15 Traditional Easter Dishes from Around the World
As temperatures begin to rise and springtime foliage starts to appear, a big feast to celebrate the changing season definitely feels in order. Luckily, for those who observe the Christian faith, a built-in excuse for cooking a special meal during the early spring already exists in the form of Easter Sunday. Easter brunches and dinners take on unique forms from country to country and culture to culture, and if you'd like to give your Easter table some genuine international flair this year, consider these 15 recipes inspired by traditional Easter fare from around the world.
Greece: Roasted Lamb
When it comes to the Greek culinary pantheon, lamb occupies a very prominent role. Holidays and special events (like Easter) in Greece often go hand-in-hand with savory roasted lamb dishes, like the herbaceous version in this recipe from xMichellex, who says that "This roasted leg-of-lamb recipe is from a place called Koutouki Greek Tavern. It is absolutely wonderful and I feel I have to share it!"
Also known as "Easter bread," tsoureki is a Greek specialty flavored with mahleb, a resin from the mastic tree popular in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. "My Yia Yia made this Greek Easter bread for many years, so this is very dear to my heart. It is slightly sweet and has a soft, golden-brown crust. Leftovers can be used for toast the next day. Christos Anesti!" recipe writer Jacolyn explains.
France: Gigot d'Agneau
Like the Greeks, the French like to feature lamb in their Easter spreads, particularly oven-roasted legs stuffed with garlic that are referred to as gigot d'agneau. "The lamb in this dish is succulent and extremely tasty. Lamb is roasted to perfection with flageolet beans. Serve with rosemary potatoes, if desired. This dish makes a wonderful alternative to the classic Sunday lunch," says recipe creator Bibus.
The U.K.: Simnel Cake
Fruitcakes aren't just for the December holidays. In the U.K., Easter celebrations often include a simnel cake, which recipe author Myra describes as a "traditional Easter fruitcake decorated with marzipan balls that represent the 11 Apostles (Judas was excluded.)"
The U.K.: Hot Cross Buns
Soft, gently-spiced, and perfectly handheld, hot cross buns are a crucial element of Good Friday breakfasts in the U.K., and their consumption is commonly carried over to Easter Sunday. Don't forget to put the sweet icing "X" on top!
Poland: White Borscht
While the more common version of borscht bears a vibrant reddish-purple hue (thanks to its primary ingredient, beets), the spin on this soup eaten in Poland during the Easter season has a mellow white broth bolstered by sour cream. Polish white borscht — AKA bialy barszcz — is generally served hot (unlike its beet-based counterpart), and it's loaded with hearty kielbasa and hard-boiled eggs.
Italy: Pastiera Napoletana
Easter in the Italian city of Naples wouldn't be the same without pastiera Napoletana, a tart comprised of a shortbread crust and a wheat-grain filling with ricotta cheese and candied orange peel. "Pastiera is among the most iconic of Italian desserts. [It's] most typical during Easter season, but it is served year around," recipe writer Nesrine says of this festive treat.
Described by recipe creator Jackie_Fett as "cheesecake without the crust", pashka is a custard dessert made from soft curd cheese and mix-ins like currants and almonds. It's frequently served at Easter tables in Russia alongside the sweet yeast bread known as kulich.
Sweden: Pickled Herring
The Easter smörgåsbord is a treasured tradition in Sweden, and the buffet presentation will, more often than not, include pickled herring. For a light and refreshing take on this pungent ingredient, try recipe developer Thor's strategy of pairing the herring with a fresh cucumber salad.
"They take time to make, but are not very difficult. Wooden ma'amoul molds give them their distinctive decorative shapes," recipe writer LauraF says of these Lebanese Easter snacks flavored with mahleb and filled with date paste.
West Africa: Jollof Rice
In West African nations like Ghana, Senegal, and Nigeria, jollof rice — or rice cooked in a vegetable and tomato-paste sauce that delivers plenty of heat — becomes especially popular during the Easter holiday. Home cooks often mix proteins into the flavorful rice to turn it into a full-fledged meal, and recipe creator Eeandoh opts for chicken.
The Philippines: Paella
Filipino cuisine draws influences from many different cultural styles, resulting in a nuanced flavor palette that's as bold as it is engaging. The slow-cooked Spanish seafood staple of paella is a standard part of Easter spreads in the Philippines, made with long-grain rice and a blend of shellfish like clams and shrimp.
"Capirotada is a traditional Mexican dessert, similar to what we know of as a bread pudding. In this variation, a baguette is sliced and toasted then layered with fruit in a dish and drizzled with a spiced fruit syrup. This dish is often eaten in Mexico around Easter time and carries a rich symbolism to the Passion of Christ," recipe developer gigi tells readers about her tropical fruit-forward rendition of a Mexican classic.
Bacalhau, or salt cod, appears in many Brazilian dishes, including those served for Easter luncheons. In this recipe, writer Vólola leans into the Portuguese influence on Brazilian cuisine, pairing the bacalhau with baked onions, potatoes, and tomatoes.
The United States: Honey-Glazed Ham
While many European nations consider lamb an indelible part of an Easter feast, American diners are more likely to celebrate with a roasted ham, often bathed in a honey glaze. "I came up with the glaze for this ham using ingredients on hand and it's the best I've ever tasted. If you have any glaze left over, you can add it to the pan drippings with a little flour or cornstarch and make a nice sauce to accompany the meat. Use the bone and ham trimmings to make soup afterwards," recipe creator Sue S. says of her preferred version.