Brazil / Recipes

What is Brazil’s National Dessert, Brigadeiro?

Mariana Suchodolski

Published on
What is Brazil’s National Dessert, Brigadeiro?

If you’ve got Brazilian friends or if you’ve ever been to Brazil then you’ve definitely heard of brigadeiro—it’s everywhere. This famous dessert is found all over the country and you may even find some brigadeirias (shops that sell brigadeiros) abroad too. The best thing about brigadeiros is that they’re easy to make and they certainly curb a sweet tooth in one bite. 

Brigadeiros are not everyone’s cup of...sugar though. Precisely because they are a small chocolatey fudge that’ll give you a sugar rush. Which in my opinion is what makes them so delicious. To make brigadeiros you only need three ingredients: cocoa powder, butter, and condensed milk. That’s it. Now you know one of the reasons why they’re so popular. 

Brazilians will almost always serve brigadeiros during celebrations, and it’s a common activity to make it at home with friends too. Its popularity has grown to such a degree that there are brigadeiro-flavored cakes, ice creams, cookies, and even Easter eggs. And in recent years there’s been a huge variation of brigadeiro flavors too. 

Some brigadeiras have created gourmet brigadeiros that include interesting flavors like pistachio, salted caramel, oreo, lemon zest, and coconut, just to mention a few. Despite the different variations, the key ingredients are always the same, butter and condensed milk. 

Easter egg made with brigadeiro

Make Easter eggs even more fun by adding brigadeiros to them by @sweetsdoce 

The history behind the brigadeiro 

The history of this dessert is quite surprising. It was born in 1945 after WWII, during a presidential campaign. Eduardo Gomes, a military brigadier was a popular candidate, especially amongst the women. He was a notorious ladies man and his campaign slogan was “vote for Brigadeiro, he is handsome and single.”

Supporters began fundraising through parties and events to sway voters and that’s when the brigadeiro was invented. Rio de Janeiro confectioner and a member of Rio’s aristocracy, Heloisa Nabuco de Oliveira, decided to create a new confectionery in support of Gomes. But Post-war food shortages meant that there was no milk or sugar readily available, so condensed milk—still a recent product then—was used instead. This gave the dessert its sweetness and rich texture.  

Unfortunately for the brigadier, he didn’t win the election, but his sweet legacy will never be forgotten. If you ever find yourself in Brazil, don’t miss out on their national dessert. Or you can also try making it at home. 

Brigadeiro with sprinkles being held

Brigadeiro with sprinkles by João Pedro Godinho on Unsplash

The Brazilian brigadeiro recipe

Servings: 8 


To make traditional Brigadeiro balls, only the following ingredients are needed:


Start by melting the butter and condensed milk in a large frying pan or skillet over low heat. Next, add your cocoa powder and start stirring continuously. Keep stirring until the mixture starts to thicken.

When ready, set the brigadeiro mixture aside and let to cool in the fridge.

After chilled, the mixture will be firm enough to be able to roll into small balls, which can then be rolled in chocolate sprinkles if you’d like to give them an extra chocolatey crunch.

Tried making your own version of brigadeiro at home? Then make sure to share your creation on social media and tag us at @skyhour for a chance to be featured on this article.

Mariana Suchodolski
Lisbon, Portugal
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