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
- Arroz con Gandules
- Arroz con Pollo
- Pollo Guisado
- Rellenos de Papa
- Sopón de Gandules
- Carne Frita
- Guineitos en Escabeche
- Arroz Mamposteao
- Brazo Gitano
- Pastelillos de Guayaba
- Tres Leches
- Piña Colada
- Asopao de Camarones
- Café con Leche
- Arroz con Dulce
- Arroz y Habichuelas
- Serenata de Bacalao con Viandas
- Local Candies
- Pan Sobao
- Asopao de Pollo
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47 Best Puerto Rico Foods & Dishes
Boiled green banana dough filled with pork meat
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
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.
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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 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
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
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.
Chicken stew with potatoes
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
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.
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Slow-cooked pork shoulder or leg with spices
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Fried pork chops
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Rice with red kidney beans
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.
Rolled sponge cake with a guava filling
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
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
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
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
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.
Sponge cake made with three types of milk
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
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.
Pineapple juice and coconut cream drink
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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 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
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.
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.
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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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