Favorite Italian Holiday Recipes

Buone feste! The holidays in Italy are marked by delicious classic foods (of course!) and our experts are here two share two of them with you – one sweet, one savory.

Around the world, holidays are synonymous with delicious foods, and in Italy, it’s certainly no different. Traditional dishes play a dominant role in the country’s celebrations, and our experts are here to share them with you! Below, you’ll find recipes for two holiday staples – one sweet, and one savory.


The Sweet: Struffoli

Hailing from Neapolitan tradition, this typical Christmas cake consists of many small pieces of soft, crunchy dough that have been fried and wrapped in honey. After being assembled into a donut-like shape, the dough is topped with candied fruit and sugar sprinkles (called diavulilli, or “little devils” in Naples). The custom of eating this treat started in monasteries, where nuns would make the cakes to give to noble benefactors.



40 g sugar

400 g flour

60 g butter, melted

Zest of 1 lemon

3 medium eggs

1 medium egg yolk

1 pinch of fine salt

15 g anise liqueur



175 g wildflower honey 175 g

30 g candied orange, cut into small cubes

30 g candied citron, cut into small cubes

Candied cherries

Colored sprinkles


Peanut oil


In a small pot, over low heat, melt the butter and let it cool down. Meanwhile in a bowl, place the flour, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, the melted butter and anise liqueur. Begin to knead the dough by hand in the bowl, then transfer it on a pastry board and knead until it’s compact and smooth.

Cover it with a clean tea towel and let rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. After, divide the dough with a knife into 6 or 7 equal parts. With each of these pieces create thick sticks of about 1 cm. At this point, cut the sticks into small, 1 cm pieces, and place on a towel, being careful not to overlap them.

In a large pot heat enough oil for deep frying. When it is hot, dip in the dough with a skimmer. (For optimum frying, see that the oil reaches the temperature of about 180° using a food thermometer.) Fry few struffoli at a time not to lower the temperature of the oil. Stir with a skimmer to achieve uniform cooking; 2-3 minutes will be enough to get the gold nuggets ready; drain and transfer them on a tray lined with paper towel to absorb the excess oil.

Let struffoli cool off and start melting the honey in a pot over low heat. When the honey has melted, pour in struffoli and stir to mix. Turn off the heat and let cool, then add the colored sugar sprinkles (save some for decorating later), the candied orange and citron and stir gently with a spoon.

Place a glass in the center of a serving dish and distribute the struffoli around it. When the honey is solidified, gently remove the glass from the center of the plate. Then decorate the struffoli with candied cherries and leftover sprinkles and serve.


The Savory: Panettone Gastronomico

During the holidays, panettone is a mandatory presence on Italian tables. And, while the sweet version is more widely known, the savory version is king of the Christmas appetizers. You can fill it with just about anything – vegetables, meats, stuffing, or sauce – to create your favorite combination.


300 g bread flour

30 g pressed yeast

150 g filtered water

240 g organic whole eggs

200 g organic egg yolks 

50 g parmesan cheese

40 g sea salt

100 g extra virgin olive oil 

2,000 g bread flour

400 g Vermont butter

70 g sucrose

1,000 g filtered water 

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the hook attachment, mix together the first flour, yeast, and water. Knead well, until the mixture is smooth and elastic.

Put the obtained dough into a bowl and let triple in volume at 30 Celsius.

Put the tripled dough back into the mixer and add the rest of the ingredients, kneading until the mixture is smooth and elastic.

Make the dough into a ball by doing what is known as pirlatura. You put your hands with your palms facing each other as if you’re about to clap on the sides of the ball. Then move your hands forward and backward to try and round up the dough. (It is much easier than it sounds.) 

Keep it aside to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in volume.

When ready, deflate the dough and make it into a ball again by doing the pirlatura. Then transfer it to a greased 18cm – 7 inch (1 kg – 2.2 lbs) panettone mold. Delicately brush the top with melted butter and keep it aside to rise until the top reaches the edge of the mold (or until it goes a little above it).

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C – 355°F for 45 minutes, or until a stick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let it cool down completely, then wrap it with cling wrap and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days before slicing and filling it.


Struffoli recipe by Giallo Zafferano

Panettone recipe courtesy of Chef Gabriele Riva


Ready to start planning your getaway to Italy? Explore our portfolio of Italy villas.