Bife à parmegiana, one of the most traditional dishes of Brazil
Bife à parmegiana, one of the most traditional dishes of Brazil

Brazilian cuisine is the set of cooking practices and traditions of Brazil, and is characterized by European, Amerindian, African, and Asian (Lebanese, Chinese and, most recently, Japanese) influences.[1] It varies greatly by region, reflecting the country's mix of native and immigrant populations, and its continental size as well. This has created a national cuisine marked by the preservation of regional differences..[2]

Ingredients first used by native peoples in Brazil include cashews, cassava, guaraná, açaí, cumaru, and tucupi. From there, the many waves of immigrants brought some of their typical dishes, replacing missing ingredients with local equivalents. For instance, the European immigrants (primarily from Portugal, Italy, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, and Ukraine), were accustomed to a wheat-based diet, and introduced wine, leafy vegetables, and dairy products into Brazilian cuisine. When potatoes were not available, they discovered how to use the native sweet manioc as a replacement.[3] Enslaved Africans also had a role in developing Brazilian cuisine, especially in the coastal states. The foreign influence extended to later migratory waves; Japanese immigrants brought most of the food items that Brazilians associate with Asian cuisine today,[4] and introduced large-scale aviaries well into the 20th century.[5]

The most visible regional cuisines belong to the states of Minas Gerais and Bahia. Minas Gerais cuisine have European influence in delicacies and dairy products such as feijão tropeiro, pão de queijo and Minas cheese, and Bahian cuisine due to the presence of African delicacies such as acarajé, abará and vatapá.

Root vegetables such as manioc (locally known as mandioca, aipim or macaxeira, among other names), yams, and fruit like açaí, cupuaçu, mango, papaya, guava, orange, passion fruit, pineapple, and hog plum are among the local ingredients used in cooking.

Some typical dishes are feijoada, considered the country's national dish,[6] and regional foods such as beiju [pt], feijão tropeiro, vatapá, moqueca capixaba, polenta (from Italian cuisine) and acarajé (from African cuisine).[7] There is also caruru, which consists of okra, onion, dried shrimp, and toasted nuts (peanuts or cashews), cooked with palm oil until a spread-like consistency is reached; moqueca baiana, consisting of slow-cooked fish in palm oil and coconut milk, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic and topped with cilantro.

The national beverage is coffee, while cachaça is Brazil's native liquor. Cachaça is distilled from fermented sugar cane must, and is the main ingredient in the national cocktail, caipirinha. [8]

Cheese buns (pão-de-queijo), and salgadinhos such as pastéis, coxinhas, risólis and kibbeh (from Arabic cuisine) are common finger food items, while cuscuz de tapioca (milled tapioca) is a popular dessert.

Cuisine by Brazilian region

Regional cuisines

Feijoada is usually served with rice, farofa, couve (a type of cabbage) and orange.
Feijoada is usually served with rice, farofa, couve (a type of cabbage) and orange.
Pão de queijo, coffee and a small bottle of cachaça
Pão de queijo, coffee and a small bottle of cachaça
Moqueca from Espírito Santo State

There is not an exact single "national Brazilian cuisine", but there is an assortment of various regional traditions and typical dishes. This diversity is linked to the origins of the people inhabiting each area.

For instance, the cuisine of Bahia is heavily influenced by a mix of African, Indigenous, and Portuguese cuisines. Chili (including chili sauces) and palm oil are very common. In the northern states, however, due to the abundance of forest and freshwater rivers, fish, fruits and cassava (including flours made of cassava) are staple foods. In the deep south, as in Rio Grande do Sul, the influence shifts more towards gaúcho traditions shared with its neighbors Argentina and Uruguay, with many meat-based products, due to this region's livestock-based economy; the churrasco, a kind of barbecue, is a local tradition.

Southeast Brazil's cuisine

In Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Espírito Santo, and Minas Gerais, feijoada is popular, especially as a Wednesday or Saturday lunch. Also consumed frequently is picadinho (literally, diced meat) and rice and beans.[9][10] In Rio de Janeiro, besides the feijoada, a popular plate is any variation of grilled beef fillet, rice and beans, farofa, fried garlic and fried potatoes (batatas portuguesas), commonly called filé à Osvaldo Aranha. Seafood is very popular in coastal areas, as is roasted chicken (galeto). The strong Portuguese heritage also endowed the city with a taste for bolinhos de bacalhau (fried cod fritters), being one of the most common street foods there.

In São Paulo, a typical dish is virado à paulista, made with rice, virado de feijão (similar to a tutu), sauteed kale, fried plantains or bananas and pork chops. São Paulo is also the home of pastel, a food consisting of thin pastry envelopes wrapped around assorted fillings, then deep-fried in vegetable oil. It is a common belief that they originated when Chinese and Japanese immigrants adapted the recipe of fried spring rolls to sell as snacks at weekly street markets. São Paulo is also known for parmegianna.

In Minas Gerais, the regional dishes include corn, pork, beans, chicken (including the very typical dish frango com quiabo, or chicken with okra), tutu de feijão (puréed beans mixed with cassava flour), and local soft-ripened traditional cheeses.

In Espírito Santo, there is significant Italian and German influence in local dishes, both savory and sweet.[11] The state dish, though, is of Amerindian origin,[12] called moqueca capixaba, which is a tomato and fish stew traditionally prepared in a panela de Goiabeiras (pot made of clay from Goiabeiras district in Vitória). Amerindian and Italian cuisine are the two main pillars of Capixaba cuisine. Seafood dishes, in general, are very popular in Espírito Santo, but unlike other Amerindian dishes, the use of olive oil is almost mandatory. Bobó de camarão, torta capixaba, and polenta are also very popular.

North Brazil's cuisine

The cuisine of this region, which includes the states of Acre, Amazonas, Amapá, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, and Tocantins, is heavily influenced by indigenous cuisine. In the state of Pará, there are several typical dishes, including:

Pato no tucupi (duck in tucupi) – one of the most famous dishes from Pará. It is associated to the Círio de Nazaré, a local Roman Catholic celebration. The dish is made with tucupi (yellow broth extracted from cassava, after the fermentation process of the broth remained after the starch had been taken off, from the raw ground manioc root, pressed by a cloth, with some water; if added maniva, the manioc ground up external part, that is poisonous because of the cyanic acid, and so must be cooked for several days). After cooking, the duck is cut into pieces and boiled in tucupi, where is the sauce for some time. The jambu is boiled in water with salt, drained, and put on the duck. It is served with white rice and manioc flour and corn tortillas.

Center-West Brazil's cuisine

In Goiás State, the pequi is used in many typical foods, especially the "arroz com pequi" (rice cooked with pequi), and in snacks, mostly as a filling for pastel, in this state is very common the presence of chestnuts, and palm trees. Also, a mixture of chicken and rice known as galinhada is very popular. The states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul received influence from neighboring countries in their cuisine, as well as the Pantanal area and its various rivers and extensive wetlands that cross these two states with a high abundance of fish.

Northeast Brazil's cuisine

Bobó de camarão

The Northeastern Brazilian cuisine is heavily influenced by African cuisine from the coastal areas of Pernambuco to Bahia, as well as the eating habits of indigenous populations that lived in the region.

The vatapá is a Brazilian dish made from bread, shrimp, coconut milk, finely ground peanuts and palm oil mashed into a creamy paste.

The bobó de camarão is a dish made with cassava and shrimp (camarão).

The acarajé is a dish made from peeled black-eyed peas formed into a ball and then deep-fried in dendê (palm oil). Often sold as street food, it is served split in half and then stuffed with vatapá and caruru.[13] Acarajé is typically available outside of the state of Bahia as well.

In other areas, more to the west or away from the coast, the plates are most reminiscent of the indigenous cuisine, with many vegetables being cultivated in the area since before the arrival of the Portuguese. Examples include baião de dois, made with rice and beans, dried meat, butter, queijo coalho and other ingredients. Jaggery is also heavily identified with the Northeast, as it is carne-de-sol, paçoca de pilão, and bolo de rolo.

Tapioca flatbreads or pancakes are also commonly served for breakfast in some states, with a filling of either coconut, cheese or condensed milk, butter, and certain meats. They can also be filled with dessert toppings as well.

Southern Brazil's cuisine

Typical Brazilian churrasco, with cuts of meat such as picanha and alcatra, chicken hearts, Tuscan sausage, garlic bread and drumstick
Typical Brazilian churrasco, with cuts of meat such as picanha and alcatra, chicken hearts, Tuscan sausage, garlic bread and drumstick

In Southern Brazil, due to the long tradition in livestock production and the heavy German immigration, red meat is the basis of the local cuisine.[14]

Besides many of the pasta, sausage and dessert dishes common to continental Europe, churrasco is the term for a barbecue (similar to the Argentine or Uruguayan asado) which originated in southern Brazil. It contains a variety of meats which may be cooked on a purpose-built churrasqueira, a barbecue grill, often with supports for spits or skewers. Portable churrasqueiras are similar to those used to prepare the Argentine and Uruguayan asado, with a grill support, but many Brazilian churrasqueiras do not have grills, only the skewers above the embers. The meat may alternatively be cooked on large metal or wood skewers resting on a support or stuck into the ground and roasted with the embers of charcoal (wood may also be used, especially in the State of Rio Grande do Sul).

Since gaúchos were nomadic and lived off the land, they had no way of preserving food; the gauchos would gather together after butchering a cow, and skewer and cook the large portions of meat immediately over a wood-burning fire (not exactly as gauchos also produced charque). The slow-cooked meat basted in its own juices and resulted in tender, flavorful steaks.[15] This style has inspired many contemporary churrascaria which emulate the cooking style where waiters bring large cuts of roasted meat to diners' tables and carve portions to order.[16]

The chimarrão is the regional beverage, often associated with the gaúcho image.

The most typical dishes of Rio Grande do Sul cuisine are churrasco, chimarrão, carreteiro rice [pt], fried polenta, galeto [pt], cuca, and sagu, among others.[17][18] In the region there is a large consumption of wine, grape juice and white grape juice due to the south being the largest grape producer in the country, and artisanal cheeses and salamis.[19][20] In the region, fig, grape and peach jellies and jams are also very common. One of the most famous is chimia [pt]. The consumption of vegetables preserved in water, vinegar, sugar, salt and spices, such as beets and cucumbers, is also typical of the Southern Region.[21]

Popular dishes

See also: List of Brazilian dishes

Coxinha is a popular Brazilian snack.
Coxinha is a popular Brazilian snack.
Canastra cheese
Bife à cavalo, a steak topped with an egg, served with fries
Bife à cavalo, a steak topped with an egg, served with fries
Frango a passarinho, a chicken dish, as served in the state of Minas Gerais
Frango a passarinho, a chicken dish, as served in the state of Minas Gerais
Brazilian pizzas can have just about any flavor. In the photo, a pizza half mozzarella, tomato, olives and spices (salty) and half chocolate, coconut and cherries (sweet).
Brazilian pizzas can have just about any flavor. In the photo, a pizza half mozzarella, tomato, olives and spices (salty) and half chocolate, coconut and cherries (sweet).
Brazilian hot-dog with tomato, corn, batata-palha (straw-fries) and onion
Brazilian hot-dog with tomato, corn, batata-palha (straw-fries) and onion

Brazilian cuisine is recognized around the world for its variety and quality. The city of São Paulo was chosen as the 7th main gastronomic destination in the world, for its recognized restaurants and bars. The Brazilian city is only after of Rome, London, Paris, Dubai, Barcelona and Madrid. The city of São Paulo alone has more than 9,000 restaurants and bars.

Also noteworthy are:


Caipirinha, the national drink
Caipirinha, the national drink
Suco de caju
Suco de caju

Brazil is a country-continent, its territorial extension causes different cultures and traditions to sprout at the same time, but at opposite points. And when it comes to drinking, history repeats itself. Some Brazilian drinks, alcoholic or not, are known only in their states of origin.

Cachaça is Brazil's native liquor, distilled from sugar cane and it is the main ingredient in the national drink, the Caipirinha. Other drinks include mate tea, chimarrão and tereré (both made up of yerba maté), coffee, fruit juice, beer (mainly Pilsen variety), rum, guaraná and batidas. Guaraná is a caffeinated soft drink made from guaraná seeds and batida is a type of fruit punch.[1]

Typical and popular desserts

See also: List of Brazilian sweets and desserts

Bolo de rolo
Brazilian cocada
Brazilian cocada
Passion fruit mousse

Brazil has a tradition of manufacturing jams and jellies from fresh tropical fruits, as Brazil is recognized worldwide as a country with great characteristics in food production, being one of the largest food exporters in the world. Brazilians inherited the taste and cultivation of sugar from the Portuguese who immigrated to Brazil. In the kitchens of the sugar farms, the wives of the farmers taught the subordinates how to properly mix the ingredients. This led to a growth in its commercialization in the Brazilian market, Portuguese recipes spread throughout the Brazilian colony and became part of the colonial food menu.

The Portuguese tradition of producing sweets with eggs and sugar joined the immense variety of Brazilian tropical fruits, which provided an immense menu of delicacies. Brazil has a variety of candies such as brigadeiros (chocolate fudge balls), cocada (a coconut sweet), beijinhos (coconut truffles and clove) and romeu e julieta (cheese with a guava jam known as goiabada).

Peanuts are used to make paçoca, rapadura and pé-de-moleque. Local common fruits like açaí, cupuaçu, mango, papaya, cocoa, cashew, guava, orange, passionfruit, pineapple, and hog plum are turned in juices and used to make chocolates, ice pops and ice cream.[33]

Typical cakes (bolos)

Other popular and traditional desserts

Daily meals

A Brazilian breakfast buffet in Gramado
A Brazilian breakfast buffet in Gramado
Brazilian regional food in Recife
Brazilian regional food in Recife
Costelada in Porto Alegre

¹ Main meals, that are served nearly everywhere, and are eaten in nearly all households above poverty line.
² Secondary meals. People usually have a meal at the tea time, while elevenses and late suppers depend in peculiarities on one's daily routine or certain diets.

Restaurant styles

A simple and usually inexpensive option, which is also advisable for vegetarians, is comida a quilo or comida por quilo restaurants (literally "food by kilo value"), a buffet where food is paid for by weight. Another common style is the all-you-can-eat restaurant where customers pay a prix fixe. In both types (known collectively as "self-services"), customers usually assemble the dishes of their choice from a large buffet.

Rodízio is a common style of service, in which a prix fixe is paid, and servers circulate with food. This is common in churrascarias, pizzerias and sushi (Japanese cuisine) restaurants, resulting in an all-you-can-eat meat barbecue and pizzas of varied flavours, usually one slice being served at the time.

The regular restaurant where there is a specific price for each meal is called "restaurante à la carte".


Although many traditional dishes are prepared with meat or fish, it is not difficult to live on vegetarian food as well, at least in the mid-sized and larger cities of Brazil. There is a rich supply of all kinds of fruits and vegetables, and on city streets one can find cheese buns (pão de queijo); in some cities even the version made of soy.

In the 2000s, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia have gained several vegetarian and vegan restaurants.[34] However outside big metropolises, vegetarianism is not very common in the country. Not every restaurant will provide vegetarian dishes and some seemingly vegetarian meals may turn out to include unwanted ingredients, for instance, using lard for cooking beans. Commonly "meat" is understood to mean "red meat", so some people might assume a vegetarian eats fish and chicken. Comida por quilo and all-you-can eat restaurants prepare a wide range of fresh dishes. Diners can more easily find food in such restaurants that satisfies dietary restrictions.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Brittin, Helen (2011). The Food and Culture Around the World Handbook. Boston: Prentice Hall. pp. 20–21.
  2. ^ "Way of Life". Encarta. MSN. Archived from the original on 2009-10-29. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
  3. ^ Burns, E. Bradford (1993). A History of Brazil. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 38. ISBN 0231079559.
  4. ^ "Centenário da imigração japonesa - NOTÍCIAS - Imigrantes japoneses ajudaram a 'revolucionar' agricultura brasileira".
  5. ^ "Centenário da imigração japonesa - NOTÍCIAS - Imigrantes transformaram cidade paulista em grande produtora de ovos".
  6. ^ Roger, "Feijoada: The Brazilian national dish Archived 2009-11-29 at the Wayback Machine"
  7. ^ Cascudo, Luis da Câmara. História da Alimentação no Brasil. São Paulo/Belo Horizonte: Editora USP/Itatiaia, 1983.
  8. ^ a b c d Dictionaries, Oxford (2012). Oxford Essential Portuguese Dictionary (in Spanish). OUP Oxford. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-19-964097-3. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  9. ^ "A feijoada não é invenção brasileira" (in Portuguese). Superinteressante. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  10. ^ "O Carapuceiro (jornal)" (in Portuguese). Fundaj. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  11. ^ "Governo ES - Culinária Capixaba". Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  12. ^ Foodandroad (2021-06-24). "How To Make Moqueca Capixaba - Brazilian Fish Stew Recipe". Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  13. ^ Blazes, Marian. "Brazilian Black-Eyed Pea and Shrimp Fritters – Acarajé". Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  14. ^ Somwaru, A.; Valdes, C. (2004). Brazil's Beef Production and Its Efficiency : A Comparative Study of Scale Economies – 1–19.
  15. ^ Churrasco
  16. ^ Sumayao, Marco. "What Is a Churrascaria?". WiseGeek. Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  17. ^ 10 pratos típicos da culinária gaúcha
  18. ^ Noite Gaúcha: Comidas típicas do Rio Grande do Sul
  19. ^ Como a agricultura familiar gaúcha está segurando uma geração no campo
  20. ^ Vinícolas do RS celebram crescimento nas exportações de vinhos e espumantes
  21. ^ Veja o passo a passo e aprenda a fazer chimia de figo
  22. ^ pt:Barreado
  23. ^ Barreado
  24. ^ "Barreado: The Famous Typical Dish of Paraná State!". November 24, 2009.
  25. ^ Castella, K. (2012). A World of Cake. Storey Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60342-446-2.
  26. ^ "Pirão | Traditional Porridge From Brazil". TasteAtlas. Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  27. ^ Dos Ventos, M. (2008). Na Gira Do Exu - Invoking the Spirits of Brazilian Quimbanda. Nzo Quimbanda Exu Ventania. p. 319. ISBN 978-0-9556903-1-0. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  28. ^ Blocker, J.S.; Fahey, D.M.; Tyrrell, I.R. (2003). Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History: An International Encyclopedia. Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History: An International Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 167. ISBN 978-1-57607-833-4. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  29. ^ Sommers, M. (2011). Moon Brazil. Moon Handbooks Series (in Italian). Avalon Travel Publishing. p. 1077. ISBN 978-1-59880-891-9. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  30. ^ Robinson, A.G. (2014). Recife and Northeast Brazil Footprint Focus Guide: Includes Olinda, Fortaleza, Penedo, Pipa, Souza, Fernando de Noronha. Footprint Focus Guides (in Esperanto). Footprint Handbooks. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-909268-87-6. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  31. ^ Braga, Tatiana (11 January 2013). "Aprenda a receita do ES de milkshake de limonada suíça". O Globo (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  32. ^ Guides, I. (2014). Insight Guides: Brazil. Insight Guides (in Italian). APA. p. 634. ISBN 978-1-78005-718-7. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  33. ^ Freyre, Gilberto. Açúcar. Uma Sociologia do Doce, com Receitas de Bolos e Doces do Nordeste do Brasil. São Paulo, Companhia das Letras, 1997.
  34. ^ "Vegetarian Restaurants in Brazil". Retrieved 2011-05-30.

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