15 Popular Nigerian Christmas Dishes

Deborah Olayiwola
Deborah Olayiwola
Deborah is a content marketing specialist, with a passion for the food niche, she writes engaging content that celebrates the joy of food and its power to bring people together. Having worked on different projects. Her curiosity and creativity shines through in her writing.
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Christmas is a joyous time in Nigeria filled with family, friends, music, and of course, lots and lots of delicious food! As a heavily Christian nation, Nigerians go all out to celebrate the birth of Jesus with days of feasting and merrymaking. Food plays a central role bringing people together to celebrate the season.

The variety of Christmas dishes in Nigeria reflects the diversity of its over 250 ethnic groups. However, there are certain dishes that can be found on nearly every Nigerian Christmas table regardless of region or ethnicity, each adding its own unique flavors.

Nigerian Christmas dishes like spicy pepper soup to jollof rice bursting with aromatic tomatoes, onions, and spices to the subtle sweetness of pounded yam. Nigerian Christmas dishes has something for everybody. Many families also include their own local dishes depending on what region they come from.

In this article, I highlighted 15 of the most popular Nigerian Christmas dishes that capture the spirit of the season in community, celebration, and faith. These are the rich, vibrant, and colorful flavors that infuse Nigerian homes with the smells and tastes of Christmas.

Popular Nigerian Christmas Dishes You Should Add to Your Menu this Season

  • Jollof Rice
  • Nigerian Fried Rice
  • Ofada Rice and Ayamase Sauce
  • Pepper Soup
  • Pounded Yam and Efo Riro
  • Roasted Turkey Suya
  • Roasted/Fried Plantain
  • Fisherman Soup
  • Nkwobi
  • Ukwa (African Breadfruit)
  • Moi Moi
  • Abacha with Ugba

Jollof Rice

No list of treasured Nigerian Christmas dishes would be complete without the crown jewel itself – jollof rice. This flavor-packed one-pot rice dish is popular not just in Nigeria but across West Africa as the ultimate party food.

Traditionally made in a cast iron pot, jollof rice is parboiled long grain rice simmered in a spicy tomato sauce popping with onions, peppers, seasoning, and usually chicken or beef.

The end result is a stunning bright orange-red rice bursting with sweet and savory flavors that pair perfectly with just about anything. Jollof rice is so important during the holidays that many Nigerian Christmas celebrations are simply referred to as “Jollof Christmas”. It may be the greatest culinary gift Nigeria has shared with the rest of the world.

Jollof rice day

Nigerian Fried Rice

This quick and easy fried rice is a staple Nigerian Christmas dishes, very common in festive seasons and parties. White rice stir-fries with carrots, green beans, corn and peas along with scrambled eggs to create a rainbow rice feast. Onions, and spices like thyme infuse the dish with aromatic flavor.

Chicken or beef usually gets tossed in for added protein. Nigerian fried rice may not be as complex as jollof rice but it satisfies cravings as a hearty, one-pot meal that goes with anything.

Nigerian Fried Rice

Ofada Rice and Ayamase Sauce

Looking for something a little different? Then try this mouthwatering rice and stew combo featuring uniquely nutty-flavored Ofada rice. Unlike conventional white rice, the brownish Ofada rice keeps some of its outer bran layer giving it a slightly chewy texture and toasted aroma.

Typically grown in the southwest of Nigeria, Ofada rice stands on its own but truly sings when paired with spicy Ofada stew. The thick, aromatic stew bubbles away with assorted meats, dried fish, chili peppers and Ayamase – fermented locust beans that deliver an extra punch of savory umami.

Brimming with herbs and palm oil, Ofada stew coats each grain of rice in its addictive flavors and tantalizing texture. An exotic treat for the holidays!

ofada rice
Image Credit: Facebook

Pepper Soup

Nigerians like their food with plenty of heat and flavor, and pepper soup delivers both in abundance. This popular soup is served year-round but is especially welcomed during the holidays to warm up gatherings and add some festive spice to all the rich meals.

True to its name, Nigerian pepper soup gets its fiery kick from a blend of aromatic African chili peppers and spice. Goat, chicken, catfish, turkey, snails or beef simmer in a hearty pepper-infused broth creating a piquant, addicting soup that opens up the sinuses and whets the appetite for more food.

A bowl of piping hot pepper soup is just what you need to stave off the holiday chills.

Chicken recipes for the Nigerian Chicken pepper soup
Nigerian Chicken Pepper Soup

Pounded Yam and Egusi Soup

This hearty combination of mashed yams served with Egusi (white melon seed) mixed with green vegetable like pumpkin leaves or bitter leaves is a very popular Nigerian Christmas dish , especially in southwestern Nigeria. Making perfect pounded yam is an art form requiring strength and dexterity to turn tubers of boiled yam into a light, smooth mash.

The sweet yam mash beautifully complements the sweet and spicy brimming with herbs, vegetables, and smoked fish or meat. Pounded yam and Egusi soup is incredibly satiating – a knockout meal that will have you loosening your belt after going back for seconds and thirds!

egusi soup1 1 scaled

Roasted Turkey Suya

Christmas dinner just isn’t complete without a golden roasted turkey taking center stage on the table. While turkey ranks as a holiday favorite across continents, Nigerians impart their signature flavors to the traditional bird with a rub of zesty suya spices.

Suya seasoning blends dried ground peanut, ginger, garlic, chili peppers and other warming spices to make the famous Nigerian street food. Coating turkey in this moreish mixture adds subtle heat and nutty depth to candied, roasted meat. Served alongside classic honey glazed ham, the turkey suya creates a fusion of flavors old and new to liven up the holiday spread.

Roasted Turkey Suya
Image Credit: Facebook

Roasted/Fried Plantain

No celebratory Nigerian meal would be complete without some plantain added to the mix either roasted or fried one of the loved Nigerian Christmas dishes.

Sweet ripe plantain makes the perfect starchy side to soak up savory sauces and cut through the richness of holiday dishes. Simply sliced plantain roasted with vegetables, onions, herbs, spices and palm oil creates a caramelized, candied treat.

Thin slices also quickly fry up into crisp, golden plantain chips with a touch of salt. Either way, roasted or fried, plantain can do no wrong when enjoying a food-filled Nigerian Christmas complete with music and lively chatter.

Jollof rice with fried fish and fried plantain

Fisherman Soup

Travel down to the southern coastal regions of Nigeria near the seas and rivers, and you will find fisherman soup gracing Christmas dinner tables, especially in Akwa Ibom and Cross River States. As the name implies, this dish was created by fishing communities relying on the day’s catch from the waters’ depths.

It features a medley of fish, shrimp, snails or seafood simmered in a savory broth humming with herbs, spices and ground crayfish. Fisherman soup provides sweet, delicate ocean flavors in contrast to other heavier holiday foods. Particularly popular around the holidays when there is greater abundance, this light, soothing soup enjoys noble status in Nigerian cuisine.

Nigerian Fisherman Soup
Image Credit: Facebook


Here is another savory soup perfect for celebrating based on animal offal, or internal organs. Nkwobi features tasty chunks of cooked cow leg (or goat) stewed up with thick nutritious palm oil, leeks, spice leaves and chili pepper.

The hearty soup with tender meat goes down smoothly on Christmas evening accompanied by a cold bottle of beer. Nkwobi makes a great finger food for picking and dipping as you stand around chatting the night away with loved ones – yummy Nigerian Christmas dishes.

Image Credit: My Diaspora Kitchen

Ukwa (African Breadfruit)

Those looking for one of the unique Nigerian Christmas dishes may want to try the Igbo specialty ukwa, or African breadfruit, a highly nutritious staple. Resembling a small mango, breadfruit can be roasted, boiled, fried or even eaten raw when in season around the holidays.

Boiling breadfruit until soft and tender produces a dish called ukwa which has a starchy, potato-like texture that soaks up rich palm oil sauces.

Wrapping roasted breadfruit in banana leaves to steam infuses it with an earthy aroma and sweetness. However prepared, ukwa fills the belly and provides plenty of protein making it the ultimate celebration food.

Image Credit: Facebook

Moi Moi

Another Nigerian favorite based on legumes, moi moi makes frequent appearances as both an appetizer and side dish during larger Christmas feasts. To create this steamed pudding, black-eyed peas are combined with onions, eggs and spices then wrapped in leaves or foil before cooking.

This allows the moi moi to steam and absorb all the flavors creating a custard-like cake similar to Italian polenta. Moi moi arrives at the table warm, soft and gently sweet making it the perfect accompaniment to spicy holiday entrees.

The supplementary protein also helps to balance nutrition and sustain energy through multiple days of Yuletide indulgence, another delicious Nigerian Christmas dishes.

Moi Moi Calories Count

Abacha and Ugba

Cool off after feasting with this chilled dessert salad featuring tapioca and African oil bean seeds. Tapioca cassava starch (abacha) soaked overnight in water gets layered with strips of pineapple, orange and banana.

Dark palm oil dresses the salad providing an earthy tone while the ugba (oil bean seeds) on top lend subtle fermented, nutty flavors. Sweet, sticky honey pairs perfectly with the fresh fruits and vegetables making abacha one of the unique Nigerian Christmas dishes. The starchiness also helps absorb any excess liquid indulgence from the holiday, settling stomachs after heavy meals. Tasty Nigerian Christmas dishes.

Abacha - African street food
Image from GuardianNg

Nigerian Snacks You Can Munch on This Season

Chin Chin

Once the savory Christmas dishes conclude, Nigerians shift gears to sweet treats and baked goods to finish off the night. One quintessential Nigerian classic dessert served during the holidays are these bite-sized, crunchy fritters called chin chin.

Flour, butter, and sugar get incorporated into a dough, rolled flat then cut into smaller squares before deep frying into crispy, golden pieces of heaven.

Light and crispy with a touch of spiced ginger, chin chin provide the perfect sweet finish to a Nigerian Christmas dinner spread. It also makes a thoughtful, homemade gift to share with others this season.

Chin Chin Recipe
Chin Chin Recipe

Small Chops

Another fun Nigerian Christmas custom involves creating lavish trays of “small chops” to serve guests as they arrive. These flavorful little appetizers reflect both foreign influences and local tastes comprising anything from spicy meat pies and spring rolls to puff puffs (fried dough) and tiny skewers of grilled meat.

Serving an assortment of hot small chops keeps everyone satisfied while waiting for the proper dinner service to begin, which may take a while! It also adds a decorative, celebratory touch befitting of the food-focused festivities.

Small Chops 1
Image Credit: Facebook

Fruit Salad

With all the heavy, oil-laden, protein-packed dishes usually served at Christmas, Nigerians balance it out by incorporating fresh, light fruit salads into the mix. Diced mangos, pineapples, watermelon, oranges and other locally grown produce get tossed together to create a vibrant, refreshing salad.

Sweetened condensed milk and slices of cheddar cheese even get thrown in for extra creaminess! The bright colors and flavors interplay beautifully with the richer dishes on the table providing the perfect palate cleanser between bites. Fresh fruit makes for a healthy component to fuel hours of festive eating and drinking.

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Image credit: Watermelon.org

Nigerian Drinks

You can’t have a party without drinks in Nigeria! A typical Christmas spread includes an array of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic offerings to quench thirst and increase the festive vibes, although you must imbibe responsibly.

On the lighter side, fruit punch made from citrus, berries, peaches and ginger ale makes the rounds. Heartier egusi soup and bitter leaf stew get chased with Guinness or Star lager. Then there’s trusty old Chapman, a mix of fruit juice and fizzy orange soda quaffed with pieces of cucumber.

And in wine drinking regions, locally made palm wine tapped from the sap of certain trees flows freely, if dangerously. However you take it, always sip and enjoy your beverages in moderation with a Christmas toast to health, wealth and happiness in good company!

Palm Wine


From fiery pepper soup to the sweetness of chin chin cookies, Nigerian Christmas dishes offers an amazing diversity of colors, flavors and textures made with care to bring loved ones together.

The marriage of traditional dishes like pounded yam with egusi soup to adopted favorites like roast turkey and fruit salad represents the hybrid nature of Nigerian food culture and identity.

But no matter what appears on the table, the copious amounts of comforting, lavish food remains central to Nigerian holiday gatherings. Christmas in Nigeria means celebrating faith, family, unity – and undeniably fantastic fare all season long!

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Deborah Olayiwola
Deborah Olayiwola
Deborah is a content marketing specialist, with a passion for the food niche, she writes engaging content that celebrates the joy of food and its power to bring people together. Having worked on different projects. Her curiosity and creativity shines through in her writing.

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