Chinese Christmas Dinner: 5 Typical Dishes & 3 Common Desserts

by Ella

China, with its rich cultural tapestry, brings a unique and fascinating twist to the celebration of Christmas. While Christmas is not a traditional Chinese holiday, it has been embraced with enthusiasm, especially in urban areas where the festive spirit is alive and well. One of the most delightful aspects of any celebration is the food, and Christmas in China is no exception. In this article, we will take a deep dive into the culinary landscape of Christmas in China, exploring the traditional and modern dishes that grace the tables during this festive season.

Christmas in China: A Blend of Cultures

In China, Christmas is celebrated in diverse ways, reflecting the multicultural and cosmopolitan nature of the country. The younger generation often views Christmas as a time for exchanging gifts, decorating homes, and enjoying festive meals. While it may not have the same religious significance as in many Western countries, Christmas in China is a time for joy, togetherness, and, of course, delicious food.


The Fusion of Chinese and Western Flavors

Christmas in China is a perfect example of the fusion of cultures, where traditional Chinese dishes share the table with Western-inspired creations. The result is a culinary celebration that seamlessly blends flavors, textures, and culinary techniques from both worlds.


Chinese Christmas Eve Feast:

In many Chinese households, the main celebration takes place on Christmas Eve. Families gather for a sumptuous feast that features a mix of Chinese and Western dishes. Let’s explore some of the highlights of a typical Chinese Christmas Eve dinner:


1. Roast Duck with Plum Sauce (梅子鸭): A Chinese twist on a classic Christmas dish, roast duck with plum sauce takes center stage. The succulent duck, with its crispy skin, is complemented perfectly by the sweet and tangy plum sauce.


2. Sweet and Sour Pork (糖醋里脊): A beloved Chinese dish, sweet and sour pork is often part of the Christmas spread. Tender pieces of pork are coated in a sticky, flavorful sauce that combines the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity.

3. Dumplings (饺子): While traditionally associated with Chinese New Year, dumplings make a festive appearance during Christmas. These little parcels of joy are often filled with a mix of pork, vegetables, and seasonings.

4. Braised Fish (红烧鱼): Fish is a symbol of prosperity in Chinese culture, and a braised fish dish is a common addition to the Christmas Eve menu. The fish is often served whole, symbolizing unity and completeness.

5. Christmas Turkey with Chinese Spices (五香烤火鸡): To incorporate a Western touch, some families opt for a succulent Christmas turkey seasoned with traditional Chinese five-spice powder. This fusion dish combines the best of both culinary worlds.

Festive Desserts with an Eastern Twist

No Christmas celebration is complete without indulging in sweet treats, and China has its own delightful array of festive desserts:

1. Tangyuan (汤圆): These sweet glutinous rice dumplings, often filled with sesame paste or red bean paste, are traditionally associated with the Winter Solstice Festival but find their way to the Christmas table as well.

2. Nian Gao (年糕): This sticky rice cake, symbolic of growth, progress, and the promise of a better year, is a popular dessert during the holiday season.

3. Almond Cookies (杏仁饼干): Drawing inspiration from Western cookie traditions, almond cookies are a delightful addition to the Christmas dessert spread. These crunchy treats are flavored with almond extract and often adorned with a single almond in the center.

Western Influences on Christmas Dining

In urban areas and among the younger generation, the influence of Western Christmas traditions is evident in the dining choices. Western-style restaurants and cafes in major cities curate special Christmas menus that cater to both expatriates and locals eager to experience the joy of the season. Let’s delve into some of the Western-inspired dishes that have become synonymous with Christmas celebrations in China:

Christmas Turkey and Ham: Roast turkey and glazed ham take pride of place on many Christmas tables in China. Inspired by Western holiday traditions, these dishes are often prepared with a Chinese flair, incorporating local spices and seasonings for a unique twist.

Christmas Cakes and Pastries: The tradition of enjoying Christmas cakes and pastries has found its way into Chinese celebrations. Bakeries offer a tempting array of Yule logs, fruitcakes, and gingerbread treats, beautifully decorated to capture the festive spirit.

Hotpot Gatherings: In recent years, hotpot has become an increasingly popular Christmas dining choice, especially among the younger generation. This communal dining experience involves cooking a variety of meats, vegetables, and noodles in a simmering pot of broth at the center of the table. The warmth of the hotpot and the convivial atmosphere make it an ideal choice for bringing friends and family together during the holiday season.

Regional Variations: A Culinary Tapestry

China’s vast size and diverse regional cuisines contribute to a rich tapestry of Christmas dining traditions. In northern China, where winters are cold and hearty meals are favored, dishes like dumplings and hotpots take center stage. In the south, where the climate is milder, lighter fare featuring fresh seafood and vegetables may be preferred.

In cities like Shanghai and Beijing, where international influences are more pronounced, you’ll find an eclectic mix of Chinese and Western dishes on Christmas menus. Expatriates and locals alike come together to savor the best of both culinary worlds.

Navigating Dietary Preferences: A Vegetarian Christmas

As awareness of dietary preferences and restrictions grows, an increasing number of Chinese families are opting for vegetarian or vegan Christmas feasts. Tofu and vegetable-based dishes take the spotlight, offering a delicious alternative to traditional meat-centric celebrations. Plant-based proteins, such as mock meat and tofu, are skillfully prepared to mimic the textures and flavors of classic Chinese and Western holiday dishes.

Christmas Drinks: From Tea to Mulled Wine

While a traditional Christmas in the West might involve mulled wine and eggnog, in China, the beverage choices are diverse and cater to different tastes. Chinese teas, both hot and cold, are popular choices to accompany festive meals. However, the younger generation may also indulge in Western-style cocktails and mocktails to add a touch of glamour to their celebrations.


Regardless of the specific dishes served, the essence of Christmas in China lies in the joy of coming together with loved ones. The holiday season provides an opportunity for family and friends to gather, share stories, exchange gifts, and, of course, indulge in a delightful array of culinary creations.

As China continues to embrace the festive spirit of Christmas, the culinary landscape evolves, creating a beautiful fusion of traditions. Whether savoring traditional Chinese dishes, experimenting with Western-inspired creations, or enjoying a hotpot feast, the people of China have found unique and heartwarming ways to celebrate this global holiday in their own style.

In the midst of the colorful lights, festive decorations, and the laughter of shared moments, Christmas in China is a celebration of cultural diversity, culinary creativity, and the enduring joy of good food and good company. So, as the holiday season approaches, let the aroma of delicious dishes fill the air and the warmth of shared meals bring people together in the true spirit of Christmas in China.



Wellfoodrecipes is a professional gourmet portal, the main columns include gourmet recipes, healthy diet, desserts, festival recipes, meat and seafood recipes, etc.

【Contact us: [email protected]

Copyright © 2023