15 Most Popular Foods From Africa

From the savoury stews of East Africa to the delectable pastries of North Africa, the continent’s culinary landscape is as diverse as it is delicious, offering many gastronomic delights just waiting to be discovered. 

15 Most Popular Foods From Africa

From the savoury stews of East Africa to the delectable pastries of North Africa, the continent’s culinary landscape is as diverse as it is delicious, offering many gastronomic delights just waiting to be discovered. 

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

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local woman food vendor selling foods from Africa

Join us as we cover the most popular foods from Africa.

Every bite is a taste of tradition, history, and the limitless creativity of the African kitchen.

Staple Foods From Africa

These staple foods form the foundation of African cuisine, each playing a vital role in the diets and cultures of its diverse regions. 

Here are six staple foods that hold a prominent place on the continent’s tables:

  1. Cassava is a staple in many African countries. It is a versatile tuber that thrives in tropical climates. Boil, mash, fry, or grind it into flour to make dishes like fufu, a staple accompaniment to soups and stews.
  2. Maize (Corn): Maize is one of the most common foods in Africa. It is consumed in various forms, such as maize meal, grits, or whole kernels. It is also used to make staples like ugali (in East Africa), sadza (in Southern Africa), and masa (in West Africa).
  3. Rice: Rice is a staple food in many African countries, particularly in West Africa where dishes like jollof rice and rice and peas are beloved. It is also widely consumed in countries along the Nile River in North and East Africa.
  4. Plantains: Similar to bananas but starchier, plantains are a staple in West and Central Africa. They can be boiled, fried, or roasted and served as a side dish or snack.
  5. Beans: Various black-eyed peas, cowpeas, and kidney beans are staples in many foods from Africa. You will find beans in hearty stews, soups, or vegetarian dishes.
  6. Millet: Millet is a drought-tolerant grain that is widely cultivated in Africa, particularly in the Sahel region. It is used to make porridges, flatbreads, and couscous-like dishes, providing a nutritious and filling staple for many communities.

15 Most Popular Foods from Africa

1) Ugali (East Africa)

ugali foods from africa

This simple yet staple dish is made from maize flour (cornmeal) and water, cooked into a thick, starchy porridge. 

Ugali is most popular across East Africa, particularly in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda, where it serves as a common accompaniment to various stews, vegetables, and meats.

Interested in Gorilla Trekking in Uganda? This is how to book it

2) Jollof Rice (West Africa)

jollof rice foods in Africa

Jollof rice is a beloved dish across West Africa and beyond. We enjoyed it while travelling in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and the Gambia.

I’d describe it as one of the more comforting foods in Africa, and it can feed many people at once.

Expect bold spices and lots of colour; this fragrant rice dish is a celebration in itself.

It is often adorned with tender pieces of chicken, beef, or fish and infused with the smoky allure of tomatoes, onions, and capsicums.

3) Tagine (North Africa)

tagine popular foods from Africa

Tagine is a traditional North African dish cooked in a clay pot of the same name.

It is one of the most famous Moroccan foods; however, it’s also a common dish in Libyan cuisine and similarly, the foods in Algeria.

It consists of slow-cooked stews made with meat, poultry, fish, or vegetables flavoured with spices, herbs, and dried fruits. 

Tagine is one of the most common foods in Africa and is often served with couscous, rice, or bread.

4) Injera (East Africa)

injera food in Africa
Injera – One of the most unique foods in Africa

Injera is a unique flatbread central to Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Djibouti. 

Making injera involves fermenting teff flour with water and a small amount of yeast for several days, allowing the batter to develop its characteristic sour taste and airy texture. 

The batter is poured onto a hot, circular grill plate and spread evenly to cook. Unlike traditional bread, injera is only cooked on one side, resulting in a porous surface with a bubbly texture.

Injera is typically large and serves as both a utensil and a plate. It is often used as a base to serve various stews, vegetables, and meats, which are placed on top of the injera and eaten by tearing off pieces of the bread and using them to scoop up the accompanying dishes. 

Ethiopian food is one of my favourite African cuisines. I love the colours and flavours of the many dishes I can try.

You can read more in our Ethiopian Food Guide.

5) Suya (West Africa)

suya African foods

Nigeria is a vast country and is an excellent place to taste some popular foods from Africa.

Nigerians have fantastic street food, and Suya is a cherished street food sensation. 

Skewered and grilled to perfection, this tantalizing dish features succulent pieces of meat, often beef or chicken, marinated in a fiery blend of spices, including ground peanuts, ginger, and cayenne pepper, creating a flavour explosion that’s guaranteed to leave you craving more.

6) Chapati (East Africa)

chapati popular foods from Africa

Chapati is an unleavened flatbread that has become a staple in East African cuisine. 

Preparation is simple; ingredients include wheat flour, water, salt, and oil; chapatis are rolled thin, cooked on a grill, and often served with stews, curries, or grilled meats.

Chapati is featured in our list of Africa’s 20 popular breakfast foods.

7) Nyama Choma (East Africa)

Nyama Choma Africa foods

Nyama Choma, meaning “grilled meat” in Swahili, is a cherished dish in East Africa, especially in Kenya and Tanzania. 

Typically made from goat, beef, or chicken, the meat is marinated in spices, skewered, and grilled over an open flame. 

Often served with a side of ugali, salad, and spicy sauces, this is one of my favourite foods from Africa.

8) Fufu (West Africa)

fufu African food
Fufu – one of the most common foods in Africa

Fufu is a staple food from Africa, most commonly eaten in many West African countries. It is prepared by thoroughly mixing and pounding separate, equal portions of cassava and green plantain flour with water. 

Other flours can replace cassava flour, such as semolina, maize (corn) flour or mashed plantains.

Once the dough is prepared, fufu is rolled into balls, dipped into sauces, or eaten with stews of meat, fish, or vegetables.

Fufu to West Africans is like rice to Asians or bread to Arabs – it’s a true staple and absolutely a must-eat when exploring West African dishes.

9) Chicken or Fish Yassa (West Africa)

chicken yassa foods in africa

Yassa is a local favourite dish and one of the most popular foods from Africa. 

First, chicken or fish pieces marinate in dijon mustard and lemon juice, then braised with caramelized onions and slow-cooked until the meat is perfect. 

Served with rice or couscous, this is a very comforting meal and a must-taste if you are travelling in West Africa.

These 17 ESSENTIAL things to know before travelling to West Africa is a must-read before you plan your trip.

We enjoyed this meal a few times in Senegal, Mauritania and Cameroon.

10) Cous Cous (North Africa)

cous cous Food in Africa

Cous cous is a staple dish in North African cuisine, particularly in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania. 

Cous cous is semolina wheat that is traditionally prepared by steaming the grains, resulting in a light and fluffy texture.

In African cuisine, couscous is often served as a base for various flavourful stews, sauces, or tagines. 

Cous cous alone could be more exciting, but once a stew or aromatic sauce is added, it’s a winning dish and one of my all-time most craved foods from Africa.

I particularly loved the range of cous cous dishes in Tunisia; read more about Tunisia’s 8 Most Popular Street Foods.

11) Pilau (East Africa)

pilau Rice in Africa

Pilau, also spelled as pilaf or pilav, is a tasty rice dish that has become a staple in many African nations, particularly in East Africa and along the Swahili Coast. 

In African cuisine, pilau typically consists of rice cooked with spices, aromatics, onions, garlic, broth and often meat or seafood.

Everything is simmered until tender and fragrant.

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12) Shawarma (North Africa)

shawarma in Africa

Though not originally from Africa, shawarma has become a popular street food in many African countries, particularly in North Africa.

Shawarma typically consists of thinly sliced marinated meat, such as chicken, beef, or lamb, layered on a vertical rotisserie.

The meat is then slow-roasted as it rotates, allowing it to cook evenly and develop a tender texture.

Once cooked, the shawarma meat is shaved off the rotisserie, topped with tomatoes, onions and lettuce, and then wrapped in flatbread or pita, along with various accompaniments and sauces such as hummus, tahini, or garlic sauce.

13) Maafe – (West Africa)

Maafe or groundnut stew - Popular foods from Africa

Maafe is groundnut (peanut) stew that can be found in many countries in West Africa. 

Commonly made with chicken, scotch bonnet peppers, and either groundnut or peanut butter, it’s a satisfying stew because of the combination of sweet, savoury, and spicy flavours.

In the coastal regions of Senegal, fish is eaten with Maafe and traditionally served with fufu, white rice, or couscous.

Craving more foods from Africa? Check out our AFRICA FOOD MAP

14) Maboke (Central Africa)

Maboke - Fish in Banana Leaf

Maboke is a traditional dish from the Republic of the Congo. It consists of fish marinated in spices and wrapped in banana leaves before being grilled or steamed. 

Maboke is such an excellent food in Africa and something I crave when I return to the continent.

The banana leaves impart a remarkable flavour to the fish, often accompanied by vegetables and served with rice or cassava.

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15) Brochettes (Central Africa)

brochettes African food
Brochettes are popular foods from Niger and other countries in Central Africa

Brochettes, or skewered meats, are popular street foods in many Central African countries, including Chad, the Central African Republic, Niger, and Gabon

Marinated pieces of meat, often beef, goat, or chicken, are skewered and grilled over open flames, resulting in tender, mouthwatering skewers enjoyed as a snack or a meal.

When exploring the best foods in N’Djamena in Chad, brochettes were my favourite food —I’d never tasted such tender beef.

I experienced the same thing when discovering the foods from Niger; the quality of brochettes is exceptional.

That’s our summary of the most popular foods in Africa. Have you tried any of these common foods in Africa? What African food favourite would you add to our list?

Travel Tips for Africa

We have many travel guides and tips for Africa – what a massive continent!

Have you ever wondered how many countries in Africa there are? 54 or 55? We cover them in depth in our ultimate Africa bucket list.

There is some delicious cuisine to be enjoyed across Africa, and these ten best African countries for food will inspire your food journey.

Check out how many of these 15 most popular foods you can taste.

If you’re wondering what they eat for breakfast in Africa, check out these 20 popular breakfast foods.

For food lovers, our Food Map of AFRICA lists the quintessential dish you need to eat in every nation!

It’s worth reading these 17 ESSENTIAL Things to know before travelling to West Africa, and our packing list for Africa may be helpful to you.

Don’t miss our recap of our travels across West Africa for even more helpful tips, and try these popular West African dishes; they’re fantastic!

You’ll need to stay connected while travelling in Africa. We recommend eSIM. It’s easy, reliable and affordable. View eSIMs for individual countries in Africa, or consider a regional eSIM for Africa (which covers 36 countries)

If your travels in Africa are part of a much larger global adventure, then a Global eSIM may be the answer. It connects you in 124 countries, offering data-only eSIM and data/call/text Global eSIM. This eSIM has been a game-changer for us, and we couldn’t imagine travelling without it now.

If you want to travel with like-minded travellers, consider joining a group tour. View the best deals on group tours in Africa.

Check out our best-ever travel tips compiled from more than twenty years of experience.

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✅ Check out our Travel Gear and Travel Resources for more valuable tips to save you money!

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