Traditional Uruguayan food is so vastly underrated and exciting, there are so incredible many dishes to explore, each with an amazing heritage and history. Uruguay is situated in the heart of South America, a relatively small country nestled between Argentina and Brazil.
Most Popular Uruguayan Foods
Uruguayan cuisine is influenced by a huge diversity of other countries cuisines, predominantly due to colonization and immigration. There are unmistakable influences from the likes of Spain, Portugal, Italy and France, with many dishes brought over and adapted over time.
Uruguayan food can be difficult to define, with such varied dishes and styles. Typical staples of Uruguayan cuisine include meat (beef, chicken, lamb), stews, breads, pastries, pasta, pizza, fish and polenta. The majority of dishes found throughout the country will be based around one of those staples.
Whether you’re in Montevideo or at one of the stunning coastal towns, these dishes are widely available throughout Uruguay (and indeed other parts of South America too). So without further ado, here are the most popular traditional Uruguayan dishes along with links to our favorite recipes for you to try for yourself.
Revuelto Gramajo is a popular dish in both Uruguay and Argentina, and is super simple to make. Consisting of deep fried hash potatoes, onions, bacon, eggs, butter and french fries, Revuelto Gramajo is a bit of a guilty pleasure due to the unhealthy ingredients!
Probably the most famous food of Uruguay, the chivito is considered to be the Uruguayan national dish. It’s not just a sandwich, it’s an amazing sandwich!
A chivito is a the ultimate champion of sandwiches! Consisting of beef steak, melted cheese (usually mozzarella), tomatoes, pickles, eggs and mayonnaise, often served with fries.
Tortas fritas are little biscuity-bread snacks often served with dulce de leche or jam.
They are essentially little baked dough cakes that are considered to be a hearty little national treasure, enjoyed on a rainy day. You can find these as quick snacks sold by street vendors or at certain restaurants in Uruguayan cities.
Churros with Dulce de Leche
Churros with dulce de leche are doughnut-like sweet snacks that are absolutely heavenly!
The churros are dipped in the dulce de leche is a creamy sauce made from milk, sugar and sometimes vanilla. A perfectly sweet combination!
Nobody does barbecues quite like the South Americans! And it goes to show that Asado is one of the national dishes of Uruguay.
The head chef doing all the barbecuing is called the Parilla and typically they will cook up ribs, steak, chicken, pork and lamb in a massive meat feast.
Asado cooked meat will then be accompanied by salad, vegetables and of course beer! What’s not to like?
Pasta Con Salsa Caruso
Infused with outstanding Italian influences, Pasta con salsa caruso is a Uruguayan dish of stuffed pasta, ham, mushrooms and a creamy sauce.
Top this dish off with parmesan and you may well think you are in Italy! Allegedly first created to impress Italian opera singer, Enrico Caruso, it is now a fully fledged Uruguayan traditional dish enjoyed throughout the country.
It’s super easy to cook as well, with only a small number of ingredients and equipment required.
Arroz con Leche
Arroz con Leche is a stunning Uruguayan rice pudding dessert. Served cold or warm, it is so homely and comforting, you’ll find yourself hooked on these sweet treats.
It is cooked using cinnamon which gives it a nice light-hearted flavor. Served with a delicious coffee you’ll feel like you’re at your grandma’s house!
Choripán is a grilled chorizo sausage sandwich served with toppings such as onions and tomatoes, served in a baguette bun with a side of chimichurri.
Choripán is also considered to be an Argentinian dish and it is enjoyed elsewhere throughout the continent such as in Chile. Whilst this looks like a super simple dish, it is so filling and tasty due to the smoky chorizo sausage.
Chajá is a Uruguayan Meringue that is actually quite exquisite. It is somewhat of a work of art with sponge, meringue, apricots and whipped cream all combining into a perfect combination of textures.
It’s definitely one to order after a meal when you still have some room left because you’ll want to eat more and more!
Empanadas are not just a Uruguayan dish, they are eaten throughout the world but each country has their own wonderful, delicious take on them!
European countries such as Spain and Portugal eat empanadas, the British love a meat pie, and even Jamaica has their own version, the Jamaican patty. But of course, the Uruguayan version is an absolute favorite.
Super simple to prepare, they are always available at street food and in restaurants throughout Uruguay. Typical Uruguayan Empanadas are pastry baked pockets filled with beef, onions, peppers, olives, garlic and seasonings.
Farinata is a kind of flat pancake made using chickpea flour and seasonings of rosemary, pepper and salt.
Cut into triangles, it is ten eaten on its own as a snack because it is quick and simple to prepare. It is also eaten in Italy where Faranita is stuffed into focaccia bread.
Milanesa a la Napolitana
Uruguay’s version of pizza, the Milanesa a la Napolitana!
Of course, the Napolitana refers to Naples so again another Italian-inspired dish. But that’s what makes the food of Uruguay so great!
Milanesa a la Napolitana is basically baked meat, usually beef, covered with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and various different toppings such as onion, peppers and ham.
There are also popular versions where horse meat is used, if that’s what you’re into!
Another version of the empanada, the Empanada Gallega is the same principle but this type is filled with delicious tuna and peppers!
Imported from Galicia in Spain where it is originated, the tuna filling is filled with boiled egg, red pepper, onions and tomato sauce.
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 Brazil but is also a widely followed cooking method in many other countries in North and South America.
The meat used to prepare churrasco in Brazil 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.
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, Argentina, Paraguay, the Philippines, and the independent communities of Andalusia and the Canary Islands.
Exploring Uruguayan Cuisine
Of course, the best way to really try Uruguayan cuisine is to actually go to Uruguay. Wandering the streets of Montevideo allows you to take in the sights and smells of the food cooking and really experience the culture.