Traditional Christmas Dinners in the US

Christmas dinner

Roast turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce. Creamy mashed potatoes with gravy. Steamed or buttered vegetables. Apple pies and puddings. Eggnog and mulled wine. These are what a typical spread for Christmas dinner might look like. There’s an entrée, several side dishes, sweet desserts, and holiday drinks.

We’ve already featured some of the most popular side dishes for the holidays. This time, we’ll go over the most common entrées traditionally served during Christmas. Let’s meet the stars of the holiday banquet.

1.    Roast Turkey

Turkey is undoubtedly more popular during Thanksgiving, but it is also a traditional way to welcome guests for Christmas dinner. Similar to the way it’s served on Thanksgiving, it’s usually stuffed and roasted, then served with cranberry sauce. Some people have also been frying their turkeys whole even if it’s risky to do so.

Turkey is rich in protein and is an excellent source of B vitamins (B3 Niacin, B6 Pyridoxine, and B12 Cobalamin). It is also loaded with selenium, zinc, and phosphorus. The nutrients you can get from turkey would depend on the cut you’re consuming. A typical turkey has about 70% white meat and 30% dark meat. White meat contains slightly more protein, while the dark meat from legs or thighs contains more fat and calories.

Nutrition Facts: (100g turkey meat and skin, roasted)

  • Calories – 189 kcal
  • Protein – 28.55 g
  • Fat – 7.39 g

2.    Roast Beef

Some people opt for roast beef as it’s quite simple to prepare and serve. There isn’t any stuffing to prepare and there are no bones that make it tricky to carve. All you’ll need is to marinate the beef overnight, then slow-cook it for several hours in a roasting pan.

Nutritionally, beef is exceptionally rich in high-quality protein that helps grow muscle mass. It is likewise a rich source of iron, making it helpful in preventing anemia. Like most types of meat, it is also abundant in B vitamins, zinc, selenium, and phosphorus.

Nutrition Facts: (100g roast beef rubbed with sea salt and black pepper)

  • Calories – 125 kcal
  • Protein – 26.79 g
  • Fat – 5.36 g

3.    Christmas Goose

Those who grew up reading A Christmas Carol are likely to serve whole roasted goose just like what the Cratchit family shared with Scrooge. While it’s not as common as turkey, Christmas goose is also an old-fashioned tradition. The cavity is usually filled with fruit before roasting. This fruit stuffing gives the goose a delectable flavor and enticing aroma.

Goose meat is a good source of B, A, and E vitamins. It also contains substantial amounts of essential minerals like potassium and iron. Moreover, goose fat is considered healthy fat with many beneficial properties.

Nutrition facts: (100g goose meat and skin, roasted)

  • Calories – 305 kcal
  • Protein – 25.16 g
  • Fat – 21.92 g

4.    Beef Wellington

Beef wellington is an elegant dish that’s sure to impress your guests. Although it’s not as simple to prepare as roast beef, the flavorful layers of this dish makes it well worth the effort. To prepare beef wellington, beef fillet steak is enveloped together with pâté, duxelles, and Parma ham in puff pastry. It is then baked and served with truffle sauce or madeira sauce.

Nutrition Facts: (100g beef wellington)

  • Calories – 368 kcal
  • Protein – 19.1 g
  • Fat – 27.35 g

5.    Christmas Ham

Ham comes in many different varieties. It can be dry-cured with salt or wet-cured in brine. Dry-cured ones tend to be very salty. For Christmas, most people use ham that has been cured in brine with a mixture of salt, sugar, flavorings, and spices. These types of ham are usually smoked, baked, then glazed before serving.

The nutrients in ham would depend on how it was cured and the cut of meat used. For this comparison, we are using pork rump cured in brine.

Nutrition Facts: (100g cured ham, pork rump, bone-in, lean, roasted)

  • Calories – 132 kcal
  • Protein – 26.02 g
  • Fat – 3.07 g

6.    Roast Chicken

Roast chicken is a more affordable option than turkey. It’s a simple classic dish that can still look impressive on the Christmas spread. It’s also easier and faster to prepare than the other dishes we’re featuring. Just coat the chicken with your choice of spices, pop it in the oven, and bake for an hour. It’s really quite an easy dish to prepare if you don’t have much time before guests arrive.

The number of calories you gain would depend on the cut you consume. Each cut contains a different number of calories and a different proportion of protein to fat. The breast part is high in protein and low in fat, while the thigh part has higher fat content.

Nutrition Facts: (100g roast chicken with skin)

  • Calories – 223 kcal
  • Protein – 23.97 g
  • Fat – 13.39 g

7.    Rack of Lamb

Here’s a dish that was made to impress. It looks really fabulous on the table and offers several health benefits as well. Lamb is a rich source of vitamin B12, iron, and zinc. It also contains several bioactive substances such as creatine, CLA, and cholesterol, which are essential for healthy body functions.

Nutrition Facts: (100g New Zealand lamb, fully frenched rack, lean, fast roasted)

  • Calories – 173 kcal
  • Protein – 24.39 g
  • Fat – 8.38 g

Comparison of Nutritional Values

To help you compare the caloric content of different foods, we have created an interactive comparison tool. You can check out the comparison of the nutritional values of the Christmas dishes we have mentioned in this article.

But let’s have a glimpse of how these entrées vary in caloric content.

As can be seen in the chart, beef wellington soars higher than the rest in terms of caloric content. So, if you are trying to veer away from extra calories, avoid this dish in the Christmas banquet. A good choice for the holidays would be roast beef as it’s relatively low in calories and fat but high in protein.

The Meat of the Matter

Even with the overwhelming temptation to overindulge, you can still manage to stay healthy during the holidays. Be mindful of the nutritional values of the food you consume. Make the right food choices and get plenty of exercise. Whether it’s the holidays or not, think before you eat.