Puerto Rican dishes

The 7 Must-Try Traditional Puerto Rican Dishes

If there’s one place that’s absolute heaven for food lovers, it’s Puerto Rico. With a wide range of influences in the food, the vibrancy of Puerto Rican culture really comes alive in its dishes. You’re sure to see a lot of tempting things here but there’s some Puerto Rican dishes that you simply have to try.

From mofongo to tostones, these are the tasty eats you have to try.

Must-Try Traditional Puerto Rican DishesHow do these rankings work?

1. Mofongo

This is Puerto Rican comfort food at its best. Mofongo is traditionally made from deep-fried green plantain pieces that are mashed with garlic and either salt-cured pork, pork crackling, butter, and/or oil.

Mofongo can either be served as a side dish, or it can be stuffed with any kind of meat, such as stewed chicken, crab meat, octopus, churrasco steak, fried pork, seafood, or stewed vegetables.

2. Lechón Asado

This is a real favourite when it comes to Puerto Rican dishes! A whole pig (lechón) is marinated in adobo (a mix of garlic, oregano, black pepper, vinegar, and water) and then slowly roasted over coals for several hours, until the meat is juicy and the skin crispy. *drools*

You can try some of the best lechón in Puerto Rico in Guavate. Here, you’ll find plenty of lechoneras (pork restaurants) serving local pork.

Image: @lechonasado/Instagram

3. Tostones

Tostones are deliciously crispy snacks, from the green plantain, which is savoury. The plantain is cut into thick wheels that is then deep-fried in oil to soften, smashed, and deep-fried again until crispy. These are a super tasty side dish to have with any meal.

4. Arroz y Habichuelas

Rice and beans are the quintessential Puerto Rican side dish. How to make it? You stew pink beans with onions, peppers, garlic, ham hock, calabaza squash, and sofrito, a cooking base made by blending together other herbs, spices, and aromatics depending on the family recipe).

It comes with fluffy white rice on the side, so you can mix the two together.

5. Pasteles

A true local specialty, pasteles resemble tamales and are traditionally made with green banana masa stuffed with stewed pork meat. Sometimes, you can add yuca or other root vegetables. Or, the masa can also be made with just yuca.

Pasteles can also be stuffed with chicken or bacalao (salted cod), and some vegan versions have been introduced recently are also becoming popular.

Puerto Rican dishes

6. Frituras

Go to any of the island’s open-air, beachside restaurants for this crispy snack that pairs beautifully with a cold beer. There are many different fritters you will find in Puerto Rico, from empanadas to arepas. These are usually full of ground beef, crab meat, chicken, fish, octopus, conch, or other types of seafood.

Puerto Rican dishes

7. Arroz con Gandules

This signature Puerto Rican rice dish is on the menu year-round. Pigeon peas, or gandules, are small, dense legumes which you cook with the rice in a large pot. Cooks then add salty pork or ham hock, sofrito, bay leaves, tomato paste and often capers or olives.

The result? A wonderfully flavoursome dish.

Puerto Rican dishes

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Sarah Clayton-Lea
Sarah Clayton-Lea

Co-founder of Big 7 Travel, Sarah created the company through her passion for championing the world's best food and travel experiences. Before her career in digital media, where she previously held roles such as Editor of Food&Wine Ireland, Sarah worked in the hospitality industry in Dublin and New York.

Contact [email protected]

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