If there’s one thing you absolutely can’t miss when you Travel for Food in Salvador, it is this food right here – the name is ‘Acarajé.’

Acarajé is so well-loved in Salvador, and such an incredible street food, in my opinion its a snack worth visiting just to eat it!

Let me share with you all the details of acarajé – a food you absolutely have to have when you are in Salvador, in the state of Bahia, Brazil.

do yourself a favor and Travel for Food in Bahia, especially Salvador
One of the best places to have Acarajé is in Salvador, in Bahia, Brazil

In my opinion, this beautiful food will undoubtedly make the list of ‘Love at First Bite’ for any eater, anywhere, ever.

What is Acarajé?

Acarajé is a food that comes directly from West African food traditions, and yet is so totally and completely loved by the locals of Salvador, Brazil.

At first glance it is beautiful as well, looking something like a deep-fried rainbow of Amazon jungle goodness wrapping around a heart of African-style starchy and hearty filling (see it all in the YouTube video here).

The local recipe for Acarajé blends simple and filling ingredients common in West-Central African food, with the vibrant flavors and local ingredients found here in Eastern Brazil.

And it is definitely one of the most delicious street snacks I’ve ever had in my entire life.

Brazilian street food tour in Salvador!

You can check out all the places we ate in Salvador on this ultimate Brazilian street food tour. Check out the full video on YouTube here.

Acaraje is one of the most amazing street foods in the entire world
‘Love at First Bite’ for any eater, anywhere, ever.

How To Eat Acarajé

Carts selling acarajé are almost like mini-buffets in Salvador, where all the options are laid out in front of you.

Acarajé is a very easy food to order, and its both wonderfully fun and so wonderfully messy to eat.

The Strategy is… No Strategy

Different people have different strategies, but I find that nothing feels better than just going in face first.

The child in you will rejoice because not only is it acceptable to fill this ‘sandwich’ far beyond capacity, its pretty much expected that ingredients will be delightfully overflowing by the time you start to eat.

Pick whatever looks good, but if you’re like me, then I’m assuming you’re going to want it all.

Black-eye peas are where this dish begins though, and let now me tell you about this amazing dendê oil…

Actually the natural color of this oil, red palm oil is much more healthy than palm kernel oil common in South East Asia
Black-eye pea batter, frying in that dark, red palm oil

Black-Eyed Pea Patties and Dendê Oil

The two key ingredients to this food are the black-eye pea batter, and a type of palm oil (which is known locally as Dendê oil).

In this part of Brazil, there is a local belief that not only is dendê oil healthy, but foods that include dendê are foods worthy of use in ceremonies, and local Bahian religious traditions.

Some believe that this oil even rejuvenates the body, that this oil is good for the soul!

After falling in love with acarajé for myself recently, I won’t argue with that belief at all.

the outer covering is so wonderfully crispy when deep fried in dende oil
This dark color is natural, and just perfect for making crispy Acarajé

Dendê (A Healthier Palm Oil)

The dark color of this red palm fruit oil is natural, and – although this may come as a surprise – it is much more healthy than deep frying using palm kernel oil (the more commonly known type of ‘palm oil’).

African Red Oil Palms are abundant in South America, and although its uses are similar, African red palm nuts contains much less saturating fats than the more common palm kernel nuts.

Deep Flavor of Red Palm Oil

Enough about health though, and back to the taste –  cooking in this way also makes the acarajé black-eye pea bun so incredibly and wonderfully crispy – this is just the thing you want after your long day at work.

In my opinion this is the most delicious way to have this food, and you can start thinking about other healthy options after one (at least) of this type of acarajé patty.

The menu is not extensive, but every item on it is made with love, and years of experience
The next batch is ready, have you made up your mind?

Make Your Selection

As the next batch of frying-oil buns are ready, step up to the cart, and choose your fillings.

Try to contain your hunger for just one more tantalizing minute, and enjoy watching as your miniature masterpiece of Salvador beauty takes form.

Acarajé da Ivone

Speaking of street carts, if you do happen to visit Salvador, then do yourself a favor and find the street cart of Acarajé da Ivone.

Few people have been making acarajé in this town for longer than Dona Ivone, and her acarajé making-skills and experience will just blow you away.

the dende oil is in almost every ingredient for making both acaraje and abara
Ocean shrimp, prepared with dry spices, oil, and a lot of salt

Your Acarajé Options

There will always be options when it comes to acarajé, its just a wonderfully customizable sandwich, but the standard combo needs to have these three main things.

  1. A gooey paste (either manioc or okra) which goes onto your black-eye pea bun first. This sort of gives moisture to the entire sandwich for each bite, as the bun can often be quite thick (wonderfully filling).
  2. A fresh ingredient, like a green tomato salad. This usually includes onions and bits of cilantro as well.
  3. Finally, a topping layer of salty shrimp (camarão do sal), which cooks in some kind of dry spice blend, and is not too spicy heat-wise, but is wonderfully and deeply flavorful. Not only that, but it smells absolutely gorgeous as well!
this is a great addition to any acaraje sandwich, the fresh tomatoes add such great, bright flavor
A fresh salad of green tomatoes, onions, and cilantro

Additional Toppings

South American food uses huge amounts of manioc (cassava) in an absolutely mind-boggling amount of ways. I can tell you of no place more delicious to explore these varieties though, than in North and North-East Brazil.

One common addition to acarajé is ‘vatapá,’ which gets its yellow color from dendê oil (and also includes manioc flour, ground peanuts, and ground chashews)

Vatapa gets its yellow color from Dende oil as well
Vatapa is so creamy, a perfect addition to your Acaraje sandwich

Vatapá

This vatapá paste is a favorite food of Belém, in the neighboring state of Pará, and it is delicious when eaten simply over rice on its own as well (see a video here of us eating an amazing Amazon food called Tacacá).

Dendê oil, the same oil that they use to fry the patties, gives the red and brown colors you see in so many recipes, including vatapà.

Necessary in so many recipes in this part of the world, the dênde oil is also a part of the chili oil sauce that you see behind the vatapà bowl on this street food cart.

Integrating the rich flavor of dênde oil into so many levels during the preparation of acarajé – and you wouldn’t want it any other way.

This gooey mess of deliciousness is called Caruru
Caruru is made with Okra, and Ground Cashew Nut Paste

Caruru

Another option might be caruru, which is a gloriously gooey and spicy paste of okra (lady fingers), and cashew nut paste.

I love this food over rice, and also remember a great meal eating it with another Afro-Brazilian food called bobo. You can check out this great restaurant right here, in another area of the city of Salvador, at Boteca de Janela.

Second to Last Step – Chili Oil

Finally, any and every food in Brazil tastes even better with the addition of Brazil’s favorite chili oil.

Seriously, the flavor in Brazilian peppers is unlike any other pepper vibrancy you’ll experience – and the same is true for the pepper’s spicy heat! Incredibly hot peppers here, enough to light up even the most experienced chili lover.

An amazing feeling, having the weight of a fresh, warm acaraje in your hand, all for you....
With this Acarajé in hand, all is well in the world…

So Hearty Its Hard To Describe

Finally, you have your sandwich, and all is well in the world. I know that my eyes were focusing on nothing but my deep-fried bun by this point, I am sure you’ll experience this as well.

The heart-warming, mouth-watering, stomach-filling goodness of Acarajé is honestly hard to put into words.

Its not quite a meal, but it is an extremely hearty snack if you’re thinking of it that way. Each bite is so full of flavor its mind-blowing – the salty shrimp, the delightfully warm and gooey okra and manioc paste (vatapá), and finally the bright combo of the green tomatoes, cilantro, and finally the chili.

Enjoy every bite, and prepare yourself for round two (because in my opinion you really need to have at least one of each main type when you’re here).

amazing second version (abara) is made by steaming instead of deep frying all the same ingredients
For round two, be sure to try a similar sandwich – the name is Abará

Abará is also Amazing Here

A second sandwich-style food commonly served in Bahia is Abará (you’ll remember the names after having them a few times I’m sure). Instead of deep-frying the abará though, they steam many of the ingredients in this food, making it actually even more filling than acarajé.

Incredible, but true, and it was all we could do to finish one of these after our first round of acarajé.

Abará is truly one of the most delicious, budget-friendly ways to fill a stomach that I’ve found in a long, long time.

Bonus Round for True Lovers

Finally, for the true Acarajé addicts, it is even acceptable to have three in a single sitting – please let me know in the comments section below if you (or even anyone you eat with) manages this feat!

Visiting the daughter of Dona Ivone here is a wonderful experience, I would like to say a huge thank you to her as well.

Meeting and hanging out with her friends (as we devoured yet another round of acarajé greatness) was one of the most fun and delicious memories of the time in Salvador, it made this meal even better when having the chance to get to know them a bit, (and of course, enjoy as they laughed at our very obvious acarajé addictions).

Name: Acarajé de Ivone
Location: Google Maps (link here)
Hours: Open Daily, 3pm to 8pm, Sunday 10am to 3pm
Price: R$6 for basic acarajé, up to R$10 for shrimp (US$1.50-2.50)

Endless Friendliness in Brazil

This entire meal here also serves as a perfect example of the friendliness and warm hospitality we were receiving during our entire trip to Brazil (I’m totally certain you will receive the same here in Salvador, or anywhere you go).

Brazil is just full of wonderful places to visit, let alone when you Travel for Food. But I couldn’t recommend more that you include a visit to Salvador during your trip, a visit to Bahia is a must, this wonderful state on the Eastern coast of Brazil.

Amazing welcome and delicious food at this wonderful street cart selling Acarajé
“You’re always Welcome!” – Acarajé da Ivone

Second Trip to Bahia?

Acaraje is one of those foods that I find myself dreaming about uncontrollably, almost to the point where I want to just try to make one myself, or buy another plane ticket directly to Salvador in Bahia.

While the ingredients are not too complex, they are time-consuming to assemble. Besides that though, most of the raw ingredients are very specific to the tropics (to make it, you will likely have to buy all of these ingredients in a can).

Outside of the two cultures which create this food (West-Central Africa, and Eastern coastal Brazil), it would therefore be quite a challenge to assemble the sheer amount of flavor you get when you have this food fresh.

(And, so, we will now start to think about a second trip to Bahia…)

Do Not Miss This Food

You absolutely cannot miss having (at least one) Acarajé black-eye pea sandwich, with all the stuffings, whenever you have the chance.

Eating this food should be near the very top of your list of Things to Do in Brazil, not only Salvador – its even worth a visit just to eat Acarajé!

We hope you enjoy this article, all the delicious photos, and here are a few more stories and links to some other meals that made for a truly wonderful trip to the amazing country of Brazil.

Links – Local Seafood Feast in Salvador (here), Two Amazing Market Meals in Salvador (here), and Your Ultimate Salvador Travel Guide (here).

an amazing place to visit whenever you are in Salvador de Bahia
“When You’re Hungry, Just call…” – Acarajé da Ivone

Protect The Dende!

I would like to give you just a bit more information on Dende oil, just in case you didn’t have enough reason already to immediately track down some Acarajé.

The process of collecting this oil is difficult, and thus its high value (valuable because it has to be done by hand). The nuts which make this red palm oil are smaller than palm oil kernels, and so the harvesting is not done by a machine.

What this means for local eaters though, is that people are producing less and less dendê oil in traditional ways, and therefore fewer people nowadays are able to eat the foods of this dendê tradition.

Aside from ceremonies and local religious practices in Bahia, only places like Acarajé da Ivone in Salvador are still using pure red palm oil in their cooking process – so make sure you go out and support your local dendê traditions today!

Happy eating, thanks for your support, and see you for the next article.

124 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Syl Dee

    11 months ago

    Hello Joel,
    I stumbled on uour site while searching for acaraje recipe in English. I love your passionate story of your cultural visit. I dream of visiting Brazil especially that region to compare foods from West Africa I’ve eaten. Coukd you please share a video with recioe ftom your friends in Salvador so I can prepare this exotic multicultural dish? Thanks so much for your post.
    Syl

  • Placidah Jenner

    2 years ago

    Wow! I’m planning a trip to Salvador and I was researching on what local food to eat and found your blog! I’m definitely gonna try the Acarajé you talked about. It looks heavenly!

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Placidah, happy to have written it then, because you will have a great time just with the Acarajé alone! Theres a lot of other info on Salvador too on this website, but even more than that, I would like to wish you a great trip – Salvador is an amazing place.

  • Léa Siège Auto

    2 years ago

    We will visit part of Brazil next month and we are going through the Bahia region. Thank you for discovering this street food. We will give it a try for sure !

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Lea, thats great to hear, I know you are going to have a wonderful time. Both the culture, and the food, just amazing in Bahia!

  • Nadeem

    2 years ago

    Weslley! Another great comment, yes we absolutely loved the Acarajé as well…. oh man. I want another one right now! Muita Pimenta! Sim!

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Nadeem, nice one, Muita Pimenta, Sim! This is such a cool food, a tasty food, now I want some more Acarajé… I am happy you found the article, glad it brought back good food memories. Cheers to Brazil!

  • James Ian

    2 years ago

    This looks amazing. And I like that the palm oil is not the typical palm oil. It’s like a full meal in one hand! Thanks for sharing.

  • Sara Wynn

    2 years ago

    Food looks yummy! I’m fond of street food and will definitely try acaraje. Thanks for making me hungry again. Thanks for sharing the nice post!

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      You are more than welcome Sara, thanks for taking the time to comment! All the best, take care

  • Julia Mia

    2 years ago

    Food looks yummy! Great article too!

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Hi Julia! Have a great day, thanks for your comments!

  • Raj Malhotra

    2 years ago

    Food looks nice and yummi thanks for sharing

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Hi Raj! No problem, thanks for the good words!

  • Weslley

    2 years ago

    Eu adoro acarajé. É muito típico da Bahia, onde nasci e morei grande parte da minha vida. Agora estou no Sul e com saudade de comer um acarajé com muita pimenta!

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Weslley! Another great comment, yes we absolutely loved the Acarajé as well…. oh man. I want another one right now! Muita Pimenta! Sim!

  • Stella

    2 years ago

    Mouthwatering food! I’m fond of street food and will definitely try acaraje. Thanks for making me hungry again. I love to follow your blogs. Thanks for sharing amazing information.

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Thank you Stella, we really appreciate it (thanks for taking the time to write as well!)

    • Ade

      2 years ago

      This food is so similar to food in Nigeria. 💚 I hope you get a chance to go! Our street food is amazing!!

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Ade! That sounds wonderful, actually we are hoping to visit Nigeria very soon, I am sure it will be a great time. Thanks for the message, all the best to you today!

  • long phan

    2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this content very well

  • David Gonzales

    2 years ago

    Food looks yummy! Great article too!

  • Elle Bent

    2 years ago

    This kind of content is worth to read, I’m so hungry. Thanks for sharing.

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Thank you Elle, we appreciate you taking the time to comment as well!

  • Ayush Srivastava

    2 years ago

    Very interesting blog and what I feel is your post is creative if we talking about food content presentation is great man.
    good luck

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Well thank you very much for the kind words Ayush, I appreciate it very much!

  • Anant Khurana

    2 years ago

    This food looks so nice and tasty

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Hello Anant, yes this is a massive and wonderful street treat in Salvador!!

  • Parul Katrodiya

    2 years ago

    wow.. thanks for sharing it with us… keep sharing like this post…

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Very welcome Parul, thank you for taking the time to comment!

  • Renato

    2 years ago

    Aaaah yes, Acaraje!!! No one will go wrong here with this one!

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Renato 😀 Very glad to see this comment! I wish you all the best today (and if you enjoy an Acarajé for yourself very soon, I wouldn’t mind a photo, or three…) Cheers, and take care!

  • rakesh chandro

    2 years ago

    Nice post bro. Carry one. Thanks for share with us.

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Most welcome Rakesh, thanks for your support, and for taking the time to comment!

  • Do Cau

    2 years ago

    This food looks so nice and tasty

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Thank you Do Cau, and thanks for commenting!

  • Kiranasharma

    2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing! Nice I Love your post but I like most Dendê traditions .

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Kiranasharma, thanks for your comment, yeah this place was really special – impossible to forget the Dendê!

  • Vishal

    2 years ago

    Keep it up man.

  • ayushya

    2 years ago

    This is awesome post thank for share your post this is great post

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Hello Ayusha, thank you for your great support 🙂 Have a nice day!

  • Rohan

    2 years ago

    Looks delicious. Waiting for your future updates.

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Hi Rohan! Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed the photos!

  • vishnu mistry

    2 years ago

    This food looks so nice and tasty I m also the hungry

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Hello Vishnu, good to hear from you! Good luck with your hunger, whats on your mind for (lunch?)… Take care!

  • Surf & Unwind

    2 years ago

    I’d love to try Acarajé! Looks like an interesting combination. Is the palm oil really a healthy option? One things for sure there’s a lot of deep frying going on with Brazilian street food! We’ll have to keep an eye out for these if we venture to Salvador next time we’re in Brazil.

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Hi! Thanks for writing, glad you were intrigued. Well, I lived in West Africa for several years, but I also went back and researched before publishing this article. There are many types of palm oil, red palm oil has a very healthy proportion as far as the types of fats in it. This specific palm oil is a great choice whenever any recipe calls for some ‘palm oil,’ because yes its much lower in cholesterol.
      I also have a personal story for this as well 🙂 my mother is/was a nurse when we lived in Africa, and working at the hospital she told me about some AMAZING things, one of which involves this diet – she said she never saw a SINGLE case of high cholesterol, and I can tell you myself, people in West Africa absolutely love palm oil, its incredible how much some recipes contain… so there you go! Not that you should be drinking it by the glass, but yes it is definitely a healthy oil choice 🙂 )

  • Kostadin Nikolov

    2 years ago

    Isn’t it fascinating how different cuisines blend so well with one another? You have a new fan. First I read your article on Rio and now this one got me hooked for sure.

  • absolute zambiasafaris

    2 years ago

    VERY NICE AND TESTY FOOD IT IS LOOK I WANT TO HAVE THAT KIND OF FOOD

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      You are very welcome, have a great day today.

  • Mikolaj

    2 years ago

    This food looks so nice and tasty. I would eat everything from these pictures 🙂 Thanks for great article! Now I’m hungry couse of You 🙂

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Mikolaj, thanks for the great comments!

  • Sara E.

    2 years ago

    “Love at a First Bite” – I know what you mean… Those are marvellous moments, unforgettable ones! What an amazing experience! Thanks for sharing!

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      You are very right Sara 🙂 thank you for writing, have a great one!

  • Smart Tek

    2 years ago

    It Looks delicious your post is Mouthwatering I’m waiting for your next post

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      It’s coming soon, and thank you so much for your support:-) have a great day

  • Joko

    2 years ago

    I just came across this article and I’m inlove already. I’ll definitely add Brazil to my bucketlist. Appreciate this! Thank you!

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Joko, You would make a great choice to visit, I hope you enjoy Brazil, good luck, travel safe, have a great day today

  • Jennifer Hamoy

    2 years ago

    Looks delicious!

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      This food is amazing Jennifer, Glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Talita

    2 years ago

    Hi, I’m from Brazil and I’m glad you enjoyed one of our most popular foods, I love your blog

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Hello, glad you enjoyed it Talita, thanks for commenting, and have a wonderful day today!

  • Narendra Mishra

    2 years ago

    What a fantastic food . keep sharing this type of things

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Narendra, Thanks for the message, we are glad you enjoyed it, have a great day

  • Renata Marques

    2 years ago

    You should come to Maranhão and try our typical food as well! I´m pretty sure you´ll enjoy!

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      We saw some photos and it looks absolutely beautiful, would love to come back, thanks for the recommendation and have a great day Renata!

  • Vishal

    2 years ago

    Amazing bro..

  • Karthika

    2 years ago

    Excellent food and blog. I want to try vatapa

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Thanks very much Karthika! Vatapa is great, as well as Tacaca (did you read about that one?) Have a great day, thanks for the comment!

    • Karthika

      2 years ago

      After watching mark video. I read it

  • Anita

    2 years ago

    I have never heard of the red palm oil and never been to this part of the world. The food looks yummy in Brasil and I am lookign forward going your steps!

    • Joel Bruner

      2 years ago

      Very happy to hear this Anita, thank you very much for writing!