As families and friends prepare to celebrate Christmas, the Washington Examiner is dishing on the most popular holiday meals across the country.

While states like Mississippi prefer more traditional dishes, such as pecan pie, others like Virginia and Tennessee favor mince pies and moon pies, according to a survey of 3,485 people in November.

The Washington Examiner reached out to chefs from restaurants and local eateries nationwide, asking whether they agreed with the dishes listed in the survey for their respective states and what they preferred on their tables for Christmas.

Here's what they had to say.


Alaska: Reindeer Meat

Executive Chef Mike Brewer of Juneau's Roma Bistro on the Wharf told the Washington Examiner that since moving to Alaska in September, he has never cooked or eaten reindeer meat.

Brewer noted Alaska is "the largest seafood producer" in the country, adding that restaurants in the Juneau area focus their menus on fresh seafood for the Christmas season.

Florida: Cuban Pig Roast

Patricia Cassavell, co-owner of Off the Hook Bar and Grill in Key West, Florida, told the Washington Examiner this "seems about right on the money."

A Cuban pig roast is described as "a slow-cooked pig roast" that's known for being tender and pairing "wonderfully with the golden, crispy skin that develops on top," according to the Christmas website.

Cassavell said she knows a "couple of families" that have a Cuban pig roast for their Christmas meal, adding that "typically they'll do black beans, plantains, okra, and yellow rice."

Idaho: Goose

Executive Chef Jay Drahota at the D'Railed, a fine dining restaurant in Idaho Falls, told the Washington Examiner he felt goose was not an accurate pick for the most popular dish in the Gem State.

"I don't think I've ever even heard of anyone having that," Drahota said. "I remember back when I was about 5 years old, but I was in Minnesota, my grandma making ducks and pheasants, but not for Christmas."

Unlike in the Midwestern part of the United States, geese aren't frequently hunted in Idaho, the chef said, pointing to mashed potatoes and prime ribs as popular dishes in the state.

"I assume this year it just depends how much money they want to spend, because looking at the grocery stores, prime rib is double what it was a year ago," he said.

Kentucky: Beer Cheese

Kyle Daulton, the sous chef at Mesh in Louisville, said that while he knows "a lot of people" who like beer cheese, he personally doesn't find it very enjoyable.

Daulton said he prefers to stick with traditional items, such as ham and mashed potatoes.

Maryland: Crab Cakes

This one may just be explained away as being a "year-round" delicacy, according to Chad Sargent, owner of Chad's BBQ in Edgewater.

"I've never eaten crab cakes on Christmas," Sargent said, noting southern Maryland ham stuffed with cabbage is more of a Christmas staple for residents.

New Hampshire: Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie
Alicia Benvenuti

Executive Chef Lacey Tokash with Sea Dog Brewing Company in Exeter said that while "pumpkin pie is very popular," she wouldn't describe it as being a Christmas "staple."

"Prime rib is very popular or any braised dishes, short ribs," she said. "A turkey dinner, all year round it will sell. [In the] middle of the summer, people will ask for a turkey dinner."

Tokash said she leans more toward seafood, such as "a good boiled lobster [or] Oysters Rockefeller."

New Jersey: Feast of the Seven Fishes

Johannes Botha, head chef at the Walpack Inn in Walpack Center, New Jersey, told the Washington Examiner the Feast of the Seven Fishes is a meal celebrated "predominantly in Italian families."

"Basically, [it's] seven dishes that consist out of fish dishes that's served on Christmas Eve," Botha said. "I've done this one year myself, which is a lot of work."

Botha said the Feast of the Seven Fishes represents Jesus turning bread and fish "into a ton of food for the crowds that came to listen to his sermon," adding that while the restaurant doesn't serve that, it provides customers with choices of fish.

"I'm sure if you wanted to order seven entrees of fish, we could do that for you," Botha said.

New York: Grape Pie

Executive Chef Francesco Gallo with the New York Restaurant located in the Catskills told the Washington Examiner that he has lived in New York for 12 years and has "never heard of a grape pie" before.

Gallo said he usually goes for a honey-glazed ham or a prime beef roast for Christmas.

"If I go more classic, I go for lasagna bolognese or tortellini," he said, describing them as being traditional dishes in Italy, where he is originally from. "It gives me the feeling of being back home."

Oklahoma: Cinnamon Rolls

Chef Zach Hutton from Scratch Kitchen & Cocktails in Norman, Oklahoma, said he felt that cinnamon rolls were more of a "Christmas morning sort of thing."

"I feel like fried chicken has always been a big part," Hutton said. "Just because it's easy, and you can feed a bunch of people with it."

Hutton said that "cinnamon rolls would probably be a solid representation of a Christmas morning," adding his family tends to celebrate "Christmas lunch instead of dinner."

His family usually celebrates Christmas lunch with "fried chicken, green bean casserole, cornbread stuffing, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, [and] obviously, canned cranberry sauce," he said.

Oregon: Organic Potatoes

Geoff Gunn, executive chef and general manager of the Bridgewater Bistro located in Astoria, Oregon, described organic potatoes as being a "rudimentary" dish.

Gunn said that crab is popular to eat during this time of year, noting that "especially here on the coast," there are "a lot of people who crab on their own."

"In this particular area, it's a nice treat to have at the dinner table," Gunn said. "I'd assume a lot of people would have it at their Christmas dinner."

Pennsylvania: Pork and Sauerkraut

Chef Andy Bellino from Irving Cliff Brewery in Honesdale said he "personally" believes the dish is disgusting, saying he would rather have lasagna for Christmas.

In addition to lasagna, he says he likes to have traditional dishes such as turkey and ham for his holiday meal.

Virginia: Mince Pies

"I've never had a mince pie," said Chef Walter Van Hart of the Ropewalk restaurant on Chincoteague Island.

Van Hart told the Washington Examiner many people on the island prefer to eat "bird, deer, and ducks" for their Christmas meal.

"We live on an island," he said.

People on the island also enjoy "oysters and clams," either fried or on the half-shell, Van Hart said.


Despite the reverence for tradition, chefs throughout the U.S. may adjust their dishes in light of recent setbacks the industry has suffered. Food prices have reached their highest levels in a decade due to the coronavirus pandemic and issues with the supply chain. As a result, prices of vegetable oil, sugar, and cereal have increased by 60%, 53.5%, and 27.3%, respectively, compared to last year, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said in October.

But whether ingredients are modified, all dishes are expected to be served in good taste.