Christmas is a time of year that is just bursting at the seams with traditions and many of them, especially in Calabria, include food. During the Christmas season, Italian kitchens are working overtime to prepare delicious Christmas sweets in abundance.

It is next to impossible to experience Christmas in Calabria without seeing or eating these three Christmas treats. They are just one of the countless reasons we love Christmas.


In most parts of Calabria they are called Pignolata or Scalilli, but you can also find them in other parts of Southern Italy under a different name, for example they are known as Struffoli in Naples and Cicerchiata in Abruzzo. This Christmas dessert goes way back, we’re talking back to the period of Magna Graecia. This delicious treat is made up of marble-sized deep fried balls of dough dipped in honey and piled up into a pyramid-like shape and sprinkled with multi-colored candied sprinkles. It looks so pretty, you’ll almost not want to eat it – almost!


Depending on where you are in Calabria, you will find this typical Christmas treat under a variety of different names: Cullurialli, Cuddruriaddri and Crespelle. As Christmas approaches you will find local bakeries offering up this treat, typically on Friday evenings. But if you want to get your hands on them, you’ll have to get there early because they go fast. It is also tradition to make them on the Feast of the Immacolata and share them with friends and family. It’s made with a simple dough of potatoes and flour that are formed into doughnut shapes and fried. It’s prepared primarily in three different ways: plain, with anchovies, or, for those with a super sweet tooth, sprinkled with sugar.


Turdilli have been prepared over generations so, as you can imagine, there are many versions of this recipe. We dare you to try and find a Calabrian household that doesn’t have these treats readily available to offer up to guests. They resemble large doughnut holes which are fried and then garnished with honey or sugar. They are best served with a liquor or with coffee. One thing is certain, it’ll be hard to have just one!

What Christmas treats do you enjoy during the Christmas season? Have you ever tried one of these Calabrian sweets?

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Image Credits: Steve-081, lupo silano 1914, dplastino