One of my favourite things about traveling to a new country is uncovering new dishes and flavours that are often very different from what we are used to eating at home. My trip to Brazil has been no differenti.

Brazilian cuisine varies greatly by region and represents a mix of native Brazilian flavours/ingredients with imported dishes and flavours from European and Japanese immigrants. It makes for some unique dishes that go so much further than the “rice and beans” that are sometimes considered a staple of Brazilian cuisine.

Over the last 2 weeks, We’ve been food snobs, refusing to eat anything other than Brazilian food. We’ve been purposefully trying different dishes, often by simply pointing to a word on a menu, having no idea what to expect. Some have been amazing, some were pleasant surprises, others were just ok. So after lots of experimenting, it’s time to share my findings.

Here is the countdown of my top 10 favourite Brazilian dishes.

10. Coxinha

Literally translated as “little chicken thigh”, this is a popular Brazilian snack. Coxinhas are made of chopped or shredded chicken meat fried in batter, and then shaped into a ball or a shape that vaguely resembles a chicken thigh. A crunchy filling appetizer!

Brazilian dishes: Coxinha - shredded chicken fried in batter

Coxinha – shredded chicken fried in batter

9. Pão de Queijo

Another popular Brazilian snack, these cheesy buns/balls are not meant to be deep fried, but rather baked. But the deep fried variety of this Brazilian dish is what really stole my heart… cheesy goodness galore!

Brazilian dishes: Pão de Queijo

Pão de Queijo – the fried version

Brazil dishes: Pão de queijo

Pão de Queijo – the baked version

8. Moqueca

salt water fish stew said to be cooked with coconut milk, tomatoes, onions, garlic, coriander and some palm oil, and served with rice. It didn’t look amazing but tasted great!

Brazilian dishes: Moqueca - a salt water fish stew with prawns

Moqueca – a salt water fish stew with prawns over rice

7. Picanha 

Picanha is a type of Brazilians steak cooked from a cut of meat popular in Brazil, that’s sometimes referred to as “rump cover”. It is the topmost layer of muscle over the sirloin/rump area, covered in a layer of thick fat. There is nothing overly fancy about it, the meat is simply grilled with the fat on, giving it that juicy delicious flavour. Picanha is most often served with rice and beans.

Brazilian dishes: Steak meat

Steak meat, a simple yet delicious staple in Brazilian cuisine

6. Carne de Sol

Literally translated as “meat of the sun”. It’s a type of heavily salted beef, which is exposed to the sun for one or two days to cure. In our case it was served with cheese, chorizo, and yuca.

Brazilian dishes: Carne de Sol

Carne de Sol: meat of the sun served with smoked cheese, chorizo and yuca fries

5. Yuca fries

Also known as cassava fries of manioc fries, yuca fries are a South American substitute for French fries made out of the starchy root of the cassava/manioc plant. Yuca fries are not quite as crispy as potato fries, and are a bit sweeter, slightly firmer and a bit stringier.

Brazilian dishes: yuca fries

Yuca fries

4. Churrasco

The term refers to grilled beef or more generally meat, but in Brazil churrasco is simply a BBQ. We came across this great restaurant called Espetto Carioca with a wide selection of food on skewers. They had everything from various meats, to seafood, to vegetables and deserts, items like grilled banana with sugar and cinnamon.

Note: This picture doesn’t do it justice.

Brazil dishes: Churrasco

Selection of meat churrasco at Espetto Carioca

Here are a few more from Espetto Carioca‘s website.

Brazilian dishes: churrasco cordeiro

Churrasco cordeiro (grilled lamb skewer)

Brazilian dishes: churrasco linguiça

Churrasco linguiça (grilled sausage on a skewer)

3. Mortadella Sandwich

The biggest sandwich I have ever seen in my life! This dish is particularly famous in São Paulo and is made with nearly half a pound of mortadella sausage, cheddar cheese, onion, and bacon on a loaf of bread.  And it tasted DELICIOUS! 

Brazil dishes: Mortadella sandwich

Mortadella sandwich from Bar do Mane

2. Feijoada

Considered to be a National Dish in Brazil, Fejorada is a stew of beans with beef and pork served with rice and farofa (toasted manioc flour). It’s a delicious combination to sweet and salty, soft and crunchy.

Brazilian dishes: Feijoada

Feijoada -a stew of beans with beef and pork served with rice and farofa

Brazilian dishes: Feijoada

Feijoada: a stew of beans with beef and pork

Brazilian dishes: Feijoada

Feijoada – a stew of beans with beef and pork served with rice and farofa

1. Linguiça Calabresa

Linguiça calabresa, a type of smoked pork sausage that has made its way into Brazilian cuisine, with the help of Italian immigrants, has quickly become my favourite dish in Brazil. It’s probably one of the simplest dishes we’ve come across in Brazil and in my opinion the most delicious!

Most of the time linguiça calabresa is simply served with some fried onions, a few spices, and a loaf of white bread.

Brazilian dishes: Linguiça calabresa

Linguiça calabresa fried with onions

Linguiça calabresa

Linguiça calabresa fried with onions, hot peppers and seasoned with limes

Brazilian dishes: Linguiça calabresa

Linguiça calabresa fried with onions and served with salsa, farofa, and bread

For me, food plays a huge part in immersing myself in local culture, so trying local dishes is always high on my priority list no matter what country I travel to.

I’m sure there are dozens if not hundreds of other Brazilian dishes I have missed. Are you familiar with Brazilian cuisine? Share your favourite dishes with me and the rest of Drink Tea & Travel readers in the comments below.

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After two weeks of being a food snob, it's time to share my findings. Here are 10 Brazilian dishes I fell in love with here in Brazil.