Skip to Content

18 Cuban Recipes For Dinner & Dessert

Sharing is caring!

Cuban cuisine is a vibrant tapestry of flavors, influenced by Spanish, African, and Caribbean culinary traditions. It’s known for its hearty meals, featuring a rich blend of spices, tropical fruits, and staple ingredients like beans, rice, pork, and seafood. Cuban dishes often embody a sense of comfort and nostalgia, bringing families together and encapsulating the island’s diverse cultural heritage. This list of 18 Cuban recipes showcases the depth and variety of Cuba’s culinary landscape, from the iconic Ropa Vieja and savory empanadas to the sweet delights of Flan Cubano. Whether you’re new to Cuban cuisine or looking to recreate cherished flavors from your childhood, these recipes promise to transport you to the heart of Havana, inviting you to savor the vibrant, soulful dishes that make Cuban food truly unforgettable.

1. Ropa Vieja

Cuba’s National Dish

Ropa Vieja, which translates to “old clothes,” is Cuba’s national dish, featuring shredded beef stewed in a rich, flavorful tomato sauce with bell peppers and onions. This dish is a testament to Cuban creativity, turning simple ingredients into a comforting, deeply flavorful meal.

A Taste of Home

Ropa Vieja is more than just food; it’s a taste of home for many Cubans, symbolizing warmth and family. It’s typically served with white rice and black beans, making for a hearty and satisfying meal that embodies the essence of Cuban cuisine.

Rich History, Rich Flavor

The dish’s unique name and cooking method have roots in Spanish colonial history, showcasing the blend of cultures that define Cuba. Ropa Vieja’s rich flavor and tender beef make it a beloved staple in Cuban households and restaurants alike.

Check this recipe.

2. Cuban Black Beans (Frijoles Negros)

A Staple Side Dish

Cuban Black Beans, or Frijoles Negros, are a staple of Cuban cuisine, known for their creamy texture and aromatic flavor. Cooked with a sofrito of garlic, bell peppers, and spices, these beans are a versatile side dish that complements a variety of main courses.

Versatile and Nutritious

This dish is not only versatile, complementing everything from rice to meats, but it’s also nutritious. Black beans are a great source of protein and fiber, making Frijoles Negros a healthful addition to any meal.

Simple Ingredients, Complex Flavors

Despite the simplicity of its ingredients, Cuban Black Beans offer a complex flavor profile, showcasing the depth that can be achieved with careful seasoning and slow cooking. It’s a humble dish with a rich taste that’s deeply rooted in Cuban culinary traditions.

Check this recipe.

3. Cuban Sandwich (Cubano)

A Fusion of Flavors in a Sandwich

The Cuban Sandwich, or Cubano, is a delicious fusion of flavors packed into a crispy, pressed sandwich. Featuring ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard on Cuban bread, the Cubano is a flavorful, satisfying meal that has gained popularity worldwide.

An Iconic Street Food

Originally a quick lunch for Cuban workers in cafes and street carts, the Cuban Sandwich has become an iconic representation of Cuban street food. It’s known for its unique combination of meats, cheese, and pickles, offering a taste that’s both distinctive and irresistible.

Crispy, Cheesy, and Flavorful

The key to a perfect Cubano lies in the pressing, which melds the flavors together and gives the bread its trademark crispiness. It’s a cheesy, flavorful sandwich that’s perfect for any meal, showcasing the best of Cuban comfort food.

Check this recipe.

4. Cuban Empanadas

A Popular Snack with Endless Fillings

Cuban Empanadas are a popular snack, featuring a flaky pastry filled with a variety of ingredients, from seasoned meats to sweet fillings. These handheld pies are a testament to the versatility and creativity of Cuban cuisine, offering endless possibilities for fillings and flavors.

A Bite of Cuban Culture

Empanadas are a bite of Cuban culture, reflecting the island’s history and its blend of culinary influences. They can be found everywhere, from street vendors to family gatherings, making them a beloved part of Cuban food tradition.

Perfect for Any Occasion

Whether served as a snack, appetizer, or meal, Cuban Empanadas are perfect for any occasion. Their crispy exterior and flavorful fillings make them a hit at parties, picnics, or simply as a treat to enjoy any time.

Check this recipe.

5. Tostones (Fried Plantains)

A Crispy, Savory Side

Tostones, or fried plantains, are a crispy, savory side dish that’s a staple in Cuban cuisine. Sliced green plantains are fried, smashed, and then fried again to achieve a golden, crispy texture that’s perfect for dipping or as a complement to any meal.

Simple Yet Irresistible

Despite their simplicity, tostones are an irresistible part of the Cuban dining experience. The double-frying process transforms the plantains into a crispy, salty treat that’s hard to stop eating. They’re often served with a garlic sauce or mojo for dipping, adding an extra layer of flavor.

A Versatile Companion

Tostones are incredibly versatile, serving as a delicious companion to a wide range of dishes. Whether paired with a main course or enjoyed as a snack on their own, they offer a satisfying crunch that’s beloved by all ages.

Check this recipe.

6. Arroz con Pollo

Cuba’s Comforting Chicken and Rice

Arroz con Pollo, or chicken with rice, is a comforting, one-pot meal that’s a staple in Cuban households. This dish combines tender chicken pieces with flavorful yellow rice, cooked together with vegetables and spices to create a hearty meal that’s both satisfying and aromatic.

Read also: 20 Traditional Argentinean Recipes

A Family Favorite

Arroz con Pollo is a family favorite, known for its ability to bring people together around the dining table. It’s a versatile dish that can be adapted to include different vegetables or spices, making it a canvas for personal expression.

Rich in Flavor and Tradition

The dish is not only rich in flavor but also in tradition, reflecting the Spanish influence on Cuban cuisine while incorporating unique Caribbean twists. It’s a testament to the fusion of cultures that characterizes Cuban cooking.

Check this recipe.

7. Picadillo

A Savory Ground Beef Classic

Picadillo is a savory ground beef dish that’s flavored with tomatoes, olives, raisins, and spices. This classic Cuban recipe is known for its sweet and salty flavor profile, making it a versatile filling for tacos, empanadas, or simply served with rice and beans.

A Staple Dish with Variations

Picadillo is a staple dish in Cuban cuisine, with variations found across Latin America. The Cuban version is distinct for its use of raisins and olives, creating a unique taste that’s both rich and comforting.

Quick and Easy to Prepare

Despite its complex flavors, Picadillo is quick and easy to prepare, making it an ideal weeknight meal. It’s a flavorful, nourishing dish that showcases the simplicity and depth of Cuban cooking.

Check this recipe.

8. Yuca con Mojo

A Flavorful Root Vegetable Dish

Yuca con Mojo is a popular Cuban side dish featuring yuca (cassava) boiled until tender and then topped with a garlicky citrus sauce known as mojo. This dish highlights the starchy root vegetable’s mild flavor, enhanced by the vibrant, tangy sauce.

A Celebration of Cuban Flavors

Yuca con Mojo celebrates the fundamental flavors of Cuban cuisine, with the mojo sauce adding brightness and depth to the otherwise simple yuca. It’s a dish that’s both humble and rich in taste, showcasing the importance of sauce in Cuban cooking.

Versatile and Satisfying

The dish is versatile and satisfying, serving as an excellent complement to a variety of main courses. It’s a comforting side that brings a piece of Cuban tradition to any meal.

Check this recipe.

9. Flan Cubano

Cuba’s Beloved Custard Dessert

Flan Cubano is a creamy, caramel-topped custard dessert that’s a beloved end to meals in Cuban cuisine. Known for its smooth texture and rich flavor, this version of flan is distinguished by the addition of sweetened condensed milk, giving it a luxurious depth.

A Sweet Tradition

Flan Cubano is more than just a dessert; it’s a tradition, often made for family celebrations and special occasions. It’s a dish that’s shared with love, symbolizing the warmth and hospitality of Cuban culture.

Simple Elegance

The elegance of Flan Cubano lies in its simplicity, proving that great ingredients need little embellishment. It’s a dessert that’s both easy to make and deeply satisfying, offering a taste of Cuban sweetness to anyone who tries it.

Check this recipe.

10. Cuban-Style Grilled Corn

A Street Food Favorite

Cuban-Style Grilled Corn is a twist on traditional street food, featuring grilled corn on the cob slathered in a tangy lime-infused mayonnaise, rolled in crumbled queso fresco, and sprinkled with chili powder. It’s a vibrant, flavorful dish that’s perfect for summer barbecues and outdoor gatherings.

Bold and Zesty Flavors

This dish is all about bold and zesty flavors, with the tangy lime mayo and spicy chili powder bringing a Cuban flair to the sweet, smoky corn. It’s a testament to the Cuban love for vibrant, lively food that’s full of character.

Easy and Impressive

Cuban-Style Grilled Corn is not only easy to prepare but also makes an impressive side dish that’s sure to wow guests. It’s a fun and delicious way to add a Cuban twist to a classic summer favorite, elevating the humble corn on the cob to something truly special.

Check this recipe.

11. Vaca Frita

Crispy Fried Beef with Citrus

Vaca Frita, translating to “fried cow,” is a mouthwatering Cuban dish consisting of marinated, boiled, shredded beef that’s later pan-fried until crispy. Infused with lime and garlic, it offers a tantalizing mix of flavors and textures, served with onions and additional lime on the side for an extra zesty kick.

A Flavorful Cuban Classic

This dish is a flavorful testament to Cuban culinary ingenuity, transforming simple ingredients into a crispy, juicy, and aromatic feast. Vaca Frita is a classic example of Cuban comfort food, satisfying and full of flavor.

Versatile and Enjoyable

Vaca Frita can be enjoyed in various ways, from a main dish accompanied by rice and beans to a filling for tacos or sandwiches. Its versatility and irresistible flavor make it a beloved choice among Cuban cuisine enthusiasts.

Check this recipe.

12. Moros y Cristianos

Cuba’s Iconic Rice and Beans

Moros y Cristianos, meaning “Moors and Christians,” symbolizes the blend of African and Spanish influences in Cuban culture, through a dish of black beans and white rice cooked together with spices. This iconic side dish is flavorful, aromatic, and serves as the perfect base for many Cuban meals.

A Staple with Deep Roots

Reflecting Cuba’s history and cultural diversity, Moros y Cristianos is more than just a side dish; it’s a staple with deep roots in the island’s culinary traditions. It’s celebrated for its ability to complement a wide range of main dishes, providing a hearty, comforting element to any meal.

Simple Yet Profound

The beauty of Moros y Cristianos lies in its simplicity and the profound flavors achieved from combining humble ingredients. It’s a testament to the richness of Cuban cuisine, offering a satisfying, nutritious addition to the dining table.

Check this recipe.

13. Ajiaco Cubano

A Hearty Cuban Stew

Ajiaco Cubano is a hearty stew that’s a melting pot of Cuban agriculture, featuring a variety of root vegetables, meats, and spices simmered together to create a thick, rich, and comforting dish. It’s often considered a reflection of Cuba’s diverse culinary landscape.

A Celebration of Harvest

This stew celebrates the harvest, incorporating ingredients like malanga, yuca, plantains, and corn, along with pork or beef. Ajiaco Cubano is a rustic, nourishing dish that embodies the spirit of Cuban home cooking.

Rich in History and Flavor

Ajiaco Cubano is as rich in history as it is in flavor, telling the story of the island’s indigenous, African, and Spanish influences through its complex layers of taste. It’s a warming, filling dish perfect for bringing people together.

Check this recipe.

14. Cuban Bread Pudding (Pudín de Pan)

A Sweet Cuban Delight

Cuban Bread Pudding, or Pudín de Pan, transforms day-old bread into a moist, sweet dessert, flavored with cinnamon, vanilla, and raisins, then bathed in caramel. It’s a delicious example of Cuban resourcefulness and love for sweet treats.

Read also: 19 Delicious Marinade Recipes

Comforting and Satisfying

This dessert is both comforting and satisfying, offering a sweet end to any meal. Cuban Bread Pudding is enjoyed by families across the island, showcasing the simplicity and warmth of Cuban desserts.

A Dish of Nostalgia

For many, Pudín de Pan is a dish of nostalgia, evoking memories of childhood and family gatherings. It’s a simple yet beloved recipe that continues to be a favorite among Cubans and those who love Cuban cuisine.

Check this recipe.

15. Guava Pastelitos

Cuban Guava Pastry Treats

Guava Pastelitos are flaky, sweet pastries filled with guava paste and sometimes cream cheese, offering a delightful combination of sweet and tart flavors. These treats are a staple in Cuban bakeries and a favorite among those with a sweet tooth.

A Bite of Cuban Culture

These pastries offer a bite of Cuban culture, showcasing the island’s love for guava and its skill in pastry making. Guava Pastelitos are perfect for breakfast, dessert, or as a snack, embodying the sweetness of Cuban cuisine.

Easy to Make, Hard to Resist

Though Guava Pastelitos are easy to make, especially with store-bought puff pastry, they’re hard to resist. Their appealing taste and texture make them a popular choice for any occasion, from family breakfasts to festive celebrations.

Check this recipe.

16. Cuban-Style Grilled Shrimp

A Seafood Delight with Citrus and Garlic

Cuban-Style Grilled Shrimp marries the sweetness of shrimp with a zesty marinade of lime juice, garlic, and cilantro, grilled to perfection. This dish highlights the island’s seafood tradition, offering a light yet flavorful option that’s perfect for warm weather dining.

Simple Elegance

This dish embodies the simple elegance of Cuban cuisine, utilizing fresh ingredients to create a dish that’s bursting with flavor. It’s a testament to the power of good seasoning and the grill’s magic in transforming seafood into a delightful meal.

Ideal for Gatherings

Cuban-Style Grilled Shrimp is ideal for gatherings, easy to prepare for a crowd and sure to impress with its vibrant flavors. It’s a celebration of Cuba’s coastal offerings, perfect for any occasion that calls for fresh, delicious seafood.

Check this recipe.

17. Lechon Asado

Traditional Cuban Roasted Pork

Lechon Asado is a traditional Cuban roasted pork dish marinated in a mojo sauce made from sour oranges, garlic, and spices, then slow-roasted until tender and juicy. This dish is the centerpiece of many Cuban celebrations, known for its succulent meat and flavorful crust.

A Celebration of Flavor

Lechon Asado is more than just a meal; it’s a celebration of flavor, bringing families together to enjoy a dish that’s rich in tradition and taste. The mojo marinade infuses the pork with a tangy, garlicky flavor that’s unmistakably Cuban.

The Heart of Cuban Festivities

Serving as the heart of many Cuban festivities, Lechon Asado is a dish that symbolizes joy and community. It’s a culinary experience that’s shared among loved ones, highlighting the importance of food in bringing people together.

Check this recipe.

18. Cuban Coffee (Café Cubano)

A Strong, Sweet Coffee Tradition

Cuban Coffee, or Café Cubano, is a strong, sweet coffee tradition that’s an integral part of Cuban culture. Made with espresso and sweetened with a frothy layer of sugar, it’s a potent and invigorating drink that’s enjoyed at any time of day.

A Social Ritual

Café Cubano is more than just a beverage; it’s a social ritual that fosters conversation and friendship. Whether sipped at a café or shared in the home, it’s a warm, welcoming drink that embodies the Cuban spirit.

The Perfect End to Any Meal

Cuban Coffee is the perfect end to any meal, offering a sweet, caffeinated conclusion that’s as satisfying as it is traditional. It’s a simple yet essential part of Cuban cuisine, representing the island’s love for strong, flavorful coffee.

Check this recipe.


This collection of 18 Cuban recipes offers a flavorful journey through Cuba’s culinary landscape, from the savory richness of Ropa Vieja and Lechon Asado to the sweet indulgence of Flan Cubano and the crisp satisfaction of Plantain Chips. Each recipe showcases the diversity, tradition, and passion that define Cuban cuisine, inviting you to explore the vibrant flavors and hearty dishes that bring families and friends together in celebration. Whether you’re looking to recreate cherished memories or discover new favorites, these Cuban recipes promise to transport you to the streets of Havana and the heart of Cuban culture. Perfect for cooks of all levels, these dishes are a testament to the simplicity, richness, and joy of Cuban cooking. By bringing these recipes into your kitchen, you’re not just preparing meals; you’re embracing a culinary heritage that’s as flavorful and vibrant as Cuba itself. Enjoy the journey through the tastes and aromas of Cuba, and let these dishes inspire gatherings filled with laughter, love, and delicious food.

Sharing is caring!