Embark on a flavorful journey through Puerto Rican cuisine with this collection of 30 traditional recipes. Each dish, from savory stews and fried snacks to sweet desserts and refreshing drinks, tells a story of the island’s rich culinary heritage.
Infused with bold spices, tropical fruits, and hearty ingredients, these recipes offer a taste of Puerto Rico’s vibrant culture and traditions. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or new to Puerto Rican flavors, this list promises to bring the warmth and zest of the Caribbean into your kitchen.
1. Arroz con Gandules
A Puerto Rican Staple
Arroz con Gandules, or rice with pigeon peas, is a quintessential Puerto Rican dish. It combines rice, pigeon peas, and pork, cooked in a flavorful blend of sofrito and spices. This dish is a colorful and aromatic representation of Puerto Rican cuisine.
The Heart of Every Gathering
Arroz con Gandules is a must-have at celebrations and family gatherings. It’s not just a dish; it’s a part of Puerto Rican culture, bringing people together with its hearty and comforting flavors.
Make It Your Own
You can adjust the recipe by adding different meats like chicken or chorizo, or make it vegetarian by skipping the meat and using vegetable broth. The key is in the sofrito and the seasoning. Check this recipe.
A Flavorful Plantain Delight
Mofongo, a beloved Puerto Rican dish, is made from fried green plantains mashed with garlic and mixed with pork cracklings or bacon. This dish is renowned for its unique texture and rich flavor.
Versatile and Satisfying
Mofongo can be served as a side dish or a main course, often accompanied by a broth, chicken, shrimp, or steak. It’s a versatile dish that can be adapted to suit any meal.
Personalize Your Mofongo
Feel free to experiment with different fillings or toppings, such as seafood or a variety of meats. Vegetarians can enjoy mofongo filled with vegetables or topped with a savory sauce. Check this recipe.
Read also: 30 Sour Cream Recipes
The Ultimate Roasted Pork
Pernil is a slow-roasted pork shoulder, marinated in a blend of traditional Puerto Rican spices and herbs. The result is tender, flavorful meat with a crisp, crackling skin. It’s a show-stopping centerpiece for any feast.
A Holiday Favorite
Pernil is often served during Christmas and other special occasions. Its succulent flavor and festive presentation make it a favorite among Puerto Rican families during celebrations.
Customize Your Pernil
While the traditional seasonings are key, you can also add your personal touch with different marinades or by adjusting the cooking time for a softer or crispier skin. Check this recipe.
A Popular Street Food
Alcapurrias are savory fritters, a popular street food in Puerto Rico. Made from a dough of green bananas and taro root, they are filled with seasoned ground meat and deep-fried to golden perfection.
A Snack That Satisfies
Perfect as a snack or appetizer, alcapurrias are loved for their crispy exterior and flavorful filling. They’re a true taste of Puerto Rican culture, enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
Make It Unique
You can fill alcapurrias with various meats or make them vegetarian. Experiment with different spices in the filling to create your own version of this classic dish. Check this recipe.
A Traditional Holiday Dish
Pasteles are a traditional Puerto Rican dish, especially during the holiday season. Similar to tamales, they are made with a masa of green bananas and root vegetables, filled with seasoned pork, and wrapped in banana leaves.
A Labor of Love
Making pasteles is often a family affair, with multiple generations coming together to prepare this cherished dish. They are a symbol of tradition and family in Puerto Rican culture.
Your Personal Twist
While pork is traditional, you can fill pasteles with chicken, beef, or make them vegetarian. Each family has its own special recipe, so feel free to create your own tradition. Check this recipe.
Crispy Fried Plantains
Tostones are twice-fried plantains, a staple in Puerto Rican cuisine. They are known for their crispy exterior and soft interior, served as a side dish or snack. A simple yet delicious treat that’s incredibly versatile.
A Versatile Companion
Tostones can accompany a variety of dishes, from seafood to meats, or be enjoyed alone with a dipping sauce. They are a beloved part of Puerto Rican tables, offering a delightful contrast in textures.
Personalize Your Tostones
Enjoy them plain, salted, or with a garlic sauce. Some like to top them with cheese or a savory shrimp mixture for an extra layer of flavor. Check this recipe.
7. Puerto Rican Flan
A Creamy Caramel Dessert
Puerto Rican Flan is a rich, creamy custard topped with a layer of soft caramel. It’s a favorite dessert in Puerto Rican cuisine, known for its smooth texture and sweet, indulgent taste.
A Celebratory Sweet
Often served at celebrations and family gatherings, flan is a symbol of festivity and indulgence. Its simplicity and elegance make it a beloved dessert for all ages.
Variations to Explore
While traditional flan is vanilla-flavored, you can experiment with coconut, cheese, or even chocolate flans to discover new tastes and textures. Check this recipe.
Savory Cod Fritters
Bacalaitos are crispy cod fritters, a popular snack in Puerto Rico. Made from salted cod mixed with a seasoned batter and fried until golden, they are known for their unique flavor and texture.
A Street Food Favorite
Commonly found at street vendors and beach kiosks, bacalaitos are a go-to snack for those looking for something quick, tasty, and quintessentially Puerto Rican.
Customize Your Bacalaitos
Feel free to adjust the seasoning to your liking, or add herbs like cilantro for a fresh twist. Some even add a bit of spice for an extra kick. Check this recipe.
9. Carne Guisada
A Hearty Beef Stew
Carne Guisada is a Puerto Rican beef stew, slowly cooked with potatoes, carrots, and a rich, flavorful sauce. This dish is a comforting, hearty meal that’s perfect for family dinners.
A Versatile Main Course
Serve Carne Guisada with rice, beans, or even bread. It’s a satisfying dish that’s perfect for colder days or when you crave a taste of home.
Make It Your Own
You can add other vegetables like peas or bell peppers, or adjust the seasonings to suit your palate. This stew is hearty and adaptable. Check this recipe.
10. Sorullitos de Maiz
Sweet or Savory Corn Fritters
Sorullitos de Maiz are crispy cornmeal fritters, which can be sweet or savory. These little bites are a perfect snack or side dish, known for their crunchy exterior and soft, doughy interior.
A Flexible Snack or Side
Enjoy them as an appetizer, a side dish to complement a main course, or even as a standalone snack. They’re a versatile addition to any meal.
Customize to Your Taste
Sorullitos can be filled with cheese for a savory option or enjoyed plain for a slightly sweet snack. Experiment with dipping sauces to enhance their flavor. Check this recipe.
11. Puerto Rican Chicken Stew (Pollo Guisado)
A Comforting, Flavorful Stew
Pollo Guisado is a hearty chicken stew, deeply flavored with sofrito, tomatoes, and spices. This Puerto Rican comfort food is a staple in many homes, known for its tender chicken and rich, savory sauce.
Ideal for Family Meals
This stew is perfect for a warming family dinner. It’s a one-pot meal that fills the house with a delightful aroma and warms everyone’s heart.
Customize with Vegetables
Feel free to add potatoes, carrots, or olives to the stew. Each family has their own version, so don’t hesitate to put your personal spin on it. Check this recipe.
12. Puerto Rican Beans (Habichuelas Guisadas)
A Savory Side Dish
Habichuelas Guisadas are a flavorful and essential side dish in Puerto Rican cuisine, consisting of beans cooked in a rich, tomato-based sauce with sofrito and spices.
Pairs Perfectly with Rice
These beans are often served with rice, making the classic combination of “arroz con habichuelas”. They’re a simple, nutritious, and satisfying addition to any meal.
Choose Your Beans
You can use red, pink, or black beans depending on your preference. Each type offers a slightly different flavor and texture. Check this recipe.
13. Puerto Rican Coquito
A Festive Holiday Drink
Coquito is a traditional Puerto Rican holiday drink, similar to eggnog but made with coconut milk and rum. It’s sweet, creamy, and infused with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, making it a holiday favorite.
Celebrate with a Toast
Coquito is often shared during Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, bringing a taste of the tropics to the festive season.
Experiment with Flavors
While traditional coquito is coconut-flavored, you can experiment with chocolate, coffee, or even nut-based variations to create your unique holiday drink. Check this recipe.
14. Asopao de Pollo
A Hearty Rice Soup
Asopao de Pollo is a comforting Puerto Rican chicken and rice soup, rich in flavor and perfect for rainy days or when you need a warming meal. It’s a cross between a soup and a paella, hearty and satisfying.
A Complete Meal in a Bowl
This dish is often enjoyed as a complete meal, filled with tender chicken, rice, and vegetables, making it both nutritious and filling.
Add Your Touch
Feel free to add other ingredients like chorizo, olives, or capers for additional flavors and textures. Check this recipe.
Read also: 30 Heavy Cream Recipes
15. Puerto Rican Bistec Encebollado
A Flavorful Steak Dish
Bistec Encebollado is a Puerto Rican steak and onions dish, featuring thinly sliced beef marinated and cooked with a heap of sweet caramelized onions. It’s a simple yet flavorful dish that’s a staple in Puerto Rican cuisine.
Perfect for a Quick Meal
This dish is quick to prepare, making it an excellent choice for a satisfying weeknight dinner. Serve it with rice, beans, or tostones for a complete meal.
Marinade for the Best Flavor
Marinate the steak in a blend of traditional Puerto Rican spices and lime juice for the most flavorful experience. Check this recipe.
16. Puerto Rican Tembleque
A Coconut Pudding Delight
Tembleque is a creamy, coconut milk-based pudding, lightly sweetened and topped with cinnamon. This dessert is known for its smooth texture and refreshing coconut flavor.
A Simple Yet Elegant Dessert
Perfect for any occasion, tembleque is easy to make yet elegant enough to serve at a dinner party. It’s a delightful way to end a meal.
Customize with Toppings
Serve it plain or top it with fresh fruit, a sprinkle of toasted coconut, or a drizzle of caramel sauce for an extra special touch. Check this recipe.
17. Puerto Rican Rellenos de Papa
Stuffed Potato Balls
Rellenos de Papa are delicious stuffed potato balls, a popular snack in Puerto Rico. They consist of mashed potatoes filled with seasoned ground meat, then fried to a golden brown.
A Crowd-Pleasing Appetizer
These potato balls are perfect as an appetizer or snack, especially at parties or family gatherings. They’re a hit with both kids and adults alike.
Variety of Fillings
While traditionally filled with ground meat, you can also use cheese, vegetables, or even seafood as a filling. Check this recipe.
18. Puerto Rican Shrimp Creole (Camarones a la Criolla)
A Seafood Sensation
Camarones a la Criolla is a Puerto Rican shrimp dish cooked in a flavorful tomato-based sauce with bell peppers, onions, and garlic. It’s a vibrant and tasty dish that brings the essence of the Caribbean to your plate.
Perfect for Seafood Lovers
Ideal for a special dinner or a casual gathering, this dish is a crowd-pleaser, offering a delicious combination of flavors and colors.
Serve with a Twist
Pair it with rice, fried plantains, or over pasta for a fulfilling meal. Feel free to add a dash of your favorite hot sauce or herbs for an extra kick. Check this recipe.
19. Puerto Rican Beef Empanadas
A Crispy, Flavorful Snack
Beef Empanadas are a popular Puerto Rican snack, featuring a flaky pastry filled with a savory beef mixture. These empanadas are perfect for a quick bite or as part of a larger meal.
Ideal for Any Occasion
Whether it’s a party, a family gathering, or just a snack, empanadas are always a hit. They’re portable, delicious, and satisfying.
Customize Your Fillings
You can fill empanadas with chicken, cheese, or vegetables in addition to or instead of beef. Experiment with spices and fillings to find your favorite combination. Check this recipe.
20. Puerto Rican Corned Beef Hash
A Quick and Hearty Meal
Corned Beef Hash is a simple yet delicious Puerto Rican dish made with canned corned beef, potatoes, and a variety of spices. It’s a quick and hearty meal that’s perfect for busy weeknights.
Versatile and Filling
Serve it with white rice or as a filling for sandwiches or empanadas. It’s a versatile dish that can be adapted to any meal.
Add Your Favorite Veggies
Feel free to mix in vegetables like bell peppers, onions, or tomatoes to add flavor and nutrition. Check this recipe.
21. Puerto Rican Rice Pudding (Arroz con Dulce)
A Sweet and Creamy Treat
Arroz con Dulce is a Puerto Rican rice pudding, made with coconut milk, cinnamon, and raisins. This dessert is creamy, sweet, and full of comforting flavors.
Perfect for Dessert Lovers
Ideal for those who love sweet, creamy desserts. It’s a comforting treat that’s especially popular during the holiday season.
Experiment with Flavors
Add a splash of vanilla or rum for extra depth, or top with a sprinkle of nutmeg for added warmth. Check this recipe.
22. Puerto Rican Picadillo
A Savory Ground Meat Dish
Picadillo is a flavorful ground meat dish cooked with sofrito, olives, capers, and raisins. It’s a staple in Puerto Rican cuisine, known for its unique combination of sweet and savory flavors.
A Versatile Main or Side
Serve it with rice, use it as a filling for tacos or empanadas, or simply enjoy it on its own. Picadillo is a flexible dish that suits many tastes.
Customize to Your Preference
Adjust the sweetness and saltiness to your liking, or add potatoes or other vegetables for more substance. Check this recipe.
23. Puerto Rican Fish Stew (Bacalao Guisado)
A Flavorful Seafood Stew
Bacalao Guisado is a traditional Puerto Rican fish stew made with salted cod, tomatoes, and a mix of aromatic vegetables. It’s a hearty and flavorful dish that brings the ocean’s bounty to your table.
Ideal for Seafood Nights
A great choice for a family dinner or a gathering with friends, especially if you’re a fan of seafood. It’s both nutritious and delicious.
Adjust to Your Taste
Feel free to add other seafood or more spices, depending on your preference. The stew is versatile and adaptable to different tastes. Check this recipe.
24. Puerto Rican Tres Leches Cake
A Moist and Decadent Dessert
Tres Leches Cake is a moist, sweet cake soaked in a mixture of three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. It’s a beloved dessert in Puerto Rican cuisine, celebrated for its rich and creamy texture.
Perfect for Celebrations
This cake is often served at birthdays and other celebrations. Its sweet, indulgent nature makes it a crowd favorite.
Customize Your Cake
Top with whipped cream, fresh fruits, or a sprinkle of cinnamon to add your personal touch. Check this recipe.
25. Puerto Rican Salmorejo (Stewed Crab and Tomatoes)
A Seafood Delight
Salmorejo is a traditional Puerto Rican dish featuring crab meat stewed in a rich tomato sauce. This dish is a testament to the island’s love for fresh seafood, combining the sweetness of crab with the tanginess of tomatoes.
Perfect for Seafood Enthusiasts
Ideal for those who appreciate the flavors of the sea. Serve it with white rice or tostones for a complete and satisfying meal.
Customize with Herbs and Spices
Enhance the stew with your choice of herbs and spices, like cilantro or bay leaves, to suit your taste. Check this recipe.
26. Puerto Rican Sofrito
The Base of Many Dishes
Sofrito is a blend of herbs, garlic, peppers, and onions. It’s the foundational flavor base used in many Puerto Rican dishes, known for its aromatic and rich flavor profile.
A Versatile Kitchen Staple
Use sofrito as a starting point for stews, soups, beans, and rice dishes. It’s incredibly versatile and elevates the flavor of any dish it’s added to.
Create Your Own Blend
While there are many variations, feel free to create your own blend, adjusting the ingredients to your liking. Check this recipe.
27. Puerto Rican Guava Pastries (Pastelillos de Guayaba)
A Sweet Pastry Treat
Pastelillos de Guayaba are delightful pastries filled with sweet guava paste. These treats are a perfect blend of flaky pastry and the tropical sweetness of guava.
Ideal for Snacks or Dessert
Serve them as a snack, dessert, or with coffee. They’re a favorite for their simplicity and delicious taste.
Experiment with Fillings
Though traditionally filled with guava, feel free to experiment with other fillings like cheese or pineapple for a different twist. Check this recipe.
28. Puerto Rican Green Banana Escabeche
A Tangy and Savory Dish
Green Banana Escabeche is a unique dish made from green bananas and marinated in a garlicky vinegar sauce with onions and olives. It’s known for its tangy and savory flavors, offering a different way to enjoy bananas.
Perfect as a Side Dish
This dish is often served as a side, particularly with fried or grilled meats. It adds a refreshing and flavorful touch to any meal.
Customize to Your Palate
Adjust the level of acidity or add additional vegetables to your liking. Check this recipe.
29. Puerto Rican Quesitos
A Creamy Cheese Pastry
Quesitos are sweet cream cheese pastries, a popular treat in Puerto Rican bakeries. They feature a puff pastry filled with sweetened cream cheese and topped with a sugary glaze.
Ideal for Breakfast or Dessert
Enjoy these pastries for breakfast or as a dessert. They’re a delightful combination of creamy and crispy textures.
Add Your Favorite Flavors
Experiment by adding fruit fillings like strawberry or guava, or a sprinkle of cinnamon for a different flavor profile. Check this recipe.
30. Puerto Rican Yuca con Mojo
A Savory Root Vegetable Dish
Yuca con Mojo is a simple yet flavorful dish made from boiled yuca (cassava) and topped with a garlicky citrus sauce (mojo). It’s a staple in Puerto Rican cuisine, cherished for its earthy flavors and hearty texture.
Great as a Side or Main
Serve yuca con mojo as a side dish with meats or as a vegetarian main course. Its versatility makes it suitable for various meal types.
Personalize with Mojo Variations
The mojo sauce can be adjusted to include more garlic, herbs, or even a splash of vinegar for added tanginess. Check this recipe.
This curated selection of 30 Puerto Rican recipes showcases the depth and diversity of an island known for its vibrant flavors and hearty meals. From classic comfort foods to innovative dishes that blend traditional ingredients in new ways, each recipe provides an opportunity to explore the rich tapestry of Puerto Rican cuisine. Whether cooking for a special occasion or just seeking to spice up your daily meals, these recipes are a gateway to experiencing the joy and communal spirit of Puerto Rican cooking right in your own home.