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Portuguese Recipe: Caracois (Snails)

Cooking 30 min Preparation 10 min 4 easy
Recipe type: Meat Cuisine: Portuguese

If you need a fabulous reason to come visit us for mouthwatering food tour of Portugal, why not try this delicious Portuguese recipe!

The tradition of eating Caracois in the summer originated in the southerly Portuguese region of Alentejo, with influence from the Andalucia region in southern Spain. Both of these regions get extremely hot in the summer but also have the humidity that promotes snail growth, and these snails are harvested throughout the season until their supplies dry out. The cooking broth is also very traditional with the predominant flavoring ingredient being oregano, which is a must (your hands stink of it after eating them!). The other ingredients include laurel, thyme, garlic, onion, olive oil, salt and pepper and a little spice called piri-piri, which is the Portuguese equivalent to chili pepper. Only minor additions are made to this recipe, such as diced tomato and presunto! Remember, the leftover broth is excellent for mopping up with a piece of crusty bread alongside a glass of Portuguese wine

Want to learn how to make savory caracois from the best? Contact us for a custom Portuguese cooking class!


Snails (about 2 pounds)
Salt and black pepper (to taste)
1/4 cup of white wine
Dry oregano (to taste)
2 table spoons of olive oil
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
3 tea spoons of Tabasco sauce (Piri-Piri to taste if available)


  1. If buying a bucket of imported frozen snails, these slimy suckers will likely have to been cleaned, but if buying them fresh like most people in Portugal do in markets throughout the warmer months (the city of Setubal is known for its caracois) or in many cases pick them right off grassy fields on a foggy day when the slugs tend to come out, the cleaning process is really the most tedious part. It requires submerging the snails (kind of brutal, I know, but there’s no other way) in a bucket filled with room temperature water, salt and vinegar. You do this until there is no more snot or the least amount possible.
  2. In a wide and deep pot add the chopped onion, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, and Tabasco sauce (three tea spoons or to taste)
  3. Sauté until the onion and garlic is golden
  4. Add white wine and after a minute or so, add the snails and just enough water to cover the snails and add salt (if using frozen snails, cook in the water in which it was packaged and add more if needed).
  5. Let boil and then cook on low heat for 20 to 30 minutes. Add the black pepper and serve with plenty of napkins and tooth picks.

Note: The white wine I selected for our Petiscos paired especially well with the snails, which have a hint of grass to their taste, and so opened the wines subtle fruit bouquet, mostly melon, a bit more when it otherwise remained mostly dormant with the other dishes.

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