10 Latin American Street Foods Everyone Should Try

Woman holding a plate of street food

One of the many exciting things about Latin America is that the cuisine is delicious and versatile. Street food, in particular, offers an interesting adventure for your taste buds. Exploring it is a great way to connect with the culture of each country and get a sense of what locals enjoy. Here are 10 Latin American street foods you may not know about, but you’ll be dying to try:

Manzana Acaramelada – Argentina, Ecuador and Peru

image of traditional desert 'Caramel Apples' from Argentina, Ecuador, and Peru.

Photo by Edjoerv on Wikimedia Commons

Think of manzana acaramelada as Latin America's version of toffee apples. This treat is particularly popular during holiday seasons in Argentina, Ecuador, and Peru, and it’s perfect if you like simple and sweet snacks. In Ecuador and Peru, the caramelized apple recipe is quite simple and it involves a sugar syrup. In Argentina, they often take it up a notch by rolling the caramelized apple in popcorn, making for a nice combination of sweet and salty.

Sopapillas – Argentina, Chile, and Peru

image of traditional food 'Sopapillas' from Argentina, Chile, and Peru

Photo by Miia Hebert on Wikimedia Commons

Sopapillas, also known as sopaipillas, are a kind of fried pastry that can be either savory or sweet. They’re a quintessential street food and they offer a quick, satisfying snack on the go. They’re mostly popular in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Peru, and each country adds its own little spin to it. In Argentina, they’re made with flour and lard, deep-fried in lard, and covered in sugar. It’s the same in Uruguay and they prefer them salty, but they also cover them in sugar and also add quince cheese, which is a jelly made of quince fruit. In Chile, the dough is the same, but in the South, they add ground squash to it. Sopapillas in Chile can be sweet, sprinkled with sugar after they’re fried, or boiled in chancaca sauce (a syrup with cinnamon and orange peel). They can also be savory, enjoyed with mustard, ketchup, butter, avocado, or cheese. In Peru, the sopapillas are bigger and thinner, and the dough can differ from region to region.

Brigadeiros – Brazil

image of traditional desert 'Brigadeiros' from Brazil

Photo by Ricardo Mendonça Ferreira on Flickr

Brigadeiros are Brazil’s preferred chocolate bonbons, so this is another sweet treat. Brigadeiros are fudgy balls made with condensed milk and cocoa powder, rolled in chocolate sprinkles. This is a staple at birthday parties and they’re easy to find in street stalls, cafes, and even specialty shops. While chocolate flavor is the traditional option, there are plenty of other flavors to try, including white chocolate, coconut, lemon, almond, and more.

Ceviche – Ecuador and Peru

image of traditional food 'Ceviche' from Ecuador and PeruPhoto by Pirata Studio Film on Unsplash

If you want to get an authentic taste of Ecuador and Peru, ceviche is the way to go. It’s a staple in these countries and it consists of raw fish marinated in lemon or lime juice, so it’s refreshing and delicious. Peru is quite famous for its ceviche, which is usually made with lime juice and contains cilantro, habanero peppers for some spice, and red onion. In Ecuador, they do a tomato-based version, so the marinade is tomato juice, lime juice, and orange juice. Both versions are incredibly tasty and a must-try for seafood lovers.

Humitas – Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru

image of traditional food 'Humitas' from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru

Photo by Estefania Melo on Flickr

Humitas are delicious and they’re like a corn tamale of sorts. They’re made from fresh corn, which is pounded into a paste, wrapped in fresh corn husk, and boiled. They’re particularly popular in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru, and each country makes humitas their own. In Argentina, they add sauteed onions, pumpkin, and spices to the corn paste. In Bolivia and Peru, they can either boil them or bake them, and they enjoy them sweet or savory. To make them sweet, they usually add raisins, sugar, and cinnamon. To make them savory, they go with fresh cheese. In Ecuador, they add onion, egg, and pork fat. In Chile, they keep it simple by adding onion, basil, and butter to the corn paste. =Humitas are hearty and they offer a bite of Andean culture!

Salchipapas – Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru

image of traditional food 'Salchipapas' from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru

Photo by Maria on Flickr

Salchipapas is quite a classic Latino street food and it’s particularly loved in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. The dish consists of French fries topped with sliced sausages and sauces like mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard, which is usually how they like it in Peru. Salchipapas are greasy, savory, delicious, and inexpensive. In Colombia and Bolivia, they combine mayonnaise and ketchup to make “salsa rosada,” add shredded cheese, chopped onion, and fried egg. In Ecuador, they accompany it with chopped tomatoes and onions, mayonnaise, and ketchup.

Pão de Queijo – Brazil

image of traditional food 'P\u00e3o de Queijo' from Brazil

Photo by Melsj on Wikimedia Commons

Pão de queijo are small, chewy cheese breads made with cassava flour, which is made from tapioca, so they’re a gluten-free option. It’s a traditional dish in Brazil and they’re one of the most popular street foods there. These cheese buns are made with sweet and sour cassava flour, eggs, milk, oil, salt, water, and cheese, which can be Mozzarella, Parmesan, Canastra, or Minas. The most traditional cheese option is Minas, but they’re all delicious.

Papas Rellenas – Chile, Colombia and Peru

image of traditional food 'Papas Rellenas' from Chile, Colombia and Peru

Photo by Isabelle Hurbain-Palatin on Flickr

Papas rellenas, which literally translates to “stuffed potatoes,” are a kind of croquette made with mashed potatoes, flour, and eggs, and filled with ground beef, eggs, and onions. They’re a popular street food in South America, particularly in Chile, Colombia, and Peru, and they’re known for being flavorful and filling. They’re the ultimate Latino comfort food and each country has its own take. In Chile, the filling they prefer is chopped beef and white and green onions. In Colombia, they also prefer beef filling and they cook the ground beef with chopped tomato, chopped onion, and spices. In Peru, they add sliced hard boiled eggs, raisins, and black olives to the ground beef filling.

Pastel – Brazil

image of traditional food 'Pastel' from Brazil

Photo by keetr on Flickr

Here’s another delicious street food dish from Brazil! Pastels are pastries filled with a variety of ingredients, including cheese, meat, or shrimp. They’re made with thin pie crust and they’re fried, so they’re flaky and super crispy. Pastels are similar to empanadas in concept, but the doughs are very different. It’s believed that they were inspired by Japanese wontons and the filling options are truly endless. The most popular ones in Brazil include chicken and catupiry cheese, cheese, tomato, and oregano, cod, and dry beef. There are also sweet options, filled with guava and cheese or dulce de leche.

Patacones – Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru

image of traditional food 'Patacones' from Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru

Photo by とりどり on Wikimedia Commons

Last but not least, this one goes to all plantain lovers. Patacones, also known as tostones, are twice-fried plantain slices, and they’re very popular in South America and the Caribbean. They’re usually made with unripe green plantain (savory), but they can also be made with ripe plantain (sweet). Because patacones are fried twice, they’re very crispy and crunchy, and they’re a popular snack served with refried beans, ceviche, cheese, sour cream, or garlic sauce, depending on the country. They’re also a common side dish for fried fish and other dishes. While they’re usually small, patacones can also be made using the entire plantain, which is something they do in Venezuela and then they make a sort of sandwich with it, filled with shredded chicken or meat, lettuce, tomato, cheese, ham, mayonnaise, and ketchup.

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