Christmas Recipes

Below is a collection of traditional Christmas recipes. Most of these recipes data back at least 100 years, updated to include modern kitchen ware such as aluminum foil, Pyrex bowls, stoves with graduated settings, etc. Although the recipes may be 100 years old, their roots generally date back many hundred years. Most of these came to the U.S. by way of the British Isles.

Some of these recipes are easy to prepare. Others, such as the fruitcake and plum pudding, are time consuming, involve numerous steps, and require numerous special ingredients. And therein hangs a tale. The cook or host serving holiday meals traditionally demonstrated their esteem and respect for guests – including their own family members – by preparing meals which were much too elaborate to serve every day. So, in serving these dishes, you are doing more than providing tasty meals. By the presentation of these home-made specialties you are expressing love for the guests. Don’t forget to emphasize the “presentation” of the dishes – nice mugs for the punch, fancy trays for the cookies, and flaming brandy for the plum pudding.

List of Recipes

Christmas Cranberry Punch

  • 1 quart of cranberry juice
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 2 cups of orange juice
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon of allspice
  • 2 bottles of burgundy wine

Combine the cranberry juice, water, sugar, lemon juice, orange juice, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. Heat to boiling. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture into serving bowl. Heat wine and add to sugar mixture. Serve immediately. This will serve 18.

Back to Top

Irish Coffee

  • 3/4 cup of Irish whisky
  • 6 to 8 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 quart of freshly brewed, strong coffee
  • Sweetened whipped cream, chilled

Heat whiskey with sugar in a double boiler. When sugar is dissolved and whisky warm, pour into individual coffee cups or heat-proof glasses. Pour hot coffee over the mixture. Stir and top with sweetened whipped cream. Six Servings.

Back to Top

Wassail Bowl

  • 1 cup of water
  • 3/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered ginger
  • 3 sticks of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of powdered cloves
  • 1 quart of sweet sherry
  • 20 ounces of ale
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup of cognac
  • 1 can spiced, whole crab apples

Combine water, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and sherry in a saucepan. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Add ale and sugar and cook until sugar is dissolved. Beat egg yolks until light and lemon colored. Beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold egg whites into egg yolks carefully, mixing lightly. Pour half of the sherry mixture into shatterproof punch or serving bowl. Add egg mixture and mix carefully. Add remaining sherry. (This should be quite hot.) Stir in cognac and crab apples. Serve piping hot. Makes 18 – 20 mugs.

Back to Top

Home Made Holiday Eggnog

  • 12 eggs, separated
  • 1 pound confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 cup of cognac
  • 1 cup of bourbon
  • 1 cup of crème de cocoa
  • 4 pints heavy cream
  • Grated nutmeg

Beat egg yolks with electric mixer and gradually add confectioner’s sugar. Beat mixture until light and lemon colored. Add cognac, bourbon, and crème do cocoa. Mix well and refrigerate until ready to serve. Beat egg whites until they can form stiff peaks. Beat heavy cream until it stiffens. Fold egg whites into egg yolk mixture. Fold in heavy cream, mixing well. Sprinkle with nutmeg and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 30 – 40 servings.

Back to Top

Hot Mulled Cider

  • 3 quarts of apple cider
  • 3/4 cups of brown sugar, firmly packed
  • A dash of salt
  • 12 whole allspices
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 6 cinnamon sticks, each snapped in half
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet butter

Place apple cider in a large, enamel saucepan. Add brown sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add cinnamon sticks, salt, cloves, and allspice. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in butter. Stir cider into serving pitcher and serve piping hot. Serves 12.

Back to Top

English Roast Beef

  • 1 10-pound roast beef (weight is approximate, see cooking instructions below)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried mint
  • 1 medium onion
  • 8 – 10 peeled medium potatoes, cut in halves

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place beef on rack, rub with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with mint and sage. Place beef and rack in a roasting pan. Add onion and potatoes. Cover pan and place in oven. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. (The initial high heat sears in the juices and browns the beef.) For medium cooked beef, cook for 20 minutes per pound. For well-done beef, cook for 30 minutes per pound. Remove pan from oven and let rest for 30 minutes before serving. Serves 6 – 8.

Back to Top

Yorkshire Pudding

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup of beef drippings

Beat eggs until light. Add milk and beat for two minutes. Add flour and salt. Continue beating until mixture is well-blended. Add 1/4 cup of beef dripping, sizzling hot, to each of two 10 inch by 6 inch baking dishes and pour 1/2 of mixture into each. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. The pudding should rise well, be light brown and crisp and be hollow in the center. Serves 12.

Traditionally, Yorkshire pudding used at the start of the meal with gravy made from the meat residue. This was to help fill everyone up so they would not need so much meat. An alternative way of cooking is to cook the batter in the original roasting pan after draining off some of the fat, then cut into pieces.

Back to Top

Christmas Turkey

  • 1 15 to 20 pound turkey
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 stick of margarine

Remove giblets and neck. Wash turkey and pat dry. Stuff bird and place on rack in a roasting pan. Rub with salt and pepper and dab or smear with margarine. Cook 20 to 30 minutes per pound of turkey. Serves 12 – 15 individuals.

Back to Top

Corn Bread Stuffing

  • 6 cups of corn bread crumbs
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of chopped parsley
  • 1 cup of chopped celery
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil

Sauté onions in oil until brown. Add parsley, salt, pepper, sage, celery and thyme. Mix in bread crumbs and moisten with milk, mixing well. Stuff turkey cavity.

Back to Top

Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 pound of cranberries
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup of orange juice
  • 1/2 cup of mandarin orange sections
  • 1/2 cups of chopped walnuts

Wash cranberries and place in saucepan with water, sugar, lemon juice, and orange juice. Boil mixture and cook until berries pop; about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in mandarin orange sections and walnuts. Pour into glass bowl or (better) a decorative mold and allow to cool. Chill in refrigerator until time to serve. Serves 10 to 12.

Back to Top

Southern Candied Yams

  • 8 sweet potatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 2 apples
  • 12 marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake sweet potatoes until the skins are soft and split easily. (They can be cooked in the oven along with the turkey, ham, roast beef or other meat is cooking.) Grease cooking dish or casserole with butter. Scoop out cooked sweet potatoes and place in casserole dish. Add brown sugar, syrup, butter, and spices. Peel, core, and chop apples. Add apples to yam mixture. Toss lightly and top with marshmallows. Bake in oven for 20 minutes. Serves 10.

Back to Top

Gingerbread Cookies

Of all the Christmas pastries, the gingerbread cookie was one the one most loved by early American children. A large part of this popularity probably was because gingerbread was cheap, easy to make, a small batch would yield many cookies, and gingerbread dough did well in even a primitive oven. Its use came to this country directly from Germany and surrounding countries or from Germany via the British Isles. Most recipes in American usage are either honey based or molasses based. Below is a molasses based recipe.

  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 teaspoons of ginger
  • 2/3 cup of softened margarine
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon of allspice
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup of molasses
  • 3 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 /2 teaspoon of baking powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Blend together margarine, sugar, salt and spices until creamy. Add egg and molasses and mix. Sift flour with soda and baking powder and add to mixture. Mix completely and chill until firm. Roll out dough onto lightly floured board. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutter(s). Bake for 10 minutes in greased cookie sheet. Cool and add icing.


      • 1 cup of sifted confectioner’s sugar
      • 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
      • 1 teaspoons of milk

Mix all ingredients. Use additional milk if needed for spreading consistency.

Back to Top

Sugar Cookies

  • 2 and 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon o baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 cup of softened butter
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Stir flour, baking soda, and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. Set aside. Blend the butter and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients from the mixing bowl. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls and place them onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

Back to Top


Everyone has an opinion about fruitcakes. Personally, I love ‘um. Some folks don’t. Regardless, no list of Christmas recipes is complete unless fruitcake is included.

Although making cakes with dried fruits, honey and nuts can be traced back much further, food historians generally agree that fruitcake as we recognize it today dates back to the Middle. Most fruitcake recipes come to us from the British Isles. Dried fruits began to arrive in Britain in the 13th century, mostly from Portugal and the eastern Mediterranean area. Fruited breads were more common than anything resembling the modern fruit cake during the Middle Ages. Early versions of the fruit cake were luxuries for special occasions. Fruit cakes have been used for celebrations since at least the early 18th century.

If you are lamenting how time consuming and complicated it is to make a Christmas fruitcake today, consider that 200 years ago you would have had to begin weeks ahead of time, candying the various fruits, obtaining the nuts and sugar, developing the yeast, etc. and then aging the cake. Part of the significance of providing a Christmas fruitcake was the display of esteem in which the host or hostess held the guests.

Below is a “simple,” fast recipe for Christmas fruitcake.

  • 1 pound of candied cherries
  • 1/2 cup of candied citron
  • 1pound of chopped candied pineapple
  • 1 pound of golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup of chopped candied lemon peel
  • 1/4 cup of chopped candied orange peel
  • 1/2 cup of dark rum
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup of blanched (immersed in boiling water and then plunged into cold water) and chopped almonds
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of softened butter
  • 6 eggs

At least 24 hours before cooking, mix fruits and rum in large glass bowl, cover and let stand until ready to use. Mixing a week ahead of time is preferred.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Grease large 10-inch pan and line with greased wax paper. Mix fruit with nuts and toss with 1/2 cup of flour. Set aside. Mix almond extract with milk and set aside. Sift the remaining flour with the baking powder and the spices. Blend butter and slowly add both sugars, mixing completely. Add eggs one by one mixing thoroughly. Add sifted flour mixture and the flavored milk. Blend thoroughly. Pour mixture over fruit and nuts and mix completely.

Pour batter into pan and bake about 3 hours. Test with fork or sharp knife, cake being done when fork comes out clean. When cooked, place on wire rack and cool. When cool, moisten (sprinkle) with additional rum and wrap in rum-soaked cheesecloth. Store in an airtight container. This may be stored for days or weeks.


The following icing may be added to the cake before serving.

      • 1 cup of sugar
      • 1 teaspoon of almond extract
      • 2 tablespoons (or more) of milk

Combine sugar and almond extract and slowly add milk until the consistency is correct for spreading. Spread icing on the top of the cake allowing the icing to run down the sides.

The above recipe makes approximately 25 servings.

Back to Top

Christmas Plum Pudding

Most of us know about Christmas plum pudding by way of the Bob Cratchit family in A Christmas Carol. The portrayal of the mother presenting the pudding to the family and Bob proclaiming it “the best ever” is historically very accurate. Traditionally, almost every English family had a recipe for it, passed down from mother to daughter through several generations, and “which never has been and never will be equaled, much less surpassed, by any other.” (Cassell’s Dictionary of Cookery with Numerous Illustrations, 1875, London.)

In the 14th century or so the “Christmas pudding” contained numerous ingredients, especially various meats. It had been derived from the mince pies and porridges. By 1650 or so the recipe had developed into something resembling the modern version. (For clarification, although it may contain various fruits, it rarely contains plums!)

There are many traditions and superstitions that surround plum pudding. Some are very religious such as people believing that the pudding must be made by the 25th Sunday of Trinity with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and his disciples. When cooking, each member of the family mixes the pudding from east to west to honor the three kings. By setting it aflame with brandy, the pudding represents Christ’s passion. The holly garnish is supposed to represents Christ’s crown of thorns. However, holly also represents good luck and supposedly has healing powers.

Some families also stir coins and into their pudding and wish for good luck. Whoever gets a coin will receive good luck, wealth, and their wish will come true. Occasionally rings are added to the pudding to represent the finder getting married in the near future.

There are several different ways plum pudding can be served. Sometimes it is decorate with a spray of holly and doused in brandy. Plum pudding can even be set on fire and served. Usually families present the pudding in the dark or in ceremonious fashion, where it is met with a round of applause. Plum pudding can be topped with brandy butter, rum butter, hard sauce, ice cream, custard or sugar.

  • 6 cups of white bread crumbs
  • 10 eggs
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cloves
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1 cup of currants
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 1/2 cup of candied orange peel
  • 1/2 cup of candied lemon peel
  • 1/2 cup of candied citron
  • 1 1/4 cups of brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1 cup of blanched and chopped almonds
  • 1/2 grated carrot
  • 1 cup of chopped apple
  • 1/2 cup of brandy

Place the bread crumbs in a large mixing bowl and mix in eggs one at a time. Cut butter into small pieces and stir into mixture. Add cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and cloves. Mix in lemon juice and brown sugar. Add scalded milk (heated to just below the boiling point) to the mixture. Stir until the butter dissolves. Add currants, raisins, candied peels, almonds, carrot, apple, and brandy. Mix thoroughly.

Grease 2 two-quart Pyrex or Corning ware containers (pudding basins if available). Each container should be filled to within an inch of the top. Pudding rises during the steaming process. Top each container with a piece of greased wax paper cut to fit the container. Cover container with aluminum foil, sealing around the edges. Place pudding on a rack in a pot or steamer and fill pot with water almost to the rim of the bowl. Steam the pudding over low heat for 4 to 5 hours. Add water to pot if needed. Remove from the steamer and cool. The pudding may be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Place pudding in steamer and steam for 2 to 3 hours when ready to serve. Remove from steamer, turn container upside down and shake onto serving platter. Top with a sprig of holly and warm brandy. Light the brandy and serve in a dimly-lit room.

A simple plum pudding sauce

      • 3 cups of plum juice
      • 3 1/2 cups of water
      • 6 tablespoons of cornstarch
      • 3 cups of sugar
      • 6 tablespoons of butter

Mix cornstarch with sugar, pour a little hot liquid over it and stir. Pour back into hot juice and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Add butter and brandy and stir until blended. Serve over pudding.

Back to Top