5 Authentic Ways You Want to Eat Bacalhau in Portugal

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Bacalhau or Portuguese cod fish took us by surprise in Portugal. The simplicity of the dish, the multiple variations and cooking preparation styles and the rich flavors made it land on our personal list of “top 100 authentic food experiences to have before I die.”

The Portuguese are obsessed with Bacalhau. This traditional food is one of Portugal’s most treasured dishes.

There are a variety of Portuguese bacalhau dishes. You can have it baked, barbecued, canned, with potatoes, with rice, and more. There are over 365 ways of preparing bacalhau, and some say over 1,000 ways of serving it.

While in Portugal, we eagerly ate our way through many different Portuguese cod fish dishes. Even though we didn’t eat bacalhau prepared in 365 different ways, we ate enough to feed our ravenous appetites.

Here are our top 5 authentic ways to eat cod fish or bacalhau in Portugal.

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What is Bacalhau Portugal Codfish

Bacalhau Codfish Eat Bacalhau in Portugal Authentic Food Quest
Salted Portuguese codfish or bacalhau at a local supermarket in Porto

Bacalhau is cod fish in English. It is one of Portugal’s most treasured dishes and you’ll find it everywhere you go.

One thing to note is that Portuguese cod fish is typically dried and salted. You’ll not find it amongst the fresh fish, but stacked nearby in piles.

One of the things that surprised us the most was learning the origins of bacalhau. Surprisingly, bacalhau is not native to the coastline of Portugal. 

Bacalhau is imported from Newfoundland or Norway. It has been an integral part of Portuguese cuisine since the 16th century, when Portuguese fishermen first brought it back from Newfoundland.

On your travels to Portugal, order bacalhau for either lunch or dinner. Sample the different preparation styles and find the one you like. Try it fried, baked or however it is served and savor the flavors of Portugal’s national dish.

1 – Bacalhau a Bras – Salted Portuguese Codfish, Eggs & Potatoes

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Bacalhau a bras cooked with asparagus and olives

Bacalhau à Brás is one of Portugal’s most popular dishes and one of our favorite Portuguese bacalhau dishes. What’s wonderful about this dish is its simplicity and delightful flavors.

The dish consists of a combination of bacalhau pieces mixed together with potatoes, eggs, onions, olives, chopped parsley and garlic. 

The origin of the recipe is uncertain. It is said to have originated in the Bairro Alto neighborhood of Lisbon, by a tavern owner named Braz. Due to the spelling of the name, the dish is also sometimes referred to as Bacalhau à Braz.

We had Bacalhau a Bras several times at different restaurants and even learned how to make it at our Airbnb. 

Our favorite Bacalhau a Bras dish was in Sintra at Incomum Restaurant. 

Chef Luis Santos, at Incomum puts a creative spin on the dish with the addition of delicious vegetables and with eggs that are lightly battered and fried.

So exquisite, you’ll gladly make the 45 minute trip to Sintra from Lisbon, just for chef Santo’s creative touch.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST BACALHAU RECIPE: Bacalhau à Brás is a popular and simple salted cod fish dish to make at home.  We fell in love with it in Portugal and even learned how to make it. Get the recipe here How To Make Bacalhau a Bras Recipe.

Where To Eat The Best Bacalhau à Brás in Sintra

Incomun Restaurant

Address: R. Dr. Alfredo da Costa 22, Sintra

Hours: Everyday from 12:00 pm to 11:00 pm except Saturdays 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm

Price: €15.50 euros

Pro Tip: The restaurant can get busy. We recommend making reservations in advance

RELATED: Heading to Sintra? Read our article How To Eat Your Way in Sintra in One Day

2 – Bacalhau com Natas – Salted Portuguese Cod fish with Cream

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Creative and delicious Bacalhau com Natas dish

A lot of Portuguese dishes are prepared with olive oil or simply grilled. However, this Portuguese cod fish dish is made with cream.

There are several variations of this salted Portuguese cod fish with cream dish. Though at the core, they all involve cooking Portuguese codfish with potatoes, onions and cream. 

At the Time Out market in Lisbon, you eat popular Portuguese food made by the best chefs in town. This is the case at Cozinha da Felicidade

Cozinha da Felicidade literally means “Kitchen of Happiness” and is named after the chef, Susana Felicidade. She prepares a tasty adaptation of the Bacalhau com Natas with sweet potato chips and olive dust. 

Beautifully prepared, the bacalhau is divine. The codfish is really fresh and the flesh is tender and soft. The flavorful cream enhanced with the olive dust just melts in the mouth. 

This is a must try if you are looking for an original way to eat bacalhau com nata in Portugal.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: If you want to try making more Portuguese bacalhau dishes at home, get this Taste Portugal cookbook. Featuring 101 easy Portuguese dishes, learn how to taste Portugal, one bite at a time. Get the Taste Portugal Cookbook.

Where to Eat The Best Bacalhau com Natas in Lisbon

Time out Market in Lisbon FoodTour_AuthenticFoodQuest
You can find lots of Portuguese bacalhau dishes at the trendy Time Out Market

Cozinha da Felicidade

Address: Time Out Market, Av. 24 de Julho 49, Lisboa

Hours: Open everyday, 10:00 am to 12:00 am

Price: €10.90 euros

3- Pasteis de Bacalhau or Bolinhos de Bacalhau – Salted Cod Fish Cakes

Pasteis de Bacalhau Eat Bacalhau Portugal Authentic Food Quest
Tempting pasteis de bacalhau or bolinhos de bacalhau

Pasteis de Bacalhau or codfish cakes are also called bolinhos de bacalhau in northern Portugal. This is one of the most popular ways to eat bacalhau in Portugal.

These delicious salted cod cakes are made with mashed potatoes, codfish, eggs, parsley and onion. Shaped with two spoons, they are deep fried before being served hot as an appetizer. You can also find them as a main dish served with rice, salad and olives.

With their popularity, it is easy to find pasteis de bacalhau all over Portugal. You will find this delicious Portuguese bacalhau snack in cafes, restaurants and pastelerias or Portuguese bakeries.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: One of the best ways to explore the variety of Portuguese bacalhau dishes is to take a food tour. Your local Portuguese guide will take you to the best local eateries for authentic bacalhau Portugal dishes. Read our review of the best Lisbon food tours to take.

Where to Eat The Best Pasteis de Bacalhau or Bolinhos de Bacalhau

Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau bolinho de bacalhau by Authentic Food Quest
Making Pastel de Bacalhau in front of your eyes with a smile!

Although deemed a tourist trap bacalhau purists, Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau offers innovative versions of Pasteis de Bacalhau. This concept store has reinvented the way Portuguese bacalhau codfish cakes are made.

They combine the traditional codfish cake with the famous Serra da Estrela Portuguese cheese into one delicious Pastel de Bacalhau. 

This version of Pastel de Bacalhau is about twice the size of a typical Pastel de Bacalhau and at €4 euros, it is also quadruple the price.

Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau has two locations. The first location opened in Lisbon and they now have a second location in Porto.

We tried the location in Porto, where, for €9 euros, you get the pastel de bacalhau and a glass of white Porto wine.

Pastel de Bacalhau Eat Bacalhau in Portugal Authentic Food Quest
Pastel de Bacalhau filled with Portuguese cheese and served with white Porto wine

We loved the combination of the bacalhau and Port wine. For us, it was the perfect combination. First, you bite into the codfish and taste the intense flavors of the melted Serra da Estrela cheese. And then take a delightful sip of Porto white wine for a perfect finish.

While more expensive than traditional pasteis de bacalhau, the experience at Casa Portuguesa is worth it.

Where to Eat Pasteis de Bacalhau in Lisbon

Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau 

Address: R. Augusta 106, 1100-053 Lisbon

Hours: Open every day, 10:00 am to 10:00 pm 

Price: €4 euros or €9 with a glass of Madeira wine

Where to Eat The Best Pasteis de Bacalhau in Porto

Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau 

Address: R. Campo dos Mártires da Pátria 108, 4050-36, Porto

Hours: Open every day, 10:00 am to 8:00 pm

Price: €4 euros or €9 euros with a glass of white Porto

4- Bacalhau Assado Na Brasa com Batata a Murro  – Roasted Portuguese Codfish with Potatoes

Bacalhau food in Portugal Authentic Food Quest
Huge serving of Portuguese cod fish prepared Assado Na Brasa com Batata a Murro

This modest Portuguese cod fish dish exceeds expectations. It is a simple bacalhau Portugal dish that consists of roasted codfish with potatoes.

The secret to this exquisite dish, is the use of high quality ingredients. The Portuguese cod fish needs to be of the finest quality. Equally important is the use of the best Portuguese olive oil available. 

Typically, the Portuguese cod fish is seasoned with salt, garlic, onions, vinegar and generously sprinkled with quality Portuguese olive oil. 

Along with the cod fish, the dish is accompanied with roasted potatoes for a classic traditional Portuguese bacalhau dish.

Where to Eat Bacalhau Assado Na Brasa com Batata a Murro in Lisbon

Carvoaria Jacto Restaurant Eat Bacalhau in Portugal Lisbon restaurant where locals eat Authentic Food Quest
Carvoaria Jacto Restaurant, a Lisbon restaurant where locals eat

After eating this dish a number of times and noting the variations in quality, we found our favorite Lisbon restaurant.

Carvoaria Jacto Restaurant, a local Lisbon restaurant in the non touristy neighborhood of Penha de França offers this dish.

The portions of bacalhau assado brasa com batata a murro dish are massive. Go hungry or plan to share. 

What makes this dish exceptional is the use of high quality products. The bacalhau is perfectly grilled.When drizzled with olive oil and paired with the delicious potatoes, you taste the true essence of traditional Portuguese food.

Carvoaria Jacto Restaurant

Address: Rua Maria Andrade 6 B, Lisboa

Hours: Open; Monday – Saturday, 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Price:  €14.50 euros for the bacalhau dish and you’ll also find amazing steaks and delicious Portuguese wines

5 – Pataniscas de Bacalhau – Salted Portuguese Cod Fish Fritters

Cod fritters for traditional Bacalhau dishes in Portugal Authentic Food Quest
Serving of Pataniscas de Bacalhau or cod fritters with a glass of vinho verde

Pataniscas de Bacalhau are delicious cod fish fritters. This is another version of deep fried bacalhau in Portugal 

The codfish fritters are made with eggs, flour, Portuguese codfish, eggs, parsley and onion and mixed together.

The codfish fritters are deep fried before serving them hot as an appetizer or as a main dish with rice.

We enjoyed pataniscas de bacalhau or salted Portuguese cod fish fritter at Flagrante Delitro.

The cod fish fritters were served in a soupy rice arroz de feijao, made the Portuguese way. 

At Flagrante Delitro, you get to taste Pataniscas de Bacalhau with the typical soupy rice, arroz de feijao, made the Portuguese way. 

The cod fish fritters are fresh, lightly fried and quite tasty. When served with the rice, it makes for a comforting Portuguese dish.

Where to Eat Pataniscas de Bacalhau in Lisbon

Casa Fernando Pessoa best bacalhau in Lisbon by Authentic Food Quest
Casa Fernando Pessoa in Lisbon

Flagrante Delitro is part of Casa de Fernando Pessoa. This cultural house is dedicated to the famous Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa.

The name Flagrante Delitro is inspired by a famous photo showing the poet drinking wine while working. He sent this photo to his beloved with the dedication “in flagrante delitro”. This is a play on words with the expression ‘caught in the act’ – “flagrante delito”.

Having cod fish fritters at Casa de Fernando Pessoa is a wonderful way to immerse yourself into Portuguese food culture.

Flagrante Delitro Restaurante

Address: Casa Fernando Pessoa, R. Coelho da Rocha 18, Lisboa

Hours: Open everyday; 10:00 am to 11:00 pm; Closed on Sunday

Price: €7.5 euros

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In Summary

There are so many ways to enjoy bacalhau Portugal, depending on region, tradition, and household. As the Portuguese would say “there are more than 365 ways to cook bacalhau, one for every day of the year.

With these 5 Portuguese bacalhau dishes, you’ll eat the best local Portuguese cod fish dishes.  Even if codfish may not be your favorite dish, you’ll certainly find a version to satisfy your curiosity and appetite.

If you want to try making Portuguese bacalhau dishes at home, get this Taste Portugal cookbook. Featuring 101 easy Portuguese dishes, learn how to taste Portugal, one bite at a time.

Get the Taste Portugal Cookbook

How about you? What is your favorite way to eat Portuguese cod fish? Tell us in the comments below.

Savor The Adventure!

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60 thoughts on “5 Authentic Ways You Want to Eat Bacalhau in Portugal”

  1. Thats expensive because its for tourists. In my local, simple restaurant in local area similar to those dishes but yours are too fancy and mine is normal and simple dishes.. Not tourists and those costs only 5.50 euro include drinks and café. A bread is free if you want it. CHEAP and money wise spending. 😀

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  2. I just came back from Madeira Island in Portugal. I didn’t know anything about Portuguese dishes before my trip, but now I am in love with the food. I am sure I haven’t tried any dishes you mentioned but I can confirm that all the fish dishes I had there were so amazing

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  3. I love fish but haven’t tasted codfish yet. The markets here don’t sell them. The various preparations you mentioned makes me curious. I liked the ambience of the places and the food presentations.

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  4. I wouldn’t have thought anything with the base of salted cod would be all that good. I mean, I do like fish, and I’m okay with cod, but salted cod sounds a bit strong. Fun to see the photos, though, and hear the descriptions of the different ways it can be prepared. I’d definitely be willing to give them all a try. Looks like the Bolinhos de Bacalhau would make a great meal on the go!

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  5. When we visited Portugal, we had so much great food. We expected to find cod fish everywhere. And were surprised when we did not. Or found it to be not worth ordering. So many of the salted cod fish cakes missed the mark for us. But maybe we did not try enough of the 365 ways that bacalhau can be prepared! Maybe had we made it to Sintra we could have tried the creative touch offered by chef Luis Santos!

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  6. I did not know about Bacalhau before. Thanks for introducing something very new to me. I guess if I were be eating fish, I would have preferred roasted salted codfish with potatoes among all the 5 ways you have listed here.

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  7. Funny enough, I actually didn’t like cod (thanks to my Italian grandmother’s way of preparing it, haha) before going to Portugal! But the Pasteis de Bacalhau from Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau definitely changed my mind. Just looking at your photo has me salivating!!

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  8. I been to Portugal three times and never tried bacalhau and now I want some! Now here’s a question, honest and deep down…what wine would you have with it? I love Portugese wines (and beers and port) and as I am hoping to be back in Porto soon, I would like to know what you recommend so I can try 🙂

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  9. I tried bolinhos de bacalhau when I was in Lisbon last year and loved them. I knew that the Portuguese loved bacalhau but I didn’t realise quite how many ways there are to serve it! As for the Time Out Market, I’d go back to Lisbon just to eat here again, it’s amazing isn’t it?

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    • That’s awesome to hear you loved the bolinhos de bacalhau. That was also one of our favorite ways of eating them as well. So much good everywhere and the Time Out Market is an experience. Thank, Katja for stopping by.

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  10. I am not too familiar with codfish, but I really do love eating fish, so I am sure I would just love it! All of the food looks delicious here! I would so be down to try all 5 ways of preparation <3

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    • Thanks Alli for stopping by. As a fish lover you would love cod fish. It’s light and delicate and incredibly delicious, particularly with all the preparation styles. Look for it the next time you order fish 🙂 Cheers.

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  11. Interesting that it’s not native to the Portugese coastline though overtime has become the country’s traditional dish. Bacalhau à Brás does sound like it would be a really lovely dish – I love the simplicity of it. Will have to keep a mental note of Incomun Restaurant for my next trip. That said, Bacalhau com Natas looks really good too, and I could totally go for some Pataniscas de Bacalhau right about now! So interesting that there are so many different takes on a national dish. Might have to try all five and report back on which one I enjoyed the most 😀 Thanks for the tips!

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    • You are most welcome, Meg. The simplicity and deliciousness of this dish is amazing. Are you traveling to Portugal soon? Hope you get a chance to try them all and then some. Please do let us know what you think!! Cheers and thanks for stopping by!

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  12. I’m heading to Portugal next week and I’m always excited to dive into new cuisine. I’m not a huge fan of fishy-tasting-fish. Would you say the codfish is super fishy-flavored. I think the fritters or fish cakes piqued my interest the most.

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  13. How did I not have this when I was in Portugal???!! We were only there for a day but now I’m going to have to go back because it looks delicious! I definitely want to try the roasted codfish with potatoes. YUM!

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  14. Over 365 different ways to prepare it? Who knew! That pastel with cheese and bacalhau and porto wine looks so amazing. I’ve never tried codfish before and am not a huge seafood person, but these dishes all look pretty appealing!

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  15. I never knew how deeply seeded Bacalhau was in Portuguese cuisine. I will have to try it when I visit. An interesting geometric fact with the pastels. If they are twice the radius and 4 times the cost, it still might be a good deal. The volume of a sphere goes up by the cube of the radius so you might be getting a lot more food.

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    • You are indeed getting a lot more with the larger size bacalhau pastel. But do keep in mind it is also stuffed with local cheese. The next time you are in Portugal be sure to explore the range of preparation styles. Quite amazing!!

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  16. 365 ways of preparing it, perfect for every day of the year! As a huge fan of cod, I am going to have to visit Portugal to try some authentic Bacalhau. I had never even heard of it, so thank you for sharing. The history and dinner at Flagrante Delitro sounds like my kind of meal. Maybe I can get my wife to get a recipe and make some for me, since I won’t be able to visit Portugal anytime soon. Problem is they all looked so yummy I will have to get her to make at least a few of the dishes you talked about!

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  17. I heard about Bacalhau when I was in Portugal, but I had no idea there were that MANY ways – the codfish cake with the wine sounds like a really good combination, I want to try it now!

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    • We were constantly amazed every time we learned about a new way of preparing bacalhau. The Portuguese are quite inventive. The bacalhau with cheese and wine is quite tasty, though not traditional. If you can, sample a variety preparation styles and be prepared to be amazed. Thanks for stopping by!

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    • Thanks Maike, so glad you liked the article. Indeed, the Time Out market is amazing. Did you make it to the vegetable market on the other side? The bacalhau at the Time Out market is pretty good. Don’t miss it next time 🙂

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  18. It is always so amazing to know about different food culture. 1000 varieties, man, they have great techniques. Thanks for sharing. I learnt something new today ?

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    • That’s great to hear Hiral. Our goal with Authentic Food Quest is to inspire people to travel through the local foods. Glad this article opened you up to a new perspective regarding bacalhau. Appreciate your feedback and thanks for stopping by.

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  19. You hit me hard with this post! I am from Puerto Rico and grew up eating bacalhau. I live in California now and cannot even think about getting some codfish because it is super expensive in here. In Puerto Rico it is prepared in stews, combined with rice, in salads (with avocado, tomatoes and onions) and in fritters (those are my favorites). I need to visit Portugal to eat codfish every day. I already did that in Spain.

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    • That’s so interesting to read Ruth that bacalhau is also popular in Puerto Rico. The cod fritters was also one of our favorite ways of eating it. When you go to Portugal, do let us know the differences you find. Love the simplicity of this dish. Thanks for stopping by.

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  20. Love the concept of your entire blog, such a fantastic idea. I hadn’t heard of this dish until now, so will definitely be giving at a try at one of your recommendations next time I’m visiting Portugal!

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    • Awesome Caitlin. So glad you’ve been inspired to try bacalhau on your next trip to Portugal. Appreciate your feedback about our blog. Truly appreciate it. Stop by regularly for the local foods not to miss on your travels. Cheers!

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  21. I went to Portugal a couple years ago and didn’t even try Bacalhau! I’d love to! I’ve been meaning to head back sometime soon so now I’ve just got one more reason to go back! <3

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  22. I am super excited to learn that despite my strict diet of what I can or can’t eat from the sea, codfish is a type of fish I can have! This makes me want to go to Portugal and try it. The preparation that sounds the best to me is the Bacalhau Assado Na Brasa com Batata a Murro – Roasted Codfish with Potatoes. Especially because I love anything with garlic! This post made me so hungry!! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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