Argentina may South America’s biggest exporter of wine, but they’re also a nation of food lovers. Here, food is something for sharing – a celebration of friendship, family, and life itself. Sunday lunch is a significant occasion in this part of the world, and it always involves the whole family.
It seems this nation puts as much passion into cuisine as they do into the tango. Apart from their traditional meals, they’ve also taken several dishes from all over the world and made them their own.
Make sure you try at least some of these awesome Argentina dishes during your trip.
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Asado & Parrillas
Argentina is one of just four countries worldwide where cattle outnumber people. That means beef is in no short supply here, and it’s also more affordable than elsewhere.
That means you can enjoy beef in all its forms during your trip to Argentina, but Asado is the best-known cooking method associated with this delicacy. It’s a barbecue on a scale you’ve never seen before.
Asado always involves a blazing fire, an ample supply of meat, and plenty of friends. Often, there’s an abundant supply of wine available to smooth things along too.
The term ‘parilla’ refers to the huge iron grill that holds the meat, and it’s a term that’s sometimes used interchangeably with Asado to describe this method of grilling. Parilla is also another word for ‘steakhouse’ in Argentina.
Asado isn’t only for steak either, you can enjoy tasty chicken, vegetables, and lamb prepared this way too.
Llamas are abundant in the northwestern province of Jujuy, where they use the wool and transport as well as meat. The meat is a healthy alternative to beef due to its low-fat content, and it has an interesting rustic taste.
You can enjoy these unusual flavors in some of the fanciest restaurants in town. It’s served as carpaccio, in empanadas, as a stew or on its own.
The best places to experience this regional specialty is in the local eateries you’ll find in smaller towns dotted around the countryside. Here you’ll get to experience llama meat as the locals eat it in home-style meals with a good selection of artisan beer to wash it down.
It’s the epitome of comfort food in Argentina and a popular dish during the winter months. Carbonada is a hearty stew made from beef and vegetables in a thick broth.
Apart from these basics, other ingredients include sweet potatoes, potatoes, bacon, corn on the cob, carrots, and peppers. Topped with fruit, like dried apricots and raisins or fresh peaches, pears, and grapes, then placed in a hollowed-out pumpkin and grilled Asada-style.
Each part of Argentina has its style of carbonada, but they’re all equally delicious and filling.
Chimichurri is everywhere in Argentina and available as a condiment for almost every single dish. This green salsa comprises oregano, parsley, garlic, onion, chili pepper flakes, chopped parsley, lemon, and olive oil.
It looks like pesto, but it can have a potent kick, so use it sparingly if you’re not fond of spicy food.
Choripan is Argentina’s answer to the hot dog and is a favorite among football fans heading to a match. You’ll find it wherever there’s a collection of food stalls, be it at street markets or on special occasions.
The basic ingredients in these street food mainstays are fat pork and beef chorizo sausages and crusty bread or rolls.
Vendors grill the sausage, butterfly it down the center, place it on the bread, and add lashings of spicy chimichurri. Other toppings include caramelized onions, pickled aubergines, and green peppers.
Cordero a la Cruz
Traditionally, this Patagonian lamb specialty cooks over the open fire. It involves skewering the meat onto a wooden stake and then placing it amongst the flames to cook. The result is delicious succulent meat with a crisp outer layer.
Lamb is a rarity in most parts of Argentina, except in Patagonia, where sheep have thrived for over a century.
Like Asado, disco is more a cooking style than it is an actual meal. It involves a huge cooking pot shaped like a shallow wok that can cook everything from paella to stew.
This cooking style originates from Mexico, where plow discs did double duty as farm implements as well as a handy place for farmworkers to cook their dinner.
Pollo al Disco is one of the most popular types of Argentine food prepared this way. It consists of chicken simmered in a broth with vegetables.
Argentina Dishes with Dulce de Leche
No mention of Argentinian food is complete without mentioning dulce de leche. It’s a type of smooth, creamy caramel made from sugar and milk, and it’s utterly irresistible.
The Argentinians put this national treasure to good use in sweets and desserts, and you simply must try some of them during your visit. These are the most common ones:
Alfajores are a type of filled sugary biscuit similar to macarons. They’re usually filled with dulce de leche, dipped in coconut, and then immersed in chocolate.
You’ll also find them with a variety of other fillings like berries.
Flan Mixto is a common dessert made from dulce de leche and often served as an antidote to all the meat you’ll enjoy at an Asada. It’s similar to creme brulee in appearance, but the dulce de leche and lashings of extra cream take it to the next level in Argentina.
Not just for dessert, helado is a type of ice cream that you’ll find on every street corner in Argentina. Apart from dulce de leche, you can also enjoy chocolate, berry, and banana varieties of this delicious treat.
Medialuna will catch your eye straight away when you walk into an Argentinian coffee shop. They look just like croissants, only a little smaller.
It’s also sweeter and denser than a croissant and a favorite thing to enjoy with coffee, tea, or yerba mate.
Another one of Argentina’s most famous foods, empanadas are a type of pastry stuffed with a variety of ingredients. The pastries rolled out and then folded over the desired filling and baked or grilled until it’s crispy and golden.
Beef is the most popular option, but you’ll also find chicken, cheese, tuna, and ham varieties.
Empanadas are by far the most widespread type of food in Argentina, and you’ll find them at cafes, food stalls, and restaurants wherever you go. You can find out more about empanadas in this article.
Faina and Pizza
Argentina makes pizza that’s in a different league altogether. It’s another one of the worldwide eats that Argentina has redefined totally to suit their palates.
You won’t find any of the thin bases so common in the USA and Italy. Here, pizzas are all thick-crusted, cheesy, and covered in thick, fresh tomato sauce. Some of the favorite types are ham and pepper, onion, beef, or whatever takes your fancy.
As if that wasn’t heavy enough on the calories, pizza in Argentina usually comes with thick slices of chickpea tart, called faina, on the top.
Interestingly, Argentinians eat pizza with a knife and fork, so prepare for that if you don’t want to stand out as a tourist.
Another Italian-inspired dish, fideos means pasta and true to Argentinian form, it’s rich, calorific and delicious in this part of the world.
Some of the best types include:
- Spinach Ravioli
- Cheese and vegetable stuffed cannelloni
- Ricotta Agnolotti
- Ham and mozzarella Sorrentino
Naturally, lashings of fresh tomato sauce accompany every dish of fideos in Argentina.
Humita is corn as you’ve never seen it before. It’s the ultimate way to eat this staple grain in Argentina and devoured as a snack or a main course. If you’re taking a trip to the Andean areas of Argentina, you’re bound to bump into these corn-wrapped packages sooner than later.
Humita’s made by mixing a dough of ground corn, milk, onions, goat cheese, and spices, then folding it into a corn leaf and steaming it until done. It’s also made its way into empanadas in this part of the world.
Locro started as a poor man’s staple, but it’s evolved into one of Argentina’s favorite festive dishes, as well as a popular winter meal.
Locro is a hearty casserole made from sausage, meat, and beans. Nowadays, you may find white corn, squash, and even tripe added to the mix. It’s often served with a little paprika and chili quiquirimichi, which adds a spicy, smoky kick to the dish.
These thin slivers of beef make a nice change from the hefty hunks of steak you’ll become accustomed to eating while in Argentina.
It’s a type of beef olive on a much larger scale. The filling consists of hard-boiled eggs, vegetables, olives, and herbs, rolled up in the steak and then boiled, baked or grilled.
Matambre Arrollado means ‘rolled-up hunger killer,’ and it lives up to its name. Traditionally they’re part of an Asado and served as a kind of snack while waiting for the rest of the meat to grill.
Milanes is the Argentinian version of an escalope made from silverside beef or chicken breast. The meat’s hammered down thin before it’s dipped in breadcrumbs and fried or baked.
It’s served with a host of toppings, including fried eggs, a mix of tomato sauce, and cheese, or a combination of cheese, ham, and tomato sauce. As if that weren’t enough, milanesa is typically accompanied by a salad and french fries.
Morcilla is the second most popular sausage in Argentina an often holds pride of place at the Asada.
Being a blood sausage, it’s one of those things that you either love or hate. At least try a bite of this national delicacy while you’re in the country, it may surprise you.
Morcilla is just one of the dishes you might want to steer clear of if you’re squeamish. There’s also beef sweetbreads made from organ meat, chinculines which are intestines, and rinones i.e., kidneys.
Morron y Huevo
Vegetarians take heart, this one’s just for you, although many meat lovers enjoy Morron Y Huevo too. This odd combination consists of a half a bell pepper filled with an egg and grilled over the fire.
It’s simple to prepare, easy to cook, and infinitely enjoyable.
Pastel de Papa
If you’re craving something low key after all Argentina’s rich meals, this is the answer. Pastel de Papa is like a shepherds pie, containing meat and mashed potato. However, the Argentinian version includes cheese, olives, and boiled eggs too.
It’s another great winter warmer or as a carbohydrate-rich energy booster to fuel your explorations around Argentina.
Cheese lovers put this one on your list. Provoleta is the Argentinean version of provolone. It’s made by topping thick discs of cheese with chili flakes and herbs and then grilling them in the oven until almost melted.
The result is a crisp, caramelized topping with layers of delicious melty cheese underneath for an added Argentinian flair, top if with a little chimichurri.
You’ll encounter Yerba Mate everywhere you go in Argentina, although it’s not commonly featured on restaurant menus. You’re more likely to see it shared between friends and family in a more informal setting.
Yerba mate does pair well with a host of Argentina dishes, though, and is something you have to try while you’re in the country.
Keep browsing our website to find out everything you need to know about the proud tradition of Yerba Mate before you leave for your trip to Argentina.