Portugal food: our favorites

Portugal food at the beach

Portugal food is famous. What is the best Portuguese food? Well, that is a tough question to answer. There are so may amazing products and recipes that it is a tough mission to create a full list.

From the amazing fish and seafood, straight from the mighty Atlantic, to sweet treats there is a lot to try. And lets not forget about the finger food and special meals. And the wine? Portugal is home to 14 wine regions, with flavors to cater everyone.

The task is not simple, but we have made a list of what is, in our opinion, the best Portuguese fish and meat dishes, cakes and desserts. This is Portugal food at its best. Let’s start?

Fish and seafood

Portugal has a continental coastline of 837km (about 520 miles) and considered Europe’s balcony to the Atlantic Ocean. No wonder that fish and seafood are some of the main staples of the Portuguese diet. We are the third larger consumer per capita, after Japan and Iceland and we know how to cook all the amazing delicacies that come from the sea.

Sardines are a classic of Portugal food. It is one the best-known fish and the same stands for salted cod. But there are a lot more to sample. These are some of our choices:

Gooseneck barnacles – An explosion of sea flavor, but not for the fainted-hearted.

Cataplana de marisco – A dish that dates back to the Moorish presence, cooked in an old school pan.

Octopus – Baked, in salad, in creamy rice or fried, this alien-looking creature is delicious.

Stuffed crab or spider crab shell – Dipping crackers or toasted bred in the rich meat mix is a delight.

Clams “Bulhão Pato” style – So simple, so amazingly addictive.

Seafood Açorda, rice and beans stew– Mixing seafood with pantry staples goes a long way.

Caldeirada – A close relative to the french “boullabaisse”, it is an invitation to the senses.

Dogfish soup – The meat of a small shark, called “cação” meets a rich ant tangy broth, and the rest is history.

Canned fish – Dive in a thousand different options.

Garlic prawns – When you tasted them, forget about the breath: you will only think about the taste.


Portugal food is not only fish and seafood. There are countless Portuguese meat creations to choose from. The secret abundance of different cuts, the seasoning and condiments. But also the use of charcuterie to enhance flavor or the unusual combinations. You should try:

Bifana – One succulent slice of marinated pork, between two slices of fresh white bread, with garlic and white wine infused sauce. What’s not to like?

Duck rice – Bits of duck meat, assorted charcuterie and rice are cooked in a rich broth and mixed. Then, the “Arroz de Pato” tray goes in the oven to create a mouth-watering caramelized crust.

Pork and clams – Named “Carne de Porco à Alentejana” (Pork Alentejo’s style) it’s our version of “surf and turf”. The richness of the meat goes very well with the seafood and it’s served with French fries, that you dip in the sauce.

Francesinha – An impressive sandwich with layers of steak, ham and sausage, toped with a fried egg, covered in gravy and served with a tomato-based sauce. That’s our “little French girl”.

Cozido – Every country has its own version of the main farmer’s dish, and this “Boil” is the Portuguese way of doing it. Cuts of different meats, cured and smoked sausages, potatoes, rice, beans, carrots and cabbage all come together and create the ultimate comfort food.

Chicken “piri-piri” – The inspiration for the international chain “Nando’s”. Grilled using red-hot coals and seasoned with the hot “piri-piri” sauce, it goes above and beyond all others and tastes better if you use your fingers.

Espetada – The Portuguese version of a meat kebab or skewer is traditional from the Madeira island and deceitfully simple: beef, garlic and salt, using a bay leaf branch to put the pieces together, before grilling. But the flavor is far from simple.

Pork delights

Leitão – It’s roasted piglet, with crunchy skin and served with pepper sauce. You can find this dish all over Portugal, but the best areas are Bairrada, Águeda and around Coimbra. Try it with a good Portuguese sparkling wine.

Porco Preto – The “black pig” is a unique species, that only exists in the Iberian Peninsula and is the base for the most amazing charcuterie options, including the famous “pata negra” cured ham. But it is possible to taste several fresh cuts.

Tripas  – Not to everyone’s’ taste, this dish is best served in Porto and consists of a rich stew where cow’s tripe is the main ingredient, served with vegetables and white beans. People either love it or hate it.

Cakes and desserts

Sugar, eggs, nuts, spices and fruit. In a nutshell, these are the main ingredients of Portugal food when it comes to sweet treats. Indulge with:

Pastel de nata – Probably the most famous Portuguese pastry, it’s known around the world as “egg tart” or “egg custard tart”. A creamy filling on a puff pastry shell is the definition, but that’s too simple. You have to try it!

Arroz doce – Sweet rice or rice pudding, it includes sugar, egg yolks and a pinch of cinnamon to enhance de the flavor. If there is a Portuguese comfort dessert, this is it.

Egg pudding – A close relative to the French “Flan”, it is rich in all its ingredients: eggs, sugar, caramel, cream and milk. Cooked in a water bath, it has a unique texture.

Leite creme – Freely translated as “cream milk”, it is another Portuguese dessert that has international relatives: the French “crême brulée” and the Spanish “crema catalana”. The main difference is that leite créme is not baked, but boiled.

Convent’s sweets– Portugal has an huge tradition of sweet treats created by reclusive nuns. There are several reasons: first, the abundance of egg yolks – the whites were used to starch clothes. We also had a lot of sugar, fruits and nuts, and time to try and perfect recipes. The result? Incredible confections such has toucinho do céu, pão de ló, sopa dourada. And also barriga de freira, pudim Abade de Priscos, papos de anjo, trouxas de ovos, orelhas de abade, sericaia, D. Rodrigo and so much more.

Eggs and fruit

Travesseiros and queijadas de Sintra – The village of Sintra is known around the globe for its palaces and forest, declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. When visiting, please try these two delicate and tasty pastries and understand why palate is one of the five senses.

Almond and orange roll – In the Portuguese language, they are known, respectively, has “Torta de Amêndoa” and “Torta de Laranja”. A moist cake base is covered with a fruit base filling and then rolled to dessert perfection.

Drunken pears – As the name says, the pears are poached in red wine, mixed with sugar, cinnamon sticks and a bit of lemon zest. The result is a jammy dessert with a killer sauce.

Farófias – It is very hard to translate de name. Some people call it “poached meringues”, others “egg clouds”. So, it is better to know that this dessert includes fluffy whisked egg whites with sugar, poached in lemony milk, covered in egg custard and sprinkled with cinnamon. Delicious!

Passionfruit mousse – The Azores and Madeira Islands have many passionfruit orchards, and this dessert combines the fruit – fresh and preserved – with condensed milk, sugar, cream and gelatin.

If you want to taste the best portuguese food, on the best spots and with the best company, get in touch with us. Go to Custom Portugal website and we will create a unique experience, tailored just for you!

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