Traditional Brazilian Food

All the top food and drinks you need to try when visiting Brazil

Brazil covers almost half of South America, boasting landscapes from glorious beaches to dense rainforests. It is a cultural melting pot of indigenous, European and African cultures all of whose heritage and foods combine. This combination makes for an incredible diversity of ingredients, making Brazilian food culture one of the world’s most exciting cuisines. It continues to baffle us that traditional Brazilian food hasn’t really been transported globally yet.

There are so many great dishes and drinks to try while you’re in Brazil. The only issue is that it may start to affect your figure on the beaches! Thankfully the Brazilians have a much healthier attitude to body-shapes on the beach than us Scots.

If you have found yourself wondering “what is traditional Brazilian food” then all your questions are about to be answered. Our guide will help you navigate any trip to Brazil, ensuring you get the best of Brazilian cuisine. Here we take you through all the top traditional Brazilian food facts. Your trip really isn’t complete until you’ve tried everything on this list. Be warned, there’s a lot of meat coming your way!

Staples  |  Meat  |  Seafood  |  Snacks  |  Drinks  |  Desserts

Staples of Traditional Brazilian Food

Cassava is a very popular staple ingredient in traditional Brazilian food


Cassava is a woody shrub that is native to South America. It is widely cultivated throughout Latin America as well as sub-Saharan Africa. Globally, around 800 million people rely on cassava as their primary staple.

As you travel around Brazil and, indeed, most of Latin America you will see cassava in many different forms. Although not in its raw form as that is poisonous. So whilst you won’t eat it on its own, it is an important staple Brazilian food to get to grips with.

The starchy, tuberous roots are a fantastic source of carbohydrates and are very versatile. They can be boiled, fried, steamed, grilled, mashed, baked, chucked in stews, and dried then ground down to flour.

Tapioca is the name given to the flour of cassava. It is commonly used for desserts as well as seen in the ever-trendy bubble tea.

Be warned though, the smell of cassava in its raw form when being ground for flour packs a punch if you’re not used to it. It certainly floored us the first time we smelled it. But, like all things, it quickly becomes normal.

Cassava is usually an accompaniment to meat and is seasoned with lime and spice.

Katie and Matt, authors of The Plate Unknown

The Plate Unknown

Hey there! We are Katie & Matt, the duo who love food - and learning about it even more!

We have worked in the food industry for 30 years combined and are set to travel the world to continue learning about the food of the world.

Read more about us here.

Brazilian Meat Dishes

The most famous of the traditional Brazilian food is Churrasco


If you’re a vegetarian, look away now. Churrasco is the Brazilian BBQ method of placing meat on skewers and roasting it over an open fire. If you’ve ever been to a Brazilian steak house, you’ll have had churrasco. The staff parade large skewers of meat through the restaurant to entice the diners and slices are cut off directly onto your plate.

Churrasco is also known as “Rodizio”. This is where the meat is usually served as an “all you can eat” style experience. Here, whilst beef is the favourite, you’ll also find heart and liver as well as chicken, veal, lamb and pork.

Your meat will come with some sides of farofa, fried potatoes, plantain and rice. As well as many fiery sauces to dip your meat in so you can control how hot you want to go based on how much you want to dunk.

The most traditional Brazilian food, feijoada


Feijoada, Brazil’s national dish, is a stew of pork and black beans. Struggling for the pronunciation of feijoada? Have a go at: fay-zhoo-ah-da and you will be fluent in the traditional Brazilian food names in no time.

This feijoada history is thought to originate in the 1600s on a sugarcane plantation in Recife, North-Eastern Brazil. The name comes from feijão, which is Portuguese for beans.

Although served across Brazil, feijoada is more revered in Rio de Janeiro. Many will even claim that the dish originates from there. Typically eaten on Saturday afternoons, served alongside large amounts of cachaça – a match made in heaven. This is seriously hearty stuff and a nap is highly recommended for afterwards.

Stuffed, cheesey Brazilian bread sandwich.


Originating in Sao Paulo, the Bauru is a crusty roll with the inside removed. This hollow space is stuffed with pickles, beef, melted cheese and tomatoes. Basically, the sandwich king. Bauru was created by Casemiro Pinto Neto, also known as Bauru after his hometown. He was a law student who ordered off-menu, creating this unique sandwich, every time he dined at the Ponte Chic restaurant in Sao Paulo.

It gained many fans among footballers and politicians who also frequented Ponte Chic. So, it quickly became the best selling item at the restaurant.

You’ll find a few variations on the classic with ham used instead of beef, and sliced bread instead of the crusty roll. But we believe the classics are the best for these things.

Picanha is a highly sought after beef cut in Brazil


Picanha is a cut of beef much prized and sought after in Brazil. It is known as rump cap in the UK and sirloin cap in the US. Taken from the back end of the cow above the butt where it sits next to a fat cap. It has the rich flavour of rump steak with the bonus of the fat around the outside.

There is very little fat in the meat itself so it must be cooked perfectly to ensure it isn’t tough. Commonly used for Churrasco and found in any churrascarias worth visiting.

The name comes from the poles cattle ranchers used to prod the cattle in Portugal and Spain, usually in the rump area. This technique was brought over to Brazil and used by the cattle ranchers of Brazil.

Traditional Brazilian street food, deep-fried snack: Coxinha


You want deep-fried street snacks? We hear you and are so there with you! And you’re sure to hit all your deep-fried cravings with coxinha. Coxinha is a delicious croquette of chicken meat and cream cheese. This is shaped to resemble a chicken drumstick, breaded then deep-fried. Is that your heart singing, or is it ours?

This wonderful savoury snack originated in Sao Paulo in the 19th century. It was a way of using the less desirable chicken parts and was sold to workers in factories.

Now, you will find it in snack bars called lanchonetes, street stalls, and bakeries across Brazil. The chicken can be flavoured with coriander, lime, onion and garlic. Plus, it is usually served with the obligatory fiery dip or garlic mayo. Glorious.

Arroz Carreteiro is a hearty dish much-loved by gauchos

Arroz Carreteiro

Arroz Carreteiro is a hearty rice dish favoured by Gauchos, cattle ranchers, whilst they travel. It is incredibly popular in Southern Brazil.

To make arroz carreteiro, dried beef was traditionally used. Now, it is more commonly made with leftovers from barbecues.

In addition to the rice and beef, there will be garlic, onions, peppers, sausages and parsley. Grated cheese (often parmesan) is the final touch, added just before serving.

Vaca Atolada is one of the more traditional Brazilian food dishes

Vaca Atolada

Vaca Atolada is a beef rib dish made with onions, garlic, tomatoes, chillies, parsley, cassava and ground urucum seed. The meat is marinated before cooking, then covered in a thick sauce. This thickness gives rise to the other name of this dish: “cow stuck in the mud”.

This dish is very popular in the interior of Brazil. You will usually find it served with rice and sometimes a salad on the side. Be prepared it can pack some serious heat.

Mocoto is a Brazilian stew of cow’s feet, beans and vegetables


Mocotó is a stew made from cow’s feet, beans and vegetables. The name, mocotó, comes from the Kimbundu word mbokotó. Kimbundu is the national language of Angola so you can guess where this dish comes from.

Slaves made the stew from pieces of the cow that their owners threw out. The feet add an intense richness to the stew but require a lot of boiling.

Although eaten as a “winter warmer” in modern Portugal, Brazilians need less warming up. So, instead, this is an “end-of-night” hangover preventer or first thing in the morning hangover cure.

Personally, I think I’d struggle to eat cow foot stew with a brutal hangover. So probably best to follow my mum’s advice: prevention is better than cure.

A complex Brazilian starter or a snack at street food stalls


Arrumadinho is a complex traditional Brazilian food, usually served for starters. The essential parts of this dish are: sliced, sun-dried beef; diced and mixed vegetable vinaigrette; beans, typically black-eyed peas; and farofa – a toasted cassava flour mixture.

Clarified butter coats all the ingredients before being neatly arranged and served on a plate. The four elements of arrumadinho can be either mixed or consumed as individual dishes. A plate of arrumadinho is usually shared by a couple or a group of people.

The dish can usually be found in the northeast of Brazil, in the state of Pernambuco. This is where it is believed to have originated. You will often find arrumadinho sold at food stands as a snack, but it is also commonly served as a starter in more up-scale restaurants.

A staple of traditional Brazilian food.

Carne de Sol

A Northern Brazilian staple, Carne de Sol is heavily salted, sun-dried meat. It is sometimes also called as carne de sereno or jabá. Literally translated, carne de sol means meat of the sun.

So, what is this sun meat? Traditionally, it is beef or goat meat used and preserved. Credit for the carne de sol preparation method goes to the cattle ranchers of Brazil’s hinterlands. However, people have been preserving meat in a similar way for millennia.

You will find this meat all over Brazil. When it’s not found in a stew, you will see it grilled and served with coalho cheese and a thick gruel made from manioc flour or boiled cassava.

Escondidinho is a traditional Brazilian food, similar to British cottage pie


I look at this and can’t help but think “that’s cottage pie”. And there are certainly some similarities.

Originally this traditional Brazilian food was called escondidinho de carne seca. To make the dish, a combination of dried and salted meat is topped with mashed potatoes.

Since potatoes are indigenous to South America, it is very possible that a version of this dish existed long before Cottage Pie became a thing in the UK. But, we digress.

You will find versions of Escondidinho made with beef, chicken, pork or prawns and the potatoes are normally topped with grated cheese.

The Brazilian version uses a lot more spices than a British cottage pie. So, it’s almost certainly the superior dish of the two.

Cachorro Quente: Brazil's answer to hot dogs

Cachorro Quente

Cachorro quente: Brazillian hot dogs!

Most commonly you will find cachorro quente served as the usual hot dog components of the soft bread roll and link sausage but also topped with minced beef in sauce and cheese. However, there is an almost unlimited number of toppings which vary from region to region.

Some of my favourite topping options are pico de gallo, mashed potatoes and grated carrots.

Feijão Tropeiro is a favourite of cattle ranchers in Minas Gerais

Feijão Tropeiro

Here we have another dish from the Minas Gerais region of Brazil. Feijão Tropeiro is a favourite of the region’s cattle ranchers (tropeiros). The key elements to this Brazilian dish are beans, dried meat and manioc flour. Herbs, spices and vegetables can also be added if desired. The exact recipe will vary massively from region to region depending on what is available and regional tastes.

The origin of the dish is thought to be from Colonial Brazil. During this time, the tropeiros would sell from horseback and took manioc flour, beans and dried meat as food for long journeys.

Popular Brazilian dish, galinhaha, stew of chicken and rice


Galinhada comes from the Portuguese word “galinha” meaning chicken. This stew of chicken and rice is popular across Brazil but particularly in the states of Goiás and Minas Gerais.

Although commonly found in restaurants, this is mostly a home-cooked family dish. Every family will have a slightly different recipe which probably goes back generations, having been perfected over time.

Popular Brazilian Seafood Dishes

Celebrate Brazilian food culture with a bowl of moqueca


You can’t have all that coastline without having some awesome seafood dishes! Moqueca is a wonderful celebration of Brazilian food culture: a stew of fish, lobster and prawn (or some combination of those), palm oil, coconut milk and vegetables. This is all cooked in clay pots then served over rice.

The Portuguese brought coconuts to Brazil and the use of palm oil came from the African slaves so this is a true colonial dish. You will find variations of this dish throughout Brazil such as Moqueca Baiana from the Bahia region in the North-East of the country or Moqueca Capixaba from Espirito Santo.

Moqueca is best enjoyed with crusty bread for mopping up the sauce!

Vatapa is a very popular, traditional Brazilian food


One of the more famous dishes in Brazil, Vatapá is rich, hefty and bursting with tropical flavour. It is made from stale bread, fish, prawns, manioc flour, palm oil and cashew nuts. This dish is often eaten with rice or as a filling in acarajé fritters.

Though the dish has very obvious West African roots, historians agree it was probably created in Bahia, Brazil.

Tacaca, a fiery Northern Brazilian soup with prawns


Not for the faint-hearted, Tacacá is a fiery soup from Northern Brazil that is not just filling but will also make your lips numb. It is made with tucupí (broth made from manioc starch), large dried prawns, wild Amazonian basil, hot yellow chilli peppers and jambú – a leafy plant with mild anaesthetic properties.

To make the broth base, tucupí, the juice is extracted from a specific variety of sour cassava (manioc). This is then boiled before being left to ferment to eliminate the high levels of cyanide it possesses in its raw form. After the fermentation process is over, the resulting sauce is distinguished by a yellowish colour and an intensely acidic flavour.

The mouth-numbing sensation of the soup comes from the jambú plant. Aside from being used in cooking, it also has a long history as a traditional folk remedy in Northern Brazil. Here, the soup is typically sold in the afternoon, usually by female vendors called tacacazeiras.

Tacacá is usually served in hollowed out gourds or, occasionally, a ceramic bowl. To eat, just sip your soup directly from the bowl. The first sip might be a little overpowering, but go back for more and you won’t be disappointed.

Bobó de Camarão is a Brazilian stew of cassava and prawns

Bobó de Camarão

Bobó de Camarão is another dish hailing from the Bahia region of Brazil. It is a stew made from pureed cassava (bobó), prawns, coconut milk and red palm oil. The word “bobó” comes from the Ewe people of what is now Southern Ghana, who were brought across on the slave ships. Traditionally, this dish was made with beans. However, modern bobó de camarão doesn’t contain beans as Afro-Brazilians enthusiastically took to cassava root.

Normally you will find bobó de camarão served with rice. It is a staple dish of many restaurants, even outside the Bahia region.

Traditional Brazilian Snack Food

Brazilian cheese, Queijo Minas Frescal

Queijo Minas

Queijo minas is an unpasteurised cows milk cheese made in Minas Gerais. It has a spongy texture and mild salty flavour. Typically the cheese is used in all sorts of Brazilian food from pastries to sandwiches.

You will find queijo minas in three different varieties: frescal (fresh), meia-cura (half-aged) and curado (aged). The frescal variety is served 4-10 days after preparation and has a more granular texture. Frescal is mainly found in sandwiches and crepes as it isn’t ideal for cooking with. Curado, on the other hand, is when all the moisture has evaporated and the cheese has taken on a slightly yellow tinge. This style is used in pastries and the famous pao de quijo. Its stronger, slightly bitter taste and firmer structure lends itself well to cooking.

Pao de Quiejo is Brazilian cheese bread

Pão de Quiejo

Pão de Quiejo quite literally means “cheese bread” – so a combination of life’s two greatest pleasures. This breakfast/snack staple came from the African slaves, as so many Brazilian foods did. They would grind the leftover cassava into a fine powder, mix it with water, then roll this into balls for baking. As slaves weren’t given much food this is how the recipe remained until slavery ended in Brazil in the late 19th century.

With a whole new set of ingredients now available to Afro-Brazilians, they added cheese in Menas Gerais which is just inland from Rio. This is the main dairy producing area of Brazil, thus Pão de Queijo was born.

Acarajé is the most popular traditional Brazilian street food in Salvador


In Bahia, and more specifically Salvador, Acarajé is the most popular dish in traditional Brazilian street food. It is made from deep-fried cowpeas, similar to black-eyed peas but without the terrible music association. The peas are shelled, formed into a ball and deep-fried in palm oil. Then they are split open and stuffed with flavourful pastes. Then served with a tomato salad or, of course, hot dipping sauce.

Acarajé started being sold on the streets by Nigerian slaves in colonial Brazil. They are another great example of West African influence on Brazilian food.

Brazilian pamonhas are similar to Mexican tamales


Pamonhas are very similar to the more famous tamales in Mexico. This popular Brazilian dish is made from fresh corn. Grated and juiced corn, to be precise, is used to produce a paste which makes the centre of these parcels. Banana leaves then seal this paste inside before being boiled.

You will find both sweet and savoury pamonhas, with sausage and cheese being the most common savoury elements added. Unlike in Mexico, where tamales form a key part of the street food scene and are a common breakfast item, pamonhas are rarely seen on the streets of Brazil. Instead, they are more common in restaurants.

Pastel is a popular traditional Brazilian food, served as a snack


When looking for traditional Brazilian food, you are sure to come across Pastel. As one of the most common Brazilian snacks, pastels are stuffed and deep-fried rectangular or triangular pastries. These are most commonly a savoury item, stuffed with meat, cheese, prawns or combinations of these things. Sweet varieties do exist but they are not nearly as common as savoury ones.

No one is entirely sure where these delicious pouches come from. However, the most popular theory is that they developed from Chinese spring rolls which were introduced to Brazil by Japanese immigrants.

The shape and fillings change but the general idea of thin crispy pastry stuffed with deliciousness stays the same.

Farofa is a popular dish, served hand-in-hand with Churrasco


Farofa is probably the most common side dish to churrasco. It is a simple dish of toasted manioc flour (cassava) mixed through with things like onions, olives, nuts, crispy bacon, dried beef or herbs.

This has been a staple in Brazil since time began, it seems. Farofa is so popular and widespread you’ll often find a shaker on the table filled with farofa called a “farinheira”.

Traditional Brazilian Drinks

Of all the Brazilian food and drinks, cachaca may be the most famous


Brazil’s favourite drink, cachaça, is made from fermented sugar-cane juice, like rum. It was brought to Brazil from Madeira. There, the Portuguese had been growing sugar cane and making distilled alcohol from it for a long time.

There are 2 types of cachaça: white (branca or prata) and aged (amarela or ouro). The white cachaça is bottled immediately after distillation. This is the most common variety found in Brazil and used for the famous caipirinha. Aged cachaça is considered a more premium spirit. It is usually aged in oak casks for a year or more to smooth out the spirit and is more frequently enjoyed neat.

Alcoholic red-wine based Brazilian drink


Catuaba is the name given to this alcoholic, red wine-based drink. The red wine is mixed with guarana and catuaba, from which the drink takes its name. This slightly sweet, cheap drink is popular for being easy drinking. Usually served on its own over ice or used as a mixer.

Guarana is a native plant of Brazil, the effects of which are essentially the same as caffeine. Whilst catuaba is another native Brazilian plant that has long been used by the Tupi people for it’s various supposed health benefits, including as an aphrodisiac.

A sweet red wine infused with caffeine and herbs? This is Brazilian Buckfast! For those unaware, buckfast is a sweet “tonic wine” popular in Scotland. It is made from red wine loaded with caffeine. Despite being made in the South of England, almost all consumption is in Glasgow. So much so that the monks of Buckfast Abbey recently made a huge donation to several Glasgow city charities. So, for a couple of Scots (and Katie being a Glaswegian), this is a little taste of home.

No trip to Brazil is complete without sipping Caipirinha on the beach


The most Brazilian thing you can do is have caipirinhas on the beach, it is synonymous with Brazilian culture. This delicious (and sometimes lethal) drink is made with cachaça, lime and sugar. First, the lime and sugar are mashed together then the cachaça is poured on top – often free-poured so it may knock your flip-flops off.

The origins of the Caipirinha are unknown. Although, both the Portuguese and Madeirans are very keen to claim it was their idea. Honestly, it’s so simple that it’s pretty hard to nail down who did it first. In all likelihood, it was probably a medicinal drink for a long time before it became a recreational beverage. Knocking back a few caipirinhas certainly takes our pain away!

The name comes from the Portuguese Brazilian word caipira, which refers to someone from the countryside. This is similar to the term “hillbilly” in the US or “teuchters” in Scotland.

Leite de Onca: Jaguar Milk

Leite de Onça

Leite de Onça literally translates as “Jaguar Milk”. This Brazilian drink is a sweet, creamy cocktail, made from a combination of cachaça, creme de cacao and milk. These ingredients are stirred or shaken together and served in a glass or mug. The top is sometimes dusted with chocolate or cinnamon powder.

This drink is particularly popular during Festa Junina – a festival originating from European mid-summer festivals. It lasts the whole of June, celebrating the end of the rainy season in the semi-arid North East of Brazil. The main celebrations happen on the solemnities of Saint Anthony, Saint John the Baptist, and Saint Peter.

Traditional Brazilian Desserts

Brazilian sweet, Brigadeiro, perfect for your sugar cravings


Brigadeiro is a rich Brazilian dessert made from heating unsalted butter, cocoa powder and condensed milk. The mixture is then rolled into a small ball, not dissimilar to a chocolate truffle.

This delicious dessert was first made in the 1940s when fruit was in short supply. By using basic store cupboard ingredients, the Brigadeiro was born.

The name is linked to Brazilian Presidential candidate, Brigadeir Eduardo Gomes who ran for President in 1946. One of his supporters created the sweet and named it “doce de brigadeiro“. After proving itself immensely popular, the name was quickly shortened to just “brigadeiro”. Gomes may have lost the election, but he has a sweet named after him so we all know who the real winner is.

Wedges of cake-like Brazilian dessert, bombocado


Bombocado is a Brazilian dessert made from shredded Parmesan, grated coconut, milk, flour, butter, eggs and sugar. This cake-like mixture is baked, chilled and then cut into wedges for serving.

It is very popular on Brazilian Independence Day, 7th September. The best and most traditional way to eat bombocado is with a big spoon of whipped cream and some Brazilian coffee.

Curau, delicious corn-based drink topped with cinnamon


Curau is a type of sweet custard-esque dessert made from corn. It is made with the juice of unripe maize (or sweet corn), milk and sugar. Once cooked, it is poured into individual bowls to be served.

The texture is very similar to custard or flan when chilled. The finishing touch is usually a sprinkling of cinnamon powder to garnish this popular dessert.

Rabanada is essentially Brazilian french toast


Rabanada is basically the Brazilian version of french toast. It’s made with thickly sliced stale bread, dipped into a mixture of milk (or milk, sugar, and vanilla) and beaten eggs. To cook, the slices are fried in oil before being sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. As a result, rabanada is sweeter and crunchier than American french toast.

The first mention of rabanada dates back to the 15th century. Here, Spanish composer Juan del Encina described it as a dish that’s helpful for recovery from childbirth. This is also is why rabanada is often referred to as “fatia parida” meaning “slices for the new mum”.

The first written Brazilian recipe for this great dessert appears in the 17th Century. It has stood the test of time and now, in the province of Minho, it is often drizzled with a wine syrup and is very popular traditional Brazilian food for Christmas time.

Of traditional Brazilian food, desserts are the best. Maria-mole is a softer version of marshmallow


Maria-mole is sort of like Brazilian marshmallow but even softer. Made from sugar, coconut, egg-whites and gelatin, it comes in little cubes. This little nugget of happiness is so popular that you can buy make-at-home kits at the shops.

Antonia Bergamo was the founding father of maria-mole. In Sao Paulo, he created maria-mole as a way to use up the left-over egg whites he had from making other types of sweets. This is another dessert which is a favourite of  Festas Juninas.

Romeu e Juileita, sweet and salty dessert.

Romeu e Juileita

No one is entirely sure why this unlikely sweet and salty combination is named after the Shakespeare play. Although it’s not difficult to make a stab at a possible reason.

Thick-sliced queijo minas and goiabada (pulped guava, water and sugar) are combined to make Romeu e Julieta. Eaten in a single bite, it is often served as a light end to a meal.

As both queijo minas and goiabada have a long shelf-life and are staples of most Brazilian homes, this combination quickly became immensely popular throughout the country. Though not served on a sandwich, the concept is pretty similar to American peanut butter and jelly.

Pave is a popular Brazilian dessert similar to tiramisu


Pavé is Brazil’s answer to tiramisu. With no baking required, this layered dessert uses ladyfinger biscuits, cream, eggs, condensed milk and chocolate.

Pavé is such a part of Brazilian culture that every family will have their own variation of this recipe. There is also a myriad of possible flavours from pineapple and coconut to white chocolate and strawberry. Really, the only rule is that it must be served cold in order to appreciate the flavours properly.

Sagu is red wine soaked tapioca pearls


Cooking tapioca pearls in wine until they turn dark red doesn’t seem like the most obvious dessert idea in the world. But, it works.

Sagu is sometimes flavoured with cinnamon or cloves to add extra spice to the chewy, boozy tapioca pearls. Sometimes a blend of wine and grape juice is used to make the dessert sweeter and less alcoholic. However, generally, it is eaten on its own, served in little individual portions.

Rather than eating it alone, sagu also makes an excellent accompaniment for creamy, sweeter desserts like cheesecakes or custard. You can make tapioca pearls at home but most people will use shop-bought ones to save time.

Biscoito de Polvilho, ring-shaped salty cookies

Biscoito de Polvilho

These ring-shaped, slightly salted cookies are incredibly popular throughout Brazil. You will find biscoito de polvilho being sold by vendors on the streets and beaches, and also in most shops.

Made from cassava starch, they have a crispy outside and puffy appearance. They were a favourite afternoon snack in Minas Gerais in the 19th century but the unique flavour and airy texture meant they spread quickly throughout the country.

Quindim are coconut custard cakes and some of the most popular Brazilian desserts.


Quindim’s are coconut, custard cakes made from egg yolk, sugar and coconut. The most prevalent theory behind their creation is that they were invented by slaves in north-eastern Brazil in the 17th century. However, the use of egg yolks suggests a very Portuguese heritage. So, in reality, it was probably a combination of the two things.

They are a very popular traditional Brazilian wedding food, as well as christenings and other celebrations. The name, quindim, roughly translates to “gestures of adolescent girls” in the Bantu language of Sub-Saharan Africa.

One of the most popular traditional Brazilian desserts, Mousse de Maracuja

Mousse de Maracujá

Passionfruit mousse seems innocuous enough. But if Brazil had to pick one of their many sweet dishes as a celebration of Brazilian food culture, most agree that Mousse de Maracujá would be their national dessert. It is a simple recipe, made with passionfruit juice, sweetened milk and creme de elite (similar to evaporated milk). It is quick and easy to make and uses 3 of Brazil’s most famous foodstuffs: sugar, milk, and tropical fruit.

You will see this in restaurants, bakeries and households all over Brazil. Mousse de Maracujá is a big favourite for its bold flavour and ease of making.

Canjica: Brazilian dessert similar to rice pudding


It may be a massive oversimplification to call Canjica a sort of Brazilian rice pudding, but I will anyway. It is made with dry, white maize kernels that are cooked in milk until they resemble a kind of porridge. This is then flavoured with coconut or cinnamon or both and sometimes condensed milk is also added.

Depending on where you are, you will see this called a couple of different things. In the North, it’s known as “mugunzá” and in the South, it’s called “canjica“.

Canjica in northern Brazil is made with the juice of the corn, resembling a kind of corn custard. This is another Festa Juninas favourite, where it will be served from street stalls.

Bolo de rolo is a Brazilian sweet dish similar to a swiss roll

Bolo de rolo

Bolo de rolo is a dessert from Pernambuco, a northern state of Brazil in which the city of Recife resides. This Brazilian sweet dish is similar to a swiss roll, but much more complex.

It is made from many, incredibly thin sponge sheets which are spread with guava jam. The layers are rolled together to create the distinctive spiral pattern that boco de rolo is famous for. The most elaborate versions can have up to 20 layers of sponge.

Due to the complexity of making this dessert, it’s rarely made at home. Instead, it is mostly found in pastry shops. You will have it served to you in slices, like a swiss roll, to show off the jelly spirals. These slices will usually be served alongside unsweetened cream.

“Beijinho” translates as “little kiss”.


These little sweet treats are a delicious, more-ish traditional Brazilian food made from condensed milk, butter and coconut. The mixture is rolled into balls, covered in more coconut and topped with a clove.

“Beijinho” translates as “little kiss” and are a favourite treat for birthday parties.

Essentially, they are a coconut version of Brigadeiros. However, they can also be used to fill dried plums creating a dessert called olho-de-sogra.

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A complete guide to the top traditional Brazilian food and drinks that will change your life. Learn some Brazilian food facts and explore Brazilian food culture. #brazilianfood #brazil #worldfood #foodculture

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