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11 Popular South American desserts you have to try

As our friends in the United States enjoy pumpkin pie and other Thanksgiving classics, we’re thankful for the abundance of diverse desserts served across South America. Here are some of our favorites ...


Picarones – This popular street food looks like a doughnut but tastes similar to a funnel cake.  The dough is made from a combination of sweet potatoes and squash seasoned with spices such as anise and cinnamon. They’re fried and served with a drizzle of molasses syrup.

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Picarones (Photo: Renzo Vallejo)

Mazamorra morada – If you ever eat at a Peruvian menu (which serves a set meal including starter, main, and dessert), you’re sure to stumble across mazamorra morada. Made from Peruvian purple corn, the dish is served cold and has a gooey texture. 

919px-Mazamorra Morada (purple corn pudding) eaten in Cuzco, Peru, 2002

Mazamorra morada (Photo: Brian Snelson)

Maracuya cheesecake  – Maracuya, also called passion fruit, is a popular addition to Peruvian drinks and desserts. Maracuya cheesecake is common in Lima and Cuzco, and visitors are likely to enjoy this tangy, refreshing twist on a familiar dessert. 

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Alfajores with dulce de leche – An alfajore is two buttery, light-weight cookies sandwiched together. Although the filling varies, the classic alfajore is filled with dulce de leche, a super sweet concoction of caramelized milk and sugar.


Alfajores with dulce de leche (Photo: V!NZ)

Facturas – An encompassing name for a variety of Argentinian pastries, facturas are commonly consumed for breakfast. Most either have a sweet filling or are sprinkled with sugar. With intriguing names like Friar's Balls and Little Cannons, they also have a fascinating anarchistic history - read all about it here


Facturas (Photo: DeComprasXBahia)


Brigadeiro – These tiny treats look like truffles, but are slightly different. Made from condensed milk and cocoa, brigadeiros are cooked and covered in sprinkles. A sugar rush if ever there was one!

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Brigadeiro (Photo: Dianakc)

Acai – Acai is a super berry from an Amazon palm known for its antioxidants and nutrient properties. In Brazil, the berry is commonly consumed with other fruits and granola or in a thick smoothie form, requiring a spoon. The perfect antidote to too many brigadeiros! 


Acai  (Photo: Marco Verch)


Sopaipillas - Similar to Peruvian picarones, sopaipillas consist of fried squash or pumpkin dough. Flattened like a mini-pancake, they can be eaten with sugar or syrup for dessert, or as a snack with items such as avocado and butter


Mote con huesillo - This sweet summer drink is a concoction of cooked wheat, dried peaches, and a liquid mixture of water flavored with syrup and cinnamon. Although served in a glass, you’ll need a spoon to get every last drop of its fruity, spicy goodness. 

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Mote con huesillo (Photo: Jack Zalium)


Tres leches – This spongy cake is common across Latin America, although especially so in Ecuador. Its name and its slightly soggy consistency comes from its three milk ingredients: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and cream.

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Tres leches (Photo: Kim)

Fruit you've never heard of –  Blessed with an astounding cornucopia of weird and wonderful fruits, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and other Amazonian countries often feature fruit for dessert. Pictured here is a dessert consisting of half a papaya, cream made from cherimoya, and a stick of sugar cane. 


Have we convinced you yet? Speak to a Destination Expert about curating a tailor made tour to South America.

Most photos are pulled from our Desserts in South America Pinterest board and belong to original posters. Thanks to Jorge Gobbi for the title image of this blog.

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