Celebrate the holiday season with a spread of global flavors. Our international Christmas menu, starting with an Italian appetizer and ending with a Greek dessert, doesn't require a passport to enjoy.

By Karla Walsh
Updated October 09, 2020
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Take a flavor trip this holiday without leaving the comfort of your cozy fireplace and glowing evergreen tree! This international Christmas menu highlights recipes inspired by popular destinations like Mexico, France, and Thailand in an easy and accessible way. That means you and your family can experience the next best thing to a vacation—without the high-priced flights or travel delays. With our Test Kitchen tricks, you can make this international Christmas dinner menu in the comfort of your own kitchen. Passport not required; slippers and mugs of cocoa recommended.

Ricotta and Parmesan Spread
Credit: Jason Donnelly

Appetizer: Ricotta and Parmesan Spread

For a flavor trip to: Italy

Ricotta and Parmesan get naming rights to this cheesy spread, but the real stars are fresh basil, oregano, and chives. Stir them into the cheese mixture and refrigerate the Italian-inspired blend for 1 to 12 hours so the flavors can marry. Toast baguette slices and serve while still warm so the herby cheese dip will melt into the crunchy crevices before you dig in. For an appetizer that features all the colors of the Italian flag, top the serving bowl ($14, Pottery Barn) of dip with a stripe of diced tomatoes.

Butternut Squash Soup with Thai Gremolata
Credit: Blaine Moats

Soup: Butternut Squash Soup with Thai Gremolata

For a flavor trip to: Thailand

A bit sweet (coconut milk and brown sugar), a bit salty (fish sauce or soy sauce), and a bit spicy (sriracha sauce). This squash soup is the perfect mix of Asian and fall flavors. The Thai Gremolata topping, a combination of herbs, peanuts, and lime, adds a nice textural counterpoint to the creamy soup. Toast a few slices of baguette to enjoy with this starter—they'll be handy to wipe the bowl clean. You won't want to leave a drop of soup behind!

Honey-Cumin Roasted Carrots
Credit: Andy Lyons

Vegetable Side Dish: Honey-Cumin Roasted Carrots

For a flavor trip to: Morocco

The entree, carb sides, and dessert disappear in a flash at most holiday meals, while vegetables often take a back seat. Not so with this menu! Cumin seeds, garlic, and honey give these carrots a Moroccan vibe, and a half-hour of roasting brings out the natural sugars. Even kids will love this international Christmas menu side.

Boeuf en Croute (Beef in Puff Pastry)
Credit: Kritsada Panichgul

Entree: Boeuf en Croute

For a flavor trip to: France

There's a reason why this French entree, also known as beef Wellington, is a common challenge on cooking shows. To get it just right—the steak perfectly cooked, the mushroom topping tender and seasoned, and the pastry flaky and buttery—takes skill.

Our Boeuf en Croute recipe makes a showstopping holiday entree but omits all of the guesswork. This centerpiece is made with frozen puff pastry and includes step-by-step instructions for everything from sauteing the vegetables to topping the pastry with eye-catching shapes.

To ease up on day-of stress, get a head start the day before:

  1. Prepare mushroom topping and Madeira Sauce. Refrigerate both in separate containers.
  2. Thaw frozen puff pastry in the refrigerator.

Get the recipe: Boeuf en Croute

Greek Baklava Bars
Credit: Jason Donnelly

Dessert: Baklava Bars

For a flavor trip to: Greece

Baklava, an ooey-gooey Greek treat of phyllo dough, nuts, and honey, can be a fussy affair. These dessert bars, however, are much easier than the traditional recipe since they're built on a sugar cookie base topped with crumbled, prebaked mini phyllo shells. All of the flavor and crunch without the layering and sticky fingers!

Make a 13x9 pan ($22, Williams Sonoma) up to three days ahead of your international Christmas dinner and chill in the refrigerator until guests arrive.

Get the recipe: Baklava Bars

Mexican Hot Coffee Cocktails
Credit: Andy Lyons

Drink: Hot Coffee Cocktail

For a flavor trip to: Mexico

This hot coffee drink will immediately make you think of Mexico when you stir in Mexican cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and chocolate syrup for a Mexican chocolate sensation. Coffee liqueur and tequila, rum, or brandy (take your pick!) turn this sip into a cheery winter cocktail.

Get the recipe: Hot Coffee Cocktail


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