Chile is nestled between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean. It’s a beautiful country that’s home to over 18 million people. Chilean cities are bustling, while its rural country areas are home to cattle and llama farms.
If there’s one thing you need to know about Chile, it’s that this country knows how to cook.
Chilean dishes are full of flavor. They’re unique to the country but incorporate Spanish, Italian, German and French flare thanks to thousands of immigrants who flocked to the beautiful country during the 19th century.
If you’re looking for new South American dishes to try, check out our list of 17 of the most scrumptious Chilean cuisine. These tasty meals are guaranteed to be delicioso!
1. Chilean Empanadas
South American cuisine always includes some form of empanadas. In Chile, these delicious pastry pockets can be found almost anywhere. They are cooked in a wood-burning oven (al horno) or deep fried.
The most traditional Chilean empanada is called pino. Pino is a mixture of meat, onions, hard-boiled eggs, black olives, and raisins. It may sound like an odd mix, but it’s one of the most popular empanadas ordered throughout the country.
Chilean empanadas are similar yet different from Argentian empanadas. Chile’s versions are bigger and square-shaped, while Argentinian empanadas resemble half-moons.
When in Chile, keep your mind open and try a few different empanada flavors. Don’t expect them to taste exactly like traditional Argentian ones. Chilean cuisine has its own unique flair and style.
2. Machas a la Parmesana
Machas are clams, so machas a la parmesana is a Chilean clam dish topped with cheese. It includes parmesan and gouda cheese, as well as white wine, cream, and butter. If you’re lactose intolerant, this is not the meal for you!
This Chilean dish was introduced in the 1950s by Italian immigrants. It’s very popular along the coast, where large machas (saltwater clams) are easy to catch. Machas a la parmesana is a delicious meal that seafood and cheese lovers across Chile enjoy.
A completo is Chile’s hot dog. It’s a popular street food dish that’s even larger than American-style hot dogs. Completo translates to “complete” in Spanish, meaning you’ll be completely full after you’ve eaten one of these bad boys!
A completo comes with a variety of fixings, including mayo, tomatoes, onions, pickles, and sauerkraut. The roll is lightly toasted for a delicious crunch.
If you’re really hungry, try ordering the completo Italiano, which is loaded with mayo, tomatoes, and avocado. It’s one of the most popular types of completo.
Churrasco is a delicious Chilean-style steak sandwich. The meal includes a thin layer of churrasco (sirloin steak) and is cooked a la plancha (on a griddle). The sandwich is served between two slices of freshly baked Chilean bread called pan amasado.
A churrasco Italiano is steak sandwich topped with mayo, tomato, and avocado referred to as palta. Churrasco a lo pobre includes a fried egg, caramelized onion, and tons of Chilean french fries.
Needless to say, a churrasco isn’t the healthiest Chilean dish. But it sure is tasty!
5. Pastel de Choclo
Foreigners beware: choclo does not mean chocolate! Choclo translates to “tender corn” or freshly picked corn. Pastel de choclo is a corn pie that’s usually filled with pino.
The corn is very sweet. It’s mixed with garlic, onion, hard-boiled eggs, olives, and minced meat. Some Chilean recipes include chicken.
The dish resembles a casserole. It’s a popular dinner throughout Chile and available in most restaurants. It commonly comes with humitas, which is a vegetarian corn-based tamale.
6. Arrollado de Huaso
In southern Chile, let your nose lead you to a fresh batch of arrollado de huaso.
This Chilean delight is pork roll topped with bacon, chili, and spices. Huaso is made from chilli pepper sauce and a splash of local Chilean wine. The meat is rolled in pork skin, boiled, and served with a side of fresh avocado salsa.
Arrollado de huaso translates to “pork roll peasant style.” After months of fattening up the farm’s pigs, Chileans were sure to not let any part of the animal go to waste. It’s often enjoyed at the end of a long winter to welcome the upcoming warm weather and celebrate spring.
Charquicán is beef stew. The soup is slow-cooked and loaded with local Chilean squash, peas, corn, and potatoes. In the fall, Chileans may also add pumpkins to the soup.
Most Chileans today use beef roast, but traditionally the stew is made using dried beef or llama meat. For breakfast lovers or for those looking for a little extra protein in the stew, you may add a fried egg over your charquicán.
While the stew is especially popular throughout Chile, it can be found in other countries along the Andean region. Argentina, Peru, and Bolivia all have their own versions of charquicán.
Another popular stew in Chile is cazuela. This warm and hearty dish is enjoyed on cold Chilean nights. The stew gets its name from the cazuela pot, which is what it’s cooked in.
Cazuela is made using peppers, quinoa, chili, corn, potatoes, and chicken. Other meats, like pork, turkey, and beef, may also be used in lieu of chicken. Some hearty cazuela recipes include rice or noodles.
To eat the dish, Chileans traditionally consume all of the liquid first. Then, they move onto the large meat and veggies left in their cazuela bowls.
A popular beef-based dish found throughout Chilean homes and restaurants is plateada. It’s a Chilean pot roast and one of the most popular dinners in the country.
Plateada is made from the rib cap of a cut of beef. It’s located above the ribeye.
Plateada translates to “silver-plated.” The name refers to the silvery skin of the rib cap.
When made correctly, the dish is tender, flavorful, and delicious. It’s important to marinate the beef and remove all of the fat prior to cooking. Most Chilean recipes call for garlic, salt, fresh ground pepper, olive oil, and onions to enhance the flavor.
Where are the french fry lovers at? A popular social snack around Chile is chorrillana. It’s a huge pile of french fries with delicious toppings.
Chorrillana can come in a variety of ways. Most often, it’s topped in sauteed onions, shredded beef, sausage, and fried (or sometimes scrambled) eggs. Restaurants typically serve it with a side of hot sauce (or pebre), ketchup, and mayo.
Chorrillana is served as a large platter and is meant to be shared. It matches nicely with some live entertainment and a cold beer.
Traditional pernil is slow-cooked pork leg or pork shoulder Chilean dish. The entire piece, including the skin, is cooked. The meat is seasoned using pepper, oregano, salt, and Chilean sofrito blends.
Pernil creates large portions and is a popular Christmas dinner. When cooked right, the meat should fall right off the bone. It’s often accompanied with arroz con gandules (rice and peas).
Pernil requires some prep and should be marinated the day before. Most Chileans cook the pork until it develops a crisp outer skin (called cuero). It usually serves eight people.
For leftovers, sometimes Chileans will use the pork to make essentially Cuban sandwiches.
12. Pebre and Pan Amasado
A delicious dish of pebre should be present on most Chilean dinner tables. Pebre is a hot chili pepper sauce that gives your meal a deliciously spicy bite.
Pebre is made with a tomato base, similar to salsa. It includes onions, chili, chives, garlic, coriander, oil, and vinegar. Aji pebre usually comes in a small clay dish for serving.
Pan amasado is warm bread. It’s Chilean comfort food. The bread should be soft and melt in your mouth.
Pan amasado often accompanies pebre. It’s perfect for dipping and the pebre makes a delicious spread on the warm bread. You can commonly find this combo as a restaurant appetizer.
Chileans love their stews, but not all of them are beef or pork based. Chupe is a seafood-style stew sometimes served in traditional clay bowls. This allows the dish to maintain its heat.
Chupe usually includes shrimp, fish, veggies, and potatoes. It should be served with warm bread for dipping.
Traditional chupe recipes call for crayfish, but shrimp has become a more popular ingredient. Shrimp is easier to catch and buy frozen for a quick and easy dinner.
To make this Chilean dish, first cook potatoes and onions in butter. They add dashes of different spices for flavor and mix in the meat. Before serving, milk is added for a creamy texture.
Chilean foods are spicy and sweet! Sopapillas or Sopaipillas are the perfect after-dinner snack. These light and crisp pastries are often topped in delicious warm honey or a sprinkle of sugar.
Sopapillas are deep-fried desserts. They’re made using wheat dough with shortening. Most sopapillas come in triangular, square, or circular shapes.
In Mexico, they may be stuffed with meat, cheese, and peppers and served as an entree.
In Chile, sopapillas are mostly served sweet. They’re often dipped in chancaca, which is black beet sugar. They’re perfect after a big meal and a favorite snack among Chilean children.
15. Manjar Blanco
Manjar blanco includes a variety of Chilean milk-based delicacies.
These dishes are slowly made by cooking pure (non-homogenized) milk until it thickens. Sugar is gradually added. Depending on your tastes, different recipes combine vanilla, citrus juices, cinnamon, and rice.
The result creates a thick frosting that tastes like sweet cream. It can be used as a spread or jam. Manjar blanco is often used as a tasty filling for pastries and cookies throughout Chile.
16. Tres Leches Cake
If you’ve dined out in a Chilean-style restaurant, you’ve probably been tempted by tres leches cake for dessert. The cake has a liquid base, similar to tiramisu or a British trifle.
It’s believed tres leches cake became popular in Chile because evaporated milk is easy to store. With unreliable power and a hot South American sun, real milk wasn’t a practical ingredient for Chilean cuisine. For this reason, condensed milk has played a large role in Latin American dishes.
Tres leches translates to “three milks.” Each milk is evaporated and poured over a light and airy sponge cake. The milk is light and moistens the cake without making it soggy.
Traditionally, tres leches cake is vanilla, although chocolate and strawberry flavors have become more popular in recent years.
The cake absorbs the liquid mixture to create an exceptionally moist pastry. Tres leches cake is usually topped with whipped cream. It’s a messy, but delicious, Chilean treat.
17. Pisco Sour
It’s Chile’s version of a whiskey sour, just without the whiskey! A pisco sour is a delightful Chilean alcoholic cocktail with Peruvian origins. It’s considered a classic South American delight.
Pisco is the base liquor in the drink. Pisco is a 37% to 48% proof brandy. Keep in mind that just one of these cocktails gets you feeling buzzed!
The cocktail contains a mix of tangy citrus juices that give the drink a signature sour flavor. Most Chilean recipes incorporate pica lime and simple syrup.
The original pisco sour was created in Lima, Peru, in the 1700s. Peruvians like to add bitters and egg whites to the cocktail, while Chileans do not.
English steward Elliot Stubb is credited with bringing the drink to Chile in 1872. He mixed Key lime juice, syrup, and ice cubes with the liquor to create the signature cocktail.
With plenty of ice, a pisco sour is a refreshing beverage often enjoyed during the hot South American months. If your adventurous try different flavors of pisco sour mixes.
Learn More About Chilean Dishes
Has our list of delicious and flavorful Chilean dishes inspired you to try some new South American foods? Chilean meals are zesty, unique, and often made with plenty of spices. Don’t forget Chileans have big sweet tooths, so they love their tres leches cake and sweet manjar fillings.
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