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Christmas in Brazil

christmas table with champagne and panettone

Like many parts of the world, Christmas in Brazil is a time dedicated to being with family, reflecting on the past year, and enjoying good food. There are a few traditions that are distinctly Brazilian, however. Let’s discover how Brazilians celebrate Christmas. 

Brazilian Christmas Traditions

Midnight Mass

As a predominantly Catholic nation, those who observe Christmas often attend a midnight mass on Christmas Eve. This special mass is known as Missa do Gallo in Portuguese, which means “Rooster’s Mass.”

In fact, Christmas Eve is the main day for celebration in Brazil. Following mass, many friends and families join together to exchange gifts and enjoy a traditional Brazilian Christmas dinner. Those who do not attend church also celebrate with food, drink, family, and presents on the night of the 24th. 

Outdoor Fun

While we, in the States, are often cozied up inside by the fire on Christmas day, most Brazilians will be found outdoors. It is, after all, the middle of summer in the Southern Hemisphere, so Brazilians like to celebrate with churrasco, drinks, and a dip in the pool. 

Secret Santa

Brazilian celebrations can get very large very quickly. Extended family and friends of friends of friends are all invited, and the party lasts hours. Buying a gift for everyone in attendance is next to impossible, not to mention expensive. The Brazilian solution is to exchange gifts Secret Santa style, where each person is responsible for getting a gift for one other person. This is known as Amigo Oculto, and it helps save time and money while still allowing everyone to receive a gift. 

Papai Noel

Speaking of Santa, Brazilian children share the common belief that Father Christmas (“Papai Noel” in Portuguese) will bring them presents on Christmas Eve. He is depicted in much the same way as in the US and other parts of the world. He wears red and white robes, a warm hat, and has a white beard. Some like to think his robes are made of silk to keep him from overheating in the hot Brazilian sun. 

Traditional Foods

Like Americans, Brazilians have a few staple items that will be found on almost every table at Christmas time. In place of a turkey, a Chester style chicken is often the centerpiece. Favorite side dishes include rice and feijoada with farofa, as well as plenty of fresh fruit.

No Christmas dinner in Brazil is complete without the panettone (panetone in Portuguese). Panettone is an Italian sweet bread, originally from Milan. The bread has a distinctive dome shape and the base is typically wrapped in decorative paper. It can be filled with a wide variety of candied fruits, but the traditional bread incorporates candied orange and lemon and is dotted with a good amount of raisins. A popular South American version of the panettone uses candied papaya in place of the orange and lemon. 

Another favorite dessert for Christmas in Brazil is rabanada: a crispy, cinnamon-sugar spiced version of French Toast. Brazilians do not eat French Toast for breakfast or brunch. It is exclusively a dessert treat, and it is deep fried for extra decadence. 

Give the Gift of Churrasco This Christmas

Celebrate Christmas the Brazilian way by visiting one of our 50+ locations this holiday season. Better yet, give the gift of Texas de Brazil by purchasing a gift card or a hand-curated grill package from our online Butcher Shop. Call or go online today to find the perfect Christmas gift for your barbecue-loving friend. 


Cheesy Rice Casserole (Arroz de Forno)

cheesy rice casserole in round dish

This time of year has many of us craving comfort food. When the cold weather hits, we look to roasts, stews, and casseroles to get us through the long winter days. Today’s recipe is a delicious spin on American cheesy rice casserole, known in Brazil as Arroz de Forno (“oven rice”). The one pot dish makes the perfect accompaniment to your Thanksgiving turkey or a roast picanha dinner. It is just as good on its own, however, for a busy weeknight meal. 

Rice is a staple crop in Brazil, where it has been cultivated for nearly 4,000 years. It is a popular ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes. No meal in Brazil is complete without a steaming bowl of arroz brasileiro, a simple but delicious dish made with medium or long grain white rice and sofrito, a blend of garlic, onions, and herbs. 

Tips for Cooking Great White Rice

Our recipe calls for pre-cooked white rice. We recommend basmati or another long grain rice, since they have less starch and will not clump together as easily. Here are a few other tips for cooking the perfect, fluffy white rice:

  1. Use the right size pan. For one cup of rice, a 2 quart saucepan is a good size. Any more than one cup, and you will want a larger pan to ensure even cooking. 
  2. Rinse the rice. Although this is not always necessary with longer grain rice, it won’t hurt to wash off any excess starch by rinsing your rice prior to cooking it.
  3. Avoid a high boil when cooking rice. Bring the water and rice to a low boil, then reduce it right away to medium low heat and cover.
  4. Use the right amount of water. In general, you want to shoot for a 1 to 1.5 ratio of rice to water. However, if you pre-rinse your rice, you will want to use slightly less.

Baked Rice Casserole Additions/Alterations

The beauty of this recipe is that it is highly customizable. If you don’t care for ham, you can replace it with sausage, chicken, bacon, or even white fish. You can omit the protein entirely if you want a vegetarian dish.

Americans are fond of broccoli in their rice casseroles, so feel free to add it in. This baked rice also tastes great with sweet peas, cauliflower, or french style green beans.

Cheesy Rice Casserole (Arroz de Forno)


2 cups cooked white rice at room temperature
1 cup cubed ham
2 egg yolks at room temperature
2.5 cups heavy whipping cream
½ diced yellow onion
1 cup diced carrots
1.5 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups shredded melting cheese (a combo of mozzarella, Colby jack, and cheddar is very nice)
1 cup shredded Asiago cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Grease a medium to large baking dish.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and whipping cream. Add in the rice, ham, diced onion, diced carrots, salt, pepper, and the 2 cups of melting cheeses. Stir to combine.
  4. Pour the cheese, cream, and rice mixture into the greased baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the Asiago cheese.
  5. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes until the mixture is bubbling and a beautiful golden brown.
  6. Let cool for ten minutes, then serve with fresh parsley for garnish.


More Brazilian Recipes Like This to Try:


Burgundy Mushrooms

burgundy mushrooms with fresh herbs as garnish

In our spin on Burgundy mushrooms, white button mushrooms are slow-simmered in butter, herbs, garlic, and red wine for a delicious accompaniment to your next churrasco dinner. Pair them with steakhouse style garlic mashed potatoes or simple Brazilian cheese bread for a truly unforgettable meal. 

Burgundy mushrooms are named after Bourgogne, a region in France famous for its red wine. The traditional recipe incorporates wine from this region, although any dry red wine will do. Bourgogne is also known for its capital city of Dijon, where the flavorful mustard of the same name has its origins. 

In Brazil, mushrooms are not typically offered as a stand alone dish. They are more commonly found as a topping on pizzas, in Brazilian stroganoff, or in Japanese cuisine. Mushrooms do not grow readily in many parts of the country, thanks to a generally warmer year-round climate. However, they can be easily found in most supermarkets and are a favorite addition in certain dishes.

One type of mushroom that is native to Brazil is a species of Agaricus subrufescens. Known locally as cogumelo do sol (“mushroom of the sun”), the mushroom was first discovered growing in Brazil in the 1970s and mistakenly identified as Agaricus blazei, a species first found in Florida. The fruiting body of A. subrufescens is indeed edible and is described as having a sweet, almond-like taste. It is also prized for its supposed medicinal effects, including alleged anti-cancer properties. 

While we will not be using cogumelo do sol in our recipe, feel free to incorporate them if you have the chance. The sweet taste would go very nicely in the red wine sauce we will be preparing. Just make sure to chop them in uniform pieces to allow for even cooking. 

Can I Make Burgundy Mushrooms in a Slow Cooker?

Yes. In fact, this would be an ideal method to maintain slow and even cooking. Otherwise, you will be using a large stock pot that you will not want to leave unattended for too long. 

Faster Recipe for Burgundy Mushrooms

The best Burgundy mushrooms take hours to make, since we are reducing a fair amount of liquid to a thick, dark sauce. In a pinch, you can thicken up your burgundy mushroom sauce with a cornstarch slurry or a beurre manié. Use 1 part cornstarch to 2 parts water for your slurry, or a 1:1 ratio of room temperature butter to flour for the beurre manié. Add it to your mushrooms and bring to a boil then reduce until thickened to a good, smooth consistency. 

Burgundy Mushrooms Recipe


2 lbs white button mushrooms (whole)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
0.5 liters dry red wine
2 cups of chicken stock
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Two sprigs fresh thyme (1 tsp dried thyme)
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste


  1. Wash and dry the mushrooms. 
  2. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Melt the butter and lightly saute the minced garlic just until fragrant. (If using a slow cooker, you can do this separately in a small skillet).
  3. Add in the mushrooms, wine, chicken stock, dijon mustard, thyme, and salt and pepper. 
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a low simmer.
  5. Cover and simmer on low for 4 hours. 
  6. After four hours, remove the lid and simmer for another hour and a half, or until the sauce is rich and thickened to the consistency of a thin gravy. 

Enjoy with a delicious flank steak or on simple, crusty french bread. 

Texas de Brazil Sauteed Mushrooms

Let us do the cooking for you! Try our delicious sauteed mushrooms, braised for hours in herbs and red wine. You’ll find them in our hot items section, along with our famous lobster bisque, potatoes au gratin, and feijoada

Brazilian Stroganoff (Estrogonofe de Carne)

brazilian strogonoff with rice and potato sticks

Beef stroganoff is a hearty and filling dish we often associate with Eastern Europe, especially Russia. Browned beef is stewed in a mustard sauce and served with sour cream and egg noodles for a quintessential wintertime dish. A version of beef stroganoff, or estrogonofe de carne, is quite popular in Brazil. This is not surprising, considering over 2 million Brazilians claim Russian heritage! Brazilian stroganoff is quite similar to the traditional Russian version, but with a few twists to suit local tastes.

History of Stroganoff 

The first recipe for beef stroganoff (stroganov in Russian) can be found in the cookbook, A Gift to Young Wives. Written by Elena Molokhovhets, the tome was published in 1871 and was wildly popular among housewives.  The first edition contained a recipe for “Beef a la Stroganov, with mustard.”

“Stroganov” was derived from one of Russia’s most successful merchant families of the same name. They established themselves as early as the 16th century and developed lucrative connections to virtually every facet of Russian business, from banking to politics. They might be likened to the prominent Medici family of Italy. 

The reason for naming the dish after the Stroganovs is not immediately clear. However, we might hypothesize that Ms. Molokhovets hoped to convey the richness of the dish by naming it after the wealthiest family in the country. 

Brazilian Beef Stroganoff vs Russian Stroganoff

The original recipe for Beef a la Stroganov was made with beef and a basic roux sauce with broth, mustard, and sour cream. Many variations incorporate mushrooms, garlic, and onion, but these additions are generally attributed to French chefs who obtained the recipe while traveling in St. Petersburg. 

Brazilian beef stroganoff is similar, but it replaces the mustard with tomato paste, ketchup, and worcestershire sauce. The tomato paste gives the dish a signature light orange hue. Brazilian stroganoff also uses heavy cream in place of sour cream and includes onions, garlic, and mushrooms.

The traditional accompaniment to Russian stroganoff is a side of crispy potato sticks (a favorite topping in Brazil as well). Brazilians serve their stroganoff in the same manner, or with a side of fluffy white rice (or both!). 

Variations of Brazilian Stroganoff Stew

The protein you use can be changed depending on personal preference or dietary requirements. If you are vegetarian, you can omit the meat entirely and add more mushrooms, carrots, potatoes, and other vegetables for a hearty veggie stew. Brazilians like to sub in chicken or prawns as well. 

Brazilian Estrogonofe Without Heavy Cream

Generally speaking, stroganoff is a dish that is meant to “stick to your ribs.” However, if you want to reduce the fat and calorie content of this dish, you can omit the heavy cream and make a traditional roux instead. For every four cups of liquid, use 4 oz of roux. 

To make a simple roux, use a 2:1 ratio of melted flour to melted fat or oil. For example, melt 2 oz of butter and mix in 4 oz of flour. Let it cook for at least 30 seconds, then whisk in your liquid. 

Brazilian Beef Stroganoff Recipe (Estroganofe de Carne)


2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter
2 lbs lean, high grade beef, such as tenderloin or ribeye (cut into 1 inch cubes)
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1.5 cups sliced white mushrooms
⅔ cup tomato paste
½ cup water
2 tbsp ketchup
2.5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2.5 cups heavy cream
2 tsp salt (more to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Let your cubed beef come to room temperature while you preheat a skillet over medium high heat. 
  2. Melt the butter or drizzle oil into the preheated pan. 
  3. Sear the beef on each side until a nice crust forms (just a few seconds each side).
  4. Remove the beef and set aside. Lower the heat in the pan to medium-low.
  5. Add in the onions and sauté until softened. 
  6. Add in the white mushrooms and cook until they are softened with golden edges.
  7. Now add in the garlic and cook for about thirty seconds until fragrant.
  8. Return the beef to the pan, along with the salt, pepper, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and ½ cup of water. 
  9. When the mixture is evenly incorporated, add in the heavy cream and simmer until piping hot. 

Serve over a bed of fresh white rice and top with batata palha. Enjoy!

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