Uruguayan cuisine

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Asado with achuras (offal) and sausages

Uruguayan cuisine is traditionally surrounded by international cuisine and is traditionally based on the European roots, in particular, Mediterranean food from Spain, Italy and Portugal and Continental food from France. Other trackable sources may result surprising from apart of immigration of another remote places, notable examples are influences from countries such as Germany and Britain. Many foods from those countries such as pasta, sausages, and desserts are common in the nation's diet.


A typical Uruguayan parrillero
Homemade milanesa
Bacalao typically served on Semana Santa (Easter).
A chivito with lettuce, tomato, thin filet steak, bacon, ham, mushrooms, olives, mozzarella cheese, onion, egg, garlic mayonnaise on a non sesame seed bun

The base of the country's diet is meat and animal derivatives, mostly proceeding from cattle but also chicken, lamb, pig and sometimes fish.

Backwards from expected meztizaje in Uruguayan gastronomy came from immigration and not with Amerindians because new colonies hadn't trusted the natives, so prime materials where, if not needed the same from the origin. [clarification needed]

The preferred cooking methods for meats and vegetables are still boiling and roasting but modernization also came with frying (see milanesas and chivitos). Meanwhile, wheat and fruit comes mostly fried (torta frita and pasteles), comfited (rapadura and ticholos de banana) and sometimes baked (rosca de chicharrones), a new style from modern times.

Although Uruguay has exuberant flora and fauna, only exception of yerba mate, the rest of it is mostly still unexploded, consumption of fresh fruit is rare and commonly not from local ones.

Uruguayan food always comes with fresh bread; bizcochos and tortas fritas are must have for mate drinking ('tomar el mate').

The national drink is an infusion called mate. The dried leaves and twigs of the yerba mate plant (Ilex paraguariensis) are placed in a small cup. Hot water is then poured into the gourd at near-boiling point so as to not burn the herb and spoil the flavour. The drink is sipped through a metal or cane straw, known as a bombilla. Wine is also common a common drink. Other spirits consumed in Uruguay are caña, grappa, grapa con limon (lemon infused grappa), and grappamiel (grappa honey liquour). Grappamiel is very popular in rural areas and is often consumed in the cold mornings of autumn and winter to warm up the body.

Regional fruits as butia and pitanga are commonly used for flavoring caña among with quinotos and nísperos.

Bushmeat comes from mulitas and carpinchos and popular sweets are quince jam and dulce de leche.

Uruguayan barbecue, asado, is one of the most exquisite and famous in the world.

A sweet paste, dulce de leche, is used to fill cookies, cakes, pancakes, milhojas, and alfajores. The alfajores are shortbread cookies sandwiched together with dulce de leche or a fruit paste. Dulce de leche is used also in flan con dulce de leche.

Spanish influences are very abundant: desserts like churros (cylinders of pastry, usually fried, sometimes filled with dulce de leche), flan, ensaimadas (Catalan sweet bread), and alfajores are all descended from Spain. There are also all kinds of stews known as "guisos" or "estofados", arroces (rice dishes such as paella), and fabada (Asturian bean stew). All of the guisos and pucheros (stews) are of Spanish origin. Uruguayan preparations of fish, such as dried salt cod (bacalao), calamari, and octopus, originate from the Basque and Galician regions, and also Portugal.

Germanic influence has impacted Uruguayan food as well, particularly sweet dishes. The pastries known as bizcochos are Germanic in origin: croissants, known as medialunas, are the most popular of these, and can be found in two varieties: butter- and lard-based. Also German in origin are the Berlinese known as bolas de fraile ("friar's balls"), and the rolls called piononos. The facturas were re-christened with local names given the difficult phonology of German, and usually Uruguayanized by the addition of a dulce de leche filling. In addition, dishes like chucrut (sauerkraut) have also made it into mainstream Uruguayan cuisine.

Due to its strong Italian tradition, in Uruguay all of the famous Italian pasta dishes are present: ravioli, spaghetti, lasagne, tortellini, fettuccine, cannelloni, fusilli, agnolotti, tagliatelle, capellini, vermicelli, penne rigate, fagioloni, cellentani, rotini, bucatini, farfalle, and the traditional gnocchi. Although the pasta can be served with a lot of sauces, there is one special sauce that was created by Uruguayans. Caruso sauce is a pasta sauce made from double cream, meat extract, onions, ham and mushrooms. It is very popular with sorrentinos and agnolotti.

Common dishes[edit]

Pizza (locally pronounced pisa or pitsa), has been wholly subsumed and in its Uruguayan form more closely resembles an Italian calzone than it does its Italian ancestor. Typical Uruguayan pizzas include pizza rellena (stuffed pizza), pizza por metro (pizza by the meter), and pizza a la parrilla (grilled pizza). While Uruguayan pizza derives from Neapolitan cuisine, the Uruguayan fugaza (fugazza) comes from the focaccia xeneise (Genoan), but in any case its preparation is different from its Italian counterpart, and the addition of cheese to make the dish (fugaza con queso or fugazzeta) is an Uruguayan invention.

However, pastas (pasta, always in the plural) are more popular than pizza. Among them are tallarines (fettuccine), ravioles (ravioli), ñoquis (gnocchi), and canelones (cannelloni). They are usually cooked, served, and consumed in Uruguayan fashion, called al-uso-nostro, a phrase of Italian origin.

Sliced pizza served over fainá is a common combination. For example, it is common for pasta to be eaten together with white bread ("French bread"), which is unusual in Italy. This can be explained by the low cost of bread and that Uruguayan pasta tends to come together with a large amount of tuco sauce (Italian: suco - juice), and accompanied by estofado (stew). Less commonly, pastas are eaten with a sauce of pesto, a green sauce based on basil, or salsa blanca (Béchamel sauce). During the 20th century, people in pizzerias in Montevideo commonly ordered a "combo" of moscato, pizza, and fainá, which is a large glass of a sweet wine called moscato (muscat), plus two stacked pieces (the lower one being pizza and the upper one fainá). Despite both pizza and faina being Italian in origin, they are never served together in that country.

Polenta comes from Northern Italy and is very common throughout Uruguay. Unlike Italy, this cornmeal is eaten as a main dish, with sauce and melted cheese.


The current roots of Uruguayan cuisine can be traced back to subsistence economy adopted by gauchos and sustained on subsistence agriculture implanted by spanishes and crillos at the start of European colonization. The native peoples did not stay in one place, since Uruguay was just as a remote port, with few incursions for treasure hunting.

The only permanent stablisment at the time was constituted by franciscan monks that located at a territory now belonging to Brazil called Misiones , because there mission there was to cristianize such natives.

Tradition of mate started at that time with that monks that brewed that beberage with the leaves of yerba mate that guarani people used to chew.

Cattle was later introduced by hernandarias.

The first group of immigrants came from poor families of Buenos Aires and the Canary Islands along with their empanadas and cocidos.

Everything was sold from pulperias that were stores and saloons at the same time.

The asado tradition came with gauchos that lived in the country, descendants of that first families that having no land nor home made cattle raiding their way of life. Asado meat cuts were considered excedents from cattle.

Portuguese and Brazilian influence was also added during Portuguese colonization. Feijoada was incorporated into the rest of the guisos.

Food was rudimentary and based on Spanish tradition until immigration at end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century when the first families came mostly from Italy and Spain. Immigration increased, following World War I and World War II, when people from all over Europe and Middle East came to Uruguay, including people from Germany, Russia, Italy, and Armenia.

Such immigration enriched the importation of dishes, as there is now pasta, ensalada rusa and innumerable types of pastry from France and Germany, resulting in postre chaja and alfajores.

Butter was not widely used until the 1950s, common fat substance proceeded from cattle and not from milk, its introduction at that time resulted on more refined productions.

Uruguayan cuisine suffered lot of changes across the ages and it is still happening, contumacy of food is being replaced for less caloric versions as times keep changing on a more dynamic society with less caloric needings, exportation of meat is making asado less accessible, and government seems to have none interest on protection, nor even the price of yerba that is climbing up.

On everyday food, Milanesas are being replaced for panchos, croquetas are being replaced for pizza, and guiso de lentajas is becoming more common than puchero or feijoada.

Apperitives, entrees and picadas[edit]

Among Uruguayan cuisine there is a significant list of preparations and dishes that are included on this cathegory, the most typical or authoctonous is the picada, probably a true heir of the spanishes tapas, and on everyday food there are also matambre relleno and lengua a la vinagreta.


As said on the Main overview, grappa and caña are still consumed on the country, though grappa it is considered an apperitive of excellence into its main country (and caña could also had the same reputation on its own), apperitives such as martini, vermouth, whisky, medio y medio and also uvita , sangria and wine are preferred.

Though liquors made with caña have good properties for being an apperitives there are only consumed as drink.

Medio y medio[edit]

It is a special blend made of dry wine and sparkling wine, or sparkling whine and caña. It is manufactured by Bodega Roldos (Roldos Cellar).


Also made by Bodega Roldos, under a secret recipe of ingredients it is a fortified wine that resembles marsala.



Picada can be described as the main entrance of a typical asado (barbecue), consumed within aperitives, it is constituted by cheese, olives, longaniza, salami, chips and salted peanuts all of it except for peanuts served on a wood table with bread.

Corizo, morcilla and offals[edit]

Chorizo and morcilla can be served as entree, entremet or side dish for barbacue generally following picada).

Also can be offals that are chinchulines, choto (large intestine), kidney and (wondered as a dellicatessen)gizzard, see asado barbacue for more information.

′For every else food there are′

Matambre relleno[edit]

Matambre relleno is a common dish in Rio de la plata, so much in Uruguay as in Argentina. It is one of two dishes that are prepared from matambre, a meat cut that is a flank steak. It is prepared as a lunch meat by rolling thin slices over spinach, carrots and boiled eggs, really a criollo's version of a joint, tied up and sewed with a strong string, boiled and lated pressed, it is consumed when cold.

Lengua a la vinagreta[edit]

Lengua a la vinagreta[1][better source needed] (Spanish for tongue with vinaigrette) is a cold preparation of beef tonge that is previously peelled and boiled and aligned with a vinaigrete sauce made with chopped boiled eggs, parsil, garlic, onions, olive oil, and of course vinager

Side dishes[edit]

Cuisine of Uruguay have not had much inventive but salads over this step. As previously said, food is eaten with bread and sometimes rice or chips. Along with asado there are accompaniments as said chorizo, morcilla, offals, and also stuffed peppers, and papas al plomo (roasted potatoes)


From asado to pasta, Uruguayan cuissine offers a widely variant of sauces, most remarkable are chimichurry, salsa criolla and salsa Carusso.


Hot sauce commonly added to frankfurters (panchos), resembles a hot mustard or mayonaise.


Sharing the same name as the Spanish mojo, its as simply as a sauce made with garlic, oil, Parsley, Oregano, paprika, water and salt, it is added to asado during its cookinmg process and optionally on the dish. Mojo differs in chimichurry over that ii has water besides vinager and less paprika


see main article chimichurry Uncapable of being spelled three times on English is between a vinagreitte and a pesto variant, made with chopped garlic, oregano, paprika, oil, vinager and salt. Along with salsa criolla it is the preferred for asado

Salsa criolla[edit]

Made with finely chopped tomatoes and onions, oil and salt, salsa criolla is used for garment of asado, choripan and sometimes panchos.

Salsa golf[edit]

Invented in Argentina but also consumed in Uruguay it is a blend of mayonaise and ketchup, see main article salsa golf.

Mostaza La pasiva[edit]

La Pasiva is a famous chain of restaurants in Uruguay, dedicated at fast food serving or minutas as is called on the region, their speciality are panchos (hot dogs) and hungaras, destacated by their 'panchos con panceta' hot dog with bacon and chivito. Moustard La pasiva is a white colured hot moustard served on the local along with panchos. Its made with beer, starch, moustard grains, Pepper, salt and vinager. It is specially suitable for garnment of puchero meat.

Salsa carusso, estofado and tuco[edit]

All of the three are necessary pasta sauces among with other foreign pasta sauces. Salsa Carusso was made specially for the opera singer Enrico Caruso at a time that he visited Uruguay and became a popular sauce (specially for its main dish 'cappeletis a la Carusso'), estofado is a stewed version of ragu made from steaks and sometimes single eaten, tuco when it has chopped meat resembles a bolognese sauce.

Barbacue and salads[edit]


Uruguayan cuissine has adopted if not blended a considerable amount of salads, the most typical of it is the 'ensalada criolla'.

Ensalada criolla[edit]

With slights variants it is a common denomination for a family of salads that are wide spread over the southern south cone region, most variants as in the chilean salad always include onion and lattuce. The variant consumed on Uruguay contains tomato along with lattuce and onion served with a single vinegreitte made of oil, vinager, salt, garlic and oregano. As it is a basic form of salad, it is idoneus acompaniment for asado.

Ensalada rusa[edit]

More similar to the polish sałatka jarzynowa than the typical olivier salad it contains potatoes, carrots, and peas aligned with mayonaise

Ensalada de papa y huevo[edit]

Potato and egg salad or onion and potato salad or simply potato mayonaise and parsil.

Ropa vieja[edit]

Resembling an old Spanish salpicon, ropa vieja (Spanish for old clothes) intends to include everything that exceeds from asado, mainly the best meat cuts chopped with vegetables such as potatoes or ensalada criolla. Not to be confused with the Cuban ropa vieja that though it is also a derivated dish but resembles more a sancocho than a salad.

Salpicon de ave[edit]

Another derivated salpicon , chicken salpicon is made with chicken, eggs, and potatoes.

Palmitos con salsa golf[edit]

Simply heart of palm sometimes rolled in ham slices and served with salsa golf

Watercress salad[edit]

Bassically wattercress, olive oil and lemmon juice.


see main section asado

As in English barbecue asado is called both the tradition of making the meal and the meal itself and also the meal and meat cut called asado or tira de asado.

In most homes of Uruguayan people its common to find a special grill on the patios called asador, that is a structure made of Iron and bricks, wondering in dimensions more asadores have at least two metres for one metre and they are constituted by a chimney, a small bonfire of iron where to place, firewood and a large grill where it goes the meat and where, under it are placed the embers produced by the firewood.

Also there are common to find, mostly on the street, small barbecue grills called medio tanque (half barrel) because they are made on adaptation of splitten steel drums. Asado cooked this way is sold offen on the street.

The person who make the meal is called also asador.

Asado is often preceded by apperitives such as vermouth, uvita, and medio y medio, an entree called picada and some chorizos, morcillas, and some offals that done first.


Ingredients of a complete Uruguayan asado include: chorizo, morcilla, pulpon, entraña, tira de asado, cow gizzards, chinchulines, chotos, and kidneys. Poultry may also be included.

Sometimes, specially on festive days, pork, fish, and lamb are consumed as substitute for cow meat, conforming a dish variant.


A typical asado takes from one hour to two hours to be done, and even more if a different kind of meat is going to be barbacued (for example a whole pig takes at least four hours to be ready), further from that the process is pretty simple.

The asador starts the fire in the burner an once that the fire is started, meat is salted and condimented, condiments may include oregano, garlic, paprika, parsley and mojo, then later first embers are put in place and this is going to be repeted as they keep falling from the burner and then meat is put on the grill, while slowly cooked and smoked on the asador, the rest of the operation is limited just to eat picada and wait and sporadically add mojo (to make the meat flavorous), an of course control the fire.

When all the meat is ready then it is served sided by bread and salads, and served with condiments such as mojo, chimichurry and Uruguayan salsa criolla and beberages such as wine, clerico and sangria.

Variants - Asado con cuero[edit]

Though asado barbacue also can be made of other meats than cow, there is still another variant, that mainly from cow meat results peculiar.

Its name is asado con cuero (barbacue with its leather), its a favourite on rural sides but also very preciated on the capital. Its main essence resides on a different and more complex technique than that employed for making asado and is it that the entire cattle is barbacued at once and even with its leather, though bones are taken apart.

The origin of this practice is remoted to pampa people that omitted the cutting of the cattle and retirement the leather but at the same time discarded the bones. They did this because on this way resulted them easier to just roll all the meat and run without leaving their food in the act.


Typical Uruguayan beberages are mate, caña, uvita, grappamiel and medio y medio.


Grappa was implanted by italian immigrants as they kept coming at the immediation of SXIX, then grappamiel and grapa con limon where made in the country from this italian influence.


Taste for wine[2] also is acquired from meditareanean influence also sangria and clerico, uvita (translated as litle grape) is a fortified wine resembling marsala wine.

Medio y medio[edit]

Literally meaning half and half, is a drink blend both of parts of caña and sparkling wine and dry wine and sparkling wine. It is sold and fabricated under the trademark Roldos.

Uruguay is the first global consumer of mate, with a consume of 6.8 kilograms of yerba mate per capita at year passing Argentina for 1.2 kilograms per capita at year.[3]


Mate is consumed everytime and on every occasion, solely, with tortas fritas or biscochos, it is so important that, the act of drinking mate performs a ritual of friendship between those involved. Even carring thermos of hot water facilitates that this practice be done on every place, though hot days of summer it still said to be refreshing.

Yerba mate also is consumed as mate cocido, when is prepared with milk its named mate de leche and when it is added with milk its called mate con leche.

Grapa con limon[edit]

Grappa is sold under various trademarks but the most significant one is San Remo, it is distilled and bottled by ANCAP and there was also a try of rescueing its original italian form by some local cellars, when macerated with lemon its called grapa con limon.


Caña is an ambar coloured distilled similar to aguardiente made from sugar cane mill, its caramel color its due aging in barrels. It is destilled and botlled under the brand De los 33.[4]


Caña as much as grappa are used to be widely infusioned with herbs and fruits resulting in known traditional combinatons such as grappamiel (grappa + honey, honey maceration), grapa con limon (grappa with lemon, lemon maceration), caña con pitanga, caña con butia, and so on, there is a popular bar on Montevideo, called Los yuyos that is famous for serving this varieties.[5]

Stews and puchero[edit]

Specially switables for cold days Uruguayan guisos or straws are higly revitalizing, specially for its puchero, followed by buseca, guiso carrero, guiso de fideos (noodle stew), estofado and feijoada.

Spanish culinary influence is marked over Uruguayan stews, also remarkable the italian and Portuguese-Brazilian, llast influence obtained under the during Luso-Brazilian invasion.


From Spanish tradition puchero, Uruguayan puchero differs not much from others of the region, it is like a rough soup where dry ingredients are separated from broth after cooked to make two separate preparations, a new soup that is first consumed, and later the soup all the other succulent ingredients are consumed with bread.

A typical puchero may contain all type of cuts with bones, skirt steak, ossobucco, bacon, cabbage, sweet corn, rape, onions, celery, carrot, sweet potato, squash and potatoes.

All these ingredients cutted in big pieces are cooked and served, with the broth are made different soups containing small noodle, rice or any cereal of predilection.

It is usual that each commensal make their puree on his dish with all the cooked vegetables that have been served, aligning it with oil if desired, and also to take off the caracu (bone marrow) from the ossobucco bone and spread it over pieced bread.

In fact mustards such as savora and La pasiva style, make a great condiment for puchero.

Guiso carrero[edit]

Sometimes is hard to say what is argentinian and what is uruguayan (history links people hardly), all that sayable is that guiso carrero is part of, not only cuisine, but, uruguayan folklore, its a succulent meal consistent of meat, butterbeans, and noodles.

Popular fonts can asure that it is a delicious straw containing potato, sweet potato, noodles, squash, onion, tomato, beans, and the best meat.

Guiso carrero is served with red wine, bread and grated cheese.


Delicious as it is, a dish from the spanish tradition of sopa de mondongo, also containing meat, chorizo, peachick, tomato and potato.

Mondongo is how is called tripe in spanish, it can seem nasty but once boiled it is exquisite.



  • Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte: brought by immigrants from Germany, consists of several layers of chocolate cake, with whipped cream and cherries between each layer (Selva Negra).
  • Chajá: a dessert with meringue, sponge cake, "Chajá" cream and peaches. It is created by a well known firm in the city of Paysandú.[6]
  • Génoise cake: Italian sponge cake served with buttercream frosting, brought by the Italian immigrants (Plantillas).
  • Frankfurter Kranz: shaped like a crown in a ring shape, it is filled with buttercream (and also possibly jam or jelly) and topped with caramel-covered brittle nuts, called Krokant. Brought by the German immigrants from Frankfurt am Main. Mainly eaten during holidays and very popular among Uruguayan desserts (Almendrado).
  • Prinzregententorte: a cake that consists of at least six thin layers of sponge cake interlaid with chocolate buttercream, the exterior is covered in a dark chocolate glaze. Brought by the German immigrants from Bavaria.
  • Isla Flotante, made with egg white and sugar, and served with zabaione.


  • Garrapiñada: a very popular treat, made with peanuts covered with cocoa, vanilla and sugar, resembling whole-nut pralines. It is sold in little bags in the downtown's streets.
  • Damasquitos: Jelly apricot candies.
  • Yemas acarameladas: Egg candy made mainly with egg yolks, vanilla and sugar. It has a spherical shape of about one inch diameter, and covered with a thin layer of hard, transparent, caramelized sugar coating.
  • Zapallo en almíbar: Squash in syrup.


  • Alfajores: longbread cookies, sandwiched together with Dulce de Leche (caramelized milk) or a fruit paste.
  • Yo-yo: Layered pastry filled with Dulce de Leche and coated with chocolate on the upper half. It is shaped like a yo-yo.
  • Churros: came from Spain, and are just like those, except some have fillings, like custard cream or Dulce de Leche.

Custards and ice creams[edit]

Homemade oven steamed Crème caramel
  • Dulce de leche: a sweet treat made of milk and sugar. It is used in many Uruguayan desserts.
  • Gelato: an Italian variant of ice-cream, flavored with fresh fruit purees, cocoa or nut pastes. If other ingredients such as chocolate flakes, nuts, small confections, cookies, or biscuits are added, they are added after the gelato is frozen. Gelato made with fresh fruit sugar, water, and without dairy ingredients is known as sorbet. Brought by the Italian immigrants.
  • Dulce de membrillo: a sweet quince jelly-like preserve.
  • Budín inglés: in English: "English pudding". A pudding with fruits and nuts, very popular in Christmas and New Year's Eve.
  • Flan: a kind of rich custard dessert with a layer of soft caramel on top. It can be served with Dulce de Leche too (Flan con dulce de leche).
  • Martín Fierro: a slice of cheese and a slice of quince preserve (dulce de membrillo).
  • Ricardito: Also as popular, this is a cream filled treat, covered with chocolate on a waffle base. It has different variants and it's sold in most kiosks in individual boxes.
  • Granita: a semi-frozen dessert of sugar, water, and flavorings originally brought from the Italian immigrants from Sicily.
  • Semifreddo: a class of semi-frozen desserts, typically ice-cream cakes, semi-frozen custards, and certain fruit tarts. It has the texture of frozen mousse because it is usually produced by uniting two equal parts of ice cream and whipped cream, brought by the Italian immigrants from Northern Italy.
  • Crème caramel: a rich custard dessert with a layer of soft caramel on top, as opposed to crème brûlée, which is custard with a hard caramel top. Brought by the immigrants from France and Spain.


A sweet crêpe opened up, with whipped cream and strawberry sauce.
Assorted bizcochos, a buttery flaky pastry
  • Bizcochos: buttery flaky pastry with many variants, the croissants being one of the most popular.
  • Strudel: the famous apple pie from Germany.
  • Pastafrola: an exquisite pie made of quince paste (dulce de membrillo).
  • Crêpes: brought by the immigrants from France, popular for a typical Uruguayan breakfast. When sweet, they can be eaten for dessert. They can be filled with various sweet toppings, often including Nutella, sugar (granulated or powdered), maple syrup, lemon juice, whipped cream, fruit spreads, custard, and sliced soft fruits. The most popular are Apple Crepes and Dulce de Leche Crepes.
  • Loukoumades: a kind of fried-dough pastry made of deep fried dough soaked in sugar syrup, honey or cinnamon, and sometimes sprinkled with sesame, brought by the Greek immigrants.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ es:Lengua a la vinagreta
  2. ^ elpais.com.uy. "Uruguay ocupa el 12° lugar en consumo de vino a nivel mundial". www.elpais.com.uy. Retrieved 2015-09-24. 
  3. ^ "Uruguay es el país con mayor consumo de yerba del mundo". Retrieved 2015-09-24. 
  4. ^ "CABA S.A.". www.caba.com.uy. Retrieved 2015-09-24. 
  5. ^ "Historia del Bar "LOS YUYOS"". www.barrioatahualpa.com. Retrieved 2015-09-24. 
  6. ^ "Products - :: Postre Chajá - Confitería Las Familias:: Postre Chajá". postrechaja.com. 

External links[edit]