foods in south america saltena bolivia best foods of South America.

Here are our top 5 foods in South America, and let us tell you that it was very hard to only pick five.

And our tip when searching for the best foods in South America; street food is often the best choice, tasty and very affordable!

Furthermore, we have a list of the cheapest countries to visit in South America too.

Ok, let’s do this! Our Top 5 Foods in South America

1. Tamales in Ecuador

Tamales are found in a few countries of South and Central America but are abundant in Ecuador. Tamale is a traditional dish made of starch and filling, wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf. Do not eat the wrapper; it simply keeps the filling together while being steamed.

There are various fillings. When the Aztecs and Mayans created tamales, the filling was quite simple; it consisted of squash or beans. As they are very portable, it was the food for people on the move. One of the best foods in South America.

Europeans brought more ingredients and these days the filling is a mixture of cornmeal (masa), meat, vegetables, and spices. They are quite cheap and make an excellent snack in between meals.

Foods of South America - Tamales
Foods of South America – tamales

2. Salteñas in Bolivia

Salteñas are delicious savoury pastries filled with beef, chicken potatoes, peas, carrots, spices and even olives mixed together in a juicy broth. They come in a half-moon shape, baked at 500 degrees and must be mentioned on this list of the best foods in South America.

Most locals eat salteñas in the morning, and the best places can sell out by lunch. The city of Sucre is supposed to have the best salteñas in the country or so they say. Either way, salteñas are truly pockets of flavours not to be missed.

Foods of South America - Saltenas
Saltenas – these fried parcels of goodness are fantastic. One of the best foods of South America.

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3. Ceviche in Peru

What is ceviche and how do you pronounce it? Ceviche (pronounced seh-vee-chay) is a seafood dish made from fresh raw fish cured in lemon or lime juice with a touch of chilli, onions, and coriander.

Some say it’s the answer to Peruvian sushi! As the fish is raw and cooked by the acidity of the juice, it must be prepared fresh, and it doesn’t require any cooking.

The town of Trujillo in Peru is known for its unique shark ceviche. One of the best foods of South America.

Foods of South America - Ceviche
Ceviche is such a delicious dish. So fresh! Foods of South America

4. Cazuela in Chile

A delicious stew made with potatoes, quinoa, capsicum, chilli, corn, and your choice of protein. Chicken is the most popular meat to use in this dish, however, other meats such as turkey, beef or pork will work too.

It’s common for these stews to be served with noodles or rice to bulk it out and serve more people. The key factor in preparing Chilean cazuela is to cook all ingredients separately and combine them when ready to eat.

Did you know that this dish gets its name from the cazuela pot. Traditionally, this is what a cazuela is cooked in.

There is a particular way in which Chilean people eat this dish. It is usually eaten by consuming the liquid broth first, then the meat and afterwards, the larger vegetables. 

foods in south america Cazuela -best foods of South America.
Best foods in South America: Cazuela. Photo credit to

5. Pastel in Brazil

Pastel is Brazil’s famous and favourite snack! It is a deep-fried stuffed thin-crust pastry, sweet or savoury, eaten throughout the day, as a mooring snack, lunch or afternoon treat. If you ask the locals, they will say it is one of the best food in South America for breakfast.

The origins of Pastel are linked with the Japanese immigrants who opened the first Chinese restaurants in Brazil. Every restaurant served spring rolls, and the locals deiced to create a Brazilian version.

My favourite pastel is one filled with bananas and served with Caldo de Cana (freshly pressed sugar cane juice).

foods in south america Pastel in Brazil One of the best foods of South America.
I love these delicious treats! The best foods in South America are ones that are cooked with love..just like pastels.

Best Food Tours in South America

Want to read a more comprehensive list of foods in South America? Read 15 dishes worth travelling to South America for by

We hope you enjoyed reading our recommendation about the 5 most popular foods in South America.

What is your favourite South American dish? Have we missed any must-try foods in South America? Let us know in the comments below.

Travel Tips for South America

You may be interested in reading our post about Backpack vs Suitcase – Which one should you choose? 

And once you’ve decided on that, read our Ultimate Packing List for Travellers to help you pack for your big adventure to South America. South America features in our post on the 21 Cheapest Countries to visit this year, so this will help you plan.

If you stop by in Colombia, these are the best 11 foods to eat in Colombia. It’s worth reading our 7 Tips for how to find the best food when travelling too.

We’ve got many useful posts to help you travel without hassle. Perhaps our 12 essential tips for safe travel, or how we save money to travel the world will be useful to help you prepare for a big trip.

Our best tips from 20+ years of travel is a good source of information. For the best travel advice, travel gear, and products we use, head to our Travel Resources Page.