Getting tired of eating the same thing week after week? Add a little bit of spice to your life with authentic Guatemalan foods.
Guatemalan cuisine is full of life and flavor, and I have the traditional recipes to prove it!
Guatemalan recipes are a blend of Mayan culture with a touch of Spanish influence. You’ll also notice there’s some crossover with Mexican cuisine.
Heavy on the meat, you find common staples like complex soups and stews. There are also some fresh and light recipes featuring veggies and seafood.
From pupusas to tamales, here are 27 traditional recipes that capture the heart and soul of Guatemala.
1. Pepian de Pollo
What better way to start your exploration of authentic Guatemalan cuisine than with pepian de pollo?
Often referred to as the national dish, pepian de pollo is a hearty stew that’s packed with spice.
This includes Chile Pasa, Chile Guaque, and achiote.
Tortillas are common for serving, but you could also serve this with bread. Either way, you’ll want some sort of side to soak up every last drop.
You’re probably wondering why enchiladas are on this list, but these are much different from what you’ll get with Mexican cuisine.
You won’t find any tortillas stuffed and smothered in a sauce here.
Rather, Guatemalan enchiladas involve topping a crispy tortilla or tostada with escabeche.
While there are some variations, this escabeche consists of beets, beef, and carrots.
The whole thing is then finished off with slices of hard-boiled egg and cheese.
3. Guatemalan Chicken in Coconut Milk
Wondering what Guatemalans eat for comfort food? They eat this dish.
This meal has everything going for it. It’s got a bed of white rice with adobo chicken, sauteed veggies, and a creamy coconut sauce.
Are you a fan of juicy chicken? Then step right up because you’ll want to feast on this dish.
Pulique is a staple that is typically enjoyed during rituals or festivals. It’s a type of thick stew that can feature a range of meats.
However, this one is all about the chicken. It takes huge pieces of chicken and smothers it in tomatillos and spice.
There are also some green beans, bell peppers, and chayote added to the mix.
5. Guatemalan Rice Pilaf
What sets Guatemalan rice pilaf apart from all the rest is a medley of vegetables, simple spices, and chicken stock.
Each home has its own variation, but I like how this traditional recipe keeps it simple.
This is a fabulous side to pair with pretty much any Guatemalan dish.
6. Guatemalan Green Chicken Stew
Stews and soups are the backbones of Guatemalan cuisine. While I think they’re all equally great, I can eat this again and again and never grow tired of it.
What makes this stew so special is the fresh blend of tomatillos, cilantro, jalapeno, and green onion. It’s also what gives it the gorgeous green color!
7. Pollo en Pina
Pollo en pina means “chicken in pineapple.” If you’ve ever had the two grilled on a skewer, then you already know this dish is going to be great.
Pineapple gives it a sweet and tart flavor while a splash of sherry gives it more depth.
Of course, there’s also the browned juicy chicken, which is the best part.
8. Guatemalan Chiles Rellenos
Like enchiladas, Guatemalans have a special take on chile rellenos.
They use sweet peppers instead of spicy poblanos. Also, the inside consists of veggies and meat.
While the inside isn’t oozing with cheese, these chile rellenos are just as good.
However, if you still have to have your cheese, you can sprinkle some queso fresco on the top.
9. Guatemalan Garnachas
Lunch, dinner, or snack, garnachas are a combination of all the best flavors.
You’ll take a crunchy tortilla and pile it high with fixings like savory ground beef, fresh salsa, and a spicy veggie mix.
This popular Guatemalan soup is a seafood lover’s dream! It’s packed with shrimp, lobster, and white fish.
Coconut milk gives it a creamy base that balances out the spice. While the sweet plantains add the perfect amount of sweetness.
It’s a wonderful combination of seafood, plaintains, coconut milk, and warm, hearty goodness.
11. Guatemalan Tostadas
Guatemalan soups and stews take time, so if you can’t wait, I say whip up some scrumptious tostadas.
This is a light and fresh dish that you can make in 30 minutes.
You’ll take pre-made tostadas and load them up with fresh salsa, guacamole, and a black bean topping.
12. Guatemalan Tamales
There is one Christmas tradition that’s a must in Guatemala, and that’s tamales!
Tamales require a ton of work, which makes them even more special for the holidays. It’s a fun way to build memories and spend quality time with family.
Plus, they are seriously delicious!
Guatemalan tamales are a little thinner than Mexican tamales and have fillings that include capers, olives, or raisins.
13. Guatemalan Paches
Paches are very similar to tamales, except you’ll make the outside with mashed potato.
This recipe infuses mashed potatoes with fresh salsa, instant masa, and lard. This gives the outside a ton of flavor while the inside is full of flavorful pork.
Like tamales, you’ll need to wrap the paches to keep them together. This recipe uses banana leaves, but you could use corn husks if you can’t find any.
14. Shucos (Guatemalan Hot Dogs)
I have a good feeling you’ve never had a hot dog quite like this!
Shucos are a popular type of street food. And like all street food, they’re a little bit junky and impossible to resist.
You’ll start by taking jumbo hot dog buns and stuffing them with longanizas, sausage, and cabbage.
Add some mayo, ketchup, mustard, and guacamole and you’re in business!
Oh, and in case you’re not familiar, longanizas are a type of pork sausage seasoned with black pepper.
15. Jocon de Pollo
Looking for a hearty stew with fresh and tangy flavors? This Guatemalan Green Chicken Stew is rich in both history and flavor.
This Guatemalan staple features a delightful green sauce that’s full of fresh cilantro, mint, jalapeno, and tomatillos.
Serve this with a side of white rice for a substantial and gratifying meal.
16. Chojin Radish Salad
While most traditional Guatemalan recipes focus on meat, this one is all about the veggies.
It’s a bright blend of minced radishes, tomatoes, onion, and citrus. If you want to keep this dish meat-free, omit the crunchy chicharrones.
Although good, this crunchy pork isn’t exactly vegan-friendly.
Hilachas is a hearty stew packed with shredded beef, tender potatoes, and cooked in a savory tomato sauce.
This one is perfect for those chilly nights when you want something warm and comforting.
18. Guatemalan Fiambre Salad
Now, this salad has some pizazz! It takes ingredients like olives, hard-boiled eggs, beets, salami, and more, then turns them into an art piece.
And that’s only half the work! There’s a ton of pickling, boiling, and curing involved.
However, time is precious, so I won’t blame you for hitting the deli counter for your holiday salad goods.
19. Caldo de Pollo
If you have a craving for brothy soup, try caldo de pollo. It’s a rustic concoction of chicken, carrots, and potatoes.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Guatemalan without layers to build complexity.
So toss in some other supporting roles like bay leaf, fresh herbs, and guicoy — an ancient type of squash.
Chuchitos are a popular Guatemalan street food. This flavorful delight is made with corn dough and stuffed with chicken or pork in a tomato-based sauce.
They’re wrapped in corn husks and steamed over low heat. They’re often enjoyed around the holidays or at special festivities. But with this recipe, you can make them anytime of the year!
21. Guatemalan Ceviche
Everyone who knows me knows my fondness for Guatemalan-style ceviche.
It’s the epitome of fresh flavors with ingredients like juicy shrimp and ripe avocado.
But what truly makes it unique is everything is marinated in beer!
22. Guatemalan Atolillo
Atolillo is a special beverage that features rice milk and cinnamon. It’s akin to horchata, except you’ll serve it warm.
You’ll need to let the rice sit overnight, so plan accordingly.
On holidays or chilly winter afternoons, atolillo is a classic treat.
23. Guatemalan Black Bean Soup
This black bean soup is both economical and delicious. The soup itself only calls for four ingredients, but I think toppings are a must.
I like to keep it simple with avocado, cilantro, and queso. However, a dollop of sour cream and chirmol pair well, too.
24. Guatemalan Pineapple Empanadas
Bite into these empanadas, and you’ll do your happy dance.
While there are many great hand pie recipes, this recipe is ideal when you want a sweet treat.
They’re full of juicy pineapple and have a sprinkle of confectioners sugar on top.
25. Guatemalan Torrejas
This is another incredible sweet dish. It’s a Guatemalan take on French toast that gets topped with honey, raisins, and sugar.
This pairs great with morning coffee, but could also be good as dessert.
Speaking of coffee, pour yourself a cup because champurradas are dunk-worthy. These are common for breakfast as well as an afternoon snack.
This sesame seed cookie has a nice crunch and a beautiful golden color from the masa flour.
You can find pupusas all over Guatemala, but luckily, you won’t have to book an expensive plane ticket because you can make these at home.
You’ll make the dough out of masa harina and stuff the inside with a mound of cheese. As for the toppings, either chirmol or curtido will suffice.
Curtido is a type of slaw that adds a nice contrast of texture.
No matter how you top them, pupusas are a sensational dish that is incredibly addictive.
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