Recipe for Marinated Tremoços (Lupini beans) from Portugal

recipe Lupini Tremocos Portugal

I’ve now been in Portugal for a month and a half, mostly in Lisbon where I lost my socks and found my appetite. This spring is my first real stay in Portugal; I spent a few days here in 2012 when I spoke at a conference in Porto and subsequently wound my way up along the narrow roads that line the Douro river. Ever since, I have wanted to return.

Madeira: absolutely beautiful.

Madeira, a tiny island not far from the Canary Islands, was my choice to write, eat, and hang out with friends. I spent a month there, renting a place in Funchal, the capital, and enjoying time with friends on the island.

Following my recent arrival, I’ve consumed my fill of specialities, many of which I’ll write about later. Marinated beef cooked on skewers of bay leaf stems, grilled black scabbard fish, angry and slimy but delicious, and limpets, gastropods that come to the table sizzling on a flat platter, smothered in garlic and lemon juice and parsley.

Of all the new dishes, however, tiny lupini beans were the ones I wanted to share first, called tremoços in Portuguese. Lupini beans are high-protein legumes that originated in Egypt or the East Mediterranean, cultivated since the days of ancient Egyptians but expanded in geographic reach once they became a staple of the Roman diet. The Romans used the beans both for themselves and for their animals. As the Roman empire grew, so did use of the lupini beans.

“No kind of fodder is more wholesome and light of digestion than the White Lupine, when eaten dry. If taken at meals it will contribute a fresh colour and cheerful countenance”


Large and flat, they resemble giant kernels of corn with a much thicker and tougher skin. (Fun fact: when you eat them you’re supposed to take that skin off, but I did not. I ate a bag full skin on. No ill effects this time but I’ve been schooled that it’s not good for digestion to leave the skin on.)

Because of this outer layer, and the alkaloids found in the earlier Roman era version of these beans, the lupini are usually prepared by cooking and preserving them in a salty water marinade. While modern lupini beans are not as aggressively alkaloidal, soaking them overnight, boiling, and then re-soaking for days is a necessity. Once most of the bitterness has left the beans, they taste delicious with beer or wine. It’s no wonder that I’ve seen these snacks in bars around Portugal, Italy, and Spain.

While lupini beans are popular as snacks in the Mediterranean, they are also available in Egypt and Syria and other parts of the Middle East. A source of protein that is second only to soy beans — 100g of lupini have approximately 36g of protein in them — they are a healthier snack than potato chips or other bar food. Forget greasy bar snacks: eat lupini instead.

While this post provides an overview, history professor and author Ken Albala devoted an entire book to beans. He rightly notes that, “nearly every culture has depended on beans” — so he decided to write about them in full. In his book Beans: A History, Albala notes that while they have helped keep civilizations alive as a source of food for the poor, as soon as people are able to afford meat, they often turn their backs on the humble bean. As the Latin expression goes, dives factus jam desiit gaudere lente: “He became a rich man and suddenly he no longer likes lentils.”

About our subject matter here, Albala writes, “The lupine is the oddest rebel among beans. For those who have never encountered them, they break every rule known about bean cookery. To start with, they are poisonous.” And onward he goes, discussing the history of this bean that needs to be soaked and tamed before it is eaten, food for society long ago.

Today, lupini beans are still consumed in some parts of the world, like Madeira. I’ve shared the recipe from there below, marinated and tangy, salty and bitter all at once. These days the lupini is not subject of philosophical discussion, but in most of the world is not a staple food. Lupines today, Albala writes, “are a traditional food eaten by people as a reminder of their homeland and by adventurous eaters hoping to experience simple but authentic peasant fare.”

Lupini Bean Recipe: Marinated Tremoços from Portugal

Lupini bean recipe from Portugal
Marinated tremocos from Madeira


  • About 1 cup (240 ml) dry lupini beans, rinsed. (A Portuguese brand available via Amazon here.)
  • Large pot of water, at least 4 cups (1 litre).
  • 2 cloves of garlic, vertically sliced into thin slivers.
  • Olive oil.
  • Black pepper.
  • White pepper (optional).
  • Handful of chopped fresh parsley.
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) salt.

To Soak the Beans:

This is a recipe for patient people. But your patience is rewarded with delicious and healthy snacks!

  • Put the beans in a pot of water and soak overnight, for a total of 24 hours. Ensure that the water covers the beans completely. After twelve hours, check on the beans to make sure they are fully submerged and add more water if needed.
  • After the 24 hour period of soaking, bring the beans to a boil and simmer for 2 hours.
  • Drain and rinse the beans.
  • Place the beans in a large container and cover with cold water. Let them cool and then stick them in the refrigerator.
  • For the next 14 days, change the water once a day with new cold water. This soaking is what removes the bitterness from the beans.
  • After 14 days, add 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of salt and the sliced garlic to the beans. Place back in the fridge to soak overnight.

On the 15th day (I know, I know):

Once you are ready to eat your lupini beans, you simply remove the amount you would like to eat, and toss with olive oil, a pinch of black pepper, the chopped fresh parsley, and some white pepper if you would like a punch of heat.

Store the rest of the beans for future use in your airtight container in the fridge. They will keep for approximately two weeks.

The easy method for the less patient snacker:

If you would like to make these without the 14 day process, you can buy ready-to-use lupini beans in a variety of flavours, or the classic Cento read-to-eat lupini beans; both brands are pre-cooked and de-bittered. For this quicker method, empty and drain the beans from the jar and soak overnight in cold water and garlic. The next day, serve as you would above on the 15th day.

Don’t forget to remove the husks of the beans when eating!

For more food from Portugal or recipes to try and home…

I recommend the following books to read and cook from at home. Ingredients aren’t difficult to find outside Portugal, and the history of the dishes are extremely interesting.

Other delicious lupini bean recipes from around the web:

These are recipes I have tried and loved.

  • My fave: lupini bean and zucchini cakes, with a dill hemp dressing. Easy to make with a blender and a few choice ingredients, and extremely tasty! Recipe here.
  • Not very healthy — but definitely very satisfying option: crispy fried lupini beans with bacon. What’s not to love? Recipe here.
  • And for those who want the crispy crunch without frying: baked crispy lupini beans with zaatar, easily the one I make the most. Recipe here, keto-friendly.
  • Simple recipe like this one, with garlic and olive oil.
  • A summer fave: this one with baby kale salad.
  • Lupini bean hummus here.
  • And: asparagus and lupini bean salad here

And finally, my Food Maps of Portugal are now in the Legal Nomads shop!

Hand-drawn map featuring all the delicious Portuguese foods you love, placed around the shape of the country itself. Check it out here, including the Azores and Madeira on the maps. I am currently using the tote bag for my food shopping.

food map portugal
Sometimes I want to eat my food maps because I’m just so happy with how they turned out! <3

Bom apetite!


31 thoughts on “Recipe for Marinated Tremoços (Lupini beans) from Portugal”

  1. You are not supposed to take the skin off. It’s just a matter of personal taste (I prefer to eat them with the shell/skin). The skin adds mostly fiber and it’s not bad for digestion.

    Good recipe :)

    1. Hi Pedro! I am glad that you enjoy the skin too, but I will say everyone here has told me otherwise! That they’re hard to digest. I’ll look into this further. I’m perhaps just too impatient to eat them without the skin ;)

      1. Well…. I do pop the skin out with my fingers before eating, like on an automated move. So, I also don’t eat the skin. But some friends of mine do eat the skin.

  2. What an interesting recipe! I’ve never come across Lupini beans before, which is surprising as I’m always on the look out for high protein veggie food!
    The fortnight of soaking seems a little faffy but I guess once you’re done you can graze on them. I do like the idea of the pre-prepared ones though, yup, I’m that lazy, life is short!
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Rachel! It’s definitely a long process (but I did provide the short version for those without the time) but it’s also cool to see how the bitterness changes. You can try a bean every 5 days and see how you like them. In my case, the bitter ones around day 10 are good to my tastebuds, but others may disagree! Once they’re done at least you get another 2 weeks of bean deliciousness before you have to start over.

  3. Lupini lover here (and bona fide Portuguese, even if currently not there): ever since I was a kid I ate them with skin with no ill effects! Just go crazy.

    Also, in some places in Portugal, they serve you a snack of lupini mixed with peanuts, it’s an interesting combination, you should try it.

    1. Hah, glad to get two of you telling me I’m safe and sound chowing down on lumpini skins ;) I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them, and my local grocer has a bowl of them marinating near the cash. That was where I tried them first. He was shocked I had never seen them and just gave me one to try. Then he freaked out I didn’t take off the shell- hah!

  4. Hi everyone,
    I’m from Portugal and i growth up eating tremoços,my dad owned a Bar for 30 plus years and we always served Empalhadas,witch are a combination of lumping beans,amendoins (peanuts ) and azeitonas (olives ) with beer.and yes we always remove the shells, not because its bad for you but its softer in your mouth.

    1. Thanks Rui! I’m glad to get these confirmations that my stomach will be just fine with the shells. Took a friend to try poncha yesterday and we ate all the shells with no ill effects. Yay!

  5. Stephen Gradijan


    I hate to break it to you but you’ve been conned; those are a type of Portuguese olive!!!

    Just kidding…grins…but at first when I saw the pic I thought they were olives and I thought that perhaps you had found a type of olive that you enjoy.

    I hope you enjoy the rest of your stay in Portugal, and I thank you for allowing me/us to see the world through your eyes…and tastebuds.

    1. Hah, NOT FUNNY STEPHEN! Yes, others also thought they were olives but alas. I am happy to report, however, that I did eat 4 olives in one sitting earlier this month, and they weren’t as terrible as the others. Maybe I’m warming to them? Thanks for the note and for reading!

  6. Yummy! I prefer Portuguese recipes any day. Marinated Tremocos made from Lupini beans might well be my favorite dish from now on.

  7. I remember a number of happy nights munching on these in Funchal. Locals there told me to pinch the seeds to split them and pop the insides into my mouth (they intervened after seeing me chewing on them at first!).

  8. I loved them! They are so underrated!

    It’s always nice to see some love for Lisboa! Did you try the Pasteis de Belem (in Belem)?

    If you are heading to Funchal, do not forget to eat the ‘Prego no Bolo do Caco’! It is delicious!

          1. Hi Peter, I’ve usually used the beans right away but if not you can add vinegar and/or vinegar and garlic cloves to make it into a brine for the rest of the beans.

  9. Hello!
    I’m from Argentina and we eat these all the time. The Italians brought them over. We only eat them salted, no other spice.
    I have a quicker way of making these.
    Soak them overnight, change the water, boil and simmer for an hour or so. Let cool, change the water, add salt, let them sit for a couple of days, change water, boil again, cool, change water, and sit with added salt. They’re done in 6/7 days.
    Be very careful not boiling them too long the second time.
    Btw, we don’t eat the skin. They’re not too digestible. The thing is, I can eat 3 cups of these ready beans in one sitting and eating the skin would not do me good :D

  10. Homemade Tremocos are a wonderful snack…Salt, Water and Time are the only ingredients you need. The skins are especially good if they are tender. I, and no one I knew, ever had a problem digesting them.
    Pour some beer or wine and enjoy!

  11. There is a yearly Madeira Portuguese Feast each Aug. in New Bedford, MA where they serve many of the foods you probably ate. There’s also a large number of Portuguese restaurants.

  12. A big YES for this recipe as I’ve been obsessed with these beans since I visited Portugal! Going to try it and home.

  13. We Portuguese love nuts, seeds and beans. Roasted pumpkin seeds and lupini beans were a must have at coffee shops and bars to accompany beer. You are supposed not to eat the peel, but after a few beer, its all good.

  14. Can’t believe I found other lupini lovers !

    My grandparents (all four) came from the same region in Italy. Of course, with them they brought all their Italian recipes that 3 generations later, still enjoy today. Along with the great food, at a very young age I was introduce to lupini beans. I still cook them today, but with a much shorter time frame of 5 to six days, and still eat them like I’m eating candy. I will try that delicious looking recipe above ! Grazie a tutti.

    Dominic Palermo

      1. Hi Jodi, Gnom Gnom has keto recipes that will blow your mind for your celiac. Lots of pastries and breads with almond flour, lupini flour and coconut flours. Also try slippery elm for and the celery juice diet.

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