Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Blog

Portuguese Christmas Fruit Cake Recipe

Christmas and New Year in LisbonVisiting Portugal on Christmas and not eating Bolo Rei is the same as visiting Rome and not eating pizza!

What is Bolo Rei?

Bolo Rei is a sweet bread filled with almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, and raisins. On the top, it has candied fruit and icing sugar.

Bolo Rei’s History

The recipe arrived in Portugal in 1875. When the famous Confeitaria Nacional in Lisbon contracted a French pastry chef, this is a typical cake in Toulouse, France – the gâteau des Rois. The pastry launched this cake on the Three Kings Day (Epiphany). We eat this cake from the first week of December till the Epiphany (January 6).

This cake symbolizes the gifts offered by the Three Kings to the Baby Jesus. The crust represents the gold, the dried and crystallized fruits, the myrrh, and the aroma of the cake, the incense.

Read more: Best Time to Visit Portugal.

Authentic Portuguese King CakeRead here: What do they eat in Portugal for Christmas?

How many calories have a slice of king cake with 100 gr?

A slice has 310 Kcal.

How to make a King Cake?

Read here our Authentic Portuguese King Cake Recipe.


1 kg of wheat flour
400 g of candied fruits (apple, cherry, orange, and fig) to decorate the top of the bread
350 g of dried fruits (almonds, walnuts, pine nuts (if you don’t eat pine nuts, you can use hazelnuts), raisins)
200 g of sugar
200 g of butter
200 ml of milk
Six eggs
100 ml of spirits (firewater or rum)
50 g of dried yeast
20 g of salt
Egg yolk wash to brush the top before baking
Icing sugar or granulated sugar for sprinkling on top

Portuguese Christmas Fruit Cake RecipeINSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a glass, mix the warm milk, yeast, and salt.
  2. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and add the melted butter, yeast mix, and firewater.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour and sugar, and mix well.
  4. Add the egg with the yeast, and mix it into a dough.
  5. Add the dried fruits to the dough. Put in a warm area to let the dough rise for about an hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180.º C (about 350.º F).
  7. Form the dough into three crowns, brush with the egg yolk and decorate with candied fruits.
  8. Bake each wreath separately on a buttered tray in the oven for approximately 20 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven. After 30 minutes, sprinkle with icing or granulated sugar.

Read here: Eco-Friendly Gift You Can Buy in Portugal.

I don’t eat candied fruit. Is there another Christmas Cake in Portugal?

The Bolo Rainha (queen cake) is the ideal option for those who don’t like candied fruits. As the filling only contains nuts and dried fruits. But, of course, today, we see more options, such as the chocolate bolo rei, which is a brioche, and dark chocolate.

Bolo ReiIs Portuguese King Cake suitable for vegetarians?

Yes, Portuguese King Cake is suitable for vegetarians because it doesn’t contain meat or fish products.

Read here: Portugal New Year Breaks.

Is Bolo Rei suitable for vegans? Can I make this recipe without eggs?

No, that is the traditional recipe for the King Cake. But there’s a vegan recipe, dairy-free and egg-free.

Read more: Best Things to Eat in Portugal?

Is Bolo Rei gluten-free?

No, that is the traditional recipe for this Christmas Cake. But there’s a gluten-free recipe.

Get immersed in Portugal’s culinary delights! Enjoy a culinary, food, and wine tour in Portugal. These cooking holidays are specially made for you!

  • Posted in: