This collection of 18+ Puerto Rican recipes will show you just how flavorful and unique Puerto Rican cooking can be! Keep reading to get the rundown on all of my favorite recipes, including a few treasured family recipes always impress.
In this post I'm sharing 18+ of my all time favorite Puerto Rican recipes from the blog plus some tips for success with Puerto Rican cooking including:
- a few tips that help develop maximum flavor
- key ingredients in Puerto Rican cooking
- or skip straight to the recipes!
Many of the recipes listed are gluten free and/or vegan.
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How to develop maximum flavor
Depending on the type of meal you're eating (entree, dessert, etc.), you will notice common flavors and ingredients across many Puerto Rican recipes.
There are a few different seasonings, spice blends and ingredients that are used frequently in these recipes to help develop maximum flavor.
Here are a few you will notice regularly in the recipes below:
- sazon seasoning - this spice blend is used in all kinds of savory Puerto Rican recipes from my mom's arroz con pollo to these alcapurria fritters. It is traditionally made with a mix of dried coriander, cumin, garlic and annatto.
- adobo seasoning - adobo seasoning is another extremely popular spice blend you'll hear of regularly in this culinary adventure. While it's completely unrelated to the also popular latin ingredient, chipotle peppers canned in adobo sauce, it definitely doesn't lack in the flavor department. This spice blend is a mix of dried garlic, onion powder, oregano and pepper.
- sofrito - while the previous ingredients focused on spices, this flavor bomb is made with entirely fresh ingredients. Sofrito is a mixture of peppers, onions, garlic and cilantro, pureed together and used as a base for rice dishes, picadillo and more.
- annatto/achiote oil - achiote oil is made from annatto seeds infused into a neutral oil and when used correctly can give off a beautiful warm color and unique savory flavor.
Key ingredients in Puerto Rican cooking
Growing up my mom used to joke about her diet back in Puerto Rico saying that all she ate was rice and beans. And while that joke isn't entirely true, there are certainly some ingredients that are used more heavily than others, as would be expected on any island.
Here are some popular ingredients that help sustain life on the island and are commonly used in Puerto Rican recipes:
- yucca root
- a variety of other beans
Now that you have some background on what to expect, let's dive in to the recipes! Let's start with an easy staple:
As mentioned above, sofrito is a mixture of peppers, onions, garlic and cilantro, pureed together and used as a base for rice dishes, picadillo and more. It's a wonderful ingredient to make ahead of time and can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days in advance.
Achiote Oil (Annatto)
Achiote Oil is a commonly used Puerto Rican oil infused with annatto seeds or ground annatto powder. This traditional recipe requires only 2 ingredients and less than 30 minutes of your time!
Arroz con Pollo
Probably one of the most popular of Puerto Rican recipes, arroz con pollo is one of those dishes that lives up to the hype. Made with rice infused with flavor from sofrito, lots of fresh veggies and chicken, it's satisfying and an automatic crowd pleaser every time.
Arroz con Gandules
This arroz con gandules is the perfect vegan alternative to arroz con pollo. Making a super flavorful pot of rice and beans could not be easier. I’m talking 1 pot, 1 cutting board, a knife and thirty minutes of your time. Make a double batch and you’ve got lunches for the week!
If you're ever lucky enough to visit Puerto Rico, this is the plantain recipe you'll likely try first. Tostones are a super popular snack/side/appetizer made from twice fried green plantains. The result is a super crunchy, savory treat that resemble freshly fried french fries in texture and are unmatched in flavor.
Next up is another super popular recipe in latin cuisine, empanadillas. Mine are infused with sazon seasoning and fresh sofrito, giving them that Puerto Rican flair.
Maduros (sweet fried brown plantains)
Maduros are the sweeter, softer, and more mature version of Tostones. Made with sweet brown plantains and fried in similar fashion, this traditional side is even easier to make and full of flavor.
You haven't fully experienced Puerto Rican cuisine until you've tried Flan. This creamy custard topped with a thin layer of caramel is heavenly in every sense of the word. It's also surprisingly easy to make, with the right recipe!
In true Puerto Rican fashion, this recipe gives the traditional flan flavor a twist by using sweetened condensed coconut milk in place of the sweetened condensed milk. This gives it a coconut flavor and sweetness that is perfect when topped with a sprinkle of flakey salt.
Of course, it would be totally cruel to brag about how epic flan is and not have a vegan friendly version to share! And this plant based flan gets pretty darn close to the real thing in flavor and texture.
I'm not sure how this list would be complete without a solid Piña Colada recipe (or 3!) This virgin spin on the tropical drink is made with fresh pineapple and coconut cream and truly a dream on a hot summer day.
Piña Colada on the Rocks
If you don't have a blender or just prefer your drinks shaken, not blended, this is the perfect version of a piña colada for you! Made with pineapple juice and coconut milk, it captures the tropical essence of the drink in a low maintenance fashion.
Strawberry Piña Colada
Just in case you haven't found the Piña Colada that's right for you in this list of Puerto Rican recipes, this strawberry version is impossible to say no to. It truly feels like an alcoholic smoothie in the best way, but please remember to always drink responsibly!
Steak Stuffed Avocados
This recipe I developed was inspired by the leftover sofrito I had in my fridge! It's the perfect way to infuse flavor into meat and didn't disappoint when infused into steak and then stuffed into halved avocados.
Air Fryer Plantain Chips
If you've joined the Air Fryer bandwagon in the past few years, this is the plantain recipe for you! Inspired by all those delicious plantain chips available in the chip aisle at your local grocery store, this crispy air fried spin on Tostones is a fun and grease free recipe.
Now that you're well versed in a variety of Puerto Rican plantain recipes, you're ready for a challenge. This recipe for Alcapurrias does require some patience and a few more steps than the other recipes. That said, the result is something so special and unique in flavor it's worth every second of labor. These fritters are made with yucca root and green plantains, then stuffed with picadillo.
Arroz con Leche
This Puerto Rican style Arroz con Leche is a comforting dessert made with long grain rice, whole milk, butter, brown sugar and spices. It's surprisingly easy to make at home and comes together in under an hour!
Arroz con Dulce
If you're a fan of arroz con leche, chances are you'll love arroz con dulce as well. This version of the sweet rice pudding is made entirely plant based with coconut milk instead of whole milk.
I like to think of Coquito as egg nog's older, mature and well traveled sister. It's got all the creamy delicious-ness without as much of the heaviness. Made with coconut, cinnamon sticks, and rum, it's the perfect drink to warm you up on cold Winter nights.
I hope you found some inspiration in this list of Puerto Rican recipes! While this isn't a complete list, I think it captures just how special the cuisine really is. If you make a recipe please reach out on Instagram or leave a comment below and let me know what you think!Print