Christmas dishes you should try as an expat

  • young woman making christmas dinner
Published on 2021-12-16 at 06:42 by Ester Rodrigues
Christmas is a special and expected holiday for many to be around family and friends, but also for eating well with traditional foods. From turkey to sprouts, and chicken stews to pan d'épices – whatever festive feast expats are cooking this Christmas, they might be looking to eat, drink and be merry with local festive recipes, or they will even fancy trying international ones. Therefore, we compiled 7 Christmas dishes ideas for expats with alternatives for vegans. 

Wellington (UK)


Let's start in England with the Wellington dish, made out of fillet steak coated with pâté and duxelles, wrapped in puff pastry, then baked. You can also create a vegetarian centerpiece with this meat-free wellington with beetroot, mushroom, and butternut squash wrapped in pastry. Wellington is ideal for Christmas celebration whether you are in British lands or not. 

Pain d'épice (France) 

pain depices

Let's move to a pastry option from France. Pain d'épice is loosely translated as “gingerbread”, but trust us, it isn't. It is a quick and delicious French cake. Its ingredients, according to Le Dictionnaire de l'Académie française (1694), are “rye flour, honey, and spices”. These spices normally are nutmeg, green anise, allspice and powdered ginger. In the Alsace region, they also consider incorporating a pinch of cinnamon, while in Burgoyne, they add orange and lemon zest. In order to make it vegan, change the milk for a vegetable one, use vegan eggs (ground flax seed with water, mashed bananas and others) and replace the honey for maple syrup with blackstrap molasses.

Turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and vegetables (US)

traditional dish in the US

Maybe you're looking for a typical American Christmas dinner, and there you'll have several dishes to cook, turkey usually stuffed with leftover stuffing crumbled. Smashed potatoes are incredibly smooth, so you must use butter and milk with no pity. Don't forget to add the cranberry sauce and vegetables alongside this dish, like green beans. For vegetarians, replace the turkey; chop up green beans and have a green bean layer, instead. The possibilities are endless. For mashed potatoes, consider using vegetable milk with a neutral taste as oat and use vegan margarine. 

Simon Hopkinson's prawn cocktail (Classical) 

shrimp cocktail

For this one, you're going to need seafood at your taste, lettuce hearts. But most importantly, you'll muster up your courage and prepare your own mayonnaise and tomato ketchup. You should add a bit of cognac and use other vegetables, like onion and cucumbers. For the mayonnaise that goes on the top of all that, there is a vegan option using avocados instead of egg yolks. And instead of seafood, you can make a cauliflower patty.

Cod fish n' all (Portugal) 

cod fish with veggies

Without cod, there is no Christmas in Portugal; it is one of their most important symbols. It is eaten all over the country, accompanied by boiled potatoes, boiled egg, Portuguese or Galician cabbage and sometimes carrots and chickpeas. The recipe is called “Cod n' all”. At the end, it is watered with a good oil that is heated with onion and garlic. According to tradition, potatoes must be large, so they don't crumble, cod is thick and Galician or Portuguese cabbage is thick – with large sections. Dry cod has to be soaked several times in advance – especially if it is thick. For the vegan option, the cod is replaced by almost mashed potatoes with vegan butter or manioc. 

Sizzled sprouts with pistachios & pomegranate (Classical) 

Sizzled sprouts with pistachios & pomegranate

This dish is originally vegan; you can add a deliciously different side dish to your Christmas spread with pan-fried sprouts and juicy pomegranate seeds drizzled with pomegranate molasses. The process is really easy. You grill each ingredient in a frying pan and after mix all, put in the oven for some minutes: olive oil, brussels sprouts, halved, pistachios, roughly chopped and pomegranate seeds. 

Chicken stew (West Africa) 

Chicken stew

Christmas wouldn't be complete without chicken stew, and only organic chicken from the farm would make the cut. It is heavily seasoned with aromatics right down to the bone. A vegan option is made with Seitan. Creole seasoning is the key for the chicken that has to be marinated with seasonings before cooking. For the sauce, use fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, and onions. The secret for this plate is to have homemade tomato sauce, curry powder, smoked paprika, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, and bouillon powder. Chicken or Seitan stew usually have carrots within the sauce, besides it goes alongside rice or couscous.