15 Dishes of Paraguay: A Journey into the Heart of Traditional Cuisine

Paraguayan cuisine has its origins in the Guarani ancestors. After the Spanish conquest, local cooking styles and ingredients merged with European ones. This contributed to developing the diversity of dishes representative of today’s rich culinary culture in Paraguay.

1. Pira Caldo (Fish Soup)

Pira Caldo, which translated from Guarani means fish broth, originated during the Triple Alliance war, which took place between 1864 and 1870. It is a soup made of vegetables, river fish (known as surubí or catfish), white cheese, and milk. To prepare it, onions, carrots, celery, peppers, leeks, tomatoes, and parsley are fried first. Afterwards, boiled water is added together with the fish and a touch of salt. Milk and cheese are added to thicken the soup.  

2. Vorí vorí (Corn Dumpling Soup)

Foto: www.paraguayrecetas.com

Vorí vorí is a traditional Paraguayan consisting of a thick broth containing small balls made of flour, corn, and cheese. There is also a variant called Vorí vorí Blanco which contains pumpkin, milk, rice, oil, garlic, and onion.

The cheese must be crumbled and placed together with the flour in a container to prepare the balls. Then it is moistened with broth until a dough is formed with which the balls are formed. Later they are thrown in boiling broth. The dimensions of each ball should be similar to that of a large grape.  

The vorí vorí de gallina is also a very popular variant among Paraguayans. To prepare them, some hen pieces must be browned in their fat. They have to become golden brown without burning. This is one of the Paraguayan dishes everyone enjoys, regardless of social class. You can find this dish in the country’s fine restaurants and the most humble homes.  

3. Paraguayan Soup

Paraguayan soup is not a soup. It is a cake. The story of its origin has several versions. One of them says that the cook of Carlos Antonio Lopez, president of Paraguay from 1841 to 1862, tried to prepare a liquid soup, but it came out too thick. A mistake became one of the most popular and requested dishes by tourists.

Without time to prepare something else, the cook decided to apologize to the president, to whom he explained what had happened. The president decided to try the preparation, liked it, and even gave it the name of Sopa paraguaya (Paraguayan Soup). From then on, the soup made by the president’s cook became popular throughout Paraguay.

The ingredients of the Paraguayan soup are quite simple. Most of them are within reach of anyone who wants to prepare it. Among them are onion, fresh cheese, pork fat, coarse salt, eggs, water, and cornflour. 

This dish can be eaten hot or cold. In its hot version, it can be a proper lunch. When eaten cold, it is an excellent snack; it is cut into small squares.    

4. Chipá (Mini Cheese Bread)

Chipá is a small roll prepared with yucca, cheese, and eggs. There are three ways to prepare this famous snack. Chipá mandubí contains peanuts and cornflour, or Chipa guazú, which consists of cornflour, milk, and cheese. According to historians, it is an invention of the Guarani natives of the 18th century.

Chipá, considered Paraguay’s culinary heritage, is traditionally consumed during Holy Week. During these days, as a gesture of friendship and generosity, this delicacy is usually given as a gift to family and friends. Another traditional date is the Day of the Dead when these rolls are given to children in the cemetery as a ritual to commemorate their ancestors. 

Since 2015, every August 9, Paraguayans celebrate the National Day of the Chipá. It is a festivity in which this delicious dish is commemorated, particularly in Coronel Bogado.

Another fact is that in the gastronomy of Paraguay, there are at least 70 varieties that could be considered a family of the Chipás. 

5. Paraguayan Stew

The Paraguayan stew is a dish of Spanish origin that has spread throughout most Latin America since the conquest. To prepare it, ossobuco meat, rice, or some noodles are often used; as an accompaniment, they usually prepare Paraguayan tortillas or manioc. After drinking the broth, some people eat the meat with lettuce and tomato salad.  

This stew, which owes its name to the clay pot it used to be prepared, is quite simple to make. First, you have to cook the carrots, meat, and potatoes in abundant water. Afterwards, rice, sweet potatoes, noodles are added, and corn as a complement to the dish.

This dish, which generally serves as an energizer after a weekend, differs from the Spanish cocido because it does not have colorings or chickpeas but is prepared with typical Paraguayan ingredients, according to the region. 

Puchero is quite common in restaurants and the various lower and middle-class Paraguayan homes. You won’t, however, find inexpensive restaurants. The consumption of this dish intensifies during the cold months of autumn and winter.   

5. Koygua Steak

Foto: www.guaranifusionkitchen.com

Bife koygua is a Paraguayan stew prepared with beef, tomato, onion, and spices. The onions should be chopped and sautéed, then the veal steak is added and seasoned with pepper, oregano, and salt. It is a simple dish, and it takes about 30 minutes to prepare this delicious stew.

Afterward, add the tomatoes previously cut in slices, and cover them. After about 15 minutes of preparation, eggs are added to the broth. It is essential to avoid stirring the stew. About three minutes later, you can serve this dish. 

Koygua could be translated as hidden or shy; this dish refers to the fact that the steak is hidden behind the eggs. You could call it a shy steak. Many people combine this stew with manioc pie or empanadas. It is also served with tortilla paraguaya, which is made with scallions.

7. Paraguayan Tortilla

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The Paraguayan tortilla is a cheese omelet, not confused with the Mexican tortilla. Despite their resemblance, they differ greatly in preparation, especially because of the nixtamalized corn flour used to make the Mexican version.

The versatility of this tortilla allows it to be prepared traditionally, with cornflour and cheese, or it is possible to let your imagination and creativity run wild and add ingredients according to taste. For example, adding more cheese, parsley, and finely chopped onion can increase the flavor. Parsley, grated carrots, and some cilantro are valid in experimentation.

The origin of this dish dates back to the 19th century when Paraguayans were forced to consume high-protein and high-calorie foods, thanks to the food shortages caused by the War of the Tripe Alianza. They had to do the best they could with the few resources available.

This is a food that is frequently found in Paraguayan homes. It is ideal for eating them at any time of the day, at breakfast, with salads, or as a snack. They are also very good with beans. 

8. Beef Marinera

Marinera de Carne is one of the typical dishes of Paraguay. It is similar to milanesa, but the meat is covered with flour and egg in this version. Then the pieces of meat are put into a hot frying pan with abundant oil until they are browned on both sides.   

For the meat to be spectacular, it must be very well mashed together with the seasonings. The kitchen mallet should be beaten heavily to make it soft before cooking. This way, the meat cooks more evenly.  

According to taste, Paraguayans usually serve this dish with a salad made of tomatoes, lettuce, and other vegetables. Some diners love to add a squeeze of lemon juice or mustard.  

9. Paraguayan Soyo

Soyo is one of the most emblematic and representative dishes of Paraguay. Previously this soup was eaten by the poor, but that perception has changed, and it can be found anywhere, regardless of social status.  

Soyo is an abbreviation of a word in the Guarani language that means crushed meat. It contains some vegetables such as garlic, aromatic herbs, onion, and the main ingredient: ground beef. To prepare it, you only have to soak it in ground beef, make a dressing with the herbs and vegetables and then add the meat to boil it but avoid overcooking it.   

Usually accompanied by Chipá Guazú or Paraguayan tortillas, Soyo is considered a revitalizer found in most Paraguayan homes and restaurants.

10. Braided Chicharrón

Chicharrón trenzado is another culinary delicacy of Paraguay. The meat cut into strips must be braided and cooked at high temperature in a frying pan to prepare it. The remaining fat is separated, lemon juice and salt are added, and fried again until charred but golden.

This dish, traditionally consumed during San Juan’s festivities, is part of the Spanish gastronomic influence from the colonial era. 

It is customary to accompany it with manioc. It can be preserved for many days if protected with pre-cooked corn flour. 

For an outstanding result, it is advisable to marinate the meat strips, only with salt, the night before. To obtain a crispier braided chicharrón, frying it in a frying pan instead of a grill is better.

11. Pastel Mandi’o (Yuca Empanada)

Pastel Mandi'o (Yuca Empanada).

A popular street food and loved during the festival of San Juan, Pastel Mandi’o are an empanada-like food that is made of corn flour, cassava, and a stuffing usually prepared with beef. They take time to prepare so are loved by locals when walking around town.

They look like empanadas but are unique because they are prepared using cassava which is locally produced in Paraguay. With a dough made of cassava, flour, corn flour, salt, and an egg, these turnovers are fried to golden perfection.

The filling has variations around the country but the traditional one includes beef, rice, onions, garlic, hard-boiled eggs, and a variety of spices. It is the perfect afternoon snack or a side dish to any main dish you wish to enjoy at dinner.

12. Payagua Mascada (Cassava Patties)

Payagua Mascada (Cassava Patties).

As we’ve seen, Cassava is a beloved local ingredient used in many different Paraguayan dishes. Payagua Mascada, or Lampreado as they are known ins some parts of the country locally, are patties made of cassava, minced meat, and scallions.

You can add any variations to this recipe and make it your own. The cassava is what makes it traditional to Paraguayan cuisine. The garlic and scallions are sauteed before the meat and your choice of stock are added. The Cassava leaves are boiled until soft and pureed.

All of this is mixed together and patties are formed. These patties are then fried and can be served on their own with salad, or as hamburger patties as well.

13. Butifarra (White Sausage)

Butifarra (White Sausage).

Loved by all locals, Butifarra is a sausage that is made with pork. It originates from the Catalonia region in Spain and features flavors of garlic, bacon, and lemon. It is a rich and hearty sausage that is served with salad, cassava, or rice.

Commonly found at weekend cookouts or at celebratory festivals such as the San Juan festival, these sausages are loved by all locals and are sure to take up your fancy as well. They are steeped in Paraguayan tradition and deeply delicious.

14. Mazamorra (Sweet Locro Corn)

Mazamorra (Sweet Locro Corn).

A truly generational dessert, Mazamorra was first prepared by the indigenous people of Guarani. It is a simple dessert that is a favorite of the locals and is made with traditional ingredients.

The native locro-type of maize is mixed with water and lyre to create the base of this delicious dessert. Milk, sugar, and honey are then added depending on preference. This dessert can be served hot or cold and so is enjoyed throughout the year.

A fun fact about the Mazamorra is that it is so very nutritious that it became a substitute for meals during the Paraguayan War when there was a shortage of food.

15. Ka’i Ladrillo (Peanuts and Cane Honey)

Ka’i Ladrillo (Peanuts and Cane Honey).

A simple yet delicious dessert, Ka’i Ladrillo or Dulce de Mani is prepared with peanuts and black cane honey. It is a traditional sweet treat that is rich in protein and calories.

The historic recipe features locally sourced cane honey and roasted peanuts though some modern variations feature grapefruit or bitter orange juice to add a slightly bittersweet flavor that helps in balancing out the excessive sweetness.

After this dessert has been left to harden, it is cut into squares and can be bought from street vendors to be enjoyed as a snack that gives you plenty of energy.


Thanks to the influence of the ancestral culture of the Guarani Indians, mixed with European food habits after the arrival of the Spaniards, Paraguayan cuisine has become a unique melting pot of ingredients and spices.

Necessity and ingenuity led Paraguayans to use the essential nutrients to survive, with the available resources after the war. They made dishes still in use today and part of the gastronomy that identifies Paraguay in any part of the world.

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