50 snack foods from around the world

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November 30, 2020
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50 snack foods from around the world

There are almost 200 countries in the world, each with its own culinary customs, delicacies, and snacks. Snacks are comforting, portable, and remind many of school days, road trips, or movie marathons. Avid travelers often seek out a country’s unique offerings. It could be street food fare, such as the vada pav in India or nang kai thot in Thailand, or more mainstay snacks such as the biltong in South Africa or yuca bread in Ecuador. Snacks help to recall an unforgettable food market tour, a shared culinary adventure, or a solitary walk through a new city center.

Because of a growing love for snacks, the snack industry continues to expand. The average American in 2020 spent more than $305 on snacks like chips, pretzels and cookies, according to Statista. And the 2020 State of Snacking report, released by Mondelēz International, in partnership with The Harris Poll, revealed that consumers around the world have found comfort in snacks during the pandemic. Not surprisingly, many of the snacks consumers reached for during the past year leaned toward comfort and not health benefits.

Stacker compiled a list of 50 snacks from 50 countries around the world, collecting insights from sources such as Insider’s Snacks Around the World, Love Food’s The Best Snack Foods from Around the World, The South African’s Weirdest Snacks from Around the World, country lists from Taste Atlas, and dozens of international food blogs and recipe sites.

We found that some snacks are so tasty they cross over into other countries, sometimes keeping their name and other times adopting a new name in their new home. One example is the popular bread ring that’s covered in sesame seeds. In Turkey, it’s called simit. Next door in Greece, this snack is a koulouri. The same bread ring can be found in other nearby countries by a different name.

No matter where snacks are served, found, or prepared, they’ll always hold a special place in the collective hearts of the world’s growing number of snack fans. Keep reading to discover 50 unique and delicious snacks from countries around the world.

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Denmark: Smørrebrød

A popular Danish open-faced sandwich, the Smørrebrød is made up of buttered rye bread and toppings that can include cheese, fish, vegetables, and cold cuts. Meant to be eaten with a knife and fork, the most traditional toppings for smørrebrød include pickled herring, roast beef, avocado, and prawn.

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Australia: Meat pies

Portable, filling, and delicious, meat pies are an iconic snack in Australia. Filled with ground beef and onion, they’re found in lunch boxes, sporting events, and grab-and-go counters throughout the country.

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Brazil: Coxinha

Found all over Brazil, coxinha is a small, deep-fried chicken and cheese croquette covered in crunchy, breaded dough. Coxinha are meant to resemble chicken drumsticks and are best served with hot sauce.

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France: Pain au chocolat

Pain au chocolat is a buttery, light, flaky croissant that is filled with chocolate. The carb-laden treats are enjoyed any time of day throughout France.

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India: Vada pav

Vada pav is a slider that serves as standard Indian street food fare. The tasty treats consist of buttery mini buns stuffed with fried potato fritters served alongside a variety of chutneys.

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Nigeria: Puff puff

Similar to a beignet that might be found in New Orleans, the Nigerian puff puff is a popular street food that works well as a snack, side, or breakfast. The deep-fried dough uses a simple recipe of flour, sugar, salt, water, and yeast.

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Canada: Poutine

Poutine stories date the dish back to the 1950s. French fries are topped with cheese curds and doused in warm brown gravy, helping the curds to melt. Countless iterations of poutine can be found all over Canada today, ranging from the traditional to the extreme.

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South Africa: Biltong

Not to be confused with beef jerky, biltong is dried meat that is sliced much thicker than traditional beef jerky and cured using vinegar. Biltong was originally created by Dutch colonizers who were trekking through South Africa.

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Iceland: Harðfiskur

Traditionally made from cod, wolffish, or haddock, Iceland’s tasty snack of harðfiskur is made by filleting fish, rolling it in salt, and hanging it outside to dry. Once it’s dry and crisp, the fish is slathered with—or dipped in—butter. Harðfiskur is a good source of protein and locals snack on it like chips or popcorn.

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Jamaica: Coco bread

Similar to Hawaiian sweet rolls, but a bit denser, Jamaican coco bread is made with flour, sugar, and coconut milk, lending a bit of sweetness to the fluffy, folded handheld rolls. Traditionally enjoyed as a snack, for breakfast, or filled with any number of ingredients for a small sandwich, coco bread is found throughout Jamaica.

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Japan: Senbei rice crackers

Senbei rice crackers are considered as one of Japan’s oldest and most traditional savory snacks. The treats can be fried or baked, and easily incorporate a variety of Japanese seasonings.

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Poland: Zapiekanka

The old-school Polish zapiekanka was an open-faced baguette sandwich topped with mushrooms, cheese, and loads of ketchup. Today, the zapiekanka has been upgraded, with fresh-baked bread and an array of more pizza-like toppings.

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Turkey: Borek

There’s a wide variety of Turkish boreks. They can be baked, fried, cooked on a griddle, or boiled. Paper-thin phyllo dough is wrapped around savory fillings, such as cheese, spinach, minced meat, or potatoes, and the resulting dish is enjoyed at any time of the day.

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Spain: Pan con tomate

One of the simplest and most delicious tapas found in Spain is pan con tomate. Raw tomato and garlic gets rubbed on fresh, crunchy bread, and finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil. The simple, tasty snack reaches tapas perfection when accompanied by a pitcher of sangria.

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Thailand: Nang kai thot

Deep-fried chicken skin, or nang kai thot, is a savory street food snack in Thailand. Chicken breast skin is first boiled and then seasoned or floured before being dropped in hot oil. Common seasonings include cilantro, soy sauce, garlic powder, and chicken flavoring powder. Nang kai thot is normally served with a side of sweet chili sauce for dipping.

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Eastern Europe: Sushki

Best enjoyed alongside a hot cup of tea, sushki resemble small, rock-hard bagels made from flour, egg, water, sugar, and salt. The snack is enjoyed throughout Russia, Belarus, Poland, and Ukraine, where they are traditionally dipped in tea in order to soften their exterior.

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Netherlands: Stroopwafel

Sold by street food vendors in the Netherlands—and served on many European airlines—the word stroopwafel translates to “syrup waffle” in Dutch. Traditional recipes take two round, crunchy waffles, or wafers, and sandwich them around sticky caramel. Resting a stroopwafel over a warm beverage is a common practice to soften the waffle and the caramel center.

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Malaysia: Kuih cara berlauk

Kuih cara berlauk, or Malaysian savory bites, are small savory cakes that incorporate coconut milk and are topped with minced meat. The batter is cooked in a special decorative mold, with toppings added to the cakes during the cooking process.

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Italy: Arancini

Originally named arancini because they resemble oranges (“arancia” in Italian) in appearance, delectable arancini have Sicilian roots. These filled-and-fried rice balls can be savory or sweet but traditionally are stuffed with meat sauce and peas, or butter and bechamel.

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Greece: Koulouri

A popular breakfast on the go in Greece, koulouri are bagels that have been rolled in sesame seeds. While the recipe may be simple, the bagels remain a fast seller on the streets of Greece.

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China: Xiao long bao

Said to have originated in Shanghai in the late 19th century, xiao long bao, or Chinese soup dumplings, are popular throughout China as well as in major U.S. cities. Soup dumplings are made using gelatin cubes that are combined with filling (traditionally pork) before being folded and twisted between thin sheets of dough that features a top knot. The dumplings are then steamed in wicker baskets in order to melt the gelatin into a soup.

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Mexico: Elote

Mexican street corn, or elote, is so popular in Mexico that it has spread to other regions of the world, including America. Fresh corn on the cob gets a healthy dose of mayonnaise and then a squeeze of lime, sprinkling of chili powder, and glorious finale of cotija cheese.

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Germany: Halve hahn

A famous snack food inside the pubs of Germany is halve hahn. Simple and delightfully tasty when paired with German beer, the snack consists of a rye roll served with a thick slice of gouda cheese and butter. Accompaniments traditionally include onions, pickles, and mustard.

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Colombia: Almojábanas

Colombian almojábanas, or cheese breads, are pillowy, round, cheese-laced buns that combine corn flour and cuajada cheese. When cuajada cheese is not available, some recipes use queso fresco or cottage cheese.

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Chile: Completo Italiano

For those who enjoy food items with “the works,” the Chilean completo Italiano is a must. A traditional hot dog is slathered in mashed avocado, chopped tomatoes, and mayonnaise. Many fans of the completo Italiano top it off with mustard, ketchup, or green chili sauce.

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Argentina: Alfajores

Soft and chewy alfajores start as buttery Argentinian shortbread cookies with a touch of lemon. They are then sandwiched around a dulce de leche filling and rolled in coconut flakes, making the popular cookies even more decadent and sweet.

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Egypt: Ta’ameya

Egypt’s version of falafel, ta’ameya is made with dried, split fava beans instead of falafel’s traditional chickpeas. This handheld street vendor fare is served with pita bread, tomatoes, onions, and tahini.

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Israel: Halvah

Found throughout shops in Israel and much of the Middle East, halvah is a basic sweet recipe requiring just four ingredients: honey, vanilla extract, tahini, and pistachios (or almonds). Endless colors, flavor infusions, and ingredient mix-ins abound for this delicious and nutritious sweet treat.

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Georgia: Khachapuri

Those who enjoy pizza will love khachapuri from the country of Georgia. Khachapuri resembles a small canoe that’s filled in the middle with cheese and a fried egg. The surrounding bread can be dipped into the gooey center.

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US: Chicken tenders

Chicken tenders (aka chicken fingers, chicken nuggets, or chicken strips) are a popular grab-and-go, handheld, dippable snack in the United States. The deep-fried strips of chicken are featured on a large number of restaurant menus, including chains, quick-service, and full-service, throughout the country.

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Haiti: Fried breadfruit

Breadfruit is similar to a potato, and used as such in Haiti. Vendors peel, slice, and fry the breadfruit, serving it up when it’s brown and crispy to hungry patrons. If made at home, breadfruit can be cooked like a potato: boiled, mashed, baked, or roasted.

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Morocco: Harcha

The Moroccan semolina biscuit harcha looks similar to an English muffin, but its main ingredient is semolina. The biscuits are a tasty snack on their own, or can be made more substantial by slicing them open and filling them with sweet or savory accompaniments.

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Austria: Mohnzelten

A popular snack for Austrian road trips and picnics, mohnzelten is a specialty of lower Austria. The recipe calls for the making of a potato dough that’s filled with a combination of poppy seeds, butter, honey, sugar, cinnamon, grated lemon peel, and a dash of rum.

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Scotland: Scotch pie

Perfect for football games, on-the-run snacks, or a bit of between-meal protein, Scotch pies from Scotland are small, round, deep-dish pies that are filled with minced lamb. The crust around the circumference is purposely left higher than the top crust so that the pie can be topped with gravy or mashed potatoes, if desired.

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Ukraine: Salo

Found everywhere in Ukraine, salo is raw pork fat. The fat is enjoyed on sandwiches and even served free in restaurants alongside rye bread when a meal or vodka is ordered.

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Iceland: Pylsa/pulsa

Iceland’s national snack is the hot dog or, as they call it, pylsa, or pulsa. They love this hot dog made of pork, mutton, and beef so much that it’s even been featured on a commemorative postage stamp. Suggested toppings for “the works” include ketchup, fried and raw onions, mustard, and remoulade.

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The Bahamas: Conch salad

Similar to Latin American ceviche, conch salad is a refreshing dish that uses citrus to “cook” the raw shellfish. Conch salad from the Bahamas integrates tenderized conch, from the native conch shell, along with finely chopped onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and jalapeños.

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Lebanon: Kdaameh

Popular throughout the Middle East, kdaameh is a sugared chickpeas dish that originated in Lebanon. Parents have been said to encourage their children to eat this snack, as it’s a relatively healthier option than other, more sugary foods.

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Bolivia: Pasankalla

Giant popped corn maize, or pasankalla, is a favorite snack that can be picked up anywhere in Bolivia. Corn maize is heated at high temperatures until it pops, and then it is coated with sugar.

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Cuba: Mariquitas

Made from green plantains that are sliced thin and fried, mariquitas (or plantain chips) are a favorite snack food in Cuba. Green plantains are starchy, like potatoes, making them perfect for this chip-like treat.

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Nicaragua: Quesillo

Quesillo stands are easy to spot throughout Nicaragua, serving up tortillas topped with Nicaraguan cheese, pickled onions, sour cream, and salt. Quesillos are often served in a plastic bag so that none of the ingredients are lost.

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Ecuador: Yuca bread

Enjoyed as a snack, breakfast, or part of a meal, yuca bread (or cassava bread) is a staple in Ecuador. Made from the roots of the yucca plant, which are similar in texture to potatoes, yuca bread also incorporates grated cheese, and sometimes coconut milk, depending on the recipe.

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Finland: Kalakukko

A long-enjoyed snack of fish and bacon baked inside rye bread crust, Finland’s kalakukko started among workers who wanted an easy way to transport their meals. History dates kalakukko back to the Middle Ages, with many recipe variations available today.

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Romania: Plăcintă

The Romanian fried pastry or thin cake, plăcintă, can be stuffed with a sweet or savory filling. Favorite fillings range from cheese to potatoes to sour cherries.

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England: Scotch egg

A common bar snack in England, the Scotch egg takes a peeled hard-boiled egg, wraps it in sausage, covers it in breadcrumbs, and deep fries it. Scotch eggs are traditionally served cold alongside salad and a beer.

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Malta: Pastizzi

Stuffed most often with ricotta or curried pea mash, Maltese pastizzi are like the calzone or empanadas of Malta, except they use light and fluffy puff pastry in the recipe.

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Hungary: Kürtőskalács

Hungary’s sweet tube-shaped chimney pastries, or kürtőskalács, are basted in butter, rolled in sugar, and roasted over a spit fire. Found throughout Hungary, the chimney-shaped treats can be filled with whipped cream or ice cream for added enjoyment.

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Czech Republic: Ovocné knedlíky

Fruit dumplings, or ovocné knedlíky, are a popular snack or dessert in the Czech Republic. They are made by wrapping fresh fruit—such as blueberries, strawberries, or plums—inside dough and boiling. Once boiled, the dumplings are topped with melted butter, sugar, and/or crumbled quark cheese.

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The Philippines: Lumpia

The Filipino version of egg rolls, lumpia are fried egg rolls, which are thinner than the egg rolls in America. They are filled with vegetables, meat (usually pork), and/or seafood. Chinese sweet and sour sauce is served with the lumpia for dipping.

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Iran: Kuku

Served hot or cold, Iranian kuku is a pan-fried vegetarian omelet. Different versions of kuku contain eggs and herbs, potatoes, or in some cases, even meat.

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