Thursday, June 3, 2010

Coxinha: the beloved queen of Brazilian salgadinhos

Brazilian salgados or salgadinhos - savory little snacks you can eat at any time of the day you are not hungry enough for a complete meal - comprise dozens of categories, such as empada (also called empadinha), risoles, pastel, quibe, esfiha, croquete, bolinha de queijo, enrolado, folhado, pão de batata, and their several variations (i.e., most of them can be prepared with different fillings). But coxinhas are among the favorite ones. They can be found in nearly all lanchonetes and padarias in Brazil and were very popular at birthday parties some time ago.  

The name coxinha derives from the snack’s peculiar drop shape, mocking a chicken drumstick (which, in Portuguese, is curiously called “coxa” [= thigh] only when referring to chickens; the chicken thigh is called sobrecoxa...). The golden, crispy exterior of this salgadinho surrounds a layer of soft dough filled with lightly seasoned, moist shredded chicken. Some people love to eat them dotting each bite with some good hot red pepper sauce.

The major “secret” to prepare coxinhas is patience. It takes a while to mold them, especially if it’s your first time. Be careful not to let the filling touch the edges of the dough disc, and make sure it is well sealed around the filling, or it will crack open when fried. Coxinhas can be molded as big, individual pieces (virtually a meal), or bite-sized. 

The cooked dough is very easy to prepare, as well as the filling. The dough can also be used to make other salgadinhos, such as risoles (half-moon shapped) and bolinhas de queijo (cheese balls). Use fine bread crumbs (grind some panko in the processor, if you wish) to bread them and, instead of dropping them in the egg white, dip your hand in it and use it spread a layer of egg white on the surface of coxinhas before tossing them in the breadcrumbs.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Coxinha de frango
(mock chicken drumsticks)

2 cups chicken stock
2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp powdered milk
2 Tbsp butter (room temperature)
1 tsp salt

1. Process all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
2. Cook in a heavy pan, over medium heat, stirring constantly until the dough forms a ball that pulls away from the sides of the pan (make sure there are not wet spots in the dough).
3. Let it cool and use to mold the coxinhas

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp grated onion
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp colorau or anatto powder
2 boneless chicken breast halves
1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 Tbsp finely chopped scallion
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Cook chicken in about 3 cups water. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking liquid to prepare the dough.
2. Finely shred chicken.
3. Heat oil in a saucepan, add onion, then garlic and then colorau. Fry until golden brown.
4. Add shredded chicken and about 3 Tbsp cooking liquid - the chicken should be moist, but not runny.
5. Turn off the heat and add chopped herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Molding and frying
1 egg white
1 cup plain panko, finely ground, or fine breadcrumbs
2-3 cups vegetable oil, for frying

1. Take a portion of dough about the size of a golf ball and roll it out manually or with a rolling pin into a disk about 1/4 in. thick.
2. Place a teaspoonful of filling at the center - be careful not to let the filling touch the edges of the dough. Carefully mold the dough around the filling forming a bundle.
3. Twist the excess dough on top and remove it to obtain a drop shape.
4. Smooth the surface, if necessary, to correct any imperfections. Make sure the filling is well sealed into the dough.
5. Wet your hand in the egg white and spread a thin layer on the coxinha surface and dip in breadcrumbs.
6. Fry in hot oil until golden brown. Let drain on paper towels.


  1. Gostei! Vou ter que experimentar em casa com essa.

  2. nossa! me da saudades do brasil lendo todo isso.... elisa, achei que a massa de fora era feito de batata? Eh outro estilo? Sabe que la no regiao norte faz uma com pure de mandioca - delicia! vou fazer sua reseita um dias dessas. thank you for sharing!!

  3. Já vi fazerem com batata, mas com mandioca é novidade - deve ficar uma delícia! Me conta depois se gostou da minha receita. E obrigada pelo comentário!

  4. This is great! I'm an American spending the Winter in Brazil and I'm loving the food here and really interested in learning how to cook authentic Brazilian food... I've been lucky enough to learn a few recipes, but I'm usually sleeping when the cooking for lunch is being done! I'm so glad I found your blog and hope you post more soon! :)

  5. Thanks, Mandi! After a long time travelling to Brazil and Europe I hope I can post some new recipes pretty soon. ;o)

    1. Hi there, I found that your recipe for the dough is off a bit. Mine was still liquidy and was not solidifying with those listed ingredients. Any suggestions for that?

  6. nossa senhora! This blog is chique de mais!!! Morei no Brasil durante dois anos 13 anos attrais. Este blog e mandado do ceu!! Obrigado


  7. Eu é que agradeço, Chris! Espero que volte mais vezes. Quero ver se escrevo com mais regularidade este ano...
    Grande abraço,

  8. Hi!
    My name is Georgia, and I came across your blog while trying to find a restaurant in Dallas that serves these. Coxinhas are my favorite food and unfortunately I am not very good at making them. I am traveling through Dallas in a week and was wondering if you know of a place that serves these? or any other recommendations for great food in Dallas?

  9. Hi Georgia! Thanks for your comment. I was curious to know: how come coxinhas are your favorite food? Where did you try them? Have you ever been to Brazil?
    I know... they are not very easy to prepare, but you should give it another try! ;o)
    Here's a place where you can eat coxinhas in Dallas (I've never eaten there, but some Brazilian friends did and they liked it) :
    Pars Food Market, Grill & Bakery
    (972) 985-0003
    2977 W 15th St, Plano, TX 75075
    The Fogo de Chão Brazilian churrascaria is another place you may want to try, although it is a little expensive. Texas de Brazil is similar, but more affordable.
    I hope you enjoy your trip to Dallas!!!

  10. I love coxinhas! I have tried my hand at them a few times and they're always delicious. I'm excited to try out your version and also your rice and beans! My father-in-law was born in Brazil and my husband served an LDS mission in Curitiba about 5 years ago. My husband ALWAYS wants rice and beans and I haven't been able to deliver the authentic Brazilian taste! We live in Salt Lake City, UT and sadly lost the only authentic Brazilian restaurant in the city a few years ago. Since then, I've decided to take matters into my own hands because coxinhas are just too delicious to live without. I also loved the Brazilian pizza that we tried before the restaurant went out of buisness. Do you have a recipe for pizza con frango? Or (forgive me, I don't know the name) a recipe for the avacado "milkshake"? We've tried to replicate the "milkshake" but have not been successful. Sad day. Regardless, I'm stoked to find your blog and will be following from now on!

    1. Hi Amanda! Thank you so much for your comment! I hope you like how the recipes turn out and come back for more :o)
      Unfortunately, I'm a little slow when it comes to adding more recipes, just because I like to take nice pictures, weigh everything out correctly, write a good text, etc. And time is scarce, sometimes... But, if you're patient, you're going to have a few nice recipes every now and then! The pizza de frango you mean is the one with "frango com Catupiry"? If it is, just make the same chicken you would make for stuffing coxinhas and top pizza dough with tomato sauce and that, plus cooked corn kernels and Catupiry (or cream cheese, if you can't find it) or shredded mozzarella. The avocado milkshake (vitamina de abacate) is very simple: combine very ripe, soft avocado (but you should try to find the big Florida ones, as they taste very differently from Haas avocados) with ice cold whole milk and some sugar in a blender - pronto!!! If you want the exact measures, I can try and make it and tell you later, but I would say 1 cup milk, 1 cup avocado pulp and 1 tbsp sugar. Some people like it thicker (more avocado), some like it thiner (add more milk).
      Well, let me know how your coxinhas and arroz com feijão turned out!

  11. Ai, essa deu saudade... Se não me engano, no livro Alegria de Cozinhar (Elena Sangirardi) coloca-se um pedaço de macarrão (daqueles furadinhos, não lembro o nome) para imitar o osso da galinha!

    1. Hi, I'm sorry I missed your comment! My mom used to cover toothpicks in foil and use as the "bone" on party days!
      Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Dear Eliza I wanted a really nice Coxinha recipe & yours sems really nice ,will sure try it.

  13. Hi,
    I really like the recipe. I've tried making coxinhas, but couple of then kind of exploded while frying. Changing oil temperature did not resolve the issue. Thicker dough did not help either. Help!!!

    1. Hi,
      The oil temperatura should be around 350oF. What makes them explode is the moist inside - when it turns into vapor, it has to have somewhere to go. Thinking of that, you may not want your filling to be too moist, and your oil too cold, otherwise the filling will generate more vapor before the exterior is golden brown. After all, everything is cooked in the coxinha, except for the raw egg used to bread it.
      Some people say leaving the ready-to-fry coxinhas in the fride for a few hours and taking them out to get to room temprature before frying prevents it - I've never tried, but it's an idea.
      Let me know if any of these work ;o)
      And thanks for your question!