Are you traveling to Brazil and want to know which Brazilian food to try? Or would you like to prepare traditional Brazilian dishes at home? We break down the best Brazilian foods to have your own Brazilian barbecue in your back yard or to taste when visiting 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
There are few cities in the world that can match the beauty and energy of Rio de Janeiro. Rio residents know how to party, which makes them one of the liveliest cities in South America. It is also a place to eat well.
We toured the city and tried everything from dinner at the Outstanding and Churrascaria to Brazil’s delicious national drink, caipirinha. After two weeks of hearty food in Rio de Janeiro and the Iguazu Falls, we learned a lot about Brazilian dishes and had the extra class in our belts to prove it! So let’s try some of the best food in Brazil.
1. Brazilian barbecue
Vegetarians watch out, meat is king in Brazil. When I think of eating out in Brazil, the first thing that springs to mind is a visit to a churrascaria (a Brazilian grill) that serves an abundance of meats. If you are a vegetarian, read no further; instead, read our 15 Tips for Easy Vegan Travel
If you want to go all out at a Brazilian party, you need to have select cuts of meat. And a lot of it! Brazilian barbecues are now available all over North America, so you can try traditional Brazilian dishes at a restaurant near you before trying it at home.
Churrascariums in Brazil
What can you expect from a churrascaria? A stomach that is so full that you can lie in the food coma for hours afterwards. The meal starts with a huge buffet of vegetables, salads, sushi and pasta. Don’t overfill here as the main meal hasn’t even been served. Would you like to prepare Brazilian cuisine at home? Get Your Copy of 65 Classic Recipes – The Eating and Cooking of Brazil
Within minutes, men in crisp white shirts bring endless pieces of meat to your table and cut pieces with precise perfection. When you’re making Brazilian food, add any type of meat you want, from sausages to steaks, pin them on metal skewers and you’re done. Check out our suggestions for accommodations in Rio.
Move over mojito, the caipirinha is set to hit cocktail lounges around the world. The caipirinha is a refreshing lime-based cocktail mixed with Brazil’s national spirit cachaça,
Cachaça is similar to rum, but is made from distilled sugar cane. If you can’t get your hands on cachaça, rum can be used, but your local liquor store should have something in stock. The popular choice is pitu cachaça. Grab some limes, sugar, and ice cream and that’s all you need!
It’s easy to make and I could write anything about it, but watch our video on how to make a caipirinha for a full lesson on how to make your own caipirinhas. What’s our video on how to make a caipirinha, here.
Read about cool food around the world
3. Pão de Queijo (Brazilian cheese bread)
Who doesn’t love cheese? During our first meal in Brazil, our hosts told us we need to try the cheese bread. This typical Brazilian dish made from cassava flour is delicious!
After trying it on our next meal, we kept eating it. Pão de Queijo is a bun filled with cheese. Eat it while it’s hot. Many places went a step further with this dish, skipping the bread and simply serving us pieces of fried cheese. It was heaven.
- Interested in more than just the food of Brazil? For a better understanding of the culture, check out this post: Pacifying Rio’s Favelas
Later in the evening you can take out the pasteis for a quick and tasty finger food. These fried treats are pastries filled with cheese, fish, meat, and vegetables.
Fish balls are a popular choice that was often found in Rio de Janeiro. Dip the pastries in hot sauce like Tabasco and you’re good to go. If you want to learn how to make the dough you can fill with anything, check out this recipe. Do you love Brazilian 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 slowly cooked with coconut milk, diced tomatoes, garlic and coriander. Fish can be any saltwater fish, whitefish, or make something everyone likes with shrimp! Make your own Brazilian fish stew recipe using this how to make moqueca guide
Are you traveling to Brazil? Get your copy of Lonely Planet Brazil to help you with Brazilian food and travel tips
There are many options for dessert in Brazil but the Brigadeiro is to die for. This rich, thick, and sticky chocolate is a Brazilian chocolate truffle made from condensed milk, cocoa, and chocolate sprinkles. This will indeed satisfy your sweet tooth.
When it comes to trying street food while traveling, we love it. Just make sure that you only eat well-cooked food and keep an eye out for lots of locals. When it’s busy, the food is fresh! Acarajé is a delicious delicacy made from crushed black-eyed peas that is deep-fried in palm oil and filled with pureed prawns. Make sure you have a side dish of chili sauce with it! Make them at home.
The traditional Brazilian feijoada is a black bean braised dish cooked in beef and pork. This dish is considered the national dish of Brazil and can be found on every buffet in Rio de Janeiro.
The black beans are mixed with salted pork or beef. But the good cuts remain with the churrascariums. The beans get all the ingredients like ears, feet and tails. If that doesn’t sound appetizing, consider sausage. Sausage is always filled with bits of the animal. Add some rice and beans and you have a greasy delicious dish! For the full recipe, check out BBC Food
9. Coffee and pastries
When we visited Rio de Janeiro, downtown Confeitaria Colombo was full of locals enjoying high tea and pastries. Rio may be Latin, but this famous cafe was modeled after a traditional Parisian cafe.
I can understand why the people of Rio adopted the Parisian coffee culture, Brazil has the best coffee in the world. Brazil is the largest coffee producer in the world.
10. Heart of palm
Dave and I have had hearts of palms in the past, but we really fell in love with Brazil. Their palm salad hearts were refreshing and delicious. Palm hearts were served all over Brazil and we took advantage of it to eat them.
So dust off that old tin of palm hearts that you’ve had in your cupboards for years and create a palm heart salad. Mix the iceberg lettuce with the fresh vegetables, palm hearts, olive oil, vinegar dressing and a little salt and pepper.