Summer is here! While most people en masse throw a bunch of burgers and sausages on the barbecue, in Madeira they eat espetada. Espetada is a traditional Madeiran dish, not to be confused with that other popular Madeira dish ‘espada’! Although these two dishes are very similar in name, they totally different. Espetada is a meat dish and espada is fish.


Espetada is a grilled beef skewer. It is very simple and very delicious! Traditionally the beef is skewerd on a laurel branch, but nowadays it’s often made on metal skewers. The meat is seasoned with pieces of garlic and lots of coarse salt. That’s all it takes! No complex marinades consisting of twenty different kinds of spices, just meat, laurel, garlic and sea salt. Grill, preferably on a wood fire, and you’ll have a very tasteful meal!

espetada grilling on barbecue typical madeira food 


Since this is a very popular Madeiran dish, you can find it everywhere on the island. We have enjoyed a very good espetada at local restaurants in small villages. Just go where the locals go and you can’t go wrong!

Or, even better is this: eat espetada at a local feast. Many villages have (religious) holidays during summer. You can buy a skewer with raw meat to grill on one of the barbecues there. Buy some bolo do caco at one of the stands to soak up the meat juices, and enjoy your meal!

When we bought our first espetada on a village party, we were assisted by some very nice locals. They helped us grilling the meat to perfection and shared their bolo do caco with us. Because, according to them, this dish really needs bolo do caco! I agree completely, it was delicious. So, if by chance you encounter one of these feasts during your Madeira stay, just sit down with the locals and have a great meal!

local man grilling espetada at feast in madeira

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