Farofa: Savory Brazilian Sprinkle

Farofa: Savory Brazilian Sprinkle

If you’ve eaten much Brazilian food, you’re probably aware of the side dish called farofa. It’s a savory, crunchy sprinkle made from cassava flour (farinha de mandioca/macaxeira) that’s served with everything from Brazilian barbeque to feijoada, a meaty Brazilian bean stew. Because it’s made with cassava flour or corn flour, it’s naturally gluten free.


Feijoada with farofa from Sopas & Menus

Farofa History

Farofa was popular long before the Portuguese colonization of Brazil. It dates back to the Tupi-Guarani indigenous peoples, who used cassava flour to sop up the remains of animal fat to create more filling meals. Once the Portuguese arrived in the 1500s, they liked farofa so much that they started eating it as well. Combining foods with cassava flour to make farofa extends their shelf life, so it’s an ideal food for long voyages at sea. Farofa continues to be incredibly popular in Brazil today!

Farofa Ingredients


Bacon-filled farofa from Chipa by the Dozen

First things first - farofa must be made from cassava flour and NOT cassava starch (aka tapioca starch). Cassava flour is less processed and more coursely ground, which is important for the texture of the finished product. Corn meal (farinha de milho) can also be used to make farofa. Because cassava is basically tasteless on its own, the mix-ins are the real star of the show here. Farofa - like most Brazilian foods - is decidedly not vegetarian. It usually includes bacon, sausage, butter, garlic and onions, herbs, and some spices or veg. Sweet ingredients like fruit can be included as well. The cassava flour soaks up all of these flavors and creates a tasty, crunchy sprinkle that’s a bit salty, toasty, and smokey, which works well as a topping for stews and beans, a dip for meats, or even as a main dish.

Farofa Varieties

Although a straightforward pan-fried farofa with bacon, onions, and garlic is probably the most common, there are tons of regional varieties. You can make most ingredients into a farofa, so the possibilities are basically endless. These are a few of our favorites.

  • Farofa d’Água - includes some water in the recipe, which allows larger clumps to form.

  • Farofe de Ovo - includes fried eggs.

  • Farofa de Içá - includes Amazonian leaf cutter ants (tanajura), a food with indigenous origins.

  • Farofa de Banana - includes fried bananas.

  • Farofa de Natal - a special Christmas version of farofa with added ingredients like sausage, eggs, raisins, chopped nuts, and peppers. Farofa is the Brazilian answer to stuffing at Christmas.

  • Farofa de Amendoim Crocante - simple farofa made of cassava, butter, and lightly ground peanuts.

Buy Farofa & Ingredients

Most packaged varieties of pre-seasoned farofa aren’t confirmed to be gluten free, so it’s best to make it yourself or order from a restaurant you trust to be safely GF. Make sure you buy coursely ground cassava flour or corn meal, and not tapioca starch, as it won’t result in the same crunchy-flakiness. We’ve linked some good options below.


Cassava flour from Real Simple

Farofa Recipes

While farofa is not usually vegetarian, we’ve included a couple options that are vegan below. There are even low carb options, if that’s what you need right now! Farofa is meant to be customized, so experiment to see what you like best.

* Title image courtesy of SBS.

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