Which Holiday Foods do You Love/Hate?

What are your favorite and least favorite holiday foods? I will eat an entire pumpkin pie with extra nutmeg, and my mom used to put ripe tangerines in the bottom of our stockings. On the flip, my English aunt would serve traditional mince pies, and I still shudder. What about you? What are your traditions?

This is part of a series with illustrator Emily McDowell, who asks us one pressing question every month, such as what do you do when you’re home alone and what’s really in your bag?

(Illustration by Emily McDowell for Cup of Jo)

  1. My mother used to make both mince meat pies AND Christmas pudding! Both are pretty vile in my mind. God, christmas pudding is steamed in a tin. It really doesn’t get any grosser. Oh, and she tries to make us eat stollen on christmas morning. Double gross. The actual meal is delicious though. Standing rib roast for the win!

  2. Hmm I love homemade salted caramels, peach cobbler or homemade mac and cheese. Those are defintely my favorites around the holidays. Cranberry sauces or stuffing are my least favorites!

    -Kyarra Keele


  3. Oeee… nice illustrations :)! I like this. Nice section.

  4. I love salted caramel and peppermint chocolate! I would really like to try chocolate oranges some time :) I’m not a huge fan of ginger or eggnog :( -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  5. I hate fruitcake with the weird artificial-looking green and red fruit bits. So much so, it’s become a running joke in my family to include some form of it in my Christmas presents. They’ve gotten really creative about how they incorporate it so it always catches me off guard!

  6. People are aware that mince pies these days are not actually made of meat, right? It’s just basically raisins, brandy and oranges or some kind of fruit in a delicious pastry morsel with sugar on top – how is that not delicious?! you can use beef suet but definitely not required! (potters off to kitchen for midnight snack…)

  7. My mother used to make both mince meat pies AND Christmas pudding! Both are pretty vile in my mind. God, christmas pudding is steamed in a tin. It really doesn’t get any grosser. Oh, and she tries to make us eat stollen on christmas morning. Double gross. The actual meal is delicious though. Standing rib roast for the win!

  8. Oh my gosh, pfeffernusse is the bomb! How could it be on the hate list??? LOVE those cookies!

  9. My mom does tangerines in our stockings too! That’s her tradition from growing up in Wisconsin, where fresh produce in winter was a special treat. Now she lives in southern California where, on Christmas Eve, she goes out and picks her own tangerines from her garden. But the tradition remains!

  10. There is no holiday food I don’t love, it’s a problem for my belly! And then I married into Jewish holidays and there is even more amazing food tradition!

  11. I love coffee, caramel, eggnog, cheesecake, chocolate, candy canes and anything peppermint!

  12. Love: latkes, bimuelos with chocolate sauce, Mexican pot roast from Chuck’s Southern Comfort Cafe, Triple Ginger Brew and the dark chocolate caramel marshmallows from Trader Joes. Hate: pumpkin pie, turkey, green bean casserole and stuffing.

  13. Lotsa latkes! I’m always trying to concoct some sort of low-fat version–ridiculous! I make cupcakes with with frosting and stick a wrapped chocolate gelt coin in the frosting. Kids love ’em.

  14. Love Pfeffernusse! And pumpkin pie :) Hate all things choc-orange. Can’t stand it.

  15. Has anyone mentioned sausage balls? YUM. Sausage, cheese, and biscuit mix… baked. I think it’s a southern thang. I’m from MS. My grandmothers recipe refers to them as COON BALLS. I eat about 6 at a time.

  16. Yes to tangerines, mandarines, clementines for Christmas; they all bring childhood holiday memories, and I still love them all to this day.

    Love: Homemade Panettone with loads of candied orange and golden raisins. Homemade Tamales (sweet and savory). Homemade flour tortillas. Brazo Gitano (a Spanish version of Buche de Noel). All sort of nuts. All cheeses except the ones with fungus/mold, ie, all “blue” cheeses – gross! Wine, though I’m an infamous lightweight.

    Hate: Eggnogg. Peppermint-y chocolate anything (sorry, but to me it’s like ingesting chocolate and toothpaste together). Over-salted cured meats.

    But my absolute favorite, which is a combo you cannot beat: Mexican hot chocolate with lots and homemade Churros.

  17. Love love love: Pumpkin, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin soy anything, squash soup, spaghetti squash, roasted veggies, peppermint patties, Chestnut praline or Gingerbread soy lattes, peppermint hot chocolate, peppermint schnapps or rum IN hot chocolate, chocolate covered popcorn
    Hate hate hate: Eggnog, MAKING eggnog lattes at work (eww the smell), molasses anything, actual gingerbread, and holiday roast.
    Great post!
    ~ Samantha

  18. My favorite is pumpkin pie with extra nutmeg too! What still makes me cringe is fruitcake. I just don’t get it. My husband loves the stuff so I still buy him a mini panetone cake every year.

  19. Love love love: Pumpkin, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soy anything, pumpkin soup, Chestnut praline soy lattes roasted spaghetti squash, roasted veggies, peppermint hot chocolate, peppermint rum or schnapps IN hot chocolate, and holiday wine <3
    Hate hate hate: Eggnog, MAKING Eggnog lattes at work (eww the smell), molasses anything, and lard noodles. Ick.
    Loved the post!
    ~ Samantha

  20. Love pumpkin pie and hello dollies (layered bars of graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, coconut, walnuts, and condensed milk)

    Hate fruit cake…

  21. I’m normally a homemade kind of girl, but the Trader Joe’s chocolate covered candy cane Jo-Jos are a HUGE weakness of mine. I lose control.

    I don’t understand those assorted shortbread cookies that come in the tins that businesses give out. They are horrible!

  22. My husband’s family does tangerines in stockings too! That must be a British thing (they’re Scottish).

    (Also, I actually like mince pies. I do not care for brandied fruit.)

  23. I love once pies, Christmas fruit cake, plum pudding and trifle! Also love eating prawns, smoked salmon and oysters on Christmas Day.

    Being Australian we are in Summer so enjoy the seafood with a glass of crisp white wine ! We also still love the English traditional food.

  24. Petit fours and baklava are my favorite holiday treats! I only eat them during the holidays. I agree about the cheese ball business.

  25. that’s funny. i pretty much dislike everything you have in that illustration!

  26. I hate Pumpkin Pie, but love anything else pumpkin flavored. I know, I know.

    I also don’t like Russian Tea Cookies, so boring, powdered sugar everywhere! Haystacks (chow mein noodles covered in chocolate) blech!

    I love anything peppermint, almost all christmas cookies, egg nog, cheeseballs, cocktail weinies in bbq sauce, pickled herring! mmmm!

  27. I don’t understand why people like chocolate oranges! Those flavors together. Just gross. I also think white chocolate is nasty.

    Love: Those tins of flavored popcorn. I could eat a whole one without even thinking about it. Sugar cookies and mince pies!

  28. jm says...

    Love chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate oranges, but can’t stand fruitcake!

  29. Love pumpkin pie but haven’t really been a fan of green bean casseroles. Just can’t dig it.

  30. I don’t like pumpkin pie or eggnog or turkey (I mean I’ll eat turkey but it’s not something I look forward to or make myself). I like pickled herring haha. Chocolate oranges are yummy.

  31. My husband’s family loves to make this “meat spread” called Creton, which apparently is big with French Canadians. I think it’s awful tasting stuff, but they love it.

  32. em says...

    LOVE: my grandfather’s homemade eggnog (LOTS of nog!), coffee or hot chocolate with bailey’s, peppermint bark, home-made cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, south Texas citrus in my stocking (oh, the grapefruits!) and Greenberg turkeys from Tyler, TX

    LEAVE: any casserole that starts with opening a can, popcorn tins, and processed party apps

  33. My husband and girls love eggnog, I can’t understand it! I think you either grow up in an eggnog family or you don’t. but chocolate oranges… yes! and peppermint bark is a big things with us now :)

  34. I don’t really have any specific things I like or don’t like at the holiday season.

    But anything with chocolate on it I’ll eat! :)

  35. And eggnog with rum in a shaker with some sprinkled nutmeg makes a delicious cocktail.

  36. This post’s illustration was super awesome!

    My dad makes southern spoon bread for the holidays; the butter content alone puts it atop the list of loves. Hate egg nog. Never force a child to drink egg nog, they will be scarred for life.

  37. I like Sirena’s suggestion of pannetone bread pudding. Sirena, have you tried toasting slices of pannetone? So good!

  38. My cousin has 4 chestnut trees, and I cannot survive the holidays without copious amounts of his chestnut stuffing!

  39. Okay, I actually adore pickled herring! It is so yummy and reminds me of my grandma. We aren’t Norwegian but my grandma liked to pretend she was so pickled herring and lefse were always a part of Christmas.

  40. We make a big batch of Lefse, it’s Norwegian potato bread, and I love it so much! I’m not a huge peppermint fan so I usually pass on those treats!

  41. Joanna, try pfeffernüßen without anise. So much better!

  42. LOVE: Milk Chocolate fudge, pumpkin in any capacity (if we include thanksgiving), chewy sugar cookies, and chocolate-covered peanut butter balls (OH MY GODDDDD TRY THEM).

    HATE: Any fudge that is NOT milk chocolate (straight peanut butter? Really?), mince pies (they always SEEM like a good idea to try), those brick fruit cakes, and sugar cookies that are thin and hard. And normally burnt on the bottom. Thanks, neighbor across the street.

    Also bleghhhh to peppermint anything. Especially with chocolate because it ruins THE GREATEST THING EVER.

  43. I can’t even think of a Christmas food that I don’t like! Chocolate truffles, butter balls (Mexican wedding cookies), fruitcake, boiled custard. My aunt makes a beef wellington with a spinach instead of mushroom sauce inside and I seriously count down the days all year for that meal!!

  44. panettone!! Italian Christmas cake YUMYUM. Hate those chocolate oranges. Love clementines. Love Fruitcake (i know). Hate lutefisk (Norwegian thing that Minnesotans make)and I hate candy canes…

  45. I’m not going to lie, I love it all! I used to dislike pannetone but then my sisters and I started making the most spectacular bread pudding out of it and boom, another addition to the LOVE list! Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year :-)!

  46. i love love pumpkin pie!! im not a fan of chocolate oranges tho.

  47. Also the chocolate babka at Trader Joes…. Not a tradition but I might make it one.

  48. Spiked eggnog! Our concoction is one quart eggnog plus three ounces each of rum, brandy and creme de cocoa. Pour over ice. Add a dash of nutmeg. SO GOOD!

  49. My dad grew up in the deep South with a huge love of Claxton’s fruit cake…nothing should ever be that syrupy sweet. Just no. He gets it all to himself every year.

    My grandmother (and now my mother) make these wonderful crumbly cookie bars called Hermits…think nutmeg, cinnamon, and vermont maple with nuts and sugar on top. Amazing.

  50. Julie, you can buy bûche at Le Pain Quotidien in NY!

  51. i hate that panettone bread that people give as gifts. bleh. love egg nog with bourbon, such a treat, also my dad makes killer hot buttered rum.

  52. I love mixed nuts, my mom’s shortbread cookies, coffee with Baileys, and eggnog. Not big on candy canes, bits & bites, or anything with gumdrops! My husband likes to make seafood chowder around New Year’s and I always try to come up with an excuse for not eating it – I just hate any kind of fish chowder!

  53. Em says...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  54. Nobody’s mentioned gingerbread cookies! I love those because they’re cute and if homemade with real ginger, taste pretty good. I can’t stand any Starbucks holiday coffees – my sister loves the peppermint mocha which I think is disgusting!

  55. BUTTER TARTS (Ie like mincemeat pies but instead of mincemeat its just butter, brown sugar, raisins… mmmmmm), and even though I love the tradition of it fruitcake is so not good. Stollen is okay. As is kringle. And I hated it as a kid but the flaming plum pudding I find quite good now.

  56. Gingerbread in cookie or cake form is my absolute favorite. I also love a good peppermint hot chocolate -from anywhere but Starbucks.
    I can’t stand chocolate truffles or homemade fudge. Most of it is so cloyingly sweet. Ugh.

  57. I LOVE ham, and look forward all year to the pineapple-glazed one my uncle makes.

    I HATE frosted sugar cookie cutouts. They’re fun to decorate, and certainly cute when finished, but they’re just too sweet for me. And they don’t involve chocolate! The horror!

  58. I don’t love Eggnog. I’m Cuban (living in Miami), so we have a very Cuban meal on Christmas Eve every year that I look forward to- Rice & Beans, Pork, Maduros, and lots of wine of course!


  59. Gingerbread angels! My friend bakes them from a 100-year-old family recipe, dusts them with gold, and runs a ribbon through them so you can also string them up as ornaments. Stunning and mouthwatering!

  60. Believe it or not, I’m not really a fan of chocolate oranges! I don’t know why, they just don’t really do anything for me. I totally agree on the EggNog, I’ve never liked that!

  61. Hate eggnog – at least from a carton, never tried homemade. I also don’t like lutefisk (my husband’s family serves this).
    I love cookies with nutmeg…or almost any spice cookie and raisin swirl cookies (my mom’s side of the family). I have come to love oyster stew on Christmas eve and might try making it this year.

  62. Pigs in blankets are definitely one of my fave foods in the holidays!

    Jade x ♡

  63. Things I am not into: chocolate-covered pretzels, those chocolate Oreo balls, and these celery sticks with cream cheese and olives that my mom likes.

    Things I go nuts over: haystacks, fudge, apple cider, apple pie..really anything except what I’ve listed above :D

  64. Yessss to cider! And chocolate in stockings. No to fruitcake.

  65. Have you had Trader Joe’s Peppermint Pretzel Slims?! They’re insane. I can eat the whole bag!

  66. In France I would have foie gras on WAFFLES! Here in NY, people would throw rocks at me just for eating foie gras! I also miss oysters, and bûche!
    I find US Holiday food even worse than usual food haha! But I do like soy eggnog (and Bailey’s!) and pumpkin everything!

  67. I have a love/hate relationship with eggnog. My dad used to make French toast with it every holiday (it’s SUPER yummy, highly recommend) so it’s nostalgic but the idea of drinking it makes me gag a little.

    I saw this snarky definition of egg nog for egg nog yesterday and it really sums up my feelings up perfectly. It says “Egg nog is a pancake batter you’re allowed to drink in public one month a year.”

  68. Nooo!! mince pies are the best! served piping hot with cold brandy butter… mmmm… but I’m possibly the only English person I know that can’t stand trifle – ugh! too 80’s… too many memories!

  69. I love my grandmothers olive cheese balls. Since she’s passed on I have been making them for my dad every year. Ah, nostalgia!

  70. I love this series!!

    Love: Italian rainbow cookies and struffoli (tiny fried dough balls coated in honey and sprinkled with rainbow sprinkles)

    Hate: those weird, orange-red cheese balls covered in nuts. What the heck IS that anyway?

  71. I love my mom’s Christmas Eve fish chowder and I loathe egg nog. There isn’t enough rum in the world to make that stuff taste good! My English Grammy loves her mince pies but like you, Joanna, I find them revolting.

  72. We always have a traditional Kringle on Christmas morning. Its like a huge flat sticky bun in the shape of a ring. Delicious!

  73. Ugh I HATE chocolate oranges!

  74. I’m actually not a fan of peppermint anything, which makes the holiday’s pretty boring. I do love eggnog with or without rum/bourbon, and any sweet treat with spicy-ness (which includes your hated pfeffernusse, my favorite!!). Ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, molasses – anything with those delicious ingredients are right up my alley.

  75. my dad always gave us undressed pomegranate and parsley salads on christmas morning, which I love so much. Hate honeybaked ham and candied yams. gross.

  76. Pumpkin pie, yay. Mince, eh. Eggnog, GROSS!