What is a Brigadeiro? Plus Why You’ll Love This Sweet, Chocolatey Treat

What is a Brigadeiro? Plus Why You’ll Love This Sweet, Chocolatey Treat

What is a Brigadeiro?
What is a brigadeiro? If you’re asking that question, you’ve come to the right place! In the world of confectionery delights, there's one Brazilian treat that has captured the hearts and taste buds of people around the globe—the Brigadeiro.

This delectable chocolate truffle, with its rich history and cultural significance, has become a symbol of celebration, unity, and, of course, indulgence. So let’s take a deep, delicious dive into the history and significance of this chocolate treat.

And keep scrolling, because we’ll share an easy recipe long with ways to customize your brigadeiro with a variety of toppings. 

Of course, if you don’t want to spend the time to hand make your own brigadeiros, here at Sprinkle+Bean, we’re happy to supply you and your family with the finest brigadeiros that we make by hand using our beloved family recipe.

The Birth of Brigadeiro

The Brigadeiro's origin story is a bit unexpected. Typically we don’t think about political campaigns inspiring a delicious dessert, but that’s exactly how the brigadeiro was born. 

Let’s jump back in time to the 1940s, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. It was a time of political change, and there was an election at hand. One of the candidates running for president was Eduardo Gomes, who happened to be a “brigadeiro,” the Portuguese word for brigadier, or military commander of a brigade. It’s said that Eduardo had movie star good looks and that’s where the story gets a bit murky. Some say Eduardo’s wife created the chocolate confection that we know today, others say a group of his female admirers and supporters concocted the recipe as a marketing tool to attract more votes.

Either way, this was during World War II, when ingredients such as milk, sugar, nuts and fruits were scarce. So the originator(s) of this chocolate dish had to get creative with the ingredients they had on hand.

Whatever the truth is, the brigadeiro probably was the most monumental culinary contribution from that election season and its popularity soon swept across the country.

A Simple Recipe Becomes a Scrumptious Treat

At its core, brigadeiros boast a straightforward recipe: condensed milk, cocoa powder, butter, and chocolate sprinkles for coating. This simplicity, however, belies the deep connection the treat has with Brazilian culture. The use of condensed milk, a staple in Brazilian kitchens, reflects the resourcefulness and creativity embedded in the nation's culinary traditions.

The Sweet Symbol of Celebration

The Brigadeiro quickly became synonymous with festivities, celebrations, and gatherings. From birthdays to weddings, this chocolate delight earned its place as a must-have on the dessert table. The sweet's popularity skyrocketed, and it wasn't long before it became an essential part of Brazilian culinary culture.

Brigadeiros Have Become a Symbol of Family Connection and Hospitality

Beyond its delicious taste, the brigadeiro carries cultural significance that extends beyond the borders of Brazil. It represents the warmth of hospitality, the joy of shared moments, and the resilience of a nation that finds sweetness even in challenging times. The act of making brigadeiros has become a communal activity, bringing people together in the kitchen to create memories as they roll the chocolatey mixture into bite-sized balls.

From Humble Beginnings to International Appeal

In recent years, the brigadeiro has transcended cultural boundaries, captivating the hearts of dessert enthusiasts worldwide. Its velvety texture, irresistible sweetness, and the sheer joy it brings have made it a sought-after treat on global dessert menus. From upscale patisseries to homemade kitchen experiments, the brigadeiro has become a symbol of Brazilian culinary excellence.

The brigadeiro stands as a testament to the power of simplicity, resourcefulness, and the ability of a humble treat to weave itself into the cultural fabric of a nation. As you indulge in the rich, chocolatey goodness of a brigadeiro, remember that you're not just savoring a dessert—you're biting into a piece of history, a symbol of celebration, and a taste of the Brazilian tradition of creating connection through delicious handmade sweets.

A Simple Treat That’s Challenging to Perfect

Different flavor gift brigadeiros

Although the brigadeiro uses only a few ingredients, don’t let that fool you. It can be challenging to pull off the proper texture and flavor. At Sprinkle+Bean, we’ve spent years perfecting our recipe and technique. We understand that it takes a handmade touch and patience to make this recipe shine. If you’re attempting to make brigadeiros at home, there are some consideration to take into account:

Balancing Act of Consistency

Achieving the perfect consistency for brigadeiros is an art. The mixture of condensed milk, cocoa powder, and butter needs to be heated and stirred continuously until it reaches the right thickness. Too little time on the heat, and the brigadeiros might be too soft; too much time, and they can become overly dense. Finding the sweet spot is key.

Rolling Technique

Rolling brigadeiros into the classic bite-sized balls requires a bit of finesse. Some people struggle with getting the truffles to hold their shape. Keeping your hands slightly moist with butter or water can help prevent the confection from sticking to your hands and make the rolling process smoother.

Getting Brigadeiro Toppings to Stay Put

Coating brigadeiros with chocolate sprinkles can be a bit tricky. Ensuring that the sprinkles stick evenly to the truffles requires a freshly rolled brigadeiro and a gentle, but thorough, coating. Sometimes, if the surface is too dry or too sticky, the sprinkles may not adhere as well, affecting both appearance and texture.

Cocoa Powder Quality Matters

The choice of cocoa powder significantly influences the flavor of brigadeiros. Opting for high-quality cocoa powder ensures a rich and deep chocolate taste. Cheaper or lower-quality cocoa powders can make the finished product lack the satisfying flavor that brigadeiros are known for.

Importance of Condensed Milk

Condensed milk is a central ingredient in Brigadeiros, and the quality of the condensed milk can make a substantial difference. Using a good-quality condensed milk contributes to the smooth and creamy texture that is characteristic of well-made Brigadeiros.

Opt for the Best Butter

Butter adds richness to brigadeiros, but the type of butter matters. Using unsalted, high-quality butter ensures that the flavor profile remains balanced, allowing the chocolatey goodness to shine without being overwhelmed by excessive saltiness.

Temperature Sensitivity

Brigadeiros are sensitive to temperature changes. If the kitchen is too hot, the mixture may set too quickly, making it challenging to roll into smooth balls. On the flip side, in colder environments, the mixture might take longer to set, requiring extra patience during the rolling process.

As you can see, making Brigadeiros is a delightful yet nuanced process that requires attention to detail and an understanding of the ingredients. High-quality components not only enhance the flavor but also contribute to the overall texture and enjoyment of these Brazilian treasures. From the first stir of the pot to the final sprinkle of chocolate coating, each step in the Brigadeiro-making journey takes planning and patience. But the end result is well worth the time and trouble! However, if you’d prefer to skip these steps and taste the best brigadeiros around, all you need to do is choose your favorite topping flavors from our wide assortment and have a collection of brigadeiros delivered straight to your door, no stirring or rolling required!

What Occasions Call for Brigadeiros?

Brigadeiros are versatile delights that find their way onto the dessert tables during various celebrations and gatherings in Brazilian culture. Here's a closer look at when Brigadeiros are commonly served:


Perhaps the most iconic setting for Brigadeiros is at birthday parties. These chocolate truffles are a staple at Brazilian birthday celebrations, adorning dessert tables alongside cakes and other treats. The festive atmosphere is incomplete without these sweet, bite-sized indulgences.


Brigadeiros have also earned a place at weddings, contributing to the array of desserts enjoyed during the reception. The symbolic sweetness of Brigadeiros aligns perfectly with the joy and celebration of a wedding, making them a popular choice for couples and guests alike.

Festivals and Holidays

Brazilian festivals and holidays, such as Carnival and Independence Day, see an abundance of Brigadeiros. These occasions are marked by a spirit of togetherness, and the shared enjoyment of Brigadeiros becomes a tradition that adds to the festive mood.

Family Gatherings

Any family gathering, from casual get-togethers to more formal dinners, can feature Brigadeiros. The simplicity of their preparation makes them an easy and delightful addition to family events, creating a sense of warmth and sweetness.

Special Events and Celebrations

Beyond the traditional occasions, Brigadeiros are served at various special events, including anniversaries, graduations, and baby showers. Their versatility allows them to adapt to different themes and settings, making them a go-to choice for a sweet touch to any celebration.


Brigadeiros are not limited to large gatherings; they also make for delightful gifts. Whether boxed and beautifully presented or casually shared among friends, these chocolate truffles have become a popular way to express affection and celebrate special moments.

Everyday Indulgence

While Brigadeiros are often associated with celebratory occasions, it's not uncommon for people to enjoy them on an everyday basis. Whether as a midday treat or a pick-me-up after a long day, Brigadeiros bring a touch of sweetness to daily life.

In essence, Brigadeiros are not just a dessert; they are a cultural expression of joy, togetherness, and celebration. Whenever there's a reason to rejoice, you can be sure that Brigadeiros will find their way to the heart of the festivities, creating sweet memories that linger long after the last chocolatey bite.

Explore Classic and Innovative Brigadeiro Toppings

Brigadeiros are wonderfully versatile, and you can get creative with various toppings to add extra flair to these chocolate truffles. Here are some ideas for popular Brigadeiros toppings:

Almond Crunch

Roll Brigadeiros in finely chopped or toasted almonds for a delightful nutty crunch that complements the creamy chocolate center.

Hazelnut Elegance

Embrace the luxurious flavor of hazelnuts by coating Brigadeiros in chopped or ground hazelnuts. The combination of chocolate and hazelnut is a classic and indulgent choice.

Coffee Bliss

For the coffee lovers, dust Brigadeiros with a layer of finely ground coffee to not only add a subtle coffee flavor but also enhances the visual appeal.

Nonpareil Color Burst

Make your Brigadeiros pop with a burst of color by rolling them in nonpareils. Choose festive colors or a mix of hues to add a playful touch to these chocolate treats.

Strawberry Infusion

Infuse a fruity twist by incorporating dried strawberry powder into the chocolate sprinkle coating. The sweet and tangy flavor pairs wonderfully with the richness of Brigadeiros.

Passionfruit Zing

Elevate your Brigadeiros with a tropical twist by rolling them in a mixture of passionfruit powder and sugar. The exotic flavor adds a refreshing zing to the chocolatey goodness.

Feel free to mix and match these toppings to create your own unique Brigadeiros or experiment with other ingredients like shredded coconut, crushed pistachios, or even a sprinkle of sea salt for a gourmet touch. The possibilities are endless!

How to make brigadeiros

Brigadeiro Recipe

Brigadeiro Ingredients

Makes 8 servings

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup chocolate sprinkles or whatever topping you prefer


  1. Grease a plate, bowl, or cookie sheet.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Gradually mix in condensed milk and cocoa powder, stirring constantly.
  3. Stir until the ingredients are fully incorporated and you can drag a spatula or spreader across the bottom of the pan and it remains clear for a few seconds. This is a sign the mixture is ready to be removed from the heat and usually takes around 10 minutes on medium-low heat.
  4. Pour the mixture onto your greased cookie sheet or plate.
  5. Chill for one hour. 
  6. Scoop out between a teaspoon and a tablespoon (depending on the size of brigadeiros you’d like). With lightly buttered hands, roll each serving into a ball.
  7. Roll with your choice of toppings. Place in mini confectioners or cupcake liners.