Is Brazilian Food Spicy? I Bet You’ll Be Surprised

Is Brazilian Food Spicy? For those that live outside of Brazil is hard to understand the Brazilian culture and cuisine. A lot of people tend to have an image of Brazil confused with some other countries in Latin and Central America, like Mexico or Colombia for example. This is a wrong idea. As Brazil is the only country in South America that was colonized by Portugal, the country has its own culture.

As a general rule, Brazilian food is not spicy and is more similar to European than Mexican cuisine, because the country was colonized by the Portuguese. There are spicy dishes in Brazil, especially in the state of Bahia, but overall the food tends to be very seasoned and full of flavor, not spicy.

Don’t get us wrong, we love pepper. It’s the third most-consumed condiment in the country. It’s just that except in the state of Bahia (where food is spicy) we consume a lot of pepper as sauces or pickled.

Why do People think Brazilian Food is Spicy?

In the past years talking with my friends from Nashville (I’ve worked in a company from there for a long time) they always ask me the same questions and of them that always intrigued me is this one: Is Brazilian food spicy?

Before working with them was hard for me to understand the vision that people outside Brazil have about the country. But after this great experience, I could see that people use compare Brazil with other countries of South America and that’s what causes a wrong idea about our culture and cuisine.

For example, the question I’ve mentioned before and probably brought you to this article about the spiciness of our food. It may not be the case for you but usually is made by people that want to try our food but have a vision that it’s similar to Mexican food (that I love, but there’s nothing similar with Brazilian food).

I’ve even met a Mexican student here in Brazil once and he said that If Brazilian food was spicy, he would move here definitely because he loved our dishes. His name was Miguel, what a great guy!

But if you’re nothing like Miguel and don’t like spiciness, rest assured that you’ll love Brazilian cuisine. Actually, you can check the Top 10 Brazil’s Traditional Food in this great article.

What Places of Brazil Have Spicy Foods?

The majority of food in Brazil is similar to French, Italian, or German food in terms of how spicy it is, but If you love spicy food and want to visit one of the most beautiful and culturally rich places in Brazil, then the state of Bahia is a go for you.

Bahia is the Brazilian state where the food is REALLY SPICY. Whenever they ask you If you want the food “hot” or “cold” they meaning how spicy do you want. If you say “hot”, well, be prepared.

The state is an important part of Brazilian history. It was on the shore of what became the state of Bahia that Pedro Alvares Cabral (the “discover” of Brazil) arrived in 1500.

There’s a lot of incredible places to visit in Bahia that you may have heard of before, like Salvador and some of the most beautiful beaches of Brazil, including Porto Seguro and Trancoso.

Going back to food, there’s a lot of great options in Bahia, but there are two dishes that you have to try (even if you don’t like spicy food).

Two Spicy Dishes That You Have to Try in Bahia

Even If you’re not part of the team “If It’s Not Spicy I’m Not Eating” you should try these Brazilian dishes in Bahia.


Is Brazilian Food Spicy?

One of the most famous recipes from Bahia is definitely the Acarajé. Common street food in Bahia (and these days in every big city in Brazil), the Acarajé is extremely flavorful and consists of a small Brazilian fritter made from black-eyed peas.

The dish uses onions and ground-dried shrimp to give it an extra punch in flavor. They’re shaped into balls and deep-fried in “Azeite de Dendê”, a Brazilian palm oil.

After fried the balls are split in half and filled with “Vatapá”, a paste made from ground peanuts, dried shrimp, and coconut milk. Last but not least comes the punch: pepper.

This is delicious spicy food that I love.


Brazilian Moqueca: recipe from Bahia.

Another delicious recipe that you should try in Bahia or even do it yourself is Moqueca. A Brazilian Fish Stew that is very easy to do and it’s absolutely delicious.

The recipe is made with your choice of fish and simmered in coconut milk with onion, tomatoes, chilies, cilantro, and lime. The recipe is served with rice and It’s overwhelming how good it is.

In Bahia, this recipe is very spicy. But in other states, the spiciness level is lighter.

The Top Ten Chilies Most Consumed in Brazil

I’ve found this ranking on a great Brazilian website called Claudia. So huge thanks for the amazing job that you guys have done gathering all this great information about pepper.

1) Pink-pepper (Pimenta Rosa)

This pepper is the seed of the Aroeira tree. Has a strong aroma and it’s not spicy. Is widely used to finish dishes.

Spiciness Level: 0

2) “Goat-pepper” (Pimenta-de-bode)

This chili is mostly used in the state of Goiás, can be consumed as a sauce, or used in marinades.

Spiciness Level: 8

3) Yellow Ají (Ají Amarelo)

Typical of Peruvian cuisine, this pepper is also used in Brazil. Usually is sold as paste, powder, or pickled.

Spiciness Level: 8

4) Jiquitaia baniwa

Produced from the indigenous tribe of Baniwa in the Amazon, this is a blend of roasted peppers ground with Salt.

Spiciness Level: 9

5) Tabasco

The popular sauce known all around the world has as base a pepper with the same name. The chili in-nature goes well in salads, vegetables, and fish.

Spiciness Level: 8

6) Syrian Pepper

An aromatic mix of black pepper with condiments. Goes well with Arabian dishes.

Spiciness Level: 2

7) Cumari

Common in the Southeast of Brazil the best way to consume this pepper is in sauces or hotpots.

Spiciness Level: 8

8) Dedo-de-Moça

The most popular of Brazil, this pepper is also called “pimenta Calabresa” after being chopped and dried. Goes well with almost every dish.

Spiciness Level: 6

9) Chipotle

Well-known all around the world this sauce is made from Jalapeño and tastes amazing.

Spiciness Level: 5

10) Malagueta

A Brazilian original is the most consumed pepper in the state of Bahia and also in Thailand.

Spiciness Level: 9

Final Considerations

Wow! Sometimes I got amazed at how much content a simple question as “Is Brazilian Food Spicy” can create. I’m pretty happy with the result and I hope it ends your doubts about the spiciness of the food of my beloved country.

If you like content about Brazilian food stay tuned cause we’ll be adding thousands of amazing tips and recipes.

If this content was helpful for you, share it with a friend or leave a comment. I promise I’ll read it and answer you.


What’s up! I’m André, a Brazilian born and bred living in the South of Brazil in a little city called Guarapuava. I’m passionate about traveling and knowing different cultures and that’s why I love to share useful information about the Food, Travel, Facts, and Culture of my beloved country, Brazil.

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