Puerto Rican food is famous for its bold flavors and delicious recipes. Inspired by Caribbean, West African, Spanish, and American flavors, Puerto Rico has developed a unique flavor all its own.
From popular appetizers like bacalaitos and empanadillas to hearty servings of pernil to ending your meal with a sweet flan, Puerto Rico cuisine has something for everyone.
When the mood strikes, take a trip to the island without leaving the comfort of your kitchen with these 17 best Puerto Rican recipes.
17 Best Puerto Rican Recipes
From breakfast, lunch, dinner, appetizers, dessert, and even drinks, Puerto Rican dishes are full of flavor and influence from other cultures. Enjoy a full three-course meal or a hearty breakfast or lunch by making these 17 best Puerto Rican recipes.
1. Pan de Mallorca
Let’s start this list off with some great Puerto Rican breakfast recipes. Pan de Mallorca, also known as Puerto Rican sweet rolls is a popular breakfast.
Reminiscent of cinnamon rolls, the moist dough is rolled into a spiral and baked. Once baked, they are served with a topping of powdered sugar or icing.
Questions are Puerto Rican cream cheese-filled puff pastries. They are flaky, creamy, brushed with a simple sugar glaze, and very popular with a cup of coffee.
The sugar glaze is made from light corn syrup, or substitute honey, sugar, and water. You can also mix up the fillings and use guava paste, Nutella, chocolate, or strawberries.
3. Crema De Farina
Crema De Farina, or Cream of Wheat in English, is a popular Puerto Rican breakfast. Warm-up from the inside out with this creamy porridge.
While this creamy dish can be bland by itself, there are some great ways to spice it up. Cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and honey can add some great flavor.
Tripletas is a hearty sandwich perfect for a busy day’s lunch. This protein-packed sandwich is loaded with three different cuts of meat and cheese.
This sandwich features seared cube steak, sliced ham, and pernil, which is roast pork. Italian sub rolls topped with meat, veggies, and a mayo-ketchup mixture.
Jibarito or plantain skirt steak sandwiches are another popular summer lunch option in Puerto Rico. This sandwich skips the carbs by using plantains in place of the bread.
This sandwich is graced with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. Marinated skirt steak adds a mouthwatering flavor to this tasty sandwich that’s tied together with a garlic-mayo-ketchup sauce.
6. Sopa De Pollo Con Mofongo
Sopa De Pollo or chicken soup is flavored with sofrito which serves as a base in many Puerto Rican dishes that is composed of tomato paste, olive oil, onions, garlic, herbs, and peppers.
This soup features mofongo balls which are mashed plantains with fried pork skin and seasonings. It’s also full of potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, and chicken.
Before enjoying dinner, it is typical for an appetizer to be served. One popular appetizer is surullitos or cheese corn sticks that are slightly sweet and savory.
The dough is made from cornmeal, salt, and sugar. Gouda cheese is added and once cool enough, it’s rolled into shape. Lastly, it is fried until golden brown.
Another popular appetizer is bacalaitos which is a flavorful codfish fritter. To make these, codfish or pollock is soaked for hours in water to help reduce the saltiness.
Fresh ingredients like onions, red pepper, cilantro, and oregano are added to flour to make a batter. The fish is added and it is formed into a pancake then fried.
9. Empanadillas de Carne
Empanadillas de Carne is a savory appetizer that is popular in Puerto Rico. They are a beef turnover featuring a hearty beef filling inside a delicious flaky crust.
The dough is topped with Carne molida which is a mixture of ground meat, potatoes, onion, tomato sauce, herbs, and seasonings. Fold, crimp the edges, and fry until crispy.
10. Carne Frita
Carne frita is seasoned and marinated pork chunks that are fried until golden and crispy. This meat can be served in different meals or as an appetizer.
Pork shoulder or pork butt cut into chunks, seasoned, and marinated for at least 30 minutes. The pieces are then fried until crispy and served with a garlic dipping sauce.
Pernil is a popular Puerto Rican dinner or party dish that can feed a lot of people. Pernil is a slow-cooked pork roast, typically leg, butt, or shoulder.
The pork roast is scored and marinated overnight with oil, garlic, oregano, adobo, paprika, salt, and pepper. Roasted low and slow, you can serve this with rice and pigeon peas.
12. Arroz Con Pollo
Arroz con pollo is a popular and delicious one-pot meal. This dish is full of flavor and easy to make. You’ll need chicken, sofrito, spices, rice, olives, peas, and chicken stock.
Skin-on chicken produces a nice crispy outside. Once the chicken is cooked, add the vegetables, spices, chicken stock, and rice. Add the chicken on top and let simmer while covered.
13. Flan De Queso
Flan de queso or cheese flan is like a combination of a cheesecake and flan that come together to make a rich, and creamy custard-like dessert.
The flan is made with cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, eggs, and vanilla. It is topped with a delicious topping of caramelized sugar.
Tembleque is a pudding or custard-like Puerto Rican dessert. This tropical treat is made with coconut cream and milk, cinnamon sticks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
Tembleque can be poured into round or square pans and sliced or served in individual glasses. Before serving, sprinkle with ground cinnamon. This makes a great holiday dessert.
15. Budin De Pan
Budin de pan is bread pudding and a popular dessert across the world. Budin de pan can be made with any type of bread you have lying around.
Bread is soaked in a mixture of eggs, sugar, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and orange and lemon zest. Add some raisins and pour it all into a baking pan, bake, and enjoy.
16. Pina Colada
With all of this delicious food, we need something to wash it down with. A Pina colada is a tropical blended cocktail that is just as delicious without alcohol.
All you need to make this delicious drink is rum, coconut cream, heavy cream, pineapple juice, and ice. Blend until smooth and garnish with fresh pineapple and a cherry.
A popular Christmas drink in Puerto Rico is Coquito which is a coconut nog. Perfect for family get-togethers, holiday parties, or Christmas gifts, this drink is delightful!
This creamy, spiced drink is made by combining evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, cream of coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and rum. Garnish with cinnamon sticks.
Puerto Rico has many flavorful recipes for any time of the day or year from a breakfast of crema de farina to a delightful dinner of arroz con pollo.
Thanks for joining me on this journey around Puerto Rico and its incredible cuisine. Bring the flavors of the island home when you try these 17 best Puerto Rican recipes.