This post is all about the Portuguese Desserts – the desserts that you will find in restaurants all over Portugal, and desserts that are typically cooked at home by the typical Portuguese family.
The Portuguese have a sweet tooth and a love affair with sweet egg yolks, so you will find plenty of sweet desserts with egg yolk but also a variety of unique and delicious desserts. After reading this you will probably want to try everything.
In this guide, we don’t include the famous Traditional Portuguese pastries, as we have already covered it in an article exclusively about Best Portuguese sweets and pastries.
So, here we gathered a list of 17 Best Portuguese desserts that will guide you in that difficult moment of choosing (only) a dessert. I mean, we can only have one at a time… right?
Best Portuguese Desserts
#1 Egg Pudding – Pudim de Ovos
Egg Pudding is a traditional Portuguese dessert that is frequently cooked by all Portuguese families. Nearly every household has a version of an egg pudding that is cooked and served on Sunday lunch.
As “all” Portuguese desserts, this pudding is done with plenty of egg. The recipe is quite simple, egg, milk, and a peel of orange or lemon joined together and cooked over a boiling water bath in the oven. This pudding is very similar to the Spanish Flan Pudding or the French Crème Caramel.
The egg pudding is a staple dessert in every restaurant in Portugal, so you will easily find it in almost any restaurant, though they are not all the same. There are many great puddings in Portugal, and some…. not so good.
#2 Pudim Abade de Priscos
The Pudim Abade de Priscos is a especial egg pudding made in the north of Portugal more particularly in Braga. This pudding was created by an Abbot, Manuel Joaquim Rebelo, who served Braga’s parish of Prisco’s in the 19th century.
This egg pudding is a silky sweet dessert that melts in your mouth leaving you a taste of caramel and sweet eggs. The Pudim Abade de Priscos has a secret ingredient, bacon, which may sound weird, but you won’t feel the flavor of bacon. Give it a try, you won’t regret it.
The best place to eat Pudim Abade de Priscos is in Braga. Several restaurants serve it as a dessert or you simply can find it in pastries in Braga city center.
#3 Doce da casa
The name of this dessert literally means “dessert of the house” so nearly every restaurant has its own and it varies significantly from restaurant to restaurant. It is like the specialty of the restaurant.
Doce da casa is normally served in a glass and it’s similar to “Serradura” or “Natas do Ceu”, that we described below, but as we said you never know.
Nearly every restaurant has the Doce da Casa always ask what is the desert of the house, but it usually is good.
Serradura means literally sawdust, due to the crumbled biscuit that goes on the dessert. This dessert pudding consists of alternating layers of condensed milk and cream with a crumbled biscuit (normally the biscuit is “bolacha Maria”, a brand frequently used in Portugal). It is a very simple but delicious dessert.
You can find this dessert in nearly every restaurant in Portugal and sometimes it can be very similar to “Doce da Casa”. Portuguese families also have it at home for parties and gatherings.
Due to the Portuguese presence, this dessert is also very famous in Macau, where you can frequently find it in restaurants and households.
#5 Natas do Céu
Natas do Céu has a very romantic name – it means cream from heaven because it is so fluffy and light. This dessert is a layered pudding of a cream mousse made with meringue and double cream, alternated with crumbled biscuit (bolacha Maria) and topped with “doce de ovos” ( the Portuguese sweet eggs).
Actually the dessert is very similar to serradura, but Natas do Céu has a softer and lighter texture. It also includes sweet eggs which “serradura” typically doesn’t. Some recipes even alternate the cream with “Doce de Ovos” and Maria biscuit.
This typical Portuguese dessert is customary and you can easily find it in any restaurant, sometimes it is served as “Doce da Casa”. It is also a very simple dessert to cook. the only complicated part is the Sweet Eggs. It is a cherished dessert by the Portuguese. We love it, as will you.
#6 Bolo de Bolacha
Bolo de Bolacha means Biscuit Cake, but technically it isn’t a cake as it doesn’t go to the oven. The dessert is made with biscuit, normally a type called Maria very popular in Portugal. The biscuits are immersed in coffee and covered with a cream made with butter, sugar, and egg yolks. It is kind of a Portugues tiramisu. Coffee and butter how can it go wrong?
You can find Bolo de Bolacha served as a dessert in restaurants, but nowadays it is not as common. It may have different formats, normally in restaurants, it looks like a cake, but when done at home it has a format of a flower. Portuguese families used to do this cake frequently on party days. Well, mine still does! Maybe we will share the secret recipe one day… 🙂
#7 Baba de Camelo
Baba de Camelo has a strange name, it means Camel’s drool, not very appealing, but don’t judge it by its name. It is mouthwatering. This desert is a mousse of cooked condensed milk, similar to the Hispanic dulce de leche. It is very simple and easy to do – You only need to cook condensed milk and eggs, and then top it with toasted almonds.
Legend says that the origin of this dessert was of a lady that was receiving guests and invented this recipe with the ingredients she had at home. The result was a soft, camel dessert, as she didn’t have enough dessert for all her guest she named it Baba de Camelo, to discourage her guests from eating it all.
Baba de Camelo is widely served as a dessert in typical Portuguese Restaurants.
Molotof pudding is a dessert done by all Portuguese. Contrary to all other Portuguese desserts this pudding is cooked with egg whites and sugar. Yes, we have one dessert that doesn’t have egg yolks. Normally this dessert is cooked to use the leftovers of egg whites, It is a fluffy soft dessert with a dulcet taste of Caramel. Although the pudding is frequently topped with sweet egg yolks (Portuguese being Portuguese… ).
The origin of the name is uncertain, supposedly Molotof used to be instead Malakoff. Malakoff was a fortress that protected the city of Sebastopol in the Crimea. With time, the name was changed to Molotof resembling the famous Molotov cocktail.
Molotof pudding is one of the most typical desserts in Portuguese restaurants, so you really have to eat it.
#9 Toucinho do Céu
Toucinho do céu is a traditional conventual dessert, which means that it comes from the convents. This dessert is made of egg yolks, eggs, sugar, butter, grind almonds, and depending on the region it can take fig-leaved gourd (chila squash). The desert is really good and delicious.
The name of this dessert means bacon from heaven, due to the fact that originally the dessert used to have bacon, although it doesn’t anymore.
It is a dessert available all over the country but the most famous Toucinho do Céu are from Murça in the North of Portugal and Alentejo in the South. You will find it in some restaurants, especially in the regions of Trás dos Montes and Alentejo.
#10 Leite Creme
Leite Creme is a Portuguese custard made with milk, sugar, egg yolks, corn starch, cinnamon stick, and lemon peel. In the end, the custard is topped with cinnamon or burnt sugar, but it isn’t mandatory. It is a Portuguese classic that everyone loves. A comforting dessert that a grandmother used to cook for their grandchild when they visited.
This dessert is very similar to other European desserts like Créme brûlée and Crema Catalana, although they are very similar they are not quite the same. Leite creme is cooked over the stove while Creme brulée is done in the oven over a water bath. And normally leite creme is aromatized with lemon peel, while Créme brûlée is aromatized with a vanilla pod.
As for Crema Catana, this pudding is from the region on Catalunya in Spain, it is told to be much older than Creme brûlée. This cream is much more similar to Portuguese Leite Creme.
Leite Creme is served in numerous Portuguese restaurants, so it is very easy to find. Note that normally in restaurants they ask you how do you want your Leite Creme, with cinnamon or sugar.
Farofias is a dessert made with fluffy meringue egg whites cooked in boiling milk and covered with a silky custard of sweet egg yolk and milk. They are so soft and divine, especially if warm, then they simply melt in your mouth.
They are more typical in the region of Lisbon, although their origin is unknown. But even so, it is a dessert that isn’t easy to find. Therefore if you discover them a restaurant, just please order them. You probably won’t find many chances of trying it.
#12 Arroz Doce
Arroz Doce or sweet rice is a classic dessert of the Portuguese cuisine. It is made with rice carolino (a native short-grain rice variety that’s similar to the Italian Arborio used in risotto). The process of doing Arroz Doce is very similar to doing risotto but it is cooked with milk, cinnamon, and orange/lemon peel. The rice is slowly cooked joining the milk gradually until it is absorbed. In the end, you mix egg yolks. It is usually decorated with cinnamon.
This dessert is almost a comfort food for us, it makes us remember home and our grandmother. It is a mandatory dessert at Christmas and it is found in typical Portuguese restaurants all over Portugal.
Aletria is another classical dessert by Portuguese grannies. It is in many ways similar to Arroz Doce, but instead of rice, this dessert is done with thin noodles we call Aletria. You got to love the Portuguese and their creativity with desserts.
Aletria is done with noodles cooked in milk and egg yolks, aromatized with an orange or lemon peel. When all the milk is absorbed by the noodles it is done, it just has to cool down and sprinkle cinnamon powder to decorate.
There are some variations in the texture of the dessert depending on the region of Portugal. In the North, Minho, the Aletria is more liquid, in the center of Portugal it is solid and you can cut it slices. You will also find this dessert in Spain.
This dessert dates to the Muslim presence in the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal (and Spain) was under the rule of Moors for centuries, leaving a legacy in Portuguese cuisine, and this dessert is still a testimony of it.
Aletria is done frequently in Portuguese homes, and similarly to Arroz Doce it is also a typical Christmas dessert.
#14 Torta de Laranja
Torta de Laranja is a swiss roll done with Orange. It is a delicious and moist dessert, even more in Summer when Portuguese oranges are so good. It is a very simple and easy dessert, it is done with orange juice, orange zest, eggs, flour, butter, and sugar. The best oranges to use come from Algarve. Algarve Oranges are so juicy and sweet, making this torte one of the best you will try in Portugal.
Portugal is famous for its oranges, so famous that several countries name their oranges Portocale. Portuguese Orange Torte is a homage to Portuguese orange.
You won’t find this dessert in restaurants as frequently as it should, but it is more typical in the South of Portugal, in Algarve.
#15 Tarte de Amendoa
Tarte de Amendoa or Almond tort is another classic Portuguese dessert. Made with a base of almond flour, wheat flour, milk, sugar and eggs, and topped with a crust of almond and caramel, it is simply divine, especially if you love almonds and caramel.
Besides egg yolks Portuguese sweets typically use plenty of Almonds, so you will frequently find desserts with almonds or made with almond flour. The reason for this is the abundant Almond trees Portugal has in particular in Northern Portugal in Trás dos Montes and the Douro region.
You will find this tort is some restaurants and in bakeries, and you should definitely try it.
Sericaia is a very humid cake made with eggs, flour, milk, and cinnamon. This conventual sweet cames from Elvas in Alentejo in the South of Portugal. Traditionally it was cooked and served in typical clay plates and accompanied by an also delicious Elvas Plum compote.
You can find Sericaia all over Alentejo more particularly in the region around Elvas.
#17 Chocolate Salame
Chocolate Salame is a traditional Portuguese and Italian dessert. Well, its origin is in Italy, but Portuguese adore it so much that become our own too (not that we lack desserts in our traditional culinary). It is typical in birthdays parties, in particular in the ’80s, the kids loved it.
Chocolate Salame is made with cocoa, Maria biscuit, egg, butter, and sugar, all joined together and involved in a cylindrical form and refrigerated. It is rich and chocolatey. Be aware that the egg isn’t cooked, so if you have food restrictions, maybe you shouldn’t eat it.
Normally Chocolate Salame isn’t served in a restaurant, but you can find it in supermarkets and some pastries shops. Yet, the best ones are the ones done by our moms!
As we said before Portuguese have a sweet tooth, we love sweet desserts and pastry. In this post, we explored the most frequent and best desserts that you will find in restaurants and desserts that the Portuguese do at home. If you want to know more about Portuguese pastry check out this post and you will be delighted.
If you want to know about Traditional Portuguese Christmas desserts read this post.
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