Portuguese Rice Cake, Bolo de Arroz

Bolo de Arroz or Rice Cake is a sweet treat that’s so moist and rich you might even wind up calling it your favorite when you visit Portugal.

Literally translated to “Rice Cake,” Bolo de Arroz is probably closer to a muffin in texture. That’s because the Bolo de Arroz is made using rice flour which gives it a denser crumb. Lemon zest is added to the batter to give a little hint of citrus.

Destroying a Bolo de Arroz at the Alvalade Norte Market in Lisbon (photo: Karen L. Campopiano)

The base of the Bolo de Arroz is surrounded by a paper wrapper that often has the logo of the bakery that made them. This also helps give the muffin a nice rise so you end up with a tall cake.

The Bolo de Arroz is topped with sugar which caramelizes when baked. This makes for a crunchy top which is the best part of the cake!

Bolo de Arroz at Aloma in Lisbon (photo: Brent Petersen)

Almost every bakery in Portugal will have Bolo de Arroz for sale. Or, if you live in a city with a sizable population of people with Portuguese ancestry, there’s undoubtedly a bakery with selling Bolo de Arroz. Cities like Fall River and New Bedford in Massachusetts, West Warwick in Rhode Island, or Toronto all have great Portuguese bakeries.

Celiacs and people with gluten sensitivity should be aware that, despite the name, Bolo de Arroz is typically made with a blend of rice and wheat flours, so it is not gluten-free. If you’re looking for a gluten-free option when visiting Lisbon, Rice Me, a 100% gluten-free cafe and bakery has an excellent Bolo de Arroz.

About the Author

Brent Petersen is the Editor-in-Chief of Destination Eat Drink. He currently resides in Setubal, Portugal. Brent has written the novel “Truffle Hunt” (Eckhartz Press) and the short story collection “That Bird.” He’s also written dozens of foodie travel guides to cities around the world on Destination Eat Drink, including in-depth eating and drinking guides in Portugal to Lisbon, PortoÉvora, and Sintra. Brent’s podcast, also called Destination Eat Drink, is available on all major podcasting platforms and is distributed by the Radio Misfits Podcast Network.

Author: Brent