In this article, let’s see how you can add that unique Brazilian flair to your cooking. Let’s look at some of the famous Brazilian spices.

Brazilian cuisine is famous for its delicious flavors and enchanting aromas. And the reason behind this is Brazilian spices. Because of the influx of immigrants worldwide, Brazilian cuisine offers a mix of various cultures. That’s why you’ll sense a touch of German, Arabic, Spanish, and Italian flavors in Brazilian dishes. Let’s explore some of the most famous Brazilian spices.

Brazilian Spices and Seasoning

As you go through these spices and seasoning, you will notice many dishes have their roots in other countries, especially Portugal.

Brazilian Spices and Seasoning

1. Cinnamon

The enticing aroma and a mix of sweet and spicy flavors of cinnamon powder instill a unique taste in traditional Brazilian cuisine.

Brazilian Name: Canela

The Portuguese dish Frango assado is one of the flavorful examples that includes cinnamon as a special ingredient. It’s quite popular in Brazil.

Another famous Brazilian dish is Bolinhos de Chuva. These are small drop beignets that are rolled in cinnamon and sugar.

2. Clove

Brazilians developed a love for cloves in their cuisine from Portuguese cooking. And now Brazilians add cloves to so many dishes, including soups, pastries, and stews.

Brazilian Name: Cravo-da-India

This aromatic spice has flowery buds with pointed sticks on the knob-like head. With a distinct pungent yet deliciously sweet and spicy taste, cloves give an extraordinary aroma to various dishes.

Molho de cravo-da-Índia is a clove sauce used over steak. It is a rich and beautiful sauce that compliments beef well.

3. Nutmeg

Nutmeg is the inner fruit of the mace plant. The use of nutmeg in Brazil has come from Portuguese and European cuisines.

Brazilian Name: Noz Moscada

A tiny pinch of nutmeg is enough to induce an incredible flavor in different Brazilian dishes.But it is primarily used in desserts and hot drinks. But this doesn’t stop Brazilians from adding it to soups and curries/sauces.


4. Mint

First thing first, the aroma of fresh mint leaves is simply amazing. Fresh mint leaves have a particularly refreshing flavor and aroma.

Brazilian Name: Hortela

With the addition of a few mint leaves in appetizers, salads, drinks, lamb dishes, and stuffed vegetables, the freshness and aesthetics of any dish go high.

However, if you can’t find fresh mint, use dried mint leaves. Dry mint will also work amazingly well in lamb or vegetable dishes.

Brazil has its own take on the popular Cuban Mojito. The Brazilian Mojito uses cachaça instead of rum.

5. Oregano

Brazilians love adding oregano to most of their dishes.

Although it came from Italian and Arabian cuisines, Brazilians have made it their ingredient. Sure you will see it in the common dishes like pizza. But we see it used in chimichurri, and tempero baiano Brazlian seasoning. Taking oregano to another level!

6. Cumin Powder

The next spice is cumin. Cumin powder infuses earthy, slightly bitter, and unique flavor into the food.

Brazilian Name: Cominho

Cumin is used throughout Brazialian cuisine. Barredo and cabrito ao molho are two of the most famous stews that use cumin as a special ingredient.

cumin seeds

7. Pepper/Hot Sauce

Brazilian food is hot and spicy.

Brazilian Name: Pimenta

Peppers are used all throughout South America and Spain. People from the Northern part of Brazil especially love hot sauces. For example there is Molho apimentado which is made with cayenne pepper or malagueta peppers. Then there is molho picante which can be made with red or green peppers.

8. Paprika

Paprika powder adds a mildly chilly flavor with a hint of sweetness.

Brazilian Name: Colorau

Though, it is not part of all the Brazilian recipes. Still, it is a must-required spice in Brazilian dishes like Acém Pimentada na Panela de Pressão which uses a hot paprika. But remember paprika comes mild, hot, or smoked.

9. Allspice

Allspice is one of the most commonly used ingredients in Brazilian food.

Brazilian Name: Pimente de Jamaica

Allspice has the ability to go well in desserts, especially ones that use cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. But allspice also pairs very well with meats. With its naturally strong taste, this flavorful spice gives a rich flavor to the food.

The heat level and taste of allspice are like nutmeg, black pepper, and cinnamon.


10. Bay Leaves

Bay leaves infuse a mild yet significant aroma into various Brazilian meat and fish dishes.

Brazilian Name: Louri

You will also see it used in soups and bean dishes. Bay leaves add a beautiful aroma. So, just 1-3 leaves are enough to make a huge difference in a dish.

11. Pine Nuts

Pine nuts are highly nutritious. Plus, these are huge. Just for comparison, these nuts are approximately 4-6 times larger than the European version.

Brazilian Name: Pinhao

Furthermore, talking about the appearance, the color of pine nuts is dark brown. The taste of these nuts is sharp and strong. Additionally, the pine nuts are grown on the wonderfully erected pine trees in the Southern Hemisphere.

Pine nuts enhance the flavor of Brazilian cuisine. Moreover, wine made with Brazilian nuts is top-rated among native people for its fantastic flavor.

Brazilian pine nuts

Here is some history on the Brazilian nuts.. “The pine nut, which is the fruit of a pine tree hidden inside a woody structure known as a pine cone, is one of the oldest known foods of the human species. Anthropological studies show that the Stone Pine tree has been cultivated for its seeds (pine nuts) for at least 6,000 years, and that pine nuts have been harvested from wild trees for much, much longer. In North America, cultivation and harvest of pine nuts from the pinyon family of pines most likely goes back just as far, though the anthropological track record is not as easy to prove as it is in Europe.” (source)

12. Salt

Lastly, we have salt on the spice list.

Brazilian Name: Sal

Though it may seem unusual to include salt among the best Brazilian spices, surely any list containing Brazilian spices is incomplete without salt. And this is because some Brazilian dishes only require salt and lemon or citrus. A good example of this is a salted caipirinha.

Salt and lemon seasoning used in Brazilian cooking

13. Bahian Seasoning Blend

We are now coming to the seasoning blends.

First, we got a Bahian seasoning blend. This seasoning blend adds a beautiful zest to several savory dishes, including stews, soups, seafood, chicken, and vegetables. This seasoning can also be used as a marinate.

It comes from the Bahian region of Brazil and is a blend of the following spices and herbs:

  • Oregano
  • Cumin
  • Ground coriander
  • Garlic powder
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Paprika
  • Onion powder
  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Nutmeg (Optional)
  • Salt (to your taste)

14. Portuguese Dry Rub

Secondly, we have a Portuguese dry rub. Undoubtedly, this is another great hit.

This seasoning blend is part of baked and roasted meat-based dishes. The main spices of this blend are sweet paprika, cumin, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper.

Final Thoughts on Brazilian Spices

The list of Brazilian spices can go on and on. This list is just a glimpse of an enormous set of Brazilian spices. Moreover, all these spices infuse a characteristic flavor into the dishes. People from different backgrounds have added something to the distinctive palate of Brazilians with their specialties.

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