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Spanish cuisine

A Traditional Christmas Dinner in Madrid

Written by Laura

There is generally certain social and cultural significance that goes along with foods prepared for specific holidays and festivals, and this significance is what causes them to be as traditional as they are.

It could be due to the weather of the time of year it is prepared for, or related to the taking advantage of specific fruits that are in harvest at that time, which people in years past working the land naturally would have used.

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However, with the passing of time, many traditional foods have evolved from just a necessity or convenience to being more elaborate and delicious gastronomic celebrations, meant to be shared with loved ones during special times such as the Christmas holidays.

So, what do Madrileños traditionally feast on around Christmas? Today, we’ll be telling you just that in this article from ShMadrid.  

A traditional Madrid Christmas feast

Madrid is a highly multicultural city, where for centuries people of all different Spanish regions and different countries have coexisted.

table set for christmas

Photo via Pixabay

For this reason, food eaten in Spain at Christmas can vary dramatically among one another, but it’s true that there are certain conventional foods that many homes eat at this time of year.

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Cocido madrileño

Here’s what that generally includes: one of the star plates of Madrileño gastronomy is the well-known cocido madrileño, a nutritious and restorative stew that contains beans, vegetables and meat.

Cocido madrileño

Photo by josewolff via VisualHunt

At Christmastime, it is traditional to take the broth of this soup and save the rest of the ingredients. This stew is usually cooked slowly over four hours, with love and care, gradually adding tomato to the dish to create its distinctive color.

The stew is meant to set the stomach and prepare it for the other, heavier parts of the traditional Madrid Christmas meal in Spain, which we’ll describe below.

Related article: Where To Go For Christmas Dinner In Madrid

Side dishes

As a side dish to cocido madrileno, many Madrid households serve red cabbage, julienned and boiled with bacon and onion to give it more flavor.

It is a delight to eat, and is without a doubt the best prelude to a larger meal worthy of such an event as Christmas.

To spice it up, it is generally served with seafood or snails cooked with black pudding, pepper and chorizo sausage, making a delicious meal.

several side dishes with the christmas dinner in madrid

Photo by MaxH42 via VisualHunt

There are two typical ways that main dishes tend to go; if we’re talking about fish, the most common dish is a juicy baked sea bream with lemon, parsley and garlic.

If you prefer meat, it’s common to cook a delicious suckling pig, baked lamb or pickled partridge.

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Christmas dessert

For dessert, as in nearly all the autonomous Spanish regions, it’s customary to serve an assortment of nougat and dried fruit and, in some cases, a type of cake filled with chocolate and pastry cream and decorated in holiday style, called the Christmas log.

This recipe is not a traditional Spanish recipe, but originally a French dessert, although it is widely known among many households in Madrid.

dessert with christmas

Photo via Pixabay

All these plates, as previously mentioned, can vary depending on the tastes and different backgrounds of the families, but these are some of the more common Christmas dishes in the Spanish capital.

If you find yourself in Madrid at this time of year, we recommend trying some of these delicious and traditional dishes.

Were you aware what food they eat in Spain with Christmas?
Share some of your favorite Christmas recipes!

About the author


American journalist writing about the beautiful country of Spain. Her passions include news and feature writing, Spanish language and culture and the outdoors.

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