Try these popular Latin foods for meals you won’t soon forget!
Latin America is home to diverse culinary masterpieces.
With influences from African, Asian, European, and Native American cuisines, every dish features a superb flavor combination.
Each country has its own unique specialties, but there are also certain condiments, such as pico de gallo and guacamole, that are used throughout the region.
Needless to say, each and every dish is utter perfection.
Sample the flavorful dishes Latin America has to offer. There’s no need to book a flight. You can whip up these recipes at home.
From empanadas to arepas to tres leches, here are some of the most delectable Latin delights!
1. Mexican Rice
From the basic white to the flavorful paella, rice is a staple in Latin cuisine.
This recipe for Mexican rice is the perfect side dish to any meat entree or a filling to your burrito or taquito.
Not to be confused with Spanish rice, Mexican rice is flavored with tomatoes – hence its orange-ish hue.
Cooked in broth and infused with seasonings, it’s way better than your average rice dish.
2. Galinhada (Brazilian Saffron Chicken and Rice)
Its name is derived from the word “galinha,” which means chicken.
Apart from the protein, though, the dish also features rice and vegetables.
The rice is vibrant and fragrant because of the saffron – a widely used, albeit super expensive spice.
Containing carbs, protein, and vegetables, galinhada is a complete meal on its own.
The best part is that it only takes 30 minutes to make! With this recipe, your lunch or dinner will be ready in no time.
3. Empanadas de Pino (Chilean Beef Empanadas)
While we usually consider empanadas as a Spanish delight, other Latin regions also have their own versions.
For instance, the Chilean empanadas de pino have a delicious beef filling loaded with hard-boiled eggs, olives, and raisins.
I know a handful of people dislike raisins in savory dishes, but trust me, these empanadas will be a huge hit.
The unique combination of textures and flavors deserves a standing ovation.
Who doesn’t like guac, am I right? This Latin condiment is beloved all over the world, and for good reason.
Mashed avocados are seasoned with salt, lime juice, red onions, and jalapenos. It’s simple but spectacular at the same time.
The best part? Avocados are super nutritious. They’re fatty but in a good way.
That said, guacamole is definitely the dip of my dreams!
5. Ropa Vieja
Ropa vieja is a popular Cuban dish that’s overloaded with flavor. I’m telling you, you’ll have to try this!
Ropa vieja is Spanish for “old clothes,” because it looks like old, colorful rags on a plate.
Here’s a breakdown of what goes on in this epic dish: shredded beef, carrots, onions, bell peppers, garlic, tomatoes, celery, olives, pimientos, capers, and a lot more!
For the seasonings, it’s full of oregano, cumin, paprika, allspice, and cloves.
There’s dry white wine in there, too, to enhance all the ingredients’ flavors even more.
6. Brazilian Rice
This recipe may look just like basic steamed rice, but don’t be fooled by its plain appearance. This isn’t your ordinary white rice.
Brazilian rice is seasoned with sauteed onions and garlic, which doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but it is.
You won’t believe the difference it makes! They give life to tasteless white rice, making it oh so flavorful.
7. Peruvian Fried Rice
Called arroz chaufa, the Peruvian fried rice is another vibrant rice dish bursting with flavor.
In it are bits of chicken, bell peppers, onions, and hot dogs!
How can you say no to that? Whether you serve this as an entree or side dish, you can’t go wrong.
The great thing about it is that you can use whatever meat and vegetables you have in the fridge.
It’s the perfect way to put leftovers to good use.
Fun fact: arroz chaufa actually means Chinese rice.
So while it’s technically a Peruvian dish, it was only introduced to the country by Chinese immigrants back in the 1960s.
Tamales are known to be a complicated dish to prepare, but this recipe makes it easy for anyone to pull it off.
Tamales are made of dough steamed in either a corn husk or banana leaf.
It typically has a meat, cheese, or fruit filling, but this recipe switches things up by using bean dip and cheese.
9. Pão de Queijo
Pao de queijo, or Brazilian cheese puffs, are bite-sized balls of heaven. It’s love at first bite!
Made with a mixture of tapioca flour, milk, eggs, and parmesan cheese, these puffs are rich, cheesy, and purely addictive. I dare you to stop at one.
Also, how adorable are these balls? Judging by the picture, you can already tell they’re amazing.
Tostones are a crispy and salty snack made of fried plantains. They’re sliced into rounds and smashed flat and fried until golden.
Think potato chips, only more addictive.
The combo of mildly sweet plantains and salty seasoning is on point!
Whether on their own or dipped in salsa, they’re utter perfection.
Oh, and they’re gluten-free and vegan, to boot! What more can you ask for?
Arepas are small, round cakes made of cornmeal. Whether grilled, fried, or baked, it doesn’t matter, this snack is awesome.
There are different variations of arepas, all of which are delicious.
The Venezuelan arepas are small and thick, while Colombian arepas are sweet, thin, and filled with cheese.
If you like the Venezuelan arepas more, you’re in luck! This is what this recipe’s all about.
12. Mexican Street Corn
For me, elote is, without question, the best way to prepare corn.
Corn on the cob is char-grilled and smothered with creamy sauce and sprinkled with cotija cheese. How can anyone resist?
From the color combinations to the different textures and flavors, elote gets 10s across the board.
It’s messy to eat, sure, but who cares? It’s delicious!
13. Cafe Con Leche
Cafe con leche is basically coffee with steamed milk. There’s nothing basic about it, though, especially if you make it the right way.
The key is to use good-quality coffee – strong, freshly ground coffee beans.
You’ll also want to use quality water for the best results. Stay away from tap water for this recipe!
14. Cuban Stuffed Peppers
Cuban stuffed bell peppers are tasty, healthy, and super-easy to make. If you’re looking for a quick dinner recipe to add to your weekly meal rotation, this is it.
Sweet bell peppers are filled with Cuban picadillo or seasoned ground beef and rice and drizzled with a refreshing salsa on top.
Even veggie haters will ask for seconds!
15. Carne Guisada
Carne guisada is a Colombian stew loaded with beef, tomatoes, and scallions.
The stew is simmered in beer and flavored with cumin, garlic, and cilantro. It’s rich, hearty, and 100% delicious.
You’ll love how insanely tender the beef is! It’s so soft, it almost melts in your mouth. I’m drooling just thinking about it!
16. Brazilian Chocolate Fudge Truffles (Brigadeiros)
Time for dessert, my favorite part of any meal. Brazilian truffles, called brigadeiros, are sinful and heavenly at the same time.
Seriously, I can’t resist. The sweetness of the condensed milk and the richness of cocoa powder create such a silky texture and decadent flavor.
Butter creates a nice shine, to boot.
Covered in chocolate sprinkles, the truffles get a nice contrast of smooth and crunchy.
17. Arroz con Tres Leches (Colombian Rice Pudding)
Cooked with three different kinds of milk – condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream – this rice pudding is hearty and creamy as can be.
The best part is, it couldn’t be easier to make.
It’s an ideal recipe if you’re craving homemade dessert, but aren’t willing to put in much effort.
18. Romeu e Julieta (Brazilian Romeo and Juliet)
Romeu e Julieta is a Brazilian dessert to die for.
It’s a combination of cheese and guava paste, which creates that wonderful sweet and salty sensation my taste buds always crave.
It’s such a simple dessert, but man, the flavor is absolutely mind-blowing.
We can’t have a list of Latin foods without mentioning churros, now, can we?
Churros are a classic Latin American snack that’s crispy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside.
These deep-fried sticks are coated in sweet cinnamon sugar and dipped in chocolate sauce.
They’re so good, one bite will get you hooked.
20. Tres Leches Cake
If you’re new at baking cakes, I highly recommend this recipe. Tres leches is an easy dessert that’s impossible to mess up.
Sponge cake is poked with holes and covered with three kinds of milk – condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream.
So you see, even if your cake turns out dry and dense, the milk mixture will moisten it right up. It’s genius!
21. Paçoca (Brazilian Peanut Candy)
Last on our list, but not in our hearts is the paçoca, a traditional Brazilian dessert.
It’s a soft, crumbly candy made with crushed peanuts, sugar, and salt. It has just three simple ingredients, but the result is phenomenal.
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