Top Ten Traditional Christmas Treats

When it comes to food Christmas is a time of sharing and indulgence. Here, I pick my top ten traditional Christmas treats.

  1. Mince pies – These little baked treats used to be filled with meat (hence the word “mince) but now are filled with dried nuts and fruit. Traditionally, they were made in an oval shape to represent the crib Baby Jesus was born in! Children often leave out a mince pie for Santa Claus when he comes a-visiting. These mini pies are often topped with a cut-out piece of pastry like a star or a leaf, and dusted with sugar before, eggnog, mince pies, mulled wine, pigs in blanket, candy cane, yule log, fruit cake, gingerbread cookies, hot toddy,
  2. Mulled wine – A winter classic, this warmed wine drink is most popular where it is most cold. Recipes either call for orange slices or a whole orange pierced with cloves to be simmered over low heat with other spices like cinnamon and star anise. A generous dose of rum or brandy is often added to make it extra special.
  3. Fruit cake – Also known as Christmas cake, this dry fruit and nut laden dessert is a part of most homes during Christmas. The fruits are often prepared, chopped and soaked in rum months ahead of the actual baking time. Traditionally, the cake is covered in marzipan and decorated with holly and cranberries.
  4. Gingerbread cookies – Who doesn’t like the slightly sweet, slightly spicy flavor of gingerbread? Especially when baked into delightful gingerbread men or an elaborate gingerbread house! The cookies get their characteristic dark brown colour from a mixture of molasses and dark brown sugar.
  5. Hot toddy – Often remembered in times of sickness (usually a dad-recommended cure for a mild cold or flu), a Hot Toddy is often drunk at Christmas time for its warmth and honey-laden flavor. Typically made with a Bourbon, but often with Scotch or brandy, this drink is sweetened with honey and livened up with lime juice.
  6. Glazed ham – A traditional Christmas dinner always needs a show-stopping centerpiece and a beautiful glazed ham is just that. Crisp crackling crust gives way to succulent and tender, perfectly pink slices of ham that are as juicy as they look. The original recipes often use pineapple (a classic pairing with ham) but more modern recipes use a mustard, honey and brown sugar glaze that works even, eggnog, mince pies, mulled wine, pigs in blanket, candy cane, yule log, fruit cake, gingerbread cookies, hot toddy,
  7. Spiked eggnog – One of those love-it-or-hate-it Christmas drinks, basic eggnog is made from milk, sugar and whipped eggs. While that may make some gag, others enjoy this chilled, frothy drink that is made even better with the addition of a shot of your liquor of choice. It’s typically topped with a dusting of nutmeg and/or cinnamon and served in cup-type glasses.
  8. Candy canes – Used very often as decorations, edible candy canes are as delicious to eat as they are to gaze upon. The typical red and white swirls indicate a peppermint flavor, although now they are available in practically any flavor of your choosing. The unique shape has a story – the creator wanted the treats to represent the sticks the shepherds carried when they came to visit Baby Jesus.
  9. Pigs in blankets – Christmas parties need special appetizers and none are better than Pigs in blankets. Once you get over how cute the name is (still trying), you can begin to appreciate the mini sausages that are lovingly wrapped in pastry and baked to a golden, crispy brown. Variations include dates wrapped with bacon (Devils on Horseback) or oysters wrapped with bacon (Angels on Horseback).
  10. Chocolate Yule Log – This gorgeous Christmas dessert was inspired by the tradition of burning a special log of wood at the hearth during Christmas. Made to look like a miniature log, with grooves and holes (that’s why chocolate works best to match the colour), this roulade is filled with buttercream and chocolate. A perfect end to a Christmas dinner!

Charis A. B.

is a language editor by profession, a foodie and a talented baker. When she isn't pulverizing a training dummy (and people sometimes) during kickboxing practice, she can be seen clicking away with her camera and scouring markets for hard to find ingredients. She's fond of travelling and an inveterate carnivore. Charis covers New York for Chef at Large and can be reached at