Christmas time in Mexican culture is all about family, food, and festivities. The joy of the season is mirrored in the vibrant colors of the foods and celebrations that accompany it, but no Mexican celebration is complete without family and friends sharing a meal together. Whether it’s an informal potluck leading up to the holiday or an elaborate family gathering for Christmas Eve (Noche Buena) or Christmas day, these Mexican Christmas food ideas will make you feel festive and will satisfy your appetite.
Mexican Christmas Foods
Ensalada de Nochebuena / Christmas Eve Salad
Much like its name suggests, this salad is traditionally served at dinnertime on Christmas Eve. With its beautiful combination of colors, it arrives at the table in holiday reds, greens, and whites. Although many variations exist, three main ingredients are at its foundation: beets, pomegranate, and jicama. Beyond these three, additions may include lettuce, carrots, oranges, apples, bananas, and pecans or peanuts.
Tamales are at the heart of every Mexican Christmas tradition and are considered a special holiday food as they are made only seasonally. Made from cornmeal masa and, much like a dumpling, they are filled with a variety of meats, cheeses, vegetables, and spices. Some also prefer sweet tamales, which are made with sugar, and are filled with fruits or jam. Regardless of your preference, they are then wrapped in corn husks and steamed. Making tamales is definitely a labor of love as they take a considerable amount of time to prepare, but are well worth the wait!
Menudo or Pozole
These two traditional Mexican soups, though similar in some ingredients, are uniquely different. Menudo is a tripe and hominy soup, while Pozole is made with chicken or pork in lieu of tripe. Both are seasoned with chile or garlic and require up to five hours of cooking time. Since they are made in large batches, they make for perfect party food and will leave you feeling full and satisfied.
Some people say that menudo is the ultimate cure for a hangover and, for this reason, prefer this version of the soup over pozole. Whatever your beliefs or taste preferences, both soups are perfect additions to your Mexican Christmas meal.
This Mexican dish is straight from the heart of Mexico City. It is made from the green leaves of a wild plant similar to rosemary, for which it is named, and its taste is said to be similar to that of spinach. This dish is most often served with shrimp cakes and coated in mole sauce.
Bacalao a la Vizcaina
Historically, this dish is a combination of the dried, salted codfish and olives the Spanish carried on their voyages and ingredients available to them, like potatoes, chile, and tomatoes, while in Mexico. Ultimately, it makes for a delicious stew with unexpected flavors. Though recipes will often vary from region to region and chef to
chef, this stew is sure to win over the hearts of your Christmas guests on a cold night.
Mexican Christmas Desserts
A family favorite around Christmastime, this sweet treat is made of a yeast dough then either rolled into thin sheets or left as dough balls. They are then fried until light and crispy, then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. For added decadence, buñuelos can also be doused in syrup or enjoyed with a sweet jam. This Mexican Christmas dessert is nothing short of a celebration for children and adults alike, but maybe not for your waistline.
Rosca de Reyes / King’s Bread
Typically served on Dia de Reyes (King’s Day) on January 6th, this delicious sweet bread appears in some bakeries around Christmastime. Young and old alike will find it hard to wait until the New Year for the taste of these sweet cakes.
Additionally, in Mexican tradition, each cake is filled with small trinkets and a small figurine of the baby Jesus; this is said to represent the Holy Family’s journey. Whomever shall find the baby Jesus is said to be blessed and is required to host a dinner, complete with pozole and tamales, to share in his good fortune.
If you find yourself in Mexico this Christmas, you’ll surely experience some of these amazing dishes! If not, why not make some yourself, or better yet, come to Benito’s for the best authentic Mexican food Forth Worth can offer!