Danish Christmas Dinner

The Danish Christmas dinner is very much influenced by the fact that Danes love good food and the coziness - (we call that hygge) - of eating together with friends and family.
The concept of hygge is best descriped as warm, fuzzy, cozy, comfortable feeling of well-being.

One of the most common combinations associated with the traditional Danish Christmas dinner is the:

  • Pork roast
  • Roast Duck
  • Ris ala Mande

However, roast goose or turkey is also served for Christmas in some families.

Pork Roast

For the pork roast we either use the breast piece with the skin on it or pork neck with rind.

With a very sharp knife you cut the skin (through the layer of fat) all the way to the meat, a cut for every third of an inch. Be careful not to cut into the meat. Spinkle the roast with salt and rub the salt into the cuts.

Use a deep roasting pan preferably with a metal grid. Place the meat as even as possible on the grid.Turn on the oven to 380 to 400 F degrees and place the roast in the bottom part of the oven. After an hour and a half you check the roast with an oven thermometer. The roast is done when the inside temperature shows 175 F.


The Christmas dinner comes with two types of potatoes as sides:

  • Peeled and boiled potatoes
  • Caramel potatoes

Caramel potatoes

For the caramel potatoes we use small potatoes, - either canned and cooked potatoes or small fresh potatoes.

If you use the canned potatoes, they need to be drained and dried very carefully on a cloth before frying.

With fresh potatoes, you boil/steam the potatoes with the peel on them, let them cool off completely before peeling.

Caramel Potatoes

In a deep frying pan you pour a layer of sugar. The layer has to be a third of an inch thick.Place the pan on the heat and let the sugar start melting. Be careful with the sugar, it burns easily!

As soon as the sugar is getting hot you add a table spoon full of butter and stir the mix.

Add the potatoes and stir them frequently. Let them cook in the sugar until they are evenly coated and golden brown.

Red cabbage

Another side for the Christmas dinner is the cooked red cabbage. Most of the time we buy the pre-made cabbage and just heat it up, however, if you want to make your own home cooked cabbage, here is the recipe:

  • 1 red cabbage, sliced up in thin slices
  • 1 once of butter
  • 2 apples, peeled and roughly grated
  • 1/2 a cup of vinegar
  • 1 cup of red currant juice
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 tea spoon salt


Lightly fry the cabbage in the butter. Add the grated apple, vinegar and currant juice and heat up until boiling an let it boil slowly at low temperature for 45 minutes.Add sugar and salt to suit your taste.

Roast duck

These days a lot of people are trying out new recipes for roast duck, like the French Duck a l'Orange, but the traditional roasted Christmas duck here in Denmark is the big, country bred and fattened duck.


  • 1 duck at about 6-7 pounds
  • 2 apples
  • 2 cups of stoneless dried prunes
  • Salt
  • water


Clean the duck inside and make sure all feathers and feather follicles are gone. Rub the inside of the duck with salt.

In a litre of water you boil the wing tips, heart, liver, neck and gizzard to make the broth for the sauce.

Peel the apples and cut them into boats or dice. Mix apple boats with the prunes and fill up the duck with the mix. Close the duck tight with meat needles.

Rub it outside of the duck with salt and place it "face down" on a roasting pan - preferably on a grid.

Turn the oven on to 480 F and place the duck on the bottom shelf of the oven.

When the oven has the right temperature and the duck starts to get a little color, pour about a litre of water/broth into the pan, turn down the heat to 380 F and leave the duck roasting for 45 minutes. Turn the duck around and let it roast for another 45 minutes to an hour(time depending on the weight of the duck).

Pour the water/broth from the roasting pan through a strainer and leave it in a narrow bowl for a while. Skim the fat from the water. Save 3 table spoon full of fat for cooking the sauce.

Cut up the roasted duck into pieces with a very sharp knife and serve.


  • 3 table spoon full of fat from the duck
  • 2-3 table spoon full of flour
  • broth
  • a cup of milk (or low fat cream)
  • 1 table spoon full of sour creme
  • 1 tea spoon of sugar
  • Salt
  • Food color

Heat up the fat in a pot and add the flour. Stir till the mix is smooth and pour in broth. While stirring, heat up the sauce and add the milk til the sauce has the consistence, that you like. Add a bit of salt, the sour creme, sugar and food color (if you have any).

Christmas Dessert

Rice porridge is THE traditional Christmas food. In the old days it also served the purpose of keeping the local Christmas elves happy.

It is common knowledge, that if you don't place a big bowl of rice porridge - with a big lump of butter in the middle and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon - for the elves in the attic, there is no telling what they might do to make your life miserable. They will tease you, make things disappear or in any way make sure you know they are not pleased with you. ;-)

In my house the Christmas cookies often disappear... hmmm

Ris ala Mande

Ris ala Mande is really a delicious sophistication of the old traditional Rice porridge.

The foundation is still a bowl of rice porridge, but for the Ris ala Mande, you add whipped creme and almonds.

It is a VERY delicious dessert!

Recipe (4-5 servings)

  • 2 cups of milk
  • 2 oz of pudding rice
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 table spoons of sugar
  • 2 - 2 1/2 cup of whipping creme
  • 1/2 a cup of finely chopped almonds
  • 1 WHOLE blanched and peeled almond


Split the vanilla bean. Cook the milk, rice and vanilla bean at low heat (simmering with the lid on) for about 50 minutes.Remove the vanilla bean and let the porridge cool off.Stir in the sugar and the chopped almonds and let the porridge get cold.Whip the creme and gently stir it into the cold porridge.

Ris ala Mande is usually served with hot or cold cherry sauce, and we still add the whole almond for someone to find and be the lucky winner of the....

The Almond Present!

You can make it yourself, if you are a little bit creative or you can buy it all ready in the stores in many different shapes and sizes.

This is also a very nice thing to do with your kids.
Let them make a whole farm of marzipan animals ;-)

Traditional Danish Christmas Cookies


In my family baking "Pebernødder" is THE best Christmas activity!
It takes a whole afternoon, messes up the entire kitchen and sends a delightful Christmas scent throughout the entire house.

Now THIS is what Christmas is ALL about :-)

Most Danish families have their own special recipe for Pebernødder. There is a lot of tradition involved here.
For some reason (?) we always have to repeat the "Pebernød baking day" at least a couple of times through December. All the Pebernødder seem to disappear! (Must be the elves).

I'll share our families recipe with you here, and this recipe is more than 100 years old!


  • 2.2 pounds of flour
  • 7.5 Ounces of sugar
  • 4.5 Ounces of margarine
  • 3.5 Onces of pork lard
  • 2 tea spoon full of baker's ammonia
  • 3 tea spoon full of cardamom
  • 0.6 pint of Whole milk

Mix flour, sugar and baker's ammonia in a bowl.Chop the margarine and lard into the mix it into the flour mix and make sure it's mixed well. It's easiest to use your hands for this!

Stir the baker's ammonia into the milk and add the mix to the flour mix and knead the dough until firm and even.

Cut the dough into smaller portions and roll each portion to little finger thick strips.

Cut up the strips into small pieces (half an inch long) and roll each piece into a ball.

Place the dough balls on a baking sheet.

Bake in oven at 400 F for 10 minutes (baking time depending on the size of the dough balls).

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