9 Most Delicious Recipes with Plantains

9 Most Delicious Recipes with Plantains

What are plantains?

Plantains belong to the banana family. They look like regular bananas, but are much larger. They are also less starchy and lower in sugar, as you can consume them while they are still green.

A ripe plantain will be yellow with brown spots, and overripe will be completely brown. The darker the plantain, the sweeter it will be.

In Spanish plantains are known as “Platanos or Platano Macho”. In Puerto Rico, they are known as “Platanos”. In other parts of Latin America, they are called “Platano Macho” as “Platano” is referred to as the regular bananas you find in grocery stores that are okay to be consumed raw. In Puerto Rico regular bananas are called “Guineos”. You’ll find that Spanish has different words in different countries.

Healthy Puerto Rican Food Recipes

Are plantains healthier than bananas?

Both plantains and bananas are healthy food sources. But, plantains, unlike regular bananas, must be cooked. They primarily grow in warm climates so they have become a big part of Latin cuisine as they grow naturally in Tropical/Latin America. You can also find plantains in other countries like Africa, India and Asia.

One great thing about plantains is that they are really versatile. You can create many different dishes and not get tired of them. They are also a great carbohydrate alternative for those on a Paleo or Vegan diet. Plantains are a potassium rich food, and are packed with fiber, minerals, and vitamins like A, C and B6. Great for cardiovascular and immune support.

Plantains can be a great addition to any healthy diet. Especially if you are mindful of the way you cook them. For a healthy plantain dish, avoid deep frying in hydrogenated oils. Choose methods like baking, boiling, and even air frying. If you choose to fry them, choose healthy fats like refined coconut oil, or avocado oil.

Best Healthy Versions of Puerto Rican Recipes

What is the difference between a green plantain and a sweet plantain?

A green plantain is considered ripe enough to consume, however they are a bit harder and less sweet than regular bananas. These are used for tostones, mofongo, and various other recipes like in soups and stews. Sweet plantains are ripe/overripe plantains but are not consumed raw. These are yellow with brown spots and are typically mushy and sweet once cooked.

Traditional Puerto Rican Plantain Mofongo Recipe

What can i do with lots of plantains?

Here are 9 of the most popular foods made with plantains in Puerto Rico and Latin America:

1. Tostones or patacones

Tostones or patacones are made with green plantains. These are fried twice. First, the plantains are peeled and cut into 2” pieces. Then they are fried until completely cooked. After taken out of the oil, they are flattened and fried again until golden brown. 

2. Fried Sweet Plantains (“Amarillos ó Maduros”)

Fried sweet plantains are much simpler to make than green plantains. The plantain must be really ripe which is when the plantain is yellow with brown spots. The more brown spots the sweeter the plantain will be. For these you just peel, cut into thinner pieces, and fry. 

3. Mofongo

Mofongo is typically made with green plantains, however can be also combined with sweet plantains, and even yuca for what Puerto Ricans call a Trifongo. Even though it is a Puerto Rican dish, it was influenced by the African culture. To make mofongo, you peel and cut the plantain into 1 inch pieces. Fry until completely cooked and remove from heat. In a “Pilon” aka mortar and pestle, mash some garlic, add the plantains with butter. Add some “Chicharones” aka pork rinds if desired, and mash the plantains until soft enough to form a ball. Enjoy with a bowl of chicken broth, meats, seafood, and/or a nice salad. 

4. Pastelón (Puerto Rican Lasagna)

Pastelón is a Puerto Rican favorite. This is made with sweet plantains, cut into long thin strips and fried. It’s made similar to a lasagna but instead of pasta, you would add the fried sweet plantains instead. To prepare you would make ground beef “picadillo” to your liking and add layers of plantains, beef, and cheese of your choice. In order to help the plantain lasagna stick together, on the last layer (before topping with cheese), you would beat 2 eggs and add on top before baking. Then top with cheese and bake until all the cheese has melted. 

5. Arañitas

Arañitas are made with green plantains. These are peeled and shredded with a cheese grater into small thin strips. Then they are smashed together and fried until golden brown and crunchy. 

6. Canoas

Canoas are made with an entire peeled ripe plantain. These are smothered in oil with a  bit of salt, and wrapped in aluminum foil, then baked until cooked. After the plantains are cooked they are removed from the foil, and a slit is cut in the middle. Then they are stuffed with ground beef “picadillo” and cheese, and baked again until the cheese melts. 

7. Picadillo con maduros

Picadillo con maduros is made with ground beef. It follows the same recipe as “Picadillo” but with added fried ripe plantains. To make; the ground beef is cooked with onions, peppers, cilantro and garlic, tomato sauce, and seasoned with adobo and sazón. After the sweet plantains have been fried, they are added to the meat. This is best enjoyed with a side of white rice, a side salad and a slice of avocado. 

8. Empanada de Pastelón

An empanada de pastelón is made with empanada dough and filled with picadillo con maduros. The dough is made with all purpose flour, salt and warm water until dough forms. Then it is stuffed with meat and either baked or fried. Fried empanadas are also known as “empanadillas” or “pastelillos”. You can also find pre-made dough in the freezer section in the Latin area in a grocery store near you. 

9. Jibarito Sandwich or Patacones

A jibarito sandwich or patacones (the name depends on where you are from) is a sandwich made with large tostones (patacones). You would cut the plantain in half, fry twice just like the tostones, and prepare it like a sandwich. You can add various meats like steak or chicken,cheese, lettuce and tomatoes, and spread with the famous mayo-ketchup which is a blend of mayonnaise, ketchup, and a touch of garlic.


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Thanks for reading our blog. Please let us know what you think of our articles and recipes in the comments below. If you’d like to stay up to date, join our Nutrition Dork’s mailing list here: https://sendfox.com/nutritiondork

Want to find out more about our Healthy Rican Spice Brand? Visit our online store here. There you will find our Healthy Blends of Latin Adobo & Sazón made with all-natural ingredients. Our NO-JUNK seasonings are made with pure flavor “Puro Sabor” and are FREE of MSG, GMO’s, artificial ingredients and artificial colors. Check it out now at HealthyRican.com

How to Cook Puerto Rican Arroz con Gandules and Bistec Encebollado

How to Cook Puerto Rican Arroz con Gandules and Bistec Encebollado

Arroz con gandules (rice and peas) and bistec encebollado (beefsteak and onions) is a very typical dinner in Puerto Rico. Arroz con gandules is also a staple during the Holidays, or in any main event in Puerto Rico.

Bistec encebollado is usually cooked and paired up with white rice, bean stew, and some maduros (ripe fried plantains) on the side. All of these can be paired with a slice of ripe avocado, which will have everyone mouth watering over these delicious dinner plates. Puerto Rican foods made with the right ingredients, can be both delicious and part of a well balanced healthy dinner.

how to choose healthy ingredients for arroz con gandules and bistec encebollado

- Meat:  Certified organic, or humanely raised from a local farm is best. Second best choice are meats that are labeled grass-fed, and free of antibiotics. 

- Fats and oils:  Coconut oil is best for cooking as it is highly resistant to oxidation at high heat. Olive oil and avocado oil are also good choices especially when choosing plant based oils. Animal fats in moderation include butter, ghee, lard, tallow, and duck fat; these are safer to consume with vegetables rather than grains. 

- Rice: Choose rice in its natural state meaning it is not "enriched" and has not been depleted of its quality and color. Brown rice is best, however some white rice like Jasmine and Basmati are also good choices. 

- Legumes:  Soaking and cooking uncooked beans and legumes is the best option. When buying pre-made and canned beans, organic is best. 

- Vegetables:  To avoid vegetables that have been sprayed with glyphosate and pesticides, choose organic or from a local farmers market. If that is not available to you, make sure to wash your vegetables very well. You can make a solution by mixing 1/2 cup of vinegar, 2 cups of water, and 1 tbsp of lemon juice in a spray bottle. Then spray and rinse your vegetables in a colander in the sink. 

- Salt and Seasonings: Try to reduce your sodium by purchasing seasonings low in sodium or salt-free and add your own salt in moderation. When choosing salt, avoid table salt as it is the highest in sodium. Choose salt in its natural form and color. Salts like sea salt, pink himalayan or celtic salt are best. I'm a fan of pink himalayan salt, as it has a third (1/3) less in sodium than regular table salt. As for seasonings, I created my own blend of Adobo and Sazón. When I couldn't find any healthy option in stores, I decided to make my own. I have some recipes on my blog (https://nutritiondork.com/blog) or check it out at my shop on this page at healthyrican.com

Keep in mind that eating healthy is not an all or nothing thing, just do the best you can with what you have. Make sure you are consuming vegetables with every meal, drinking lots of water, and reducing sugar and sodium intake. 

Below you'll find the recipes of how I make arroz con gandules (rice and peas) and bistec encebollado (beefsteak and onions) the Nutrition Dork way. 

How to make Arroz con Gandules (Rice and peas):


  • 2 tbsp healthy oil (I use refined coconut oil)
  • 2 tsp fresh sofrito
  • 2 tsp sazón
  • 1 cup diced ham or meat of choice
  • 1 tbsp of tomato sauce
  • 1 bouillon cube (or chicken broth - which I prefer and make my own)
  • 3 cups of rice
  • 2 cups of gandules (pigeon peas)
  • 3 cups of water (if using bouillon cube) or 3 cups of broth
  • Salt to taste (I use pink himalayan salt)
  • Optional: Black pepper and oregano to taste. I usually just sprinkle a bit on top, about a pinch or two. 
  • For this recipe I also added a hoja de platano (plantain leaf) on top of the rice before cooking. This adds a great flavor to the rice. It reminds me of eating a pastel during the holidays. This is optional as it is not needed. If you'd like to try it, I found the plantain leaves in the frozen section where the Goya products are.


- In a large pot, preferably a dutch oven (typically known as a caldero), add the oil and stir fry the sofrito on high heat for a few seconds. 

- Add the sazón, diced ham, tomato sauce, and bouillon cube and a bit of water or a bit of broth. Continue to stir fry until it releases a delicious aroma.

- Add the rice and gandules and stir. Then add the water or broth until the rice is completely covered (about 1/2 inch above the rice). 

- Add salt to taste (about 1/2 tsp). Also add black pepper and oregano if desired. 

- Taste the liquid to make sure the flavor is to your liking. 

- Allow to boil on high heat until almost all the liquid has disappeared. Mix well from the bottom up. 

- Cover and reduce heat to low. Allow to cook for 10-15 minutes or until the rice is completely cooked. 

Tip: To add more flavor, you can place a plantain or banana leaf on top of the rice, then cover and cook. 

How to make Bistec Encebollado (Beefsteak and onions):


  • 1 medium yellow onion (peeled and sliced)
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 pounds flank steak (sliced into strips)
  • 2 teaspoons adobo
  • 2 teaspoons sazón 
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp sofrito
  • 10 spanish or pimento stuffed olives


- Marinate the onions in the vinegar.

- Add the adobo, sazón and pepper to the meat.

- Add the meat, onions with vinegar, sofrito, olives, and bay leaves to a medium pot.

- Cook in a crockpot on high for 2 hours. Or cook in a regular pot on low heat for 15-20 minutes or until meat is cooked and tender.

Remember to add your own twist and "sabor" (flavor) if desired. Also add vegetables, or a salad on the side. A slice of avocado is also a great addition to this plate. 


Made with Love,


Easy Puerto Rican Recipes

Thanks for reading our blog. Please let us know what you think of our articles and recipes in the comments below. If you’d like to stay up to date, join our Nutrition Dork’s mailing list here: https://sendfox.com/nutritiondork 

Want to find out more about our Healthy Rican Spice Brand? Visit our online store here. There you will find our Healthy Blends of Latin Adobo & Sazón made with all-natural ingredients. Our NO-JUNK seasonings are made with pure flavor “Puro Sabor” and are FREE of MSG, GMO’s, artificial ingredients and artificial colors. Check it out now at HealthyRican.com




How to Make Puerto Rican Sofrito from Scratch?

How to Make Puerto Rican Sofrito from Scratch?

First let’s talk about “What is sofrito?”

Sofrito is a blend of various vegetables and herbs used in Latin cuisine, especially in Caribbean islands like Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. Recipes vary from place to place, but primarily consist of onions, garlic, peppers, cilantro, culantro, and tomatoes. 

The word sofrito comes from another spanish word “sofrier” which means to stir-fry. Typically the sofrito is stir fried in a bit of oil, before using in a recipe. According to Google’s dictionary sofrito means; a Caribbean and Latin American sauce of tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and herbs.

Depending on which part of Latin America, sofrito is made with different ingredients, and used in various ways. Sofrito is added to rice, beans, meats, soups and stews to enhance the flavor of the food. 

As a Puerto Rican, I grew up enjoying the aroma and flavors of sofrito as it is a staple in Puerto Rican cuisine. We just can’t cook without it. It is used to marinate meats, used in our famous rice and chicken “arroz con pollo” and rice with peas “arroz con gandules”. It is also used in our famous bean stew, and various soups like “asopao” and “sopa de gandules”. Sofrito is also used in meat stews like “fricase de pollo” and “carne guisada”. It is literally a staple used in almost every single meal. 

Below I will share a variety of sofrito recipes to satisfy your cravings.

How to Make Puerto Rican Sofrito from Scratch

Traditional Puerto Rican Sofrito contains various ingredients that are native to the Caribbean and may not be available in your area. I will explain each of these ingredients in detail, however no need to worry if you can’t find them. I will also share other ingredients that you can use as an alternative. 

Puerto Rican Sofrito From Scratch

Cubanelle peppers; according to Wikipedia “The Cubanelle, also known as "Cuban pepper" and "Italian frying pepper", is a variety of sweet pepper of the species Capsicum annuum. When unripe, it is light yellowish-green in color, but will turn bright red if allowed to ripen.”

Healthy Puerto Rican Recipes

Aji Dulce; according to Wikipedia “Ají dulce, ají cachucha, quechucha, ajicito, or ají gustoso is any of a variety of sweet perennial peppers found in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is most widely known in Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Venezuela, where it refers to a specific native variety of Capsicum chinense that is related to the habanero but with a much milder, smoky flavor. In the English-speaking Caribbean, it is known as seasoning pepper and is essential to a variety of traditional dishes.”

How to Make Puerto Rican Sofrito

“Recao” also known as Culantro; according to Wikipedia “Eryngium foetidum is a tropical perennial herb in the family Apiaceae. Common names include culantro, recao, shadow beni, Mexican coriander, bhandhania, long coriander, sawtooth coriander, and ngò gai. It is native to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America, but is cultivated worldwide, sometimes being grown as an annual in temperate climates. In the United States, the common name culantro sometimes causes confusion with cilantro, a common name for the leaves of Coriandrum sativum (also in Apiaceae), of which culantro is said to taste like a stronger version.”

Traditional Puerto Rican Sofrito Recipe


  • 1 large yellow onion (or 2-3 small onions)
  • 3-4 green cubanelle peppers 
  • 10 aji dulce
  • 1-2 bunch of culantro (recao)
  • 1 cup of garlic cloves


Peel and chop the onion in four parts. Rinse and remove seeds from the peppers and aji dulce. Rinse and chop the cilantro, and peel the garlic cloves. Add the ingredients to a blender or food processor a little at a time. Start with the onions and peppers as they will release liquid making the ingredients easier to blend. Then add the aji dulce, recao and garlic until everything is blended together. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. May be stored in the fridge for up to a month. You can also freeze in small containers, then defrost when needed and store the rest in the fridge. 

Puerto Rican Sofrito From Scratch

Alternative Ingredients: 
Cubanelle Peppers = Bell Peppers
Aji Dulce = Sweet Peppers
Culantro = Cilantro

How to Make Puerto Rican Sofrito

Sofrito with Tomatoes


  • 4 cored ripe plum tomatoes
  • 1 large yellow onion (or 2-3 small onions)
  • 3-4 green cubanelle peppers or bell peppers
  • 10 aji dulce or small sweet peppers
  • 1 bunch of culantro (recao)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 cup of garlic cloves


Rinse, core the tomatoes, and chop into large chunks. Peel and chop the onion in four parts. Rinse and remove seeds from the peppers and aji dulce. Rinse and chop the cilantro, and peel the garlic cloves. Add the ingredients to a blender or food processor a little at a time. Start with the tomatoes, onions and peppers as they will release liquid making the ingredients easier to blend. Then add the aji dulce, recao, cilantro and garlic until everything is blended together. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. May be stored in the fridge for up to a month. You can also freeze in small containers, then defrost when needed and store the rest in the fridge.


Dominican Sofrito


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 green cubanelle pepper, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground annatto (achiote)
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • Pinch of salt


In a skillet add the olive oil to low heat. Add all the ingredients, and saute for about 5 minutes until the ingredients release their aroma. Allow to cool, then blend until a paste forms. Save in small containers in the refrigerator and freezer to use as needed. Will last up to a month in the refrigerator, and about 3 months in the freezer. 

Spanish Sofrito


  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small spanish (or yellow) onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5–6 diced plum tomatoes (or diced canned tomatoes)
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • Salt and pepper to taste


In a large skillet add the olive oil to medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the green pepper and garlic, stir and cook for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and seasonings. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Make sure the tomatoes have softened, and the sauce looks thick. Remove the bay leaf and allow it to cool. Save in small containers in the refrigerator and freezer to use as needed. 

How to use Sofrito

Using sofrito in your food is pretty simple. Just add 1-2 tablespoons before cooking rice, beans, soups and stews. Add 1-2 tablespoons of oil to the bottom of your pan, add the sofrito, and stir fry until it releases its aroma, then add your other ingredients like rice, beans, meats, etc. and cook as you normally would. 

Here’s a quick bean stew recipe to get you started:

Healthy Puerto Rican Recipes


  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sofrito
  • 1 tablespoon Sazón 
  • ½ cup of diced potatoes
  • 2 cups of cooked beans (or 1 can of beans) 
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste


In a medium pot, add the olive oil to medium heat. Add the sofrito and stir fry until the sofrito releases it’s aroma. Add the sazón, diced potatoes, beans, and tomato sauce. Add 1 cup of water, and bring to a boil. Once the potatoes are cooked and the sauce has thickened, remove from heat and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy on the side of white rice.


Thanks for reading our blog. Please let us know what you think of our articles and recipes in the comments below. If you’d like to stay up to date, join our Nutrition Dork’s mailing list here:

Want to find out more about our Healthy Rican Spice Brand? Visit our
online store here. There you will find our Healthy Blends of Latin Adobo & Sazón made with all-natural ingredients. Our NO-JUNK seasonings are made with pure flavor “Puro Sabor” and are FREE of MSG, GMO’s, artificial ingredients and artificial colors. Check it out now at HealthyRican.com

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.


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


  • 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.