Home Recipe Roundup 10 Traditional Puerto Rican Christmas Foods

10 Traditional Puerto Rican Christmas Foods

If you’ve had enough turkey and stuffing for one year, why not make this holiday a little brighter and try some of these beautiful Puerto Rican Christmas foods?

I know I would much rather have a big platter full of roasted pork than dry turkey, and their codfish salad never fails to bring a smile to my face.

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Arroz Con Gandules with Chicken in a Plate

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Puerto Rican Christmas without savory rice and peas. And who can resist a big slice of dreamy, creamy caramel flan?

Are you as hungry as I am?

Feliz Navidad y feliz año nuevo!

Puerto Rican Christmas Recipes You Have To Try

1. Arroz con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice and Pigeon Peas)

No Christmas table is complete without a big bowl of this delicious arroz con gandules. 

Made with fried pork belly for a lovely salty and meaty taste, you’ll also toast the rice right in the drippings. Be sure to use medium-grain rice, too!

Pigeon peas are a must here, as they’re more or less the stars of the dish. You can use lima beans if you can’t find any.

Though this works well with ham or turkey, it’s best served with another Puerto Rican classic, roasted pernil.

2. Roasted Pernil (Puerto Rican Roast Pork)

This tender roasted pork is served at every holiday feast on the Island of Enchantment, and for good reason. 

I mean, just look at that crackling on top! I want to dive right in.

Luckily, this recipe keeps things pretty simple, so you won’t need to worry about spending hours prepping the meat. 

If you’re not interested in the crackled top, go ahead and use your slow cooker. It’s much easier, and it will be more tender than ever. 

Pork is super tasty and pairs well with pretty much anything.

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It’s also much more forgiving than turkey and way more versatile, so you won’t be sick of leftovers after a few days.

3. Puerco/Lechón Asado (Pork Roast)

Asado is Spanish for a method of cooking meat and the party that follows. It’s typically done over a BBQ and is most often beef.

This pork version is stuffed with seasoning and marinated before being roasted to perfection. It needs to sit for at least 24 hours, so be sure to start early.

What’s unique about this is the lovely seasoning pockets dotted all over the top.

You’ll be fighting for seconds of this dish, so be sure to have enough to go around.

4. Tembleque (Puerto Rican Coconut Pudding)

If you’ve ever tried milk Jell-O before, you’ll know it’s creamy with a pleasantly soft texture.

This coconut pudding is even creamier and more like a firm flan, in my opinion.

The added cinnamon and clove give this a delicate spice, and it’s not too sweet, which some festive desserts can be. 

Instead, it’s fresh, light, and the perfect way to tend a heavy meal. 

If you’re not a fan of spice, try adding lime zest instead. Or, it’s nice enough to eat on its own.

5. Puerto Rican Gazpacho

I’ve always known gazpacho to be a cold tomato soup served in Mexican restaurants. But this is something else. 

Codfish salad is a lovely blend of salt cod, tomatoes, onion, and avocado, and it will brighten up your holiday table with ease. 

Salt cod takes a little time to prepare, and you’ll need to soak it and cook it before use.

If you can’t find salt cod in your local store, swap it out for your favorite white fish instead.

6. Pasteles De Masa

Though these may look like tamales, they’re very different.

They’re also labor-intensive, so if you choose to make this recipe, be sure to start a few days in advance. 

The filling is a blend of pork, olives, and chickpeas wrapped up in the masa, a puree of plantain, taro root, and pumpkin.

Though they’re both wrapped in banana leaves, tamales are steamed, whereas these babies are boiled.

7. Flan (Puerto Rican Baked Egg Custard)

The tembleque recipe above will give you a firm dessert that’s velvety smooth, and lightly sweet.

In contrast, this flan recipe is smooth, soft, and full of deep caramel taste.

Also known as crème caramel, you’ll recognize this from the dark layer of sticky sugar syrup on top. When inverted, that caramel pours over the whole dish.

Unfortunately, the caramel will be the most challenging part since you’ll need it to be golden but not burned. (And it can burn quickly, let me tell you!)

Just keep an eye on it, and you’ll be fine. 

Also, a neat trick is to carefully put the sugar in the middle of the pan and add the water around the edges.

That should stop the sides from burning before the rest of the sugar has time to melt.

8. Puerto Rican Sofrito

If you checked out any of the recipes above, you’ve no doubt seen sofrito on the ingredient list in almost all of them. 

Sofrito is the cornerstone of Puerto Rican cooking, and unlike the Spanish version, this one contains no tomatoes. 

Instead, you’ll blend green bell peppers with onion, aji dulce peppers, garlic, cilantro, and recao. If you can’t find recao, add a little more cilantro to taste.

9. Coquito

Coquito is like eggnog’s tropical cousin. It’s sweet, creamy, and loaded with spice, but it’s also full of coconut and rum for good measure. 

Since this lighter version of the classic holiday cocktail contains no eggs, it’s ideal for kids (sans rum, of course) and people with allergies.

Another great thing about this drink is that there’s no added sugar. Instead, you’ll get all you need from the coconut.

10. Puerto Rican Picadillo (Spiced Ground Beef)

Wondering what to make with that fresh batch of sofrito? How about this rich and spicy ground beef?

You can make this and eat it like chili, with rice or potatoes, or even use it as a filling for some tasty empanadas. 

With the sauce and sofrito being so flavorful, you could easily make this leaner with chicken or turkey.

I like to amp up the heat, but that’s totally up to you. I’ve even used leftovers to make a batch of tasty nachos!

10 Traditional Puerto Rican Christmas Foods

Celebrate the holidays island-style with these Puerto Rican Christmas foods! From roasted pork to codfish salad to coconut pudding, these recipes make one amazing feast!

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Puerto Rican Christmas Foods

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INSANELYGOOD

Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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