Latin inspired Christmas recipes and ideas

These are some of my favorite dishes (and drinks) for Christmas and the December holiday season. Most of these recipes have some Latin food inspiration, but I’ve also included some international options.

En Español

Festive and easy cocktails for Christmas and the holidays:

Rompope {aka Latin style eggnog}: Rompope is popular Latin American drink that is made with milk, sugar, vanilla, orange peel, egg yolks, condensed milk, cream and aguardiente or rum.

Rompope recipe

Hot spiced blood orange cocktail: This spiced blood orange cocktail inspired by the Ecuadorian canelazo drink made with blood orange juice, cinnamon, spices, and rum or aguardiente sugar cane liquor.

Hot spiced blood orange cocktail

Mandarin or tangerine mimosa cocktail: This bubbly mandarin mimosa cocktail recipe is so simple and delicious, it’s made with fresh mandarin juice, champagne or sparkling wine, and orange liqueur.

Mandarin mimosas

Kir Royal: Another simple cocktail that is refreshing and easy, this classic French sparkling cocktail or aperitif is made with champagne (but any sparkling wine will do) and crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur), or change it up with a few different berry liqueur options.

French Kir Royal cocktail

Citrus moscato sangria: The great thing about this drink is that you can make it in advance and in a large batch – this citrus moscato sangria is made with a mix of citrus fruits, honey, orange liqueur and moscato wine.

Moscato sangria recipe

Tasty Christmas appetizers and starters:

Langostino ceviche: Easy recipe for langostino ceviche made with langostinos or shrimp, lime juice, red onions, cilantro, hot peppers, garlic, and olive oil.

Langostino ceviche

Crab salad stuffed avocados: Avocado halves filled with a salad of crab, red onion, bell pepper, cucumber, radishes, lime juice, olive oil, and cilantro.

Avocados with crab salad

Mushroom and cheese filled empanadas: Mushroom cheese empanadas made with a filling of baby portobello mushrooms, shallots, balsamic vinegar, raisins and fontina cheese.

Mushroom cheese empanadas

Strawberry goat cheese arugula salad: Quick and easy salad recipe made with strawberry slices, crumbled goat cheese, arugula, red onions, spicy pecans, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Strawberry, goat cheese, and arugula salad

Main dish recipes for Christmas:

Pavo navideño o Chrismas turkey: This Latin style roasted turkey for Nochebuena or Christmas Eve dinner is marinated in garlic, cumin, achiote and chicha or beer.

Achiote marinated Christmas turkey recipe

Lemon and thyme roasted turkey: In this recipe the turkey is baked with a (ton) of thyme lemon garlic butter, and served with white wine gravy sauce.

Lemon and thyme roasted turkey

Roasted pork leg {Hornado de chancho}: Whole roasted pork leg or hornado de pierna de chancho, prepared by marinating the pork in a sauce of beer, garlic and spices.

Roasted pork leg or hornado de chancho ecuatoriano

Pernil style roasted pork loin: Pernil is pork marinated in a sauce of bitter orange juice, onion, garlic, achiote, cloves, cinnamon, cumin and panela and slow roasted in the oven for several hours.

Pernil de cerdo

Smoked ham with orange chipotle sauce: Made with a smoked spiral cut ham, baked and glazed with a sauce made with chipotle chilies, orange juice, lime juice, cumin, achiote, tequila, sugar or honey, and spices.

Orange chipotle ham

Chimichurri roasted chicken: Because not everyone wants pork or turkey, this chimichurri roasted chicken recipe is made with chicken roasted chimichurri butter (fresh herbs, garlic, vinegar, lime juice, butter) or a regular chimichurri sauce. Or you can also use the same chimichurri butter/sauce to roast your turkey.

Chimichurri chicken recipe

Salmon with avocado salsa: For the non-meat eaters, try this grilled (or seared) salmon with avocado salsa. The fish is seasoned with coriander, cumin, paprika, onion powder and pepper, and topped with avocado salsa. You can replace the salmon with other types of fish.

Salmon with avocado salsa recipe

Fish with pomegranate and orange salsa: This fish dish is perfect is you to integrate some very seasonal and colorful ingredients into the topping: pomegranate and orange. The salsa is made fresh pomegranate, orange slices, onion, cilantro, hot pepper, lime juice, orange juice, cumin seeds, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Fish with orange pomegranate salsa

Christmas side dishes and sauce recipes:



Ensalada rusa potato salad: This classic potato salad is popular throughout Latin America during the holidays. There are many variations, this one is made with potatoes, carrots, peas/corn, apples, celery, onion, and mayonnaise.

Ensalada rusa potato salad

Turkey stuffing {Relleno de pavo}: This sweet and savory Latin style holiday turkey stuffing is made with ground meat, chorizo, bacon, apple, raisins, olives, walnuts, bread crumbs, spices, herbs and more.

Relleno de pavo or turkey stuffing

Salsa de ciruelas or prune sauce: This sauce is a must have for Christmas Eve dinner and other holidays in many Latin American countries. My variation is made with prunes, red wine, port, shallots, and balsamic vinegar. This prune sauce goes great with turkey, pork, chicken, duck and other meats.

Salsa de ciruelas {prune sauce}

Agrio sauce: Agrio is a tangy sauce made especially to accompany traditional pork dishes, especially hornado or roasted pork.

Agrio for hornado

Tamarillo hot sauce {Aji de tomate de arbol}: Tamarillo or tree tomato aji hot sauce is a very tasty hot sauce made from tree tomatoes or tamarillos, hot peppers, onion, cilantro and lime juice. It’s more of year round sauce in Ecuador, but I especially love to make for the holidays because it reminds me of home.

Tamarillo or tree tomato aji hot sauce

Molo or Ecuadorian style mashed potatoes: This Ecuadorian version of mashed potatoes is made with milk, cream, queso fresco and a refrito of onions, garlic, and achiote or annatto. Molo is served with lettuce leaves, hard boiled eggs, hot pepper slices, avocados, scallions, cilantro or parsley, tomato and onion curtido and aji or hot sauce. It’s traditionally an Easter dish, but I tend to make for other holidays and special occasions.

Ecuadorian mashed potatoes

Fingerling potatoes with parsley: Easy recipe for fingerling potatoes (or any potatoes or root vegetables) tossed with butter, parsley and salt. A great side dish for meat and seafood dishes.

Fingerling potatoes with parsley

Pastel de humita savory corn cake: Pastel de choclo con queso or pastel de humita is a savory baked fresh corn and cheese cake or casserole dish from South America.

Savory corn and cheese cake {Pastel de humita}

Christmas dessert recipe ideas:

Christmas Log cake: This rolled sponge cake is a popular holiday dessert in both Europe {Bûche de Noel} and Latin America {Tronco Navideño}, this recipe has a coffee cream filling and chocolate icing.

Christmas log recipe

Ecuadorian pristiños: Pristiños are traditional Christmas fried pastries that are served with panela syrup or candied figs.


Gingerbread pear empanadas: Homemade gingerbread empanada dough filled with pears that were cooked in a syrup of panela {piloncillo} and spices.

Empanadas made with gingerbread dough

Passion fruit tart: Passion fruit is another flavor that reminds of home and this tart is a great way to capture that flavor. Also, if you live in the US, this time of the year is the end of the passion fruit growing season in California.

Passion fruit tart

Arroz con leche rice pudding: Arroz con leche is a classic Latin American rice pudding dessert made with rice, milk, cinnamon, sugar, raisins, and condensed milk.

Arroz con leche rice pudding recipe

Morocho sweet corn drink: This spiced corn dessert is a thick sweet drink or pudding made with morocho cracked corn, milk, cinnamon, sugar and raisins. We call it morocho in Ecuador, but there are similar variations of this comforting dessert all the way from the Dominican Republic to Brazil.

Morocho recipe

Panna cotta: I love including panna cotta as a holiday dessert because it’s always a crowd pleaser, is easy to make, and can made it advance.

Panna cotta with strawberry sauce

Ideas for re-purposing those Christmas leftovers (especially for pork and turkey/chicken leftovers):

Chicken or turkey tortilla soup: An adaptation of my uncle’s tortilla soup recipe made with chicken or turkey, cilantro, onions, garlic, jalapeños, tomatoes, spices, stock, lime juice and served with monterrey jack cheese, tortilla chips, and avocado.

Chicken or turkey tortilla soup recipe

Roast pork sliders with avocado: Mouthwatering pork sliders made with beer cumin roast pork, avocado spread, lime pickled red onions and cilantro hot sauce.

Roast pork sliders

Baked Spanish tortilla with ham: Add some of the leftover ham to prepare a homemade Spanish tortilla with ham. This baked tortilla is made with potatoes, eggs, onions, ham, garlic, and jalapeños (or bell peppers).

Baked Spanish potato tortilla with ham

Turkey/chicken/pork filled empanadas: Homemade baked empanadas filled with turkey or chicken (or pork), onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, cumin, oregano and balsamic vinegar.

Turkey or chicken empanadas

Latin style rice with chicken or turkey {Arroz con pollo o pavo}: An easy recipe for Latin style rice with chicken or turkey, also known as arroz con pollo o pavo, to use up roasted chicken or turkey leftovers.

Latin style rice with chicken or turkey