillet. People eat it with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped garlic. This is the dish you will see in every home! It is pretty simply to make and so delicious.

Roupa Velha de Bacalhau


© A Senhora do Monte

On Christmas day, on December, 25th, the Portuguese have Roupa Velha de Bacalhau for lunch with their families! If we translate this traditional dish name to English, it means “codfish old clothes“, because of the colors of the ingredients and of the way the ingredients and their flavours mix together.

The potatoes, the cabbage, the codfish are cut into smaller pieces and sautéed in a pan with olive oil. It is a great way to avoid wasting food, since people make a brand new dish from the leftovers of Christmas’ eve dinner. It’s very popular in Portugal. On December, 25th, the families wake up, prepare their Roupa Velha de Bacalhau Christmas lunch and spend the day together.

Cabrito assado no forno


In some regions of Portugal, people also have cabrito assado no forno, which is oven roasted lamb with roasted potatoes. It is one of the most traditional Portuguese dishes.

This dish is usually served for important events such as Christmas, New Year’s eve, and family gatherings like on Sundays. Every family has its own cabrito assado recipe and way of cooking. So, you will have to try several to figure out your favorite.



© Mulher Portuguesa

After the Christmas main dishes, let me now introduce you to Portuguese Christmas desserts which are the best ever! Desserts are definitely a big deal. After eating the main dish, the desserts parade begins! Delicious Christmas desserts start to align on the table for our pleasure!

Made with vermicelli pasta, also known as “angel hair”, milk, sugar, yolks of eggs, cinnamon and chips of lemon or orange, not a single Christmas table goes without a plate of Aletria. It is extra simple and easy to prepare, but very tasty and perfect: the best Christmas dessert. While in Portugal for Christmas, you won’t have any trouble finding places serving it.



© Teleculinária

Next on my list of 10 traditional Christmas dishes that you will eat in Portugal are the famous Rabanadas which are one of the Portuguese favorite desserts and very easy to find during the festive season of Chritmas and New Year’s eve.

Rabanadas are slices of a loaf of bread that are soaked in either milk, wine or sugar syrup, then also in eggs, then fried with sunflower oil. There are several ways to serve this dessert. For instance, you have chocolate ones, and ovos moles ones which is a sweet from Aveiro made with eggs yolks and sugar. I’m not quite sure about the recipe for ovos moles, but the Portuguese love it! It’s used in many other desserts, especially in the northern regions of Portugal.



Made with flour, brandy, milk, eggs then the dough is shaped into little balls and these are fried then sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. We are talking about Filhós, one of the most traditional Christmas desserts.

Have one or two, but not too much because they are pretty calorie dense!

Arroz doce


The recipe for arroz doce is pretty similiar to the aletria one. You mostly only have to switch from pasta to rice. You’ve probably already had this dessert, known as rice pudding. Arroz doce is another common Christmas dish you will find on Portuguese Christsmas tables.



If you’re coming to Portugal for Christmas, eating bolo-rei is a must. I find it kind of similar to a fruitcake, but it’s actually pretty different from it. It’s topped with crystalised fruits, sweetmeat. It goes perfectly with a cup of coffee or tea on the afternoon of December, 25th.

Leite creme


© Saber Viver

Leite creme is a little similar to the French “crême brulée”. But Portuguese people have unique cooking skills. Leite creme is boiled while the crême brulée goes into the oven. The ingredients are also slightly different. You will have to try the Portuguese leite creme, and decide which one wins your heart!

This dessert is served all around the country, so you will also easily find it while visiting Portugal for Christmas.

My article about the 10 traditional Christmas dishes that you will eat in Portugal is now over. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and that it has opened your appetite. If you manage to spend Christmas at a local’s place, it is definitely the best way to enjoy the holidays. Otherwise, I suggest you to check these two articles: one about the best desserts and where to find them in Lisbon and another one about the most authentic Portuguese dishes and where to have them. These places may be known for other dishes than the ones I’ve mentioned above, but they certainly will be serving their versions of the traditional dishes I’ve talked in this article. If you need further information about anything, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. See you soon in Lisbon!

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