The food in Portugal is rated as some of the best in the world, with many nations incorporating a Portuguese style in their own cuisine.

There’s nowhere better to experience Portuguese food than at the source, where years of tradition has ironed out a variety of dishes made with a varied list of ingredients. For some, this is one of the most exciting things about visiting the beautiful European country.

Take a look at these 10 amazing dishes and try them when you’re in Portugal!

10 Of The Best Foods To Try In Portugal

1. Caldo Verde 

Caldo Verde, seemingly a basic soup dish at first glance, is one of the most popular foods in Portugal. It originated in northern parts of Portugal but today, it can be found all across the country and forms part of every restaurant and hotel menu.

The soup is predominantly made with greens; normally a dark leafy cabbage found only in Portugal, but kale and collard greens are also used as alternatives. To complement these greens, the dish contains sliced ‘Chorico’, and potatoes mixed with olive oil. 

It is primarily a winter dish, but can be found all year round!

Caldo verde - Portuguese food
Caldo Verde | @andrishering

2. Sardinhas Assadas

Sardinhas assadas, or grilled sardines, is one of the most popular dishes in Portugal during the summertime. Sardines are one of the most commonly eaten foods in the country, with an average of 12 pounds (5 kilograms) consumed per person per year.

June 12th and the Santo António Festival signal the start of sardine season, and its not uncommon to see sardines being served literally everywhere in Portugal during this time.

Sardines are prepared and served in a variety of ways, but are generally best when grilled, mixed with olive oil, rice, potatoes or fresh salad.

Sardinhas Assadas on the barbeque - Food in portugal
Sardinhas Assadas | @algarve_e_portugal

3. Bacalhau

No trip to Portugal would be complete without trying one of its most traditional dishes – Bacalhau. It is said that there are around 365 different verified recipes for bacalhau. One recipe for each day of the year, How cool is that?

Most of these recipes are actually quite simple and use the codfish’s natural saltiness as the base of flavour. The fish is commonly incorporated into tapas or casseroles.

The most popular way to make Bacalhau is “Bacalhau à brás”; where the codfish is mixed with an egg scramble and then cooked as thin codfish strips along with potatoes, onions, olives and topped with parsley.

Bacalhau - Food in Portugal
Bacalhau | @restaurantelapalma

4. Francesinha Sandwich

The Francesinha Sandwich is a delicious breaded snack, common all over Portugal. It is much more than your ordinary sandwich.

Francesinha literally translates to “little French girl” in Portuguese, as the dish is believed to have been brought to the country by a French immigrant! It’s fairly simple: two slices of bread loaded with sausage, ham (or your preferred meat option) before melted cheese and an egg are placed on top.

The sandwich is served over an exquisite sauce which adds to the overall experience. This is usually a spicy, thick tomato and beer sauce and makes for a perfect dipping agent. It will also be presented to you with a portion of French fries.

Its not exactly the most diet friendly dish, but who cares about that when you’re on holiday right!?

A delicious Francesinha cut open
Francesinha | @rootandbone

5. Bifanas

Bifanas, which are Portuguese pork sandwiches are one of the most popular foods in Portugal, and they can be found all around the country.

The finest quality pork is seasoned with paprika, garlic and white whine before being packed into a fresh Portuguese roll and served with your choice of additional extras.

These usually include; eggs, bacon, tomatoes, onion and/or lettuce. Usually, Bifanas are usually accompanied with french fries and served with beer or wine. 

Vendas Novas, a small village in the Alentejo region halfway between Lisbon and Evora, is believed to have created the original Bifana Portugal recipe.

A stack of fresh and delicious Bifanas - Food in portugal
Bifanas | @cocooncooks

6. Arroz de Pato

Duck Rice, or Arroz de pato as it is known by the locals, is a typical traditional meal originating from northern Portugal.

This dish’s ingredients; rice, savoury duck meat, garlic, bay leaf and port or white wine create and exquisite blend.

The addition of smoked pork is a plus which adds flavour to the broth and a special garnish that makes duck rice truly unique from the other types of rice. 

Arroz de Pato is usually served on special occasions or for Sunday lunch but it can be widely found in restaurants all over Portugal. 

Arroz de pato, Portuguese duck rice
Arroz de pato | @alexdelvicio

7. Polvo à la Lagareiro

With powerhouse dishes like bacalhau and grilled sardines, it’s clear that seafood is one of the most popular foods in Portugal. This is because it is so accessible, making the nation one of the top 5 in the world for seafood consumption. Another popular fish dish is Polvo à la Lagareiro – an octopus dish and all-time local favourite!

The name literally means cooking with loads of olive oil, and this is particularly true because the octopus is first baked and roasted with potatoes, then cooked well with olive oil, garlic and coriander to bring together a mouth-watering dish.

Polvo à la Lagareiro cooking in the pan with potatoes
Polvo à la Lagareiro | @aostrabebada

8. Chicken Piri-Piri 

Another one of the most iconic dishes worth trying in Portugal is Chicken Piri-Piri.

Piri-Piri came to be as Portuguese travellers sailed through coastal African regions during the 15th and 16th centuries, discovering several new spices along the way. Among them was a tiny but fiery chili pepper known as Piri-Piri, Peri-Peri, or “African devil”, which is the primary ingredient in Chicken Piri-Piri.

Usually, it is served with French fries along with lettuce, tomatoes, and onion salad which makes it a complete lunch/dinner meal. Although it started in Portugal, this dish can be found worldwide largely in thanks to popular chain restaurants like “Nandos”.

Ironically, Nandos has no restaurants in Portugal. However, you’ll never be far from a ‘Churrascaria’ that serves Chicken Piri-Piri.

Portuguese chicken piri-piri in sauce with chillis and lemon
Portuguese chicken piri-piri | @simplyfoodbymandy

9. Pastel de Natas

There’s no way you can go to Portugal and not try at least one Pastel de Nata, as these are considered to be one of the best foods in Portugal. Although be warned, its nearly impossible to stop at just one!

These melt-in-your-mouth delicacies can be found in any pastry shop in Portugal, but is said to have originated from the medieval period monasteries and nunneries. 

Pastel de Natas are made with flour, butter, eggs, cinnamon and loads of sugar. The dough is usually coated with butter, giving the shells their crunchy look. Then they are filled with egg custard which creates a gorgeous, soft and fluffy inside.

Usually, they are served as a warm dessert straight out of the oven with a strong cup of Portuguese coffee, known as Bica in Lisbon.

Pasteis de nata and a coffee - a Portuguese delicacy
Pasteis de nata | @daniela2chic

10. Porco Preto

If you like ham, then the Porco Preto (black pork) is the dish for you! This is remarkably similar to the world’s most expensive cured ham, Jamon Iberico de Bellota from Spain. 

The pigs are known as Iberico pigs in Spanish, whereas they are known as Alentejo black pigs on the Portuguese border. These pigs create outstanding Portuguese ham with a very unique flavour. 

The end product is nearly identical, with the same mouth-watering texture that makes you question whether this is the tastiest black pork in the world! Most restaurants provide Portuguese black pork meals like Plumas, known simply as roasted pork shoulder.

Presunto, a dried and cured Porco Preto which is comparable to Italian prosciutto is another great option for you to try when you are in Portugal. But make sure to pair this delicious Porco Preto dish with a glass of Portuguese wine if you are planning to have it for dinner.

Porco Preto - Food in Portugal
Porco Preto | @maria_azeitona_restaurante