Chilean cuisine may not be at the top of your list of “favorite ethnic foods” yet, but it might start heading on an upward trajectory after you finish going through this list of the top 20 Chilean foods.
The popular dishes are some of my absolute favorite Chilean foods, and with these easy recipes, you’ll have no trouble making them yourself.
Occasionally, you’ll see influences from Italy, Germany, and other European nations in Chilean fare.
However, it’s most heavily influenced by its unique local culture and incorporation of Spanish recipe elements.
You’ll see plenty of corn, beans, potatoes, peppers, and rice in Chilean dishes.
There are also loads of seasonings, various meats (including seafood), and lots of super insanely sweet desserts.
Despite its heavy reliance on Spanish cuisine, Chilean food isn’t traditionally spicy. Instead, it’s usually mild but has a lot of flavor.
Well, I’ve done enough talking about it. Let’s jump right in and look at some of my favorites.
20 Traditional Chilean Dishes You Need to Try
I love empanadas. A warm, flavorful beef filling, surrounded by a buttery pastry crust… Who wouldn’t love that?!
If you grew up somewhere with a heavy Hispanic influence, empanadas are likely a familiar comfort food for you.
Eating them probably feels like coming home.
If empanadas weren’t a warm, heartwarming part of your childhood, don’t worry; you can still enjoy these.
Just imagine a warm apple pie, but with a savory filling. Yum.
Despite how chunky, hearty, and complex this looks, this dish only takes about 40 minutes to pull together.
It’s a warm, filling stew containing beef, carrots, onions, and potatoes.
The spices – cumin, oregano, paprika, and salt – and the thick, tasty tomato sauce base put the flavorful finishing touches on it.
It’s perfect for the cool fall and winter months.
These meaty sandwiches take their name from their two main ingredients – chorizo (sausage) and pan (bread) – but they have a lot more going for them than just that.
Slathered in fresh parsley, bay leaf, garlic, chimichurri sauce, oil, vinegar, and plenty of herbs and seasonings, this is one of the few genuinely spicy dishes in Chilean cuisine.
The sausage is thick and smoky, and the toppings give the whole thing a garden-fresh taste that you’ll love.
They’re the perfect meal for game day and taste even better when paired with a bottle of beer.
This vegan-friendly appetizer is a great way to start any large meal.
Admittedly, they take quite a bit of prep time, but surprisingly, that’s one of the things I love about them.
These are fun to make with your family, and it’s a great bonding experience that allows you to get a feel for authentic Chilean culture.
Plus, they taste great, so it’s certainly time well spent.
If you’re a fan of fruity, sugary drinks, you’ll love mote con huesillos.
It’s the perfect drink for a hot summer day, and residents of Chile drink it much like we drink lemonade here in the United States.
All you’ll need to make it is sugar, dried peaches, a cinnamon stick, a citrus peel (orange or lemon), water, and cooked pearled barley or wheat berries.
The drink is exceptionally sweet, and the barley (or wheat berries) gives it a nice, chunky texture, making the whole thing surprisingly filling for a drink.
Maybe it’s all the colorful toppings, but Chilean hot dogs are so much prettier than those sold in American baseball stadiums.
You’ll cook the hot dogs just like you usually would.
The difference comes in all the toppings.
Chilean hot dogs feature not only mustard and ketchup, but also onions, tomatoes, and mashed avocados.
You might not think those things would go well together, but they do.
I was skeptical about this bread at first. It looked so flat! Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised at how yummy it turned out to be.
At first, I thought of this bread as a dinner roll, but it’s more like small, round sandwich bread.
You can eat them for any meal and with various toppings and fillings, but I enjoy them most at breakfast.
They taste spectacularly delicious full of eggs, bacon, and a pat of honey butter.
Even people who think they’ve never heard of a single Chilean meal know about Chilean sea bass.
It’s relatively famous worldwide and deservedly so.
Chilean sea bass is no mere fish dish. It’s heaven on a plate.
It’s sooo tender, and every bite is perfectly seasoned with a silky, rich lemon beurre blanc sauce.
The fish has the most amazing texture. It feels like it’ll start to melt if you leave it on your tongue for too long.
This fish is so succulent that you’ll barely have to chew it.
I’m convinced that even someone vehemently opposed to seafood would enjoy this Chilean delicacy.
Marraqueta, which literally means “French bread,” are tasty, double rolls that are soft and fluffy on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside.
They require only five ingredients and less than an hour to make,
They’re thick and yeasty and have just a hint of sugary sweetness in every bite, making them perfect for slider and mini-sandwich buns.
When I look at these fries, all I see is heartburn waiting to happen, but despite that, they still look so tempting that I want to dive in and devour them.
If you think chili cheese fries are the pinnacle of French fry achievements, think again.
These fries are loaded with steak, eggs, and tender caramelized onions.
I don’t care if I have to break out a whole bottle of Tums after eating them. I will never turn them down.
11. Pastel de Choclo
There are several ways to make pastel de choclo, but this recipe is one of the best.
Pastel de choclo recipes all have one thing in common: They’re corn pies (similar to shepherd’s pies).
However, as far as the fillings and toppings go, they can be widely different.
This one features a traditional topping of corn, cream, butter, salt, and basil and a filling of well-seasoned beef, onions, raisins, olives, eggs, chicken breast, and a bit of sugar.
Yes, there’s a lot going on beneath that creamy yellow topping. It’s a sweet and savory casserole-like dish that the whole family will adore.
Somehow, these five-ingredient sopapillas taste fantastic with both savory and sweet toppings.
Drizzle them with homemade molasses sauce, honey, or even whipped cream for an after-dinner sweet treat.
Or you can top them with Chile’s famous Chilean salsa pebre – a combination of fresh herbs and veggies – for a yummy, savory appetizer.
Either sweet or savory, they taste spectacular, and for the life of me, I don’t know how that works!
Talking about covering the pumpkin sopapillas with salsa pebre made me realize I haven’t mentioned pebre yet.
I don’t know how I got so far down the list without thinking about it!
Pebre is Chile’s answer to salsa, and it’s fantastic!
It’s fresh and has a bold, clean flavor that you can only get from using tasty, unprocessed garden ingredients.
There are plenty of recipes for pebre, and all of them are slightly different and have their own unique lists of ingredients.
However, standard pebre needs only onions, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, olive oil, and cilantro.
It’s delicious, and it only takes 15 minutes to prepare.
Serve it with chips, bread, sopapillas, or even on top of salads. It doesn’t matter. This stuff tastes great on just about anything.
Fair Warning: Once you’ve had a fat, juicy chacarero on your plate, a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder is never going to taste the same.
A chacarero is about a pound of juicy steak sandwiched between a sliced frica roll and topped with tomatoes, hot sauce, and perfectly crisp green beans.
I’ve never tasted another burger like it anywhere in the world.
It’s tender and boldly flavored, and though surprising at first, the green beans add the perfect amount of taste and crunch.
After a single bite, you’ll wonder why you never put green beans on a burger before now. It’s that good.
Don’t let the 55-minute total cook time on this simple salad scare you away. Making it doesn’t take anywhere near that long.
Most of that time comes from letting the onions soak in saltwater so that they’re tender and sweeter than they’d otherwise be.
You’ll also marinate the tomatoes in lime juice and olive oil.
Once all that’s done, it’s just a matter of arranging everything on a plate, adding some cilantro, and topping it off with salt and pepper to suit your tastes.
This dish makes a tasty midday salad by itself.
You can also serve it alongside other scrumptious Chilean dishes, such as empanadas or a simple rice dish.
Manjar takes some time to make, and you’re going to be stirring for much of that time.
However, this phenomenal sauce is worth every single second of stirring.
It’s kind of like homemade caramel sauce, except it’s much creamier and a little bit sweeter than that.
It’s so good that the only problem you’ll have is with your self-control.
Manjar is meant to be a dip or a sauce, but once it’s ready, it’s hard not to sit there and eat it with a spoon straight from the bowl.
I like to dip pretzels in mine. The combination of sweet and salty is super nummy.
17. Tres Leches Cake
If you’ve never had it, tres leches, or “three milk,” cake is one of the softest, fluffiest, creamiest cakes you’ll ever eat. It’s also unbelievably sweet (in a good way).
Everything about this dessert, from the light vanilla cake to the pillowy, puffy whipped cream topping, is simply exquisite.
It’s one of those desserts that’ll have you closing your eyes and sighing contentedly with every bite.
Seriously, it’s ridiculously tasty, and you can even jazz it up a little by adding your own special touches to the topping.
Toss on some coconut flakes; place slices of strawberries and bananas on it.
You could even drizzle it with chocolate and caramel if you wanted. Go nuts! It’ll be delicious either way.
These thin, buttery, wafer-like cookies take about 45 minutes to make, and each one is a delightful treat, sized ideally for a single, joy-filled bite.
You can serve the cookies with or without the filling, but they aren’t authentic alfajores without a sweet dollop of dulce de leche in the middle.
Other possible fillings include molasses sauce, whipped cream, jam, honey, or anything else you want to sandwich in the middle of them.
Some people go a step further and dip the finished product in chocolate for additional sweetness.
If you can make a pumpkin roll, you can make a brazo de reina.
The ingredients may be different, but the technique for making them is the same.
Start by making your batter and spreading it evenly over wax paper. After you cook the cake, it’ll be light, airy, and a little spongy.
Dust it with powdered sugar, and cover it with a powdered sugar-coated tea towel.
Once it cools, add your dulce de leche filling and roll the cake gently into a circular log shape.
Then add more powdered sugar and grab a piece before everyone else devours it.
This cake may not actually have a thousand layers, but it does have a ton of them, and each one is sweeter and tastier than the one before it.
Overall, the cake is crispy, flaky, and incredibly sweet.
When all the layers consist of dulce de leche, powdered sugar, and chopped walnuts, I guess it can’t help but be sweet, though.
If you like desserts that may or may not send you on an insane sugar high for a few hours (who doesn’t?!), then you’ll love this cake.
FYI: You may want to serve it with coffee or hot tea to offset some of the sweetness.
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