If you get the munchies while drinking yerba mate, you’re not alone. There’s something about the warm, bitter taste of a buen mate that makes you want to snack. Luckily, you’ve got plenty of options for foods that go well with drinking yerba mate - and they’re all as tasty as can be.
Every country has its own typical foods for accompanying yerba mate, so today we’ll go through some traditional foods, as well as some sweet and savory morsels that you can try with your next yerba mate.
Time of Day
Because yerba mate is typically drunk first thing in the morning or in the middle of the afternoon, the foods surrounding yerba mate are related to breakfast and snack foods. Specifically, they revolve around different breads and cakes.
Of course, there’s a ton of variety here. Some breads are sweet, some savory, but all are delicious in their own way.
Torta Frita (Fried Dough)
Torta fritais the #1 food to accompany mate in Uruguay. As the name suggests, torta frita is a circle of fresh dough fried to a crisp wafer. Torta frita makers will typically set up their stalls when it rains, as it’s traditional in Uruguay to eat torta frita on rainy days.
Bizcochos, also known as medialunas in Argentina, or more generally as croissants, are a delicious staple food for yerba mate. Bizcochos can be filled with ham or cheese, or be just plain.
On the other hand, bizcochos can be sweet, for example, filled with dulce de leche or membrillo (quince jam). For a simple flavor, they can also be dusted with powdered sugar or slathered in honey.
Basically, there’s a bizcocho - or two - out there for you. Medialunas are especially common in Argentina and are served as a side for almost all hot beverages (coffee, tea, etc.).
Galletas is the Spanish word for crackers. It’s common to bust out a sleeve of crackers, whether simple soda crackers or crackers with grains (such as wheat, bran or oatmeal). Whatever your fancy, galletas are a simple yet excellent way to wash down your yerba mate.
Chipá (Cheese Roll)
In Paraguay and northern Argentina, chipá is the way to snack in style. Chipá is a cheesy roll made of cassava flour that’s shaped into a little ball. Chipá is easy to make and has a delicious cheesy flavor. Originally, chipá was a recipe from the indigenous Guaraní people.
Bonus: since it’s made with cassava flour, chipá is one of the few foods listed here that is gluten-free!
Pastelitos de Hojaldre (Puff Pastry)
To continue with delicious breads, pastelitos de hojaldre are another great option for combining with yerba mate. These puff pastries are typically made with ham and cheese (or sometimes sweet flavors). They have that one-of-a-kind flaky exterior that puff pastries are known for.
Tortilla Santiagueña (Grilled Tortilla)
Tortilla santiagueña is a type of thick flour tortilla, bathed in meat fat, traditionally grilled for a warm finish. This is a traditional Argentine recipe that’s common both at asados (barbecues) and to jazz up your yerba mate drinking.
Unlike torta frita, tortilla santiagueña isn’t fried to a crispy exterior, but rather grilled for a typical tortilla texture.
Pan Casero (Homemade Bread)
Bread, bread and more bread. Pan casero is another great option that goes well with drinking yerba mate. Any homemade bread goes here, though the most typical is made with common flour and other ingredients. Sometimes pan casero can include cheese.
Tostadas are another simple yet spot-on option for combining with yerba mate. Tostadas are typically ham and cheese sandwiches that are grilled or warmed in a sandwich press. They can also be as simple as buttered toast.
Whatever your favorite sandwich treat, if it’s warmed up, it’s a tostada.
Empanadas (Filled Pastries)
Empanadas are a classic and filling favorite for accompanying yerba mate. Empanadas are basically pockets of dough filled with different flavors. The most common fillings include beef, ham and cheese, chicken, Caprese, and other combinations.
Empanadas can also be sweet (dulce de leche, anyone?) but let’s be real, the savory flavors are the best.
Bruschette is technically an Italian food, but it’s been heavily incorporated into an Argentine culture as a snack. Bruschette is also a typical yerba mate food. Here, slices of fresh bread are spread with a thick tomato sauce with lots of garlic and olives.
Picada (Snack Board)
Picadas are common in Brazil and all across South America. A traditional picada for many yerba mate drinkers means a variety of hams, salamis, and cheeses, plus olives, cherry tomatoes, potato chips, and nuts. A snack board can include just about anything, though. Sometimes leftover sausages, milanesas or empanadas are cut up and added to the picada as well. Anything goes, yet everything is delicious.
One of the easiest foods that go well with drinking yerba mate is popcorn. Popcorn in South American countries is typically prepared on the stovetop in a pot. Add some salt and you’re good to go! Popcorn and yerba mate is just about the best combination around.
Churros (Sugar-Coated Fried Dough)
Churros - famous Spanish dessert with chocolate sauce
You can’t go wrong with some churros. Churros are fried strips of dough, traditionally topped with powdered sugar or drizzled with dulce de leche or chocolate sauce. Some nice hot churros can make your yerba mate drinking experience simply divine.
Alfajor (Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookie)
An alfajor is common sandwich cookie in Argentina and Uruguay. It’s traditionally filled with dulce de leche and bathed in chocolate. There’s plenty of variety out there, but these sandwich cookies pack a sugary punch with your yerba mate.
Budines (Pound Cake)
Budin is a name for a pound cake, often made with lemon, vanilla, nuts or other fruits. It’s sweet and sometimes accompanied with a glaze. Budines are common in all South American countries, especially budines made with lemon or orange.
Pastafrola (Quince Pie)
Pastafrola is tasty pie common in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. It’s made with quince fruit (called membrillo in Spanish). It’s a sweet pie that’s often homemade. Take a slice of that pastafrola and drink your yerba mate!
Magdalenas (Madeleine Cookies)
Magdalenas are those delicious sponge-cake cookies shaped like shells. While French in origin, magdalenas are a special dessert in Latin American. Almonds and butter are often included in the dough for a cake-like texture.
Bolas de Fraile (Berliner or Filled Donut Hole)
Bolas de fraile are a mouthful. Like the German Berliner dessert, bolas de fraile look like fried donut holes but have a filling. Bolas de fraile are usually stuffed with vanilla or chocolate cream. It’s like a homemade donut hole with a sweet surprise inside.
They’re the bomb to have with your next yerba mate.
Pepas/Ojitos (Thumbprint Cookies)
These sugar cookies, called pepas or ojitos, are variations of the thumbprint cookie. These buttery cookies are topped with a dollop of quince cream, dulce de leche or chocolate cream. They look like little eyes, which is why they’re called ojitos in some Latin American countries.
A classic cookie to enjoy any afternoon of the week.
Muffins have become increasingly popular in Latin American countries. These little cakes are typically made with blueberries, chocolate, bananas or cinnamon. Muffins are wonderfully tasty and will curb your hunger during your next yerba mate.
This is a simple one: chocolate. A simple dark chocolate bar is also common at the table in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and Paraguay. Breaking off a piece of chocolate while enjoying yerba mate is a common sight.
Finally, brownies are another go-to snack while you’re drinking yerba mate. There’s nothing more satisfying than a thick brownie to chew as you get powered up with a yerba mate.
At the end of the day, you decide what kind of foods you want to enjoy while drinking yerba mate. Here you have 22 delicious choices, both savory and sweet, to get you started!