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Most Popular Foods Eaten for Rio Carnival

Carnival is undeniably Brazil’s biggest celebration, and Rio’s version draws millions of visitors every year. For ten days straight, the city literally vibrates with samba music, food, dancing, and non-stop partying. 

Since much of the celebration occurs outside, street food is a popular choice during Carnival. Vendors selling delicious snacks and hand-held treats can be found on every corner. You’ll find virtually every kind of food, but there are a few especial favorites you won’t want to miss.

Pão de Queijo 

pao de queijo puffs in silver bowl
Brazilian cheese bread, called pao de queijo, is made with cassava flour and various cheeses like mozzarella and parmesan.


These crispy, gooey morsels are Brazil’s answer to French cheese puffs, or gougeres. While traditionally eaten for breakfast, they are just as popular as a street snack during Carnival. The puffs are made with tapioca flour and plenty of cheese, like mozzarella or parmesan. You can eat them as is or try a version stuffed with sweet jam. Fair warning: you won’t be able to eat just one, so save room. 

Paos de queijo  are also ridiculously easy to make at home. Try our Brazilian Cheese Bread Recipe here


coxinha chicken croquettes on white plate
Coxinha croquettes in the traditional tear drop shape.


Coxinhas are, essentially, chicken croquettes. These delicious nuggets originated in Sao Paulo, where they were made to resemble a chicken thigh. They are traditionally made by filling wheat dough with a mixture of shredded chicken, cheese, onions, and herbs. The dough is molded into a tear-drop shape, dipped in batter, coated with bread crumbs, then deep fried until golden and crispy. 


Brazilian churros filled with dulce de leche.


Brazilian churros are similar to those of Spain, Portugal, and Latin America. Sweet yeast dough is piped in an oblong shape and fried in hot oil until crispy, then coated in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. Brazilians take the sweetness to the next level by filling or coating their churros with doce de leite, also known as dulce de leche. 

Bolinhos de Bacalhau

round brazilian fish croquettes
Bolinhos de Bacalhau are made from salted cod, vegetables, and spices then deep fried.


Bolinhos de Bacalhau are another type of croquette enjoyed by Brazilians. This version is made with salted cod, potatoes, eggs, onions, and spices. The mixture is shaped into balls and deep fried. The delicious cod fritters can be eaten on their own as a snack or accompanied with rice and vegetables for a satisfying meal.


baiana frying acaraje in traditional wok
Acaraje is a specialty of Bahia, but it is appreciated in Rio as well.


While traditionally associated with the Baianas of Bahia, acarajés are also widely available in the markets of Rio. The acarajé shell is prepared by pounding blackeyed peas, onions, salt and pepper. The mixture is molded into a scone or disc and deep fried in dende, or palm oil. The crispy fried shell is split open and stuffed with various fillings, like shrimp and vegetables. It is topped with vatapa, a spicy nut paste, and served with a fresh salad. 


meats being grilled in traditional Brazilian churrasco style
Picanha and other delicious meats are spit-roasted over a flame grill.


Brazil’s favorite cut of meat isn’t only available in churrascarias. You can easily find vendors roasting and grilling all sorts of meats and sausages, including the beefy and tender picanha. The meat is simply seasoned with rock salt, skewered, and flame-grilled to medium rare perfection. Tender slices are carved directly from the skewered roasts for customers to enjoy on the go. 


Brazilian chocolate Brigadeiros rolled in sprinkles
Brigadeiros are made from just three ingredients and can be topped with sprinkles, nuts, or coconut flakes


These chocolate treats derive their name from Brigadier General Eduardo Gomes, a prominent political figure of the 1940s. They became a popular dessert during this time, since they were cheap to make and did not require rationed ingredients like eggs or milk. 

Condensed milk, butter, and cocoa powder are all that is required to make Brigadeiros, but today, they are often embellished with sprinkles, pistachios, almonds, or coconut flakes. 

Visit Texas de Brazil to Try More Traditional Favorites

Texas de Brazil has over 50 locations in the US and overseas. Visit one of our restaurants to try more delicious Brazilian favorites and experience unparalleled customer service in a lively atmosphere. 

Or, try your hand at cooking gaucho-style at home. Visit our online Butcher Shop to choose from an incredible selection of prime cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and our famous Brazilian sausages. 

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