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Easy Side Dishes for Ham

sliced ham

While turkey continues to be the favored holiday dinner protein, many Americans also choose ham as their main dish. In fact, around 318 million pounds of ham was eaten for Christmas in 2022. These days, ham is more expensive than many other meats, thanks to rising labor and food production costs. You may be looking to offset your pricey porcine with a few easy and pocket-friendly accompaniments. We’ve got you covered. Here are a few ideas for easy side dishes for ham that are fast, cheap, but still delicious.  

Quick Side Dishes for Ham Dinner

Brazilian Cheese Bread

a basket of Brazilian cheese bread

First on the list of our easy side dishes for ham: Brazilian cheese bread. Instead of the traditional yeast roll, why not try your hand at some gooey, cheesy pao de queijo? Made from tapioca starch, these bite-sized morsels are nutty, chewy, and absolutely addictive. Bonus: they are completely gluten free and made with ingredients you likely already have on hand (aside from the tapioca flour). Try stuffing them with sausage if you really want to wow your guests. 

Spicy Cranberry Sauce

cranberries in a white serviing bowl

Our recipe for boozy cranberry sauce with a little heat revs up this traditional holiday favorite. We use vanilla, cinnamon, clove, and a big pinch of cayenne pepper to cut through the sweetness of the dish, adding a healthy splash of aged cachaca for even more flavor. The cachaca is by far the priciest part of this recipe; you can replace it with water or a little rum, if you already have that on hand. 

Couve Mineira (Brazilian Collard Greens)

Brazilian finely sliced collards with bacon

You may not think of collard greens when you are in the market for “easy” ham side dishes. That is because traditional Southern recipes often take hours to stew the greens until they are tender. Brazilian collards cook up quickly since they are sliced into uber-thin strips and sauteed in oil. Add a little garlic, onion, and bacon, and you have a delicious accompaniment for your holiday ham. 

Brazilian Rice

Brazilian long grain rice with mint garnish

Next up on our list of easy side dishes for ham: rice. No holiday meal in Brazil (or any meal, really) is complete without the ubiquitous arroz Brasileiro: basmati rice toasted in oil then slow-simmered with refogado, a puree of garlic and onions. If you don’t have the refogado mix, don’t worry about it: finely minced garlic and onions will work just as well. The only thing left is olive oil and white rice–doesn’t get much cheaper than that!

Steakhouse Garlic Mashed Potatoes

a bowl of garlic mashed potatoes

If you’d rather stick with potatoes for your starch fix, we totally understand. Mashed potatoes are a classic and easy side dish for ham for a reason: they are inexpensive, filling, and so delicious. They are basically comfort food at its finest. You simply can’t go wrong by punching up the flavor with a little (or a lot) of garlic, like we do in our steakhouse inspired mashed potato recipe

Burgundy Mushrooms

burgundy mushrooms in a black castiron skillet

Here’s another cheap and easy side dish for ham this holiday. Our take on Burgundy mushrooms slowly simmers them in red wine, stock, garlic, Dijon mustard, and fresh herbs. The sauce alone is delicious, especially spooned over those garlic mashed potatoes we mentioned. 

Caramelized Leeks

braised leeks in a pan

Leeks don’t often make it to the holiday table as a stand-alone side dish, and we think that’s rather tragic. When prepared with the right ingredients, they become buttery, caramelized, and absolutely delicious. In our braised leeks recipe, we take the sweetness up a notch with a balsamic reduction. Heap some on top of your slice of ham so you can have some with every bite. 

Christmas Dinner Catered

If all else fails, you can always host the perfect holiday meal with Texas de Brazil’s takeout options. Right now, you can pre-order our Beef Ribs Holiday Feast: fall-of-the-bone ribs served with your choice of two side dishes, a mess of Brazilian cheese bread, and zesty chimichurri sauce for dipping. The kit feeds 6-8 people and comes hot and ready to eat. Order yours for pick up on 12/24, 12/25, and 12/31 between the hours of 1pm and 5pm. 

Brazilian Collards with Bacon (Couve Mineira)

Brazilian collards alongside feijoada black bean stew and rice

Collard greens, known as “couve” in Portuguese, play a significant role in Brazilian cuisine. They are a staple side dish often served alongside traditional Brazilian dishes like Feijoada (a black bean stew with pork) and grilled meats. Collard greens are not only delicious but also nutritious, providing essential vitamins and minerals that complement the richness of many Brazilian dishes. Today’s recipe is called couve mineira, a wildly popular version of Brazilian collards with bacon. 

Are Brazilian Collards Good For You?

Brazilian collards often incorporate light frying and bacon, but this does not detract from the inherent nutritional value of the collards themselves. A part of the cruciferous family (along with broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, etc.), collard greens are low in calories and high in dietary fiber. 3.5 oz of boiled collards also contains nearly four times your daily value of Vitamin K, a vitamin essential for blood coagulation and binding calcium to your bones and tissues.

Like other leafy greens, collards also provide a decent punch of Vitamin C and Vitamin A, along with important minerals like iron and manganese. 

If you want a lighter version of this recipe, simply omit the bacon and use just the extra virgin olive oil for frying. It’s equally delicious!

Brazilian Collards vs Southern Collards

In the US, collards are a staple of Southern cooking. More specifically, they hold cultural importance in Black Southern cuisine. Collard greens were often grown in home gardens by slaves to supplement meager rations. They were prized for their hardiness both during the winter and in the sweltering summer heat.  

Today, collards continue to be an important side dish throughout the South and hold a special place in the category of Soul Food. Southern collard greens are usually rough-chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces, then slow-simmered in broth with a smoky piece of protein, such as a turkey leg. 

While Brazil has an abundance of African influence in its cuisine, it is likely that collards made their way to the country via Portuguese colonists. Collard greens are a favorite ingredient in many Portuguese dishes, such as caldo verde, a hearty green soup. 

Unlike Southern collards, Brazilian collards are not usually slow-cooked. Rather, they are typically sliced into thin strips. The smaller size means they cook more quickly, lending themselves to sauteeing versus boiling or simmering. 

Substitutes for Brazilian Collard Greens

While most Brazilians will argue staunchly against using anything but collard greens for this recipe, you can substitute kale or even shaved brussels sprouts if you prefer. Swiss chard would also be acceptable, since it maintains its “bite” after a light sautee. You won’t want to use broccoli or cauliflower, since they won’t cook through with this method. 


Recipe for Brazilian Collard Greens (Couve Mineira)


1 bunch of fresh collard greens
6 slices of bacon
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and black pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes (optional, for a spicy kick)
Extra virgin olive oil


  1. Wash the collard greens thoroughly under cold running water to remove any dirt or sand. Drain and pat them dry with a kitchen towel or paper towels.
  2. Remove the tough stems from the collard greens by folding each leaf in half lengthwise and cutting along the stem. Discard the stems or save them for making vegetable stock.
  3. Stack the collard green leaves on top of each other, roll them into a tight cylinder, and slice them into thin strips (about 1/4-inch wide). This technique is known as chiffonade.
  4.  In a large skillet or frying pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until it becomes crispy. Remove the bacon slices from the pan and place them on paper towels to drain excess fat. Once cool, crumble the bacon into small pieces and set it aside.
  5. Drain all but a tablespoon of the bacon fat from the pan. If needed, add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic. Sauté them until they become translucent and fragrant.
  6. Add the sliced collard greens to the skillet, tossing them with the onions and garlic. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the collard greens are tender and slightly wilted. If needed, you can cover the skillet for a few minutes to help them cook faster.
  7. Season the collard greens with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes (if desired). Be cautious with the salt, as the bacon already adds saltiness.
  8. Return the crumbled bacon pieces to the skillet and mix them with the collard greens.
  9. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. If you prefer a slightly crispy texture, you can cook the collard greens for a few additional minutes.
  10. Once the collard greens are tender and well-seasoned, remove the skillet from heat.

Serve your Brazilian collards as a side dish to complement your favorite meals. Enjoy!

What To Eat With Collards

Brazilian collards go well with a wide variety of dishes. They are a must with feijoada, but are just as tasty with a medium rare skirt steak or picanha roast. If you can’t make up your mind, why not try a hand-curated box of premium cuts of beef, lamb, and pork delivered right to your door? Texas de Brazil’s online butcher shop features complete boxes and a la carte options to suit every taste. Get one for you and a friend for a truly elevated barbecue experience! 


montaditos with cured ham

Spanish Sandwich Morsels in Brazil

It is estimated that there are between 10 and 15 million Brazilians of Spanish descent. During peak immigration, Spain represented the third largest population of immigrants to the country. It is no surprise, then, that Spanish culture and cuisine have become an integral part of the nation’s identity. Tapas, for example, is very popular in Brazil. This Spanish tradition of sharing small plates lends itself naturally to the Brazilian love of food, friends, and nightlife. A favorite small plate is the montadito, an open-faced sandwich meant to be consumed in a bite or two. The dish can be customized with all sorts of toppings depending on local preferences. 

What Are Montaditos?

Montaditos are, essentially, bite-sized, open-faced sandwiches. Various toppings are traditionally served on slices of french baguette, either toasted or fresh (other types of bread may be used, however). 

The term “montadito” itself derives from the Spanish word “montar,” which means “to mount” or “to place on top.” It is a reference to the meats and cheeses piled atop the bread slices. Interestingly, the word “montar” in Portuguese means “to assemble,” also a relevant description. 

Montaditos were likely the first type of sandwich ever eaten in Spain. There is evidence of such sandwiches as early as the 15th century, when it was not uncommon for peasants to use a slice of bread as a plate. Hardened bread was fashioned into a “trencher,” or hollowed out dish to accommodate any available food. 

Such dishes allowed for even the stale bread to have use, since certain toppings might soak into it and make it edible. This practice may date even farther back than the middle ages to Ancient Rome, when fresh pressed olive oil could be sampled with a slice of bread.

Montadito Topping Ideas

The beauty of montaditos lies in their versatility. From savory to sweet, there’s a wide array of toppings to suit every palate. Brazilian favorites include:

  1. Jamón Ibérico: Thin slices of the renowned Spanish cured ham, jamón ibérico, adorn many montaditos. The silky texture and rich flavor of the ham provide a delightful contrast to the crunch of the bread.
  2. Manchego Cheese: Aged and nutty, manchego cheese adds a delightful richness to montaditos. It can be paired with quince paste or drizzled with honey for a perfect sweet-savory balance.
  3. Chorizo: Slices of spicy chorizo sausage bring a burst of flavor to montaditos. The smoky and tangy notes of chorizo are often offset with fresh tomatoes or a sweet tomato spread.
  4. Roast Beef: a Brazilian meal is rarely complete without a little red meat, and that includes montaditos. 
  5. Roasted Peppers: Sweet and smoky roasted red peppers add a burst of color and a touch of sweetness to the montadito.
  6. Anchovies: These small fish are a favorite topping, offering a briny and umami-packed punch that tantalizes the taste buds.
  7. Paté: Various types of paté, such as duck liver or seafood paté, add a creamy and luxurious element to montaditos.
  8. Brie: a French twist often combines the creamy Brie cheese with vegetarian montadito options, like juicy tomatoes or fried eggplant. 

Montaditos vs Crostini

Crostini are an Italian dish that is very similar to montaditos. However, where montaditos always constitute some kind of topping, crostini may be served simply toasted and with a brush of olive oil. They are also considered an “antipasti,” or appetizer, as opposed to a small course. 

Bruschetta are another Italian bread dish that incorporates toppings over grilled toast. These are most often associated with fresh vegetable and herb toppings, such as the ubiquitous tomato and basil combo. But, like montaditos, they can be endlessly customized. 

Simple Montadito Recipe


1 loaf of French baguette
4 ounces parmesan or pecorino cheese
4 ounces capicola
1 jar fig preserves
Small handful of Arugula
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. 
  2. Slice your baguette into thin slices, 1-2 inches wide.
  3. Put the slices on a lined baking sheet and drizzle each with a little olive oil and a dash of salt. 
  4. Toast the bread until it is golden brown, around 10 minutes. 
  5. When the toast is cool enough to handle, spread each slice with a generous amount of fig preserves. 
  6. Layer each montadito with a slice or two of capicola, a thin slice of parmesan, followed by a garnish of arugula. 

Enjoy with a glass of Spanish rioja or a refreshing caipirinha. 

More delicious Brazilian Recipes to try:

Back to Basics: Perfect Brazilian Rice

Brazilian rice with feijoada, collards, and orange slices

Garlicky Brazilian White Rice Side Dish

Along with black beans (feijao), white rice is the most common side dish in Brazil. It is prepared in a signature way that ensures the grains remain loose, not sticky. It is a simple but satisfying dish that compliments virtually every meal. Don’t let its simplicity fool you, though. There are a few key steps you must take in order to prepare the perfect Brazilian white rice. Not to worry: we’ll share our go-to recipe for flavorful, fluffy arroz Brasileiro so you get it right every time. 

History of Rice in Brazil

There is evidence that rice was cultivated by the indigenous peoples of the Amazon nearly 4000 years ago. Archaeologists believe these prehistoric groups developed a method for manipulating and reproducing wild rice. Unfortunately, this method was lost, likely due to the fact that the indigenous people were decimated by early colonists. 

In an ironic turn of events, Portuguese colonists in the 17th century began to experiment with rice cultivation in Brazil. The climate of the southern region proved especially arable for the crop, which became a protected national staple by the early 19th century. 

What Rice is Used in Brazilian Rice?

Brazilians prefer long-grain rice. This type of rice has less starch, which allows the grains to remain separate as opposed to sticking together. Prior to boiling, Brazilian rice is lightly fried in oil and refogado. Refogado is its own Brazilian staple: a sofrito-style blend of onions, garlic, and olive oil that has been blended into a paste. Many keep a jar handy in the fridge, since it acts as the base flavor for so many dishes. 

You can add other aromatics to your refogado to suit your own tastes. Popular additions in Brazil include tomatoes and bay leaves. Some recipes call for you to simmer the ingredients prior to storing in a jar in the fridge. But this is not necessary for our Brazilian rice, since we will be sauteeing the refogado in oil with the rice. This will cook out the strong flavors of the onion and garlic. 

Do You Have to Use Sofrito for Brazilian Rice?

No, you can just finely mince fresh onion and garlic and sautee these in the pan with the long grain rice. You will have more of a “bite” than with the prepared refogado, since there will be larger, heterogenous pieces. If you prefer your rice more uniform, we suggest preparing the aromatics ahead of time in the refogado style. 

Easy Refogado Recipe for Arroz Brasileiro


1 small yellow onion
2 large heads of garlic (heads, not cloves! We know, it’s a lot of garlic, but it’s important)
¼ to ⅓ cup of extra virgin olive oil


  1. Peel and roughly chop the onion. Smash and peel the cloves of garlic from the two heads. You can make it a little easier on yourself by buying pre-peeled cloves of garlic. You’ll need about a cup total of individual cloves.
  2. Add the garlic and onion and ¼ cup of olive oil to a food processor. Pulse until you have a paste. If it is still chunky, add a little more olive oil.

Now let’s get to the main event: perfect Brazilian rice!

Brazilian Rice Recipe with Refogado

Makes about four servings


2 cups long grain white rice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp prepared refogado OR ¼ diced yellow onion and 2 minced garlic cloves
1.5 tsp salt
4 cups water


  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in the olive oil and the rice. Stir constantly until you see some grains begin to toast (they will take on a light golden color). This should take around 3 minutes. 
  2. When the rice starts to turn golden, add in the refogado or minced aromatics. Stir and cook along with the rice for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add in the water and salt and bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to low, then cover. Simmer on low for 25 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed. 

Serve hot with feijoada and your favorite protein. We love this as a satisfying lunch with some carne seca, or a special meal with Brazilian flank steak

More Great Brazilian Recipes to Try:


Arroz Carreteiro (Brazilian Rice Made with Leftovers)

Pot of arroz carreitero, long grain Brazilian rice with leftover barbecue meats

Barbecue season is in full swing, which means many of us have a fridge full of odds and ends of charred, smoky meats. Nobody wants to waste them, but it can be difficult to put together another meal from a few ribs and two remaining sausages. Enter arroz carreteiro, a flavorful Brazilian rice designed to incorporate those miscellaneous leftovers into one delicious, filling dish. 

Where Does Arroz Carreteiro Come From?

Arroz carreteiro translates to “waggoner’s rice.” Like many of Brazil’s hearty stews and one-pot meals, this recipe originated with the gauchos of Southern Brazil. The country’s famous cattlemen were in need of quick and easy nourishment while traveling long distances. Like feiijao tropeiro and other dishes, arroz carreteiro frequently included non-perishable ingredients, like dried beef and cassava flour. 

Today, arroz carreteiro is often eaten after a weekend of churrasco. Leftover cuts of meat and veggies are tossed in with perfect long-grain rice and topped with eggs, grated parmesan cheese, and parsley. 

Do You Have to Use Leftover Meat for Arroz Carreteiro?

Of course not! The point of waggoner’s rice is largely to use up leftovers, but that doesn’t have to include meat. You can omit the barbecue leftovers in favor of other things you have in the fridge, like boiled eggs or roasted vegetables. Or, cook fresh portions of meat and add them in the same way you would the leftover meat (see instructions below). 

What Kind of Rice Do I Need for Arroz Carreteiro?

In general, Brazilians prefer long grain white rice (jasmine, basmati, etc.). The reason for this is that the rice grains do not stick together. This allows the individual grains to be coated with flavors and has a less glutinous mouth feel. 

You can use short grain rice if that is what you have, but be sure to rinse it several times to avoid it becoming too mushy as it cooks down. You will also need to slightly reduce the amount of liquid to account for the added moisture from rinsing. Dry rice should have a ratio of 1 cup of rice to 1.5 cups of liquid. Rinsed rice will need 1.25 cups of liquid for every one cup of rice. 

Our arroz carreitero will need more water because we will be using more than just rice. We will simmer it a little longer to allow all the liquid to be absorbed. 

Tips for Perfect Brazilian Rice

In addition to the right amount of liquid and the correct grain of rice, use the following tips to ensure the perfect rice for your arroz carreteiro:

  1. Use a large enough pot. Use a 2 quart stock pot for one cup of rice. Size up when cooking more. 
  2. Keep the heat at a simmer. Once you’ve reached the initial boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer; you don’t want to boil the mixture for a prolonged amount of time, since it will reduce the liquid too quickly and undercook the rice. 
  3. Don’t Remove the Lid. When your rice has around ten minutes left to cook, avoid removing the lid, if possible. Steam is important in cooking perfect arroz branco, and you don’t want to let any escape until it is done. A glass lid can be handy for this process so you can keep an eye on the rice without removing the lid. 

Arroz Carreteiro Recipe (Brazilian Rice with Leftover Barbecue)


1 cup long grain white rice
2 cups of leftover barbecue meat, shredded and/or cubed
2.5 cups water
½ yellow onion, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
1 hot pepper, such as jalapeno or serrano, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 hard boiled eggs
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika (not smoked)
Grated parmesan cheese
Salt to taste


  1. Heat a large pot or deep skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add a drizzle of olive oil, and add in your chopped onion and peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until tender.
  3. Add in the garlic and cook for a further thirty seconds, just until fragrant.
  4. Add in the barbecue meat, paprika, black pepper, and salt (we used 2 tsp). 
  5. Pour in the rice and add the water. Stir to mix.
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to medium-low heat.
  7. Cover the pot partly with the lid, don’t seal it yet. 
  8. Cook the arroz carreteiro for about 25 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  9. When you don’t see any more liquid, turn the heat off and cover the rice completely with the lid. Let the steam work its magic for ten more minutes. 
  10. Top the arroz with the chopped parsley and boiled egg. Add a generous amount of parmesan cheese on top, and serve piping hot. 


More Delicious Brazilian Recipes to Try:


Feijão Tropeiro

Brazilian Black Bean Stew with Collards and Sausage

Brazilian feijao tropeiro in white casserole dish

Feijao tropeiro is one of Brazil’s most popular dishes. A hearty stew of black beans, spicy sausage, and collard greens, it is something of a mixture between feijoada and caldo verde. Like American hash, feijao tropeiro has traditionally been a way to use up leftovers, making it a simple and economical dish. Of course, you don’t have to use leftovers. This stew is plenty delicious to warrant fresh ingredients as well!

Where Does Feijao Tropeiro Come From?

Feijao tropeiro is known in English as “cattleman’s stew.” This is because it originated among the tropeiro: cattle drivers of 17th century Brazil. Long months of travel necessitated foodstuffs that would not spoil: dried beans, cured meats, and cassava flour. The cattleman combined all three into a simple but satisfying dish that became known as feijao tropeiro (“feijao” means “beans”).

Today, feijao tropeiro incorporates fresh ingredients, like collards, and adds sausage and other meats. Contemporary Brazilians also like to put crispy pork rinds (“torresmos”) on top for added crunch and comfort.  

You can customize your feijao tropeiro with anything you like; but to remain authentic, you must start with the three traditional requirements: meat, beans, and cassava flour. 

Brazilian Sausage Substitute

Our feijao tropeiro recipe today calls for calabresa linguica sausage, a distinctly Brazilian cured meat that is both zesty and sweet. It can easily be purchased online through Texas de Brazil’s Butcher Shop; however, you can also use smoky kielbasa or chorizo. 

Where to Find Manioc Flour

Manioc flour is also known as cassava flour. It can be found in most specialty grocery stores, and even in some mainstream ones. If you cannot find cassava flour, you can substitute tapioca starch. Both are made from the yuca root, but manioc contains more fiber than tapioca starch. Keep this in mind, since it will contribute to the final texture of the feijao tropero. 

Dried vs Canned Beans for Cattleman’s Stew

Traditional Brazilian feijao tropeiro calls for dried pinto beans. Presumably, they have already been soaked and used in another dish, since the stew is usually made with leftovers. That being said, you can just as easily use canned pintos for convenience. Any foodie will tell you that the flavors will never be as good as with dried beans, but this is hash for cowboys-no time to get snobby. 

Feijão Tropeiro Recipe


1 lb pinto beans, soaked and cooked (or 1 can pinto beans)
1 lb Braziliain sausage, cut into ½” slices
½ lb bacon, diced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
8 oz cassava flour
1 large bunch of collard greens, cut chiffonade style
4 large eggs
1 tsp salt (more to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
One 4 oz packet of pork rinds/chicharrones 


  1. Heat a skillet over medium and fry the bacon until crispy. Remove it from the pan and strain it on a paper towel. 
  2. Discard the bacon fat and put a drizzle of olive oil in the same pan you used to cook the bacon. Brown the sausage for a minute or two and set it aside with the bacon.
  3. Add another drizzle of oil to the pan and saute the onions until they are fragrant and translucent (about 2 minutes). Add in your salt and pepper.
  4. Add in your garlic and pinto beans and cook for a few minutes more. 
  5. Stir in the sausage, bacon, and strips of collard greens. 
  6. Add the cassava flour a little bit at a time, until it is toasty and well-incorporated. 
  7. Reduce the heat to low and heat another skillet over medium heat.
  8. Add a drizzle of olive oil, and crack your eggs into the skillet. Fry them sunny side up, then put them on top of the feijao tropeiro mixture. 
  9. Serve immediately garnished with the crispy pork rinds and some fresh parsley or cilantro. A little hot sauce wouldn’t go amiss, either. 

More Great Brazilian Recipes to Try:

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

avocado chocolate mousse with mint garnish

Mousse de Abacate com Cacau 

Avocados have emerged in recent history as a kind of superfood, and for good reason. They are rich in healthy fats, have zero cholesterol, and are chock full of vitamins and minerals. They also have the lowest sugar content of any fruit. This is likely the reason why most Americans tend to favor avocados in savory dishes rather than desserts. Guacamole is, perhaps, the most famous iteration. But Brazilians flip the script and prefer avocados sweetened with agave or prepared in creamy desserts, like today’s avocado chocolate mousse. 

Where Do Avocados Come From?

Before we delve into making our avocado chocolate mousse, you may be wondering about the history of this super fruit. Most experts agree that the avocado was first grown in central Mexico. There is evidence of primitive avocado trees in this region dating back 10,000 years! (Interestingly, our chocolate counterpart in this recipe also originates in Mexico.)

The ancient Aztecs and other indigenous tribes believed the avocado had medicinal qualities, predominantly as an aphrodisiac and also as an aid for indigestion and inflammation. Some evidence suggests avocado was used to facilitate childbirth as well. 

The Maya may have also planted avocado and other fruit trees around their homes in honor of their ancestors, whom they believed returned to the earth as trees. 

Mexico continues to be the largest producer of avocados in the world, supplying 45 percent of the market. The other leading producers of avocado are the Dominican Republic, Peru, Colombia, and Indonesia. 

Brazil also grows avocados, mostly in the Minas Gerais and São Paulo regions. The majority of avocados grown in Brazil are for domestic use only, however. 

What Avocados are Best for Chocolate Mousse?

Like other fruits, there are many varieties of avocado. In Florida, alone, there are over 56 varieties. Although hundreds of cultivars exist, they can all be traced back to either East Indian, Mexican, or Guatemalan origins. Avocados are also divided broadly into two subcategories: Type A and Type B. They are labeled A or B according to when the flowers shed their pollen (A in the afternoon, B in the morning). 

In the US, we typically see Type A cultivars. The most common include:

Haas: a California variety with a pebbly skin and creamy, nutty texture. This is one of the most popular varieties available in American supermarkets and can be found year round. This is the preference for creamy dips and desserts, including our avocado chocolate mousse. 

Choquette: these varieties come from Florida and have a higher water content than Haas, but the overall taste is similar. The skin is smooth and glossy. 

Fuerte: another Southern California variety that is sweeter and more watery than Haas. 

Why Use Avocados In Mousse?

Traditional mousse recipes often incorporate whipped egg whites along with chocolate, vanilla, or other ingredients to make an airy consistency. Egg yolks may be added to the end product for a silky mouthfeel, which is the hallmark of a good mousse. 

Avocados allow you to bypass the use of eggs entirely within a chocolate mousse. They perfectly emulate the rich, silky texture of the egg version, while contributing additional health benefits. Unlike eggs, avocados have zero cholesterol and they impart myriad vitamins and minerals to a dish that might otherwise be considered an indulgence. Furthermore, the use of avocados in mousse and other desserts in place of eggs supports a plant based diet, which is important in the fight against climate change. 

Is Chocolate Avocado Mousse Vegan?

It can be! Our recipe uses heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk, but you can substitute any non-dairy milk you like for the cream and use agave, maple syrup, or honey for the sweetener. 

Can I Freeze Avocado Mousse?

Yes, you can freeze avocado chocolate mousse. When you are ready to eat it, allow it to defrost in the fridge. Do not attempt to thaw it in a water bath or in the microwave, though. It will ruin the texture! The mousse will keep in the freezer for about two months. Once it is thawed, you will want to eat it within a day or two. 

Chocolate Avocado Mousse Recipe


4-5 ripe Haas avocados
4 oz Dutch cocoa powder
3 oz heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz sweetened condensed milk
Pinch of salt


  1. Slice avocados in half and remove the pit. Scoop out the flesh using a large spoon.
  2. Put the avocado fruit, cocoa powder, heavy cream, vanilla, agave, and salt into the belly of a blender or a food processor. You can also use the whip option of a stand mixer, but the result will not be as smooth.
  3. Blend all the ingredients together until very smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more cream. If it is too thick, add more avocado. 
  4. Scoop the mixture into individual dishes and chill for at least one hour before serving. 


Other Brazilian Recipes to Try:


Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup

creamy chicken and rice soup in a red pot

Canja de Galinha: Brazilian Chicken and Rice Soup

Nothing is more comforting during the long winter days than a steaming bowl of soup. This creamy chicken and rice soup recipe is so simple but so delicious, we are sure you’ll be making it regularly. Standard chicken and rice soup gets an upgrade with fresh cream, herbs, and potatoes for an even heartier dish. Serve it with a slice of crusty bread for a perfect weeknight meal, or sip it to soothe a sore throat. 

Brazilian Chicken and Rice Soup

Brazilians typically do not eat chicken and rice soup with cream. However, we are taking a little artistic license and adding a spot of cream for a more satisfying texture and mouthfeel. The cream makes the broth silky and less greasy, although you can certainly leave it out if you want a clear broth. 

Brazilians do add a twist to their canja de galinha in the form of potatoes. This is not an ingredient typically found in American creamy chicken and rice soup, but it should be! The potatoes add another layer of texture and make the soup more satisfying. One bowl is usually plenty with this hearty soup! 

Why Do We Eat Chicken and Rice Soup When We Are Sick?

Chicken soup has earned a reputation as the go-to meal when fending off an illness. There are countless versions all over the world. The 12th century Jewish philosopher and physician, Maimonides, gushed about the concoction’s ability to provide nourishment to pregnant women and aid in the curing of various diseases. To this day, a version of chicken soup with dumplings is called “Jewish penicillin.” 

The reasons why chicken soup is so healing might be attributed to several factors. It is often more palatable than other dishes when loss of appetite has occurred. The broth offers much needed hydration, while the salt provides electrolytes. The remaining ingredients ensure a balance of protein and carbohydrates, helping the body stay strong while it fights the illness. Chicken itself is rich in amino acids that assist with the breakdown of pesky secretions, such as excess mucus. 

Our recipe for creamy chicken and rice soup also features diced tomatoes. This may sound like a strange combination, but the tomatoes add a beautiful brightness to the soup, not to mention a healthy dose of vitamin C (a must if you are making the soup while sick). 

Should You Pre-Cook Rice for Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup?

We recommend using pre-cooked rice in this recipe. You can use uncooked rice, but you may need to add more broth, since the rice and potatoes will soak up a good deal of the liquid quite quickly. 

For this reason, this creamy chicken and rice soup is a great meal to use up leftovers. You can make it even easier on yourself by using leftover chicken breast or a rotisserie chicken shredded with forks. 

Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup Recipe (Canja de Galinha)


2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
1 celery stick, diced
2 large yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped into ½ inch cubes
2 tomatoes, diced
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups heavy whipping cream
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups cooked white rice
2 tsp salt, or more to taste
Pinch of ground cloves
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced (or 1 tsp dried)


  1. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Add in the olive oil.
  2. Add in diced onion, carrot, and celery. Saute for 2-3 minutes until softened.
  3. Stir in garlic. Saute for 1 minute more. Add salt, pinch of clove, and a few grinds of pepper.
  4. Add in potatoes, minced thyme, whole chicken breasts, and chicken stock.
  5. Bring mixture to a rolling boil, then reduce to medium.
  6. Simmer for twenty minutes, until chicken is cooked through and potatoes are fork tender.
  7. Remove chicken breasts to a plate and shred with two forks.
  8. Return shredded chicken to soup. Stir in heavy cream and add cooked rice and the diced tomatoes. Simmer for ten minutes more until the soup is heated through. 


More Delicious Brazilian Recipes to Try:


Pineapple Cocktail

blended red wine and pineapple cocktail from Brazil

Brazilian Red Wine Cocktail with Pineapple and Condensed Milk

Wine is not drunk often in Brazil. Rather, the national drink of choice is cachaca, a strong drink harvested from sugar cane juice with a flavor similar to rum. Brazilians like to drink it with a little sugar and lime, or in a cocktail known as a caipirinha. This is not to say that wine is unheard of in the country. But Brazilians are famous for having a sweet tooth, so the libation is generally preferred as part of a sweet cocktail rather than on its own. For example, red wine features in a pineapple cocktail that incorporates another favorite Brazilian ingredient: condensed milk

Brazilian Pineapple Cocktail vs Sangria

The name of this pineapple cocktail in Brazil is Espanhola, which translates literally to “Spanish.” This is likely due to the loose resemblance the drink bears to a very famous Spanish drink: sangria. Like sangria, Espanhola incorporates red wine and fruit. But that’s about all the two drinks have in common. 

Traditional sangria incorporates a variety of whole, sliced fruits (oranges, apples, lemons) and gets its sweetness from simple syrup and/or some kind of carbonated soda. By contrast, the Brazilian pineapple cocktail is sweetened with condensed milk and blends the fruit into the drink, resulting in a kind of red wine smoothie. It is served over ice cubes and drunk through a straw. Fresh pineapple or the peel often serves as a garnish. 

Red Wine to Use for Cocktails

You can use any wine you like for this recipe, so long as it is dry, not sweet. Trust us, this drink is sweet enough on its own without the addition of sweet wine. We prefer a nice rioja or chianti, but a dry cabernet or malbec works as well. 

Pineapple Cocktail Fruit Variations

The traditional Espanhola cocktail incorporates only pineapple, but you are welcome to do a little alchemy and experiment with various fruits. Pulpy fruits are best suited to blending, so you might first try things like strawberries, bananas, or even passionfruit. A combination could also be lovely. 

You also have the option of blending your drink with ice, or serving it over whole ice cubes (think of a blended margarita versus on the rocks). Again, the traditional drink uses whole ice cubes, but a fully blended version wouldn’t go amiss, especially on a hot summer day. 

Brazilian Pineapple and Red Wine Cocktail (Espanhola) 


1 bottle of dry red wine

1 can sweetened, condensed milk (14 oz)

2 cups pineapple slices or chunks (If using canned, make sure it is unsweetened)

2-3 cups ice


  1. Add wine, pineapple, and condensed milk to the pitcher of a blender. Blend on high until smooth and thickened.
  2. If you want to blend your pineapple cocktail with ice, add it to the blender ½ cup at a time and blend again on high until fully incorporated and you are happy with the consistency.
  3. If not blending, add the ice to four glasses and pour the blended red wine, condensed milk, and pineapple over it. 
  4. Garnish the glasses with a fresh pineapple slice. 


More Great Brazilian Recipes to Enjoy:


Croque Monsieur (Bauru de Forno)

Brazilian croque monsieur sandwich

Baked Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

Every country seems to have its own spin on the grilled cheese sandwich, and Brazil is no exception. Like many of the country’s dishes, the Brazilian croque monsieur (aka bauru de forno) is “extra”: extra gooey, extra cheesy, and extra delicious. What really sets Brazilian grilled cheese sandwiches apart is that they are baked in the oven under a layer of melty cheese sauce. The effect is similar to a savory French toast, or a croque monsieur casserole. However you describe it, it is comfort food at its finest. Add in the fact that it is so simple to make, and we are sure it will become a regular in your weeknight meals rotation. 

What is a Croque Monsieur?

The croque monsieur is French in origin. It dates back to the early 20th century, when it was served as a popular brasserie snack (and it still is!). “Croque” means “crunchy,” a nod to the dish’s toasty texture. The ingredients vary according to region, but it must always have at least bread, ham, and melted cheese (traditionally gruyere). If it is topped with an egg (fried or poached), it is called a “croque madame.” 

Our Brazilian croques are similar to a variation known as “croque provencal,” which also features fresh tomatoes. We add a little oregano for an herbaceous layer that pairs very well with the mozzarella cheese. 

Croque Monsieur Sauce

Traditional croque monsieur sandwiches may be served with or without a simple bechamel sauce made from butter, flour, salt, pepper, cream or milk, and a dash of nutmeg. The Brazilian croque monsieur also incorporates a similar sauce, but we substitute the nutmeg with a little dijon mustard for some earthy umami flavor. 

In some recipes, you do not need to make a bechamel at all. The “sauce” is made without heat by whisking together heavy cream, mayonnaise, and mustard. This is also delicious and helps a golden crust to form over the top of the sandwiches, thanks to the eggs in the mayo. In the interest of cutting a few calories, however, we are substituting this version with a bechamel made with skim milk. 

Cheese in Brazilian Croque Monsieurs

Again, the traditional cheese used in French croque monsieurs is gruyere, or sometimes emmental. Brazilians favor mozzarella and parmesan, which are also used in another favorite snack: the ubiquitous Brazilian cheese bread.

You can use whatever kind of cheese you like, as long as it’s a good melter. If you’re looking for a more authentic bauru de forno, however, stick with the mozzarella. 

Brazilian Croque Monsieur Recipe


For 4 sandwiches:

8 slices of white bread, crusts removed
½ pound of thin sliced deli ham
8 slices slices of sliced mozzarella cheese (provolone is good, too)
1 large steak tomato, sliced
½ cup shredded mozzarella or parmesan
Dried oregano

For the Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
10 oz skim milk
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
½ tsp salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. 
  2. Assemble your sandwiches. On one slice of bread, put one slice of cheese, then one fourth of the ham. Top with a second slice of cheese, one or two slices of tomato, a pinch of dried oregano, and another piece of bread. Repeat for the remaining three sandwiches. 
  3. Put the four assembled sandwiches in a casserole or other oven safe dish. 
  4. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for two minutes. Add in the salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Slowly whisk in the milk, turning the heat up to a boil. When the sauce has thickened, stir in the dijon mustard.
  5. Pour the sauce over your sandwiches in the casserole dish.
  6. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the sandwiches and sauce.
  7. Bake, uncovered, in the oven until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. 


More Great Brazilian Recipes to Try:

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