What Is a Typical Dinner in Puerto Rico?

What Is a Typical Dinner in Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico is known for it’s delicious and flavorful food. Typically a Puerto Rican dinner consists of rice, beans, meats, and stews. Mainly cooked in a heavy kettle or caldero. One of the most popular dinners includes beefsteaks, or in other words “bistec”. The beef is marinated in adobo, a mix of salt, garlic, black pepper, and oregano. Then it’s stir fried with onions, and peppers. It is mainly served with white rice, and bean stew, with a side of lettuce, tomatoes, and a slice of avocado. Puerto Rican dinners are super yummy, and the good news is, most dinners are Gluten-Free Puerto Rican Recipes.

Let’s have a look at the detailed cuisine of Puerto Rico and healthy Puerto Rican dinner recipes!


Appetizers and soups in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican meals usually begin with hot and sizzling appetizers. A few of them are sweet cornmeal aka sorullitos, empanadillas, alcapurrias, and fresh cod fritters. Among the favorites are the empanadillas which are demilune shaped turnovers filled with beef, chicken, cheese, and/or delicious seafood. 

For soups, asopao and sopa de platano are some of the most popular soups of Puerto Rican origin. A perfect way to start a savory dinner is to begin with healthy Puerto Rican soups. They are a powerhouse of nutrition with fiber, minerals, proteins, vitamins, and antioxidants. The asopao is made like a chicken soup with rice instead of noodles, and a sopa de platanos is made with plantains. Both are very hearty soups and work great when following a Gluten-Free diet

Asopao can also be called Sopón. You may find it called; Sopón de Pollo con Arroz. It is a rice-chicken recipe that tastes different in every restaurant you visit.

Sopón de garbanzos con patas de cerdo is among the most authentic variations. It’s a soup made with pork feet and chickpeas. It is definitely a unique recipe found in only some restaurants. 


What is the best food to eat in Puerto Rico?

The best Puerto Rican Foods are Tostones, Arroz Con Gandules and Mofongo.

a. Tostones:

Puerto Rico is famous for its tostones. This dish is a plantain appetizer or side dish, that is known for being fried twice. The fried plantains aka tostones are paired with mayo-ketchup, a sauce made with mayonnaise, ketchup, garlic, and hot sauce.

b. Arroz con gandules:

Considered a national dish of the island, Arroz con gandules is an authentic Puerto Rican recipe. The recipe starts with white rice with added pigeon peas, olives, tomato sauce, sazón, and sofrito. Sofrito is a kitchen foundation consisting of onions,  peppers, cilantro, and garlic. Some add plantain leaves on top of the caldero as it cooks to add extra flavor, and make the rice taste like a “pastel”, a Puerto Rican tamale made during the holidays made with green bananas and yautia. 

c. Mofongo:

While cooking Puerto Rican paleo recipes, you can make mofongo which is mashed plantains. A paleo mofongo recipe includes green plantains, garlic, and salt. The seasoning and filling have beef, chicken, vegetables, or shrimp. Mofongo relleno is one of the most popular dishes in restaurants around the island. 

A few of the other best foods are Alcapurrias, Empanadillas, and Rellenos de Papa as appetizers, and Pernil, Pastelon, Pasteles… So many good choices in Puerto Rican cuisine.  You’ll want to try it all!

DIY Puerto Rican Adobo

What are the typical Puerto Rican ingredients?

The aroma of cuisines in Puerto Rico comes from a mixture of Adobo and Sofrito herbs and spices. It brings a distinctive flavor and color to most indigenous foods. A DIY Puerto Rican adobo marinade can be made with a blend of oregano, black pepper, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar. Sofrito is a blend of onions, peppers, garlic, culantro or cilantro, blended with a bit of oil. Add Sazón or achiote (annatto seeds), to give rice, soup, and stews it’s shiny yellow color. 

A Puerto Rican Sazón Recipe is a mixture of ingredients. They are a delicious mix of Spanish, African, Taino, and American influences. You can add achiote (annatto seeds), coriander, cumin, and garlic. Everyone makes it a bit different, but there are many store bought sazóns that are healthy and delicious. Just make sure to get the ones made with pure ingredients, without artificial colors and ingredients (check out our own healthy blends at the shop Healthy Rican, made by Nutrition Dork).

Make a Homemade Sazón Seasoning Mix by combining annatto, garlic, and salt to start. You can also include cumin, black pepper, coriander, and oregano for a flavorful sazón mix. 


Main Dishes in Puerto Rico

There are a variety of main dishes in Puerto Rico. From rice and beans, to root vegetables and fish, and plantains in various recipes. The food in Puerto Rico is always enticing, distinct, and bold. The people enjoy tasty yet easy Puerto Rican recipes. As they grow a diverse range of vegetables, the island is famous for chayote, a pear-shaped vegetable also known as a christophine plant. Along with berenjena (eggplant), and various squashes like calabaza.
Puerto Rican Sazon Recipe

What are the two typical dishes in Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico has a history of savory dishes. Two of the traditional dishes are pasteles and Arroz con dulce. Especially during the holidays. Pasteles are made with green plantains and are generally filled with pork. Can also be made with added yuca or yautia, and chicken. In flavor and texture, many people believe that they are like tamales. Arroz Con Dulce is a coconut rice pudding made of coconut milk, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, and cloves. Garnished with cinnamon sticks & raisins and served as a dessert.


Is Puerto Rican food spicy

Puerto Rican food is spicy, but not hot. It is a combination of spices and herbs which makes the food very flavorful and savory. Most of the food dishes include sofrito, adobo, and sazón as seasonings staples.


Desserts and Drinks in Puerto Rico?

The most popular dessert in Puerto Rico is flan, a caramel custard, made with various milks, condensed milk, and eggs. Flan can be made in various flavors like vanilla, cheese, coconut, and even nutella. 

There are various sweets like guava cake, orange layer cake, and banana cupcakes.

The most popular dessert ingredient is coconut. You can taste a wide variety of tasty desserts with it. Many serve it as coconut flan, coconut cream, and candied coconut rice. You can also find coconut in popular drinks like piña colada, and coquito (a coconut eggnog for the holidays).

Gluten-free Puerto Rican Recipes

Rum is the national drink. Puerto Rico is its leading producer. A few others that go on the list are coquito, black coffee, and beer (Cerveza).

While the food is spicy (in a delicious not hot way), the people are famous for having a sweet tooth. Right from Puerto Rican Breakfasts to Desserts, the food is worth admiring.


What is Puerto Rican ice cream called?

The Puerto Rican ice cream is called helado del país. It comes in various fruit flavors that are indigenous to the island. Some of the flavors are coconut, pineapple, guava, and passion fruit. 

A piragua is another type of “ice cream”. It is not really ice cream, but more like a snow cone as it is a shaved ice cone in the shape of a pyramid, with a fruity syrup on top. The syrup comes in different flavors. They include raspberry, pineapple, coconut, guava, or tamarind.

Piragua is a blend of Spanish words pirámide ("pyramid") and agua ("water").


What drink is Puerto Rico known for?

Puerto Rico is famous for Pina colada, a famous rum-based cocktail.

It is an easy Puerto Rican recipe as it is a proportionate combination of coconut cream, pineapple juice, ice, and rum.


Dinner Etiquette in Puerto Rico

You say "Buen provecho" (enjoy your meal) when you visit a restaurant. At lunch, you say “Buenos dias.” And, it is “Buenas tardes” during dinner.

Puerto Ricans are friendly. You are expected to greet and smile even when you do not know the people sitting at the next table.


What time is dinner in Puerto Rico?

People prefer to consume dinner late in Puerto Rico. Many of the restaurants do not open before 6 in the evening. Until 7, it is usually a person or two. Yet it gets crowded after 8:00 p.m.


Do you tip waiters in Puerto Rico?

In Puerto Rico, tipping is the usual etiquette. It is like most other parts of the U.S. Also, it is an essential source of income.

Fifteen percent of the bill is the average after you have enjoyed a great meal. It is not mandatory to tip in bars. But, you can still tip with $1 per drink.


Takeaway

Puerto Rican Dinner draws influences from American, Taino, Spanish and African cooking. The typical dishes comprise a variety of exotic blends. It reflects the colorful culture. The tropical ingredients make the perfect culinary diversity. Visit Nutrition Dork for healthy Puerto Rican dinner recipes.
What are Puerto Rican Spices?

What are Puerto Rican Spices?

Puerto Spices include bay leaves, oregano, basil, and cilantro. It also includes parsley, garlic, culantro, and Caribbean thyme. Sofrito is the primary ingredient in making the food palatable. With that, Sazón, Recao (aka culantro), Achiote (aka annatto), and Adobo are some of the dry seasoning mixes. They add flavor to rice dishes, soups, fish, meats, stews, and poultry. These items give the dishes a much stronger taste. 

Let us deep dive into Best Healthier Versions of Puerto Rican Recipes.

1. What spices are used in Puerto Rican cooking?

Puerto Rican cooking is quite simple. Yet it involves using the correct variety of spices. Sofrito, Sazón, Adobo and Cuban Oregano are a few to name.

The Authentic Puerto Rican Sofrito Recipe is a blend of different herbs and vegetables. It includes onion, peppers, garlic, sweet aji peppers, recao or cilantro, and a bit of olive oil. 

Blended from Spanish and Mexican cuisine, Sazón refers to a colorful seasoned salt. The Puerto Rican Sazón Recipe is simple. The homemade Sazón seasoning mix includes achiote, coriander, garlic, and salt. 

Puerto Rican Adobo is another dry seasoning mix which is always used in every Puerto Rican dish. You can make your DIY Puerto Rican Adobo by blending salt, garlic powder, black pepper, oregano, and other spices. 

Cuban Oregano, a succulent leafy herb, is also a key element in Puerto Rican cooking.


Is Puerto Rican food spicy?

Puerto Rican food is well seasoned, but not as spicy as you think. It is not hot, just very flavorful, and it all depends on how much your taste buds can handle. Most people trying Puerto Rican foods for the 1st time say they enjoy it, and would like to try more. 

Many of the food items consist of common herbs and spices, including basil, parsley, and bay leaves. This makes the dish more flavorful, seasoned, and delicious. You can add to many of your own Puerto Rican Paleo Recipes by adding vegetables, fish, meat, or sausage.

Best Healthier Versions of Puerto Rican Recipes

2. What sauce is served with many Puerto Rican dishes?

Mojito isleño is a famous Puerto Rican hot sauce. It contains olives, olive oil, tomatoes, onions, hot peppers, bell peppers, and vinegar. It gets an extra flavor from spices and fresh herbs. Mojito isleño is a chunky topping added on a variety of fish and shellfish.

Ajilimójili is another famous sauce with many elements. A few of them are garlic, coriander, white vinegar, hot chili peppers, olive oil, salt and lime juice. For its preparation, blend all the ingredients to make a smooth purée. 

Puerto Rico is famous for another hot sauce known as Pique Criollo. It consists of hot chili peppers and vinegar combined with various herbs and olive oil. 

Another popular sauce that became popular in the 90’s is mayo-ketchup. It is a mixture of mayonnaise, ketchup, garlic, and a bit of hot sauce. This sauce is typically served with plantain dishes. 

What is a common side dish in Puerto Rico?

Guanimes is one of the most common side dishes in Puerto Rico during lunch time. It’s a cornmeal masa, which includes a side of bean stew, seafood like “bacalao”, meat and a few other items. 

“Arroz y habichuelas” (rice and beans) and “Pastelón” (plantain lasagna) are other mouth-watering side dishes. Arroz y habichuelas contains rice and beans with ham or bacon, tomato purée, sazón, and sofrito. Pastelón includes sliced plantains, and is layered using ground meat. It is a delicious, filling side dish. 

You can also enjoy Platáno Frito also known as “amarillos” as a flavorful side dish made up of fried ripe plantains in oil until golden brown.

3. What is the best Puerto Rican food?

The list of the best Puerto Rican food is endless. A few of the must-try dishes include Arañitas, Bistec Encebollado, Asopao and Tripleta.

You can prepare Arañitas by frying shredded plantains. It is a crispy plat du jour served with garlic-based dip known as mayo-ketchup. Bistec encebollado is a flavorful dish. It consists of marinated beef steak with adobo-spiced and onion sauce. The flavors come from marinating the meat well for 10-12 hours. 

Asopao is a blend of a stew and soup. A piquant dish, rice is its key ingredient and can include beef, pigeon peas, chicken, and pork. Tripleta, a sandwich, has a filling of grilled steak, ham and Lechon pork. Place the filling in a loaf of bread and top with ketchup, mayonnaise, fries, lettuce or cabbage, and tomato.

Is Puerto Rican food healthy?

Yes, Puerto Rican food can be modified to satisfy your paleo, or plant based needs. You can make healthy low-calorie Puerto Rican food by using non-starchy vegetables. You can use eggplant, okra, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, chayote squash, peppers, asparagus, cauliflower, and so much more. Blend vegetables with rice and beans for a meal high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. You can make meals even healthier by using very little hydrogenated oils, and adding more healthy fats like avocado, olives, and frying foods in coconut oil. 

Gluten-Free Puerto Rican Recipes

4. What is a traditional Puerto Rican breakfast?

A traditional Puerto Rican breakfast includes Revoltillo, Cremas and baked goods like bread and “quesitos”.

Revoltillo consists of scrambled eggs mixed with other ingredients of choice. You can find options like onions, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, and meats like ham, bacon, and sausages. 

Have a healthy start to your day by eating a bowl of fresh fruits. The Puerto Rican fruit bowl consists of mangoes and papaya. You can also use pineapple, berries, quenepa, and guanabana.

Enjoy Cremas, the most famous Puerto Rican porridge. Add some butter or cinnamon as it may taste a little bland. Some of these include oatmeal, cornmeal, and cream of wheat. 

Quesito is a small pastry with cream cheese and is an excellent companion to a cup of your morning coffee.

What is a typical Puerto Rican lunch?

Some Popular Puerto Rican Lunch Recipes include sizzling hot appetizers like bacalaitos, sorullitos, and empanadillas. Soups are also a great choice. You can also have the mesmerizing Paleo Mofongo Recipe. It is a Gluten-Free Puerto Rican Recipe consisting of green plantains, seasoned with garlic, butter and salt, stuffed with beef, chicken, seafood, or veggies. Arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) is one the most popular chicken dishes during lunch or dinner, paired with a slice of avocado, and a salad, it can be a wholesome healthy meal at any time. 

Easy Puerto Rican Recipes

5. What are some typical Puerto Rican foods?

Some typical Puerto Rican foods include “Lechón Asado”, Alcapurrias, and “Flan de queso”.

The Lechon Asado is a typical traditional Puerto Rican recipe in which an entire pig is doused with spices. A few of these include salt, oregano, pepper, aji dulces, and garlic. The pig is then cooked on a wood charcoal fire. This way you get a crispy texture to the skin. This pig roast is usually done during the Holidays, and special events because it can feed many people. However, if you visit the mountain area on the island, you will find restaurants that serve roasted pig and “pernil” which is very similar. 

Alcapurrias, a local Puerto Rican food, is a fried fritter made with a batter called masa. It consists of green bananas and Xanthosoma (grated yautia), and it is stuffed with chicken, beef, or seafood. 

Flan de queso looks like a combination of caramel custard and cheesecake. With the help of simple ingredients, the traditional Puerto Rican flan is ready to eat! Some of the ingredients include condensed milk, evaporated milk and eggs. You can also add some sugar and cream cheese. Generally, it is vanilla flavored. But, you can try it in chocolate, Nutella, or coconut.

What are the two typical dishes in Puerto Rico?

Bacalaitos and Pan de Mallorca are two typical dishes in Puerto Rico.

Bacalaitos is a salted cod fish fritter. The variety of spices and seasonings make it taste really good. Garnished with tomatoes, onions, and cilantro make it taste even better. This interesting snack is chewy inside and crisp outside, and served with a garlic sauce. 

Pan de Mallorca is also a very common Puerto Rican Breakfast. It is a sweet bread roll topped with sugar powder.

The spices in Puerto Rican recipes are accessible and versatile. With no dietary restrictions, there’s a dish to please each palate. The spices and flavors reflect its diversity. The island is full of heavy and rich food styles. Relieve your cravings for fresh produce, seafood or meat.

Enjoy the amazing flavors of Puerto Rican spices. Nutrition Dork brings you an array of healthy Puerto Rican recipes and seasonings. Get your Healthy Rican Ebook and Spices, with over 35 Naturally Gluten-Free Recipes, now on SALE at the SHOP!


In case you can not view this video here, please click the link below to view Spices Commonly Used in Puerto Rico on my YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/i-Y5GA5OLHw

How to Make Puerto Rican Mofongo

How to Make Puerto Rican Mofongo

Mofongo is a very popular dish in Puerto Rico that is made with green plantains. Plantains grow in the tropics, and is within the banana family (see image below). Some grocery stores in the states carry plantains, especially if there is a Latin community in the area. Mofongo is a very versatile dish, you can enjoy it stuffed, or as a side dish.​ I give it my healthy twist by frying in refined coconut oil, but you can fry in any oil you wish. Plantains are also super healthy. Calorie wise, they are similar to a potato, but they are a rich source of fiber, vitamins A, C, B-6, magnesium and potassium. They are also a great carb alternative in a Paleo Diet, and are Vegan friendly too. 

Ingredients: ​(2-3 servings​)

  • 3 large green plantains (platano macho)
  • Refined coconut oil or oil of choice ​(for frying)
  • 1 or 2 Garlic cloves
  • Optional: Pork rinds 
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Butter
  • Salt and Pepper to taste 

You’ll need a mortar and pestle (aka pilon). Find the one on the picture above on Amazon

Directions: 

  • Peel the plantain using a knife. (It’s easier to peel if you do it under water) 
  • Cut the plantain in 1-inch pieces. ​(see image below)
  • In a frying pan, add about 1 cup of oil. Heat the oil to medium heat.
  • Fry the plantain pieces on both sides.  Plantains should look golden yellow/brown and cooked until soft enough to stick a fork in them easily. ​(see image below)
  • For an even healthier mofongo, boil the plantains until soft, instead of frying them. 
  • Remove plantains from heat (or drain if you boiled them). 
  • In a mortar and pestle (pilon) mince 1/2 or 1 small garlic clove. 
  • Mash the plantains a little at a time. Start mashing the plantain while mixing it with the garlic, add olive oil or butter if the plantain looks dry and not sticking together.  Also add salt and pepper (or adobo) to taste and pork rinds if you wish. 
  • Repeat with the rest of the plantains. 
  • The plantains should be soft and consistent enough that you can shape it into a ball or small balls. 
  • Typically it’s served with a bowl of broth. Can also be served as a side dish with meats, fish, seafood, etc. 
  • You can use ripe plantains instead (for a sweeter mofongo) or a mix of both green and ripe.

Note:  I personally don’t use pork rinds. I added them as an option because it’s a key ingredient in the traditional mofongo.

Either way, it’s all delicious! 

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Check out our other recipes on the blog, and make sure you are in our Facebook Group @HealthyLatinos

Made with Love, 

Mayra – Your Nutrition Dork Guide

Green and ripe plantains.

Peeled and cut in pieces. 

Fried (cooked) plantains. 

Puerto Rican “Pinchos” (Shish Kabobs) Plus Secret Sauce

Puerto Rican “Pinchos” (Shish Kabobs) Plus Secret Sauce

“Pinchos” is what Puerto Ricans call good ol’ shish kabobs. They are considered one of the best street foods on the island. Mainly because they are delicious, and pretty affordable when you are on the go. They are typically made with chicken or pork, but chicken are definitely the most popular. Here I will teach you how to make them as they have the potential to be a sensation during your next bbq. Plus, I will also share the SECRET SAUCE that made my best friends dad a hit during the 90’s when he lost his job and put up a little stand in front of their house. They would sell out every time! That’s how I learned how to make pinchos and the secret sauce… I’d come over to visit my best friend, and was offered to work for a bit in exchange for free food. It was a win win, and I was one a happy teenager with my belly filled with pinchos. 🙂 

What you’ll need: (Makes approx. 24 pinchos) 

  • Approximately, 6 lbs of chicken thighs (boneless & skinless)
  • Adobo for seasoning (check out our no-junk healthy adobo HERE)
  • 3 medium yellow onions
  • 3 large green peppers
  • Shish kabobs sticks
  • 16 oz or 2 cups of BBQ sauce
  • 16 oz or 2 cups of Thousand Island dressing (yup! that’s the secret sauce) 

Directions: 

  • Cut the chicken thighs into square pieces. Between 2-3 inches thick. Cut off the fat (white chunks) if needed. Depending on the size, you can get 4 to 6 pieces from each thigh. Add chunks to a large bowl.
  • Season the meat thoroughly with the Adobo seasoning. If Adobo is not available, add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.
  • Chop the onions and peppers into approximately 1-2 inch squares . (See picture below)
  • Prepare the pinchos/shish kabobs by adding a chunk of meat, one slice of each of the onion and pepper, and repeat the process until the stick is full. To avoid the meat from flopping out, you can fold or twist the meat before adding to the stick. (See picture below)
  • Cook on a charcoal or gas grill on medium/low heat to avoid burning. Slight burning might occur on the outside, especially when cooking with charcoal. That is why low heat is recommended to allow the meat to cook thoroughly.
  • Depending on the thickness of the meat, it will take approximately 45 – 60 mins to cook. The thinner you cut the meat, the faster it cooks.
  • For the sauce, add 2 cups of bbq sauce, and 2 cups of thousand island into a large bowl. Divide into 2 bowls. One is for applying onto the raw chicken, and one to apply right before serving.
  • Add the sauce mixture onto the raw pinchos immediately after placing them on the grill.
  • Close/Cover the grill.
  • Half way through, flip the pinchos, and add another layer of sauce. Continue to add sauce, every time you flip the pinchos.
  • Be careful and do not use the same utensils used to add the sauce onto the raw meat, onto the cooked meat.
  • Add the last layer of sauce right before serving.
  • Serve with a slice of Italian style bread (or how we call it “pan de agua”) on top (not shown in pictures).
  • Enjoy! 

Made with lots of love, 

Mayra – Your Nutrition Dork Guide 

Check out our signature healthy seasonings shop