Popular Brazilian Foods
Brazil is an incredibly diverse country – a melting pot of people, culture, and cuisine. Here, culinary influences from Portugal, Africa, and Japan intermingle with some of the world’s finest indigenous ingredients to create food that is as interesting as it is varied.
The diverseness of Brazilian cuisine can also be attributed to the vastness of the country. Brazil is enormous! It’s the largest country in South America. From the cosmopolitan cities in the Southeast to the wilds of the Amazon rainforest, each of its five regions has its own culinary story to tell – its own unique cuisine. So unique, in fact, that there’s only one ingredient these regions all have in common – the starchy cassava (yuca) root.
Here are 16 popular Brazilian foods found throughout the country, each one deserving of a place on any food lover’s bucket list.
- Açaí – Reddish-purple fruit from the Amazon that’s delicious in smoothies. It can also be mixed with other fruits & topped with granola.
- Beijinho de coco – coconut truffle made with condensed milk.
- Brigadeiro – Brazil’s version of the chocolate truffle, made from condensed milk, powdered chocolate, butter, and chocolate sprinkles to cover the outside layer.
- Coxinha – popular food in Brazil consisting of chopped or shredded chicken meat, covered in dough, molded into a shape resembling a chicken leg, battered and fried.
- Feijoada – Brazil’s most celebrated dish is a hearty black bean stew traditionally cooked with salted pork and beef. Its humble origins are believed to date back to the kitchens of sugar cane plantations where slaves would cook black beans with offcuts of meat such as pigs’ ears, feet, and tails. The rich, smoky stew is traditionally served with rice, chicharrones, collard greens, and topped with toasted cassava flour called farofa. It’s not just Brazil’s national dish, it’s a celebratory and edible institution.
- Farofa – a tasty blend of fried cassava flour. Sometimes eaten with eggs, and banana, and always served with feijoada.
- Fruta do conde – also known as sugar-apple or custard apple, the flesh is fragrant and sweet, creamy white to light yellow, and resembles and tastes like custard. How do you eat it? Cut it in half and use a spoon and scoop out the awesomeness. Just don’t eat the seeds.
- Mandioca frita – similar to french fries but made with fried yuca instead of potatoes. Yuca, also known as cassava, is the only ingredient used in every region of Brazil.
- Moqueca – a mix of saltwater fish like shark and swordfish cooked slowly in a terra-cotta pot with coconut milk, tomatoes, onions, garlic, coriander, and some palm oil.
- Paçoca – Brazilian candy made of ground peanuts, cassava flour, sugar, and salt. It is known for its distinct dry texture and sweet taste and is one of the most beloved Brazilian candies.
- Pão de queijo – inexpensive cheese buns often sold from street vendors, in snack shops, and in grocery stores.
- Pastel – fried pastry pocket which can be filled with cheese, meat, shrimp, bean broth, or nothing at all.
- Picanha – In Brazil, the most prized cut of meat tends to be the picanha, which is most accurately translated as the rump cap.
- Quindim – popular Brazilian baked dessert made from sugar, egg yolks, and ground coconut. This custard is usually presented as an upturned cup with a glistening surface and intense yellow color.
- Romeu e Julieta – a dessert made of guava paste and soft textured white cheese.
- Tangerines – a popular choice at Rio’s many fresh juice bars.
No matter where your trip to Brazil takes you, make time to seek out these popular Brazilian foods. Your taste buds will thank you!
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Laura Goyer, CCTP
Digital Content Creator
Laura is a world traveler and culinary travel professional on a mission to help busy prime-time women find the best local food when they travel.