Traditional French Christmas Dishes

In this article, I will help you discover the traditional French Christmas dishes.

The Christmas meal is a tradition dear to us French. It is an occasion to gather the family around a well decorated table and a lot of delicious food. For the special meal, each family prepares a gourmet Christmas menu. You can enjoy appetisers, main course and desserts that are unique to this time of the year.

Foie gras: a festive starter for Christmas

Whether it is served as a simple appetiser or with fancy twists, foie gras is a dish that seduces with its taste and inimitable creaminess. Foie gras is a specialty made from liver obtained by fattening geese and ducks. The French are very fond of it during the holidays. 

Foie gras can be eaten in a glass jar or as a bite-sized starter, accompanied by champagne. But most often, foie gras is presented as an appetiser for Christmas. It can be eaten raw, semi-cooked or cooked, and is very easy to prepare. Traditionally served with gingerbread toast, a little fleur de sel and onion or fig compote, this makes for a sweet and savoury appetiser. It is best served with a glass of sweet white wine such as Sauternes or Monbazillac*. 

It is possible to buy foie gras in supermarkets or directly from the maker. However, increasing number of French people like to make it themselves. We can make flavoured foie gras: with truffles, cognac, pepper, berries etc.

Image of Foie Gras dish
For the blog - Traditional French Christmas Dishes
Foie Gras is presented as an appetiser

Oysters, scallops and salmon

If foie gras is the emblematic dish of Christmas for festive starters, it is not the only one to delight the hearts of les gourmands ! In France, we also like to enjoy seafood ! 

For a great Christmas starter, shellfish and salmon are the best! They bring a needed freshness before the main course, which tends to be heavy. A simple plate of smoked salmon with dill, red berries and lemon will delight those who like a delicate start. Oysters are also part of the Christmas meal in France.

If you like to cook, scallops can be easily prepared in a few minutes! They can be pan-fried or flambéed, and a leek compote can be added. For an original starter, they can also be served raw as carpaccio with passion fruit. 

The French love traditional dishes for Christmas, but some enjoy spending time in the kitchen developing new recipes that will surprise their guests!

Chapon and pommes duchesse : a traditional French Christmas Dish

For the main course, the French like to enjoy the Christmas turkey. In an even tastier, but slightly more expensive version, they like to indulge in chapon

What is chapon ? It’s simply a rooster that has been castrated to obtain meat that is more tender. Unlike the turkey, chapon is larger.

The traditional French Christmas dish is stuffed white meat. But chapon can also be eaten glazed or roasted.

This is accompanied by a garnish of mushrooms, vegetables or the more festive pommes duchesse ! Pommes duchesse are mashed potatoes made into shapes and have a peak . They are then baked in the oven for a texture that is both moist and crispy.

This Christmas main course of chapon is served with a sauce of champagne and mushrooms and a glass of red wine such as Bordeaux, Burgundy or Côte du Rhône*.

Image of Pommes duchesse
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Pommes Duchesse is an accompaniment to the main dish

Frozen nougat: the traditional Christmas dessert 

Among the leading desserts of Christmas, there is the frozen nougat. Perfect way to end a gargantuan meal, frozen nougat brings a touch of freshness that is much appreciated.

During Christmas, dessert is eaten after the cheese. It is the last dish, so it is important to choose something that pleases everyone! 

Along with the Yule log, frozen nougat is one of the essential desserts of Christmas. It is composed of a meringue and a cream, filled with a variety of candied fruits or dried fruits. A fruit coulis or a custard is added for richness.  

You can buy it from the frozen section of supermarkets, or make it yourself. It is an easy dessert to make and can be prepared well in advance.

Yule log: a traditional French Christmas dish to end your meal

La bûche is certainly the most famous French Christmas dessert! It is a cylindrical cake(like a log) that can be offered in its ice cream or pastry version.

The pastry log is made with butter cream. It is a slightly heavy cake but very delicious! It comes in different flavours: coffee, vanilla, chocolate etc.

The frozen log is an ice cream. It is a refreshing to have at the end of an elaborate meal. It comes in several flavors: chestnut, pear, chocolate, vanilla and red berries.

The Yule log is a cake that you can make yourself. It requires some pastry skills. You can also buy ready-made ones in stores, especially from pastry shops. During the holidays, all the pastry shops in France offer this!

Image of the Yule log
For the blog - Traditional French Christmas Dishes
The Yule log

These are the traditional French Christmas dishes. They are delicious and elaborate! We have fun cooking these delicacies and spending time with our families. So, what would you like to try? Let me know in the comments.

*Alcohol abuse is dangerous to your health. Consume moderately.

If you want to read this article in French, click here : La tradition du repas de Noël en France

Do you want to study French, participate in grammar workshops, prepare for an exam or take conversation classes? Contact me for a quote or to know the program of individual and group French classes.

Sincerely yours,

Élodie – Your Online French Teacher

French tuition, French course for groups, private French lessons

Language stay in France – Limousin – Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

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