As it happens all across Latin America, Argentina’s cuisine is the result of the mixture of dishes, recipes, and ingredients of the native people and those brought by the Europeans. You will therefore find various local delicacies with strong Italian, Spanish, or British influence.
Below you will find 10 of Argentina’s most popular dishes.
According to historians, Argentine crumb bread is a variation of the Italian tramezzino, which, in turn, emerged as an alternative to the English sandwich, but with an Italian flavor. It adopted the triangular shape that still characterizes it today.
It arrived in Argentina with the migrants from Italy in the second half of the 19th century. The Argentine crumb sandwich is a flatbread without crust. Usually, these sandwiches are spread with butter or mayonnaise and slices of ham or cheese. These sandwiches are usually quite thin and served hot.
The crumb sandwich, also called Tostado or Carlito, is usually made for parties and gatherings because it can be prepared very quickly. There are endless variations depending on the region. Besides the classic version with ham, there are for example combinations with tuna, egg, tenderloin, or corn.
Vitel toné you will find on the table of the locals, particularly during the Christmas holidays in Argentina. It is a dish that was created in Piedmont about 700 years ago. Piedmont is a region located in the north of Italy and its capital is the city of Turin.
Vitel toné (which in Italian would be Vitello Tonnato) can be translated as veal with tuna. Originally it was made without tuna, nor did it have mayonnaise, despite its name. In Italy it was not considered a dish to commemorate a holiday, it was simply consumed regularly regardless of the occasion.
With Ferragosto, an Italian holiday that takes place every August 15, Italians began to flock to the beaches and countryside to spend their holidays and enjoy the arrival of the summer.
It was then that the Vitel toné with cold sauce and mayonnaise, as it is known today, began to become popular.
The Argentine secret for the preparation of this Christmas dish lies in the sauce. The fundamental base for its preparation is tuna, cream and hard-boiled egg. Some people add capers or anchovies, depending on their preference.
One of the most representative dishes of Argentina is the locro, a dish with strong roots to the Andean culture of the Quechua people.
Back then, as now, the main base for the preparation of locro was corn and beans. Thanks to its high caloric content, the locro is one of the favorite dishes during the winter, in addition to the affordability of its ingredients, its nutritional value is remarkable. It can be prepared a day before eating and, if it is well preserved, its flavor improves notably.
Despite its variations over the years, its vegetable base remains unchanged as does the cooking by simmering.
The milanesa consists of wrapping slices of beef, pork, veal or chicken in bread crumbs, egg, seasoned with parsley and garlic and other seasonings, then fried in a pan with oil.
The contribution of the European immigrants to this dish is undeniable. The name of this dish comes from Milan, cotoletta alla milanese which can be translated as veal Milanese, very similar to the Viennese breading. The rules for preparing it are unbreakable, one of them refers to the use of a bone cut from the top of the beef and butter, instead of oil, for frying.
However, there are variations that are just as appetizing, such as baking instead of frying. Many people eat them in a sandwich with french fries or mashed potatoes. The Neapolitan milanesa is also very popular. This version, which was born in Buenos Aires, has tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese among its ingredients. It is a spectacle to see the cheese melted and mixed with the tomato, after coming out of the oven.
Asado is perhaps the dish that most represents Argentina. The secret of its preparation lies in roasting the meat cuts slowly, on the grill, and on the embers. In this kind of ritual the type of wood is crucial, experts in the matter assure that the quebracho is the best for its consistency (it takes a long time to be consumed) and it is also aromatic.
To avoid burning the meat and, consequently, ruining its flavor, it should be left to roast only with the ember, it is the type of cooking that takes the time necessary for the meat to take aroma and flavor. The results are worth waiting for.
The Argentinians’ love for barbecue began with the gauchos and the cows that, in ancient times, roamed freely across the plains of the southern country where they were hunted and roasted by the so-called country man.
After hunting them, the gaucho made the cuts, dug a hole of about 20 centimeters in the ground, lit some firewood and placed the meat on top of it. Argentine asados are usually made with beef, but you can also use lamb and pork among others.
According to estimates, Argentina is among the largest meat consumers in the world. Studies indicate that, on average, an Argentinean eats at least 58 kilos of meat per year.
This is an Argentine cheese originating from the combination of Italian and Argentine cheeses, and is similar to the Italian provolone.
The provoleta is essential in every Argentinean barbecue. It has an amber color and is low in humidity. The flavor of this cheese, as well as its aroma, depend mainly on the curdling process. It is usually somewhat spicy, but pleasant.
According to Italian tradition, there are two varieties: Picante and Dolce. The latter is the one used in barbecues. It requires two or three months of aging. The Picante, on the other hand, needs a little more time, between 6 and 12 months, the result is much stronger.
The cheese should be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. To achieve this combination, the provoleta should be cut in slices of approximately three centimeters. Before placing it on the grill it should not be too soft or too hard.
In Argentina it would be a big mistake to eat a provoleta cheese without a good piece of hot bread to go with it.
The matambre arrollado is a typical Argentine dish, which originated in the 1800s. It is a cut of beef cattle that served as payment to the slaughterers of the time, these were people skilled with the knife who were in charge of making the cuts of meat that would later be exported to Europe.
At that time, the type of cut that was exported was the pistol cut (because of its resemblance to a firearm) and included the hindquarter of beef where the rump is, tenderloin, striploin, striploin, striploin, flank, rump, square ham, among others.
Once the work was done, the gauchos received as payment the “matambre”, made up of the leftovers and considered inferior. It is precisely that layer of meat stuck to the ribs that is cooked quickly on the spit and that “killed the hunger” of the workers, after a hard day’s work.
To prepare this dish, the meat must be cut into thin slices and then stuffed with hard-boiled eggs, olives, peppers and a mixture of vegetables. Afterwards, it is seasoned with olive oil, garlic, cilantro and is baked or grilled.
REVUELTO DE GRAMAJO
The Revuelto de Gramajo is a popular dish in Argentina that has a somewhat uncertain origin. There are different stories about how it came to be, but it is difficult to verify them.
In any case, the dish consists of fried eggs and potatoes, which are quickly stirred together in a frying pan with little oil. Some regions add additional ingredients such as bacon, peas, mushrooms, olives, bell pepper, seafood, palm heart, or chicken, depending on personal preference.
However, there is some disagreement among culinary experts as to what the authentic recipe entails. Some argue that the only seasoning required is salt and pepper and that additional ingredients like peas, cane potatoes, or bell peppers are not part of the original recipe. Despite these disagreements, the Revuelto de Gramajo remains a beloved and traditional dish throughout Argentina.
The chivito is a dish originally from Uruguay. It was invented in the mid-twentieth century in a famous restaurant located in the city of Punta del Este. It is a meat sandwich with several ingredients, seasoned with mayonnaise and accompanied by a portion of french fries and salad.
In Argentina, especially in the province of La Pampa, it is prepared with churrasco de lomo that must be browned on the grill with seasonings according to the preference of the diners; it also contains bacon, ham and eggs that must be fried. Besides these ingredients, you can also add mozzarella cheese, lettuce, and tomato slices that serve as stuffing.
Everything is sandwiched on a hamburger bun and you can add mayonnaise and ketchup sauce. Some people add chopped olives and accompany the chivito pampeño with french fries.
CHORIPÁN WITH CHIMICHURRI
Choripán con Chimichurri is a hot dog with chimichurri sauce inside, a mid-19th century creation of the gauchos who inhabited the Rio de la Plata region, in rural areas. It is part of Argentina’s famous snacks and a regular companion during football games.
For its preparation, a grilled chorizo sausage is required, which is then introduced in an open bread, French type. The chorizo is generally composed of 70% beef and the rest of pork. Its texture is soft and it is grilled fresh.
Chimichurri sauce, the great ally of the choripán, some connoisseurs say that it was invented in the 19th century by Jimmy Curry, an Irish immigrant. The sauce bears his name, but the spelling adopted the onomatopoeic form of pronunciation: Chimi Churri.
EMPANADAS (Savory Pastry Turnovers)
Empanadas are a versatile and delicious dish that has become a staple of Argentinian cuisine. These savory pastry turnovers are made with a flaky pastry crust filled with various ingredients such as ground beef, chicken, vegetables, cheese, or ham. Empanadas can be baked or fried until golden brown and served as a snack, appetizer, or main dish.
The fillings for empanadas can vary depending on the region of Argentina. The traditional beef filling seasoned with cumin and paprika is a popular option, along with chicken filling that is often mixed with olives and raisins for a unique flavor. Ham and cheese empanadas are another favorite, especially among children. Vegetarian options with fillings like spinach, corn, or squash are also popular.
Empanadas are often accompanied by chimichurri sauce, a tangy and spicy blend of herbs, garlic, oil, and vinegar. This sauce complements the flavors of the pastry and the filling perfectly, adding an extra layer of depth to the dish.
Empanadas are a perfect snack to take on the go or to enjoy with friends and family. They are often served at parties and gatherings, and can also be found in bakeries and street food stalls across Argentina.
CARBONADA CRIOLLA (Argentinian Beef Stew)
Carbonada Criolla is a hearty and flavorful Argentinian beef stew that hails from the region of Patagonia, where large cattle ranches are abundant. This stew is perfect for colder weather and features a unique combination of sweet and savory flavors that are sure to satisfy your taste buds.
The stew’s sweetness comes from dried apricots or raisins and the addition of both sweet and white potatoes. The savory flavor comes from tomatoes, onions, winter squash, and tender beef chunks. This complex combination of flavors creates a rich and satisfying dish that is a staple of Argentinian cuisine.
The preparation of Carbonada Criolla involves slow cooking the stew to allow the flavors of each ingredient to fully develop. While the traditional recipe calls for specific ingredients, there is always room for personalization and experimentation when it comes to making this stew your own.
If you’re a fan of beef stews or looking for a hearty and delicious meal, then Carbonada Criolla is a must-try. Its unique blend of sweet and savory flavors, tender beef chunks, and comforting warmth will leave you feeling satisfied and nourished. So next time you’re in Argentina, make sure to indulge in this delicious and traditional dish.
Faina and Pizza (Chickpea Flour Flatbread and Pizza)
Pizza is a beloved dish worldwide and is known for its versatility in terms of ingredients and variations. Argentina has its own unique take on pizza, featuring a delicious crust, light sauce, and generous amounts of cheese. However, what sets Argentinian pizza apart is its accompaniment of Faina.
Faina is a crispy and thin flatbread made from chickpea flour, salt, pepper, parsley, and sometimes parmesan cheese. It is often served as a starter before pizza, but it can also be used as a topping to add a delightful crunch to the pizza. In addition to its texture, Faina also serves the purpose of absorbing excess grease from the cheese, making it a popular addition to the pizza among locals and visitors alike.
Many Argentinians swear by the combination of Faina and pizza and believe that it elevates the taste and experience of the dish. Once you try this delicious duo, you will likely find yourself adding Faina to your pizza for an added depth of flavor and texture. So if you find yourself in Argentina, make sure to give Faina and pizza a try for a unique culinary experience.
MEDIALUNAS (Traditional Sweet Pastry)
Medialunas are a beloved traditional sweet pastry in Argentina, perfect as an accompaniment to coffee at breakfast or as a mid-afternoon snack. They are a cross between a brioche and a croissant, with a rich, buttery flavor and a flaky, layered texture.
While Medialunas can be both savory and sweet in Argentina, the sweet version is more popular among locals. Made with an enriched dough that includes eggs and butter, the pastry also features hints of lemon and vanilla, which add a unique touch to its flavor. In Argentina, these sweet pastries are known as Facturas, a type of Pan Dulce.
While Medialunas can be slightly challenging to make, the effort is well worth it. The key to achieving their signature flaky texture is to create many thin layers in the dough through a process called lamination. Once baked, these delicious pastries can be easily frozen and reheated in the toaster or microwave for a quick and satisfying breakfast or snack.
Overall, Medialunas are a must-try for anyone visiting Argentina, offering a delightful taste of traditional Argentine cuisine. So, next time you’re in Argentina, be sure to indulge in these sweet pastries and savor their buttery, flaky goodness.
ALFAJORES (Dulce de Leche Sanwich Cookies)
Alfajores are a beloved dessert and sweet snack in Argentina, consisting of two incredibly soft and crumbly cookies sandwiched together with a perfectly balanced dulce de leche filling. The finished cookies are then dipped in shaved coconut and often enjoyed with traditional coffee.
To achieve the signature texture of the biscuits, the dough is made with cornstarch and egg yolks, which make them incredibly soft and melt in your mouth as you bite into this sinfully delicious cookie. While the dulce de leche filling is the traditional choice, Alfajores can also have other fillings. However, the combination of dulce de leche and coconut provides the perfect balance of sweetness and texture that is adored by both locals and visitors.
Alfajores can be found in various sizes, from bite-sized snacks to larger, more indulgent treats. They are commonly sold in bakeries and supermarkets, but they are also a popular homemade treat for special occasions and holidays.
In Argentina, enjoying Alfajores with coffee is a popular way to indulge in this sweet treat. They are often served alongside a traditional coffee, such as cafe con leche, for a perfect pairing of flavors.
Overall, Alfajores are the perfect dessert or sweet snack for anyone with a sweet tooth, and they provide a delicious taste of traditional Argentinian cuisine. So if you find yourself in Argentina, make sure to try this delightful cookie and savor its soft texture and balanced sweetness.
YERBA MATE (Herbal Tea)
Yerba Mate is a beloved herbal tea that has gained popularity in Argentina and other South American countries for its unique taste and energizing properties. This tea is a must-try for those looking to experience traditional Argentinian flavors.
The tea is made from the leaves and twigs of the Mate plant, which gives it a distinct herbal taste. The locals love it for its ability to boost energy levels and promote mental alertness. Traditionally, the whole leaves were used, but nowadays, the leaves are dried, chopped, and ground into a fine powder to make the tea.
To enjoy Yerba Mate in the traditional Argentinian way, it is filled into a hollowed-out squash gourd and sipped through a metal straw that also acts as a sieve. This communal drinking method is a significant part of the cultural experience, and each person takes turns passing the gourd around while enjoying the herbal taste and the energizing effects of the tea.
In addition to its energizing properties, Yerba Mate is also loaded with antioxidants and other beneficial compounds that provide numerous health benefits. It is a great alternative to coffee for those looking for a natural energy boost.
Overall, Yerba Mate is a unique and tasty tea that provides a cultural experience like no other. So if you find yourself in Argentina or any South American country, make sure to try Yerba Mate and savor its taste and benefits.
Argentina is a country famous for its beef, due to the large number of cattle ranches spread across the nation. As a result, most local dishes feature various cuts of beef, cooked to perfection and served with vegetables and rice as accompaniments. The local cuisine also incorporates a diverse range of sauces and global influences, providing visitors with a unique culinary experience that has a distinct local flavor.
The cuisine in Argentina has a distinctively Mediterranean taste, with strong Spanish, Italian, and French influences. While the cuisine has a carnivorous bent, vegetarian options are now becoming more popular.
Argentinian food is generally not known for being spicy. Instead of relying on heat, locals add flavor to their dishes using various herbs, spices, and sauces to create a unique and delicious taste experience. This approach to cooking allows the natural flavors of the ingredients to shine through, resulting in a rich and satisfying culinary adventure.
Argentinians prefer a simple breakfast, with coffee or orange juice accompanied by toast, known as tostadas or medialunas, a sweet pastry similar to croissants. It’s a light and straightforward meal that gives you energy for the day ahead.
Provoleta is the most famous cheese in Argentina, known for its smoky flavor, and is traditionally served grilled. However, Argentinians also love other types of cheese such as Reggianito, Sardo, Cremose, and Pategras, which are equally popular with locals.
Argentina’s cuisine generally revolves around beef. Being one of the world’s largest exporters of this product, it is not surprising that it is an essential part of most of its dishes.
Of course, the contribution of countries such as Spain, Italy, and England, among others, is undeniable, but Argentine culinary ingenuity allowed the local cuisine to create recipes that have fascinated locals and visitors for centuries.