Brazil is a diverse and vibrant country, with a rich culture that extends far beyond its world-famous beaches. If you're making the trip down to South America, be sure to try out some of the local cuisine – you won't be disappointed! From savory dishes to sweet treats, here are 13 must try foods and drinks in Brazil. Enjoy!
Rather watch than read? Checkout our vlogs from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro where we tried all sorts of foods, many of which are on this list.
If you're looking for delicious and healthy food to try while in Brazil, look no further than açaí. This berry, which is native to the Amazon rainforest, is rich in antioxidants and has a variety of health benefits. Açaí can be found in many different forms throughout Brazil, but it's most commonly consumed as a smoothie or bowl.
This was our go to lunch almost every beach day while in Brazil. There's nothing better than an açai bowl on the beach while you watch the whitecaps roll over. You can find açai stands all over the country, but especially along the beaches in Rio.
Note: Many açaí shops add sugar and/or milk to the product which makes it more of a dessert. Just be careful when you order so you don’t just order an ice cream like dessert thinking it’s a healthy choice.
From Portuguese to English, "Churrasco" roughly translates to barbecue. Brazil is famous worldwide for its grilled style meat, which is why we recommend you visit a churrascaria when in Brazil. While you can find churrascaria such as Rodizio Grill, we never had experienced the servers walking around with skewers of meat and flipping over our card green to red when we didn’t want any more food. If you’re not familiar with how a churrascaria works, checkout our video here. Just know that you head out looking for churrasco, you need to be ready to eat a lot of food.
Note: If you’re vegetarian or vegan, this option should be avoided since meat is the main attraction.
Pão de queijo
Pão de queijo, or Brazilian cheese bread, is a popular snack that can be found throughout Brazil. These little balls of dough are made with tapioca flour and cheese, and they're absolutely delicious. Pão de queijo is often served with coffee or as a snack between meals.
I'll be honest, we ate way too much pão de queijo in Brazil but I have no regrets. These little cheesy balls of goodness are delicious and can be found in just about every bakery, café, and restaurant in Brazil. However, if you want to try the best pão de queijo, head to Minas Gerais which is where the best cheese is from. Think of it like the Wisconsin of Brazil. The primary exports in this region are dairy and coffee so it's pretty much paradise.
If you have time to head to Minas Gerais in search of the best pão de queijo and coffee in Brazil, we highly recommend staying at this amazing A-frame cabin in Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Coxinha is a popular Brazilian snack that consists of shredded chicken and cream cheese inside a little dough ball that's fried until it's golden brown and crispy. Coxinhas are often served with a dipping sauce, such as chili sauce or ketchup. I prefer coxinhas plain without any dipping sauce, so it’s definitely a personal preference thing! They're the perfect on the go handheld snack for a busy day exploring Brazil.
Brigadeiro is a traditional Brazilian dessert that's made with condensed milk, cocoa powder, and butter. This sweet treat is often rolled into balls and coated with chocolate sprinkles. Seriously, I kid you not when I say these little chocolate balls caused me to gain a few extra pounds during our month in Brazil. They might be simple, but they're ridiculously good and inexpensive. We highly recommend the brigadeiro at Confeitaria Colombo in Rio de Janeiro which is a beautiful, historic bakery serving up all sorts of delicious treats. If you're in Rio, it's a must visit!
Caipirinha is Brazil's national cocktail, and it's made with cachaça (a type of Brazilian rum made from sugar cane), lime, and sugar. This refreshing drink is perfect for sipping on a hot day (and trust me, Brazil gets hot so you might drink more of these than you plan to). Word of the wise: drink slow! Caipirinhas are strong!
Pro tip: For a truly special Brazilian experience, head to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain and drink caipirinhas at sunset at the top. Get there early to snag a seat then sit back and enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets of your life!
Beijinho de coco, or "coconut kisses," are a popular Brazilian dessert that's made with shredded coconut, condensed milk, and butter. These little bites are often rolled into balls and coated with chocolate sprinkles.
Pastels are a type of Brazilian street food that's similar to an empanada. They're typically made with flour, water, and fillings such as meat, cheese, or vegetables. Pastels are usually fried, but they can also be baked. You'll usually see pastels next to coxinhas at bakeries and cafés, so we recommend going ahead and grabbing one of each.
Farofa is a type of Brazilian side dish that's made with manioc flour, bacon, and onions. This dish is often served alongside churrasco or other grilled meats. Before we headed to Brazil we had a Brazilian friend tell us her kids refer to it as "the sawdust dish." Honestly, I see why because the texture is very fine and dry, but the flavor is great! It reminded me of a casserole topping my mom made when I was growing up. It's super savory and the perfect accent dish alongside heavy meats (which Brazilians love!).
Feijoada is a traditional Brazilian stew that's made with black beans, pork, and beef. This hearty dish is typically served with rice, collard greens, and orange slices. Truthfully, feijoada isn’t very pleasing to the eye, but it’s delicious and a wonderful comfort food!
Pro tip: If you want to try feijoada in Brazil, be sure to head to a restaurant on Wednesday or Saturday because those are the traditional feijoada days. We didn't know this and ended up trying a mediocre version of this classic dish. Don't get me wrong, it was still good, but we've been told to go on Wednesday or Saturday and get there early because the good meats in the stews go early!
Tapioca crepes, or tapiocas, are a popular Brazilian food that's made with tapioca flour and water. These crepes are usually filled with cheese, meat, or vegetables and can be found all over Brazil. We gave these a try at a market in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro and it was delicious! We opted for the sweetened condensed milk option but I wish we had tried a savory option, too.
Coffee is a popular beverage in Brazil, and it's often served with milk. Café com leite, or coffee with milk, is a common breakfast drink. cafézinho, or small coffee, is a strong coffee that's usually served after meals.
Something really important to note about coffee in Brazil: while Brazil is the coffee capital of the world producing more coffee than any other country, the coffee you'll commonly find around the country is not the country's finest quality. Why is that you might ask? Because most Brazilians prefer their coffee with lots of sugar and/or cream and the demand for high quality coffee isn't high so most farms export their best, more expensive beans and keep less expensive options in the country. That being said, you can and should try some of Brazil's best coffee. We highly recommend Santo Grão in São Paulo.
Santo Grão: R. Oscar Freire, 413 - Cerqueira César, São Paulo - SP, 01426-001, Brazil | Google Maps
All sorts of fruit
Fruit is a big deal in Brazil, and you'll find all sorts of delicious fruits to try while you're here. Some of our favorites include: mango, papaya, pineapple, guava, and passionfruit. Oh, and there's nothing like a fresh coconut on a beach or at a market on a hot day! But, honestly, there are too many delicious fruits to list them all! Just make sure to try as many as you possibly can.
Brazil is full of all sorts of delicious, must-try foods. If you love experiencing a new country through food as much as we do, be sure to add Brazil to your list of countries to visit for an amazing culinary experience. Have you tried any Brazilian cuisine before? Let us know if you have any additional recommendations in the comments below!
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We're Chris and Sara
A creative husband and wife duo from a small-town in Tennessee with passion for all things travel. Checkout the links below to join us on our past, present, and future adventures!