Occupying much of the South West tip of South America, Argentina stands as the 8th largest country in the world in terms of landmass. With magnificent mountains, beaches, waterfalls and landscapes along with a rich cultural history, a burning passion for football and wine, this latin-American country is among the most visited tourist destinations on the continent.
Argentina is culturally diverse, with people of many ethnicities calling it home. The ethnic profile of its population goes back to the 19th and 20th centuries when many Spanish and Italians immigrated here. The influx of immigrants between 1853 and 1955 was even surprisingly greater than the United States.
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Most Popular Argentinian Dishes
The influence of other nationalities in Argentinian culture is undeniable and can be experienced first-hand in its gastronomy. Argentinian cuisine is influenced by a blend of different cultures, from French to Spanish, Italian, Mesopotamian and more.
Argentinians are big consumers of red meat, with beef being one of the most popular. Beef is in fact the biggest industry in Argentina, along with poultry. So without further ado, here are the most popular Argentinian dishes along with links to our favorite recipes to try for yourself.
It is impossible to not talk about asado when discussing Argentinian food. Asado is to Argentina what barbecue is to the rest of the world. It is a national staple that is generally served during a gathering of friends and family over the open grill with delicious barbecued meats and drinks.
A variety of meat, including typical beef cuts such as bife de lomo (tenderloin), bife de chorizo (sirloin), ham and sausages make it to the grill. The meat, well-seasoned with salt and pepper and accompanied by salads or fries, is an absolute treat! Asado is also widely enjoyed throughout Uruguay, Chile and Paraguay.
A common street food in Argentina, empanadas are pastry pockets made of wheat dough that are typically stuffed with flavourful minced beef, pork, chicken or ham along with cheese and vegetables.
They are seasoned with spices such as chilli salt and cumin. The pastry is then fried (or baked), becoming the perfect comfort food.
Provoleta is a dish for real cheese lovers. Exhibiting clear influences from Italian cuisine, its preparation involves a big portion of provolone (Italian aged cheese) slapped into a skillet and melted over heat.
It is cooked until a perfect consistency of gooey cheesiness on the inside and crispness on the outside is achieved. Provoleta is served with a sprinkle of oregano, crushed red pepper and a drizzle of olive oil to boost the flavors.
A staple side to all Asado barbeques, a table condiment and a common marinade, the chimichurri is an uncooked, green colored sauce that is made of finely chopped parsley, cloves of garlic minced, olive oil, dried oregano, chilli pepper and vinegar.
For chimichurri rojo (red), red bell peppers and tomatoes are added to the green parsley base to give it its signature crimson color. The taste is both spicy and sour, but outrageously delicious.
Traditionally served on May 25 to commemorate the May revolution, Locro is unofficially considered as the national dish of Argentina. A cure to cold winters, this hearty stew is prepared with corn, potatoes, beans, red chorizo, beef or pork and is seasoned with salt and spices such as cumin or bay leaf.
It can be served with quiquirimichi (a spice consisting of ground chilli and paprika and chimichurri) and onion.
Alfajores was brought to Argentina by the Spanish after it had been introduced to them by the Arabs in Europe. These cookies are shortbread-like biscuits that are sandwiched together with a dulce de leche filling. They are then coated with grated coconut and eaten throughout the year as a sweet snack.
Tortas fritas are deep-fried dough snacks, tossed with sugar, popular in both Argentina and Uruguay. Whilst these sweet treats have been enjoyed for over 100 years and are typically made with milk and eggs then served with jam, sugar or dulce de leche.
Choripan is an Argentinian hot dog, considered to be the food of football. It is hard to miss on game nights as it is sold widely by street vendors and throughout stadiums.
Choripan is made of two main ingredients, chorizo (chori) and pan (bread).
The sausage is cooked on the grill and is placed between a lightly grilled hot dog bun. To amplify the taste, it is often complimented with chimichurri. Some even serve it with caramelised onions, green peppers and other toppings.
This Argentinian take on schnitzel, made of beef instead of pork like the original Austrian schnitzel, was brought to Argentina by immigrants of Milan in Northern Italy. Basic milanesas are slices of meat that are breaded and marinated in beaten egg, a lot of garlic and parsley, and are then covered in breadcrumbs.
A regular milanesa is coated with tomato sauce, plenty of cheese (mozzarella) and smoked ham or prosciutto (raw cured thin sliced Italian ham). This is among the most famous dishes in Argentina and is served with a rather generous portion of French fries or a salad.
Dulce de Leche
An important and yet another example of strong Italian influence in Argentinian cuisine and culture is helado. The word is Spanish for ice-cream. It was embraced and improvised by the people to make their own version of an Italian gelato, Dulce de Leche.
Dulce de Leche is prepared with sweetened cow milk and is cooked slowly until it thickens and eventually caramelises. This drool-worthy sweetness is soft, creamy and smooth in texture and is widely used in other desserts and cakes as a dressing or for adding sweet flavor.
While the world drinks coffee, Argentina drinks Mate. This tea is at the heart of the cultural heritage of the Argentina and no home goes without a Mate with some snacks or just on its own. It is also a common practice to offer mate to strangers.
Yerba mate has considerable caffeine. It is made from yerb, a herb that grows in the Mesopotamian area. Traditionally, it is sipped with a metal straw called bambilla and served in a gourd or a cup.
Criadillas is one of the weirder foods eaten in Argentina. They are quite simply calf or bull testicles deep-fried.
Criadillas are commonly eaten in bullfighting regions of Argentina, paired with salsa and widely associated with the Matador after a bullfight who eats the testicles as a sign of strength. Sounds delicious, right?
Revuelto Gramajo is a typical Argentinian hash dish prepared using fried julienned potatoes, ham and scrambled eggs. Other ingredients that people are often seen using include peas, other fresh vegetables, fish, pork and other meats.
Medialunas is the Argentine equivalent of the French croissant, which of course was a very direct influence of French immigration to the country. However, unlike a regular croissant Medialunas are smaller and sweeter and enjoyed as a staple breakfast food.
Churrasco is a traditional South American barbecue technique where chops of beef, veal, lamb, pork and chicken are skewered and then grilled over a wood fire. It is a very popular dish in many countries throughout North and South America.
The meat used to prepare churrasco in is often from the zebu, a breed of cattle that’s particularly common in churrasco as a cut of meat known as cupim. Foods that are served along with churrasco include farofa grains, rice, fried potatoes, potato salad, steamed greens, black beans, onions, fried bananas and many different chili-based sauces.
Balcarce Cake is a traditional dessert that originated in the city of Balcarce, Buenos Aires province. It is a type of sponge cake that is filled with dulce de leche, a caramel-like sauce made from sweetened condensed milk, and topped with meringue and fruit.
It is typically made with a light and airy sponge cake base, which is layered with dulce de leche and topped with a layer of meringue. The meringue is then torched until it forms a light golden brown crust.
Puchero is a Spanish-originating stew consisting of a wide range of local vegetables, the exact ingredients of which vary by region. The dish is also very popular in Yucatán, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay, the Philippines, and the independent communities of Andalusia and the Canary Islands.
Pastafrola (Quince Pie)
Pastafrola is a Paraguayan and Argentinian pie made with a crumbly shortbread crust, filled with your choice of quince paste, guava paste or dulce de leche. The pie can be enjoyed as a sweet way to start your day, served alongside coffee or tea, or as a filling dessert after dinner.
Fainá (Chickpea Flatbread)
Fainá is a savory, gluten-free flatbread made from chickpea flour, popular in Argentina and Uruguay. It is commonly enjoyed as an appetizer, street food or as an accompaniment to pizza, particularly in the region of Buenos Aires where it is popular to place a slice of Fainá on top of the pizza.