The best holiday desserts in 22 countries around the world

These are the holiday treats people are eating across the globe.
Turku Gingerbread/Flickr

Americans love to eat candy canes, gingerbread, and sugar cookies during the holidays.

Elsewhere in the world, however, a typical holiday dessert might look a lot different.

From an 18-layered ring cake in Norway to a boozy rum-filled fruit cake in Jamaica, this is what holiday treats look like in 22 countries around the world.

AUSTRALIA: Many Australians opt for a light pavlova — or berry dessert — after dinner, instead of a heavy Christmas pudding or cake. Pavlova is similar to a large meringue that has been topped with fresh cream and berries.

Asah Yoganandan/Flickr

Source: World of Wanderlust

AUSTRIA: Little vanilla crescent cookies called vanillekipferl adorn bakeshop windows and family kitchens throughout the holiday season in Austria. They’re similar to a shortbread cookie and are made with vanilla and nuts.

Chasing Daisy/Flickr

Source: Food52

BELGIUM: Speculaas is a thin, crunchy cookie typically eaten before St. Nicholas’ feast in the Netherlands. The cookies are created using intricate wood molds and are similar in taste to gingerbread cookies, except that they are more subtly spiced.

Turku Gingerbread/Flickr

Source: Saveur

BRAZIL: Rabanada is a Brazilian version of French toast served around Christmastime. Instead of maple syrup, rabanada is topped with a syrup made from spiced port wine.

Rie H./Flickr

Source: Flavors of Brazil

CANADA: Chicken Bones, a spicy cinnamon hard candy filled with bittersweet chocolate, is a holiday favorite in Canada. Chicken Bones are a polarizing candy — a lot of Canadians either love them or hate them.

via Ganong Facebook

Source: The Globe and Mail

COLOMBIA: Many Colombians serve arroz con leche, or rice pudding, for dessert on Christmas. Every family has their own recipe, but it’s typically made from milk, spices, raisins and rice.

M. Martin Vicente/Flickr

Source: Only in South America

CROATIA: You can expect to find a bowl of fritule sitting out in every Croatian household during the holiday season. Fritule are mini fried doughnuts, similar to a beignet, except they’re made with rum, citrus zest, and raisins, and topped with powdered sugar.


Source: My Croatian Experience

CZECH REPUBLIC: Wander around any holiday market in Prague, and you’ll be sure to find a stand that sells trdelnik, or chimney cakes. Dough strips are covered with sugar, cinnamon, and nuts and baked wrapped around a cylinder.


Source: Every Day Is A Food Day

ENGLAND: Figgy pudding, also known as plum pudding and Christmas pudding, is a classic English Christmastime dessert. This cake-like treat is made with dried fruits, spices, and lots of alcohol. So much alcohol, in fact, that you can actually set it on fire, which many people do.

Smabs Sputzer/Flickr

Source: NPR and Hungry History

FRANCE: Calissons are a smooth, chewy, almond-flavored candy made with candied fruit and ground almonds, then topped with a thin layer of white icing.

jean-louis zimmermann/Flickr

Source: Marvellous Provence

GREECE: A Greek Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a fresh batch of melomakarona, or honey walnut-spiced cookies. These cake-like cookies are made with ingredients that are native to Mediterranean cuisine, like honey, olive oil, and nuts.

Alexander Baxevanis/Flickr

Source: My Greek Dish

GERMANY: Lebkuchen is a soft, cakey cookie that dates back to the 1300s. The cookie is heavily spiced and gets its sweetness from the added honey and layer of icing on top.


Source: Saveur and German Food Guide

HUNGARY: Beigli is a pastry roll traditionally filled with a walnut or poppy seed paste, which is then baked. It is by far the most popular holiday treat at Christmastime in Hungary.

Ann T./Yelp

Source: The Hungarian Girl

ICELAND: Laufabrauð, or leaf bread, is literally as thin as a leaf. During the holiday season, families gather to make these crispy, thin, pattern-adorned flatbreads.


Source: Icelandic Review

IRELAND: Fruit, sherry cream, custard and sponge cake are all piled into a trifle dish during the holiday season in Ireland. Trifle is often served as a lighter alternative to Christmas pudding.


Source: Zester Daily and BBC Good Food

ITALY: Panettone literally means “big bread,” and it wouldn’t be considered Christmas in Italy without it. Panettone can come in lots of different flavors, but the traditional panettone is a sweet bread that has candied oranges, lemon zest and raisins in it. This fluffy bread takes at least 12 hours to rise, but when it’s finally ready to eat, the whole family enjoys it.

Nicola since 1972/Flickr

Source: Delallo and Italy Magazine

JAMAICA: No Christmas on the island would be complete without a slice of boozy Jamaican Christmas cake. It’s filled with a mixture of dried fruit and lots of rum.

Lachlan Hardy/Flickr

Source: Martha Stewart

MEXICO: Buñuelos can be found throughout Mexico, and like a lot of foods, they vary by region. In Oaxaca, where they are particularly popular during Christmastime, they look like discs of fried dough that have been dusted with sugar. When Oaxacans finish eating their buñuelos, it’s tradition to smash their plate on the ground and make a wish.

Baptiste Pons/Flickr

Source: Go Mexico

NORWAY: An almond ring cake called kransekake is popular for all big occasions, Christmas included. A traditional cake consists of 18 wreaths that are decorated with mini Norwegian flags and decrease in size as they go up.


Source: Visit Norway

POLAND: Kolaczki are jam-filled holiday cookies that are especially popular after the big Polish Christmas Eve dinner called the Wigilia.


Source: Eastern European Food

SPAIN: In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Spanish supermarkets will be lined with varieties of turrón, a Spanish nougat that is especially popular during the holiday season. There are two types: turrón de Alicante (hard nougat), and turrón di jijona (a soft variety).


Source: Food and Wines from Spain

SWEDEN: The day of St. Lucia kicks off the holiday season in Sweden, and to help celebrate, saffron buns are traditionally served. These rolls get their beautiful golden color from the the saffron-infused dough.

erik forsberg/Flickr

Source: Saveur