What are you supposed to eat on Good Friday?

Good Friday is the Friday right before Easter Sunday in the Christian faith. It commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. Many Christians observe Good Friday by fasting, prayer, repentance, and meditation on the agony and suffering of Christ on the cross.

But what are you actually supposed to eat on Good Friday if you are observing the traditional fast? What foods are acceptable and what should you avoid? Here is a quick overview of the traditional Good Friday fast and the guidelines around food.

What is the Good Friday fast?

The traditional Good Friday fast within the Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Methodist traditions involves abstaining from eating meat on Good Friday. Many Catholics also opt to have only one full meal on Good Friday and two smaller meals that together do not equal a full meal.

The purpose of fasting is to intentionally set aside distractions and mortify the body as a form of penance and remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. By limiting food intake, a fast can help Christians identify with the suffering of Jesus in his final hours.

Does everyone have to fast on Good Friday?

Fasting on Good Friday is considered a tradition, not an obligatory requirement in most denominations. However, some Christian traditions do require abstaining from meat on Good Friday.

Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are required to fast and abstain from meat on Good Friday, as well as Ash Wednesday. This is an obligatory requirement under canon law, unless health reasons prevent them from fasting. Pregnant and nursing mothers are usually exempt.

Orthodox Christians also traditionally abstain from meat, dairy, fish with backbones, oil, and wine on Good Friday, in order to enter into a full fast from sundown on Thursday to sundown on Friday.

For other Christian denominations, such as Protestants, fasting on Good Friday or abstaining from meat is considered an optional tradition, not a requirement. Christians can choose to fast or not fast as an act of devotion, as their health allows.

What foods are typically eaten on Good Friday?

Here are some of the foods that are considered appropriate to eat during the Good Friday fast:

– Fruits and vegetables – These foods are always permitted, even when fasting

– Grains – Breads, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc.

– Dairy products – Milk, cheese, eggs, butter are usually permitted outside of stricter Orthodox fasts

– Fish – Many Catholics will eat fish instead of meat

– Vegetarian dishes – Meals made without meat, such as vegetarian curries or lentil dishes

– Seafood such as shrimp, lobster, scallops

– Meat alternatives like tofu are also good protein options when fasting from meat

What foods should you avoid on Good Friday?

Traditionally, you should avoid the following foods on Good Friday if observing a fast:

– Meat – Beef, pork, chicken, lamb and other meats from animals with warm blood

– Milk, cheese, eggs – Avoid during Orthodox fasting periods

– Fish with backbones – Not permitted during Orthodox fasts

– Oil or fried foods – These are restricted in Orthodox traditions

– Alcohol – Some Christians abstain from alcohol on Good Friday

So in summary, warm-blooded meat and rich, indulgent foods like fried dishes with oil or cheese tend to be avoided on Good Friday fasting menus. Simple vegan, vegetarian or fish dishes are therefore quite common.

Traditional fasting foods eaten on Good Friday

Christians observing Good Friday fasting traditions have developed particular recipes over the years that make use of the simple, non-meat foods permitted during fasts. Here are some of the most traditional fasting meals eaten on Good Friday:

Hot cross buns

Hot cross buns are a spiced, sweet bun marked with an icing cross on top. They originated in the medieval period as a fasting treat for Lent and Good Friday. The cross symbolizes the crucifixion cross.

Fish dishes

In Catholic tradition, fish is permitted on fast days like Good Friday. Traditional fish entrees like baked salmon, fish tacos or fish and chips are popular Good Friday meals.


Seafood such as shrimp, scallops or lobster are permitted for Catholics on Good Friday and make a nice fasting-friendly main dish.


Eggs can be eaten on Good Friday in Catholic and Protestant traditions. Frittatas, quiches and omelets make easy meat-free meals.

Soup and salad

Vegetable soups and green salads are satisfying meatless Good Friday options. Minestrone, tortilla soup, or lentil soup pair nicely with a fresh garden salad.


A nice simple meat-free sandwich option on Good Friday is good old peanut butter and jelly, perfect for kids and adults alike.

Lentil or bean dishes

Hearty lentil stews, curries, or bean dishes like chili provide protein when abstaining from meat.

Veggie pizza/pasta

Cheese pizza or pasta with marinara sauce makes a convenient, customizable meatless meal for large families observing Good Friday.

Fruit and nuts

Fresh fruits like berries and dried fruits paired with unsalted nuts make a healthy, filling snack when fasting.

Good Friday fasting meal ideas

Here are full menu ideas for your Good Friday fast breakfast, lunch and dinner:


– Oatmeal with berries and nuts
– Peanut butter toast
– Avocado toast
– Vegetarian breakfast tacos or burritos
– Potato hash with eggs
– Veggie omelet or frittata
– Cold cereal and milk
– Yogurt parfait with granola and fruit


– Grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup
– Tuna salad sandwich with chips
– Bean and cheese quesadillas
– Hummus and veggie whole wheat wraps
– Lentil soup with pita bread
– Greek salad with chickpeas
– Pasta salad with cheese and veggies
– Egg salad sandwich on rye


– Shrimp scampi with angel hair pasta
– Lentil shepherd’s pie
– Three bean vegetarian chili
– Pesto pasta primavera
– Frittata with potatoes and spinach
– Vegetable pad Thai
– Cheesy broccoli and rice casserole
– Seafood paella

Kid-friendly recipes for Good Friday

If you are cooking for a family with kids observing the Good Friday fast, these recipes go over well with young picky eaters:

Grilled cheese and tomato soup

This classic kid meal is perfect on Good Friday. Make an ooey-gooey grilled cheese sandwich with their favorite cheese then pair it with a steaming bowl of creamy tomato soup for dipping.


Fill a tortilla with cheese and veggies or beans then grill to melty perfection. Let kids assemble their own quesadilla with their choice of fillings. Great with avocado or sour cream on the side.


Make individual veggie pizzas on whole wheat English muffins or pitas for a fun, interactive pizza night. Top with sauce, cheese and let kids pick their own toppings.

Mac and cheese

Nothing satisfies like ooey-gooey mac and cheese. To make it more filling, add in pureed butternut squash or peas and top with breadcrumbs.


Let kids get creative building their own veggie tacos with beans, rice, cheese, lettuce, tomato and other fun taco bar toppings.


Bean or lentil veggie chili over a baked potato, cornbread or rice pleases kids and adults. Top with cheese and sour cream.


Don’t forget snacks! Kids love dips with vegetables or pita, trail mixes, smoothies, and ants on a log (celery with peanut butter and raisins).

Desserts for Good Friday

Round out your Good Friday fast with some simple sweet treats:

Hot cross buns

These traditional spiced buns marked with an icing cross are a must-have on Good Friday. Enjoy warmed with butter.

Fruit crisps

For a simple, healthier dessert, bake apple, peach, or berry crisps. Top fruit with an oat topping and bake.

Chocolate pudding

Rich chocolate pudding is a crowd-pleasing dessert. Bonus points if you make it with avocado for extra creaminess.

Pretzels with peanut butter

For a salty, sweet treat, dip pretzels into peanut butter or Nutella. Kids will gobble these up.

Trail mix cookies

Make an easy no-bake trail mix cookie with oats, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk.

Fruit and yogurt parfaits

Layer vanilla yogurt and fresh fruit like berries in a glass. Top with granola for crunch.

Oatmeal cookies

Chewy old-fashioned oatmeal cookies with raisins make the perfect simple dessert on Good Friday.


Good Friday is an important day on the Christian calendar to reflect and fast in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifce. While fasting practices vary across denominations, most involve abstaining from meat and eating simple, wholesome fasting foods.

Traditional recipes like hot cross buns, fish, soups, eggs, and fruit and nut desserts are appropriate for Good Friday meals. With a little planning, you can honor the sacrificial meaning of Good Friday through fasting while still enjoying nourishing, satisfying meat-free meals with your family.

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