10 Traditional Foods In Burkina Faso To Try 

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Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa bordered by Niger, Mali, Togo, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Ghana. It is one of the many French-speaking countries in Africa. Burkina Faso is known for its gold and cotton export, but foods in Burkina Faso seem to fly under the radar. 

What’s Special About Foods in Burkina Faso?

Many Burkina Faso foods are simple and quite healthy. The country’s cuisine is full of fresh foods made from sorghum, millet, beans, rice, okra, peanuts and potatoes. Because the country’s economy relies heavily on agriculture, most of these ingredients are locally sourced. 

Whether you are a meat lover or vegetarian, there are foods you can try in Burkina Faso. With riz gras, saghbo, fufu, brochettes and many more, there is no shortage of excitement with Burkinabé foods. 

Here are some traditional foods in Burkina Faso to try. 

Most Famous Food In Burkina Faso

Riz Gras (One-Pot Rice) 


Considered the national dish of Burkina Faso, riz gras is a one-pot rice fare similar to jollof rice. It is a staple in many West African cuisines.

Unlike jollof rice, which is a one-pot rice cooked in tomato sauce and often accompanied by meat or fish, riz gras has rice, tomato sauce and fish or meat as the base ingredients. Garlic, chili pepper and onions enhance its flavor. 

Main Dishes in Burkina Faso Food

Fufu (Cassava Dough)

Fufu is a popular food on the African continent, with variations in different countries. It is one of the most famous dishes in Burkinabé cuisine. 

In Burkina Faso, fufu is made from a mix of cassava and green plantain flour. The flour is mixed with boiling water and stirred to attain a thick consistency before it is shaped into balls. 

This food tastes tangy and isn’t typically eaten as a standalone dish. You can pair it with any of the plenteous stews and soups in Burkinabé cuisine. Typically, locals enjoy fufu with their hands, molding the dough and scooping up soup with it.

Babenda (One-Pot Meal)

Babenda is a popular food in Burkina Faso. However, it is one that is hard to wrap your head around. Many consider it a stew, while others consider it a main dish. One thing we are sure of is that babenda is a delicious meal to savor.

Originating in Burkina Faso, babenda is made with greens like spinach, kale, swiss chard or mustard green. But this food has a special ingredient called dawadawa or soumbala (fermented locust beans). It gives the food a distinct flavor you cannot find anywhere outside the country. 

Locals enjoy babenda with boiled rice, but you can also enjoy it with other main dishes.

Chicken Yassa (Braised Chicken)


Chicken yassa is a popular Senegalese food that has somehow managed to become a staple in Burkinabé cuisine. This dish, as the name suggests, is chicken based. The poultry is marinated in lime juice, mustard, onions and other local spices to boost the flavor and make it tasty. 

The meat melts in the mouth as it is cooked to tender. Chicken yassa is often paired with rice, couscous and other main dishes. You will find variations of this food across the country, the most common being lamb yassa and poisson yassa (fish).

Soups in Burkina Faso Food

Ragout D’Igname (Yam Stew)

A sumptuous yam stew in Burkina Faso cuisine, ragout d’igname originated in the country and is popular across West Africa. The dish is made flavorful and tasty with condiments like garlic and ginger and vegetables like tomatoes, pepper, onions and carrots. 

This Burkina Faso food has striking similarities to a casserole. The yam is cooked to tender and has a thick texture. On your next trip to Burkina Faso, grab a piping hot bowl of ragout d’igname,  as it is best consumed hot.

Mafe (Peanut Stew)


This popular food in Burkinabé cuisine is suggested to have originated in Senegal. Locally known as tigadegena, this well-loved West African dish  is a peanut stew made with ingredients like onions, potatoes, vegetables and meat like beef, chicken, or lamb.

Mafe is versatile, with variations across Africa, but peanuts, onions and vegetables are its staple ingredients. Locals enjoy it with boiled rice, saghbo, sweet potatoes and fufu.

Sauce Gombo (Okra Stew)


Sauce gombo is a local Burkina Faso sauce made from okra (fresh or dried). Sauce gombo has a sticky texture and is usually accompanied by fish or meat.

This stew originated in the Ivory Coast but has influenced the cuisines of other African countries, including Burkina Faso. Okra is the only staple ingredient in this dish, as seasoning and condiments differ depending on the country.

Light Dishes, Snacks And Street Foods in Burkina Faso

Poulet Bicyclette (Grilled Chicken)


Poulet bicyclette, which translates to bicycle chicken, is a snack-like Burkina Faso dish cherished by the young and old alike. It is made from pieces of chicken marinated in lemon juice, roasted to perfection and accompanied by vegetables like carrots, potatoes and turnips. 

Often, sellers carry the chicken around the market on their bicycles, hence the name. The origin of the dish, however, is unclear, but it is one of the most popular foods in Burkina Faso and the rest of West Africa.

Brochettes (Meat Skewers)


This is one of the most well-known street foods in Burkina Faso. Brochettes are a barbecue-style dish cooked on a skewer. There is no specific meat for this dish, but locals typically use lamb, beef and chicken. The meat is first marinated in a blend of paprika, clove, garlic, cinnamon, vinegar and salt. 

Common as a late evening snack in the country, make sure to grab a bite of brochettes on a night out in Burkina Faso.

Sweets, Desserts And Pastries in Burkina Faso

Degue (Millet Yogurt Drink)


Degue, or thiakry as it is known, is a tasty Burkinabé dessert. Originating in West Africa, this Burkino Faso food is made with couscous, millet and yogurt. The grains are mixed with milk, yogurt and dried fruit like coconut and raisins. Condensed milk and honey are also added for sweetness.

This comfort food is creamy and tasty. You can enjoy this dessert with popular snacks in Burkina Faso. 


Discovering Traditional Foods In Burkina Faso

Burkinabé cuisine is an exciting option for foodies exploring different culinary gems.  Residents of Burkina Faso use lots of grains and other local ingredients to create many flavorful dishes. On your next trip to Africa, be sure to plan a visit to Burkina Faso so that you can explore the country’s vibrant food scene.



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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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