20 Delicious and Popular Puerto Rican Foods
Puerto Rican food is a delicious blend of culinary traditions and ingredients. However, being a tropical island has also influenced the development of Puerto Rican cuisine, which has evolved over the centuries to what it is today.
In this blog post, I’ll discuss the reasons Puerto Rican food is so unique and introduce you to twenty of its most delicious main courses, side dishes, and desserts. I hope to pique your interest in this original cuisine and you’ll try it and enjoy it as much as I do.
What Makes Puerto Rican Food Unique?
Although external observers tend to put all Latin American cuisines into the same category, because they’re all strongly corn-based, the truth is that each national cuisine has its own unique features and peculiarities.
Puerto Rican food is a spot-on example of this. It’s been compared to Cuban, Mexican, and even Spanish food, but Puerto Rico’s history and geography have given its cuisine a series of ingredients and flavors absent in other countries. The eclectic mix of Taíno, African, Spanish, and American cultures present on the island has given Puerto Rican food a truly unique taste.
20 Delicious Dishes of Puerto Rican Food
This list includes a little bit of everything that makes Puerto Rican food so deliciously unique. Enjoy!
How about starting this list of exquisite Puerto Rican dishes with a unique sandwich? Instead of bread, it uses fried plantains to hold everything together. The Jibarito sandwich includes steak, cheese, tomato, lettuce, and mayo. The two slices of fried plantains, known as tostones, are what gives it its distinctive Boricua flavor.
2. Lechón Asado
A lechón is a piglet, and in this Puerto Rican delicacy it’s first marinated in a mix of herbs and then roasted whole over coal for several hours. The city of Guavate is famous for its collection of lechoneras or pork restaurants.
A staple of Puerto Rican homes, the asopao is a hot soup made with chicken, olives, sofrito, and rice on the side for you to add to your bowl. It’s a potent and comforting meal that’s said to cure any ailment you may have.
4. Rellenos de Papa
These croquettes of mashed potato filled with picadillo (ground beef) and sofrito (basic tomato sauce) are an exquisite appetizer. The varieties available include onion, cheese, and pork.
5. Arroz con Pollo
One of the most popular dishes in the spectrum of Puerto Rican food is the simple but delicious arroz con pollo (chicken with rice). Some of the most popular versions of this dish include pollo agridulce (sweet and sour chicken), pollo al jerez (chicken in sherry), and pollitos asados a la parrilla (broiled chickens).
6. Arroz y Habichuelas
Known in Cuba as moros con cristianos and in the United States as “rice and beans,” arroz con habichuelas has been called the quintessential Puerto Rican side dish. It differentiates itself from the Cuban and American versions through its unique mix of herbs and spices.
You already know them as the “bread” of the jibaritos, but tostones are also served alone as a delicious snack to dip in garlic sauce. Think of French fries, only estilo puertorriqueño (Puerto-Rican style).
As you may have noticed by now, plantains are a big thing in Puerto Rico, and pastelón is another example of this. This kind of Boricua lasagna instead of pasta uses plantains but keeps the ground beef and the cheese.
Bacalaitos are deep-fried fritters made with cod fish, flour, and baking powder. They’re a rich traditional Puerto Rican food that you’ll find across the island.
Yet another of the fried snacks so common in Puerto Rican food, alcapurrias are made from green plantains and taro root and stuffed with ground beef.
This beef stew is an original dish from the Canary Islands. However, Puerto Ricans have made sancocho one of their most beloved dishes by adding traditional Boricua ingredients such as plantains, yuca, and chile pepper.
Similar to Mexican tamales, pasteles are made of vegetable dough and meat filling, and steamed in banana leaves. The dough is a mixture of plantains, bananas, malanga (a root vegetable), potato, and milk.
This popular dish is also a feature in other Latin American cuisines, namely Venezuelan and Colombian, but Puerto Ricans prepare them with their own distinctive ingredients, such as coconut and mariscos (seafood).
Think of mofongo as the Puerto Rican answer to mashed potatoes, but instead of potatoes Boricuas mash plantains. Mixed with crunchy pork skin, onions, and garlic, it’s a super popular side dish.
A local specialty of the Puerto Rican town of Piñones, piononos are made of yellow plantain dough stuffed with ground beef and deep fried.
Extra slow roasted pork shoulder, pernil can take from a few hours to a full day of roasting to acquire the desired softness of the pork meat. Accompany it with mojo sauce (fresh herbs, garlic, and spicy peppers), rice, and beans.
17. Polvo de Amor
This sweet treat, creatively called “love powder,” is prepared with coconut and a fair amount of sugar. It’s one of the most popular desserts in Puerto Rico.
Distinguished as “Puerto Rico’s most popular treat,” quesitos are exquisite Boricua pastries made with eggs, sugar, and honey and filled with cream cheese. ¡Qué rico!
Keeping with the desserts, this delicious and creamy coconut pudding is prepared with coconut milk, cornstarch, and sugar. Tembleque is a traditional Christmas dessert in Puerto Rico.
To close out this tasty list of Puerto Rican food, I chose this popular bread pudding served with raisins, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, vanilla ice cream, and a touch of rum.
Puerto Rican food is rich, diverse, and full of tropical ingredients like plantains and coconuts. The mixture of culinary traditions across the island have produced an fascinating cuisine with unique and exquisite dishes. Try them out as a fun and tasty way of getting to know more about this extraordinary country and cuisine!
Leave a comment and share your favorite Puerto Rican food with Spanish students from all over the world. Let’s start a conversation!
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