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Are you ready to start planning which Italian side dishes for Christmas you want to include for your Christmas dinner? I’m making it easy for you by providing the following list of side dishes that taste delicious and won’t stress you out!
Growing up in my Italian family, I remember the anticipation of all the wonderful Italian food my mom would prepare for our Christmas dinner. It was also a time that I’d gladly eat everything that was placed on my dinner plate.
I hope these recipes below will bring the same excitement into your home on Christmas day!
Italian Side Dishes for Christmas
Here are some delicious and easy Italian Christmas side dishes that everyone will enjoy during your holiday dinner. These recipes are simple to make, and delicious. This list will inspire you to try new recipes that are a mix of traditional Christmas dishes and ones that are more contemporary.
Types of Italian Christmas Side Dishes
Whether you’re Italian or not, it’s always fun to have an Italian-style meal that includes lots of wonderful side dish on the table. You can go as elaborate or as simple as you want and you’ll still end up with everyone asking for more. That’s the Italian way – good food all the time.
You can jump to the section you want using the Table of Contents, or look through all the various recipes for ideas and inspiration. I’m sure you’ll find the perfect side dish, or multiple ones that you can use.
PRO TIP: I encourage you to take the recipes and make them your own. Experiment and be flexible. Italian cooking is fun, and it’s the only type of cooking that brings me personal joy. I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do, and that they find a place on your table.
Ready to get started planning your Italian side dishes for Christmas?
Traditional Christmas Side Dishes
Most traditional Italian cuisine is focused around simplicity. Simple ingredients with a focus on quality, the Italians let the food speak for itself. We don’t saturate our dishes with cheesy mozzarella or a massive list of herbs that leave your tastebuds confused and in a state of shock.
If you look at my own Italian recipes, you’ll see that they are simple and yet full of flavor. Moving on, here are some of the best Italian side dishes that you can use for a traditional Christmas meal.
Fagiolini in Umido (Italian Beans)
Fagiolini in umido – This means “wet” or “damp” beans and it’s a favorite of mine. I love making this recipe throughout the year. It makes a perfect Italian side dish with almost anything, even ham.I use Italian green beans, the wide flat ones, and cook them in a saucepan with water, garlic and topped with olive oil. Adding some light tomato sauce or fresh chopped tomatoes is what you should add to make it a more festive recipe for Christmas.
This recipe for Christmas broccoli is simply fresh broccoli that is sauted in olive oil, then seasoned with red pepper flakes and garlic. The most traditional recipe uses anchovies, although feel free to omit if you’re concerned that people will be put off. You can use regular broccoli or broccoli rabe which is thinner and more delicate as shown in this recipe.
Caponata– This recipe is an eggplant dish and is very simple. It is sauted with capers, olives, and tomatoes in a saute pan or skillet. It’s not quick to make but is popular. It’s very similar to my Eggplant and tomatoes recipe here just omit the zucchini with the olives.
Zucco al forno – this means baked/roasted squash. Take some butternut squash and roast it seasoned with garlic and sage. Sage and butternut squash are a great combination.
Garlicky Roasted Potatoes
Patate al forno – This recipe for roasted potatoes is one of my favorites and makes a great side dish for a variety of meals. It can easily be made in advance and reheated. It uses roasted potatoes flavored with garlic and rosemary (optional).
It’s not uncommon to have multiple courses with an Italian meal, so why not make soup part of the first course? Here are some delicious Italian soups that would make great Christmas side dishes. Many of these soups can be made in advance, even frozen.
Italian Wedding Soup
Italian wedding soup. This Italian wedding soup is not about weddings and can be used for many special occasions. It’s about the marriage of the flavors that blend so well together. So yes, you can serve this on Christmas day! This is a light soup that is quick to make. The longest part is simply rolling the little meatballs which takes about 25 minutes. Once that’s done you boil them in the broth/stock and in an hour it’s ready to serve! This is one of my favorite soups.
We all love a good Italian minestrone soup, but pair it with your lasagna, roast, or chicken, and it’s even better. A true Italian minestrone soup is meatless. It uses a few different types of beans such as cannellini beans, white beans, and red beans. It also usually includes some potatoes, although not much. And of course your typical stock ingredients – carrot, celery, and onion sauteed in olive oil.
These are the types of delicious Italian side dishes I love, especially for Christmas – quick and easy. Here’s a picture of myself at my brother’s house where I made my first full Italian Christmas meal when I first started this blog! I still frequently use the same easy Italian side dishes today.
Garlic Bread Recipe
This recipe for how to make Italian garlic bread is super simple because you don’t have to make the bread from scratch. I simply buy a baguette or loaf of artisan Italian bread. Season it accordingly and bake it in the oven until you have crusty bread on the outside but soft bread on the inside. It’s so nice to prepare in advance and then bake it.
This recipe for Italian garlic mashed potatoes is one of my favorite holiday side dishes. It tastes so much better than the version of garlic mashed potatoes you get at the store or eating out. That’s because we don’t overload the garlic. I don’t think mashed potatoes has its origins in Italy, but this Italian-twist is absolutely delicious and enjoyed by many Italian-American families today.
Italian sausage, pepper, and onions is a classic Italian dish we had every holiday served right from the oven to the dinner table. It is still one of my favorite Italian side dish recipes. My mother makes this dish like no one’s business and she makes it look so easy. Well, that’s because it is easy and one of my most popular recipes on this site. It goes great with typical Italian pasta recipes since the meats compliment the pasta and tomato sauce.
Meatballs. That’s right – serve your meatballs in a bowl so people can take what they want. Sure, you can add some to your pot of sauce too, but make sure there are some available for everyone. The main ingredients for these are beef, egg, breadcrumbs, Parmesan or Romano cheese. It's an all-beef meatball recipe.Some people swear that true Italians only serve meatballs on the side. We never did growing up and we’re Italian so that blows that theory. Different Italian families have different culinary traditions and it’s mostly due to the regions in Italy they are from – such as Southern Italy or Northern Italy. My family is Napolitano – somewhere in the middle, but my husband’s family is from Sicily.
Meatless Meatballs. I’ve got to include this recipe in here because it is a perfect side dish for anyone who doesn’t eat meat. It is 100% vegetarian and is literally the best meatless meatball recipe ever. Serve them in a bowl without pasta sauce because if it is in the sauce too long, it will start to fall apart. So serve them in a bowl with sauce on the side. This recipe can also be made in advance and reheated. The meatballs can be fried or baked, I’ve done it both ways.
This zucchini recipe is perfect as a Christmas side dish. It is full of aromatic flavors such as rosemary, garlic, and onion. It's one of my favorite zucchini recipes. You bake it in the oven and top it with breadcrumbs.
Here are some Italian salad recipes and will make great Italian side dishes. Remember to keep some olive oil and vinegar on the table for the Italian dressing. Everyone will have their preference on how much they like, so make it easy and let them add their own dressing to their salads.
Italian Green Salad
Italian green salad. Keep this Italian salad prep easy by buying a container of mixed greens. Keep the dressing simple with an extra virgin olive oil and vinegar vinaigrette. If you like lemon, try my Italian lemon oregano vinaigrette recipe. Toss in a few tomatoes if you have some fresh flavorful ones. When I was in Italy, my relatives never added tomatoes. It was just lettuce and olive oil and tasted amazing. For an extra zing, top the salad with some parmesan cheese – it adds a lovely flavor to the salad!
This healthy Italian caprese salad is often associated with the summertime, but I love it for Christmas due to the green, white and red colors thanks to the fresh mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes. These are the same colors of the Italian flag so it’s quite a presentation. It’s also a wonderfully refreshing Italian side dish that deserves it’s place on the table.
Italian antipasto side dish. This is my go-to recipe for any party. I won’t’ say it’s a classic Italian side dish because it’s usually served in antipasto form, not as a salad. But I really like the convenience of it in salad form and I find everyone loves it this way. It is easy to make, can marinate overnight, and is always impressive. Plus everything can be purchased in jars so the roasted red peppers I add – yeah already done for you! If your guests love antipasto, then you may want to choose to check out my post on how to make an Italian antipasto platter. Yes, it’s an appetizer not a side dish, but I thought I’d mention it in case you’re interested.
Traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes – Side Dishes
If you’re not familiar with what the Feast of the Seven Fishes are, it’s a traditional Italian multi-course dinner that is all about seafood. It is celebrated on Christmas Eve, but I thought it would be nice to include some examples of side dishes regardless. I’m not a big fish person, so some of these recipes you’ll need to look up.
Baked Stuffed Tomatoes with Tuna
This delicious stuffed tomatoes is easy and delicious. Stuffed with breadcrumbs, cheese and tuna, it's true winner. The bright red color of the tomatoes will bring a lovely festive feel to the Christmas dinner table!
Panzanella. This is known as a poor-mans salad because the peasants in Italy would use stale day-old bread. And like most peasant recipes, it’s now in-style. If you make it, just know that it doesn’t make good leftovers so try to use up all you can. We use red onion in the salad, not white. We never had this recipe growing up, but I do know how to make it and apparently is used at Christmastime.
Fried Calamari. This makes a lovely side dish and is common in Italian cooking. This is more popular in Southern Italy where access to catching calamari (squid) is more available for everyone. I don’t make this recipe, but I love to order it anytime I’m out at a good Italian restaurant. If you don’t want to fry them yourself – buy them from a local store. You can also air fry calamari which you can check out here on this food blogger’s site. Ever hear of air frying your calamari?
When choosing your Christmas side dishes, you want to make sure they pair well with your main meal. Although most of these holiday recipes will go with just about anything, you can check out my full list of Italian main dishes for more ideas.
I’ve never met a person that didn’t like lasagna. I make mine meatless, but the recipe is flexible and you can make it however you want.
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I hope you’ve enjoyed my list of Italian Christmas side dishes and that you are inspired and motivated to give them a try. If you have your own side dishes you want to mention, feel free to let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!