Food & Drink

Our Favourite Snacks From Around the World

Our Favourite Snacks From Around the World

Snacking. We all do it and we all love it. Whether it’s to tide you over from breakfast until lunch or to pick yourself up from an afternoon slump, there’s no denying the universal appeal of an in-between meal treat. And everyone has their own particular preference; crisps hog the UK’s top spot (Walkers’ Cheese and Onion are the favourite flavour), while chocolate bars (particularly Snickers and Kit Kat) are favoured worldwide. Beyond these packaged snacks, each nation also champions its own bite-sized delicacies and street food offerings. So, if you’re curious about how other countries choose to keep themselves satiated, read on for a list of our favourite snacks from around the world.


Plantain Chips, Africa & South America

Here in the UK, we’re big fans of the humble crisp. So much so, that the Walkers site in Leicester is the biggest crisp production plant in the world, making more than 11 million bags a day and using more than 800 tons of potatoes. Yet search for snacks around the world and you’ll find that Walkers doesn’t quite have the same hold on any other nation. In many African and South American countries, plantain chips rule supreme as the snack of choice. Made by frying bananas’ starchier sibling in hot oil, these perfectly crispy chips are sold in convenience stores and by street vendors.


Empanadas, Argentina

Empanadas have their origins in Iberian and Latin American countries, but in recent years have begun cropping up all over the world. The name comes from the Spanish empanar, meaning ‘breaded’, and this outer layer of crispy pastry makes them easy to transport and even easier to devour. Argentina in particular knows how to craft these flaky, golden crust snacks. The traditional recipe consists of a wheat dough pastry stuffed with beef and baked or fried, although vegetarian variations (filled with onions, spinach, cheese or boiled eggs) are also now ubiquitous across the country – music to the ears of non-meat eaters.


Vada Pav, India

India is synonymous with excellent street food, and in every city you’ll find sprawling open-air markets boasting a sensory overload of spices, smells and flavours. With this in mind, vada pav is just one of many snacks you’ll want to try when travelling around the country. Originating from the state of Maharashtra, these burger-like bites consist of a spicy, deep-fried potato patty served in a breaded bun. Often topped with sweet and tangy chutney, they make a perfect on-the-go snack while navigating India’s rich tapestry of landscapes.


Loukoumades, Greece

Another easy to eat sweet treat, loukoumades are Greece’s answer to doughnuts – think deep-fried golden dough balls, drenched in honey and sometimes garnished with cinnamon or chopped walnuts. These heavenly morsels have a long-standing history in Greece and were supposedly given as small gifts to victors of the Olympic games, with their original name in ancient Greek literature translating to the rather adorable moniker of ‘honey tokens’. Particularly popular in the south of Greece, they are normally sold as a street food and similar variations can be found in Cyprus, Turkey and the Middle East.


Taiyaki, Japan

Japan is well-known for its creative snack choices (squid flavoured candy anyone?), but rest assured that taiyaki is more of a fail-safe option when it comes to snacks from around the world. Despite being shaped like fish, there’s nothing fishy about them and these warm, pillowy cakes will appeal to those with a sweet tooth. They come filled with azuki (a sweetened red bean pasta), custard, chocolate or matcha and taste a bit like a pancake.


Koeksisters, South Africa

Sticking with the sweet-toothed theme for snacks around the world, koeksisters are one of South Africa’s most iconic snacks. Deriving from the Dutch word ‘koek’, meaning a wheat flour confectionary, the traditional Afrikaner pastry is made by soaking plaited fried dough in a cold sugar syrup (usually laced with cinnamon, lemon and ginger). The result? A sugary, sticky delicacy, with a crispy golden crust and syrupy centre.


Poutine, Canada

Canada’s ultimate comfort food, poutine can double up as a full meal if you eat enough of it. Dating back to the 1950s and originating in Quebec, the dish is a hearty concoction of French fries (or chips) and cheese curds, topped with thick gravy. Simple yet indulgent, it’s like an elaborate version of the UK’s beloved chips and gravy and may be the ultimate post-night-out food.


Arancini, Italy

Named arancini in honour of their orange-like shape (arancia is Italian for orange), these filled-and-fried tasty rice balls are of Sicilian heritage. Traditionally stuffed with meat sauce and peas or fresh mozzarella cheese, they’re wonderfully gooey and satisfying to bite into to. Other regions of Italy have their own variations; supplì are Rome’s take, while pall' 'e riso are served in Naples. In eastern Sicily, you’ll often find them fashioned into a conical shape, inspired by Mount Etna.

Written by Luisa Watts