10 Popular Chilean Dishes Worth Trying

This article has links to products and services we recommend, which we may make a commission from.

Chilean cuisine is diverse with traditional Chilean foods shaped by the terrain and climate.

All along the Pacific Ocean coastline, fish and seafood dominates.

As you approach the Andes mountain range and the Atacama desert, you’ll find unique Chilean foods from the area.

In addition to unique Chile food, the country is also the largest producer of Cabernet Sauvignon wines in South America.

To help your culinary travels to Chile, we highlight a few traditional specialties. These 10 Chilean dishes are the popular comfort foods, every visitor to Chile should try.

Authentic Food Quest Page_Break

1- Completo – Chilean Hot Dog

Completo the most popular chilean food by Authentic Food Quest
Completo Italiano hotdog with fresh and delicious trimmings

The Completo (Spanish for “complete” or “total”) is a hot dog variation eaten in Chile. After seeing it at practically every street corner, we knew we had to try it. It’s a huge hot dog (bigger than American ones) with all kinds of trimmings: mayonnaise, tomatoes, onions, pickles, sauerkraut, etc. 

While this is one of the most popular Chilean foods, an equally popular variation is the Italiano

This is the same hotdog but with fewer trimmings – mashed avocado, tomatoes and mayonnaise.  We were tempted by this option and tried it at the farmers market.  

While it was surprising to have a hotdog with mayonnaise, it was actually quite delicious. The hot dog was tasty, the bread was lightly toasted and the tomatoes and avocado were fresh.

It’s not surprising that it is such a popular common Chilean dish!

2- Pebre – Chilean Salsa

Pebre one of the most popular Chilean foods by Authentic Food Quest
Pebre one of the most popular Chilean foods

You will find pebre on any respectable restaurant table. It looks like salsa you would typically find at a Mexican restaurant in the U.S., but it tastes nothing like it. It is a seasoning made with tomatoes at the base and topped off with chopped onions, chili, chives, garlic, coriander, oil and vinegar. 

It is usually served in a little clay dish and has a nice spicy bite. It is normally served with warm bread. We tried several versions and the recipe and ingredients change regularly based on the chef and regional Chilean cuisine. Below are some ways we tried this traditional Chilean food.

Pebre one of the most popular Chilean foods by Authentic Food Quest
Pebre with Pan Amasado or warm bread

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE: Pebre is a delicious sauce that goes on almost everything. To try it for yourself and make pebre at home, check out our simple pebre recipe with video and add something new to your dinner table in under 15 minutes.

3- Chilean Empanadas

Chilean empanadas by Authentic Food Quest
Typical chilean empanada: empanada de Pino a la horno

A favorite snack food in Chile, these baked pies or empanadas are available pretty much everywhere. You will not miss them.

In Chile the most traditional empanada filling is called “pino.” These empanadas de pino are made of a mixture of minced meat, onions, raisins, black olives and hard boiled eggs. 

Having discovered Argentina through empanadas, we were quite eager to experience the Chilean version. The empanadas in the two countries are completely different. The most obvious difference is the size. 

In Chilean cuisine, the empanadas are huge. Almost double the size you find in Argentina. The second difference is the shape. In Argentina the empanadas are half-moon shaped, while in Chile they are squared off.

Empanadas are typically cooked “al horno”, which means baked in a wood burning oven, or deep fried.

fried seafood Chilean Empanada by AuthenticFoodQuest
Fried seafood Chilean empanada

We tried several empanadas as a street food in different cities. We enjoyed the traditional empanadas de pino which we had “al horno.” We found the seafood or mariscos empanadas absolutely delicious. These ones were typically fried. 

And finally, we savored the vegetarian or verdura options as well. All in all, don’t expect them to be anything like the ones you would find in Argentina, but they are deserving in their own right.

RELATED: Discovering Argentina through its emblematic empanadas

4- Porotos Granados – Beans Stew A Surprising Chilean Food For The Summer

Porotos Granados popular Chilean dishes by authentic food quest
Chilean beans stew or porotos granados

Porotos Granados is a traditional Summer dish made when the ingredients are fresh and in season. The main ingredients are beans, mashed corn, onions, pumpkin, garlic, tomatoes and basil. 

It is a time consuming meal to make as beans are soaked overnight and may not be easy to find. We had the opportunity to have it with our Airbnb host in Talca (South of Santiago) who made it especially for us.  

It is a thick delicious stew that we really enjoyed. Everything tasted fresh, though it’s a little counterintuitive to eat this hot stew on a hot Summer day. 

Nevertheless, when you find yourself in Chile in the Summer, go for the beans, you will not regret it.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: Chile is also known for its red wines from Maipo Valley and its white wines from Casablanca valley. Read more about wines in Chile and explore the opportunity to tour wineries near Santiago.

5- Pastel de Choclo y Humitas – Steamed Corn and Beef Casserole 

Humitas Chilean food by authentic food quest
Humitas a Chilean corn dish

Pastel de Choclo and Humitas are both corn based Chilean dishes. We saw these Chilean meals all over in Santiago and especially at the farmers markets. 

Both Claire and I are not big fans of corn. Knowing that these traditional Chilean specialities are made with corn, we decided to try the Pastel de Choclo and skipped the Humitas.

Pastel de Choclo is like a corn pie made with sweet corn or choclo the quechua word for “tender corn” or new corn of the season. 

Its filling is called pino, like the one used in empanadas, and it has garlic, onion, minced meat, hard boiled eggs and olives. We tasted the version that included boiled chicken.

Popular Chilean dishes pastel de Choclo
Pastel de choclo typical Chilean corn based dish

We ordered the dish from the market to eat at home for dinner and eagerly anticipated the meal. Given that we are not big fans of corn, let alone sweet corn, so we honestly did not enjoy the dish at all. 

The combination of the sweet corn and salty ingredients, plus the meat and chicken did not make for a delicious experience. 

However given that Pastel de Choclo and Humitas are traditional Chilean dishes we recommend that you at least try one of them or the both of them.

6- Churrasco and Chacarero – Chilean Steak Sandwiches 

Churrasco and Chacarero popular chilean dishes by Authentic Food Quest
Churrasco and Chacarero

Churrasco and Chacarero are traditional Chilean steak sandwiches that are served all day long. These sandwiches come with the same base ingredients.

There is a thin slice of sirloin steak called churrasco cooked a la plancha and two slices of flat bread called pan amasado.

The Churrasco sandwich comes in different options. Either with avocado (con palta), with tomatoes (con tomates), or completo which means with the full ingredients: tomatoes, avocado, and mayonnaise.

The Chacarero, on the other hand, comes with green beans, tomatoes, and aji verde or green pepper.

Churrasco sandwich typical Chileans food by Authentic Food Quest
Churrasco sandwich with avocado or palta

We had Churrasco sandwich and Churrasco meal as a dish a few times on the road and at corner restaurants.  We didn’t get the chance to try the Chacarero. 

We really enjoyed the Churrasco sandwich for its freshness and its flavorful ingredients. The thin slice of steak is delicious and flavorful.

The bread is not too doughy and very tasty. The avocado is fresh and works really well with the steak. 

7- Sopapillas – Pumpkin fritters A Popular Chilean Street Food

Chilean popular dishes Sopapillas with pebre
Sopaipillas served with the pebre sauce

Sopapillas are simple flat breads that are fried. They are made from a mixture of pumpkins, butter and flour, flattened into circles. They are a traditional street food and are found all over the country. 

Sopapillas are a versatile snack that can be eaten sweet or savory.  The most typical way we saw it eaten was savory. It was usually at the end of the day topped with either pebre or mustard and ketchup.

Sopapilla street food in Santiago Chile by Authentic Food Quest
Sopapilla street stand in Santiago

We tried the sopapillas with pebre and immediately fell in love with them. The pumpkin flour is filling and gives them a really unique taste.

Together with the pebre, this is a perfect pair that must be experienced.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE: Consider a Chilean pisco sour to go with your Chilean snacks. Check our simple and easy to make Chilean pisco sour recipe. 

8- Lomo a La Pobre – Poor Man’s Steak

Lomo a la pobre one of the most popular chilean dishes AuthenticFoodQuest
Lomo a la pobre

Many Chilean dishes carry the term a la pobre which literally means “of the poor”. It is not clear where the name comes from. 

Today the term a la pobre indicates a dish made with fried eggs. The lomo a la pobre consists of a cut of beef tenderloin with fries, a fried egg, and onions.

It is sometimes called bife a la pobre. There are several versions of the dish such as: lomito a la pobre (made with pork meat), pollo a la pobre (made with chicken meat) or churrasco a la pobre (made with thin slice of sirloin).

Lomo a la parilla one of the most popular chilean dishes Authentic Food Quest
Lomo a la parilla

Although we tried lomo at a parilla (BBQ restaurant) in Talca, we refrained from trying the lomo a la pobre for its high calories and poor nutritious content. 

It is very similar to the Chivito that we relished in Uruguay. One thing we would say though is that overall in Chile, the potatoes even fried are delicious and flavorful. 

The red meat is also very tasty. All in all not a bad option if you want to try a popular Chilean dish.

9- Cazuela de Vacuno – Beef Stew or Cazuela de Mariscos – Seafood Stew

Cazuela Vacuno a popular Chilean dish by Authentic Food Quest
Cazuela vacuno or Chilean beef stew

Cazuelas are typically soups or stews in Chilean cuisine. It is home-cooked nourishing, inexpensive, everyday comfort food. Cazuela or stews are part of the national Chilean spirit. 

These Chilean dishes are simple and come in many variations. They start with beef, pork, lamb or chicken (preferably with bone and meat) and are simmered in water or broth with garlic, onion, oregano, paprika. 

When tender, seasonal vegetables are added. This includes potatoes, corn on the cob, pumpkins, onions and other vegetables. 

The mariscos or seafood cazuelas are just as simple. Made with assorted seafood; clams, shrimps, oysters and then cooked with seasonal vegetables.

Chilean food Cazuela de Mariscos by Authentic Food Quest
Cazuela de mariscos or Chilean seafood stew

We tried both the beef (vacuno) and seafood (marisco) cazuelas and really enjoyed them both.  

We relished the simplicity of these traditional dishes. Just the meat, poultry or fish and fresh vegetables in rich flavors. Simple and delicious. 

Be aware that you may not always find cazuelas at elegant restaurants, but they will be on every menu at corner restaurants or cafes. 

The cazuelas are such traditional meals, try them out and you will not be disappointed.

READ MORE: Discovering Chilean Seafood At The Mercado Central Santiago

10- Chorrillana – One of the Most Popular Chilean Dishes

Chorillana (photo credit: maru14) one of the most popular Chilean dishes Authentic Food Quest
Chorillana (photo credit: maru14)

This traditional Chilean meal consists of a large plate of sliced beef with french fries covered with either scrambled or fried eggs and fried onions. 

It is a typical Chilean dish from Valparaiso, and many say “it is not to be missed”.  It is not fancy or exotic and is traditionally served with beers. The servings are huge and it is meant to be shared.

To be honest, this is one of the typical Chilean dishes that did not tempt us. This huge plate of fries topped with eggs and onions is not the most inviting part of Chilean cuisine.

There was nothing particularly healthy about it and the high calories were off-putting. While we are very familiar with all of these ingredients separately – fries, onions and eggs we didn’t feel the need to try them together.

Authentic Food Quest Page_Break

In Summary

Chile has a lot to offer in terms of food and wine. If you’ve never considered Chilean food before, this is an invitation to put Chilean cuisine on your radar.

Here we have highlighted 10 popular Chilean dishes that we saw everywhere including those we tried.

Note, that this is not an exhaustive list, there are other traditional dishes that are worth exploring as well. 

Regardless of which part of Chile you visit, give the local Chilean cuisine a chance. 

Don’t forget to try the local Chilean drinks and amazing red wines as well.

Explore Chilean foods and drinks like a local and discover an exceptionally tasty country.

In the comments below, please tell us what Chile foods intrigued you the most.

Savor The Adventure!

Love Chilean Food? Pin it!

Pinterest 10 Popular Chilean foods and Dishes Authentic Food Quest

44 comments

  1. Leaving the US for Santiago, we decided that our last meal would be a hot dog, anticipating that we wouldn’t see one for a number of years. We arrived in Santiago and discovered completos. Now that is the only way I eat a ‘hot dog”. Sorry you didn’t enjoy the Pastel de Choclo. The choclo must have a crusty top to which one adds salt or sugar. Pomaire, a must visit small village outside of Santiago, combines Pastel with pottery. When we visited we left with the pottery that the pastel was served in. Of course, it must be accompanied by a Pisco Sour!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Chris for the tip about visiting Pomaire. A must on our next visit. Yes, the completos..such much deliciousness filled in a bun. The avocado being the best part. With the all present pisco sour to wash everything down. Glad you enjoyed yourselves in Santiago. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  2. This is such a great reading for me as I’m a traveler and I want to try different foods and this article helps me a lot to know more about different popular dishes to try. Thank you for this informative blog.

    Reply
  3. Wow, this is so amazing and delicious dishes ideas you are sharing with us. I really love to try different dishes. A great enjoyable reading for me, thank you for sharing this wonderful article.

    Reply
  4. Very thorough article! Perhaps try wording it differently so that what was not ”enjoyed” by the two of you does not ruin or scare off those who want to explore the cuisine.

    ??‍♀️

    – Love, a Chilean

    Reply
  5. What gets me is that as food writers you won’t try some food dishes because of high calories, lack of courage or not crazy about the ingredients. Taking a couple of bites of a dish isn’t going to make you fat.
    That being said, you made up a nice list. I would most definitely try our desserts next time around.

    Reply
    • We actually do try all the local specialties when we travel 🙂 We put our prejudices aside and try what is local and popular. That said, you are right, we are up for a dessert list the next time around. Any recommendations?

      Reply
  6. This is a very cute and unique article, I like the honesty of your descriptions. The suggestions in the comments above are excellent. I know that sometimes it is difficult to try something new or rare(Different ingredients put together). If I may suggest for your next trip to go more in depth and have a more open mind on trying a bite or sip at least of something that you have not try(remember this is your chance), As Anthony Bourdain did. I understand that some dishes or drinks might be similar to of the other countries but it does not mean it smell and taste the same. I would have a more open awareness and perhaps looking at other foods from other countries with less “Cultural Glasses on”, (Be open to try and adapt yourself to that society). Many dishes were made or originated under the necessity to eat, nutritious values were secondary due their history on how they became to be, then became part of the culture. I completely understand the matter of safety and precociousness, when it comes to eat, drink anything on the streets, homes or restaurants at other countries besides the regulations of the FDA (Many countries have a similar department) of the USA. Go out, explore and enjoy. Thank you for listening to my opinion.

    Reply
  7. Fun article…
    I too am not the biggest fan of the sweet corn/ savory filling in Pastel de Choclo even though I love corn. I am married to a Chileno and have enjoyed exploring Chilean recipes. I found and have made a version of Pastel de Choclo called Pastel de Papas .
    It replaces the corn topping with a mashed potato topping . Fantastic! Similar to Shepard’s Pie, but much tastier in my opinion.

    Reply
  8. Hi! Just wanted to say that the dishes are made with squash not pumpkin. The squash can be butternut or acorn. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone make it with pumpkin ? not sure it would have the same consistency. So sad you didn’t like the pastel de choclo (maybe it wasn’t well made?) it’s one of my favs ? Did you try calzones rotos? Churros? Chilenitos? Clearly I have a sweet tooth, but most Chilenos do as you should have seen by the ridiculous amount (and flavour range) of ice cream and popsicles available lol. I enjoyed reading your list of foods, it made me realize I haven’t made my kids Porotos granados yet ☺️
    P.S. did you try the Ceviche de Reineta? It’s sooo good!

    Reply
    • Thanks Paola for your feedback. We always love to hear from locals and their perspective. You are right, maybe the pastel de choclo could have been better. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the courage to try it again. Yes, ceviche from reineta fish was one of our absolute favorites. Most of the sweets we enjoyed were from fresh fruits. What an amazing variety in Chile. The ice cream especially lucuma ice cream was heavenly. Appreciate the note about the squash 🙂 We enjoyed porotos granados and hope your kids will like it as well. Cheers.

      Reply
  9. Hi!
    great article! thanks for spending the chilean food gospel 😉
    A lo pobre comes from “(steak) au poivre”, or pepper steak.

    Cheers!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much Jose. We really enjoyed discovering Chilean food and we hope this article inspires travelers to eat more of the local food on their travels. Thanks for the note about a lo pobre. That’s good to know. Cheers.

      Reply
  10. We are heading to South America next year so we are starting our planning. So thought this might be one place to start with Chilean food. Good to know that we will be able to get fresh seafood along the coast. I might be tempted with the Italiano version of a completo. I would definitely want to try a Pastel de Choclo. Sweet corn is a favourite of mine. But there will be no chili sauce on anything we eat! We hope we can order with no chili.

    Reply
    • So glad you’ve already noted some dishes you want to try for your trip to Chile. Not to worry, the food is not chili at all, and starting with a complete is a great place to begin. Thanks for stopping by Linda.

      Reply
    • Completely agree Marghe, I do wish there Chilean restaurants were more popular outside of Chile. The completo sandwich is as big as a large hotdog. It’s all the toppings which make it seem bigger than it is. Delicious!!! Thanks for your comments.

      Reply
  11. Really interesting to see what kind of food is eaten in different parts of the world, and not just in the fancy restaurants. Those hot dogs looked impressive!

    Reply
    • Thanks Elissa, it is indeed fascinating to see the different dishes including what the locals eat. We hope to create awareness and inspire people to travel through food. Delicious hot dogs especially when topped with fresh avocado 🙂 Thanks for your comments.

      Reply
  12. I told you this last time, but I need to travel more.
    I love Chilean food. I live in San Francisco and there are a few Chilean places that I frequent here. I tried my hand at empanadas and loveeeedd them, but I need to either learn to make these other dishes or go to Chile! 😛
    Cheers,
    Krysten

    Reply
    • That’s wonderful Krysten that you are close to Chilean restaurants. Do they serve these popular foods in San Francisco? Curious, how they cater to the American market vs. what is authentically in Chile. Hope you get to Chile or South America soon.Thanks for your comments.

      Reply
  13. I’ll have the Pastel de Choclo and Humitas and the Completo please! 🙂
    You guys are seriously eating some crazy delicious goodness, looking forward to see what the sweet treats entail. Happy travels!

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comments. Yes, the empanadas are indeed all different and the best part is discovering the differences. Never had the Caribbean ones. Would love to try those as well. I can absolutely vouch for the Chilean ones. Delicious…you will not be disappointed:)

      Reply
  14. Hi there girls, nice food article, …..you should try something sweet next time you come: mote con huesillo, go for it at El Copihue ( street stands are widely found esp. In summertime)
    I’ d like to say the right name is ( churrasco) a lo pobre , with an “o”
    Greetings from Santiago??

    Reply
    • Hi Marcela, Thanks for your feedback on the post. The change has been noted:) Thank you. We tried the mote con huesillo and really liked it. We will be writing more about Chilean drinks in a later post where we will feature all the unique drinks we have tasted. Thanks for your insights and feel free to let us know what else you recommend we should try. Follow our adventure and keep in touch.

      Reply

Leave a Comment

Post a Comment

We love to hear from you, so tell us what you think.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.