27 Top Traditional Uruguayan Food Dishes

Uruguayan dishes are a rich fusion of European culinary traditions, especially Spanish and Italian, centered on beef, pasta, and seafood.

Lastest Updated April 19, 2024
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Basic Information

Uruguayan Food: Basic Overview

Common Ingredients

Beef, eggs, vegetables, cheese, onions, tomatoes, potatoes

Common Cooking Methods

Grilling, assembling, baking, deep-frying, boiling, sautéing, roasting, candying


Main course, appetizer, dessert, salad


Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Key Taste

Sweet, savory, neutral

Eating Etiquette

Dishes are shared, and using utensils for eating is a common practice.

Meal Presentation

Often rustic and hearty, with a focus on showcasing the main ingredients.

Culinary Festivals

National Festival of Chivito and Pamplona

Influence and Fusion

Strong European influence, particularly from Spain and Italy.
Origin and Region

Uruguayan Food: Origin and Region



Cuisine’s Geographical Territory

South America
Uruguay Map
Ingredients and Preparation

Popular Types of Uruguayan Food

  • Desserts

    In Uruguay, desserts often feature rich, sweet flavors with a heavy emphasis on dairy products like milk and cheese.

  • Sandwiches

    Uruguayan sandwiches are hearty, and filled with a variety of meats, cheeses, and vegetables thanks to the country’s abundant produce and livestock.

    They serve as a staple for quick meals and often come with different ingredients.

  • Bread and Doughs

    Bread and dough-based foods of Uruguay are fundamental, ranging from everyday bread consumed with meals to specialty doughs used in pastries and snacks.

  • Cakes and Pastries

    In Uruguay, the tradition of making cakes and pastries are available everywhere, often featuring sweet fillings and fruit jams.

    These baked goods are a blend of local flavors and European pastry techniques, enjoyed as desserts, snacks, or alongside drinks.

Uruguayan dishes are characterized by its rich fusion of European influences. Dishes from Spain, Italy, Portugal, and France play an important role, not to mention additional touches from German and Scottish immigrants.

This culinary blend of European dishes is the result of significant immigration waves that introduced a variety of European dishes, techniques, and ingredients to Uruguay.

The cuisine leans heavily on meat and dairy products, with beef being a central component. Seafood also plays a crucial role, drawing from the heritage of Spanish specialties and Portuguese delicacies.

Pasta and pizza, which are Italian culinary gems, are staples in the Uruguayan diet and often served with local sauces. Desserts and sweets from Italy and Spain are also essential to Uruguayan cuisine.

Aside from the dishes of Uruguay, I have more interesting things for you to uncover, like the beverages that go well with these specialties.

Traditional Uruguayan food reveals a cuisine deeply influenced by European countries. For that, you need these features to have a better overview of Uruguayan traditional food:

  • European Fusion: Uruguayan cuisine blends Mediterranean foods from European countries, with a significant influence from Italian pasta dishes, Spanish desserts like churros and flan, and French-inspired pastries.
  • Immigrant Contributions: The cuisine has evolved through immigration, introducing a variety of European desserts, pastas, and sauces alongside traditional Uruguayan creations like Caruso sauce.
  • Meat-Centric Diet: Beef, along with chicken, lamb, and pork, forms the cornerstone of the diet, reflecting the country’s strong pastoral tradition.
  • Seafood: Coastal influences are evident in the preparation of fish and seafood, drawing from Basque, Galician, and Portuguese traditions.
  • Sweet Treats: Desserts and sweets, such as dulce de leche, play a prominent role, showcasing the influence of Spanish and Italian confectionery traditions.

Want to know more about traditional Uruguayan food? Then look no further, as it’s best to learn about the impact of Uruguayan food around the world.

Uruguayan food offers rich flavors and European influences even receiving international recognition in several countries. In Argentina, the cultural and geographical proximity means that dishes such as asado and chivito are widely appreciated.

Brazil, sharing a border with Uruguay, also enjoys Uruguayan barbecue traditions and sandwiches. In the United States, the diverse Latin American immigrant population has led to the adoption of Uruguayan culinary practices.

Later, let’s look into the features that make Uruguayan food considered to be healthy by many around the world.

Uruguayan cuisine is considered healthy for several reasons that you should know:

  • High-Quality Meat: Uruguay is renowned for its grass-fed beef, which is leaner and contains a higher amount of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids compared to grain-fed beef. This makes dishes like asado a healthier option.
  • Seafood: The Uruguayan diet includes a variety of fresh seafood, providing essential nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids that contribute to heart health and brain function.
  • Fresh Produce: Traditional dishes often incorporate fresh vegetables and fruits, ensuring a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Salads like ensalada rusa and dishes featuring local produce like squash, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens are common.
  • Whole Grains: Dishes such as ñoquis (gnocchi) made from potatoes or whole wheat flour contribute to a diet high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, which are important for digestive health and maintaining energy levels.

Without further ado, you’re thoroughly equipped to take a trip through some interesting specialties of Uruguay.

27 Popular Uruguayan Dishes with Filters

While having fun with your reading, don’t forget to use the filter system to reorganize these delicacies according to alphabetical order, dish types, ingredients, tastes, cooking techniques, and worldwide popularity.

Plus, there are even some fascinating categories of Uruguayan dishes to go through, like the most popular, national, traditional, street food, and fusion culinary creations:

  • Widely enjoyed across the country, embodying the essence of Uruguayan cuisine.
  • Often features beef, given Uruguay’s strong ranching culture.
  • Symbolize the country’s identity, deeply ingrained in its cultural fabric.
  • Illustrates Uruguay’s culinary heritage and is celebrated during national festivals and holidays.
  • Stem from recipes passed down through generations, showcasing Uruguay’s history and European influences.
  • Incorporate local ingredients and cooking methods, such as grilling and baking.
  • Casual, quick meals that reflect the everyday life of Uruguayans, are available at markets and street corners.
  • Emphasize convenience and flavor, offering a glimpse into the country’s dynamic food scene.
  • Blend international culinary influences with traditional Uruguayan ingredients and flavors.
  • Reflect Uruguay’s multicultural society and the adaptation of global cuisines to local tastes.
Chivito Steak And Egg Sandwich


  • National

Chivito is the national sandwich of Uruguay created in 1946 when an Argentinian woman ordered a young goat’s meat sandwich in a Uruguayan restaurant.

The sandwich creation uses beef steak along with tomatoes, ham, cheese, fried egg, lettuce, and tomatoes. French fries and Russian salad are usually prepared alongside chivito while serving.

Empanadas Criollas

Empanada Criolla

  • Traditional

Empanada criolla is a crescent-shaped pie, fried or baked, filled with minced meat, onions, hard-boiled eggs, and regional spices. The dish is even found in the southern region of Uruguay.

In Uruguay and Argentina, empanada criolla has become the most favorite variation, typically stuffed with beef, though vegetarian options are readily available.

Chorizo Hotdog


  • Street Food

Choripán is a Uruguayan dish named after ‘chorizo,’ a traditional semi-cured sausage from Latin America, and ‘Pan,’ meaning bread. Typically, the sandwich has an elongated shape similar to a hot dog.

Chorizo sausage is the main highlight of choripán made with a blend of two-thirds beef and one-third pork, slow-cooked over fire embers for a tender and juicier flavor profile.

Uruguayans often serve choripán in a baguette or pan catalán, a type of bread roll.

Hotdog With Fries


  • Street Food

Pancho is a kind of hotdog in Uruguay deeply influenced by European culinary traditions. The specialty is made with a beef-based frankfurter, nestled in a lengthwise bun.

Accompaniments include pickled vegetables like carrots, onions, red chili peppers, or mushrooms, topped with various sauces.

Two of the renowned pancho include panchos con panceta with sliced bacon and pancho porteños featuring mozzarella cheese.

Horseback Pizza

Pizza a Caballo

  • Fusion

Pizza a caballo is a deeply cherished pizza in Uruguay containing cheese, tomato, black pepper, hams, and fainá, a traditional flatbread.

The name means “pizza on horseback” and refers to the way the fainá is placed on top of the pizza, like a saddle.

Potato Gnocchi


  • Traditional

Ñoquis, or gnocchi in Spanish, in Uruguay, is a type of traditional Italian pasta. It primarily consists of potatoes, flour, and sometimes eggs.

These soft dough pasta are shaped into small, thick, oval balls and are often indented with a fork to hold the sauce better. People serve ñoquis with a variety of sauces, such as tomato, pesto, or a rich meat sauce.

In Uruguay and Argentina, there’s a tradition of eating ñoquis on the 29th of each month, where families gather to enjoy this dish, often placing money under their plates to attract prosperity and good luck.

Meat Breaded Cutlets

Milanesa A La Napolitana

  • Traditional

Milanesa a la Napolitana is a beloved Uruguayan dinner featuring flat, breaded meat.

In Uruguay, it is commonly prepared with chicken or beef and is distinguished by its topping of oregano, tomato, ham, and cheese. The dish is then baked until the cheese melts, creating a cheesy experience.



  • Traditional

Jesuita, also known as fosforito, is a baked sandwich from Uruguay and Argentina featuring puff pastry filled with ham and cheese. This dish’s puff pastry often goes with a sweet egg-white mixture.

Furthermore, it can be prepared with or without the savory filling, perfect for serving hot or cold as party fare, an appetizer, a snack, or even a full meal.

Asado Grilled Dish


  • Traditional

Asado, in Uruguay, is derived from the Spanish word “asar,” meaning “to grill,”. In Uruguay and Argentina, asado is a communal feast similar to a BBQ party.

It encompasses a broad array of grilled foods, including beef, the centerpiece in Uruguay, as well as poultry and vegetables. In some regions, cow’s intestines and gizzards are also up on the menu for grilling.



  • Traditional

Bizcocho is a term in Uruguay encompassing a wide array of bakery products, from sweet to savory pastries, including croissants, puff pastries, and bread-like snacks. These baked goods are essential to Uruguayan daily life, commonly enjoyed with yerba mate or coffee.

Often featured as a breakfast item or as an afternoon snack, Uruguayan bizcochos come in various flavors and fillings, such as dulce de leche, ham and cheese, and fruit jams.

Revuelto Gramajo

Revuelto Gramajo

  • Traditional

Revuelto gramajo is a hearty Uruguayan mix of onions, peas, diced ham, and fried julienne potatoes, all scrambled together with eggs in a pan.

According to legend, the dish was invented by an Argentinian man who, finding the kitchen of his Paris hotel closed, broke in to whip up a meal from available leftovers.

Spinach Ricotta Pie

Torta Pascualina

  • Traditional

Torta pascualina is a vegetarian pie in Uruguay that originated in the Liguria region of North Italy in the 15th century. It traditionally contains spinach, ricotta cheese, and hard-boiled eggs encased in a thin dough.

Swiss chard is also commonly used in the filling, sometimes substituting for spinach. Today, the pie is available in various fillings, cheeses, and sizes.

As for the Uruguayan version, torta pascualina is a common lunch dish, particularly popular during Lent, a 40-day period when Catholics abstain from meat.

Pamplona De Cerdo


  • Traditional

Pamplona is a traditional Uruguayan meat specialty, commonly enjoyed at barbecues or during Christmas celebrations. It features a rolled beef loin seasoned and stuffed with a mix of cheese, cold cuts, and vegetables.

While beef is the traditional base, pamplona can also be prepared with chicken, pork, lamb, or rabbit, and is typically secured with cloth, elastic mesh, or aluminum foil for cooking.

It is roasted on a grill or in the oven until well-cooked and can be served as a standalone dish or alongside other grilled items.

Chickpea Flour Flatbread


  • Traditional

Fainá is a baked flatbread in Uruguay coming from Buenos Aires, Argentina, by Genovese immigrants. Known also as farinata or socca, the flatbread is crafted from chickpea flour.

Today, fainá is a staple side dish featured in Uruguay, offered as a snack or appetizer for accompanying with sauces or paired with cheese slices.

Tortas Fritas

Tortas Fritas

  • Traditional

Tortas fritas is a popular snack in Uruguay coming derived as a variation of kreppel, a type of German doughnut. Today, it’s paired with hot mate drink during the cold months.

The dough of these fried pies consists of regular ingredients such as wheat flour, salt, milk, and cow fat. Before frying, the dough is usually formed with one hole in the center of its round shape.

Sandwiches De Miga

Sándwiches de Miga

  • Traditional

Sandwiches de miga, also known as sándwhich olímpico or rafaelitos, is a typical bread creation of Uruguay and Argentina.

For preparation, the sandwiches’ brown skin must be removed first, as the name “Miga” indicates “crumbs” or the inner part of the bread.

Then, in the middle of two sandwich slices come with red chili pepper, mayonnaise, cheese, ham, boiled egg, tomato, and lettuce. It can be used as a quick lunch or breakfast meal.

Ensalada Rusa

Ensalada Rusa

  • Traditional

Ensalada rusa is a salad commonly served as a side dish to chivito in Uruguay. Despite its name translating to “Russian salad,” the mixture is more like a Uruguayan-style salad.

The Uruguayan version of ensalada rusa typically includes potatoes, carrots, and peas, with hard-boiled eggs and olives added occasionally.

Dulce De Leche Cookies


  • Traditional

Alfajores are delightful Uruguayan cookies consisting of two soft biscuits sandwiching a layer of dulce de leche, a caramel-like sauce. These cookies are prized for their ability to melt in the mouth with an exquisite sweetness.

Enjoyed as both a dessert and a snack, alfajores are a favorite treat for school children and adults. However, Uruguayans usually coat alfajores in milk chocolate for extra textures and flavors.



  • Street Food

Garrapinyades are a popular confectionery in Uruguay and Latin American countries primarily made from almonds. The snack involves caramelizing almonds with sugar and water, requiring continuous stirring at high temperatures.

As the water evaporates, the sugar caramelizes, it forms a crunchy coating around the almonds. This results in a shiny, candy-like treat with a sweet and nutty flavor.

Garrapinyades are a common sight at fairs and markets, where they are enjoyed by many.

Candied Peanuts


  • Traditional

Garrapiñada is a sweet snack found widely across the streets in Uruguay. The treat revolves around pan-roasting peanuts in a mixture of water, vanilla, and sugar until caramelized.

You can also find Uruguayans making candied walnuts or almonds using the same method.

Quince Paste And Cheese

Martín Fierro

  • Traditional

Martín Fierro is a Uruguayan dessert named after the protagonist of José Hernández’s 1872 poem. It’s believed to be the poet’s preferred sweet treat.

The Uruguayan adaptation of this treat features quince paste with a tart flavor placed atop Manchego cheese for a rich profile.

Churros Fried Dough


  • Traditional

Churros are fried dough in Uruguayan cuisine originating from Spain. These dough sticks are known for crunchiness dusted with granulated sugar and cinnamon upon serving.

In Uruguay, churros come in an array of variations, with chocolate and dulce de leche fillings being particularly favored. Innovatively, Uruguayans have also created several savory versions, often filled with melted cheese.

Pastafrola Quince Tart


  • Traditional

Pastafrola is a sweet-tart filled with a mixture of jam in Uruguay that originated in Italy. Traditionally, it’s made of a pie crust filled with quince paste and topped with thin-striped lattices.

In Uruguay, you can find several versions of the filling for pastafrola, such as chocolate, strawberry paste, or dulce de leche. However, the oldest and perhaps best pastafrola uses dulce de membrillo, a native paste from quince fruit.

Rice Pudding

Arroz Con Leche

  • Traditional

Arroz con leche is a well-known rice dessert in Uruguay. The treat is a simple combination of rice, milk, sugar, and a garnish of cinnamon.

Interestingly, the Uruguayan rendition incorporated egg yolk into the pudding, making it notably creamier. Occasionally, a touch of dulce de leche is also added to enhance the flavor.

Flan With Dulce De Leche

Flan con Dulce de Leche

  • Traditional

Flan con dulce de leche is a treat in Uruguay, also known as caramel pudding, creme caramel, and caramel custard. The concept is basically serving soft custard flan with sweet and milky dulce de leche to enhance the flavor.

Alternatively, flan con dulce de leche is also served with cream for a different twist.

Caramelized Milk

Dulce de Leche

  • Traditional

Dulce de leche is a caramelized milk in Uruguay, traditionally made by simmering cow’s milk and sugar until it achieves a creamy, spreadable consistency.

It’s often enhanced with vanilla for added aroma. Resembling caramel in flavor but creamier in texture, dulce de leche is used in many dessert recipes.

Dulce de Membrillo

Dulce de Membrillo

  • Traditional

Dulce de membrillo is a sweet, dense paste in Uruguay made from quince boasting a dark red color. This traditional confection is popular in Spain, Argentina, Uruguay, and other Latin American countries, as well as in Portugal, where it’s known as “marmelada”.

The sweet treat requires cooking quince with sugar until it thickens into a firm, jelly-like consistency. Dulce de membrillo is commonly served with cheese, especially Manchego, as a dessert or snack.

Cut into cubes for serving, it comes with a unique flavor profile that balances sweetness with the natural tartness of quince.

What Uruguayan Dishes to Pair with Beverages?

In Uruguayan cuisine, dishes are often enjoyed with interesting drinks from Uruguay that complement their flavors. Here are some combos to give them a try:

  • Bizcochos: These pastries pair well with yerba mate, a traditional South American tea, enhancing the overall flavor experience.
  • Asado: This quintessential Uruguayan barbecue dish is perfectly complemented by a robust Uruguayan wine, highlighting the smoky flavors of the meat.
  • Chivito: Uruguay’s national sandwich finds its match in Pilsner-style beers, offering a crisp and refreshing twist to the sandwich’s rich and savory taste.
  • Fainá: This chickpea flatbread pairs excellently with light, dry wines, balancing the earthiness of the chickpeas with a clean finish.

Have you picked up any dishes from Uruguay? I’d love to hear those thoughts in the comment section!
Also, don’t forget to share these dishes with your loved ones. I’m positive that they’ll find it helpful just as you do.

Jamie Scott

Jamie Scott

Editor in Chief, Senior Content Writer


Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Baking and Pastry, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Western Food Evaluation Expert


Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

  • Program: Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts
  • Focus: Gained foundational knowledge in French and European culinary techniques. Participated in workshops and hands-on training sessions under the guidance of seasoned chefs.

Local Community College, New York, NY

  • Program: Associate’s Degree in Nutrition
  • Focus: Acquired basic understanding of nutrition principles, dietary needs, and the importance of balanced diets in daily life.

Jamie Scott is a skilled culinary expert and content creator specializing in Western cuisine. With over 15 years in the culinary field and formal training from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, Jamie deeply understands how to blend nutrition with delicious flavors. His passion for cooking matches his commitment to making healthy eating accessible and enjoyable.

On Fifteen.net, Jamie brings a fresh perspective to classic dishes and beverages, offering readers insightful recipes, cooking tips, and a fresh view on meal planning that emphasizes taste, health, and simplicity.

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