What Makes Brazilian Food Unique?

What makes Brazilian food so eclectic and exciting? While Brazil may be the world’s fifth largest country, with the sixth highest population, the answer is not so much about size and numbers. Instead, consider how its one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world.

Brazilian culture is informed predominantly by a trio of influences, a vibrant blend of traditions brought across the Atlantic by Portuguese settlers and African slaves, as well as the ingredients and techniques favored over millennia by indigenous tribes. You can also add a dash of flavor from Spain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

Here’s a sample menu to give you a better sense. We’ll start with dessert first!

Brazilian Desserts

Brazilian-style Cocadas


Beijinho is the coconut counterpart of traditional chocolate brigadeiros. Made with condensed milk and Ninho (powdered milk) then rolled in granulated sugar or grated coconut. 

Pão de Mel is a cinnamon- and clove-spiced honey cake with toffee filling that's dipped in Belgian chocolate. A perfect example of European influence on Brazilian cooking.

Biscoito Amanteigado (literally "buttery cookies" in Portuguese) are often sweetened with a touch of fruit preserves, such as guava or raspberry.

Brigadeiros are perhaps the best known sweet of Brazil. A fudgy ball made of condensed milk, cocoa and butter gets rolled in chocolate sprinkles to create this delicious, bite-sized confection. It’s a staple at birthday parties.

Cocadas are a confection made primarily of eggs, shredded coconut and sugar. They are most popular in the northeast and can be found for sale on the streets.

Sagu, made of tapioca balls, sugar and red wine, is a typical dessert of Southern Brazil. The tapioca ball was introduced by Europeans, although cassava has long been a staple of the native population.

Brazilian Appetizers

Acaraje is a popular snack and breakfast food with African origins. The cheese-flavored puffs are made from a mixture of cassava flour and peeled black-eyed peas which is fried in palm oil.

Farofa is a common accompaniment or can stand alone as an appetizer. For the most typical preparation, manioc flour is toasted with butter, salt and bacon until golden. 

Pastels are a fast-food favorite all over Brazil. These pastries are filled with anything from ground meat, chicken or shrimp to cheese or hearts of palm and are then deep fried. A crispy treat.

Brazilian Entrees

Bobó de camarão

Bobó de camarão is a stew made with shrimp in a sauce of pureed yuca and coconut milk. It is served over rice or as a hearty stand-alone dish. 

Feijoada (which means "beans" in Portuguese) is often referred to as the Brazilian national dish, but the stew of beans, beef and pork can be found in former colonies of Portugal all around the world. The slow-cooked, complicated stew is commonly eaten on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Maniçoba is an example of an indigenous dish from the Amazonian region of Brazil. It is made from manioc leaves that have been ground and boiled with salted pork, dried meat and perhaps bacon. 

Tapioca, not to be confused with the small balls used in desserts, is what Brazilians call sandwiches made with a cassava flour pancake (much like crêpes). They can be buttered or stuffed with a variety of fillings, such as ham and cheese, Nutella and strawberries, or chicken and Brazilian cream cheese.  

We hope you have learned a bit about what makes our Brazilian food special. If you are ever in the area, we invite you to visit Soul Sweet Boutique's Newark, New Jersey location where our bakery is nestled in a cozy café that serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and, of course, dessert!