These Brazilian Christmas foods will bring some excitement to your traditional holiday feast!
As much as I love turkey and all the trimmings, sometimes I just want to branch out and try something new.
From creamy chocolate trifle and rich carrot cake to tender roasted pork shoulder and decadent potato salad, there’s plenty to choose from on this list.
I made the delectable and crunchy cinnamon French toast just yesterday, and it’s absolutely to die for.
As we speak, I have a batch of cranberry, pistachio, and white chocolate proofing in the kitchen.
Whichever of these Brazilian Christmas foods you choose, it’ll make this festive season one to remember!
Best Brazilian Sweets for Christmas
1. Brazilian Chocolate Pavê (Chocolate Trifle)
This dessert is kind of a hybrid between tiramisu and trifle made using layers of biscuits or cake with creamy condensed milk and often brandy.
Though it comes in many flavors, this chocolate version is ideal for your Christmas table.
Unlike tiramisu, it’s flavored with cocoa powder and finished with just a hint of Cognac.
I prefer ladyfingers because they’ll add a thicker layer to balance the cream filling. But cookies also work well.
If you think you’ll miss that coffee taste, feel free to add some espresso powder to the mix. It’s your Christmas, after all!
2. Rabanadas (Brazilian French Toast)
I’m a massive fan of French toast, so I had to try this right away.
It’s what you’ll expect in terms of flavor, but it’s on a whole other level with a crunchy cinnamon-sugar coating.
Traditionally, this is made with French bread, cut nice and thick. But you could use brioche or Challah.
Just be sure it’s stale; otherwise, it will end up soggy.
One key difference in making this recipe is that the bread is first soaked in milk and then dipped in eggs before frying.
You’ll toss the cooked pieces in cinnamon sugar before serving.
3. Brazilian Farofa
Farofa is a unique Brazilian side dish that you’ll see at almost every dinner table.
Made using grated, pressed, and toasted yuca, it soaks up the flavor of the ingredients added to the pan.
In this case, it’s bacon, butter, and garlic.
It looks a little like breadcrumbs and works best sprinkled over the top of your food just before serving. That way, it keeps its crisp texture.
4. Brazilian Potato Salad
Potato salad is pretty standard during the summer months, but I think it’s too good not to have with this year’s Christmas dinner.
It’s light, cool, creamy, and loaded with fresh flavors.
This recipe offers excellent texture and color using carrots and potatoes with hard-boiled eggs and crunchy onions.
Plus, there’s a hint of acidity, thanks to the olives.
If you’re not a fan of olives, try adding pickles instead.
5. Cranberry, Pistachio, and White Chocolate Panettone
Panettone is one of those festive treats you only really see around the holidays.
They’re big, fluffy, and loaded with yummy treats, like candied oranges and nuts.
They take quite some time to make, which is why they cost a little more than your average loaf of sweet bread.
So, why not try making your own at home instead?
The key to making this is the yeast. You’ll need the freshest yeast possible; otherwise, it will become dense and sickly-sweet.
Another critical step is cooling. Since panettone is so tall, it’s prone to sinking as it cools.
So, you’ll need to cool it upside down, which you can do with wooden skewers and a cooling rack.
Stick them in the middle and hang them however you can to achieve the perfect finish.
6. Salpicão de Frango (Brazilian Chicken Salad)
This classic Brazilian chicken salad is similar to California chicken salad in that it’s rich and creamy with a sweet element.
Instead of adding grapes, you’ll use raisins for this. Plus, the whole dish is topped with crunchy potato sticks, which are a pantry staple in Brazil.
This would make a terrific light lunch option for the day after Christmas when you just can’t face another bite of turkey.
7. Ham With Pineapple Sauce
If your family is team-turkey, you can go ahead and skip to the following recipe.
But if you’re on the hunt for something different, try this incredibly flavorful roasted ham.
Ham is naturally tasty, and it doesn’t take a lot to enhance that.
But when you cook it in pineapple juice, the sweetness infuses into the meat, and the acidity guarantees tender flesh.
Better still, you’ll use the meaty pineapple juice to make the gravy when it’s done. You can also use orange juice if you prefer.
8. Brazilian Christmas Rice
Believe it or not, this festive and fun Christmas rice recipe is made with Champagne. It adds a lovely light sweetness and terrific depth of flavor.
When paired with Champagne-soaked raisins and cashews, this rice is ideal for serving with everything from pineapple ham to juicy turkey.
9. Brazilian Carrot Cake
Unlike typical carrot cake that’s full of grated carrots, this Brazilian classic uses blended carrots.
They’ll give the cake a delightful yellow hue and lovely light sweetness.
It’s also covered with decadent brigadeiro, which is like an elevated ganache that uses condensed milk and heavy cream.
It’s not too sweet, and the chocolate provides a beautiful richness that you just can’t get from cream cheese frosting.
10. Bem Casados (Brazilian Wedding Cookies)
Dulce de leche is one of the most popular sweet ingredients in South America, and you’ll see it used in plenty of recipes.
If you’ve ever tried it before, you’ll know it’s sinfully sweet and creamy.
It’s also very thick, which means it will hold its shape perfectly in these cookie sandwiches.
11. Passion Fruit Mousse
Like the Aussies, Brazilians love passion fruit.
With its vibrant color and incredible tropical taste, I think this mousse is the perfect end to a heavy Christmas dinner.
Since it’s hard to find fresh and ripe passion fruits in the store, you’ll want to look for frozen pulp.
Or I’ve also seen in canned/jarred, and that would work just as well.
12. Coxinha (Brazilian Chicken Croquettes)
I’ve tried coxinha covered in dough and mashed potato, and both were super tasty.
Of course, the potato version is easier to make at home, but the dough version is more authentic.
The filling is creamy and super moist, full of tender shredded chicken and cream cheese.
Since you’ll make the dough using chicken stock and flour, it’s brimming with meaty goodness.
13. Pudim De Leite Condensado (Brazilian Flan)
Flan is another South American favorite, and each country has its own twist to make it their own.
For example, they like to add condensed milk in Brazil and cook it in a bundt-shaped pan.
Use a blender to ensure the mixture is smooth, and get ready to fall in love. One bite, and you won’t want to share.
14. Manjar Branco (Brazilian Coconut Flan with Plum Sauce)
Where the above recipe requires baking in a water bath for about an hour, this simplified flan is cooked right on the stovetop.
You’ll essentially make pudding with coconut milk and cornstarch. The other snag is that you need to watch the pot and keep it moving.
If you leave it to bubble, the bottom will burn and turn lumpy.
The spiced plum sauce is a delightful contrast to the light coconut taste, and I highly recommend sticking to the recipe.
But if you really hate plums, try using cherries instead.
15. Torta Holandesa (Brazilian Dutch Pie)
Funny enough, this recipe has nothing to do with the Netherlands. Instead, the name comes from the creator who named it after a fun trip to Europe.
But as far as chocolate cream pies go, this is the one to make!
Though it may look like cheesecake, the filling is actually a blend of condensed milk, heavy cream, egg yolks, and gelatin.
That’s topped with chocolate ganache, and the edges are lined with delicious chocolate digestives.
16. Brigadeiro Recipe (Brazilian Fudge Balls)
I mentioned brigadeiro sauce earlier, but the most popular way to serve it is little truffle balls.
Brigadeiro are probably one of the most recognized Brazilian desserts around, and you can get them coated in everything from coconut and nuts to chili chocolate and cocoa.
They’re dangerously easy to make at home, and just like regular ganache, the more chocolate you use, the harder they will be.
Still, where ganache can have a fudgy texture, brigadeiro are almost chewy when they set. I like them with nuts for added texture.
17. Pernil (Roast Pork Shoulder)
Why would you serve dry and boring turkey when you could make this ridiculously delicious and tender roasted pork shoulder?
You’ll need to ensure it can sit in the lime marinade for at least 12 hours, which means being prepared the day before.
This could be done overnight on Christmas Eve to make things easier.
Then it’s just a matter of slow-roasting based on the size of the cut.
It should be no less than 3 hours and could be as long as 8 if you have a more significant piece.
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