Crispy Golden Portuguese Pataniscas de Bacalhau Fritters

Portugal is home to many mouthwatering dishes, but one that stands out is the traditional Pataniscas de Bacalhau.

These savory fritters pack a punch of flavor and make a satisfying appetizer or main course. Let’s explore the origins and secrets behind making this iconic Portuguese fried delight.

A Brief History of Bacalhau in Portugal

The use of bacalhau (dried and salted codfish) in Portugal dates far back in history. As early as the 15th century, Portuguese fishermen were preserving cod by drying and salting it for longer storage times onboard ships. This enabled them to explore the seas and establish trading routes more effectively.

Over time, clever cooks discovered that rehydrating and desalting the fish transformed it into a versatile and delicious ingredient. Bacalhau dishes became an integral part of the Portuguese diet and food culture. The abundance of recipes reflects the importance of cod in the country.

What Are Pataniscas de Bacalhau?

Pataniscas de Bacalhau translates to “codfish pancakes or fritters” in English. They earned the name “pancakes” due to their round, flat shape when fried.

The main components are shredded salted codfish, eggs, flour, and seasonings. When combined into a thick batter and fried to a beautiful golden brown, they emerge as irresistible fritters brimming with flavor.

Pataniscas – A Quintessential Portuguese Appetizer

These fritters make a stellar starter for any Portuguese-style feast. The crispy exterior gives way to a pleasantly salty, fishy interior that excites the taste buds. Pataniscas de Bacalhau awaken the appetite, prepping the palate for more delicious things to come!

In Portugal, pataniscas often appear as an appetizer at festive gatherings and special occasions. They also make tasty snacks or main dishes. No Portuguese menu would be complete without these codfish fritters!

Tips for Preparing Perfect Pataniscas

Mastering pataniscas requires just a few easy steps. Here are some helpful pointers:

  • Soak the codfish adequately to remove excess salt. Changing the water helps draw out the salt.
  • Drain and shred the codfish into small flakes before mixing into the batter. Larger pieces may not bind well.
  • Add seasonings like pepper, parsley, and onion to boost flavor. Go easy on extra salt.
  • Chill the batter briefly before frying. This prevents the fritters from breaking apart.
  • Fry in hot oil until crispy and golden. Take care not to burn them.

Step-by-Step Pataniscas Recipe

Follow this simple recipe for flawless pataniscas every time:


  • 1.1 lbs (500g) desalted bacalhau (codfish)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1⁄2 cup flour
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Oil for frying


  1. Desalt the codfish by soaking in water for 24-48 hours, changing water periodically.
  2. Drain codfish, pat dry and shred into small flakes.
  3. Whisk eggs and baking powder in a bowl.
  4. Add flour, codfish, onion, parsley, salt and pepper.
  5. Mix well until thick, homogeneous batter forms.
  6. Refrigerate batter for 30 minutes.
  7. Heat oil in deep pan over medium-high heat.
  8. Scoop batter by the tablespoon and add to hot oil.
  9. Fry 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown.
  10. Drain on paper towels and serve hot. Enjoy!

Cooking Variations

The basic pataniscas recipe allows for some easy additions and tweaks:

  • Add a dash of hot sauce or cayenne for a spicy kick.
  • Mix in chopped olives, roasted red peppers or sun-dried tomatoes for extra flavor.
  • Top with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice before serving.
  • Serve with dipping sauces like aioli, tomato salsa or garlic mayo.
  • Swap the onion for scallions or leeks. Adjust herbs to taste.
  • For a heartier meal, serve patties atop a salad or with roasted veggies.

History Meets Modern Flair

Traditional pataniscas connect us to Portugal’s seafaring history and heritage. But this recipe also lends itself to contemporary twists:

  • Use panko or cornmeal for added crunch.
  • Make miniature versions for sharing platters or parties.
  • Create a fusion flavor profile with spices like cumin, curry or ginger.
  • Serve the fritters in modern appetizer-style dishes for a polished presentation.

Portuguese Pataniscas – Now in Your Kitchen

Bring the flavors of Portugal into your kitchen with this easy pataniscas de bacalhau recipe. These crispy codfish fritters offer a savory taste of iconic Portuguese cuisine. With the right techniques, you can recreate this traditional appetizer or main dish loaded with heritage and flair.

Want to expand your culinary horizons further? Check out this article on 10 must-try iconic local dishes from around the world: 10 Iconic Local Dishes From Around The World.

Immerse your palate in new flavors, textures, and cultures. With a passport in one hand and a fork in the other, a world of adventure awaits your taste buds. So get cooking, get traveling, and bon apetite!