Plan Your Perfect Greek Christmas Feast Online

Whether you want to add a sprinkle of "deli-cious" traditional treats to your festive table or go full-on Greek, here's our guide to the right ingredients and where to find them.


By now, there are innumerable online and neighborhood shopping options for homesick Greeks living in far-flung corners of the planet or people who crave “Made in Hellas” delights. Indulgent and luxurious Greek elements to add to your Christmas or New Year menu or party buffet are just a few clicks or steps away, and there are plenty of great options to choose from.

Here we suggest traditional Greek products that will undoubtedly give you plenty of festive cheer, from cheeses and meats to sweets and liqueurs from around the country.

 

Classic Christmas Cuisine

Let’s start by taking a look at the seasonal classics, which can be found in most Greek households at this time of year. Most families prepare various renditions of roasted pork or goat (the latter is especially popular on the islands) and, in more recent times, turkey, accompanied by potatoes and quince. Traditionally, roasted meats are stuffed with “yemisi,” which makes for a lovely side dish. A common recipe is made using the animal’s liver and intestines, sauteed with rice, raisins, pine nuts, mushrooms and a handful of Greek herbs.

Cabbage-wrapped dolmades with avgolemono (egg and lemon) sauce and a salad, containing colorful ingredients like pomegranate, spinach, and feta are other favorite sides. Lalangia (fried dough ribbons eaten plain or as a dessert with honey) are also prepared at Christmastime, mainly in the Peloponnese, as well as Christopsomo (“Christ’s bread”), usually made with raisins, nuts, and honey in the dough, which is served nationwide.

 

On the festive Greek table, you’ll also find an array of cheeses and hot appetizers, like herb-flavored sausages or kavourmas, another spicy type of cured meat.

For dessert, standard treats include melomakarona, spiced and honey-drizzled cookies, diples (fried dough drizzled in honey and cinnamon), and kourabiedes, butter cookies with almonds that are caked in icing sugar.

On New Year’s Day or in the days (or sometimes weeks) following it, families, friends, or colleagues gather to cut the Vasilopita, a cake delicately flavored with orange and containing the “gouri” or lucky charm, that one of the lucky recipients will find in their piece.

CREATE A GREEK-INSPIRED CHRISTMAS TABLE

Below, we offer suggestions for some of the best Greek products to add to your Christmas or New Year’s table. Some of the stores we include links to here ship abroad while others don’t, but you can always seek out these popular products at your local deli or grocery store if you live abroad.

Cheeses that add a festive touch

When in doubt, go PDO (Protected Designation of Origin). High-quality, award-winning regional cheeses that add a flavorful Greek element to your spread are always appreciated and enjoyed. Some of the best choices are smoky Metsovone from Metsovo, smooth and tart Tsalafouti or Katiki Domokou (also sold in jars), spicy San Michali from Syros, toffee-like Ladotyri from Lesvos, and creamy Graviera from Naxos.

Meat-Based Greek delicacies

These foods are best served at the beginning of a meal as a meze or starter or to a buffet alongside cheeses and dips. There is an enormous array of pork, beef, and buffalo sausages seasoned with Greek herbs and spices (sage, chilli flakes, oregano, cinnamon, cumin, and pepper) and flavored with orange, leek or red wine.

Then there are several kinds of pastourmas from beef or from camel meat (rarely nowadays, chiefly by Karamanlidika tou Fani and Miran), and kavourmas, (chopped, boiled, seasoned and air-packed meat usually from beef, pork, buffalo or ewe’s meat) from northern Greece, east Macedonia and Thrace.

 

Although chutney is neither Greek nor traditional, indeed, its origins are in India, the fact that they are made using local, fresh, organic, or handpicked ingredients from around Greece is enough for them to be enjoyed as part of a Greek feast. Meats and cheeses can be accompanied by crackers, bread, and chutneys made by small, local producers. You can buy delectable chutneys made from fig, onion, tomato, apple, pomegranate, pepper, and persimmon by Greek brands like Goumenisses, Mam Ellada, To Filema tis Lelas, and the Aggelis Family.

Luxurious ingredients full of festive flavor

A Greek delicacy that falls into its own category is avgotaracho, Greece’s bottarga. Kathimerini’s expert foodie team from Gastronomos magazine has rated the following avgotaracho brands as the best in Greece: Trikalinos, Papageorgiou, Stefos and Gold Selection.

Sweet ways to celebrate

Syrupy, melt-in-your-mouth melomakarona and buttery, crunchy kourabiedes appear in Greek homes from early in December and are often blamed for significant weight gain during the Christmas season. Serve these on platters placed in strategic positions around the house.

Let’s drink to that!

You can’t have a Greek Christmas feast without serving Greek liqueurs and gratifying regional wines. Tendura, traditionally made in Patras with essences of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and citrus fruits, or Cretan rakomelo (raki heated with cinnamon, cloves, slices of orange, and honey) are especially festive and warming and a wonderful way to welcome your guests.

For the table, we suggest sparkling wines from the Amyntaio region, while at the end of the meal you can serve chilled Masticha liqueur from Chios, as a digestif, or a good aged tsipouro.



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