Chile is famous for its seafood and its wine. What other Chilean food can you expect on your travels there? Please keep reading, and prepare to get hungry.
25 Chilean Food Dishes
Chile is a long and narrow country nestled between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. While it averages only 110 miles (177 kilometers from East to West), it is 2,653 miles (4,270 kilometers) from North to South. Containing deserts, tropics, and even icecaps, Chile sure does have a lot of different landscapes.
But you may ask, ‘what does any of that have to do with food?’ Well, the unique geography of Chile means that a wide variety of crops can be grown there. Not to mention the abundance of seafood available along the long stretch of coastline.
1. Porotos con Riendas
This Chilean dish is literally translated beans with reins (like the kind of reins you use when riding a horse). The beans are boiled, and the “reins” are spaghetti noodles.
Chorizo sausage, diced pumpkin, chili peppers, and onions are added to complete the dish.
2. Empanadas de Pino
An empanada is a baked pastry filled with yumminess. In Chile, empanadas are typically filled with beef. But there are also a few surprise ingredients like raisins, olives, and hard-boiled eggs. Paprika, cumin, pepper, and salt round out the flavor.
Try dipping them in salsa, or just grab one in your hand for a great snack on the go.
3. Curanto al Hoyo
Curanto al Hoya is a fun dish because it is cooked on top of heated stones in a hole (hoyo) in the ground. Its origins date back to before the Spanish colonization of South America. It can also be cooked in a pot above ground (Curanto en Olla).
The ingredients include meat, potatoes, and an assortment of vegetables. Each layer is kept separated by leaves (either Naica, Fig, or Cabbage leaves).
And seafood is also essential. Shellfish used include almejas (clams), cholgas (ribbed mussels), and picorocos (giant barnacles).
Pebre isn’t a meal on its own, it’s a condiment. This salsa varies from region to region and even from home to home. But the main ingredients are cilantro, garlic, onions, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and aji chili peppers. Try it on bread, meat, or on many other foods.
Bread is plentiful in Chile, as are sandwiches, or “Sanguches.” Churrasco is a grilled steak sandwich. Typical add-ons may include tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and chili peppers.
The Churrasco is a building block to creating many different sandwiches. For example, adding mayonnaise, tomato, and Palta (mashed avocado with salt and olive oil) to the steak makes an Italiano Sandwich. The white, red, and green of the toppings match the colors of the Italian flag.
6. Carne Mechada
Carne Mechada is a Chilean-style pot-roast. One of the meanings of Mechada is “stuffed.” To make this pot roast, you make holes through the meat using a metal skewer.
Stuff one hole with carrots, and another with peppers, another with garlic, and another with onions. The roast is slowly cooked, simmering in water and wine. The slices of this roast make for a truly interesting cross-section.
7. Pastel de Choclo
This main dish is a corn and beef casserole. The bottom layer is made by cooking ground beef flavored with onions, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper. The creamy top layer is made from corn and milk, with a hint of basil.
8. Pastel de Centolla
Centolla is the name of the King Crab which inhabits the cold waters of the southern tip of Chile. Pastel de Centolla is a thick and rich stew. Bread, milk, cream, white wine, grated carrots, and finely chopped red peppers are all part of this stew. To finish the dish, grated parmesan cheese is added.
This stew may be served in a clay bowl, but sometimes it is ladled back into the crab shell. If you’re a lover of seafood, this is one dish you must try.
9. Pastel de Jaiba
You may also see this dish on the menu as Chupe de Jaiba. Similar to the dish described above, this is also a creamy crab stew/casserole. The difference is in the type of crab used. While Centolla is found in the South, Jaiba is a rock crab that is found in the Northern parts of the Chilean coastline.
Asado is barbequed meat, and the Chileans know what they are doing! It’s flavorful, crispy, and juicy. Beef is common, along with chicken, pork, or even goat.
Cazuela is a traditional chunky soup, with a lot of flexibility in the recipe. Beef is often used but can be replaced with lamb, chicken, or pork. The vegetables used vary by the season and the region. Each serving should include the broth, a piece of meat, a whole peeled potato, and a section of corn on the cob.
These steamed corn tamales are typically made with freshly ground corn, onions, basil, and butter. After the dough has been prepared, it is wrapped in corn husks and placed in a pot of boiling water.
They can be served sweetened with sugar, or savory with chili peppers and salsa.
13. Sanguche de Potito
This popular sandwich is sold by many street vendors and can readily be found outside of the Estadio Nacional on game day. The Potito meat comes from the rectum or intestines of a cow. The Potito is fried with onions and served on a bun with condiments such as ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and pebre.
While it may not sound appealing, those who try it often come back for seconds.
Another popular street food, Sopaipillas are small flatbreads fried in oil. Traditionally the dough includes flour, and squash which gives it an orange color.
They can be served in a variety of ways. Savory options include mayonnaise, ketchup, avocado, and pebre salsa. If you prefer a sweet treat, try them sprinkled in icing sugar, or dipped in jam or manjar (dulce de leche), or soaked in syrup.
Chapaleles are a traditional bread made from wheat flour and potatoes. This recipe comes from the Chiloé Archipelago to the South of Chile where potatoes grow in abundance.
They can be steamed underground as part of a Curanto meal (see number 3). Other variations include frying in oil, pan-frying, or baking.
While in the Chiloé Archipelago, another food to try is Milcao. Like Chapaleles, these pancakes also make use of the potato, but without the flour. Instead, they are made with a combination of mashed potato and grated potato. Lard and seasonings are added to make a dough.
They can be eaten savory by adding chicharron (crispy pork) to the dough before cooking. They can also be kept neutral in flavor, or made sweet.
17. Bife a lo Pobre
If you like eating breakfast for dinner, this is the dish for you. It is comprised of a beef tenderloin steak and French fries, topped with a fried egg.
This dish is also known as Lomo a lo Pobre or Bistec a lo Pobre.
Mashing together the words Chorizo (a type of sausage) and pan (the Spanish word for bread), this dish is as it sounds- a sausage on a bun. Popular throughout South America, in Chile the sausage is topped with Pebre salsa.
Hot sauce can also be added if you’re looking for an extra kick of flavor.
Scientifically called Concholepas Concholepas (yes it’s the same word twice), Locos (Spanish for Crazy) is a species of large edible sea snails.
Popular recipes include Locos with Mayonnaise, Locos Chowder, and Locos empanadas.
20. Chupe de Mariscos
This thick seafood chowder is made with broth, milk, and wine, and thickened with flour. Some of the seafood used may include shrimp, clams, Locos (see above), and crab.
After being cooked in a pot, the stew is ladled into dishes and topped with a layer of cheese and breadcrumbs. Then into the oven it goes to brown to perfection.
21. Caldillo de Congrio
This is a fish soup made using Chilean Conger Eels. Included in the recipe are onions, tomatoes, cream, cilantro, white wine, cilantro, paprika, and garlic.
22. Mariscal Caliente
This soup is a celebration of the seafood available in Chile, especially in the Central and Northern parts of the country. Unlike some of the other seafood dishes that are served creamy, Mariscal is made with a lighter broth.
There is also a cold version made with the addition of cilantro and lemon juice. It’s similar to ceviche, a very popular dish in it’s neighbor to the north, Peru.
23. Arrollado de Malaya
The creation of this classic Chilean dish starts with marinating and flattening a piece of beef. It’s then stuffed with carrots and hard-boiled eggs, and rolled into the shape of a log. Then it is fried in a pan.
Arrollado de Malaya (or Malaya Rellena) is sliced and served cold. It can be served inside a sandwich. Or with a potato or tomato salad. Great for when you want something good to eat on a hot day.
Charquican is one of the oldest Chilean dishes on record. It’s a mash of meat (often ground beef), onions, squash, potatoes, and other seasonal vegetables. It’s flavored with cumin, paprika, and oregano. In many places, it is served with a fried egg on top.
25. Longanizas con Puré Picante
Sausages are very common in Chile. In this dish, the sausage is served with a creamy and spicy (from the addition of chili paste) mashed potato.
Chilean Street Food
Take a tour of Chilean street food in the streets of Santiago, with Delightful Travelers.
4 Chilean Drinks
Now that you have a good idea of what to eat in Chile, what will you drink?
When the Spanish Conquistadors came in the 16th Century, they brought grapevines with them.
Later, in the mid-19th Century, French wine varieties were introduced. And Chile has proved to have very productive vineyards. Why not tour one while you’re there?
- Carmenère, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Originally grown in France, the grapes for producing these wines all grow very well in Chile.
- Chinca. Chinca is a sweet wine made using fermented apples or grapes. It is most commonly consumed on Chilean Independence Day (September 18th).
If you’re trying the wine, don’t forget to try Borgoña. This popular punch is made by combining red wine with strawberries. Sugar can also be added depending on your taste.
3. Pisco Sour
Know as Chile’s National Spirit, this alcoholic drink is quite refreshing. Peru also considers the Pisco Sour to be it’s national drink, but there are some key differences.
Chile’s version is made using Chilean Pisco Brandy, lemon juice, sugar, and ice. Peru’s version includes the addition of egg whites and bitter drops.
4. Mote con Huesillo
If you’re looking for something non-alcoholic and refreshing, look no further. This is one of the most popular drinks that you will find during your travels through Chile.
The name Mote con Huesillo roughly translates into Wheat (Mote) with Peaches (Huesillo). It’s made by taking husked wheat and dried peaches and soaking them in sugar water with cinnamon.
You’ll find this drink everywhere, from restaurants to street vendors. It’s definitely a part of the complete Chilean experience.
More reading: Try these 25 Bolivian Foods
3 Desserts to Try in Chile
Earlier we touched on breads like Sopaipillas and Milcaos that can be served either sweet or savory. What are some other sweet treats that you should try in Chile?
1. Leche Asada
This sweet and rich dessert contains milk, eggs, vanilla, and sugar. It’s similar to flan, but rather than be smooth on the top, Leche Asada has a crispy custard layer on top (because it is baked in the oven). That’s how it got its name, “Roasted Milk.”
2. Torta de Mil Hojas
This cake of “1000” layers is made from layers of thin puff pastry. In between the layers you will find ingredients like Manjar (caramelized milk also called dulce de leche), and jam. It is usually topped with crushed walnuts.
3. Turrón de Vino (Dessert)
In a country known for its wine, it’s inevitable that some of its best desserts would also contain wine. This dessert is a silky meringue.
To make it, start by combining wine, cloves, cinnamon, lemon peel, and sugar in a pot. This mixture is then reduced to a syrup over medium heat. After sifting, the syrup is folded into fluffy egg whites. Serve with whipped cream and walnuts on top.
Learn more about these dishes from neighboring Peru.
And there you have 32 delicious Chilean foods to try. Have you been to Chile? What is your favorite dish, drink, or dessert from this wonderful country? Let me know in the comments below.
- About the Author
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Hello, I’m Diane Diegor. I’m a travel and nature enthusiast. I love learning about other cultures and tasting their food.
I’m a regular contributor to Storyteller Travel.