Food in Barcelona over Christmas and New Year

The Christmas period is a time for family, gifts and seasonal foods. These traditions make up the foundations of Catalan Christmas dishes in Barcelona. The feeling of having your loved ones around the table together, laughing and making memories, would not be the same without some great food to accompany the good times.

Christmas catalonia

Barcelona is such a wonderful city, known for its gastronomic delights, due to having inspiration from Catalonia and Spain. This cultural mix has led to some of the most unique dining experiences that you can enjoy year round, for example with their world renowned Paella, or more locally known treats such as Crema Catalan, a sweet delight inspired by crème brûlée.

However, over the years, foods that can only be sourced at certain times of the year becoming linked with the festivities that coincide; the biggest one being Christmas. Follow us on a journey through Barcelona at Christmas and the food that the locals have made their staple for this reflective and good-spirited time of year.

Rostit de Nadal

The first on the list is the “Rostit de Nadal”, translating simply as “The Christmas Roast”. Building on the idea mentioned beforehand, that seasonal foods are based on what has been available to access; these foods also reflect the seasonality and weather that exists. That is why so many Christmas meals in Europe focus on being hearty meals that warm you up and give you energy through the crisp winter days.

rostit de nadal

Since around the 18th Century, Catalans have been making this chicken dish as the main course of any Christmas meal. Seasoned with onions, garlic and a splash of alcohol (usually rum or brandy) the meat is then slowly roasted with pine nuts, plums and other spices to give a mouth-watering meal worthy of any Christmas dinner.

Escudella i Carn d’Olla

This dish is as traditionally Catalan as it gets. This meat and vegetable soup first became popular in and around Barcelona in the 14th century. It is especially popular in winter and around Christmas for being such a warming dish, that truly is comfort food. The idea behind this dish is to slowly cook a mix of meat and vegetables in a large broth. The meat used is a mix of chicken, pork and other meat stock.


They add a very big meatball that has been spiced with garlic and parsley, known as a “pilota”, which translates as a ball. In addition to this, it is common to use the Catalan sausage- Botifarra, a pork sausage that is local to this area of Spain. It is common to use a mix of white and black Botifarras, which can be found in every butchers and some supermarkets in and around Barcelona.

The most unique part of this dish is the fact that once the meat is ready, it is drained and then plated, with the broth being used to then cook pasta style noodles in a soup. The soup is then served as a starter dish, with the meat and vegetables served afterwards. For the Christmas twist on “Escudella i Carn d’Olla” is “Sopa de Galets”, a noodle soup that uses larger shells that look like snails or ´Galets´ in Catalan. This is eaten on Christmas Day by families and is a dish that you should try if you want to get a taste of history this Christmas in Barcelona.

sopa de galets

Els Canelons

Catalan-styled Cannelloni has only recently become a part of Christmas food tradition in Barcelona, around the end of the 19th century to be exact. This was around the time that Italian chefs moved over to cater for the Barcelona Bourgeoisie.

The main difference between this and the Italian Cannelloni is the fact that the pasta sheets are filled with roasted meat that is left over from… you guessed it, the “Escudella i Carn d´Olla”! This wonderful take on an Italian classic is enjoyed on Boxing Day and relates to the common Christmas situation of cooking too much and looking for inventive ways to use up any leftovers.

Els Canelons


Torró, or Turrón, is one of the most well known Spanish Christmas foods to find in Barcelona. This sweet treat is very common for desserts and is also eaten in most of Southern Europe and Latin America. Yet, with it being a tradition that started in Spain, we will focus on this variation that is enjoyed widely at Christmas. Turrón is made up of ingredients of honey, sugar, egg white; and with toasted almonds or other nuts. The final product is shaped and left to set in a block layout and is then cut into pieces for everyone around the table to enjoy.


The texture of this treat varies, depending on the measurements and technique used. With a higher almond and nut proportion used to be reduced into a paste during the cooking process, resulting in a more chewy and soft “turrón”. Whereas, the inclusion of more whole almonds results in a more brittle block.

It is considered that the first time “Turrón” was commonly made in Spain dates back to the 16th Century, when a similar recipe was recorded in a cooking manual at the time. It is interesting to see how much Catalan tradition flourishes in the cuisine you see at Christmas time in Spain and especially in Barcelona.


Lastly, and usually enjoyed alongside “Turrón” are “Neules”. These are waver thin biscuits that are rolled into a cone and enjoyed with a glass of cava, the ´Catalan Champagne´, and usually have lemon flavouring. In modern day Spain, they are dipped in chocolate like “Churros”! The ingredients of the initially thin sheet of a mixture of egg whites, butter, sugar and flour; before being rolled and seasoned.


These addictive snaps date as far back as the middle ages! They were documented as being on the menu for Juame I´s daughter´s wedding in the middle of the 13th Century. Once you try one, you will understand why they have stuck around for so long!

This range of delightful food can be found in Barcelona over the festive period and in January as well. As the Winter is in full swing, enjoy these warming and tasty dishes from Catalonia!

Sandra Roig is Marketing Director at AB Apartment Barcelona. AB Apartment Barcelona is an apartment rental agency offering over one thousand short and long term apartments across Barcelona.

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Comments (10)

  1. Mike Watkins says:

    I love Barcelona. Would be great to spend a Christmas there, though unfortunately it won’t be this year. I can just see myself wandering along the Ramblas stopping off to try some of these treats.

    • Sandra Roig says:

      Dear Mike,

      That´s a shame to hear. However, take comfort in knowing that these treats will be around for many years to come! They are easily found from the start of December throughout the city, if you find yourself visiting Barcelona in late 2020!

      Have a great Christmas and Happy New Year

      AB Apartment Barcelona

  2. Jennifer Anderson says:

    There was a lot of seafood paella when I was in Spain last year, that seemed quite popular. I don’t like seafood so I avoided it! But the Christmas Roast sounds delicious – that photo has made my mouth water. I think I actually prefer chicken to turkey, so we might go for that this year on Christmas Day for a change. I was in Barcelona last year and Salou the year before that but I don’t recall Escudella i Carn d’Olla on any menus. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough. Sounds lovely, especially in the colder months when you want warming comfort foods. I have tried Turró though, yum!

    • Sandra Roig says:

      Dear Jennifer,

      Thank you for your comment!
      Yes seafood is everywhere in this city all year round, that is why we decided to write a blog that would show people in Barcelona that there are traditional alternatives!

      The Rostit de Nadal is a more modern feature on Christmas Menus, as the city has prospered over the last few hundred years. With Escudella i Carn d´Olla is more linked to the region of Catalonia as a whole. With the tradition starting in more farm lands. As you said, it is certainly a comfort food. It makes us laugh that the pasta noodles used in the dish are called Galets, or snails, due to their size and shape!

      Oh yes, Turrón is our favourite! If you find yourself in the city around the 6th January you must try Roscón de Reyes, or Kings Cake. That is a traditional sweet eaten in celebration of the twelfth day!

      Have a great festive period and we wish you the best for 2020.

      AB Apartment Barcelona

  3. Carolyn says:

    Rostit de Nadal makes so much sense. It’s easily available local flavoursome food served simply. Even the fact that it’s cooked slowly is logical, the heat from the oven would warm the kitchen for several hours. I sometimes think that we try too hard with our food today, searching shops for ingredients from distant parts of the world then spending hours following a complicated recipe.

    • Sandra Roig says:

      Dear Carolyn,

      Thank you for your comment.
      I see what you mean, nowadays it is popular to look for quirky ingredients when cooking. That being said, there is a reason that traditional dishes like Rostit de Nadal have stuck around for so long- it is simple and tastes amazing!

      When cooking a roast I always find it best to have simple seasoning, hints of flavour from vegetables and cook it all together for a long time. It is something that makes the festive period that bit more special!

      Have a great Christmas and Happy New Year

      AB Apartment Barcelona

  4. Jen says:

    Amazing how wherever you go in the world some clever clogs has always come-up with a tasty idea for using up the leftovers. I’d like to try the Els Canelons.

    • Sandra Roig says:

      Dear Jen,

      Thanks for your comment.
      100%! There is always someone in history who thinks up a way to use the leftovers in a dish! Thankfully, in our society today there is a great desire to eat sustainably and minimise waste. That is what is great about Els Canelons, it was a dish in history that was inspired by survival and would be seen as popular in todays society for the same motive in a different context!

      Have a great Christmas and New Year,

      AB Apartment Barcelona

  5. Tom says:

    I’ve spent Christmas in Malaga before and in the Old Town there was plenty of evidence of traditional Christmas foods which helped make the visit a very memorable festive experience. I would imagine that the Barcelona culinary take on Christmas is a little different and if would be great to try a Barcelona Christmas one year. Plenty of dishes here that I would be willing to give a go!

    • Sandra Roig says:

      Dear Tom,

      Thanks for your comment!
      That sounds like great fun, we hope you had a memorable time in Malaga! Yes, there is a defined difference between culinary here in Barcelona, when compared to the rest of the country. This is due to the region of Catalonia spilling into Southern France, with Perpignan etc. Therefore, the cuisine found here has inspiration from France; as seen with Sopa de Galets. With more traditionally Spanish foods seen with Turrón, for example, which is common throughout Spain at Christmas time.

      Have a great Christmas and New Year,

      AB Apartment Barcelona

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