Christmas in Belgium is a time of traditions, family gatherings, and delicious food. From the bustling Christmas markets in the city center to the cozy living rooms decorated with Christmas trees, the spirit of the holiday is everywhere.
Let’s explore some authentic Belgian Christmas recipes and explore how these have evolved.
Starter Course: In the southern Walloon region, it’s a tradition to begin the Christmas meal with a variety of seafood, reflecting the country’s wide variety of fish species.
A favorite is foie gras, often served on crusty rolls, accompanied by cold meats. For those looking for a vegetarian option, a Thermomix recipe could whip up a creamy soup using a variety of vegetables.
Main Course: On Christmas Eve, families across Belgium gather for the main meal. The central dish often comprises freshwater fish, a nod to the country’s rich variety of aquatic species.
For those in the south of Belgium, roast turkey, sprinkled with brown sugar and cream butter, is a must-have, especially when paired with the elegant little swirls of potatoes known as Pommes Duchesse.
The famous Belgian frites, globally known as French fries, are a great way to complement the main course, providing a crispy and savory element to the meal.
Dessert: For dessert, there’s nothing like a Chocolate Christmas log, an actual work of art. This treat is often flavored with almond extract and made with Belgian chocolate and a mixture of almonds.
Rolled into a sponge roll, this delicacy is baked in an inch jelly roll pan and then adorned with green sugar and red sugar crystals, representing the festive season.
Belgian Christmas cookies, made with egg yolk and sprinkled with white chocolate, are a must-try for those with a special sweet tooth.
Special Christmas Breakfast: The breakfast table is laden with special sweet bread on Christmas Day, quite different from the standard Sunday breakfast. This bread, often shaped into a baby-like shape, contains a small plastic figure, symbolizing good fortune for the coming year.
The one who finds it gets to wear the gold paper crown. And let’s not forget the rich coffee cake, a staple of the Christmas breakfast, flavored with a hint of brown sugar.
Cultural Significance: Belgian Christmas traditions are deeply rooted in history. From celebrating Saint Nicholas or Sint Niklaas Day on December 6th to the legend of Zwarte Piet and Pere Noel, these traditions have been passed down from the Middle Ages.
In Walloon districts, where the Walloon language is spoken, “Vrolijk Kerstfeest” or “Merry Christmas” can be heard echoing in the cold winter season.
While Santa Claus is a popular figure during the Christmas season, in Belgium, St. Nicholas or Sint Niklaas and his companion Zwarte Piet bring Christmas presents to good children, often placing them in front of the fireplace. The celebration of St. Nicholas on December 6th predates Christmas and is a significant day for Belgian children.
Belgian Christmas Menu: A Guide to Festive Delights
Plan your perfect holiday feast with our comprehensive guide to traditional Belgian dishes.
Belgium is known for its rich culinary traditions, and Christmas is the perfect time to indulge in some delicious Belgian delicacies. Whether you’re hosting a festive dinner or want to add a touch of Belgian flair to your holiday menu, we’ve covered you with a diverse selection of traditional dishes that will impress your guests.
From appetizers to desserts, here’s a guide to creating a memorable Belgian Christmas menu.
Start with mouthwatering appetizers that showcase the best of Belgian gastronomy.
Kick off your festive feast with delectable appetizers that will tantalize your taste buds. Consider serving classic Belgian favorites like croquettes filled with shrimp or cheese, crispy frikadellen (meatballs), or savory vol-au-vent (puff pastry filled with chicken and mushrooms).
These bite-sized treats are delicious and perfect for getting everyone in the holiday spirit.
Move on to hearty main courses that will leave everyone satisfied.
Belgium has no shortage of hearty options. One popular choice is stoolies, a flavorful beef stew made with beer and served with crispy fries. Another classic dish is waterzooi, a creamy soup-like casserole made with chicken, fish, and vegetables.
For those looking for something different, consider preparing carbonnade flamande, similar to stoolies, but using beer-braised beef instead.
Accompany your mains with traditional side dishes that perfectly complement the flavors.
To complete your Christmas spread, don’t forget about the side dishes! Belgians love their potatoes, so why not serve some creamy mashed or crispy roasted ones?
You can also include seasonal vegetables like Brussels sprouts sautéed with bacon or buttery carrots glazed with honey. These sides will add flavor and color to your festive table.
End the meal on a sweet note with decadent Belgian desserts.
No Belgian Christmas menu is complete without indulging in some mouthwatering desserts. Treat your guests to waffles, either the classic Brussels style or Liège style, which are denser and sweeter.
Another must-try dessert is speculoos, spiced shortcrust biscuits that pair perfectly with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. And let’s not forget about the rich and creamy chocolate mousse or the irresistible Belgian pralines. These desserts are guaranteed to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Top 10 Traditional Belgian Christmas Foods
Belgium is known for its rich culinary traditions; Christmas is no exception. Delicious food takes center stage. Here are the top 10 traditional Belgian Christmas foods that will transport you to a world of mouthwatering flavors:
Dive into a list of must-have dishes that define a classic Belgian Christmas celebration.
- Creamy Brussels Sprouts Gratin: This indulgent dish combines tender Brussels sprouts with creamy béchamel sauce and a generous layer of melted cheese. It’s the perfect comfort food for cold winter nights.
- Succulent Roast Goose: A succulent roast goose is often the show’s star during a Belgian Christmas dinner. The crispy skin and tender meat make it an irresistible centerpiece for any festive gathering.
- Hearty Beef Stew (Carbonnade Flamande): This slow-cooked beef stew is made with beer, onions, and spices, resulting in a rich and flavorful dish that warms both body and soul.
- Crispy Potato Croquettes: These golden-brown delights are made from mashed potatoes mixed with egg, flour, and breadcrumbs before being deep-fried to perfection. They make a delicious side dish or appetizer.
- Belgian Waffles: No Belgian celebration would be complete without these iconic treats. Whether plain or topped with powdered sugar, whipped cream, or fresh fruits, they satisfy your sweet tooth.
- Smoked Salmon Tartare: Smoked salmon tartare is a popular choice for seafood lovers during the holiday season in Belgium. The delicate flavors of the salmon combined with tangy lemon juice and herbs create a refreshing appetizer.
- Chocolate Yule Log (Bûche de Noël): Indulge your sweet tooth with this classic Christmas dessert. A chocolate sponge cake rolled and filled with creamy chocolate ganache is a feast for the eyes and taste buds.
- Belgian Endive Salad: This refreshing salad features crisp Belgian endives, tangy blue cheese, roasted walnuts, and a drizzle of honey mustard dressing. It adds a touch of freshness to the festive meal.
- Stuffed Turkey: While roast goose is popular, stuffed turkey is also a common choice for Christmas dinner in Belgium. The turkey is often filled with flavorful stuffing from breadcrumbs, herbs, and spices.
- Speculoos Cookies: These spiced shortbread cookies are a beloved Belgian treat during the holiday season. They are often shaped into festive designs and enjoyed alongside a warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate.
Experience the flavors cherished by generations of Belgians during this special time of year. Whether indulging in creamy Brussels sprouts gratin or savoring the crispy potato croquettes, these traditional Belgian Christmas foods will surely delight your taste buds and make your holiday celebrations extra special.
Flemish Beer Stew: Carbonnade with Brussels Sprouts Recipe
Indulge in this iconic Flemish dish’s hearty goodness with tender beef and flavorful beer. The traditional Belgian Christmas dinner wouldn’t be complete without a steaming bowl of Carbonnade, a rich and comforting stew that warms the soul on cold winter nights.
- 2 lbs (about 900g) beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 12 oz (355 ml) Belgian beer (a dark ale or stout works best)
- 2 cups beef stock
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 lb (about 450g) Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- Fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)
- Seasoning the Beef: Season beef cubes with salt and pepper. Dredge them lightly in flour, shaking off the excess.
- Browning the Meat: In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add the beef cubes in batches, ensuring the pot is not overcrowded. Brown the beef on all sides, then transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Cooking the Onions and Garlic: Add another tablespoon of butter in the same pot. Add the sliced onions and cook over medium heat until they become translucent and start to caramelize about 10-12 minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes.
- Deglazing: Pour the Belgian beer to deglaze the pot, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon.
- Building the Stew: Return the browned beef to the pot. Add the beef stock, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and let it cook for about 1.5 hours or until the beef is tender.
- Adding Brussels Sprouts: In a separate pan, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Add the halved Brussels sprouts and sauté them until they’re lightly browned and have started to soften, about 5-7 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts to the stew during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
- Final Touches: Once the beef is tender and Brussels sprouts are cooked through, remove the bay leaves and discard. Check the seasoning, adjusting with salt and pepper if necessary.
- Serving: Ladle the stew into bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with crusty bread or mashed potatoes.
Seafood Delicacies: Enhancing the Christmas Table
Belgium is renowned for its delectable cuisine, and there’s no shortage of mouthwatering options. One way to elevate your holiday spread and add a touch of elegance is by incorporating exquisite seafood delicacies that are beloved in Belgium.
These dishes bring a coastal influence to the table and celebrate the sea’s freshness and flavors during this festive season.
Buttered North Sea Shrimp Croquettes: A Taste Sensation
One must-try dish for your Christmas dinner is the buttery North Sea shrimp croquettes. These crispy delights are made with a creamy filling of fresh North Sea shrimp mixed with herbs and spices, then coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried to perfection.
The combination of tender shrimp and crunchy exterior creates a delightful contrast in textures. Serve them as an appetizer or alongside other main courses for a truly indulgent experience.
Mussels Cooked in White Wine: A Classic Belgian Favorite
Mussels cooked in white wine are another traditional Belgian seafood dish that deserves a place on your Christmas table. Belgium is famous for its plump, succulent mussels, and this recipe beautifully showcases their natural flavors.
The mussels are steamed in a fragrant broth made with white wine, onions, garlic, celery, and parsley until they open up and release their salty goodness. Pair them with crusty bread to soak up the flavorful broth for an unforgettable dining experience.
Smoked Eel Salad: A Delicate Starter
Consider serving smoked eel salad if you want an elegant starter to impress your guests. Smoked eel is a delicacy in Belgium known for its rich flavor and delicate texture.
Combine it with crisp lettuce leaves, thinly sliced apples or pears, and a tangy vinaigrette dressing for a refreshing and light dish that sets the tone for the rest of the meal.
Oysters: A Luxurious Treat
For those who appreciate the finer things in life, oysters are a must-have addition to your Christmas dinner. These briny bivalves are considered a symbol of luxury and indulgence.
Serve them on ice with a squeeze of lemon or a dash of mignonette sauce to enhance their natural flavors. Whether you prefer raw or cooked, oysters will add sophistication to your festive feast.
Scampi Diabolique: Spicy and Succulent
If you want to spice things up at your Christmas table, consider preparing Scampi Diabolique. This popular Belgian dish features succulent prawns cooked in a spicy tomato-based sauce infused with garlic, chili, and herbs.
The combination of flavors creates an irresistible dish that will leave your taste buds craving more. Serve it with rice or crusty bread to soak up all the delicious sauce.
Incorporating these seafood delicacies into your traditional Belgian Christmas dinner will impress your guests and showcase Belgium’s diverse and flavorful cuisine.
From buttery North Sea shrimp croquettes to plump mussels cooked in white wine, each dish brings its unique twist to the table. So why not embrace the coastal influence on Belgian cuisine this holiday season and savor the freshness of seafood? Your taste buds will thank you!
The Billiau Christmas Dinner: Showcasing Belgian Cuisine
The holiday season involves coming together with loved ones and creating cherished memories. One family that genuinely embodies this spirit is the Billiau family, who have a long-standing tradition of preparing a festive Christmas dinner that showcases the best of Belgian cuisine.
Let’s look closer at their beloved recipes and discover the unique flavors and techniques that make their Christmas dinner special.
Get inspired by one family’s cherished tradition.
For the Billiau family, Christmas dinner is not just a meal; it’s an opportunity to celebrate their heritage and create lasting memories. Passed down through generations, these traditional Belgian recipes are integral to their holiday festivities. From appetizers to desserts, each dish tells a story and holds sentimental value.
Experience the warmth and togetherness.
Preparing the Billiau Christmas dinner is not just about cooking; it’s about spending quality time with loved ones. The entire family comes together in the kitchen, sharing laughter, stories, and culinary secrets as they prepare each course with love and care.
This sense of togetherness adds an extra layer of warmth to the dining experience.
A celebration of Belgian cuisine
Belgium may be small, but it boasts diverse regional cuisines reflected in the Billiau Christmas dinner. From Flanders to Wallonia, each region brings its culinary traditions to the table.
Whether savory dishes like Waterzooi from Ghent or sweet treats like Liège Waffles, the Billiau Christmas dinner celebrates Belgian gastronomy.
Indulgent Gratins: Endive and Seafood Delights
Creamy Endive Gratins that Balance Bitterness with Richness
Delight your guests this Christmas with indulgent gratin dishes featuring two distinct Belgian ingredients: endive and seafood. One of the standout dishes you can prepare is a creamy endive gratin that perfectly balances the vegetable’s natural bitterness with rich, creamy flavors.
To create this delectable dish, start by blanching the endives to reduce their bitterness. Then, arrange each blanched endive in ham slices in a baking dish. Next, prepare a velvety béchamel sauce enriched with nutmeg and Gruyère cheese.
Pour this luscious sauce over the wrapped endives, covering them completely. Finally, sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top for an irresistible crispy crust.
The result? A heavenly combination of tender endives enveloped in a creamy sauce that will have your guests coming back for seconds.
The contrast between the slightly bitter flavor of the endives and the richness of the sauce creates a harmonious balance that is truly satisfying.
Luxurious Seafood Gratin Packed with Flavor
To elevate your Christmas dinner further, consider preparing a luxurious seafood gratin that will wow your guests. Belgium’s coastal location makes it a haven for fresh seafood, so why not take advantage of it during the holiday season?
Start by selecting an assortment of shellfish such as mussels, shrimp, and scallops – all readily available during this time of year. Prepare these shellfish by cooking them briefly until they are tender and set aside.
Next comes the star ingredient: a decadent sauce made from scratch using butter, cream, white wine or beer (a Belgian favorite), shallots, garlic, and herbs like thyme or parsley. This flavorful sauce will infuse the seafood with richness and depth of flavor.
Arrange the cooked shellfish in a baking dish and pour the sauce. Top it off with a generous sprinkling of grated cheese, such as Gruyère or Parmesan, and some toasted almonds for an added crunch. Pop it in the oven until golden brown and bubbling.
The result? A sumptuous seafood gratin that showcases the best flavors of Belgian cuisine. The combination of tender shellfish, creamy sauce, and cheesy crust creates an elegant and comforting dish – perfect for a festive Christmas dinner.
These indulgent gratins featuring endives and seafood will surely be showstoppers on your Christmas dinner table. Whether serving them alongside traditional Belgian dishes like potato croquettes or as part of a multi-course feast.
That includes other beloved Belgian icons like moules-frites (mussels with fries); they are guaranteed to impress your guests and leave them craving more.
Embracing the Traditions of a Belgian Christmas Dinner
From the festive delights that grace the Belgian Christmas menu to the top 10 traditional Belgian Christmas foods, we have delved into the culinary wonders that make this holiday season unique.
We have learned about Flemish Beer Stew, a hearty and flavorful dish made with carbonnade and Brussels sprouts, and seafood delicacies that enhance the Christmas table.
The Billiau Christmas dinner has also been showcased, highlighting the best of Belgian cuisine. And let’s not forget about indulgent gratins like endive and seafood delights.
As you prepare for your Belgian-inspired Christmas feast, we encourage you to embrace these traditions and savor every bite. Whether hosting a small gathering or a large family reunion, these dishes impress your guests and create lasting memories.
So gather your ingredients, don your apron, and let the spirit of Belgium guide you in creating a truly unforgettable holiday meal.
What is traditional Belgian cuisine known for?
👉 Belgian cuisine is known for its rich flavors and diverse dishes. Some popular traditional Belgian foods include mussels with fries (moules-frites), waffles (both sweet and savory varieties), chocolate pralines, beer-braised stews like carbonnade flamande, endive gratin (chicons au gratin), waterzooi (a creamy chicken or fish stew), and speculoos cookies.
Are there any vegetarian options in Belgian Christmas cuisine?
👉 Yes! While meat dishes like Flemish Beer Stew are prominent in traditional Belgian Christmas dinners, vegetarian options are also available. For example, you can enjoy endive gratin (chicons au gratin) made with cheese sauce instead of seafood or meat.
You can explore the variety of delicious vegetarian waffles and chocolates that Belgium is famous for.
Can you recommend a Belgian beer to pair with Christmas dinner?
👉 Belgium is renowned for its wide selection of beers, so plenty of options exist. For a Christmas dinner, you might consider pairing your meal with a strong Belgian dark ale like Chimay Blue or Rochefort 10.
These beers have rich flavors and complex profiles that complement the hearty dishes typically served during the holiday season.
Are there any specific Belgian desserts enjoyed during Christmas?
👉 Yes! Belgians have a sweet tooth, and Christmas is no exception. One popular dessert is the Bûche de Noël, a yule log-shaped cake made with sponge cake and filled with cream or mousse.
Speculoos cookies, spiced shortbread cookies, are also commonly enjoyed during the holiday season. And indulging in some high-quality Belgian chocolates is always a delightful way to end a festive meal.
Where can I find authentic Belgian ingredients for my Christmas dinner?
👉 To find authentic Belgian ingredients for your Christmas dinner, visit specialty food stores with international products. Alternatively, you can explore online retailers that specialize in gourmet foods from around the world. Look for brands or products specifically labeled as being from Belgium to ensure authenticity and quality.
Born and raised in a family of foodies, Georgia’s passion for cuisine was nurtured from a young age as she learned the intricacies of flavor and texture from her grandmother’s kitchen. As an adult, this early fascination blossomed into a full-fledged love affair with the culinary world.