15 Portuguese Recipes to Liven Up Your Meals

Our favorite comfort-food dishes go beyond bacalhau (but we’ll tell you how to cook that, too).

By SAVEUR Editors

Updated on March 18, 2024

Spain gets lots of attention in the food world, but there’s plenty of room on the Iberian Peninsula for two culinary powerhouses. As Portugal becomes an increasingly popular vacation spot—welcoming a whopping 30 million visitors in 2023 (a 300 percent rise over 10 years)—the cuisine is finally getting its due. The cuisines of Portugal and Spain are similar: Both are pork heavy and rely on a bounty of fresh seafood—no surprise, given Iberia’s endless coastline. Saffron, fresh herbs, garlic, and citrus are culinary throughlines uniting the countries. But there are plenty of differences, too, such as Portugal’s national obsession with bacalhau (salt cod), penchant for soupy rice dishes, and more expansive pastry tradition.

From cod-and-potato classics to immigrant-influenced crab curry, these are our best Portuguese recipes.

Clay Williams

Portugal is known for its dizzying array of salt cod dishes, but this recipe for crispy cod cakes from Pica-Pau restaurant is Lisbon on a plate. We like shaping them in advance and frying them up just as guests are arriving. Get the recipe >

Photo: Matt Taylor-Gross • Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

Plump, tender mussels and flaky white fish simmer in a garlicky tomato broth in this Portuguese American favorite. Riffs on caldeirada, a fish stew beloved in the Old Country, are perennially popular across seafood-loving New England. Get the recipe >

Photo: Linda Pugliese • Food Styling: Christine Albano • Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

Octopus is a popular protein throughout Portugal—served grilled, braised, boiled, and umpteen other ways—but it’s especially wonderful in rice dishes. One of the best Portuguese recipes one can eat is this cozy, tomatoey seafood rice comes to us from winemaker Joana SantiagoGet the recipe >

Bacalao a Monção (Salt Cod with Port, Onions, and Olives)

Photo: Linda Pugliese • Food Styling: Christine Albano • Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

This homestyle salt cod recipe is typical to Monção e Melgaço, a subregion of Vinho Verde in Portugal’s verdant north. The richly sauced, savory fish pairs nicely with the local alvarinho wines; if you can’t find one where you are, a slatey Spanish albariño will also do the trick. Get the recipe >

Photo: Linda Pugliese • Food Styling: Christine Albano • Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

This lush flan-like dessert gets its mellow savory notes from a surprising ingredient: smoked presunto ham. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! Get the recipe >

Photo: Linda Pugliese • Food Styling: Christine Albano • Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

A hefty lamb roast wrapped in bacon and served with saffron rice, foda à moda de Monção is a show-stopping centerpiece hailing from northern Portugal. It’s traditionally cooked in a wood-fired oven in a “torto” terracotta pot, but a Dutch oven works just fine. Get the recipe >

Photo: Paola + Murray • Food Styling: Rebecca Jurkevich • Prop Styling: Sophie Strangio

This simple, soothing soup recipe comes to us from Lisbon resident Olivia Ferreira, who adds plenty of chouriço sausage, available online from the domestic brand Michael’s. Crusty papo secos, or Portuguese rolls, make the perfect accompaniment. Get the recipe >

Evan Sung

The menu at the tiny, brightly colored Jesus é Goês restaurant in Lisbon is filled with Goan dishes like these fritters that pop with traditional Indian spices and ingredients. The pillowy, onion-flecked bites are served with a pungent chutney made with cilantro, tamarind, chile, turmeric, and freshly grated coconut, but any sweet-and-sour dipping sauce will do in a pinch. Get the recipe >

Todd Coleman

The combination of tomatoes, eggs, bacon, and chouriço works its magic in this satisfying stew best served with thick slices of country bread. Get the recipe >

Evan Sung

This dish from Taberna da Rua das Flores in Lisbon is a lighter, seafood-centric variation on Brazil’s gut-busting stew of black beans and meats. Get the recipe >

Matt Taylor-Gross

Reminiscent of fish chowder, this stew brings sea bass and clams together in a fragrant broth enriched with cream. The recipe is adapted from Cimas, a legendary restaurant in Estoril opened in the 1950s by a Scottish spy. Get the recipe >

Matt Taylor-Gross

Olive oil-slicked potato slices, chopped hard-boiled eggs, and flaked salt cod make this casserole one of the best Portuguese recipes we can think of—at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Get the recipe >

Todd Coleman

This surf-and-turf stew brings together littleneck clams and medallions of pork tenderloin in a rich wine sauce. Get the recipe >

Evan Sung

Mozambique was a Portuguese colony for nearly five centuries. At Cantinho do Aziz in Lisbon, Khalid Aziz draws crowds with Mozambican dishes that honor his family's heritage, like this take on a traditional crab curry. Get the recipe >

Todd Coleman

Petiscos are Portuguese tapas, and this light bite from Alentejo is a bracing, vinegary toss of salt cod, chickpeas, and hard-boiled eggs. Get the recipe >

Continue to Next Story

Want more SAVEUR?

Get our favorite recipes, stories, and more delivered to your inbox.