Popular South American Food

As I’m amping up to go on my South American exploration, I’ve been wondering what is considered popular South American food? I mean you always think of things like empanadas, and beans, and stuff, but there has to be more?! Turns out there is. A lot more. These are just a few of the things I wanted to remember for my own journey, but I hope you find them useful too if you ever get a chance to visit!

If you have more stuff to add to the list please feel free to comment them below! I would love to hear about what dishes I should, or better yet, should NOT try.

Fresh Empanadas
  1. Chipa – a small, baked cheese-flavoured roll that is popular both for breakfast and a midday snack. The name often changes depending on what country you’re in.
  2. Pan amasado – the freshest bread you’ll ever taste. It’s usually served warm with some fruit jelly.
  3. Huevos rancheros – a corn tortilla served with fried eggs and salsa. Can’t go wrong with this feisty dish!
Ceviche, Peru Food, South American Food, Seviche
Ceviche Snack Dishes
Lunch or Dinner
  1. Ceviche/Seviche – Originated from Peru, but  has become widespread throughout the coastal regions of South America. Fresh, raw seafood is cured in lemon juice, and mixed with chilli peppers for some flavour, then garnished with onion and cilantro. This dish is similar to sashimi!
  2. Empanadas – Created in Argentina. You could say the American “pizza pop” was inspired by this dish, but truly cannot compare. This crispy, half-moon shaped pastry can be stuffed with your choice of fillings: cheese, meat, and fresh veggies. Fun fact, in Argentina every province has their own signature flavour!
  3. Pastel – Brazil came up with this tasty treat. Similar to an empanada although thinner and can be stuffed with your selection of savoury goods or sweet things like guava jam or chocolate.
  4. Platanos Fritos – This is popular all around South America, and makes the perfect side dish to any meal. They are essentially fried plantains, which if you don’t know what a plantain is they are in the same family as bananas but very different. Bananas have a sweeter taste to them, whereas plantains are a more starchy almost potato like taste to them.   
  5. Chorizo – This delicious meat originated from Argentina. Chorizo has become popular all over the world but be sure to try it out from its homeland! This flavourful meat can be found in just about any Argentinian restaurant
  6. Churrasco – Popular around the majority of South America, this dish is essentially referring to grilled meat. If you come across a restaurant known as a churrascaria you’ll now know that refers to a steakhouse.  
  7. Tamal / Huminta – Made by using masa (starchy, corn-based dough) and filled with meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, and chiles, then steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper. Perfect dish for any lunch or dinner!
Dulce de Leche, South American dessert
Dulce de Leche
  1. Dulce de Leche – This tasty concoction is incorporated into many South American desserts. It is a milky caramel that can be found served with everything from donuts, to muffins, and even toast. This can be rarely found outside of South America so be sure to indulge while you can!
  2. Brigadeiros – This little treat was created in Brazil. Similar to a little chocolate truffle, made from milk, chocolate and butter, you really can’t go wrong!
Brigadeiros, South American dessert
  1. Pisco Sour – Popular cocktail through South America although it is the national drink of both Chile and Peru. I know, a national drink?? How cool! Pairs nicely with Ceviche, so be sure to try it out while you’re in Peru!
  2. Yerba Mate – Insanely popular in South America, this tea is made from the leaves of the rainforest holly tree. Mate is an acquired taste, but once you get used to this caffeinated beverage beware of addiction it’s so good!


Thanks for reading my rant about popular South American food I’d love to try in their local environment. As I said before if you have anything to add please comment them below!

Learn more about why I want to visit South America here

Popular South American Food

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