How to make a Mexican Christmas Salad Recipe

A layered Mexican Christmas Salad in a glass trifle bowl

Have you ever made a Mexican Christmas Salad for the holidays?

I never knew this was “a thing” until I was challenged to redo a recipe from Lea Ann at Cooking on the Ranch.

I researched the Ensalada de Nochebuena, which is Spanish for Christmas Salad. According to Hispanic Kitchen,

Although many variations exist, three ingredients are at the core: beets, pomegranate and jicama.

The root vegetable – jicama is also known as "Mexican potato," so it's an appropriate member.

Beets are included for color along with pomegranate seeds sprinkled across the top. Apples, oranges, and sometimes bananas round out the list.

I took Lea Ann’s advice and made this Christmas Eve Salad a chopped salad recipe for my Christmas eve dinner.

Since I felt this festive Mexican Christmas eve salad reminded me of an English trifle, I arranged it in my trifle bowl.

My trifle bowl is from Pampered Chef, but Anchor Hocking makes a very attracted footed trifle bowl.

If you want a trifle bowl with a lid to take to a potluck or to a relatives home for Christmas Eve, try these trifle bowls with lids. And don’t forget the salad tongs for serving!

Closeup of a Mexican Christmas Eve Salad in a glass bowl with layers of lettuce, beets, jicama, oranges, and pomegranate seeds.

My version of Mexican Christmas Salad

Lea Ann’s version Christmas eve salad recipe uses pomegranate seeds, romaine lettuce, peanuts, oranges, jicama, along with red and golden beets. I’ve seen other recipes use pepitas (pumpkin seeds), apples, bananas, and pine nuts.

Keeping Christmas nut free: I kept pretty true to her Mexican Christmas salad recipe, but omitted the peanuts due to my daughter’s nut allergy.

Pepitas: I served the pepitas on the side, since my kids aren’t crazy about them.

Jicama: We all love jicama. But if you can’t find it at your grocery store, you can substitute whole water chestnuts since they’re white and crunchy, too.

Where to place the beets: Next time I make this, I’ll put the beets on the bottom so they don’t run and spoil the look of the layer below them.

Dressing: For the dressing, most recipes call for Crème Mexicana, which is Mexican sour cream. If you cannot find it in your grocery store or want to use something lighter, use nonfat Greek yogurt instead. I found Lea Ann’s version super thick, so I thinned it with rice vinegar.

Vegan or Dairy Free? If you want to keep your Mexican Christmas Eve Salad vegan or dairy free, use my vegan sour cream instead of Crème Mexicana. It’s so tasty, you’ll never believe it’s not sour cream!

How much salad? Finally, I doubled Lea Ann’s recipe so the layered Mexican Christmas Eve salad would fit in my trifle bowl.

A layered Mexican Christmas Salad in a glass bowl, a dish of dressing, and salad tongs.

How to smoke beets for Christmas eve salad

Have you ever had smoked beets? Amazing! If you have a smoker, you should try this. If not, regular canned beets are fine for the Christmas Eve Salad.

While you can roast beets in the oven using my method for cooking and peeling beets, I love smoking beets in my electric smoker. Here’s how:

1. Set smoker to 275 degrees F. Add your favorite type of wood chips. And don’t forget to add water to the drip pan!

2. Coat an oven safe roasting pan with cooking spray. (Make sure your pan will fit inside your smoker.)

3. Remove beet tops from beets and set aside.

4. Wash beets. Cut into quarters and place in your roasting pan.

5. Place roasting pan in your smoker and cook for 3 hours or until the beets are soft when pricked with a knife or fork.

6. Remove from smoker and let cool.

7. Peel skin off beats with a paring knife.

More salad recipes

Here are some tasty salads to enjoy during the holidays or year round:

Brussel Sprouts Salad with Cranberries

Kale Salad with Fruity Vinaigrette

Turkey Apricot Rice Salad!

Pasta Salad with Roasted Vegetables

A layered Mexican Christmas Salad in a glass trifle bowl

Layered Mexican Christmas Eve Salad Recipe

Ingredients

For salad:

  • 6 red beets, smoked, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 romaine heart, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small jicama, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 navel oranges, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 (5.3 ounce) containers pomegranate arils

For dressing:

  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Crème Mexicana
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 canned chipotle chilies, minced
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar

For serving:

  • Pepitas - optional (pumpkin seeds)

Directions

For Mexican Christmas salad:

  1. Layer ingredients in your trifle bowl in the order listed. For fun you may want to break up the romaine lettuce into two layers.
  2. Since beets have a tendency to run, you may want to have them as the bottom layer.

For Mexican Christmas salad dressing:

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine ingredients and stir until blended.
  2. Serve on the side.
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Servings: Serves 6 to 8
  • Serving size: 1/6 to 1/8 of recipe

Originally posted June 10, 2013, December 10, 2016, and December 8, 2017. Updated with new pictures and information.

How to make a Mexican Christmas Salad Recipe

15 thoughts on “How to make a Mexican Christmas Salad Recipe

  1. Pamela Morse

    This is incredibly lovely. I am going to make this with a 9 year old who is coming for lunch tomorrow ..she will enjoy creating it, and then she will eat it!!! Fun. Thanks for a great idea!

    Reply
  2. Kristina

    Hello, i don’t know jicama and i am unsure, if i really could get it here. Any idea , what could be used instead?

    Reply
    1. Anne-Marie Nichols Post author

      You could try water chestnuts, which are canned and can be found in the Asian section of many markets to make stir fry dishes. They’re crunchy and you don’t need to cook them, so they’d have the same taste and mouth feel as jicama.

      Reply
  3. Miz Helen

    Our Beets are just about ready to harvest in our garden and this will be a great recipe to try, it looks delicious. Hope you are having a great week.
    Miz Helen
    Group B SRC

    Reply
  4. Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch)

    I love what you’ve done with this salad, it looks beautiful in that bowl. Makes me want to run out and buy a trifle bowl. We’re having temps in the high 90’s today and I’d love to have a big bowl of that salad to snack on … all day long. I think it’s so interesting that you smoked the beets. I don’t have a smoker, so will click on your link and check out what kind you have. I’ve been threatening to buy one. Nice cooking with you in SRC.

    Reply

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