Feijoada, Brazil’s Famous Black Bean Stew

Feijoada is Brazil’s famous dish with a long history dating back to the European settlers in the Americas.

It is relatively low-cost, and you can prepare in large quantities without much effort for a large family.

The Brazilian national dish is enjoyed and celebrated across the samba country, and you do not need specialized knowledge to make a delicious feijoada meal. 

Brazilian feijoada derives its name from the Portuguese word Feijao, which means beans, the primary ingredient in preparing the dish. You need beans, slices of bacon, boneless pork, bay leaves, and salt to make it. Other ingredients include black pepper, beef, onions, and garlic. 

This article looks in detail about the history of feijoada, ingredients used in the preparation, and other substitutes to prepare your own feijoada black bean stew. Read on to learn more about this Brazilian dish.

What Is Feijoada?

Brazilian Feijoada dish served in a bowl with side dishes

Traditionally, black beans, salted pork, and beef were cooked and finally served with rice or any other accompaniment like farofa or collard greens.

Feijoada is now enjoyed throughout the country and often used in celebrations. Many restaurants in Sao Paulo serve feijoada mainly on Saturdays and Wednesdays.

The tradition brazilian feijoada recipe can be traced to the Portuguese settlers who associated different weekdays with particular dishes.

Read Article: 19 Best Brazilian Foods You Have To Try Right Away.

History of Feijoada  

It is believed that feijoada has its roots in colonial Brazil when slaves were accustomed to putting together the leftovers from their masters to prepare a black bean stew.

According to this theory, it’s the Portuguese who introduced pork in South America. The wealthy plantation owners consumed pork as their primary meat.

On the other hand, the slaves had black beans as their staple food.

Plantation owners allowed the slaves to have parts of the pork that they didn’t want. The slaves used these parts and black beans to prepare stew taken with white rice or toasted cassava flour (farofa).

Over the years, feijoada was adopted by the feudal plantation owners using better parts of the pork, because it was easier to prepare.

However, the theory has been challenged, and it’s now believed the Portuguese settlers introduced the brazilian recipe of feijoada. In those days, slave owners consumed parts like pig’s head, tail, and feet as delicacies and wouldn’t have discarded them.

Feijoada Ingredients

To prepare your feijoada, you need ingredients such as beans, beef, bacon, and pork to make a delicious stew. The most sophisticated recipes can include more than 30 ingredients that include spices and other side dishes.

However, some feijoada recipes can have few ingredients, and you don’t have to be an expert chef or cook to prepare. 

  • Beans – Traditionally served feijoada is made using black beans. However, you can use any other type of beans you prefer. Old beans that you’ve had in your pantry for more than two years are not recommended, because they don’t cook evenly. 
  • Garlic and Onions– You need 12 cloves of minced garlic and finely chopped onions to bring out the savory Brazilian feijoada.
  • Bacon- Sliced smoked bacon or a thick-cut bacon 
  • Salted Pork and Beef– Boneless pork trimmed and cut into 0.5-inch (1.27 cm) cubes. Trimmed bone-in beef or short ribs can also be used. 
  • Oil – You require some amount of olive oil or cooking vegetable oil for sauteing the aromatics 
  • Salt and Pepper – Freshly ground black pepper and salt are some of the essential ingredients. However, the seasoning can come last, so that you can add salt to your taste.
  • Orange – Traditionally, a whole orange was added without peeling, and it was believed to get rid of excess fat. However, you can use an orange wedge or half an orange.
  • Bay leaves – These leaves are essential, especially in bean recipes, and they play a role of adding a subtle herbal aroma, giving freshness to the beans.

The Traditional Way of Making Feijoada and Some Substitutes

Feijoada, Black Bean Stew with Collard greens, white rice and farofa
Feijoada, Popular Black Bean Stew

The traditional way of preparing feijoada involved using different parts such as the pig’s feet, tail, hock, tongue, and ears.

You can ask your butcher for cuttings of these parts if you want to go the traditional way.

However, you can leave them out for convenience and personal preference. 

The following are some of the substitutes that you can use to make your own feijoada:

  • Bacon – Traditionally, a slab of bacon would be used, but you can go for thick-cut, which is readily available in supermarkets.
  • Smoked Sausage – This refers to the cured and smoked pork sausage seasoned with paprika and garlic. They are commonly known as calabresa sausage or linguica. Other substitutes for the smoked sausage include andouille or kielbasa.
  • Paio Sausage – It is a smoked Brazilian and Portuguese sausage that is made out of pork loin. Typically, it’s seasoned with salt, garlic, and capsicum pepper. The substitute for the paio sausage would be any other type of smoked sausage available in the market.
  • Carne Seca – This is an air-dried and salted beef that is common in most Brazillian dishes with a unique taste, making it hard to substitute. However, you can use boneless short ribs or corned beef instead. 

Making Feijoada 

White pot filled with Brazilian National dish of Feijoada
Feijoada, National Dish of Brazil

Although making this dish is not difficult, it requires planning because you have to soak the black beans and salty meats.

Below are the steps in making feijoada: 

  1. Twenty four hours before cooking, you need to soak the pork and bacon in cold water and put it in a fridge. You need to keep changing the water at least three times. Beans, on the other hand, need to be soaked overnight in cold water.
  2. After 24 hours, you need to place the meat in a pot and add cold water to cover. Heat to boil and leave them cooking for 20 minutes. This process is typically to get rid of excess salt. However, if you’re using substitutes of the traditional salted meats, this process may not be necessary.
  3. Mix the beans, bay leaves, orange, meat, and water in one pot and simmer it for about 30 minutes. Continue simmering after adding sausages until the beans are cooked, and the meat is tender. Remove the orange and discard it, then slice the sausages and beef into small chunks.
  4. Saute the bacon and add garlic and onion in a skillet. Continue to sauté until it softens, then add beans without any liquid. Using a fork, mash them to release starch.
  5. To thicken the stew, add the bean mixture that you had mashed to the stew pot and boil until it’s thick and season with pepper and salt to your taste. 
  6. Finally, add back the meat and discard bay leaves and serve.  

Other Foods That Accompany Feijoada

Brazilian Feijoada with side dishes in pots
Brazilian Feijoada

Feijoada is often served with other side dishes, and the most popular one is white rice. Other accompaniments are finely chopped and fried collard greens.

Similarly, toasted cassava flour with sliced orange is often served with feijoada.

Other popular options include boiled or deep-fried cassava, fried bananas, and pork rinds popularly known as torresmo.

Often hot pepper sauce or pickled chili pepper could accompany feijoada.

Sometimes, caipirinhas, cachaca, or local beer are commonly served with the meal as traditional Brazilian beverages.


Feijoada is a famous Brazilian black bean stew that has a long history dating back to the colonial era. The name is a Portuguese word, which means beans.

It is an easy dish to prepare and does not take much time, other than the 24-hour soaking period. The traditional feijoada recipe from Brazil includes pigs’ tail, head, tongue, head, feet, and ears. 

However, other substitutes now exist that can be used to make delicious feijoada. Other side dishes can be served with feijoada, and they include rice, fried bananas, roasted cassava flour, collard greens, and many others.

To make your own feijoada and shop for other Brazilian ingredients and products visit our online store.


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