10 classic Czech holiday dishes and how to make them

If you haven't already perfected the Czech Christmas menu, these recipes from our archive are a gourmet gift

Katrina Modrá

Written by Katrina Modrá Published on 21.12.2019 07:00:11 (updated on 21.12.2019) Reading time: 3 minutes

Christmas Carp Two Ways (Kapr)

Traditional Czech Christmas carp

Some families prepare the carp with skin, the other family without skin, one will use a breading, while other families use just flower or pepper. Simply put, there is no one single way of preparing and flavoring carp. These are two of the most popular methods for cooking Christmas carp. See recipe here.

Potato Salad (Bramborový salát)

Traditional Czech Christmas potato salad

As with the carp, every Czech family has its own tradition when it comes to Christmas potato salad. Shredded apple or ribbons of ham and salami are popular add-ins; sweet pickled peppers or a dollop of tartar sauce also give this common sidedish a festive kick. No matter how you make it, no holiday carp feast is complete without the bramborový salát. See recipe here.

Pork Schnitzel (Řízek)

Chicken schnitzel

Another deep-fried dish that lends a little heaviness and a lot of flavor to the Czech holiday meal. Typically the schnitzels are pork but chicken makes just as delicious of a schnitzel. Some vegetarians replace the fried carp and schnitzels with fried celeriac. See an easy recipe for classic řizky from the Czech Cookbook here

Christmas Cookies (Vánoční cukroví)

Beehives, vanilla crescents, and other typical Czech Christmas cookies

Czech Christmas cookies are beautiful and intricate and while you don’t have to be a professional baker by any means to make them, it is definitely a skill learned over time. But what if you don’t have time? These simple videos, in the English language, made by the Czech food blogger Cuketka.cz have seen us through a couple seasons of holiday baking and are so fail-proof that anyone can make them. See step-by-step video recipes here

Christmas Bread (Vánočka)

Vánočka or “Christmas cake”

Vánočka is a plaited bread made of eggs, butter, yeast, sugar, raisins, and almonds. Its braided shape represents the Christ child wrapped in cloth. It can be a challenge to prepare and the baking process is accompanied by a number of superstitions including jumping up and down while the dough rises. It’s also makes really delicious French toast! See our recipe for how to make one (as well as some other classic Czech Christmas sweets) in this Czech Holiday Baking How-To.

Mulled Wine (Svařák)

Mulled wine in with spices and citrus

Sommelier Lukáš Merta says that while mulled wine is more often than not sampled while out in the cold at the Christmas markets, occasionally it’s made at home for parties, too. He says it’s important not to boil the wine and to make sure you simmer on low for a long time. For an extra kick add a neutral alcohol, like vodka, rum if you prefer a sweeter drink, or to make it truly Czech, a splash of Becherovka. See recipe here.

Staročeský Kuba (Old Czech “Kuba”)

Old Czech Kuba photo via Cuketka Blog

Traditions often dictated a fasting period throughout Christmas Day (December 24th in Czech Republic) when Children were told to wait so that they would be lucky enough to see the golden piglet at night. Within many families an exception was made at Christmas Day lunch in the form of meat-free, grain-based food. Grain was readily available and mushrooms were dried and stored away in cloth bags for the rest of the year. The dish, a kind of creamy risotto has become an essential component of Christmas Day. See recipe here.

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