Looking for the best Puerto Rican recipes? These authentic dishes bring the taste of the island right to your table.
Puerto Rico brings a unique multi-ethnic flair to its cuisine. Imagine a tasty blend of Caribbean, Spanish, West African, and mainland American cooking.
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This is what Puerto Rican recipes are all about.
If you haven’t tried them before, well, you should now.
Classics like mofongo and sofrito are excellent introductory dishes. Each meal is a one-of-a-kind mix, offering a bite full of herbs and spices.
Oh, and the desserts — they are best described as HEAVENLY. You’ll want to finish your main course fast to get to the sweet end!
Puerto Rican cooking is more than just its popular dishes. So, I’ve rounded up 14 recipes for you to try to get to know this underrated cuisine.
Explore the depths of flavorful Puerto Rican food from breakfast through to dessert!
1. Puerto Rican Chicken Stew
If soup and paella were to have a baby, this is it.
Also known as Asopao de Pollo, this chicken stew invites you to have a bowl of juicy chicken thighs mixed with assorted seasonings and veggies.
There’s rice included — it’s plump and creamy — so you know you’re in for a filling meal!
Asopao’s soup-like consistency also makes it an excellent meal to fend off wintry nights.
Serve with coquito (coconut-based punch) for a Puerto Rican-themed dinner party.
Sofrito is well known in the US, with a history that dates back to the 1400s.
It’s a green puree made from aromatic ingredients cut into small pieces and sauteed in oil.
It is used to flavor Caribbean dishes with herbs and spices that give life to beans, stews, rice, and meats.
With fresh cilantro, onions, tomato, bell peppers, and garlic puréed to perfection, you’ll have a powerful base for several dishes!
Pernil is a slow-roasted pork shoulder that’s marinated and seasoned to the max!
Served with salad, rice, beans, or plantains, it’s the classic Christmas Eve dinner of Puerto Rican families.
The secret to a good pernil? Marinate it overnight, add sofrito for a more flavorful impact, and bake until fall-apart tender.
Bacalaitos is a famous roadside cuisine in Puerto Rico, made from salted codfish. They are golden-brown fritters — light, simple, and full of fish, herbs, and seasonings.
These pancake-shaped fritters come together so quickly. You’ll be done in 30 minutes. The flavor profile should be bold and fresh.
It’s perfect with an ice-cold beer!
To avoid saltiness, soak the codfish in cold water overnight and change the water three times.
This recipe starts with getting your hands on some plantains. What’s that, you ask?
Plantains are members of the banana family. They’re starchier and lower in sugar, so they will still be green even when ripe.
Now, what are tostones? They are double-fried plantains cut in round slices.
The cooking steps are easy to memorize: fry, smash, and fry again until plantains are crisp to perfection.
Mofongo is one of the wildly popular Puerto Rican recipes. It’s also made with green plantains (unripe), mashed with pork rinds, garlic, and olive oil.
Traditionally, mofongo is served as a side dish for fried meat or roasted pork. Personally, I love having it with some hot chicken soup.
For a fancy twist and extra flavor, you can turn your mofongo into small balls and drop them into soups or stews.
7. Carne Molida
Carne Molida is Puerto Rico’s version of Picadillo. It’s mildly-spiced ground beef mixed with flavor-packed tomato sauce and veggies.
This recipe has different variations in Cuba, Mexico, and the Philippines.
But for me, Puerto Rico is the winner. Carne Molida is highly flavorful, and I just can’t resist its meaty sauce.
Even the veggies are a delight to eat once they absorb the saucy goodness.
8. Bistec Encebollado
Bistec Encebollado sounds like a complicated meal to prepare. But wait, let me tell you that this recipe simply translates to steaks and onions.
Yes, it’s simple and flavorful, thanks to Puerto Rican staples like sofrito, adobo, and sazon. This beef stew is best paired with white or yellow rice.
If you want a full-blown Boricuan meal, serve the stew with the country’s national dish, Arroz Con Gandules.
Jibarito is another plantain recipe that will have you singing its praises.
This is a Puerto Rican-style sandwich, but instead of using slices of bread, you’ll have two fried plantains.
I won’t be surprised if you say this recipe is out-of-this-world tasty, because it certainly is!
The plantain sandwiches can be filled with anything from steak to fish to chicken.
Layer your sandwich with lettuce, tomato, cheese, onions, and mayo-ketchup. Now, that’s one impressive snack!
10. Puerto Rican Papas Rellenas
Meat and potatoes are married in this recipe, creating crispy croquettes filled with ground beef hash.
In Puerto Rico, this recipe is also called relleno de papa. Golden, tender, and warm, these are balls of joy and comfort you could get addicted to.
The secret for extra crunch? Coat them with raw egg, roll into breadcrumbs, and fry to golden perfection!
11. Habichuelas Guisadas
Mediterranean ingredients meet Puerto Rican flavors in this stewed beans recipe. The result?
An earthy, well-spiced dish that goes well with white or yellow rice.
It’s the perfect combination if you’re planning to have a meatless dinner.
For this recipe, you’ll just need to stew the beans in a tomato-based broth, season with Puerto Rican staples, and mix in oregano, bay leaves, and olives.
It’s pretty easy. You’ll be done in less than an hour.
You know it’s Christmas time in Puerto Rico when glasses of Coquito are served on the table. This drink is similar to eggnog with rum, but is coconut-based.
It is sweet and creamy, and yes, you can get drunk! You’ll want to give this drink a good flavor, so don’t forget to add in some cinnamon sticks.
Note: Take your coquito to the fridge. The longer it sits there, the more it becomes delicious. So don’t hesitate to make it a few days before the party!
13. Arroz Con Dulce
After going through savory dishes, I’m sure you’re looking for something different and sweet. But Arroz con dulce is more than just your average dessert.
It’s a sticky and creamy rice pudding with coconut and raisins.
The taste of this dessert gets even better when infused with cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Add your own twist by using other spices or adjusting their amounts.
Coconut-flavored pudding is irresistible. That’s why this recipe is another creamy pudding with the tropical element of, well, coconut.
Tembleque means “wiggly,” which exactly describes this dessert. The pudding here is thickened until slightly firm.
The end result should be a custard texture that jiggles when shaken.
Sprinkle dusted cinnamon on top, serve cold, and enjoy!