8 Top Traditional Puerto Rican Foods

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If you’re looking for a place with incredible cuisine, you can’t go wrong with Puerto Rico.

8 Top Traditional Puerto Rican Foods

With a history and culture that draws as many different influences as this corner of the Caribbean does, you’re going to have a cuisine that mixes a little bit of everything, and then some

Some classic indigenous flavors here, and some extra Spanish recipes there.

A touch of African influence too, and of course, some inspiration from mainland American food too.

The results speak for themselves, with a range of recipes that are packed with flavor that can fill pretty much any place in a meal at the dinner table.

Don’t believe us? Just check out these amazing recipes that we have collected for you, and see what we mean!


Starting this list with a favorite turnover recipe that many people will already be familiar with, we have these delicious Empanadillas!

These staple Puerto Rican pastry dishes are usually stuffed with some type of diced potatoes and minced beef, but the most important thing to add to these little pockets of Puerto Rican flavor are the seasonings: achiote, and sofrito.

Sofrito brings the fresh, slightly sweet, even minty flavor to the recipe, especially when added with browned onions, garlic, coriander, and peppers.

The achiote brings a slightly earthy, nutty flavor to the mix, creating a dish that makes a delicious savory-sweet flavor for any dinner table.

Make sure that you’re pan-frying these little guys too!


Now, this is a recipe that every Latin American household will be familiar with!

Pernil is a popular dish not just in Puerto Rico, but across pretty much all of Latin America. And it’s not hard to see why!

The key to this recipe, alongside getting a nice big slice of pork shoulder, is the seasoning and marinade that is made for this dish.

Mixing oregano, garlic, olive oil, and sazón makes a truly spectacular dish when allowed to marinade with the pork as it roasts, especially on the pork skin as it starts to crisp up.

This recipe was traditionally done with a suckling pig, but as we said, a large shoulder of pork will do the job just as well for home cooking.

It’s arguably one of the most popular dishes to have at a Latin American Christmas table, so it’s got to be doing something incredibly well!

Rellenos De Papa

Next up, we have one of the most popular appetizer dishes in Puerto Rico!

Rellenos de Papa is a pretty simple dish, once you break it down into its key components. Potato wraps around the seasoned beef or pork in the middle with sofrito (also called picadillo), making for a savory bite that is surprisingly filling for its small size!

There are tons of ways that you can customize this dish, from adding cheese to throwing in browned or caramelized onions for a little extra sweetness.

But no matter which way you choose to eat it, this is a delicious way to start any meal at a Puerto Rican or inspired table!

Arroz Con Gandule

Who doesn’t love a good rice and beans recipe? It’s one of the best-filling foods out there, they’re almost always relatively easy and cheap to cook up, and healthy in amino acids too.

And, if you play your cards and seasoning right like with this recipe, you’ll also have tons of flavor in there!

This particular rice dish can be made with pretty much any kind of rice, whether you’re going with some kind of long grain or pilaf.

So long as you’ve got some fresh pigeon peas handy, and some pork to boot, you can make a dish that is heavy on the flavors, and more than fills up any appetite that you might have.

And, of course, this is still a Puerto Rican dish, so make sure that you’re adding plenty of sofrito to the mix too early in the recipe, so it has a chance to soak into all your ingredients!

Tostones & Maduros

Plantain is a type of fruit that is used in many different kinds of cuisine across Latin America and the Caribbean, and Puerto Rico is no exception.

In Puerto Rico, you have quite a few interesting options when it comes to using plantain, even if it is just on its own.

With Tostones, you can take an unripe plantain, slice it up, fry it twice, then sprinkle on some salt and garlic, and you have yourself a delicious Puerto Rican equivalent of french fries!

Maduros are very similar but are simply the sweetened version. The plantain is allowed to ripen, and a lightly fried, so it can crisp up, and served as a great balance to a saltier main dish.

Either way, if you’re looking to come up with a great way to use up that plantain, this is the recipe for you!


Talking about plantain recipes, we’re not done using this amazing little (or rather, big) fruit just yet, as it’s going in this Mofongo recipe too!

This particular dish appears to be descended from West African cuisine, where vegetables are pounded and pulped into a paste.

Here, the ingredient is unripened plantain, which is lightly fried before it is then mashed together with garlic, salt, broth, and a little olive oil to make sure that it all combines in a way that is pure perfection to eat.

Through in a little pork for good measure, and you have a rich side dish for pretty much any main course!


What do you get when you combine vegetable dough and meat filling in a steamed package?

Well, if this recipe for Pasteles is anything to go by, you get a perfect little treat for your main course!

Banana and plantain make up the outside dough mixture, along with yutia/yuca with potato or milk for an extra smooth dough outside.

The filling can be pretty much anything you want, from pork mince to tropical fruits, to vegetables too.

No matter what you’re throwing in your Pastele, it’s going to be seasoned with plenty of sofrito for good measure. This is still a Puerto Rican dish, after all!

Asopao De Pollo

Whether it’s Mexican, American, Indian, or European, you can’t go wrong with a good chicken recipe under your belt.

So of course Puerto Rico is going to have its tasty alternative under its belt!

While there are many dishes out there to choose from for this one, we decided to go with Asopao de Pollo here.

This soup recipe, like all the best soup dishes out there, is just too tasty and filling to pass up!

Along with the ham, tomatoes, garlic, and plenty of other ingredients, you should be adding, cooking chicken off the bone is the best way to make this dish.

And, of course, don’t forget the sofrito!

Final Notes

So, there you have it!

Whether you’re a meat lover with a hankering for pork, trying to make a dish with just some potato and cheese, or you’re just a really big fan of sofrito spice (which is fair.

It is an amazing spice to have handy), there are so many options for you to try and incorporate into your recipes!

Now, which of these tasty dishes are you going to whip up first?