Coxinha: The Most Delicious Street Food in the World

Avid travelers know that a country’s best food isn’t always in its best restaurants. You’ll probably find better food — for way less money — on the streets of the city that you’re visiting.

Brazil is no exception. There are lots of famous dishes in the country, but one of the best is coxinha, a type of fried street food that your sure to love.

Read on to learn more about these delicious Brazilian eats!

Coxinha History

Every dish has a history, and for coxinha, its origins go all the way back to the nineteenth century.

The beginning of all the modern variations probably was in Limeira, a small town outside of São Paolo. The story goes that the son of Princess Isabel and Prince Gaston, who was isolated for his mental health, absolutely loved chicken. However, he only ate the thigh.

The royal couple’s chef didn’t have enough chicken thighs one day, so instead, she shredded chicken, covered it in flour, and shaped it into a drumstick. The prince loved it, and so did his grandmother, the Emperess.

After she brought the snack to court, the trend caught on and became what we now know as coxinhas. Today, they are still teardrop-shaped to look like a chicken thigh.

Types of Coxinha

Variations of Brazilian Dish of Coxinhas
Variations of Brazil’s Famous Coxinha Dish

The most common coxinha is coxinha de frango (chicken). It’s typically filled with shredded chicken and catupiry cheese. However, there are lots of different spins and versions of the tasty snack.

Some cooks will add things like onions, parsley, scallions, and tomato. Whatever the filling is, it’s then covered in dough and breadcrumbs and deep-fried to a delicious golden brown.

Once it’s out of the fryer, you can also serve it up with different sauces. Some people love ketchup with their coxinha, while others add a hot oil called pimenta.

How To Make Coxinha

Ingredients

  • 28 oz Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 Carrot, Peeled & Quartered
  • 1 Celery Rib, Quartered
  • 1 Onion, Peeled & Quartered
  • 1 Large Chicken Breast
  • 1 Cup Corn
  • 2 Green Onions, Thinly Sliced
  • 2 Clove Garlic, Minced
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese, Softened
  • Salt & Pepper, to Taste
  • 1/2 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 TBSP Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Cup Plain Breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable Oil, for Frying

Directions

  1. In a large pot, preheat oil to 350°F. In another large pot combine broth, carrots, onions and celery and bring to a simmer. Carefully add chicken, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Poach chicken until cooked through. Turn off heat, but leave the pot of hot poaching liquid on the stove. Remove chicken from liquid and let it rest for 10 minutes. Strain the liquid and reserve 1 1/2 cups liquid.
  2. Shred chicken into a large mixing bowl. Add cream cheese, green onions, corn and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Fold to combine.
  3. In a saucepan over high heat, bring 1 1/2 cups reserved liquid and 1/2 TBSP olive oil to a boil. Add flour and stir until dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured flat surface. Knead the dough while it is warm, but not hot.
  4. To shape the coxinhas, take a golf ball sized piece of the dough with floured hands. Roll it into a ball, then hollow out the middle for the filling. Place a small scoop, about 1 TBSP, of the filling in the center of each round. Pinch dough together at the top to seal, creating plump little pear shape pouches and make sure there aren’t any holes.
  5. In a small bowl, lightly whisk eggs and milk together. Place bread crumbs in another small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Carefully dip each pouch into the egg wash and then the bread crumbs until fully coated. Chill the breaded coxinhas for 1 hour.
  6. Fry coxinha in small batches until golden brown. Drain on paper towels, lightly season with salt, and serve hot.

 

Where to Find the Best Coxinha in Brazil

Basket full of Brazilian Coxinhas with beer in the background
Coxinhas served in a Brazilian restaurant

Brazil is a massive country — so where should you go to get the best coxinha?

For starters, if you’re in São Paolo, you definitely need to try some. The city originated the snack to begin with, so you can’t go wrong with whatever you try. Truly, though, any city in Brazil will likely have someone whipping up something delicious. When in doubt, go somewhere that they’re serving cold beer and hot food.

Of course, the truly amazing street food is always going to be a neighborhood secret. If you really want to make your mouth water, find someone local and ask where they go. They’re sure to point you in the right direction!

Where to Find the Best Coxinha in the USA

Logos of popular Brazilian restaurants in the USA
Popular Brazilian Restaurants in the USA

The popularity of Brazilian cuisine has exploded recently in the United States. It’s no wonder Brazilian chain restaurants Fogo de Chao, Texas de Brazil, Rodizio Grill have spread throughout the country at a frantic pace.

All of them do a great job of serving up classic Brazilian dishes. However, if you are lucky enough to find an individually owned local Brazilian restaurant in the area chances are you’ll be treated to some authentic Brazilian fare.

Learn More About Brazilian Food

Coxinha might have started out as a royal snack, but now, it’s street food that everyone can enjoy. It’s already a favorite for millions of Brazilians — maybe it will be yours, too.

If coxinha seems like the perfect food for you, you’ll probably enjoy the rest of what Brazilian cuisine has to offer. Don’t stop here — keep learning about Brazilian food, culture, and the other amazing flavors of Latin foods.

Catch up on the rest of our posts about Brazilian food to discover your next favorite dish.

And if you would like to bring home these delicious South American dishes, shop for Brazilian foods and drinks at our online store or find delicious and easy step by step Brazilian recipes.

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