Better yet, why not tell us your favourite Portuguese dessert?


Aletria translates to “angel hair pasta sweet”, and at first, I thought pasta in a dessert would be a rather strange combination but the use of vermicelli works beautifully.

This unique Christmas delight is always a firm favourite in our household, it is light and sweet and reminds me a little bit of rice pudding but in my opinion, is much better. The ingredients just fuse together and are so warming through the subtle cinnamon and lemon flavours. It is also fairly easy to make at home in comparison with other Portuguese desserts so I would recommend trying this at home.


Rabanadas, which are also called “golden slices” is the Portuguese take on French toast and are an absolutely delicious Christmas treat. This dessert was always on our table on Christmas Eve and takes me back to my childhood. It is bound to be a hit with children as it has plenty of brown sugar and cinnamon.

Rabanadas when done well and especially when fresh are incredible, I have noticed that they can be a bit on the dry side when packaged in supermarkets so it definitely pays to make them at home or get them from a good bakery.

To make Rabanadas at home, you need to use baguette bread, in which you can even use stale bread, whereby you soak the bread in milk and then in egg, and then you fry them. Following this, they are coated in sugar and cinnamon.


Azevias is a traditional Christmas dessert, said to have originally come from the Alentejo. It is a deep-fried treat also covered in sugar and cinnamon. This thin dough is shaped like a half moon and can vary with its fillings, which includes sweet chickpea puree, sweet potato and spaghetti squash. The sweet potato ones are divine if you are a fan of sweet potato. Although their fillings sound peculiar, they are surprisingly delicious so if you are feeling adventurous, I would definitely recommend trying these.


Filhós are a festive pastry, that is uniquely made during the Christmas season in Portugal and also Brazil. The name varies depending on the region, with some regions calling them ‘Sonhos’ but they are always deep fried and covered in cinnamon and sugar. Traditionally, the dough was pre-prepared and left to rise before going to Midnight Mass and then they were ready to fry when you got home and they were served with Port Wine. They are made with flour, yeast, and eggs and sometimes contain orange zest and pumpkin.

Bolo Rei (King’s Cake)

This list would not be complete without Bolo Rei which is one of the most traditional desserts in Portugal and is a symbol of Christmas and The Three Kings. Originally, Bolo Rei has a fava bean and a coin placed inside it. Tradition states that whoever ended up with the bean in their slice is expected to make the Bolo Rei the following year and whoever had the coin was said to have been blessed with good luck. As a child, I recall my mum explaining that this type of Bolo Rei was discontinued due to it being a choking hazard.

Bolo Rei is said to have appeared in Portugal in 1870 and most interestingly, “the recipe was brought from France by Balthazar Rodrigues Castanheiro Júnior.” It is definitely a cake you cannot miss in the supermarket or bakeries, as its candied fruits glisten like precious jewels on a crown-shaped looking bread, which contains dried fruits and nuts. It is definitely worth a try!


Following undertaking her university degree in English with American Literature in the UK, Cristina da Costa Brookes moved back to Portugal to pursue a career in Journalism, where she has worked at The Portugal News for 3 years. Cristina’s passion lies with Arts & Culture as well as sharing all important community-related news.

Cristina da Costa Brookes