6 Brazilian Recipes to Cook for the Olympics (& Because They're Delicious)

August  2, 2016

With only four days until the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil (both its triumphs and its struggles) are on the international mainstage.

And the country's food is getting some of the worldwide attention it deserves, too. Because along with the 10,500 athletes competing in the games, there's expected to be an estimated 350,000 to 500,000 tourists visiting the city—and that adds up to a whole lot of people to feed (and they'll need more than yogurt, eggs, and oatmeal).

We're grateful that the Olympics will shed light on Brazilian food, a gigantic category—the country is just slightly smaller than the U.S., with over 205 million people and 26 states—with roots in the food traditions and ingredients of indigenous peoples, Africans, and Europeans. Because there's a lot we're excited to learn about it, too!

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Below, you'll find a few Brazilian recipes you can make at home while watching the Games—and that you'll want to return to even after the athletes have collected their medals. (The selection is limited, but a good starting place.) And, beneath that, some Brazilian-inspired recipes, made with ingredients popular in the country, like cassava, mango, coconut, coffee, chocolate, beef, beans, and peanuts.

Let the pão de queijo begin!

Not 100% Brazilian, but good for getting in the spirit:

Empanadas are not Brazilian—they're Argentinian—but they remind us of Brazilian pastéis, small half-moon or rectangular pies filled with savory (or sweet) fillings (like ground meat) and fried.

Which must-try Brazilian foods didn't make it on this list? Tell us in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Sonia Junqueira
    Sonia Junqueira
  • Cristina Tartarelli
    Cristina Tartarelli
  • impeccablycleanhands
  • Anaya Carvalho
    Anaya Carvalho
  • Simone Carmona
    Simone Carmona
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Sonia J. August 8, 2016
I agree with all my Brazilian "neighbours" and their comments. The Brazilian most famous drink is Caipirinha, most comonly prepared with lemons and cachaça. There are so many variations, of course, you can prepare it using any fruit and vodka or rum, maybe. Empanadas are from Argentina. Our barbecue is prepared with meat and salt. Only that. Feijoada, a typical dish, is prepared with black beans and pork. A great heritage from the slaves. A traditional side dish is farofa, prepared with a wide variety of ingredients and casava flour. But pão de queijo is right. A very popular and delicious bread. I am glad the Olympic games are also showing something about Brazil. Our food, our people, our habits. Brazilian people always welcome visitors. Come and get to know a little bit more about us. ;)
Sarah J. August 8, 2016
Yes, thanks for this information and I was definitely wrong about the empanadas but thought they were similar to pastéis! I mentioned a bit about my confusion below, but I'll remove them from this list. Thank you!
Cristina T. August 8, 2016
Hey there, some tips about Brazil, from Brazil:
1) How about doing some RESEARCH before bringing that article online?
2) Empanadas, Really? They`re from Argentina. By the way Argentina is not in Brazil. Check the map...
2) Chocolate on steak? Really? Maybe in Mexico, not here. Our CHURRASCO (barbecue) is all about MEAT. There`s no rubbing, no other seasoning except salt. Our cowboys are no Brokeback Mountain style! They had no time and no resources other than salt and excellent meat. High protein and no fuss!
3) RUM? Really? Its from central america but ok if you can`t find cachaça. The difference is mostly about aging in wood barrels, or not.
4) SALMON moqueca?? Really?? C`mon... Salmon is nowhere to be found in Brazilian nature. Great replacements: red snapper and Mahi-mahi. I`ve tried both and works great. It can be done with any seafood by the way. S-E-A.
5) Brownies? Really?? no coments
6) those dark chocolate balls may be delicious and healthy but are not typical brazilian food. it`s not like you find them anywhere here.
7) Don`t try to do bolo-de-rolo at home if you`re not very skilled, cos it`s tricky and takes a lot of time.
8) Brazilian typical cuisine is not a simple one... originally, there were slaves to cook. Now if one is to live exclusively on brazilian typical dishes, expect to do nothin but cook from dawn to sunset. Each dish have lots of sides, tricks, ingredients. Except for barbecue. Cos in the south there were not so many slaves.
Ginger August 9, 2016
Oh my word!!! Calm down and be a bit nicer.
impeccablycleanhands August 7, 2016
The signature dish my Brazilian friends serve the most is feijoada with farofa. An amazing black bean stew with a crunchy topping.
Anaya C. August 2, 2016
Moqueca is wonderful, but salmon is probably the last type of fish you'll want in it!
Saying empanadas are brazilian is just plain hurtful.
Caipirinha with a twist since berries are not from here! But you can make a mean tangerine and hot pepper one!
Simone C. August 2, 2016
Brazilian here with some friendly advice: empanadas are actually from Argentina, and since we have a MAJOR beef with them, I'd recommend that you take that off the list, lol.
Sarah J. August 2, 2016
So sorry about the oversight! I thought that empanadas had a lot in common with pastéis: Can you explain the differences? Thank you!
Simone C. August 2, 2016
Oooh interesting question! I've never made pastel dough from scratch (shame on me, I know), but the main differences that I see are that 1. pastels are fried and empanadas are baked; 2. empanadas have a thicker, more crumbly texture, while pastels are thinner and the surface bubbles up when fried; and 3. you can fill pastels with pretty much anything you want, since the dough tastes pretty neutral... and empanadas (at least the ones I ate in Argentina) tend to have mostly savory/salty fillings. But I only pointed it out because it's Argentina and basically we hate them, lol (and they hate us back). Other than that, the list was great :)
Joy H. August 2, 2016
My favorite meal from trip to Brazil was Bahian-style moqueca: