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Authentic foodies should be able to recognize Portuguese snacks as true delicacies. From sweet childhood staples to savory traditional snack food, the Portuguese definitely know a thing or two about satisfying cravings.
If you have a chance to visit Portugal, sightseeing and hitting the beach shouldn’t be the only items on your checklist. After all, if you haven’t tasted the food, you’re only getting half your money’s worth.
And although there is a multitude of Portuguese dishes I could recommend, today we will be focusing on smaller, easy-to-eat foods.
We’ve put together a list with 34 of these incredible ‘petiscos‘ (that’s Portuguese for snacks, by the way). Some you might be able to purchase online, others in any Portuguese supermarket. Just make sure to have some snacks of your own at hand as I’m sure that by the end of this article, you too will get some powerful munchies!
Portuguese Childhood Snacks
Much like anywhere else, many Portuguese snacks invoke that childhood nostalgia. Granted, most of these are sweet and won’t do our figures any good after a certain age. But the memories are just as yummy as eating the thing itself.
Here are a few childhood snacks that any kid who grew up in a Portuguese household would recognize:
Bollycao is an absolute staple for any Iberian kid. It is essentially a long soft bun filled with a rich chocolate cream.
There are a few variations of the traditional one. These include the Minis (miniature version), Manhãzitos (chocolate brioche buns), and Dokyo (chocolate-filled dorayakis). All of these usually come in two options: original or milk chocolate.
Not Portuguese-made but a big Portuguese favorite. A Vaca Que Ri (The Laughing Cow) is a cream cheese wedge produced by a French company. These wedges a great playground snack with some much-needed nutrients.
You can have it as a sandwich spread, on some crackers, or by itself. A Vaca Que Ri is a snack that surprisingly never gets old.
3. Um Bongo
This is the type of product that you can’t say their name without mentioning their slogan.
Um Bongo (O bom sabor da selva, meaning ‘the good jungle flavor’) is a fruit juice pack brand marketed for children. It is produced by Sumol + Compal, a Portuguese brand that is also responsible for two other major beverages we will see later on.
Um Bongo‘s success is partially due to its infamous ad, with a stellar animation that will draw the kids in and a total earworm of a slogan.
Although Ruffles aren’t uniquely Portuguese, these two flavors are very Iberian.
Presunto is Iberian smoked ham, a wonderful delicacy that is usually featured in charcuterie boards. Ketchup obviously needs no introduction.
5. Cheetos Futebolas
There is a version of Cheetos that is marketed specifically for Iberian children: Cheetos Futebolas (or Pelotazos, in Spain).
These are incredibly crunchy cheese balls, a tasty snack made out of corn that melts deliciously in your mouth.
This one has a somewhat controversial name, but no one in Western Europe (where it is sold) even realizes it. Filipinos (the cookies, not the people) are a ring-shaped biscuit covered in dark chocolate. Nowadays, there are also white and milk chocolate versions, and even caramel.
There was a diplomatic protest filed against the manufacturers, claiming that the cookie’s name was offensive towards the people of the Philippines. The protest was filed and the name was never changed.
But truth be told, if anything, Europeans will relate to name variations of Phillip (Phillipa, Filip, Filipe, Filipa, etc), never the nationality.
Regina is a Portuguese chocolate brand that has been appreciated by many generations. They are better known amongst the little ones for their chocolate umbrellas.
Maybe it’s the shape, maybe it’s the flavor. But one thing is for sure, no matter the age, you can surely enjoy this sweet treat.
Sugus is a fruit-flavored hard candy created by a Swiss company.
You might think they got the idea from Starbust, but Sugus is the original, hitting stores three whole decades before its American counterpart.
This one, as it turns out, does not precede the much more famous M&Ms. Still, Pintarolas have made a name of their own in their homeland of Portugal and are a very popular Portuguese sweet snack since the 70s.
The name is derived from the word ‘pinta‘, meaning dot, and it was chosen based on the slang of the time.
10. Gorila Bubblegum
Also born in the ’70s, Gorila is a Portuguese brand of bubblegum. It is one of the most famous in the country and even popular in some other countries.
Yet again, this is another candy that has surpassed the test of time and will likely stick around for generations to come.
11. Flocos de Neve
Flocos de Neve (which literally translates to ‘snowflakes’) is a Portuguese hard candy. They have a fruity flavor but it’s their color of white that inspires the name. They’re the perfect candy to keep in your pocket or purse for when you get a sudden sugar craving.
12. Ovo Kinder
The Ovo Kinder (Kinder egg) has become an Easter staple over the last few decades. All Kinder chocolates are loved by Portuguese kids, but one stands out.
That’s the miniature Ovo Kinder, which is sold all year long. Besides being incredibly yummy, it comes with a tiny surprise inside.
Traditional Portuguese Snacks
And because children most definitely aren’t the only ones snacking, here are a few Portuguese traditional snacks that grown-ups tend to gravitate towards.
The big majority of these are savory snacks and pastries. After all, if there are so many Portuguese desserts, it’s only fair to have just as many savory options!
Bifana is a typically Portuguese sandwich snack made with sliced pork marinated in a garlic and wine sauce. They tend to be seasoned with a bit of mustard or spicy sauce.
You can find this in any fair and in most taverns. It’s such a loved snack that McDonald’s even had their own limited edition version, called McBifana.
And if you’re not a big fan of pork, there’s an equally delicious (if not more) sandwich option for you! It is called Prego and it’s essentially a thin steak sandwich, which may include ham, cheese, or egg.
15. Pastel de Chaves
Just in case you thought there wasn’t much variety in the meaty snack department, here’s the first of three more – and it is not a sandwich.
Pastel de Chaves (Chaves pastie) is a pastry filled with veal that originates from the medieval town after which it is named. It’s loved for its buttered thin puff pastry outer layers and the delicious meat filling.
Rissóis is a very popular Portuguese snack, served in taverns, restaurants, and cafes. They can also be found in most birthday parties, wedding receptions, and house parties.
They’re essentially a deep-fried pastry, shaped like a half-moon, usually filled with shrimp, meat, or fish. Nowadays, there are many more variations and you can even find them in the frozen section of Portuguese supermarkets.
Yes, Coxinha is a Brazilian invention. But that doesn’t mean that Portuguese people don’t appreciate it just as much. After all, it is a cousin of the rissole. Coxinha is essentially a deep-fried chicken and mashed potato snack shaped like a water drop.
18. Pastéis de Bacalhau
And to end the trinity of deep-fried snacks, we’ve got Pastéis de Bacalhau.
A fun fact about Portuguese cuisine is that it’s believed to be more than a thousand ways to cook codfish. Pastéis de Bacalhau, which are essentially potato-seared cod cakes, is just one of the delicious ways to enjoy the fish.
19. Pataniscas de Bacalhau
Another very Portuguese way to enjoy codfish is through Pataniscas de Bacalhau. These are savory pancakes of sorts, made with egg, codfish, and wheat flour.
These can be eaten on their own, on a sandwich, or accompanied by rich Portuguese tomato or bean rice.
20. Dr. Bayard
Our last entry on the traditional snacks list is also the only non-savory one. Dr. Bayard is not only a tasty piece of hard candy but also deliciously effective cough drops.
The original recipe for the candy was passed on to the founder by the doctor himself as a token of gratitude for his help after Bayard left France during World War II.
Popular Portuguese Snacks
Now we’ve reached the category that will expose the most iconic snacks Portugal has to offer. Some of these have endured generations, others are synonymous with celebrations, but all are very much Portuguese and very much delicious.
21. Bolacha Maria
Maria is as Portuguese as it gets. People of all ages eat in one way or another.
It is made up of wheat flour, sugar, oil, and vanilla essence. It may be eaten on its own or accompanied by a warm beverage. Also, it is used in the making of many Portuguese desserts.
The Portuguese king of fruit juices. What started off as a tomato pulp business in the early ’50s quickly evolved into a fruit juice production.
Over the decades, Compal has reinvented itself many times, adding new concepts and flavors. But one thing never changed: it is and will always be Portugal’s favorite!
If you paid attention to our childhood section, you might have noticed that Sumol was under the same company as the previous Compal. In many ways, this could be considered a wilder version of the latter.
Sumol is a natural fruity light soda, without any color additives or preservatives. It is considered by many to be the drink of the summer since 1954.
Conservas (meaning ‘canned goods’) are what the Portuguese call canned tuna, sardines, other fish, and seafood. There are so many options, from the traditional basics to modern flavors.
It’s not entirely unusual to have a can of sardines as a snack, along with some freshly sliced tomatoes and onions. And although tastes are arguable, these are unarguably tasty.
25. Batata Pála-Pála
If you’ve ever lived in Portugal, you’ve most definitely noticed the Pala-Pala chips.
These are thinly cut potato sticks that make an appearance at parties, at the beach, even at the dinner table. They’ve been a part of our lives since 1972 and Portuguese people definitely swear by these originals.
26. Tosta Mista
Essentially a grilled cheese made better with some thinly sliced ham. In Portugal, much like in many Western European countries, the combination of cheese and ham is an absolute staple.
A nice touch of butter is added to the outside for a little extra flavor. The Portuguese enjoy a good Tosta Mista at any time of the day, be it breakfast, lunch, afternoon, or midnight snack.
27. Pão com Chouriço
Speaking of bread, here is another meaty favorite.
Pão com Chouriço is essentially a bun stuffed with thin slices of chorizo which is then taken to the oven. The grease of the chorizo leaks onto the bun as it cooks, making every bite just as flavorful as the last.
It is very popular in food stands at fairs, but you can find it in any old tavern or cafe in Portugal.
28. Tremoços (Lupin Beans)
No self-respecting Portuguese tavern would dare to serve a pint of beer if they couldn’t offer some good Tremoços to go with it.
These are pickled lupin beans sold in jars, like olives. Some people don’t mind eating the skin but most will bite into the skin to make an incision and pop the seed onto their mouth.
29. Super Bock
Super Bock is the oldest of the popular Portuguese beers. Most northerners will argue that it is also the best. Also, it is the one with more international sales.
And now that we’ve taught you about tremoços, here’s a nice beer that will play flawlessly with them.
The holy grail of Portuguese sandwiches. Best eaten with a Super Bock on the side, too! It is an adaptation of the French ‘croque madame‘ (hence the name), loaded with many different types of meat, melted cheese galore, and a tangy slightly spicy sauce that brings it all together. The meal is not complete without a nice side of fries and an ice-cold pint.
You might wonder why it made its way onto our snack list when it seems like a full meal. Portuguese people, namely those from the North, do not care about such conventions as meal times and portions, so they will gladly eat a Francesinha at any time of the day.
Tea Time Portuguese Snacks
A fun fact about Portugal that you might not know about is that it was a Portuguese woman the invented the 5 o’clock tea tradition. Catherine of Braganza imposed what would become the most stereotypical of British habits upon moving to England following her marriage to Charles II.
But not only Portuguese royals were fond of tea time. As Portugal was the first European country to establish trade routes in the East and commercialize tea, many people took a liking to infusions. As such, there are a few snacks you might expect to be featured at tea time.
We’ve already told you about Bolacha Maria, which is a mandatory feature. Many older ladies like to dip it in warm tea before eating, which eases the work for the teeth, I guess. But there are a few more Portuguese tea time snacks that you should consider:
31. Bolo de Arroz
Bolo de Arroz (meaning ‘rice cake’) is nothing like you would see in Asian cultures. This one is as cakey and sweet as it gets, named only after the fact that rice flour is also added to the mix.
You will find these in any Portuguese pastry shops and most cafes as many people like to enjoy one for breakfast or on their afternoon coffee break.
32. Línguas de Gato
Although the name translates to ‘cat tongues‘, there is no cat nor tongues in their makeup. Línguas de Gato are small biscuits shaped like a cat’s tongue, hence the name.
These are super crunchy and have a subtle hint of lemon to them. Plus, they’re so tasty that little ones and older folks enjoy them just the same.
Cavaca is a conventual Portuguese sweet made out of eggs, sugar, flour, sunflower oil, and vanilla. Like most conventual sweets (meaning, created in a convent), it has a rich yellow-colored dough.
There are two versions of the sweet: a bigger rectangular-shaped slice or small bite-sized round pieces, both glazed with sugar.
34. Danish Butter Cookies
As the name entails, these are not Portuguese in origin. However, there’s a very small chance you won’t see a Danish Butter Cookies tin in a Portuguese grandma’s home. And believe it or not, they weren’t always filled with sewing materials.
At some point, there were yummy cookies in there, which were likely eaten over some nice warm tea.
Now that you have more than enough snacks on the ‘to try‘ list, we suggest you take your mind off of food for a bit and check out these fun facts about Portugal.
Think we missed any important snacks? Let us know down in the comments!