Traditional Portuguese Dishes

Find out about traditional Portuguese specialities such as the famous salted cod dish, bacalhau, as well as sardinas assadas, caldo verde and more....


Many of Portugal's dishes are fish-based due to the country's situation on the Atlantic. The most famous fish dish is salted cod, bacalhau, which it is said can be cooked in 365 different ways. Each region has its own bacalhau speciality, for example bacalhau à Gomes de Sã from Porto (salted cod, potatoes and onions topped with eggs and onions) or bacalhau à bras from Estremadura (salt cod, potato, onion and scrambled eggs). Other popular fish include sardines, especially grilled (sardinhas assadas), sea bass, octopus, squid (often stuffed), anchovies and swordfish. Shellfish such as mussels, prawns, oysters, lobsters, crabs and clams are also very popular.


One of the most popular meats in Portugal is pork, which can be cooked in a variety of ways. Roast suckling pig (leitão assado) is a speciality of Central Portugal. Another popular pork dish is the carne de porco à Alentajana, which consists of pork marinated in wine and garnished with clams.

A common meat dish is the cozido à Portuguesa, a sort of hotpot of beef, sausages, potatoes, vegetables and rice. Grilled skewers of beef with garlic (espetada) are often served, as is aromatic grilled chicken (frango grelhado), seasoned with piri piri, garlic and olive oil. Feijoada, a meat stew with kidney or butter beans, is a dish popular throughout Portugal.


Soup is served at most meals. Seasonal vegetables, fish and meat are used to make a variety of soups. One of the most famous Portuguese soups from Minho is the caldo verde, which consists of a mashed potato base, green Galician cabbage, olive oil and black pudding (tora) or slices of sausage, such as chouriço and salpicão. Bread soups (açordas) where shellfish and vegetables are added to thick slices of bread are found in all regions.

In the south, gaspacho, a soup of tomatoes, cucumber, onions, garlic, chillies and vinegar, is popular. Caldeirada is a fish soup made of water, tomatoes, onions and garlic and other ingredients that traditionally will depend on the fisherman's catch.


Portuguese recipes do not include cheese (queijo) so it is eaten by itself either before or after main dishes. The majority of Portuguese cheeses are made from goat's or sheep's milk. The most famous cheese in Portugal is most probably the Queijo da Serra, made from ewe's milk in the Serra da Estrela. This cheese is made in the winter and traditionally the milk is coagulated with thistle (flor do cardo). Monte, a cheese from Trás-os-Montes in northern Portugal, is a smooth, creamy cheese made from cow's and ewe's milk.


Many of the desserts in Portugal are rich egg-based specialities, often seasoned with spices such as cinnamon and vanilla. A popular dessert is the arroz doce, a rice pudding flavoured with cinnamon and lemon. The Portuguese have a variety of cake and confectionary specialities that can be found in a pasteleria or confeitaria. Northern specialities are rich, very sugary and often flavoured with cinnamon, whereas in the south the sweetmeats reflect the local harvest of figs and almonds.

Throughout Portugal variations of the pão de Ló can found; this rich sponge cake can be flavoured with lemon, Madeira, port wine, cinnamon or orange juice.