The holiday season is almost upon us, and there’s no better way to celebrate than by indulging in the rich and flavorful traditional Belgian Christmas recipes. Belgium, a country known for its culinary excellence, offers a wide array of delightful dishes that are sure to make your Christmas meal unforgettable. From sweet treats like Speculoos cookies and Bûche de Noël to savory delights like potato croquettes and Belgian frites, there’s something for everyone to enjoy during this festive season. So, let’s explore 10 amazing Belgian Christmas recipes that will add a touch of magic to your Christmas dinner.
Our 10 Favorite Belgian Christmas Recipes
1. Speculoos Cookies
Speculoos cookies, also known as speculaas or speculatius, have a rich and intriguing history deeply rooted in European traditions. These spiced cookies have become beloved treats around the world, but their origins can be traced back to the heart of Europe, particularly in countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany.
The history of speculoos cookies dates back to the Middle Ages, with the earliest recorded recipes appearing in the 17th century. These cookies were traditionally associated with special occasions and holidays, such as Christmas and St. Nicholas’ Day (celebrated on December 6th). In Belgium, they are often associated with the celebration of St. Nicholas, known as “Sinterklaas” in Dutch-speaking regions.
Speculoos cookies are characterized by their distinctive spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and cardamom, which give them their unique and aromatic flavor. These spices were considered exotic and valuable during the Middle Ages, making speculoos cookies a special treat for festive occasions.
One of the most iconic features of speculoos cookies is their intricate designs, often imprinted with intricate images or patterns using wooden molds. These molds, known as “speculaasplank” in Dutch, were hand-carved and passed down through generations, each with its own story and symbolism.
The popularity of speculoos cookies extended beyond Europe when European colonists and immigrants brought their culinary traditions to other parts of the world. In recent years, speculoos have spread worldwide with the rise of brands like Lotus, which introduced speculoos in spreadable form, known as “cookie butter.” This innovative twist on the classic cookie catapulted speculoos to international fame, and now, these delightful spiced treats can be found on supermarket shelves, in cafes, and as a beloved ingredient in various desserts and baked goods.
Today, speculoos cookies are enjoyed year-round but remain an essential part of holiday celebrations, particularly during the Christmas season. Whether you’re savoring their rich history or relishing their modern variations, speculoos cookies continue to capture the hearts and palates of people around the globe, carrying with them centuries of tradition and a dash of holiday magic.
This recipe for Belgian Christmas Cookies from Olivia of Olivia’s Cuisine is our favorite that we have found so far!
2. Belgian Christmas Ale-Glazed Ham
Belgian Christmas Ale-Glazed Ham is a mouthwatering centerpiece that embodies the heartwarming spirit of the holiday season. This delectable dish combines the culinary traditions of Belgium with the festive flavors of Christmas, resulting in a delightful fusion of taste and celebration.
The tradition of enjoying ham during the Christmas season has deep historical roots in Europe, particularly in countries like Belgium. Ham, a symbol of prosperity and abundance, became a popular choice for holiday feasts during the winter months when fresh meat was less readily available. Belgians, renowned for their culinary expertise, elevated the humble ham to a magnificent centerpiece by incorporating the flavors of Belgian Christmas ale and a rich glaze.
The star ingredient of Belgian Christmas Ale-Glazed Ham is undoubtedly the Belgian Christmas ale, a seasonal beer that is brewed specifically for the holiday season. This ale, known for its complex and robust flavor profile with hints of spices and seasonal ingredients, imparts a unique and festive character to the dish. It is often used to create a glaze that caramelizes beautifully over the ham during roasting, resulting in a glossy, flavorful coating that’s both sweet and savory.
To prepare this tantalizing dish, a bone-in ham is chosen and then scored in a crisscross pattern, allowing the glaze to penetrate and infuse every succulent bite. The glaze is created by combining Belgian Christmas ale, brown sugar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and ground cloves in a saucepan. This mixture is simmered until it thickens, creating a luscious, aromatic concoction that will transform the ham into a holiday masterpiece.
The ham is then roasted in the oven, basted periodically with the Belgian Christmas ale glaze. As it roasts, the ham absorbs the flavors of the glaze, creating a caramelized and flavorful crust. The end result is a succulent and tender ham with a sweet, spicy, and slightly boozy glaze that captures the essence of Christmas.
Belgian Christmas Ale-Glazed Ham has become a beloved tradition not only in Belgium but also among those who appreciate the fusion of culinary excellence and holiday cheer. It symbolizes the warmth of family gatherings, the joy of sharing a delicious meal, and the magic of the Christmas season. This exceptional dish reminds us that the holidays are a time to savor the finer things in life and create lasting memories with loved ones, all while relishing the rich flavors of tradition and celebration.
Get ready to create a main course that everyone will enjoy with this recipe from Chanda of My Farmhouse Table!
3. Bûche de Noël (Yule Log)
Bûche de Noël, also known as the Yule log cake, is a traditional Christmas dessert that holds a special place in the hearts of many around the world. This festive dessert has a captivating history and is deeply entwined with the customs and symbolism of the holiday season.
The origin of the Bûche de Noël can be traced back to medieval Europe when families would select a large log to burn in the fireplace as part of their Christmas Eve celebrations. This practice symbolized the welcoming of light and warmth into the home during the darkest days of winter. Over time, as open hearths became less common, the tradition of the Yule log evolved into a culinary delight: a rolled sponge cake designed to resemble a log, decorated with rich buttercream or ganache frosting and often adorned with intricate marzipan or meringue decorations.
Bûche de Noël is traditionally made by rolling a light and airy sponge cake filled with a flavorful filling, such as buttercream, whipped cream, or chocolate ganache. The cake is then frosted with a rich chocolate ganache or buttercream, which is often textured to resemble tree bark. The final touch includes decorating the Yule log with marzipan mushrooms, meringue mushrooms, holly leaves, or powdered sugar to mimic the appearance of a real log covered in snow.
In addition to its delectable taste and festive appearance, Bûche de Noël carries cultural and symbolic significance. The act of sharing this cake with family and friends during the Christmas season symbolizes unity, togetherness, and the spirit of giving. It has become an iconic dessert on Christmas dinner tables across Europe and beyond, especially in France, where it originated.
The tradition of Bûche de Noël has transcended borders, and today, variations of this beloved dessert can be found in many countries. While the classic version features a chocolate sponge cake with coffee or chocolate-flavored filling, modern interpretations offer a wide array of flavors, including chestnut, raspberry, and even tropical fruit.
As Christmas approaches each year, families and bakers alike look forward to creating and sharing this festive masterpiece. Whether you’re making your own Bûche de Noël or enjoying a slice from a bakery, this delightful dessert continues to evoke the warmth and joy of the holiday season, carrying with it centuries of tradition and a sense of wonder that makes Christmas celebrations truly magical.
This awesome recipe from Dini of The Flavor Bender offers not only a step-by-step guide but also provides different recipes for every skill level.
4. Belgian Frites
The story of Belgian Frites can be traced back to the late 17th century when it is believed that villagers in the Meuse Valley, in what is now Belgium, first began frying potatoes. Legend has it that they used to fish in the river, and when the river froze in the winter, they turned to frying potatoes as a substitute for fish. This ingenious adaptation eventually gave rise to what we now know as Belgian Frites.
What sets Belgian Frites apart is not just the choice of potato, but also the method of preparation. Belgians typically favor using the starchy Bintje potato variety, which results in fries with a crispy exterior and a tender, fluffy interior. The potatoes are peeled, hand-cut into thick strips, and then fried twice—a crucial step that defines their texture. The first frying is done at a lower temperature to cook the interior, while the second frying, at a higher temperature, gives them that sought-after golden crunch.
Belgian Frites are traditionally cooked in beef tallow, which imparts a unique flavor, but they are also commonly fried in vegetable oil today, making them a vegetarian-friendly treat. Once cooked to perfection, they are salted and served hot, often with an array of sauces, the most famous being Belgian mayonnaise.
What truly elevates Belgian Frites to iconic status is their versatility and the variety of toppings and accompaniments they can be paired with. Whether enjoyed as a quick snack from a street vendor or as a side dish at a restaurant, you can savor them with ketchup, aioli, curry ketchup, and even more exotic toppings like stoofvlees (a Flemish beef stew) or mussels in white wine sauce. The possibilities are endless, and each topping adds its own unique flair to this beloved Belgian classic.
Belgian Frites have transcended borders, becoming a symbol of Belgium’s culinary excellence and a must-try for travelers visiting the country. They are not just a delicious dish; they represent a celebration of food, culture, and the joy of simple pleasures. So, whether you’re savoring them at a traditional frituur (fry shop) in Belgium or attempting to recreate the magic at home, Belgian Frites are a reminder that the simplest things in life can be the most extraordinary.
We love this recipe from Alexandria at Foreign Fork.
5. White Pudding
White pudding, a classic dish in Belgian cuisine, is a savory delicacy with a rich history that showcases the country’s culinary tradition and love for simple yet satisfying flavors. While it may not be as widely recognized as some other Belgian dishes, white pudding holds a special place in Belgian food culture.
Belgium, a country known for its culinary excellence and diverse regional specialties, has its own take on white pudding, making it a distinctly Belgian recipe. This version of white pudding typically features a mixture of oatmeal, suet or fat, and an array of seasonings and spices, often including herbs like thyme and nutmeg. The result is a unique and delightful blend of textures and flavors that is emblematic of Belgian comfort food.
The history of white pudding in Belgium is rooted in the country’s agrarian traditions and the use of locally available ingredients. Oats, a common crop in Belgium, are used as the base for this dish, providing a hearty and wholesome character. The addition of suet or fat contributes richness and depth of flavor, making it a truly satisfying dish.
Belgian white pudding is traditionally encased in a casing, similar to sausages, and then cooked through methods like steaming or boiling. The end result is a dish with a soft, crumbly texture and a mildly spiced, savory taste. It pairs perfectly with other Belgian breakfast staples like crispy bacon, eggs, and beans, making it a popular choice for a hearty morning meal.
What sets Belgian white pudding apart is its connection to the country’s culinary heritage and its unique blend of flavors that reflect the nation’s love for simple, yet delicious recipes. Whether enjoyed as part of a full Belgian breakfast or incorporated into creative culinary creations, Belgian white pudding showcases the country’s dedication to preserving and evolving its culinary traditions. This enduring dish is a reminder that some of the most beloved recipes are those that have been perfected and cherished for generations in the heart of Belgium.
This recipe from The Food XP has our mouths watering!
6. Potato Croquettes
Potato croquettes, a beloved and cherished dish in Belgian cuisine, are a testament to the country’s culinary excellence and innovation. These delectable morsels of fried goodness have a storied history and a special place in the hearts and palates of Belgians and food enthusiasts worldwide.
Belgium, known for its love of potatoes, has elevated this humble ingredient to an art form with the creation of potato croquettes. These golden-brown delicacies are made by taking mashed potatoes and transforming them into cylindrical or oval shapes, which are then breaded and deep-fried to perfection. The result is a crispy, golden exterior that gives way to a creamy, flavorful interior.
The origins of potato croquettes can be traced back to 19th-century Belgium, where inventive chefs sought to reimagine the potato and create a delightful snack or side dish. Mashed potatoes, seasoned with herbs, spices, and sometimes cheese or meat, are carefully shaped and coated in breadcrumbs, ensuring that each bite is a harmonious blend of textures and tastes.
One of the enduring qualities of potato croquettes is their adaptability. They can be infused with various flavors, such as garlic, chives, or even truffle, to suit different palates and occasions. They are often served as a side dish with traditional Belgian main courses, such as stoofvlees (Flemish beef stew) or vol-au-vent (a creamy chicken and mushroom stew), but they can also shine as appetizers or finger foods at social gatherings.
Potato croquettes encapsulate the Belgian spirit of culinary innovation and the nation’s penchant for creating delightful comfort food. They are a delicious example of how Belgium has embraced the humble potato and transformed it into a beloved dish that can be enjoyed in a variety of settings, from casual dinners to upscale dining experiences.
Whether you’re savoring potato croquettes in a cozy Belgian brasserie or attempting to recreate them in your own kitchen, these golden bites are a reminder of Belgium’s rich gastronomic heritage and its commitment to crafting food that is both comforting and irresistible. In every bite, you can taste the essence of Belgian culinary creativity and tradition, making potato croquettes a cherished and enduring dish in Belgian cuisine.
This recipe from Hill Street Grocer not only makes great croquettes but also includes an awesome dipping sauce!
7. Belgian Christmas Coffee Cake
Belgian Christmas Coffee Cake is a delightful and aromatic treat that encapsulates the heartwarming spirit of the holiday season while showcasing the culinary excellence of Belgium. This festive cake, often enjoyed as a part of Christmas breakfast or dessert, is a reflection of the country’s rich traditions and appreciation for fine baked goods.
Belgium, renowned for its artisanal chocolates, waffles, and pastries, has a deep-rooted love for baking, especially during the Christmas season. The Belgian Christmas Coffee Cake, also known as “Pom Koek” in Dutch-speaking regions, is a manifestation of this passion.
The origins of this Christmas delight can be traced back to medieval Europe when a bread-like fruitcake known as “stollen” was enjoyed during the Christmas season. Over time, the recipe evolved to include regional variations, and in Belgium, it became known as Belgian Christmas Coffee Cake.
The key ingredients of this delectable cake typically include flour, sugar, butter, milk, eggs, and an assortment of festive elements such as candied fruits, raisins, and almonds. It’s the aromatic spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom that give the cake its distinctive holiday flavor. Additionally, a touch of almond extract enhances the overall aroma and taste.
The preparation of Belgian Christmas Coffee Cake involves combining these ingredients to form a rich, sweet dough, which is then studded with the candied fruits and nuts. Once the dough has risen to perfection, it is shaped into a festive loaf, often with a marzipan or almond paste filling, and baked to a beautiful golden hue.
The final touch is a dusting of powdered sugar or a drizzle of icing glaze, which not only adds sweetness but also creates a snowy, Christmassy appearance.
This cake is not just a delightful treat; it is a symbol of Belgian Christmas traditions. It is often enjoyed as part of a Christmas breakfast spread, alongside coffee or hot chocolate, as family members gather around to celebrate the holiday together. In some regions of Belgium, it is even presented as a gift to close family and friends during the festive season.
Belgian Christmas Coffee Cake is a testament to Belgium’s culinary ingenuity and its appreciation for creating dishes that bring warmth and joy to the holiday season. Whether enjoyed on December 25th or throughout the month of December, this cake embodies the essence of Belgian Christmas traditions, adding a delicious touch of magic to the festive celebrations.
This is a simple recipe from justcallmetoni on Food.com.
Stoofvlees, the beloved Flemish beef stew, is a culinary gem with a rich history that is deeply rooted in the cultural and gastronomic heritage of Belgium. This hearty and comforting dish has been a staple of Belgian cuisine for generations, and its origin story is a testament to the resourcefulness and creativity of Belgian cooks.
The history of stoofvlees can be traced back to the medieval period in what is now Belgium, where slow-cooked stews were common among peasants and households of various social classes. These stews were a practical way to tenderize tougher cuts of meat and to create hearty, flavorful meals during the long, cold winters.
One of the key factors contributing to the development of stoofvlees was the availability of ingredients in the region. Belgium has a long history of cattle farming, and beef was a readily available source of protein. Additionally, the country’s lush pastures provided an abundance of fresh herbs and vegetables that could be used to enhance the flavor of stews.
Over time, as culinary techniques evolved and trade routes expanded, Belgians began incorporating new ingredients and flavors into their stews. The use of Belgian beer, particularly ales, in stoofvlees became a defining characteristic of the dish. This addition not only added depth and complexity to the flavor but also showcased Belgium’s rich brewing traditions.
Today, stoofvlees remains a beloved dish in Belgian households and restaurants alike. It’s often served with Belgian fries (frites) or a crusty baguette to soak up the delicious sauce. The tradition of sharing stoofvlees with family and friends during the holiday season, especially around Christmas, continues to celebrate the enduring culinary legacy of Belgium, where hearty, slow-cooked dishes like stoofvlees remind us of the country’s dedication to preserving and savoring its culinary heritage.
Enjoy your Belgian Christmas stew with family and friends as you celebrate the holiday season!
One of our favorite recipes (Julia Child’s) is highlighted by Karina on Cafe Delites.
9. Belgian Christmas Market Hot Chocolate
Belgian Christmas Market Hot Chocolate is a luxurious and indulgent beverage that epitomizes the festive spirit and culinary excellence of Belgium during the holiday season. This heartwarming drink, often found at Christmas markets throughout the country, combines rich, velvety chocolate with a touch of holiday magic.
Belgium, world-famous for its fine chocolates and cocoa expertise, takes its hot chocolate seriously. During the Christmas season, this classic beverage receives a seasonal makeover to create the Belgian Christmas Market Hot Chocolate, a drink that warms both the body and the soul.
The key to this decadent hot chocolate lies in the quality of the ingredients. Belgian chocolate, known for its exceptional flavor and smooth texture, is used as the base. Dark chocolate is a popular choice, as it imparts a deep, intense cocoa flavor, but milk chocolate variants are also common for those who prefer a creamier and sweeter taste.
To prepare this divine beverage, Belgian Christmas Market Hot Chocolate starts with a mixture of whole milk and heavy cream, creating a velvety and creamy base. Granulated sugar is added to sweeten the drink to perfection. The pièce de résistance is the addition of dark chocolate, which is finely chopped and melted into the milk mixture, creating a lusciously smooth and rich chocolatey concoction.
To enhance the holiday experience, a touch of vanilla extract may be added, imparting a subtle sweetness and a delightful aroma to the hot chocolate. The result is a drink that is nothing short of a liquid embrace, enveloping you in the comforting flavors of chocolate and the magic of Christmas.
Belgian Christmas Market Hot Chocolate is often garnished with a dollop of whipped cream, a scattering of marshmallows, and a generous sprinkle of chocolate shavings. These toppings not only add a delightful visual appeal but also provide contrasting textures and flavors, making every sip a delightful experience.
This beverage is not merely a drink; it’s an embodiment of the festive spirit that fills the air during the holiday season in Belgium. Whether you’re strolling through the traditional Christmas markets or enjoying it at home, Belgian Christmas Market Hot Chocolate is a reminder of the country’s commitment to creating indulgent and heartwarming treats that celebrate the magic of Christmas.
This recipe is great from Amber at Busy Creating Memories!
10. Bread of Jesus
Bread of Jesus, known as “Pain de Jésus” in Belgian culinary tradition, is a special sweet bread that holds a place of honor in the hearts and kitchens of Belgians, particularly during the Christmas season. This delightful bread is a testament to Belgium’s rich history, its strong Christian heritage, and its culinary creativity.
The Bread of Jesus is a unique holiday bread that is typically prepared in early December to commemorate the upcoming Christmas celebration. It is often associated with Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) and Saint Nicholas’ Day, celebrated on December 6th in Belgium. This bread serves as a symbol of the generosity and benevolence associated with these beloved saints.
The bread itself is a sweet and aromatic creation, typically prepared using ingredients like all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, yeast, milk, butter, eggs, and a touch of almond extract. Almonds, a favorite nut in Belgian cuisine, are often added to the dough in the form of slivers or ground almonds, infusing the bread with a subtle nutty flavor and texture.
The preparation of Bread of Jesus involves mixing the ingredients to create a rich, sweet dough. After allowing the dough to rise until it’s light and fluffy, it is shaped into a braided loaf or sometimes formed into figurative shapes representing Saint Nicholas or other Christmas symbols. This artistic touch adds an extra layer of charm to the bread.
Before baking, the bread may be brushed with a beaten egg to achieve a glossy, golden finish. The final result is a beautifully braided or intricately shaped loaf of sweet bread that fills the kitchen with an irresistible aroma as it bakes.
Bread of Jesus is not just a delicious treat; it is a symbol of Belgian Christmas traditions, emphasizing the spirit of giving, togetherness, and the celebration of the holiday season. It is often shared among family members, close friends, and neighbors during December, and it serves as a reminder of the joy and warmth of the Christmas season in Belgium.
Whether enjoyed as a part of Christmas breakfast, dessert, or simply as a token of goodwill, Bread of Jesus encapsulates the essence of Belgian culture, blending culinary creativity with heartfelt traditions to create a sweet and meaningful Christmas experience. It is a delightful reminder of the country’s commitment to preserving and celebrating its rich history and heritage during the winter season.
While this recipe was posted almost 15 years ago by One Perfect Bite, still holds up well.
Wrapping Up Our Favorite Belgian Christmas Recipes
These recipes encompass the traditional Belgian dishes that are both flavorful and will ensure that your holiday season is filled with delicious meals and cherished moments. Whether you’re savoring the sweet Speculoos cookies (or making them for St. Nicholas) or indulging in the savory delights of potato croquettes, these dishes are sure to make your Christmas dinner an unforgettable experience. Whether these are new ideas for you or simply delicious treats that you can make again, it will always put you in a jolly mood when you are in the kitchen breaking out your cookie cutters around Christmas decorations. So, gather your extended family, embrace the Belgian Christmas traditions, and have a Merry Christmas!