Brazil is one of the largest countries in the world, with a lot of diversity among its people. This is one reason why Brazilian cuisine is so unique: its mixture of cultures has spread to their meals.
The sheer size of Brazil means that there are differences in the cuisine by region. What is commonly eaten in one part of the country might not be so popular in another part.
With that said, there are some dishes that are popular all over the country. Here is my list of seventeen of the best Brazilian dishes, and how to make them.
17 Best Brazilian Recipes
This dish is unofficially considered Brazil’s national dish. Feijoada is often pulled out on game nights and other get-togethers, making it a true party food.
Feijoada is a type of black bean stew made from beans, meat, and rice. It’s also traditionally served with a side of oranges and vegetables, adding more nutrition to the meal.
Quindim is a custard-like dessert created with egg yolks and sugar, among other things. It’s very sweet and extremely rich, so it’s better as a treat than something to eat every day.
Quindim has its origins in the Afro-Brazilian population of Northeastern Brazil. The recipe’s use of egg yolks gives the dish a distinctive yellow color, making it stand out even more.
This dish is made from a roasted flour, traditionally either cassava flour or cornflour. It’s a bit like bread crumbs and usually served mixed in with other foods or as a side dish.
Farofa is gluten-free and tastes kind of like buttered toast. How it’s cooked and what it’s cooked with vary from region to region, but it always comes out delicious.
Tracing its roots to West Africa, acarajé is a fritter made from black beans that are often mixed with a kind of meat. Add some seasoning like chili powder or garlic before frying.
Not only does acarajé taste good, but it has a cultural significance. Acarajé was brought over from Africa where the dish is called Akara and is used in religious rituals.
Moqueca is a seafood stew with tomatoes, garlic, peppers, and coconut milk. It comes from Portuguese and Brazilian influences and was first made in southeastern Brazil.
Depending on the recipe, it takes just over a half-hour to prepare moqueca. The dish tends to be served with side dishes like rice, banana stew, or farofa
6. Bobó de camarão
If you’re looking for a dish that’s like chowder, bobó de camarão might just hit the spot. It’s also known as shrimp bobo and like many Brazilian dishes, it has African roots.
Bobó de camarão is made from shrimp, pureed cassava, coconut milk, and palm oil. The right type of palm oil is a bit hard to find in stores, but there are websites where it can be found.
A dessert that really sweetens the deal, Brigadieros are basically less sugary fudge balls coated in sprinkles. It’s a simple recipe that only needs a few minutes to cook.
Brigadieros are served as a birthday treat in Brazil. According to tradition, they were initially made to be served at rallies for a brigadier who was running for public office. He didn’t get the position, but the brigadieros stuck and became a popular dessert.
8. Pão de Queijo
Pão de Queijo means “cheese bread” in Portuguese. Technically, it’s closer to a hollowed-out pastry or to a French gougère than actual bread, but the name still stands.
These puffy, savory rolls are made with tapioca flour mixed with cheese, milk, eggs, and oil. It takes roughly half an hour to bake them.
If you’ve ever had a croquette, coxinhas are similar. They’re a savory chicken filling wrapped in dough and breadcrumbs. This is then shaped into a cone or teardrop and fried to perfection.
Chicken isn’t the only thing that goes into the filling; traditionally ingredients like onions and cheese are also used. Nowadays, ingredients such as nuts, peas, and mushrooms are also popular.
Pastel is the Brazilian version of a Hot Pocket, although probably healthier. Pasteis (yeah, that’s the plural in Brazil) are filled with savory foods, usually, meat or cheese, fried in a doughy coating.
Pasteis cook in around twenty minutes, making them a quick and easy snack food. They’re also great for game nights, cultural nights, and pot-luck parties.
Galinhada is a chicken and rice dish stew with vegetables, saffron, and other seasonings. It comes in two types, one with the chicken usually chopped into pieces, the other tends to have whole thighs or drumsticks and more local ingredients in it.
This dish has a distinctive orange color because of the saffron, which is the most expensive ingredient. The combination of rice, vegetables, and spices makes Galinhada a flavor-filled meal.
12. Picanha Steak
The beauty of barbecue is that it can be found worldwide. Brazilian barbecue is mainly made for roasting on a spit, like a shish-kebab or a rotisserie chicken.
Picanha is a cut of beef that was popularized in Brazil, so it only makes sense to use it in a Brazilian barbecue. It’s especially good when paired with chimichurri, an herb, and garlic sauce.
A food that is usually served during summer festivals, canjica is a cross between a pudding and cereal. It’s made from hominy, milk, cinnamon, and shredded coconut.
It takes a while to make canjica; the hominy must be soaked overnight, so be prepared for a good night’s sleep. Once you’re through with that, canjica is a very simple, sweet, dish.
Peanut butter meets maple candy, in a sense. Paçoca mixes sugar, crushed peanuts, and in some recipes, cookies together into a dough that you can easily roll into a tube or cut shapes out of.
Paçoca is traditionally served at Easter and other religious festivals. It comes from the indigenous cultures of Brazil and sure helps to satisfy the sweet tooth.
Pavê is a bit like tiramisu, or a layer cake. It’s alternating layers of cookies and a sugary cream mix that can be added to with layers of strawberries, chocolate, or bananas.
This rich dessert is often served at Christmas, fittingly because it’s so sweet. It will go down well at your Christmas party, so try it out!
16. Hearts of Palm Salad
Palms are common throughout South America and their “hearts,” which actually come from inside the trees, are used in a lot of recipes. Palm hearts are sold in supermarkets, usually in canned form.
Palm hearts have a nutty taste that lends itself well to a salad. It goes very well with onions, tomatoes, and an olive oil-based salad dressing.
17. Açaí Breakfast Bowl
Also known as Açaí na tigela, which translates to “Açaí in a bowl.” An Açaí bowl is a puree of fruit including Açaí, bananas, and fruit juice. Top it off with whole fruit, granola, or nuts to complete the dish.
This dish is great for the mornings. It’s simple, quick, healthy, and also vegan-friendly. And I almost forgot that it tastes great! That’s the best way to start your day.
I wish this list wasn’t limited to seventeen, because there are many other dishes out there. I hope you enjoyed this list and maybe even got a few new ideas to try.
Brazil is a unique blend of cultures and traditions that isn’t seen anywhere else in the world. Its influences and people, whether from Portugal, Africa, or indigenous peoples, continue to inspire their cuisine.