Authentic Portuguese Aletria Recipe - Delicious Vermicelli Dessert


Authentic Portuguese Aletria Recipe - Delicious Vermicelli Dessert
Region / culture: Portugal | Preparation time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes | Servings: 8



Aletria is a traditional Portuguese dessert that is particularly popular during the Christmas season. This sweet, creamy dish is made primarily from vermicelli pasta, milk, sugar, and eggs, and is often flavored with a hint of vanilla and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. Its comforting texture and taste make it a favorite among both adults and children, serving as a delightful end to any meal.


The origins of Aletria can be traced back to the Arab presence in the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages. The Arabs introduced a variety of new ingredients and dishes to the region, including a precursor to Aletria known as "itriyya," which referred to a type of wheat pasta. Over time, the recipe evolved, incorporating local ingredients such as milk and eggs, to become the dessert known today in Portugal.


How to prepare

  1. Pour milk into a large pan.
  2. Bring the milk to a boil, stirring constantly.
  3. Add 0.5 cups of sugar and the salt to the milk.
  4. Beat the eggs, then add the remaining sugar and all the vanilla to the egg mixture.
  5. Slowly blend some heated milk into the eggs to thin them enough for easy pouring.
  6. Break the noodles into pieces and add them to the boiling milk.
  7. Stir constantly until the noodles are cooked.
  8. Remove from the heat.
  9. Slowly add the egg mixture to the cooked noodles.
  10. Pour the mixture onto platters to cool.
  11. Sprinkle with cinnamon.


  • There are several variations of Aletria that incorporate different flavors such as lemon or orange zest, or even a splash of port wine for a unique twist. Some versions also include a layer of egg yolk cream on top for extra richness.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure a smooth and creamy texture, constantly stir the milk as it comes to a boil and when adding the vermicelli to prevent any lumps from forming. Gradually tempering the eggs with the hot milk is crucial to avoid curdling. For an extra silky texture, some prefer to strain the egg mixture before adding it to the noodles.

Serving Suggestions

Aletria is traditionally served chilled or at room temperature, often as a dessert after a main meal. It can be garnished with a sprinkle of cinnamon or lemon zest for added flavor.

Cooking Techniques

The key technique in making Aletria is the careful tempering of eggs with hot milk to ensure a smooth custard without curdling. Another important technique is the constant stirring when cooking the vermicelli to achieve an even texture.

Ingredient Substitutions

For a dairy-free version, almond or coconut milk can be used in place of cow's milk. To make it vegan, a combination of silken tofu and plant-based milk can substitute for eggs and milk, though the texture and taste will vary.

Make Ahead Tips

Aletria can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve. This allows the flavors to meld together and the dessert to set properly.

Presentation Ideas

Serve Aletria in individual bowls or glasses, layered with fresh fruit or compote for a colorful and appealing presentation. A dusting of cinnamon or powdered sugar can add a decorative touch.

Pairing Recommendations

Aletria pairs well with a light, fruity wine such as Moscatel or a slightly acidic white wine that can cut through the richness of the dessert.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Aletria is best enjoyed cold or at room temperature, so reheating is not generally recommended.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A typical serving of Aletria contains about 300-400 calories, making it a relatively indulgent choice. The majority of these calories come from the carbohydrates and fats in the dish.


A single serving of Aletria is rich in carbohydrates, primarily from the sugar and vermicelli pasta. The total carbohydrate content can vary but is typically around 60-70 grams per serving, making it a high-energy dessert option.


The fat content in Aletria comes mainly from the eggs and milk. Depending on the type of milk used (whole, 2%, or skim), the fat content per serving can range from 5 to 15 grams. Using lower-fat milk can reduce the overall fat content.


Aletria provides a moderate amount of protein, thanks to the eggs and milk. Each serving can contain approximately 8-12 grams of protein, contributing to its nutritional value.

Vitamins and minerals

This dessert is a good source of calcium from the milk, as well as vitamin D if fortified milk is used. Eggs provide vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B12, along with selenium and phosphorus. The nutritional profile can be enhanced by using enriched pasta.


Common allergens in Aletria include dairy (milk) and eggs. It's also important to note that the vermicelli pasta is typically made from wheat, which contains gluten. Individuals with allergies or intolerances to these ingredients should exercise caution.


Aletria is a high-energy, comforting dessert that offers a good balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, along with essential vitamins and minerals. However, due to its sugar and calorie content, it's best enjoyed in moderation.


Aletria is a cherished Portuguese dessert with a rich history and a comforting, creamy texture. By following the recipe and tips provided, you can create a delightful treat that's perfect for any occasion. Whether enjoyed as a festive holiday dessert or a sweet ending to a family meal, Aletria is sure to please.

How did I get this recipe?

I have a clear recollection of the first time I saw this recipe for Aletria. It was many years ago, when I was just a young girl, visiting my aunt in Portugal. My aunt was a wonderful cook, and she often spent hours in the kitchen preparing delicious meals for our family.

One day, as I sat at the kitchen table watching my aunt work her magic, she pulled out a tattered old recipe book. She flipped through the pages, her fingers tracing the faded words of recipes passed down through generations. And then, she stopped at a page that seemed to shimmer with the promise of something special.

"This," she said, pointing to the page, "is a recipe for Aletria. It's a traditional Portuguese dessert made with vermicelli, milk, sugar, and cinnamon. It's a favorite during the holidays, especially Christmas."

I watched as my aunt gathered the ingredients and began to cook. The kitchen filled with the sweet aroma of cinnamon and sugar, and I could hardly wait to taste the finished dish. When she finally served us each a bowl of the warm, creamy dessert, I took my first bite and was instantly transported to a world of sweetness and comfort.

From that moment on, I was determined to learn how to make Aletria myself. I begged my aunt to teach me, and she graciously agreed. We spent hours in the kitchen together, her guiding hand showing me how to cook the vermicelli to perfection, how to slowly add the milk to create a creamy consistency, and how to sprinkle just the right amount of cinnamon on top.

As I stirred the pot, I felt a deep sense of connection to my family's past. I imagined my ancestors, gathered around a table much like this one, sharing stories and laughter as they enjoyed this same dessert. And I knew that I was part of a long line of women who had passed down this recipe through the generations.

After that day, I made Aletria whenever I could, perfecting my technique with each batch. I shared it with friends and family, who marveled at the rich flavors and comforting warmth of the dish. And as I cooked, I felt a sense of pride in preserving this tradition, in keeping alive a piece of my heritage.

Years passed, and I continued to make Aletria, always thinking of my aunt and the moment she first introduced me to this magical recipe. And now, as I sit in my own kitchen, surrounded by the sounds and smells of cooking, I am grateful for the gift she gave me that day – the gift of a delicious dessert and a connection to my past.

As I write this story, I can almost taste the sweet, creamy goodness of the Aletria, feel the warmth of the cinnamon on my tongue. And I know that as long as I continue to cook this dish, I will always carry a piece of my family's history with me, a reminder of where I come from and the traditions that have shaped me.

So, whenever I make Aletria, I do so with love and gratitude, honoring the memory of my aunt and the generations of women who came before me. And as I share this recipe with you, I hope that you too will feel the magic and the connection that comes from cooking a dish that has been passed down through time, from one kitchen to another.


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