Typical food of Argentina

Geographic setting and environment

Argentina is a wedge-shaped country, the second largest (after Brazil) in South America. To the west, you have the Andes mountain range, but most of Argentina’s land is low-lying. Because Argentina is in the southern hemisphere, the winter months are from May to August, and the hottest summer month is January. Argentina’s climate and its rich lowland regions combine to make it one of the world’s largest food-producing nations. More than 4 percent of the world’s livestock is raised by Argentine ranchers. Argentina is also the largest producer of honey in South America, an ingredient that is used in many delicious Argentine desserts.

History and food

Native Indians lived in Argentina many years before European explorers arrived. Members of an Indian tribe in northern Argentina were farmers who grew pumpkins, melons, and sweet potatoes. Spanish settlers arrived in Argentina in 1536. Between 1880 and 1890, almost a million immigrants came from Europe to live in Argentina. Most were from Italy and Spain. The Italians introduced pizza, as well as all kinds of pasta dishes, including spaghetti and lasagna. British, German, Jewish and other immigrants also settled in Argentina, bringing with them their cooking styles and favorite foods. The British brought tea, starting the tradition of tea time. All these cultures influenced the dishes of Argentina.

Argentinian food

Meat is the national dish of Argentina. There are huge cattle ranches in Argentina, and the gaucho, or Argentine cowboy, is a well-known symbol of Argentine individualism. Many dishes contain meat, but they are prepared in different ways. A favorite main course is the barbecue, a mixed grill of meat and other cuts of meat. Grilled steak is called churrasco, a roast of beef cooked over an open fire is called asado, and beef that is dipped in eggs, crumbs, and then fried is called milanesa. Carbonada is a stew that contains meat, potatoes, sweet potatoes and pieces of corn on the cob.

Carbonada Criolla (stew with meat, vegetables and fruits) 6portions


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds beef stew, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • 2 cups of canned chicken broth
  • 3 potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 ears of corn, cut into 1-inch widths (or use 2 cups frozen corn)
  • 2 zucchini, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 peaches in ½-inch pieces
  • 2 pears in ½-inch pieces


  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pot.
  2. Brown the meat in separate batches so that it is all cooked. Take it out of the pot and set it aside.
  3. In that same pot, cook the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, and garlic until softened.
  4. Add the bay leaves, oregano and chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  5. Return the meat to the pot, and add the potatoes and sweet potatoes. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.
  6. Add the zucchini and corn. Simmer a further 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are almost soft, then add the peaches and pears.
  7. Cook 5 more minutes.
  8. Serve hot.

Carbonada Creole

Because many Argentines are descendants of Italian immigrants who arrived in Argentina in the late 1800s, Italian dishes are found throughout the country. Some of the favorite Italian dishes are pizza, all kinds of pasta (such as spaghetti and ravioli), and gnocchi, (gnocchi-potatoes) served with meat and tomato sauce.

Argentines eat more fruit than almost any other group of people in the world. Some of his favorite fruits are peaches, apricots, plums, pears, cherries, grapes, and tuna, the fruit of a prickly pear cactus.

Empanadas, small pastries usually filled with meat, vegetables, and cheese, are a favorite dish. They are eaten by hand and are often enjoyed as a snack, or can be brought to school for lunch. Chimichurri, a dipping sauce, is often served with empanadas. Because the sauce has to rest for two hours before eating, it is prepared before the empanadas.

Chimichurri (dipping sauce)


  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 shallots (or 2 small onions), minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced basil, thyme, or oregano (or a mix of these, if preferred)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let rest for at least 2 hours before serving with the empanadas.

chimichurri gastronomy of argentina


Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ cup onions, chopped
  • 8 green olives, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano

Dough ingredients:

  • 2½ cups of flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup of water
  • ¼ cup of butter
  • 1 teaspoon of vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon of salt

Filling procedure:

  1. Brown the ground beef and onions in a skillet until the meat has lost all of its pink color.
  2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Drain the mixture well and let it cool.

Mass procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a bowl, mix the flour, butter, egg, yolk and vinegar by hand.
  3. Stir the salt into the water and sprinkle the water, a little at a time, over the flour mixture.
  4. Knead the dough until smooth. (To knead, flatten the dough on a surface that has been dusted with a little flour. Fold the dough in half and flatten again. Turn. Repeat the process for about 15 minutes.)
  5. For each empanada, roll ¼ cup dough into a 9-inch circle.
  6. Put the filling of the ½ cup in the circle, and fold it in half.
  7. Press the edges of the dough together, and make a small hole in the top with a toothpick. Place it on a cookie sheet.
  8. Repeat the process until the dough and filling are used up.
  9. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
  10. Serve hot with chimichurri.

Argentine empanadas

Food for religious and festive celebrations

Lent is the 40-day period preceding Easter in the Christian year. During the week before Lent, a huge festival, Carnival, is celebrated in many parts of Argentina. During Carnival, people dress up in costumes and dance. They eat spicy food, including corn stew and humitas en chala (corn patties wrapped and cooked in their husks). It is a tradition to eat a cake in the shape of a big ring. At Easter, children eat chocolate eggs with little candies hidden inside.

Because it is also a tradition in the Roman Catholic Church not to eat meat during Lent, Argentines eat more seafood dishes during this time. Bocaditos (finger sandwiches), made with shrimp, are a popular lunch or snack during Lent.

snacks 8portions


  • 12 thin slices of French bread
  • 1 container (3 ounces) cream cheese with chives
  • ½ cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 4 to 6 precooked shrimp
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, sliced


  1. Cut the crust off the bread.
  2. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on each slice of bread.
  3. Place cucumber slices, tomatoes, and shrimp on one slice and cover with another slice of bread to make a sandwich. (Any combination of these ingredients can be used.)
  4. Cut into triangles or rectangles.


On Christmas Eve, celebrated on December 24, Argentines eat a late meal of cold meat, chicken or turkey, and fruit salad. Because Christmas occurs during the summer in South America, Argentines often eat outside at decorated tables. After dinner, they eat almonds, dried fruit, and pan dulce, a sweet bread similar to fruitcake but with fewer fruits and nuts.

Fruit salad with frozen yogurt


  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 medium apple, cored and chopped
  • 1 medium plum, pitted and sliced
  • 1 large orange, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 1 large grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
  • 1 medium banana, peeled and cut into slices.
  • 1 quart vanilla frozen yogurt


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the honey and lemon juice.
  2. Stir the fruit and serve with a dollop of frozen yogurt.

Fruit salad with frozen yogurt

In many areas of Argentina, people hold festivals to honor aspects of the environment. For example, a city on the Atlantic coast celebrates the harvest of shellfish brought from its fishing grounds. It is a tradition for people to eat a seafood feast of shrimp, crab, and scallops. After the feast, a parade is held with people dressed in sea creature costumes. Someone dressed as the Queen of the Sea leads the parade, sitting on a giant seashell.

Mealtime customs

Argentine families, like families everywhere, are busy. Since each one has a different schedule, they cannot eat all the meals together. Breakfast is often a light meal of rolls or bread with jam and coffee. Most city workers have a small meal like a pizza from a cafeteria. A farmer eats a hot plate for lunch, carried out in the field, of beef, potatoes and chunks of corn on the cob. Upper-class families in the city often eat a large midday meal of meat, potatoes, and green vegetables.

At the end of the afternoon, Argentines have a snack of tea, sandwiches and cake to keep their appetite until dinner, which is usually eaten around 9 p.m. The tradition of tea time comes from the British immigrants who brought the tea to Argentina at the end of the 19th century.

Vendors sell street food (the equivalent of “fast food”). Ice cream vendors sell ice cream, Argentine ice cream and hot peanuts, sweet popcorn and candied apples. Some vendors sell choripan (a sausage sandwich) and soda. Empanadas, small pastries filled with meat, chicken, seafood, or vegetables, are a popular snack. Children can take vegetable filled patties to school for lunch. One of the favorite drinks is the submarine, or milk with chocolate syrup.

Submarine (Milk with chocolate syrup)


  • 1 glass of cold milk
  • 1 teaspoon chocolate syrup


  1. Put the spoon with the syrup in the cold milk, but do not stir it.
  2. He drinks some milk, and then licks some chocolate off the spoon.
  3. Continue until the glass is empty.

Submarine (Milk with chocolate syrup)

The dinner meal has various courses, including meat dishes, and ends with dessert. Dulce de leche is the favorite dessert of many Argentine children. It is often eaten with plantains or as a filling for alfajores (cornstarch cookies).

Caramel sauce


  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Pour condensed milk into an 8-inch round or square cake pan and cover with foil.
  3. Place the mold in a shallow container with an inch of water. Bake for one hour.
  4. Let cool; Eat with bananas or as a cookie filling.

Caramel sauce

Alfajores cornstarch


  • 2½ cups cornstarch
  • 1⅔ cups flour ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • grated lemon peel


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Sift cornstarch with flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a bowl.
  3. Beat together the margarine and sugar, and add the egg yolks one at a time. Mix well.
  4. Add the dry ingredients little by little.
  5. Add the vanilla and lemon peel. Mix to form a stiff, elastic dough.
  6. Roll out until dough is about ½-inch thick on floured surface.
  7. Cut into circles using the rim of a glass or a round cookie cutter and place the circles on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for about 15 minutes. Let cool.
  9. Spread some dulce de leche on one cookie and sandwich with another cookie, and repeat with the rest of the cookies.

Alfajores cornstarch

Politics, economics and nutrition

Most of the inhabitants of Argentina receive adequate nutrition in their diet, although the World Bank classifies a small percentage as malnourished. Almost three quarters of the population have access to drinking water and sanitation services (hygienic conditions and safe disposal of waste products). A small percentage of children under the age of five are underweight (about 2%) or stunted (short for their age, 5%). These children come from the poorest Argentine families and may live in cities or rural areas.

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