Puerto Rico Food – The Basics

Puerto Rico Food - The BasicsYou can‘t come to Puerto Rico without trying the local cuisine. Whether you are planning on eating at local restaurants or buying food at local markets, it’s a good idea to have a basic understanding of the Puerto Rican names of food and dishes.

Learning some of these (if not all) will help you enjoy your trip here, even more.

Spanish English
Desayuno Breakfast
Almuerzo Lunch
Cena Dinner
Antojito Snacks
Carta Menu
Tenedor Fork
Cuchillo Knife
Cuchara Spoon
Cuenta Check / Bill

puerto rican cooking styles

Types of Puerto Rican Cooking
A la Parilla Grilled
Al Horno Baked
Asado Roast
Frito Fried
Guisado Stewed
A la Brasa Braised
Ahumado Smoked
Tostado Toasted

typical puerto rican dishes

Typical Puerto Rican Dishes
Alcapurria Taro fritter stuffed with meat or cheese
Amarillo Baked plantain
Arroz con Grandules Rice with green pigeon peas
Arroz con Pollo Rice with chicken
Arroz y Habichuelas Rice & Beans
Asopoa Soup
Bacalito Codfish fritter
Chicharrón Pork crackling (fried pork skin)
Croquetas de pescados Fish croquettes
Empanada / Empanadilla Fried pastry turnover stuffed with meat
Mofongo Fried and mashed green plantain
Pasteles Shredded root vegetable tamales
Queso Blanco Puerto Rican white cheese
Relleno Ground beef and mashed potato fritter
Tostones Fried green plantains

fish and seafood

Pescados & Mariscos Fish & Seafood
Albacora Swordfish
Atun Tuna
Bacalao Codfish
Calamares Squid
Camarones Shrimp, Prawns
Carrucho Conch
Chillo Red Snapper
Dorado Mahi-mahi
Jueyes Crabs
Langosta Lobster
Pulpo Octopus
Robalo Sea Bass
Sardinas Sardines
Salmón Salmon


Carne & Aves Meat & Poultry
Albóndigas Meatballs
Bistec Steak
Cabrito Baby goat
Cerdo Pork
Chorizo Spicy Sausage
Chuleta Pork chop
Chuletón T-bone steak
Churrasco Skirt steak
Conejo Rabbit
Cordero Lamb
Filete Beef tenderloin
Gallina Hen
Guinea Guinea hen
Gandinza Pigs liver
Jamon Ham
Lechón Asado Roast Pig
Molida Ground as in ground beef
Pato Duck
Pavo Turkey
Pinchos Kebabs
Pollo Chicken
Ropa Vieja Shredded beef
Salchicha Sausage
Ternera Veal
Tocino Bacon


Verduras / Vegetables Vegetables
Apio Celery
Berenjena Eggplant / Aubergine
Calabaza Pumpkin
Cebolla Onion
Garbanzos Chickpeas
Habichuelas Beans
Maíz Corn
Papa Potato
Papas Fritas French fries
Pimiento Bell pepper
Repollo Cabbage
Tomate Tomato


Frutas Fruits
Aguacate Avocado
Cereza Cherry
China Orange
Coco Coconut
Fresa Strawberry
Guayaba Guava
Guineo Banana
Limon Lemon
Lima Lime
Piña Pineapple
Toronja Grapefruit
Ulvas Grapes


Dulces & Postres Sweets & Desserts
Arroz con dulce Rice pudding
Flan Custard / creme caramel
Galleta Cookie / biscuit
Limber Frozen fruit juice
Tembleque Coconut milk & sugar custard
Tres Leches Cake made with 3 milks


Bebidas Drinks
Agua Water
Batidas Fruit shakes
Cafe Coffee
Cafe con leche Coffee with milk
Cafe negro Black coffee
Cerveza Beer
Coquito Rum eggnog (Christmas drink)
Jugo Juice
Mavi Fermented drink from Mavi bark
Piragua Shaved ice drizzled with fruit syrup
Refresco Soda / fizzy pop
Ron Rum
Vino tinto Red wine
Vino blanco White wine

The above list is just a sample of what you can eat and drink here in Puerto Rico. If you think that one of the translations may not be correct, please add to the comments section below. Also, if there is anything that I have missed off that you think should be there, again, please add to the comments below.

Photo resource: booleansplit, cocola88, nikonvscanon, bigberto, nataliemaynor, heydrienne, sophiea and rajuvaidyazuiq


  1. says

    You missed the root vegetables. I’m working on a similar guide but for vegetarians. How did you create the tables, was it through a built in WordPress function or did you create them via third party app? Let me know.

    Great list and will stumble for ya. Good stuff!


    • Coqui says

      Thanks for the feedback.

      I’ll work on an update for the root vegetables.

      With regards to the table I did it the hard way – manually within the post, though there are a couple of table plugins for WP out there.

    • Coqui says

      Hi Miguel

      I was not familiar with Pana, but from what i have been able to find out, it is most probably ‘breadfruit’. For recipes, just google it, but I think that it is usually boiled. Hope that helps

    • Lucia Stephens says

      Pana is a vegetable that grows on trees. It is green and round, with small prickly spines on the outside of it. This vegetable smells like apples or a mild melon when sliced and it is very spongey on the inside. We usually treat it like any other root vegetable, cooking it by frying or boiling. The same way we make plantain fritters, you can make pana fritters. They are pretty yummy. Once you cook the pana, it becomes really tender and it is mildly starchy as well. Very good and very abundant in Puerto Rico. :)

  2. Derek Trapp says

    I would like to know where I can purchase the Mavi bark. I saw a television show called Bizzare Foods with host Anrew Zimmern. The drink looks delicious and I want to make it. If it is at all possible could you email me and let me know if there is anyway to buy it.
    Derek Trapp

  3. Myrna says

    quoting Miguel:
    Hi Miguel

    I was not familiar with Pana, but from what i have been able to find out, it is most probably ‘breadfruit’. For recipes, just google it, but I think that it is usually boiled. Hope that helps

    just wanted to add my 2cents, pana can be fry like plantains chips, cooked same way, pana flan is to die for
    😉 yes, it can be boil serve with other root vegetables and bacalao(codfish) yummy! .. great thread, thanks

  4. Myrna says



    2 tazas de pana cocida majada
    1 lata leche evaporada
    1 lata leche condensada
    5 huevos completos
    1 cucharadita de vainilla
    2 tazas de azúcar o a gusto
    3 cucharadas de mantequilla
    pizca de sal

    Se mezcla la pana con la mantequilla o margarina,pizca de sal,
    leche condensada, los huevos uno a uno,leche evaporada,vainilla,la azúcar
    Se prepara caramelo
    En olla o microhondas se usa taza da azúcar y 3/4 de agua
    Se cuece hasta que este obscuro mas o menos 10 minutos-O
    En olla 1 taza de agua 1 de azúcar y se hierve hasta que tome textura y un color dorado

    Se vierte caramelo en molde
    Se vierte la mezcla
    Se coloca en microhondas 20 minutos

    Horno convencional 30 minutos a 350 grados, o hasta que el tenedor que le hunda salga limpio

    Se cuece tambien en baño de María- o sea coloca olla grande con agua en hornilla y coloca encima el molde con la mezcla del flan y lo tapa. Esto toma una hora

    Se deja enfriar y se coloca en la nevera

  5. Debra says

    I am desperately searching for a place that sells Mavi (Mabi) bark. I brought some home from my last trip home but have not been able to locate a place to buy it in the ststes. Is there a website that I can order it from. My husband is a very big fan of Mavi and I would love to make him some more.


  6. Barb says

    I am going to Puerto Rico in July/August.Since were not eating out every day, I am designated cook, would like to what meats are available. I’ve heard mostly lamb. I’m an average cook-quick learner from Pennsylvania. I hardly ever follow a recipe. It’s cooking! Was wondering if there’s any food that’s going to stray from ‘normal cooking’ procedures? Like don’t boil yams…anything else, bake them.
    What’s the local oil? Vegetable? Are there ‘shopping markets?’
    Not just for myself, but for my poor family who has to eat what I concoct, any helpful hints would be appreciated! Thanks

    • Coqui says

      You will be able to find all of the things you would have at home, plus local veg etc. There are plenty of supermarkets, as well as road side stalls selling fresh fruit.


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