Lisbon-Style Bifana Recipe

Today David jumps the border over to Portugal to bring us the recipe for one of my all-time favorite sandwiches, the humble Portuguese bifana. 

In Lisbon, the bifana is king. Anthony Bourdain raved about it, and Lisboetas wouldn’t think of eating anything else as a tasty midnight snack. It might sound humble, but this simple sandwich of thinly-sliced marinated pork packs plenty of flavor! 

best bifana in Lisbon
Bifana: the humble king of Lisbon’s street food scene.

A Lisbon Street Food Classic

Every local has their favorite bifana in Lisbon. The city is full of old-school tascas, no-frills local bars serving up a range of Portuguese classics. Plenty of them are famous for their bifanas, and every local granny has their own signature recipe! 

Now, locals would say that you can only get a good bifana in Lisbon. But if you’re at home and want to recreate some Portuguese home-cooking, this simple bifana recipe is for you! Like plenty of Potuguese classics, the bifana is easy to prepare and tastier than you’d think given its short ingredients list. Just remember that you’ll need to marinate the pork overnight before cooking!

bifana sandwiches being served in Lisbon.
Bifanas ready to serve across the counter of O Trevo, Anthony Bourdain’s favorite Lisbon tasca!

Authentic Portuguese Bifana Recipe

Lisbon-Style Bifana Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This classic Portuguese sandwich is stuffed with the things Lisbon locals love: marinated pork, chilli and mustard over toasted bread.
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Portuguese
Serves: 4
  • 400g pork loin (skinless), sliced into 3mm thin strips
  • 4 medium cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons piri-piri sauce (with more for serving)
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 soft white breadrolls
  • Sweet mustard, to serve
  1. In a large lidded container, mix the sliced pork, crushed garlic, salt, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 tablespoon of piri-piri, the vinegar, 1 cup of white wine and bay leaf. Seal the container and marinate overnight in the fridge.
  2. Remove the pork from the marinate mixture and lightly drain.
  3. Place a large frypan over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil and wait until it becomes fragrant. Fry the pork in batches until lightly browned, and set aside. Add more oil between batches if the pork starts to stick.
  4. When the pork is cooked, deglaze the pan with the remaining cup of white wine. Add the remaining paprika and piri-piri and bring to the boil.
  5. Reduce the liquid to a sauce-like consistency, and then return the pork to the pan. Cook for one minute, making sure that the pork gets completely coated in the sauce.
  6. Take the pan off the heat and place the pork on a plate. Serve on the white bread rolls, with added mustard and piri-piri sauce. Enjoy!
*If you don't have piri-piri sauce, you can substitute another tangy hot sauce like Tabasco (but piri-piri is best!).

Where’s your favorite bifana in Lisbon? Let me know in the comments below! 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: