The prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is rising, an increase that may be associated with changes in lifestyle such as unhealthy dietary patterns. Although advanced age is a risk factor for NAFLD, no studies reporting this association in the elderly population were found. In the present study, the association between dietary patterns and NAFLD in the elderly was assessed. A study including 229 older adults was conducted. NAFLD diagnosis was defined as individuals whose ultrasound examination disclosed hepatic steatosis at any stage, in the absence of excess intake of alcoholic beverages. Dietary patterns were obtained by principal components analysis. Mean scores and standard errors of each dietary pattern were calculated for the groups with and without NAFLD, and mean scores of the two groups were compared using the Mann–Whitney U test. The prevalence ratios and 95 % CI were estimated for each tertile of the dietary pattern adherence scores using Poisson multiple regression models with robust variance. A total of 103 (45 %) elderly with NAFLD and four dietary patterns were identified: traditional, regional snacks, energy dense and healthy. Mean scores for adherence to the healthy pattern in the groups with and without NAFLD differed. NAFLD was inversely associated with greater adherence to the healthy pattern and directly associated with the regional snacks, after adjustment for confounders. In conclusion, healthy dietary pattern is inversely associated with NAFLD in elderly.