Flavorful & Indulgent
Portuguese cuisine is flavorful, indulgent, and takes advantage of the country’s many resources. It’s hearty peasant food filled with strong flavors that reflect the country’s history in exploration, trade, and colonization. Portuguese explorers set out as early as the 1300s, and they brought back a variety of exotic spices and ingredients. Introducing these into Portuguese peasant cuisine created the flavorful, diverse, and indulgent Portuguese recipes we know and love today. Since Portuguese food has its roots in peasant cuisine, it is simple but extremely well-seasoned and always made with good-quality ingredients.
Portuguese recipes rely on a wide variety of meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, and spices. While Portuguese recipes vary by region, fish and shellfish are common ingredients no matter where you are in the country. In fact, the national dish is bacalhau – dried, salted cod that can be prepared in a number of ways. Rice dishes, soups, and stews are also very common throughout Portugal; in fact, soups are regularly served as a first course at meals. Bread is a staple and is served right away at every meal. Local sausages, olive oils, cheeses, pastries, and wines are also regularly enjoyed at Portuguese meals. While Portuguese food may not be as well-known as some of its European counterparts, the Portuguese take their love of food very seriously, and it shows in the cuisine. But you don’t have to book a ticket to Portugal to experience this can’t-miss cuisine – you can travel there via your kitchen! To get you started, we’ve rounded up a list of the best Portuguese recipes to cook at home. Ready to begin your culinary journey to Portugal?
#1 Caldo Verde
It wouldn’t be a list of the best Portuguese recipes without Caldo Verde. This soup is one of Portugal’s most famous dishes, and with good reason – it is flavorful, hearty, and comforting. It’s so popular that every family has their own recipe. Most versions call for greens (kale or collard greens), potatoes, onions, garlic, and Portuguese sausage (chouriço or linguiça). Some recipes also add beans, while others do not. The soup itself is smoky and garlicky. It pairs perfectly with some nice crusty bread for dunking. Want to try a taste of Portugal in your home kitchen?
#2 Bacalhau à Brás
Bacalhau is Portuguese salted cod. It’s considered the national dish of Portugal and is used in countless Portuguese recipes. Bacalhau à Brás is one of the most famous and well-loved preparations. It’s rich, creamy, and comforting. Think of it as the Portuguese version of mac and cheese! Shreds of salted cod are combined with eggs, olives, onion, garlic, and crispy potato sticks to form a deliciously comforting meal. Bacalhau à Brás epitomizes Portuguese food – it’s flavorful, hearty peasant fare lovingly prepared and elevated to something truly special. Ready to try this classic Portuguese recipe in your own kitchen?
It wouldn’t be a list of the best Portuguese recipes without Bifanas! These Portuguese pork sandwiches are simple comfort food at its best. The key is in the thinly sliced pork, which is marinated and simmered in a sauce of white wine, paprika, garlic, bay leaf, and vinegar until succulent and juicy. Then the slices of pork are stuffed into a Portuguese bread roll. For many people, that’s it. However, some choose to add a little mustard, some onions, or even a dash of piri-piri hot sauce. Bifanas are casual, humble, and pair well with a cold beer or refreshing drink. Want to make your own?
#4 Papo Secos
You can’t have a Portuguese meal without bread! Papo Secos are light and airy rolls used in many Portuguese recipes. They're a great accompaniment to Caldo Verde and are often used as the bread for making Bifanas. The Portuguese also regularly enjoy Papo Secos on their own with a little bit of butter. Papo Secos have a crusty, slightly crunchy exterior but are remarkably airy and fluffy inside. While these do take a bit of work to make, trust us – it’s completely worth it! Ready to try this staple Portuguese recipe at home?
#5 Pastéis de Nata
Portugal is famous for their decadent desserts, but none are more well-known (or delicious!) than these custard tarts. First there is the crunchy, flaky pastry crust. That gets filled with a sweet, egg-based custard that’s perfectly rich and creamy. Finally, the top is baked until it is blistered and caramelized. The result? An indulgent custard tart where each bite is perfectly balanced and blissfully indulgent. If you’ve never had Pastéis de Nata before, we can’t recommend them highly enough. Want to try your hand at this delicious Portuguese recipe?