This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more
Full of gorgeous colors, juicy produce, and fascinating seafood dishes, Chilean food is one of Latin America’s most delicious cuisines.
The waters of the Pacific are home to an array of fresh, fascinating seafood, while the varied climate allows a wide range of fresh produce to be grown.
Add in some truly wonderful Chilean wine, and you have something for everyone in this breathtaking country.
Prepare for a culinary delight as we take a closer look (as guided by Yeniree Bocaney, a writer and foodie from Santiago, Chile) at 14 typical Chilean foods you simply need to try.
14 Typical Chilean Foods You Should Try
1 – Empanada de Pino (Chilean Beef Empanadas)
Empanada de pino is one of the most iconic dishes in Chilean cuisine.
The pastry is made of wheat flour, milk, and eggs. But what actually distinguishes the Chilean empanada from many other empanadas is its filling.
Although we can find empanadas with several types of filling, such as cheese, the most traditional one in Chile is the “pino.”
Pino consists of a mixture of ground beef, boiled eggs, onions, olives, and sweet raisins.
Traditionally, empanadas de pino are usually served during national holidays with a glass of good Chilean wine, but you can also find them in bakeries and supermarkets any day of the year.
2 – Cazuela de Vacuno (Beef and Vegetable Soup)
The cazuela de vacuno is a traditional Chilean soup. This soup can be made with beef, turkey, chicken, goose, or pork, but the most classic one is made with beef.
It can be served in the winter or in the summer. In the winter, people eat it with carrots, potatoes, and spinach. In the summer, they eat it with corn, green beans, and peas.
What cannot be missing from this soup is the meat, potato, and pumpkin. You can also sometimes find cazuela made with rice.
Its consistency is very similar to the sancocho prepared in some Latin American countries.
3 – Pastel de Jaiba (Blue Crab Casserole Pie)
Pastel de jaiba is a classic dish, particularly popular on the Chilean coastline.
It consists of a crab casserole pie prepared from chopped blue crab, cheese, and sturdy white bread soaked in milk. It is traditionally served in the crab shell.
Nowadays, this dish has become increasingly popular in all kitchens throughout the country due to the relatively high availability of processed and frozen blue crab in any supermarket in the country.
4 – Pastel de Choclo (Chilean Beef and Corn Casserole)
Pastel de choclo‘s literal translation would be “corn pie,” and it is a delicious traditional seasonal dish in Chilean gastronomy.
The local version of this dish originated in the fields of Chile more than 200 years ago.
Although this dish is commonly served during the summer (corn season), it’s also available year-round.
As its name indicates, this dish is prepared from corn, which is ground or grated to form a paste.
The corn paste is usually pre-cooked with milk and placed over a mixture of meat, onion, red pepper, cumin, boiled eggs, raisins, and black olives.
This meat preparation is called pino, a mixture of meat originating from the Mapuche cuisine.
The pastel de choclo is traditionally prepared in a rustic clay pan and baked in the oven.
5 – Completo (Chilean Hotdog)
Completo is one of the most popular and widely eaten meals in Chile. It is similar to the American hotdog, but at the same time, completely different.
The completo consists of a hotdog bun stuffed with Vienna sausage and covered with various toppings.
The base is always the same – bread and Vienna sausage. What makes it different from the hotdog is the variety of toppings that can be added, giving way to the different variations that exist.
The best known is the completo “Italiano,” which is topped with avocado, tomato, and mayonnaise. It is called “Italiano” because of the similarity of its colors with the Italian flag.
Another of the most popular ones is the completo “Alemán,” which is topped with tomato, mayonnaise, and sauerkraut.
There’s also the “chacarero,” topped with green beans, tomato, green pepper, and mayonnaise.
Read more: Completo Hot Dog Recipe
6 – Porotos Granados (Chilean Bean Soup)
Porotos granados is a typical bean soup in the gastronomy of central-southern Chile.
Although it has different variations, depending on the zone of the country, the most common recipe consists of beans cooked with mazamorra (cream of corn) or pilco (a mixture of corn grains, carrot, pumpkin, tomato, onion, garlic, and basil).
It is usually served with pebre (chopped onion, tomato, coriander, garlic, aji pepper, and olive oil). The porotos granados dish, like the pastel de choclo, is eaten more often during the summer when most of the ingredients for this soup are in season.
7 – Chorillana (French Fries Topped with Meat, Onions, and Fried Eggs)
Chorrillana is a popular traditional Chilean dish that consists of generous portions of French fries, egg, minced meat, and fried onions.
There are several versions of chorillana, depending on the geographical area of Chile.
Some preparations include chopped Viennese sausages or chorizos, which can be seasoned with oregano and garlic.
Chorillana is considered a group dish because of its large size, and it is common for 2 or 4 people to eat from one dish.
Since 2000, you can find this delicious traditional dish in local fast-food chains that have started to incorporate it as part of their menu.
8 – Kuchen (Chilean Fruit Pie)
Kuchen is a traditional dessert from the south of Chile. Although its origin is German, it was adopted in these two South American countries following strong German immigration in the early 20th century.
It consists of a cake filled with fruit, mainly berries. There are different versions with different fruit, but the most popular one is the apple one, mainly due to the great variety of apples that can be found in the south of Chile.
However, you can also enjoy a rich kuchen made of blackberry, raspberry, cherry, or peach. Although it is a southern dessert, we can currently find it in local restaurants in different areas of the country.
9 – Milcao (Potato Bread)
The milcao, also called melcao, is a kind of potato bread that is prepared by mixing raw and cooked potatoes together with other ingredients such as sausage.
It can be baked in the oven, boiled, or fried.
It is part of the traditional cuisine of southern Chile, particularly of the Chiloé archipelago in the Los Lagos region, where it is the preferred accompaniment to a delicious and traditional curanto or a fresh salad.
10 – Sopaipillas (Fried Pastries)
Sopaipilla is a traditional Chilean food consumed mainly in the central region of the country.
It consists of a type of fried dough prepared from wheat and pumpkin flour.
Sopaipillas are available year-round. However, it is more common to find people selling them on the street during the winter on those rainy days, usually served with pebre or with melted chancaca (a sweet sauce made with sugar).
Sopaipillas can be eaten at any time of day. However, it is common to eat them during “once” (a snack that is eaten after 5 pm) and with a cup of tea.
11 – Brazo de Reina (Chilean Roll Cake)
Brazo de reina is a delicious traditional dessert consisting of a sponge roll filled with dulce de leche or fruit jam with icing sugar sprinkled on top.
This dessert is eaten throughout Chile, on any occasion, and in any season.
In Chile, it is common to eat a piece of this dessert during once or also for breakfast.
It is possible to find this dessert in any bakery or pastry shop in the country.
12 – Curanto (Meat, Seafood, and Vegetables)
Curanto is a traditional dish of Chilean gastronomy, particularly of the Chiloé traditional cuisine.
It consists of a soup prepared with various types of meat, seafood, vegetables, onions, peppers, and whole peppercorns. Usually, this dish is served with milcaos (potato bread).
Although it is a traditional dish of the Chiloé archipelago, it has now spread throughout the southern part of the country.
It is mainly known for its eccentric preparation. In the gastronomy of the Chiloé archipelago, it is prepared outdoors and is called “curanto en hoyo” (curanto in a hole).
It is called this way because, for its preparation, it is needed to dig a well in the ground with stones that are heated in a fire and on which the ingredients are placed.
The cooking of curanto in a hole takes quite some time, and generally, you need five people to help in cooking this dish.
However, there is another easier form of preparation – making in a pot. This method is called “curanto en olla” (curanto in a pot) or “pulmay“.
13 – Po’e (Banana Pudding Cake)
Po’e is a sweet pudding cake made with wheat flour, pumpkin, and bananas.
It is sweet, and its texture is quite fluffy.
Po’e is served alongside many foods, including curanto and, in some cases, ceviche.
This food is traditional from Isla de Pascua (Rapa Nui), an island in Chile located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Isla de Pascua is one of the main tourist destinations in the country due to its natural beauty, its mysterious ancestral culture of the Rapa Nui ethnic group, and its excellent gastronomy that incorporates natural ingredients.
14 – Cancato (Grilled Fish)
Cancato, from the Mapuche word “kangkatu,” which means roasted meat, is a roasted fish dish typical of the gastronomy of southern Chile, especially of the cuisine of the Chiloé Archipelago.
For the preparation of this dish, it’s common to use fish such as salmon, corvina, or sierra, as their flesh is firm.
Its traditional preparation is in the open air and consists of opening a fish and introducing small pieces of wood, such as sticks, to keep it open; then imprisoning it in a branch nailed to the ground and roasting it in a fire.
However, there are special grills to prepare the fish so that one does not have to use the traditional, time-consuming method. You can also find an oven-ready version in local restaurants.
Chilean Food Summary
There’s no doubt the foods of Chile leave you wanting more. This geographically diverse country is perfect for growing juicy, flavorsome produce and ingredients.
If you’re a seafood lover, you have every reason to rejoice. The Pacific Ocean is home to an incredible range of seafood.
So many wild and wonderful fish and crustaceans, with their breathtaking tastes, have made their way into beloved Chilean dishes.
Then, as with so many Latin American countries, there’s the range of altitudes.
This geography makes it ideal for growing so many different fruit and vegetables. From the coastline to the mountains, the types of foods vary greatly.
These conditions also mean Chile can more than hold its own on the world stage when it comes to wine production.
Chile is no different from Argentina, and other parts of Latin America, when it comes to wine: it’s not just a drink, it’s a huge part of culture and heritage.
All of these factors help make Chile an underrated place when it comes to foodie travel. There’s so much diversity in the cuisine, and there are so many dishes to try.
Heat and passion, as with so many Latin American cuisines, help make the Chilean tastes a unique culinary experience.
One last time, before we go, here’s the full list of all Chilean foods and traditional dishes covered in this article.
Be sure to have this list of Chilean food handy when you visit so that you can try one or more of these popular and traditional foods.
- Empanada de Pino (Chilean Beef Empanadas)
- Cazuela de Vacuno (Beef and Vegetable Soup)
- Pastel de Jaiba (Blue Crab Casserole Pie)
- Pastel de Choclo (Chilean Beef and Corn Casserole)
- Completo (Chilean Hotdog)
- Porotos Granados (Chilean Bean Soup)
- Chorillana (French Fries Topped with Meat, Onions, and Fried Eggs)
- Kuchen (Chilean Fruit Pie)
- Milcao (Potato Bread)
- Sopaipillas (Fried Pastries)
- Brazo de Reina (Chilean Roll Cake)
- Curanto (Meat, Seafood, and Vegetables)
- Po’e (Banana Pudding Cake)
- Cancato (Grilled Fish)
You Might Also Like to Read
- Popular Argentinian Foods To Try
- Incredible Peruvian Foods To Try
- Traditional Ecuadorian Foods To Try
- Popular Bolivian Foods To Try
- Popular Uruguayan Foods To Try
Save and Pin for Later
Want to keep all these delicious Chilean food picks in a safe place? Save this article and pin it to one of your Pinterest boards for later.
Contributor: Yeniree Bocaney is a Chilean translator and creative writer from Santiago. Yeniree is passionate about her native cuisine and culture and enjoys writing about it to share with the rest of the world.
Images licensed via Shutterstock