Puerto rico dishes: 35 Popular Puerto Rican Foods You Have To Try At Least Once

Guide to Traditional Puerto Rican Food

Puerto Rican culture comes to life in its dishes, a celebration of flavors that visitors have the opportunity to enjoy.

Heaping portions of crispy, garlicky, fried plantains; slow-roasted, succulent pork; savory rice and beans chased with a cold local beer or fruity rum cocktail, and that’s just your first meal.

Having the opportunity to enjoy authentic Puerto Rican food is a highlight of many visitors’ experiences. The vibrancy of Puerto Rican culture comes alive in its dishes, a celebration of flavors that visitors have the opportunity to indulge in. Some of the favorites are mofongotostonespastelesarroz con gandules, tembleque, and coquito.

Here is a guide to some of the dishes that you shouldn’t miss out on:

Traditional Puerto Rican Mofongo


Puerto Rican comfort food at its finest… 

Mofongo is traditionally made from deep-fried green plantain pieces mashed with garlic and either salt-cured pork, pork crackling, butter, or oil. Some recipes use a salty broth to soften the plantains while mashing.

Mofongo can be served as a side dish or stuffed with any meat, such as stewed chicken, crab meat, octopus, skirt steak, fried pork, seafood, or stewed vegetables. Other variations of mofongo include yuca mofongo and trifongo, made with green plantain, sweet plantain, and yuca.

Puerto Rico’s Top Chefs Share their Recipes 

Plantains can be sweet or savory, depending on the ripness. 

Tostones and amarillos

These are two traditional ways to prepare plantains. Tostones are made from green plantain, which is savory. The plantain is cut into thick wheels marinated in water and garlic, then deep-fried in oil to soften, smashed, and deep-fried again until crispy. Amarillos, on the other hand, are ripe plantains cut into pieces and fried until the outside is almost blackened, and the inside is soft and sweet.

Plan a trip to Guavate to sample some of the best-roasted roasted pig in Puerto Rico.

Lechón asado

A Puerto Rican culinary legacy! To prepare this delicacy, first, 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. To sample some of the best lechón in Puerto Rico, plan a day trip to Guavate, where the road headed up the mountains of Cayey is lined with lechoneras (pork restaurants) serving locally sourced pork. Another specialty pork dish is pernil, or pork shoulder, seasoned with adobo, and roasted in the oven.

A Guide to Guavate and la Ruta del Lechón

Arroz y habicuelas are the staple side dish in Puerto Rico. 

Arroz y habichuelas

Rice and beans are the quintessential Puerto Rican side dish. Pink beans are stewed with onions, peppers, garlic, ham hock, calabaza squash, and sofrito — a cooking base made by blending onion, garlic, peppers, culantro, cilantro, and oregano (as well as other herbs, spices, and aromatics depending on the family recipe).

White, medium-grain rice is cooked separately from the beans and seasoned with olive oil and salt. The two are served next to each other so you can choose how much beans to add to the rice.

Tembleque is a favorite Puerto Rican dessert. 


The best part of the meal! Traditional seasonal desserts include tembleque, a silky coconut custard; and arroz con dulce, rice pudding with cinnamon and raisins. Other traditional desserts include flan, a vanilla custard cake; and casquitos de guayaba, guava paste paired with local white cheese.

There is also a version of eggnog called coquito, which is made with evaporated milk, condensed milk, coconut milk, cinnamon, and white rum. There are also flavored versions of coquito, including chocolate, pistachio, and guava.

Guide to Puerto Rican Pastries 

Pasteles are a local specialty that cannot be missed at parties.


A true local specialty, pasteles resemble tamales and are traditionally made with green banana masa stuffed with stewed pork meat. Sometimes yuca or other root vegetables are added; the masa can also be made with just yucaPasteles can also be stuffed with chicken or bacalao (salted cod), and some vegan versions have been introduced recently.

To form the pastelmasa is pressed onto a plantain leaf, the stuffing added in the center, and the plantain leaf is folded, tied with string and covered in parchment paper. The pasteles are then boiled, unwrapped, and served.

Arroz con gandules

Considered a boricua staple, this signature Puerto Rican rice dish is consumed year-round. Pigeon peas, or gandules, are small, dense legumes cooked with the rice in a large pot. First, salted pork or ham hock is sautéed in olive oil. Sofrito is then added, along with bay leaves, tomato paste, annatto, and often olives or capers. The rice and pigeon peas are then coated with this sauce, water or broth is added, and everything is cooked together until the rice is done.

Virtual Cooking and Mixology

Food & Drink

Cooking Arroz con Pollo

Let’s cook! Join Chef Juliana González from Caña Restaurant at the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel as she gives us a cooking demo on how to make Puerto Rican arroz con pollo.

food & drink

Boozy Brunch

Paulina and Gustavo, co-founders of Spoon, welcomed us to their kitchen to show us how to do Sunday brunch- Puerto Rico style! Check out the video for their guava and bacon panetela, and a perfect coconut-rum drink on the side. Enjoy!

food & drink

Live Coffee Demo

Learn how to make the perfect Puerto Rican cup of joe from your kitchen! Thanks to Amanda, from Hacienda Muñoz in San Lorenzo Puerto Rico, for teaching us her best tips and tricks for a Puerto Rican cafecito.

Fritters are found throughout the island, most commonly in open-air restaurants.


Deep-fried treats commonly found in open-air, beachside restaurants that pair beautifully with a cold beer. These are usually stuffed with ground beef, crab meat, chicken, fish, octopus, conch, or other seafood types. There are a variety of different fritters you will find in Puerto Rico.

In Puerto Rico, our fried snacks– or fritters– are well known all over the island. Get a taste of some of our favorites, like the cod-flavored bacalaítos and meat-stuffed alcapurrias, and other crunchy snacks that makeup Puerto Rico’s culinary culture.

You cannot leave Puerto Rico without trying the delicious alcapurrias.

Here are a few of the common types of

frituras you might taste during your visit:

Alcapurrias are torpedo-shaped fritters made from shredded root vegetables like yuca and yautía, stuffed with a choice of meat.  These deep-fried snacks are normally found in open-air, beachside restaurants that pair beautifully with a cold beer. Alcapurrias are usually stuffed with ground beef, crab meat, chicken, fish, octopus, conch, or other types of seafood. 

Empanadillas are a larger version of pastelillos, also stuffed with a choice of meat and fried. There’s also a popular pizza version filled with melted mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce.

Arepas are flour-based, sometimes made with coconut for a slightly sweet flavor, fried and then stuffed, usually with seafood. Locals often eat them by themselves as appetizers. 

Bacalaítos are a simple batter of flour and water with chunks of salted cod and parsley, deep-fried into what look like giant corn flakes.

Bring a piece of Puerto Rico home

Brands of Puerto Rico seeks to tell stories through products created by Puerto Rican hands. 

To export the Island’s talent and creativity, the family company Brands of Puerto Rico created a platform that serves as a stage for local artisans and small business owners to showcase their products to audiences worldwide. Find local products like coffee, bread, homemade seasoning, handmade jewelry and accessories, books, traditional sweets, and more.

Click here to shop local!

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Puerto Rican Food (A Local’s Guide to 47 Best Dishes to Try)

A wonderful mix of Taíno, Spanish, and African cuisines, Puerto Rican food will delight your tastebuds with the dishes, drinks, and Puerto Rican desserts you’ll enjoy on your visit to the island.

Some might say there’s too much plantain or rice in Puerto Rico’s cuisine. But, even as a local that eats popular Puerto Rican dishes frequently, I honestly can’t get enough of a good mofongo or tostones, and I know you will love them too! 

I’m a Puerto Rican local, and since eating local food should be on every Puerto Rico bucket list, I rounded up these 47 Puerto Rican foods you can’t miss during your stay in Puerto Rico. I hope you’re hungry!

Table of Contents

  • 47 Best Puerto Rico Foods & Dishes
    • Pasteles
    • Piraguas
    • Sofrito
    • Arroz con Gandules
    • Mofongo
    • Arroz con Pollo
    • Pollo Guisado
    • Amarillos
    • Pernil
    • Pastelón
    • Rellenos de Papa
    • Tostones 
    • Sopón de Gandules
    • Bacalaitos
    • Guanimes 
    • Carne Frita
    • Chicharron
    • Mallorcas
    • Trifongo
    • Alcapurrias
    • Coquito
    • Pionono
    • Guineitos en Escabeche
    • Arroz Mamposteao
    • Brazo Gitano
    • Morcilla
    • Quesitos
    • Pastelillos de Guayaba
    • Empanadillas
    • Tres Leches
    • Tripleta
    • Piña Colada
    • Asopao de Camarones
    • Sancocho
    • Tembleque
    • Café con Leche
    • Arroz con Dulce
    • Flan
    • Arroz y Habichuelas
    • Limbers
    • Serenata de Bacalao con Viandas 
    • Local Candies
    • Adobo
    • Cuajito
    • Maví
    • Pan Sobao
    • Asopao de Pollo

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!


Boiled green banana dough filled with pork meat

The leaf gives a plantain flavor to pasteles

🍽️ Where to Find Pasteles: La Casita Blanca (San Juan), Deaverdura (San Juan)

Pasteles are one of the Puerto Rican staples for Christmas, and they consist of a dough made with green bananas, pumpkin, and yautía, usually filled with pork meat. After the dough is ready, Pasteles get wrapped in a plantain leaf and wax paper and cooked in boiling water. Some people top it with hot sauce or ketchup.


Shaved ice with syrup of different flavors

Me with some hand-shaved piragua with raspberry syrup

🍽️ Where to Find Piraguas: Paseo La Princesa (San Juan), Piraguas El Coquí (Arecibo)

Piraguas are a simple dessert but they’re the best way to quench thirst on a hot day. This traditional dessert is simply hand-shaved ice topped with sweet syrup. 

👉 Read Next: The Best Places to Go in Puerto Rico


A mix of different spices grounded together

🍽️ Where to Find Sofrito: Any corner market

Not something you eat on its own, Sofrito is the base of all Puerto Rican stews, mamposteao, and soups. This mix consists of cilantro, onion, garlic, salt, recao, oregano, parsley, achiote, and sazón, a local spice that Puerto Ricans use to cook. 

You will not see sofrito in your food, but you’ll definitely feel its flavor.

Arroz con Gandules

Yellow rice mixed with pigeon peas

Arroz con gandules and pernil

🍽️ Where to Find Arroz con Gandules: Deaverdura (San Juan), La Casita Blanca (San Juan)

Arroz con Gandules is common in Puerto Rican meals, especially during Christmas. The rice gets cooked together with pigeon peas, tomato sauce, red pepper, olive, sazón, and sofrito.

 Many Puerto Ricans also add cooking ham to the rice for some protein and give it more flavor.


Deep-fried mashed green plantain with spices

🍽️ Where to Find Mofongo: By Cheff’s (Isabela), La Cabaña (Toa Baja)

Mofongo is one of the top Puerto Rican dishes and one you can’t miss on the island. 

Mofongo is a mashed and fried plantain dish with garlic and salt usually served in the form of half a sphere. Sometimes it’s stuffed with chicken, seafood, or any other type of meat. To make mofongo, Puerto Ricans use a pilón, a tool for cooking similar to a mortar and pestle.

Arroz con Pollo

Rice with chicken

🍽️ Where to Find Arroz con Pollo: Cafetería Mallorca (San Juan), Tropical Gourmet (Aguada)

Puerto Ricans love to mix their rice with pink beans and pigeon peas, but another way they cook it is with chicken, making it a complete meal. Arroz con Pollo is also commonly cooked with sofrito, tomato sauce, olives, and peppers.

Pollo Guisado

Chicken stew with potatoes

🍽️ Where to Find Pollo Guisado: El Fogón del Rey (Guaynabo), Café Bakery Inc (Yauco)

If you’d rather enjoy your chicken and rice separately, you can ask for Pollo Guisado, a chicken stew cooked with tomato sauce, potatoes, carrots, and sometimes pumpkin. Of course, the main flavor comes from the sofrito. The best way to enjoy pollo guisado is with a side of rice.


Fried ripe plantains

Amarillos and tostones are both side dishes

🍽️ Where to Find Amarillos: The New Reef (Loíza), Don Kike´s BBQ (Camuy)

While many Puerto Rican dishes use green plantains, ripe plantains are also present in local cuisine. Amarillos are a common side dish that consists of cutting ripe plantain into pieces and frying them until the outside is golden/black and the interior is soft.

👉 Read Next: 41 Interesting Facts About Puerto Rico


Slow-cooked pork shoulder or leg with spices

🍽️ Where to Find Pernil: Deaverdura (San Juan), Lechonera Los Amigos (Cidra)

Pernil is a traditional Puerto Rican holiday dish that consists of a pork shoulder or leg slowly cooked in an oven with spices. Puerto Ricans like the exterior skin to be crunchy (called a “cuerito”) and the interior to be soft and juicy.


Baked ripe plantains with ground beef

🍽️ Where to Find Pastelón: Cafetería Mallorca (San Juan), El Fogón del Rey (Guaynabo)

Pastelón is the Puerto Rican version of traditional Italian lasagna. They’re similar in preparation and cooking methods, but the big difference is that instead of using pasta, pastelón gets made with thin layers of ripe plantains that give the dish a sweet taste.

Rellenos de Papa

Deep fried potato dough with ground meat filling

🍽️ Where to Find Rellenos de Papa: The House of Pastelillos (Fajardo), Frituras del Prado (Ceiba)

Relleno de Papa is just one of the many deep fried foods you will find in Puerto Rican cuisine. Traditionally, a relleno de papa is deep fried potato dough stuffed with ground beef. However, sometimes the dough is made from breadfruit (rellenos de pana), and corned beef is used as a substitute for ground beef.  


Deep fried sliced green plantains

🍽️ Where to Find Tostones: Paladar Criollo (Guaynabo), El Coqui Restaurant (Rincón)

Tostones is another Puerto Rican dish made from sliced green plantains that get fried, smashed individually until they’re flat, and then fried a second time. Tostones regularly come in a concave form, ready to be stuffed with pork, shrimp, chicken, or churrasco.

👉 Local Tip: If you’re eating normal tostones, try them with mayo ketchup, a sauce that combines ketchup, mayonnaise, and garlic powder.

Sopón de Gandules

Soup with rice, plantain, and green peas

🍽️ Where to Find Sopón de Gandules: El Fogón del Rey (Guaynabo), El Balcón del Tío Mon (Mayagüez)

Sopón de Gandules is one of the most popular Puerto Rican soups made with rice, pigeon peas, little balls of plantain, red pepper, olives, tomato sauce, and sofrito. To make the plantain balls, you have to ground the plantain, make little balls with the dough, and drop them inside the boiling water. 

👉 Did you Know? Asopao de Gandules is a favorite dish to consume after giving parranda or doing asaltos, a Christmas tradition in Puerto Rico that involves surprising someone at their home with a Christmas concert late at night.


Deep fried codfish fritters

Bacalaito with Pinchos and bread

🍽️ Where to Find Bacalaitos: Frituras del Prado (Ceiba), Bacalaítos El Gordito (Isabela)

Bacalaitos are one of the best Puerto Rican dishes you can’t miss on the island. They’re a mix of breaded and salted codfish, deep fried until crunchy, and then eaten with your hands. You’ll usually eat them before or after an alcapurria on any of the chinchorros on the island. Some restaurants serve them as appetizers.


Boiled dough of coconut milk and cornflour

🍽️ Where to Find Guanimes: El Balconcito Criollo (Aibonito), Frituras del Prado (Ceiba)

Often served with codfish stew, Guanimes are cooked similarly to Puerto Rican pasteles. The dough, made of coconut milk and cornflour, gets tied inside a plantain leaf to give it flavor, and then boiled until ready.

👉 Local Tip: Ask for your guanimes with codfish stew or bacalao guisado. That’s how most Puerto Ricans enjoy them. 

Carne Frita

Fried pork chops 

🍽️ Where to Find Carne Frita: Aventura 4×4 con Sabor a Campo (Coamo), La Casona de Artemio (Las Marías)

Besides fried plantains, Puerto Rican food also includes many pork-based dishes. After pernil, the most popular is Carne Frita, fried pork chops that usually accompany mofongo, tostones, or rice and beans.  

🍴 Are you a Foodie? Eating pork in the Pork Highway, a route with many restaurants, is one of the popular things to do in Puerto Rico, read more about the other 42 best activities in Puerto Rico here


Crispy pork skin

🍽️ Where to Find Chicharron: Carretera #2 Small Kiosk on the side of the road (Bayamón)

Chicharron is a salted pork skin that is usually a snack you take on the go. Bayamón is known as the city of chicharron and you can enjoy this local treat in a few spots. You can also find pre-packed Chicharron Pacheco in the supermarkets.

👉 Always Forget Something? Don’t miss my guide to what to pack for a trip to Puerto Rico!


Sweet bread with powdered sugar

Mallorca topped with cheese and bacon

🍽️ Where to Find Mallorcas: La Bombonera (San Juan), Cremolatte (Toa Baja)

Mallorcas are one of the many types of bread Puerto Ricans regularly enjoy. Sometimes a dessert and sometimes a meal, this Puerto Rican sweet roll is usually powdered with sugar and eaten alone, but some people like to heat it or make it into a sandwich.

👉 Looking for the best Puerto Rico dishes in San Juan only? Check out my list of the 17 top restaurants in San Juan!


Mofongo made of fried green plantains, sweet plantain, and yuca

🍽️ Where to Find Trifongo: El Fogón Criollo (Corozal), El Tablado Beach Bar and Grill (Loíza)

If you’re looking to spice up the traditional mofongo, then try out the trifongo. Prepared and cooked the same way as mofongo, the trifongo includes two additional ingredients – sweet plantains and yuca, a root vegetable commonly used in Puerto Rican food.


A fritter filled with ground beef

🍽️ Where to Find Alcapurrias: Papos Guacaros (Dorado), El Rinconcito Latino (Loíza)

Alcapurrias are made with green bananas, yautía, green plantain, and potato, then filled with ground beef or stewed crab meat. Then, the cook serves the dough and ground beef in wax paper, shapes the alcapurria, and drops it in hot oil. 


Coconut milk drink served during Christmas

🍽️ Where to Find Coquito: Luis Muñoz Marín Airport (San Juan), Bacardí Rum Factory (Cataño)

Coquito is a traditional Puerto Rican drink you’ll find during Christmas in Puerto Rico. This drink gets prepared with coconut milk, evaporated milk, coconut cream, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. More often than not, coquito will also have Puerto Rican rum included in its recipe.

👉 Did you Know? Puerto Rican foods like pasteles, coquito, and tembleque are most popular during the holiday season. Read my guide on the best time to travel to Puerto Rico, to choose the best season for you.


Ripe plantain sliced and stuffed with meat

🍽️ Where to Find Pionono: El Pionono 1 (Manatí), Pa’l Monte (Rincón)

Pionono is another one of the popular Puerto Rican dishes that include ripe plantain. In this case, the plantain is thin-sliced, shaped into a type of cup, filled with meat, bathed with egg, topped with cheese, and cooked in the oven.

Guineitos en Escabeche

Boiled green bananas seasoned with spices

🍽️ Where to Find Guineitos en Escabeche: El Pionono 2 (Manatí)

Guineitos en escabeche is a side dish of green bananas boiled, drained, chopped, and finally marinated. The seasoning includes olive oil, olives, vinegar, onion, bay leaves, and pepper. Some people mix guineitos with gizzards too.

Arroz Mamposteao

Rice with red kidney beans

🍽️ Where to Find Arroz Mamposteao: Tostón Jibareño (Bayamón), Patria Fondita Criolla (Coamo)

Often you’ll see Puerto Ricans eating white rice and beans separately, but arroz mamposteao combines both things in a single dish along with ham, sausage, tomato sauce, and sofrito. 

Brazo Gitano

Rolled sponge cake with a guava filling

🍽️ Where to Find Brazo Gitano: Ricomini Factory & Bakery (Mayagüez), Panadería Artesanal Villa Palmeras (San Juan)

Brazo gitano is a dessert inherited from Europe and adapted to local Puerto Rican cuisine. Also known as swiss cake, Brazo Gitano is a roll cake filled with guava and powdered with sugar. Carrot flavor with cream filling is also a popular rendition


Blood sausage 

🍽️ Where to Find Morcilla: Tu Antojito Criollo (Guánica), La Casa del Sancocho (Rincón)

Morcilla is a common side dish to arroz con gandules during Christmas. This blood sausage that originated in Europe consists of a casing, usually the pork stomach sac or the larger intestines, stuffed with a mixture of cooked rice, pig blood, garlic, and other spices.


Pastry filled with cream cheese

🍽️ Where to Find Quesitos: Florida Bakery (Ponce), San Luis Bakery (Aibonito)

Puerto Rican food is full of sweets that originate from the legacy of Europeans, and Quesitos is one of them. This puff pastry is filled with cream cheese, topped with honey, and it’s perfect for a coffee break. 

Pastelillos de Guayaba

Pastries filled with guava

🍽️ Where to Find Pastelillos: Kasalta (San Juan), Panadería Encanto (Carolina)

Known as guava turnovers, these small pastries are filled with guava jelly and powdered with sugar. They’re a very typical snack at parties and get-togethers.


Fried stuffed pastries 

🍽️ Where to Find Empanadillas: Donde Olga (Loíza), La Casa de los Pastelillos (Loíza)

Known in English as turnovers, empanadillas are fried pastries stuffed with ground beef, chicken, or seafood. Some locals also call them pastelillos.

👉 Local Tip: When eating outside, always carry some cash with you (especially if you’re visiting small food kiosks on the side of the road) as some of them don’t have an ATM. Read more practical tips for visiting Puerto Rico here

Tres Leches

Sponge cake made with three types of milk

🍽️ Where to Find Tres Leches: El Lechón Ardiente (Fajardo), Panadería Artesanal Villa Palmeras (San Juan)

Another sponge cake popular in Latin America, Tres Leches is a sponge cake prepared with sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, common cow milk, and heavy cream. Often served as a dessert or coffee companion, the cake is first baked and then and then soaked in the tres leches mixture. 


Sandwich of three or more different types of meat

🍽️ Where to Find Tripleta: Gipletas (Loíza), Panaderia La Campana (Aguadilla)

For those that enjoy sandwiches, Puerto Rican cuisine offers its own sandwich called Tripleta. The name of the sandwich comes from its three types of meat: grilled steak, roasted pork, and ham. The sandwich also comes with sides of fries, mayonnaise, ketchup, and vegetables.

Piña Colada

Pineapple juice and coconut cream drink

🍽️ Where to Find Piña Colada: El Tabloncillo Criollo (Villalba), La Terraza (Loíza)

Known as the national drink of Puerto Rico, a Piña Colada is the ideal drink to accompany your fritters. Made with ice, coconut cream, pineapple juice, rum, whipped cream, and topped with a cherry, you can find it in bars and restaurants all over the island. 

Asopao de Camarones

Soup made with rice and shrimp

🍽️ Where to Find Asopao de Camarones: El Plátano Criollo (Carolina), Doña Ana (Bayamón)

Another soup you’ll find in Puerto Rican cuisine is the Asopao de Camarones. Similar to traditional sopón with pigeon peas, the asopao con camarones consist of rice, potatoes, tomato sauce, and shrimp.


Soup with root vegetables

🍽️ Where to Find Sancocho: Cafetería Mallorca (San Juan), La Casa del Sancocho (Rincón)

Sancocho is one of the best Puerto Rican dishes for rainy days or colder winter weather. This type of soup gets prepared with root vegetables such as yautía, taro, sweet potato, potato, corncob, carrots, and beef. The soup is a darker color and thicker than normal soup.


Creamy coconut pudding

🍽️ Where to Find Tembleque: Panadería Fernández (Carolina)

Tembleque is a delicious dessert you can enjoy mostly during the holidays. Tembleque is a coconut milk-based pudding prepared with sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. It has a consistency similar to gelatin.

Café con Leche

Coffee with milk

🍽️ Where to Find Coffee with Milk: Café Mis Abuelos (Mayagüez), Barista Squared (San Juan)

Contrary to other countries in the world, if you ask for coffee in a bakery or restaurant in Puerto Rico, you’ll get a coffee with milk. Puerto Rico’s coffee is famous for its strong flavor and most Puerto Rican families start their morning with the warm beverage.

👉 Local Tip: If you’re drinking coffee in a Panadería, ask for a piece of cheddar cheese or ball cheese along with your coffee and drop it inside the beverage. Although it might sound weird, many Puerto Ricans enjoy putting a piece of cheddar cheese inside their coffee and eating it after they finish the drink. The mix of flavors and the melted cheese at the end is a complete culinary experience.

Arroz con Dulce

Sweetened rice pudding

🍽️ Where to Find Arroz con Dulce: Fresh and Fancy Bakery (Bayamón) 

Arroz con dulce is another sweet traditional dessert. It’s made by cooking rice in both coconut milk and tea water prepared with cinnamon, sugar, ginger, and anise – resulting in a sweet rice pudding. 


Custard made of condensed milk, evaporated milk, and eggs

🍽️ Where to Find Flan: Casa Linda (Añasco), Palma’s Bakery & Coffee Shop (Arroyo)

Originally from Europe, Flan is a dessert made with condensed milk, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Although the original recipe is widely used in Puerto Rican cooking, flan de queso is another variant that includes cream cheese in the recipe.

Arroz y Habichuelas

White rice and beans

🍽️ Where to Find Rice and Beans: Café Manolin (San Juan), Rincón del Sabor (Luquillo)

Arroz con habichuelas is Puerto Rico’s staple food. It’s eaten almost daily in local households, and it’s simply white rice with a side of red or pink beans. The dish is made complete with meat, often chicken.

🚗 Going on a food-hunting road trip? Have a smooth day trip with these Puerto Rico driving tips.


Frozen flavorful juice

🍽️ Where to Find Limbers: Some gas stations

Besides piraguas, limbers are another treat Puerto Ricans enjoy on a hot summer day. Limbers are frozen juices of different flavors like strawberry, coconut, cookies and cream, passionfruit, cream cheese, and peanut.  

You can find them in small markets or gas stations, but the best ones are homemade. If you stumble upon a house with a sign that reads limber, make sure to stop and buy one.

Serenata de Bacalao con Viandas 

Codfish salad with root vegetables

🍽️ Where to Find Serenata con Viandas: Ekekua (San Juan), Rene’s BBQ (Guayama)

Viandas is a Spanish word Puerto Ricans use to define vegetable roots along with green bananas and pumpkins. Serenata is a salted codfish salad with onion, lettuce, tomato, boiled egg, and olive oil. Puerto Ricans like to enjoy boiled viandas with serenata and a glass of milk.

Local Candies

Local sweets and candies

🍽️ Where to Find Local Candies: Any corner store

Puerto Rico features its own special variety of Turkish delights. Although you cannot fit them all in a box, Puerto Rican candies are both varied and delicious. Some of the traditional candies include dulce de leche, gofio, ajonjolí, guava paste, and pilones, a sugary popsicle with sesame seeds.


Seasoning used in traditional Puerto Rican dishes

🍽️ Where to Find Adobo: Any corner market

Adobo is a Puerto Rican mix of grounded spices used to season meats, fish, and stews, and it’s part of what gives the delicious Puerto Rican food its unique flavor.


Pork stomach boiled and seasoned

🍽️ Where to Find Cuajito: Tu Antojito Criollo (Cabo Rojo), Papos Guacaros (Dorado)

Cuajito is pork stomach sliced and soaked in vinegar and water. After rinsing, the pork stomach gets boiled and seasoned with peppers, onion, tomato sauce, adobo, garlic powder, sofrito, and chicken broth.


Fermented drink made of Maví tree bark

🍽️ Where to Find Maví: Paseo La Princesa Food Kiosks (San Juan)

Maví is a homemade fermented drink most Puerto Ricans like to enjoy while strolling through San Juan. The drink gets made with Maví tree bark, sugar, and water. Just make sure to drink it very cold, since the flavor might not be as good any other way. You can also find Maví in other areas of the Caribbean.

Pan Sobao

Puerto Rican bread

🍽️ Where to Find Pan Sobao: Any bakery or corner market

Your visit to Puerto Rico isn’t complete without trying the bread of the island. Pan Sobao is present in the breakfast of almost all Puerto Ricans, along with butter and a good cup of coffee.

Asopao de Pollo

Chicken Noodle Soup

🍽️ Where to Find Asopao de Pollo: Sopa Grill (Coamo)

Puerto Rico’s version of chicken soup includes much more than chicken. Brewed with potato, garlic, onion, peppers, noodles, ham, sofrito, and tomato sauce, the Asopao de Pollo is not only a great dish, but many Puerto Ricans use it as a remedy to common colds.

👉 Read Next: The Most Beautiful Puerto Rico Beaches


Thanks for reading all about these 47 delicious Puerto Rican dishes you can enjoy in Puerto Rico! Before you go, be sure to bookmark my guide to the best places to eat in San Juan!

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23 dishes to find in Puerto Rico

Food in Puerto Rico is bold, tempting and varied. Guests and locals alike never leave a Puerto Rican event without at least two dishes sandwiched between paper plates and wrapped in aluminum foil. After all, such a good meal is worth eating again the next day.

Puerto Rican cuisine is a mixture of local and foreign influences. Some ingredients predate the Spanish settlement, such as yucca and bananas. Others, such as olives and salted cod, were introduced by European colonizers. And after Puerto Rico was designated as a port along the slave trade route, African influence and cooking methods were brought to the island.

Today, Puerto Rican food has evolved into a mixture of flavors and shades that reflect its diversity. These 23 delicious Puerto Rican dishes are just an introduction to the island’s cuisine that people all over the world should know and love.

1. Mofongo / Mofongo.

This local favorite is made from mashed fried plantains mixed with oil, garlic and spices. Sometimes shrimp and chicharron are also added. Mofongo is one of Puerto Rico’s most important dishes and is a blend of cultures and traditions. The dish can trace its roots to fufu, a West African dish of mashed root vegetables that was brought to Puerto Rico by slaves. Grinding was done with a pylon, mortar and pestle used by the native Taíno people, and the mixture was roasted. Finally, the Spanish sofrito sauce (which is made with onions, garlic and peppers) was added. Today, this combination is served and loved throughout the island.

Caribbean dishes

2. Three milks / Tres leches.

Puerto Ricans take the traditional yellow biscuit to the next level by dousing it with three types of milk: condensed, baked and regular. The dessert is soaked overnight in milk and topped with whipped cream before serving. It is similar to Three milks produced in Central and South America, Europe and other countries of the world.

Puerto Rican dishes

3. Lechon.

Few major celebrations in Puerto Rico are complete without a lechon (whole roast pig) set in the center of the table. The pig is roasted on a spit over a fire for most of the day before being filmed and enjoyed. Christmas carols sing about the unfortunate pig at the festivities, and the first part that is eaten is always the cheeks.

Caribbean cuisine

4. Corn porridge / Harina de maiz.

In Puerto Rico, many children wake up with the smell of corn porridge. Cornmeal is mixed with sugar, milk and vanilla to form a breakfast that is similar to oatmeal. This porridge is thinner than polenta and has a sweet taste to please picky eaters.

dishes from Puerto Rico

5. Bakalaitos / Bacalaitos.

Salted cod itself is a favorite side dish around the world, but Puerto Ricans make it more appetizing by shaping it into a patty and frying it. The cod goes through a desalination process before cooking, so the result is surprisingly neutral even for those who don’t like fish. Bakalaitos go well with garlic sauce.

Puerto Rican cuisine

6. Pinchos.

Pinchos are kebabs usually made with chicken, pork or shrimp. On the beaches of Puerto Rico, you will find carts filled with street vendors selling locally cooked meat. Don’t be surprised by the lack of vegetables on the skewer, as this street food favorite is all about the meat.

Caribbean dishes

7. Flan.

Flan is a custard similar to creme brulee and popular in much of Latin America. In Puerto Rico, flan is cooked in a hot water bath with baked and condensed milk, eggs, vanilla, and caramel.

Puerto Rican dishes

8. Tembleque.

«Tembleque» means wobbly, and that’s the perfect description of this dessert. It looks gelatinous like flan but has a creamy texture based on coconut rather than milk. The main ingredients are coconut and cinnamon. Tembleke is eaten all year round, but is especially common during the holiday season when other coconut treats such as coquito are also popular.


9. Yucca.

Yucca is a root vegetable very similar to potatoes. It is mashed or served fried, usually in thick wedges. It is also often seen boiled, peeled and seasoned with a little salt and garlic in restaurants. Yucca fries are a staple in fast food chains across the island.

dishes from Puerto Rico

10. Tostones.

When green bananas are not mashed for mofongos, they are sliced ​​and double-fried for toasts. It is one of the most popular side dishes on the island. You’ll also find them in nachos instead of corn tortillas, but be warned — they’re much more filling.

Puerto Rican cuisine

11. Maduro / Maduros.

Maduro is made from sweet, slightly overripe bananas that are simply fried in oil. The simplicity of the treat means that ripeness is key: not too brown, green, or yellow. Plantains are cut diagonally into thin slices to fry quickly, resulting in a sweet and slightly crunchy snack.

Caribbean dishes

12. Asopao / Asopao.

Puerto Rico doesn’t get cold weather, but it’s still nice to treat yourself to a hearty soup like azopao. Asopao is cooked with chicken, sofrito, olives, spices and served with rice to toss into a bowl. This scalding hot dish is a staple on the menu of Puerto Ricans and is the best cure for anything that bothers you.

Puerto Rican dishes

13. Alcapurrias.

Alcapurria is the island’s most popular fried fast food dish. The pancake batter is made from taro root and green bananas, which are then stuffed with seasoned ground beef. Alcapurria is common in the Caribbean, and in Puerto Rico, the fillings often include bell peppers, onions, and olives.

Caribbean cuisine

14. Coquito.

Coquito is drunk in a close family circle when the weekend comes. It is similar in texture to eggnog and is made with baked and condensed milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and coconut cream. All of this is mixed and chilled overnight before being combined with a generous helping of rum.

dishes from Puerto Rico

15. Guineos en escabeche.

Marinating is not the most common cooking method used on the island, but guinea en zskabeche is an exception. These pickled green bananas are flavored with onions, bay leaves and white vinegar. They are usually served as a side dish to a meat dish. You haven’t experienced Puerto Rican Thanksgiving until you’ve been fed a spoonful of pickled bananas.

Puerto Rican cuisine

16. Pernil.

Pernil is a pork shoulder that is seasoned and slowly fried until it breaks into thick pieces. Cooking times vary from a few hours to a full day depending on the thickness of the meat. A typical lunch or dinner consists of pernil with mojo sauce, rice and beans.

Caribbean dishes

17. Pastels / Pasteles.

Pastels are similar to tamales and are usually reserved for special occasions, with most Puerto Rican families making dozens of them. They are made from bananas, potatoes, and pumpkins, then mixed with meat and secured in a banana leaf with twine before being boiled. They keep well in the freezer, so family members usually share them with each other in bags.

Puerto Rican dishes

18. Empanadas.

Empanada is the quintessential savory island pastry, and you’ll find the Puerto Rican version stuffed with beef, chicken, shrimp or cheese. They are a cheap and easy way to repurpose leftovers, and are common in homes and as snacks on the go.

Caribbean cuisine

19. Arroz con gandules.

Rice is served in abundance in many Caribbean islands, but the distinctive feature of Puerto Rican rice is the presence of sofrito and green pigeon peas, known as gandules. It is a dish around which other dishes are centered. In many cases, there is no full meal without arroz con gandules.

dishes Puerto Rico

20. Bistek / Bistec.

Bistek is a beef steak cooked in ensebollado (with onion), empanizado (breaded), pan-fried or grilled. Most restaurants will offer you your choice of biscuit, fish or chicken at a discounted price.

Puerto Rican cuisine

21. Brocade / Parcha.

Brocade is passion fruit, one of the most consumed fruits on the island. It is consumed in all forms, including juice or smoothies. On the streets of San Juan, you’ll also find itinerant vendors selling brocade ice cream, a nice treat on a hot day.

Caribbean dishes

22. Arroz con dulce.

Arroz con dulce is a sweet rice pudding made with coconut milk, nutmeg, raisins, cloves and cinnamon. It is a difficult dish to master as it requires sufficient soaking time to soften the rice and must be constantly cared for to avoid a smoky flavor.

Puerto Rican dishes

23. Quests / Quesitos.

It is customary to leave the best for last, and quests are no exception. These sweet cream cheese puff pastries are sugar glazed and baked in the oven. Quests don’t have strong or off-putting flavors and are enjoyed by anyone who loves baking. They can be purchased throughout the island, even at the airport upon landing.

Caribbean Cuisine

Puerto Rican National Gourmet Cuisine

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The small Caribbean island of Puerto Rico is a tropical paradise where Afro-Caribbean, Spanish, local Tian and American cultures are mixed. National Puerto Rican cuisine consists of succulent meat dishes, a variety of soups and fruit pies. Chicken meat is very popular, which is eaten with rice, in the form of steaks and baked chicken broth. Traditional «pintxos» are skewers of pork, shrimp or, again, chicken meat. Beef and pork cutlets with apples, stewed mutton kidneys with mushrooms in chicken broth are common. Vegetables are usually used rather sparingly in dishes, as Puerto Ricans do not really like them.

The system of public administration has been formed since the reign of Spain. The indigenous population was almost completely exterminated …

Puerto Ricans respect the seafood that the Caribbean Sea generously supplies them with. Seafood dishes are varied: boiled fish with tomato sauce and garlic, and grilled fish, lobster, shrimp in beer, Creole shrimp in vegetable sauce, boiled crabs with rice and green bananas — Puerto Rican fantasy is inexhaustible. Like in Puerto Rico and soups. Fragrant «asopao» is cooked in chicken broth with rice and sometimes even corn. Cold avocado soup is perfect for lunch on a hot day, while gourmets will appreciate tropical pigeon pea soup.

Desserts in Puerto Rican cuisine are quite specific, very varied and hearty, mostly based on fruits. Guava jelly, banana muffins, orange cake, coconut pudding, sugar-coated cream cheese puff pastry, pumpkin biscuit are all traditional and very popular sweets loved by Puerto Ricans of all ages. «Flanchocho» is an oven-baked dessert made from milk, condensed milk, eggs, chocolate and vanilla. No less popular are rice pudding with vanilla, ground cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as golden dessert «polvo de amor» («powder of love»), consisting of sugar and coconut. Copyright www.orangesmile.com

Prior to the colonization by the Spaniards, Indians from the Arawak tribe lived in Puerto Rico. The language of communication here was one — Taino. As a result of the cruel …

In Puerto Rico, they love local strong aromatic coffee, cold beer, rum, which the country supplies the whole world with, strawberry daiquiri, “wonder chocolate” made from chocolate bars with sugar, milk, vanilla and corn starch. The word «sangria», literally translated as «bleeding», refers to a mixture of red wine, Puerto Rican rum, orange and lemon juice and sugar. Ice is added to the drink before serving. Piña colada contains local white rum, unsweetened pineapple juice and coconut cream.

On big holidays, Puerto Ricans always eat «lechon» — a whole roasted pig drizzled with orange juice. They drink thick foamy coconut mogul «coquito» with the addition of rum, vanilla, cinnamon and condensed milk. At Christmas, it is also customary to eat pork and green banana meat tarts wrapped in plantain leaves. Vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, rum, mint, almonds, fruit, or chocolate are often added to the shivering coconut pudding, which consists of coconut milk, salt, and corn starch.

The economic development of our country has been difficult since the beginning of the Spanish colonization. Taino indigenous people were engaged in hunting, fishing and …

In Puerto Rican restaurants, diners usually look for their own table. Entering a restaurant, it is customary to greet those present with the phrase «buen provecho», that is, wishing them a good appetite. Tipping is 15-20% of the amount, with the exception of places with limited places, such as bakeries. Puerto Ricans eat leisurely, enjoying food and socializing with friends. Even a cup of coffee in Puerto Rico becomes an occasion to enjoy. At a party, you can start a meal after the owner of the house wishes the guests a pleasant appetite. The hands that are not occupied with cutlery are placed on the table, avoiding hiding them on your knees or putting your elbows on the table.

San Juan is home to the popular Puerto Rican restaurant Barrachina. The first floor of the restaurant is open from 11 am to 9 pm, the second, where breakfast and sandwiches are served, is open from 7 am to 3:20 pm. The restaurant serves fried plantain leaves stuffed with shrimp or chicken meat, shrimp cocktails, bacon burgers and more. Lydia’s Restaurant in Ponce is famous for its rich selection of Caribbean cuisine. Vacationers in the Carolinas should look into the round-the-clock inexpensive restaurant «Odyssey», whose menu consists of dishes of Caribbean, Spanish and Latin American cuisine.

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