Going to Brazil and want to know what Brazilian food to try? Or perhaps you want to make some traditional Brazilian dishes at home? We break down all the best Brazilian foods to have your own Brazilian barbecue in your backyard or to try when you visit South America’s most exciting country! So get your shopping list ready, this weekend calls for a feast of Brazilian food.
Best Traditional Brazilian Food
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There are few cities in the world that rival Rio de Janeiro’s beauty and energy. The people of Rio know how to party, making it one of the liveliest cities in South America. It is also a place to eat well.
We toured the city sampling everything from dinner at outstanding and Churrascaria to sipping on Brazil’s delicious national drink the Caipirinha. After two weeks of hearty eating in Rio de Janeiro and Iguazu Falls, we learned quite a bit about Brazilian dishes and had the extra notch in our belt to prove it! So let’s sample some of the best food in Brazil.
1. Brazilian Barbecue
Vegetarians beware, meat is king in Brazil. When I think of food in Brazil, the first thing that pops into my head is a visit to a Churrascaria (A Brazilian Grill) that serves an abundance of meat. If you are a Vegetarian, don’t read any further, instead check out our 15 tips for Easy Vegan Travel
If you want to go all out for a Brazilian-themed party, you must have choice cuts of meat. And lots of it! There are Brazilian Barbecues all around North America now so you can go out and sample some traditional Brazilian foods at a restaurant near you before you give it a go at home.
Churrascarias in Brazil
What can one expect at a Churrascaria? A belly so full you’ll be in a food coma for hours afterward. The meal begins with a huge buffet of vegetables, salads, sushi, and pasta. Don’t fill up too much here as the main meal hasn’t even been served yet. Want to try making Brazilian Cuisine at home? Get your copy of 65 Classic Recipes – The Food and Cooking of Brazil
Within minutes men dressed in crisp white shirts bring endless cuts of meats to your table slicing off pieces with precision perfection. When you make Brazilian food, include any type of meat you want from sausages to steaks, put them on metal skewers and they are ready to go. Check out our suggestions for where to stay in Rio.
Move over Mojito, the Caipirinha is set to take over cocktail lounges around the world. The Caipirinha is a refreshing lime-based cocktail blended with Brazil’s national spirit the cachaça,
Cachaça is a lot like rum but made from distilled sugar cane. If you can’t get your hands on cachaça, you can use rum, but your local liquor store should have some in stock. The popular choice is Pitu Cachaça. Grab some limes, sugar, and ice and that’s all you need!
It’s easy to make and I could write all about it, but watch our video on how to make a Caipirinha for a complete lesson on how to make you own Caipirinhas. What our video of how to make a Caipirinha here.
3. Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)
Who doesn’t love cheese? During our first meal in Brazil, our hosts told us we have to try the cheese bread. Made with cassava flour, this typical dish of Brazil is mouth-wateringly delicious!
After trying it at our next meal, we ate it again and again. Pão de queijo is a roll filled with cheese. Eat it while it’s hot. Many places took this dish one step further and skipped the bread and simply served us hunks of deep-fried cheese. It was heavenly.
- Interested in more than just the food of Brazil? Check out this post to understand the culture better: Pacifying Rio’s Favelas
Later in the evening, break out the Pasteis for some quick and delicious finger foods. These deep-fried treats are pastries filled with everything from cheese, fish, and meats and vegetables.
Fish balls are a popular choice that often had in Rio de Janeiro. Dip the pastries in hot sauce like Tabasco and you are good to go. If you want to learn how to make the pastry that you can fill with anything, check out this recipe. Loving Brazil Cuisine? You’ll love our guide to Greek Food Too!
5. Moqueca (Fish Stew)
Moqueca is a fish stew prepared in a clay pot. The fish is slow-cooked with coconut milk, diced tomatoes, garlic, and coriander. Fish can be any saltwater fish whitefish or make it something everyone will like with Shrimp! Make your own Brazilian fish stew recipe with this guide to making Moqueca
Traveling to Brazil? Pick up your copy of the Lonely Planet Brazil to help you with Brazilian food and travel tips
There are many choices for dessert in Brazil but the Brigadeiro is to die for. This rich, thick and gooey chocolate is a Brazilian chocolate truffle made from condensed milk, cocoa, and chocolate sprinkles. This will satisfy your sweet tooth indeed.
When it comes to trying street foods when we travel, we love it. Just make sure you only eat food that’s been cooked thoroughly and keep an eye out for crowds of locals. If it’s busy, the food will be fresh! Acarajé is a delicious treat made of crushed black-eyed peas that is deep-fried in palm oil and stuffed with pureed shrimp. Be sure to have a side of chili sauce to accompany it! Make them at home.
The traditional Brazilian feijoada is a stewed black bean dish cooked in beef and pork. This dish is considered the national dish of Brazil and you’ll find it on every buffet in Rio de Janeiro.
The black beans are mixed with salted pork or beef. But the good cuts are left for the churrascarias. The beans get all the trimmings like ears, feet and tails. If that doesn’t sound appetizing, just think sausage. Sausage is always stuffed with the bits of the animal. Add some rice and beans to the mix and you’ve got one fatty delicious dish! If you want the full recipe, check out BBC food
9. Coffee and Pastries
When we visited Rio de Janeiro, the Confeitaria Colombo located downtown was packed with locals enjoying high tea and pastries. Rio may be all things Latin, but this celebrated coffee shop was modeled after a traditional Parisian café.
I can understand why the people of Rio embraced the Parisian coffee culture, Brazil has the best coffee in the world. Brazil is the largest coffee producer in the world.
10. Hearts of Palm
Dave and I have had hearts of palm in the past, but we really fell in love with it in Brazil. Their hearts of palm salads were refreshing and delicious. Hearts of palm were served everywhere in Brazil and we took advantage of eating them.
So dust off that old can of hearts of palm you’ve had in your cupboards for years and create a hearts of palm salad. Mix iceberg lettuce with fresh vegetables, hearts of palm, olive oil, vinegarette dressing, and a little salt and pepper.