Portuguese Breakfast Dishes You Must Try

It’s often said breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In Portugal, breakfast is also one of the best meals of the day. Loaded with mouthwatering pastries, excellent coffee, delicious sandwiches, you’re not going to want to skip breakfast in Portugal. In this post, we look at many of the must try Portuguese breakfast dishes.

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What Do Portuguese Eat For Breakfast?

At its simplest, a breakfast in Portugal might only consist of cereal or bread with butter or jelly. But delve a little deeper and you’ll find there’s far more to a typical Portuguese breakfast menu. For instance, sweet pastries play a starring role on many breakfast tables.

Pastries tend to be flavored with ingredients such as vanilla and cinnamon, which were originally brought to Portuguese shores during the age of exploration.

Other influences on Portuguese breakfast menus include the flavors of neighboring Spain, as well as those from Morocco. That’s because the North African kingdom ruled Portugal for centuries in the Middle Ages. France and the greater Mediterranean region provide further influences, despite the country’s 500-mile coastline being solely on the Atlantic Ocean.

As a result, Portugal’s cuisine is largely unique in the world, and a traditional Portuguese breakfast is no different. Forget all thoughts you might have of soggy cereal, and get to grips with all this amazing country can provide!

Unmissable Portuguese Breakfast Dishes

Portuguese cuisine is often overlooked in terms of the great cuisines of the World. From unbelievable desserts to its most famous sandwich, the bifana, Portugal is loaded with great food and drink. Next time you’re in Portugal, make sure you’re up early enough to sample the following delicious breakfast dishes for yourself!

🍽 Breakfast Item🇵🇹 Portuguese Name
☕️ Portuguese CoffeeGalão
🥪 Portuguese SandwichSandes
🍊 Orange JuiceSuco de laranja
Custard TartPastel de Nata
🍩 Custard Filled PastryBola de Berlim
🥐 Portuguese Croissant

Croissant Português
🧁 Coconut MuffinPão de Deus
Cinnamon PastryPampilho
🍚 Rice PuddingBolo de Arroz

Galão & Portuguese Coffee

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Galão is just one of several types of coffee popular at breakfast time in Portugal. Similar in strength and taste to a latte, it’s made by adding three-quarters hot foamed milk to one-quarter espresso.

It’s usually served in a tall glass, like hot chocolate. Sugar can be added to taste, with dark brown (or demerara) sugar generally thought to match the flavor profile best.

Another popular drink is Portuguese coffee or ‘bica’. This version also owes more than a nod to the Italian espresso.

Where it differs is in the larger amount of water added to the ground beans. It has a slightly smoother taste, because of differences in the way the Portuguese roast their coffee beans to start with.

Sandes

While they may sound exotic, sandes are the Portuguese take on the sandwich, which is one of the most common breakfast foods in Portugal you’re likely to come across.

The filling in sandes can be pretty much anything you fancy. But when it comes to breakfast, there’s an unwritten rule that sandes are packed with slices of ham and cheese.

What makes a standard sandwich something a little more special, is the tosta mista. Available in almost every café in Portugal, these sandwiches are toasted and served hot with melted butter coating the bread’s upper crust. Sticky, yes, but also lusciously moreish!

Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

Before you try freshly squeezed orange juice in Portugal, you’ll probably be thinking “what’s all the fuss about?” Take one sip, and you’re sure to become the latest convert.

Look out for oranges grown in Portugal’s southern Algarve region, which are famed throughout the country for their exquisite taste.

The experts will tell you this is the result of just the right sunlight levels combined with excellent soil conditions in the hills where they have been grown since the sixteenth century.

Pastel de Nata

pastel da nata

If the name pastel de nata doesn’t ring a bell, the alternative name of the Portuguese custard tart probably will.

Originally created by the monks of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Lisbon’s Belem neighborhood, they can now be found everywhere in Portugal. Having a rich semi-set filling made from egg yolks, once baked, they are lightly dusted with cinnamon.

For the most authentic version, you’ll need to head to the capital’s Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém. Here the original recipe lies protected in a safe, and lines form early.

Bola de Berlim (Berliner)

Bola de Berlim
Bolas de Berlim, or “Berlin Balls”. Portuguese fried dough with sugar, Filled with sweet egg cream.

With a name roughly translating to ‘Berlin donuts’, bola de Berlim are another pastry enjoyed as Portuguese food for breakfast, and we can think of a few better ways to start a day.

Crisply golden brown and rolled in sugar on the outside, the interior of bola de Berlim are so light that they seem almost weightless.

To make them even more irresistible, these donuts are partly sliced open to create a cavity that is then filled with a sumptuous pastry cream (crème patissiere), rather than the more usual jelly.

Portuguese Croissant

Portuguese Croissant
portuguese breakfast on black ceramic background

Not to be confused with a savory brioche-style tosta mista also called a croissant and found in coffee houses, sweet croissants can be found in patisseries in even the smallest of towns.

Another regular breakfast food, you’ll often find them filled with chocolate, jelly, or a custard-like delicacy made from whipping sugar with egg yolks and called doces de ovos.

Pão de Deus

When food is called ‘the bread of God’ you know it’s going to be good. More like a muffin than a piece of standard bread, these individual cakes are topped with coconut.

Just like the best muffins, pão de deus has a soft, light inside, and a top that is starting to form a crust. However, they are denser than most bread because of the addition of milk to a list of ingredients that can include star anise, vanilla, or lemon zest.

Pampilho

Born in central Portugal’s Santarém, pampilho are cigar-shaped sweet pastries containing an egg-based filling flavored with cinnamon a little like pastel de nata. Alternative versions are instead filled with a stiff chocolate cream.

Both forms take their name from the long wooden poles used by cattle herders to move their animals to new pasture.

Bolo de Arroz

Bolo de Arroz

Another Portuguese breakfast muffin, bolo de arroz are made using rice flour in addition to standard wheat flour.

Managing to be both buttery and crumbly in texture, they have a delightfully crisp cap of baked sugar. The piece de resistance, however, is the slightest hint of lemon that gives bolo de arroz a freshness which is perfect for breakfast.

FAQs – Portuguese Breakfast

What is breakfast in Lisbon?

Much like many other European countries, breakfast in Portugal is a simple meal. Many Portuguese enjoy a small coffee, fresh juice, and small pastry such as pastel de nata.

What time is breakfast in Portugal?

Most Portuguese eat breakfast between 8 and 9 AM. A second breakfast, usually a light snack consisting of a small sandwich is eaten at 11 AM.

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