19 Puerto Rican Foods You Need to Try

Puerto Rican cuisine is a type of food that has been around for hundreds of years.

It’s based on Spanish, African and Taíno heritage with influences from other cultures such as French, American and Italian. With so many different types of dishes to try there’s no way you’ll be bored!

1. Coquito

First up is the coquito. Now, before you judge us for placing an alcoholic beverage at the top of the list, you should try it for yourself.

This delectable, delicious drink is very similar to eggnog but it is made with coconut, rum, and lots of delicious holiday spices such as nutmeg, ground cinnamon, vanilla, and of course, cinnamon sticks for a holiday twist! Delicious! 

2. Empanadillas

Empanadillas are like the love child of tortillas and empanadas. In most ways, they are much like popular food empanadas.

However, they are bigger and folded over so they create an enclosed casing of pastry to cover delicious spiced and flavored ground beef (or chicken) and veggies. They are then fried to create delicious fried pastries. Seriously, do not even think about dying before you try one! 

3. Tostones

As unappetizing as they may look, these flat, fried disks are not to be missed. Simply put, they are twice-fried plantain slices. Now, plantain doesn’t have to be plain, take it from us! Tostones just prove it. 

You should also note that whilst it looks like a banana, it couldn’t be further from one.  The secret ingredient is salt – plenty of it. For a traditional Puerto Rican snack you can eat them with a dip made from mayonnaise and ketchup! A delicious deep-fried treat that cannot be missed. 

4. Coco Rico

Coco Rico is Puerto Rico’s own version of Coca Cola. That being said, it doesn’t resemble or taste like America’s favorite soda in any way.

What we mean is that it is just as popular as Coca Cola is, at least in Puerto Rico. It is one of the most popular drinks on the island, and just one sip of it will have you convinced of that! 

In terms of flavor, it is relatively light and resembles Sprite. However, it does also have a very distinct coconut after taste, and since Puerto Rican cuisine is all about the coconuts, it is no surprise that Coco Rico is so popular. Best enjoyed ice cold whilst sitting on the beach! 

5. Cafe con Leche

Cafe Con Leche is a popular coffee drink from Spain that is drunk in countries in South America and many Caribbean countries. It is made with scalded milk and espresso in equal parts. 

Some people drink it as it comes whereas other people like to take it sweetened. As such, many people will ask for sugar or some other type of sweetener to be added to the drink. It is drunk in small cups and enjoyed in cafes on the island by people of all ages! It is similar to a latte and is certainly a must-try for coffee lovers.  

6. Arroz con Leche

This simply translates to ‘rice’ and ‘milk’, but let me tell you, sometimes simplicity is all you need because this is one delicious dessert! Yep, that’s right – rice and milk are a dessert! This sweet dish is very similar to rice pudding. 

It can be made for a sweet treat or even a decadent breakfast. It often has coconut milk, sweet spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon, and sweetener to make it taste especially divine. It is often topped with dried fruit and cinnamon sticks, too. 

7. Pasteles

Pasteles are similar to tamales, at least in texture. They are certainly something of an acquired taste since they contain malanga root and plantain for the outer latter. However, inside this layer is ground meat, typically either pork,  beef, or chicken.

They are a popular component of Christmas and holiday dinners on the island, but they are also eaten all year round, making them a delicious savory snack or meal accompaniment for any time of the year. 

8. Flan de queso

Flan is a very popular dessert in South America. However, in Puerto Rico there is one flan, in particular, that takes the cake (get it?) and that is the Flan De Queso. Flan De Queso is very similar to a cheesecake and it is much loved for its creamy, rich, and sweet taste!

It is lovingly topped with a caramel dressing and is enjoyed all over the island. It is certainly a popular dessert and a must-try for any cheesecake fans! 

9. Tortilla de Huevos

Simple but tasty, this breakfast food is actually quite a common find in America, especially in Mexican restaurants.

Whilst it is not strictly Puerto Rican, it is a breakfast food that is eaten on the island, as well as in other Caribbean islands, South American countries, and in Mexico. It is simply an egg omelet with pieces of corn tortilla inside. They may often contain cheese, chives, or onions, too. 

10. Quesitos

This delicious sweet pastry is made from cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and of course, puff pastry. It is presented as a twist shape and enjoyed as a snack, a dessert, and even as a breakfast food.

The taste resembles custard tarts and sweet pastry twists. A must-try for anyone with a sweet tooth. 

11. Pollo Guisado

As we have said already in this article, sometimes keeping it simple really is the way to go. This delicious chicken stew recipe, also known as Pollo Guisado is a staple in the home of many Puerto Rican families.

Chicken stew, as you may already know, is a hearty meal that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. The Puerto Rican twist makes Pollo Guisado particularly special, with the Puerto Rican spices Sofrito and Adobo. Such an upgrade on the classic chicken stew, that’s for sure! 

12. Chicharrones de pollo

Fried chicken but, like, one million times better! Fried chicken lovers unite for this one. One of Puerto Rico’s most popular chicken dishes just had to be Chicharrones de Pollo.

They are very similar to the Puerto Rican dish simply known as Chicharrones (these are crispy pork rinds) but are instead made from chicken on the bone.

They are coated in a delicious flavoring that would put the Colonel’s to shame, and deep fried twice for extra deliciousness.  These are certainly not to be missed! 

13. Asopao de Pollo

Asopao is a dish that is very similar to the Louisiana Creole dish known as gumbo. It is a sort of broth-like stew that uses meat, rice, and vegetables, along with delicious herbs and spices.

By far the most popular type of Asopao in Puerto Rico is the Asopao de Pollo, which is simply made with chicken. It is a hearty meal, enjoyed traditionally by families.

It features chicken broth, tomatoes, rice, onion, oil, oregano, olives, garlic, and any other spices you may want to use. Recipes for this may change and vary depending on who is making it as many recipes will have been handed down by family from generations passed. 

14. Mofongo

You may be able to tell…plantains are a particularly popular food on the island of Puerto Rico. They are the key component of Mofongo. plantain gets deep-fried with sauteed garlic and onions to create a sort of deep-fried ‘mash’.

They are then topped with seafood, meat, and olive oil to be eaten as a main meal! Certainly a delicious lunch or dinner! 

15. Alcapurrias

Sure, ground fish doesn’t sound like the most appetizing food in the world, but you haven’t tried Alcapurrias yet! These resemble American corndogs and taste pretty similar too.

They are usually made from ground meat or ground fish which has been coated in grated taro root and green plantains. They are then deep fried and eaten as they are.

If you are a corndog fan then you’ll love these, but even if you don’t like them you definitely need to give Alcapurrias a go as the taste is indescribable (in a good way)! These are definitely a must-try before you die. 

16. Tembleque

Tembleque is yet another coconut based dessert. In many ways, it is very similar to Arroz con Leche in that it features coconut milk and sugar.

However, there is no rice in this dish, and cornstarch is used instead to thicken it up. It is then dusted with cinnamon for a spicy and sweet flavor. For this reason, it is a popular holiday dish, often eaten around Christmas time. That being said, it can be enjoyed year-round! 

17. Dulzura Borincana Marrallo

The Marrello candy bar from the brand known as Dulzura Borincana is one of the most popular commercial sweet treats in Puerto Rico.

It is made from black coconut and is enjoyed by people whatever their age. The brand also creates some other very popular candies such as pilones which are made from sesame seeds and cremas de coco which is a creamy coconut candy. 

18. Rellenos de Papa

Rellenos de Papa combines two of the most delicious foods – mashed potatoes and ground beef. Simplicity at its finest, but with a crispy edge – no, seriously! These delectable little balls of joy are made from ground beef which has been rolled in a mashed potato layer.

They are then topped with a crispy crust before being cooked (typically by frying them). The deep-fried mashed potato shouldn’t work, but oh wow, it does! You have to try these before you die! 

19. Piononos

Piononos just had to be featured on this list. This Puerto Rican favorite pairs two delicious foods – plantain and beef. They are very similar to the pastelon (a Puerto Rican lasagne-type dish), but they are smaller snack-sized pieces. 

Piononos is made from plantain which has been sliced up, then fried off, and then rolled to make a cup shape. This plantain ‘cup’ is then stuffed with a savory beef filling. The mixture of sweet and savory makes a unique but delicious snack.

They are cooked in the oven after being topped with an egg which holds them together. 

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.