Trinidad Christmas Food: Recipes, Menu Ideas and More

Trini Christmas is the best from the food, music and the the vibes, everything is fun-filled and joyful. Here are some of the Trinidad Christmas food and recipes we love.

Oh and, to get you in the mood, check out this Trinidad Christmas songs list for great holiday music.

macaroni pie, fried rice with red rice, lettuce, bbq lamb and bbq chicken

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Popular Trinidad Christmas food

Trinidad Christmas food can include tasty sides like Christmas rice, macaroni pie, stewed beans, and veggies and delicious meat options like oven baked ham, pork, turkey, and chicken. Pastelles, hops bread and chow chow are also enjoyed during the season as are desserts like fruit cake and coconut sweet bread and drinks like sorrel, ponche de creme, and ginger beer.

Side dishes

Christmas rice

Festive rice or Christmas rice is made with green and red ones like bell peppers and lots of herbs are used along with crunchy and sweet additions like slivered almonds, walnuts, raisins and cranberries.

plated christmas rice

You can also try my simple vegetable fried rice with red rice recipe. The red rice adds a nice color to the plate and contains more antioxidants and fiber than plain white rice.

Veggies and pies

Typical Sunday lunch side dishes are often made for Christmas. These include chow mein noodles, chunky vegetables, macaroni pie, breadfruit pie, corn pie, lasagna, potato salad, coleslaw, callaloo, stewed lentils, stewed red beans, and more.

For healthier options, you can try boiled sweet potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, boiled plantain, sauteed carrots, broccoli, green beans, and bok choy. All the links point to my recipes.

Pastelles

Pastelles are synonymous with Trini Christmas. They are made by pressing cornmeal dough onto pliable, prepped banana leaves before adding fillings like seasoned ground meat or vegetables with raisins and olives to the center. The dough is then folded over the filling to form a rectangular pie and then steamed or boiled while wrapped in banana leaves.

Ms. Merlene did a wonderful job explaining the joys of pastelles and authentic pastelle making in this Propa Eats video.

Paime

Paime is made in a similar way to pastelles and is also widely enjoyed around Christmas time. JennaG explains how she makes her paime here.

Meat options

Ham

Ham and hops with chow chow are a classic Trini Christmas breakfast or dinner. Try Natasha’s ham recipe (from Youtube) and my homemade hops bread recipe.

Pork

Foodie Nation’s roasted pork recipe (on Youtube) is great. Baby back ribs, garlic pork and pepper pork are also favorites.

Turkey

Turkey is another great meat option for Christmas. I enjoy turkey that is brined overnight with salt, sugar, garlic, chadon beni, and thyme, then rinsed and rubbed with oil seasoned with Caribbean seasoning, rosemary, garlic, and pepper. Flavor can also be added with stuffing or a flavor injector before baking and basting.

Chrisal did a wonderful turkey video for eatahfood. She skipped brining and used a flavor injector. Check that out:

Chicken

Although chicken recipes are an everyday dish, it’s still great for a Trini Christmas lunch menu.

I like this tasty, whole baked chicken with rosemary recipe but you can also do pineapple chicken, fried, fry-bake and BBQ chicken.

Stew chicken is another great option for Christmas. It is made by caramelizing brown sugar before adding seasoned chicken pieces and cooking until dry before adding water for gravy.

Bone in trinidad brown stew chicken in a large cast iron pot

Seafood

Shrimp and fish are not as common for Christmas but you can try some of these recipes if you are looking for a change: fried shark, fried red fish, fried king fish, or grilled red fish.

Bread

Hot homemade hops are enjoyed with ham and chow chow, especially for Christmas Eve.

Hops bread in stainless steel tray out of the oven

But, that’s not the only bread option you can make. You can make white loaf bread, coconut bake, butter brioche and even homemade focaccia. For a healthy option, try my whole wheat bread with nuts and seeds.

Trinidad Christmas Desserts

Black cake (or fruit cake)

Trinidad black cake or fruit cake is a Christmas favorite. It is traditionally made with alcohol soaked fruits like raisins, prunes, cherries, and mixed peel and browning made by caramelizing sugar.

After baking the cake, the cake is soaked with more alcohol for a comforting, boozy dessert.

trinidad black cake or fruit cake garnished with cherries and mint leaves with a cake cutter and bottle of cherries in the background and a red striped tea towel in the foreground

Coconut sweet bread

Sweet bread is a sweet, tasty loaf made with grated coconut, raisins and candied mixed peel. Using red and green mixed peels add a festive element to the dessert. My recipe is eggless, less cake-like and crumbles a bit more, but it is so tasty and that coconut flavor really comes through.

sweet bread on parchment paper

More cakes

Baking is a big part of the Trinbago Christmas season. Common favorites like sponge, chocolate, carrot and pineapple upside down cakes are all enjoyed for Christmas. You can also find my delicious cheesecake and cookies recipes over on the snacks page.

Trinidad Christmas Drinks

Trini Christmas songs also pay homage to the drinks enjoyed most for Christmas like sorrel, ponche de creme and ginger beer.

Peardrax is an English pear-flavored soft drink that was popular in the ’60s and ’70s but then later fell out of favor and was discontinued in the UK. Funny enough, Peardrax stayed popular in T&T and became an integral part of Trini Christmas. I’ve found the taste and fizziness have changed over the years and so the drink is no longer as popular as before. But, funny enough, it’s listed on Amazon.

Sorrel

Sorrel is made with the sepals of roselle, a type of hibiscus. The sepals are brewed with spices like cinnamon, clove, ginger, orange peel, star anise and more and left overnight to steep.

The drink is then strained resulting in a spiced, ruby-red drink that has a tart, cranberry-like flavor. Sweeten to your liking and maybe add a little rum if you choose. That’s Caribbean Christmas in a glass right there.

You can also make sorrel jam, jelly and more. Check out these sorrel recipes.

sorrel drink featured image - 2 glasses of sorrel drink with ice and a jug of sorrel with a small christmas tree leaf

Ponche de creme

Ponche de creme is another Trini Christmas classic. It is made by whisking together eggs, carnation milk, condensed milk, white rum, bitters, citrus peel and spices like nutmeg. The drink is strained and placed in a sterilized bottle and refrigerated.

The drink is similar to eggnog but there is far more flavor in ponche de creme. Check out Andrea’s video for making the drink:

Ginger beer

Ginger beer is another classic drink in Trinidad and Tobago. It is made with ginger, citrus, zest and spices and left to ferment for a day or so. After the fermentation process, it is strained, sweetened, sometimes spiked with rum and served cold.

Here’s Andrea again explaining how she makes her ginger beer here:

https://youtu.be/I70Hb9bKE2I

Cocktails

Trinis certainly enjoy alcohol. While, rum, beer and wine are go-to drinks for any get-together, you can also consider some of these cocktails to enjoy during the season. They’re not specific to T&T by any means, but are still widely enjoyed.

So that’s some of what Trinidadians eat for Christmas. Have I missed anything? Leave a comment and let me know what you’ve tried before and what I should add to this list.

2 Comments

  1. Hi Ros,

    Wonderful work! I was searching for just Trini Christmas lunch ideas and found more.

    Thanks for this,
    Lygia

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