Looking for authentic Cuban recipes to spice up your dinner ideas? From ropa vieja to mojo pork, these dishes are easy to make and simply irresistible!
If you’ve ever been to Cuba, then you know their food is amazing. Cuban dishes are slow-cooked and heavily marinated, which gives them so much flavor.
Cuban cuisine offers a blend of African, Caribbean, Native Taino, and Spanish cooking styles.
So many bold tastes come together in every Cuban dish!
In the US, the Cuban sandwich is the most popular food associated with the country. But there’s more to Cuba than its tasty sandwiches.
You can whip up delicious Cuban meals right in your own kitchen.
I’ve rounded up 24 Cuban recipes that will transform your dining area into a paladar (private Cuban restaurant).
Let’s dig in!
1. Ropa Vieja
To get to know Cuban cuisine better, let’s start with one of the national dishes: ropa vieja.
This savory Latin dish packs a flavorful punch from shredded beef with vegetables.
With a little kick from olives and capers, ropa vieja will give you a slightly salty taste.
Traditionally, this dish uses flank steak. But since this part doesn’t do well in low and slow cooking, you may want to give chuck steak a try.
When cut correctly, chuck steak will yield a soft, tasty, and moist shredded beef for your ropa vieja.
2. Cuban Frita
For a delicious burger that you can have any time of the day, look no further than the Cuban frita!
Warning: this is not your typical burger. Imagine a well-seasoned patty infused with chorizo butter and paprika.
Now, take your imagination up a notch by adding fried potato strings on top of the patty.
I’m sure every bite of this burger will give an excellent crunch!
3. Cuban Shrimp Creole
This quintessential Cuban dish is saucy and slightly spicy. It’s perfect for adding a little warmth to your tummy.
The main ingredient here is shrimp, so you’ll be in for a seafood delight!
Simmered in a tomato-based sauce and fresh Latin spices, this dish is perfect when served over white rice.
Feel free to dunk some bread into the sauce. Honestly, it’s so good, you won’t be able to resist it!
4. Cuban Chicken With Yellow Rice
Looking for that one meal to keep you full and satisfied? This Cuban chicken with yellow rice is just the ticket!
Ready in 40 minutes, everything in this dish comes together quickly. The best part? The ingredients you need are probably sitting in your pantry right now.
This dish is also known as arroz con pollo.
Remember this name whenever you’re craving moist yellow rice topped with seasoned and seared chicken breasts.
To make the dish more vibrant and flavorful, don’t forget to add red peppers, green peas, and also chorizo slices if you like.
5. Cuba Libre
Cuba libre is a cocktail that celebrates the end of oppression and war in Cuba. It features the classic combination of rum, cola, and a wedge of lime.
The original rum used for this drink was Bacardi Carta de Oro. Still, any kind of rum (light or dark) should work unless you want the authentic taste.
Cuba libre is light with a timeless taste. It’s as strong as a glass of wine, and it’s perfect for a cocktail party or a girl’s night out!
Pulpeta is a Cuban-style meatloaf that combines ground meat, onions, vinegar, eggs, breadcrumbs, tomatoes, wine, and spices.
Authentic pulpeta is not baked but seared and gently simmered in a flavorful Cuban-style sauce. Sometimes, this meatloaf is filled with hard-boiled eggs.
Whether the eggs are necessary to make the dish filling or visually attractive, I don’t know.
But one thing’s for sure: this meatloaf is more flavorful than the American version!
7. Lechon Asado
Lechon asado, or simply known as Cuban-style roast pork, owes its delectable flavor to the mojo marinade.
This marinade combines vast amounts of cumin, garlic, and oregano. The roasted meat is oozing with tangy citrus juices.
Leftovers of lechon asado are great in sandwiches, too. Be sure to shred the pork, add sliced onions, and drizzle some mojo sauce on top.
8. Tamal en Cazuela
Tamal en cazuela is a dish that will remind you of your grandmother’s cooking. It will fill your kitchen with a bright, comforting aroma.
This dish is the Cubans’ version of polenta. Expect a soft, creamy, and porridge-like cornmeal mixture.
For the toppings, you can’t go wrong with pork ribs, fresh parsley, and lime wedges.
To make variations of this dish, feel free to use seafood or chicken instead of pork.
9. Cuban Breaded Steak
Craving some good fried chicken? This Cuban breaded steak is the answer! But the truth is, it’s more than just a fried chicken steak.
This dish owes its fantastic flavors to the tangy marinade made with orange juice, vinegar, olive oil, and Cuban seasonings.
Dredging the marinated pork in flour, egg whites, and seasoned cracker crumbs is also a crucial step.
Once done, fry the meat to golden perfection, and you’ll have a wonderful chicken meal for lunch or dinner!
10. Vaca Frita
Vaca frita is said to be a cousin of the classic Cuban dish, ropa vieja. Both of them use shredded beef but entail different cooking styles.
For vaca frita, the result is tender shredded beef with a crispy outside.
Using mojo marinade is also an important step to infuse exciting flavors into the meat.
In a nutshell, vaca frita is a dish where citrusy and garlicky flavors meet.
An extra point goes to its crunchy goodness. Serve with white rice and black beans for a traditional Cuban meal!
11. Cuban Papas Rellenas
Papas rellenas are known as the classic Cuban snack. They’re fried potato balls stuffed with meat and tons of spices!
The potato balls are coated in eggs and crumbs. Double dredge for a crunchier crust!
Take a bite, and you’ll find a savory ground beef mixture that’s oh-so-flavorful.
If you’re a fan of potato dishes, think about making an extra batch of these balls of joy. I’m pretty sure they’ll be gone fast!
12. Cuban Picadillo
Cuban-style picadillo is a homestyle dish with ground beef, ground pork, or sometimes both.
For this recipe, you’ll focus on using ground beef. But feel free to use pork if that’s what you like.
Cuban picadillo won’t be complete without the addition of capers, olives, and raisins.
Tomato sauce and several other spices also add to the layers of flavors oozing from this dish.
For the sides, black beans and sweet plantains are great picks. Add more protein to this dish by topping it off with fried eggs.
13. Arroz Congri
While this Cuban dish might not be the most appealing, it’s definitely an interesting one!
I love the aroma, texture, and taste coming off from the black beans, vegetables, bacon, and spices.
The savory flavor of this rice and black makes it a perfect pair to ropa vieja.
You can also enjoy it as a vegetarian main dish with a salad on the side.
Tostones are sliced rounds of plantains that you have to smash, fry (twice), and season with sea salt.
With just a few ingredients — green plantains, salt, and vegetable oil — you’ll have these snacks ready in no time at all.
Don’t forget to dip the tostones in your favorite sauce for an extra delightful bite!
15. Cuban Mojo Pot Roast
Cuban mojo pot roast is a summery beef dish with herby, garlicky, and citrusy mojo sauce!
Throw in some potatoes and carrots for flavoring and texture.
It’s also a one-pan dish, which means less work in the kitchen. But still, you’ll get a complete meal for the whole family.
Add some dinner rolls on the side to sop up the delicious sauce!
Mojo sauce is traditionally made with sour oranges.
But if you don’t have access to them, you can use lime juice or orange juice. Citrus fruits like grapefruit work, too.
16. Elena Ruz Sandwich
Elena Ruz sandwich proves that the mix of sweet and savory flavors isn’t weird at all.
For a Cuban-style merienda (afternoon tea), this is the sandwich you need. It features turkey, cream cheese, and strawberry jam.
Imagine all these ingredients packed inside the slightly toasted medianoche bread. The sandwich is served warm but not pressed.
17. Cuban Stuffed Peppers
Stuffed peppers are pretty popular in different countries. Of course, Cuba’s version isn’t one to dismiss.
For this recipe, the bell peppers are stuffed with the ever-so-tasty Cuban picadillo and cooked rice.
The beef filling is the star of the show, with flavors coming from Latin spices, olives, and raisins.
You can skip adding rice if you want a low-carb version of this dish.
18. Deviled Crab Croquettes
If you love spicy food, these devilled crab croquettes are for you. From the recipe name itself, you might have guessed that it features a spicy crab filling.
More than that, the filling is wrapped in bread dough and then dipped in seasoned crumbs, flour, and eggs.
The final step is to fry them to golden perfection, so they’re crunchy on the outside and tenderly delicious on the inside.
19. Huevos Habaneros
Start your morning with this flavorful and delicious Cuban breakfast, huevos habaneros.
In simple terms, this is a Havana-style egg dish swimming in a spicy tomato sauce.
Serve with grilled chorizo and fried plantains for a lively Cuban breakfast!
If having fried, boiled, or scrambled eggs is a little bland for you, this is THE breakfast recipe that’s worth the try.
20. Slow Cooker Cuban Mojo Pork
This recipe yields slow-cooked pulled porked with garlic and citrus flavors.
Because your slow cooker will do most of the work, it’s the easiest way to prepare pork meat.
This recipe is super versatile, too! You can place it on a bed of white rice for a complete Cuban meal or use it as a topping for your nacho party.
Again, the tangy and well-spiced mojo sauce is your secret to creating this delectable dish.
It will be your marinade, but you can also use it as a dip or sauce. Awesome, right?
21. Cuban Lentil Soup
Cuban lentil soup is a comforting bowl of brown lentils and veggies. Whenever it gets chilly, this is one of my go-to meals!
This hearty meal delivers smokey and warm flavors. Plus, it’s also a one-pot dish, so there’s less kitchen work (and less mess).
Serve the soup with warm, crusty bread or dinner rolls. Happy dunking!
22. Cubano Sandwich
Pork in a sandwich is a classic Cuban combination. It’s so good that even in movies, the Cubano sandwich steals the spotlight.
Check out the film “Chef” for reference. The sandwich is unlike anything I’ve tried before.
Inside, the mojo marinated pork is layered with ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard. Other versions make use of salami, too.
Everything goes into the bread and then pressed, so all the flavors meld in every bite. Serve with some potato chips because it’s a perfect combo!
23. Cuban Chicken Noodle Soup
Looking for something warm to partner with your Cuban sandwiches? Well, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.
This Cuban chicken noodle soup is what you need!
This dish is the ultimate Cuban comfort food in soup form. It’s so hearty, with all the bite-sized pieces of chicken swimming in a light, well-seasoned soup.
The addition of angel hair pasta makes the dish extra filling. You might only need half of the Cuban sandwich.
But that’s definitely not the case for me. I can’t get enough of that sandwich!
24. Cuban Pumpkin Flan
Of course, after going through all those savory, warm, and citrusy dishes, there’s always room for dessert!
Cuban pumpkin flan with crème caramel is served on a white plate. This is the kind of dessert you’ll find in most Cuban homes.
For the rich and creamy custard, feel free to use fresh roasted or canned pumpkin.
Don’t forget to add some cinnamon, nutmeg, and other fall spices to bring out the best flavor.
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