Easter is one of the most important Christian holidays, and as such, there are few things more important than traditional Easter dinner! Easter food is remarkably consistent from country to country—eggs, lamb, sweet breads are typical—but every culture has its own take on Easter recipes. In the United States, cooked ham is extremely popular, but what about in Greece, Italy, or Argentina? Here’s what other nations are eating for the Easter holiday.
Hot Cross Buns
Easter food is heavily influenced by Christian imagery. This is why English Hot Cross Buns bear the mark of the cross, either in icing on top or as a brand baked into the pastry. These sweet buns are lightly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, studded with raisins or currants, and sometimes flavored with orange zest or lemon zest. Spreading salted butter on Hot Cross Buns is also extremely common, while some people choose to use fruit jam or marmalade.
In the United States, Easter Sunday brunch or dinner is often centered around a big, plump glazed ham. Internationally, though, lamb is the more common meat to eat on this holiday. The symbolic popularity of lamb on the Easter holiday has to do with the sacrificial lamb of scripture. Every country has its own way of roasting and preparing lamb. In Italy, one recipe is called Abbacchio a Scottadito. Read more about the traditional Italian Easter feast. Also try Lamb Prosciutto!
During Christmas, Italian people delight in traditional panettone and pandoro cakes. The Easter version of this traditional Italian dessert is called Colomba di Pasqua. The ingredients for an Italian colomba cake are similar to those of a panettone: raisins, candied orange, and icing on a soft, bread-like base. The most notable difference is that this Italian Easter cake is baked in the shape of a dove, symbolizing peace and the beginning of Spring.
Maamoul Cookies from Lebanon are popular in the Middle East this time of year. This round shortbread cookie has a distinct swirl pattern and is filled with a date paste. Other possible types of filling for Maamoul include walnuts and pistachios.
Magiritsa Soup is a traditional Greek Easter recipe. Made with leftover lamb parts like the liver and other innards, Magiritsa Soup is an absolutely essential Easter food in Greece. Other ingredients include eggs, lettuce, onion, dill and other herbs and spices. Sometimes rice is also added to this Greek Easter soup.
Even different regions in the same country have their own Easter recipes, like Pastiera Napoletana from Naples, Italy. This Italian Easter dessert has the fresh aroma and taste of citrus as well as the richness of ricotta cheese. Candied lemon, candied orange, and gran cotto are a few of the ingredients that go into this lovely spring cake.
Hornazo is a traditional Spanish meat pie filled with ground beef, chorizo, and boiled eggs. The dough itself is also saturated with beaten eggs for even more flavor. While this is a traditional Easter dinner, there are now many variations of it which use several different types of meat, like pork loin.
Sweets are just as, if not more important than the main Easter meal. In Russia, the traditional Easter dessert is called Pashka, which is a type of cheese cake. Made from cottage cheese, Pashka also features candied fruit and sliced almonds. This soft cake doesn’t have a crust, so people spread it on slices of another traditional Russian Easter dessert called Kulich. Each Pashka is marked by the letters XB, Russian letters that stand for “Christ is Risen.”
Similar to quiche, Torta Pascualina is a spinach pie that is enjoyed in several countries, from Argentina to Italy. Inside the golden pie crust is spinach, cheese, and whole eggs, amongst other spices and seasonings. Try making Torta Pascualina for your next Easter brunch!