Whether you’re looking for a brilliant souvenir to mark your time in Portugal, or a thoughtful gift for someone special, I’ve rounded up what I think are the best Portuguese cookbooks available in English.
While living here I’ve been collecting Portuguese cookbooks in both English and Portuguese, and one thing I’ve noticed is that many have a lot of assumed knowledge. As someone who didn’t have the opportunity to stand beside a Portuguese avó, watching her whip up polvo á lagareiro or other classic Portuguese dishes, I need the instructions to be very thorough and include all the steps.
That’s why I’ve included just a handful of Portuguese cookbooks in English that I can wholeheartedly recommend as high-quality – because I own them and use them!
I’ve also included a few excellent Portuguese cookbooks in English that I have my eye on and will hopefully add to my collection soon.
3 Portuguese cookbooks in English (that I personally recommend)
Lisboeta: Recipes from Portugal’s City of Light – by Nuno Mendes
Sometimes also called “My Lisbon: A Cookbook from Portugal’s City of Light”
An instant classic.
Lisboeta is a cookbook by Nuno Mendes, a Portuguese chef who left his home city of Lisbon many moons ago. He moved to the big smoke of London where he’s been a hero for Portuguese food at the helm of several restaurants. In 2017 he published this brilliant cookbook with Bloomsbury.
It’s like a love letter to Lisbon, a place that chef Nuno holds firmly in his heart. Throughout the book there are little sentimental tales and stunning photographs of the city of seven hills that tell stories about Nuno’s childhood and memories growing up there.
Nuno’s Lisboeta includes brilliant versions of traditional recipes, with a particular focus on Lisbon dishes (of course). In a tasteful way, his recipes have some chef flair or knowledge built in. For example, my favourite dish is the polvo á lagareiro, which Nuno adds an optional “piso” herby olive oil sauce, which is a nice modern touch. But more importantly, his recipe cooks the octopus without a pressure cooker – something that’s a staple in Portuguese kitchens, but not in mine.
As it’s published in the UK, Lisboeta is well edited for a foreign audience. Every recipe I’ve made is without errors and well explained. At the start of each recipe there’s a little tale from Nuno as he explains why he loves that dish or gives tips (like a recipe blog but concise and beautifully written).
Each recipe includes a beautiful photo of the dish. The recipe title is in English, with the Portuguese name beneath. The instructions are clear and laid out across 1-2 pages. The book uses metric measurements. The overview includes serving size but no cooking time estimate.
Language: English or Portuguese. There’s an edition in both languages.
Read next: 6 best food markets in Portugal
Portugal The Cookbook – by Leandro Carreira
The new Portuguese food bible.
This great tome from Portuguese chef Leandro Carreira (with the help of the brilliant Miguel Andrade) is part of Phaidon’s international series covering countries across the globe in an in-depth way. This huge cookbook (published in 2022) is a brilliant celebration – and education – on Portuguese food, and includes more than 550 traditional recipes.
Covering the whole of Portugal, from north to south, coast to countryside, this is the most comprehensive Portuguese cookbook in English. You’ll find dozens of recipes for each ingredient, and regional takes on the same dish or dessert, like these three versions of a sponge cake.
If you want a one-stop shop for Portuguese recipes, this is the book you need. The recipes are broken into categories, such as bread, soups, fish, shellfish, poultry, various meats, rice, desserts and more.
Portuguese cuisine can be very simple (yet incredible), and with just a handful of ingredients in each recipe they are very approachable. There are two or three recipes on each page, and a photograph every two or three pages. The recipe title is in English, with the Portuguese name beneath. It also includes the region where the dish is from. The instructions are clear. The ingredients feature both metric and imperial measurements, and there is both a preparation and cooking time estimate.
Language: English. I don’t think there is a Portuguese version.
The Portuguese Travel Cookbook – by Nelson Carvalheiro
Part cookbook, part travel guide.
What you’re reading right now is my travel and food blog, so it’s safe to say I’m a sucker for a good story. If you want to dive into the people, places, and tales behind some of Portugal’s most famous dishes, then let Nelson take you for a ride.
Journey across Portugal via his recipes, beautiful photos, and the names of classic restaurants and tascas that have shaped the culinary identity of this land. You can reach the core of Portugal’s gastronomic heritage, then recreate what you ate with his recipes. Brilliant.
“The main objective of this book is to give hunger and desire to travel through Portugal to all those who read it,” the back reads. The Portuguese writer and photographer puts in a compelling case. There are just over 40 recipes scattered between the rich stories, published in 2016.
These recipes are less precise – sometimes (but not always) it’s just a list of ingredients. Many of the recipes read like you’re talking to a friend, so there are a few tips to pull out but you’ll have to guess how much white wine to add to the pot like you’re taking notes from a Portuguese avó. Recipes that require amounts – like baked goods – include more specific instructions in metric measurements. There are loads of pictures.
Language: English or Portuguese. There’s an edition in both languages.
Read next: Where to buy authentic souvenirs in Lisbon
If you’re interested in diving deeper into Portuguese food, you’ll love Farta. Twice yearly food journalist Rafael Tonon gathers the best writers and photographers in the country to hone in on one dish for the magazine. It’s a special bi-lingual publication, printed in both Portuguese and English, with brilliant design, delicious paper stock, and great storytelling.
Other excellent Portuguese cookbooks in English
Cozinha Tradicional Portuguesa — by Maria de Lourdes Modesto (1982)
The original Portuguese food bible.
Portuguese culinary icon Maria de Lourdes Modesto was a pioneer. Her live cooking show aired soon after television broadcasts began in Portugal, and years before French chef Julia Child hit the box.
Apparently Maria had an idea to create the most complete and authentic Portuguese recipe cookbook. She asked people to mail her traditional recipes from regions across Portugal, and some 20 years later Cozinha Tradicional Portuguesa was born. First printed in 1982, this classic Portuguese cooking bible is likely found in most Portuguese homes.
Inside you’ll find some 800 recipes, from soups and sausages to cod and cakes, with recipes from across the country including the islands. It’s a classic and an essential that I hope to add to my collection soon.
Language: English or Portuguese. There was an edition in both languages.
Buy Cozinha Tradicional Portuguesa
Sadly, this book is out of print and has sold out practically everywhere.
If you see one you don’t want or need… message me.
My Portugal: Recipes and Stories – by George Mendes
Another classic – this time Michelin-starred Portuguese-American chef George Mendes shares his favourite, redefined Portuguese recipes (and stories) from beloved Portugal, the “gateway to the Mediterranean”.
Printed in late 2022, this cookbook covers the flavours of the Azores islands – nine self-governing volcanic outposts in the centre of the wild Atlantic Ocean. These traditional recipes are shaped by the bounty and seasons of the islands halfway between Portugal and America.
I can’t find it widely – only in Portuguese, and only in English – so my guess is that this was a small print run. Very cool! Hope to find this one soon.
The Taste Of Portugal – by Edite Vieira
Those curious about Portuguese food history can appreciate Vieira’s cookbook, which weaves medieval to modern history with anecdotes and authentic Portuguese recipes.
Do you have any favourite Portuguese cookbooks written in English that’s not on this list? Leave me a comment – I’d love to find more and expand my collection.