Whether you’ve got family in Puerto Rico, or just feel like going away on vacation there during the Christmas period, you’ll definitely be in for a treat.
Christmas in Puerto Rico lasts a whopping 45 days, from late November to mid-January. Food is the main event in this beautiful country when it comes to Christmas, and the main event falls on Christmas Eve (Nochebuena), rather than Christmas day.
Therefore, many Puerto Rican Christmas dishes are intended to feed large numbers of family and friends on Christmas Eve.
This article is going to provide you with a list of 13 of the most popular Christmas dishes you’ll find in Puerto Rico.
Why Spend Christmas In Puerto Rico?
Before delving into these delicious recipes, let’s first discuss why you should visit Puerto Rico at Christmas.
You Can Get There Easily
When it comes to getting there, it can’t get much simpler than from the U.S. There are an array of daily flights from the states to the Luis Muñoz Marin Internation Airport in Puerto Rico.
If you live in New York, you can get there in just 4 hours, and if you fly from Miami, it’ll only take you around 2 and a half hours!
There are also direct flights from several other major airports in America, such as Orlando, Dallas, Atlanta, etc.
As Puerto Rico is a U.S. Commonwealth territory, you don’t even need a passport to travel there! All you need is your driver’s license or any other form of identification.
While they speak Spanish in Puerto Rico, their other main language is English, and they also use the U.S. dollar. What are you waiting for?
It Has A Wonderful Climate
If you’ve never experienced a warm Christmas, now’s your chance. Puerto Rico has around 300 beaches, and what better way to spend Christmas day, than by going for a morning dip and soaking up the sun before heading in for a delicious meal?
They Celebrate Christmas Like No Other
We all feel like Christmas is too short. In Puerto Rico this is far from the case. Their Christmas celebrations start right after Thanksgiving, and end around 3 weeks after New Year’s Day!
Throughout this time, Puerto Ricans engage in a number of different activities and celebrations, such as caroling, street parties, you name it! It’ll be a Christmas like you’ve never experienced before!
This is one of the most common dishes you’ll find in Puerto Rico, and it is very often served at Christmas. It’s a great dish for making in a large batch (which is useful at Christmas as there are so many mouths to feed!).
It contains pigeon peas which are a staple in Puerto Rico and some individuals like to cover the rice with a plantain leaf as it cooks, as this allows it to take on its flavors.
The Canadians drink eggnog at Christmas, Puerto Ricans drink Coquito! It is a rich, creamy, and delicious drink that has a velvety texture, and a coconut flavor with a dash of cinnamon.
It also contains rum, just like eggnog does. This drink is passed around the table from Thanksgiving until the day of the Three Kings (January 6th).
You’ll love it so much that you’ll be making it for all kinds of occasions and celebrations. All you need is coconut milk, cream of coconut, condensed milk, evaporated milk, cinnamon, and rum!
Pernil is another staple dish when it comes to Christmas in Puerto Rico. It is a pork shoulder that’s oven-roasted to perfection, resulting in tender, juicy meat that falls off the bone.
The meat is rubbed with wonderful herbs and spices such as salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, and olive oil.
Arroz con dulce is a delicious coconut rice pudding that is another staple on dinner tables on Nochebuena in Puerto Rico.
It’s flavored with raisins, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger, and is the perfect dessert after some of the delicious savory meals you’ll be served on this holiday.
Moricilla, which is a Spanish blood sausage is the main component when it comes to Puerto Rican food.
The ground meat is combined with pig’s blood, chili pepper, garlic, paprika, salt, and garlic, and then it is filled with onions and rice before being flash-boiled and cured.
It is then fried and served with other Puerto Rican dishes around Christmastime such as Lechon, which we will discuss next.
Lechon asado is another staple dish that is served around Christmas. A whole suckling pig is slow-cooked on a spit after being marinated in a garlic and citrus sauce.
The cooking of the pig is an event in itself, usually starting in the morning, and lasting the entire day!
Pasteles are made with root vegetable patties, and they are normally filled with meat. Pastel-making is a large part of the holidays in Puerto Rico, bringing all members of the family together.
This pastel-making starts around Thanksgiving, and carries on until January.
Although the process of making them is long and tedious, it is a heart-warming, fun part of the holiday experience.
The pasteles are all wrapped perfectly in banana leaves in preparation for being boiled, which is an art in itself!
This is a dish that’s made with green plantains mashed together. They are then mixed with crackling pork rinds, and garlic to make this scrumptious dish.
This can be served as a side dish or main meal, the latter is normally the case when seafood or meat is added to it.
It can also be served in a bowl with some hearty broth poured over it. It is a well-known dish that you’ll definitely come across if you spend any time in Puerto Rico during the Christmas period.
Just one look at Sancocho will fill you with every warm feeling you can imagine. It is a hearty stew that contains a mix of vegetables and herbs, including corn and pumpkin. In Puerto Rico, they also add beef to it, giving it a little more substance.
It is served with warm fresh bread for dipping in order to soak up the delicious flavors, and is commonly found in the center of Christmas dinner tables on Nochebuena.
Empanadillas are normally served as an appetizer at Christmas, while family and friends are waiting on the main meal.
These are made with crispy pie dough, and they are stuffed with peppers, olives, and ground beef. You can find empanadillas with all kinds of fillings, such as chicken, pork, and different kinds of vegetables.
They are fried lightly until they turn golden brown, and crispy along the edges. They are heartwarming, delicious, and perfect for the Christmas dining table.
Flan is a very famous Puerto Rican dessert. It is also known in other parts of the world as egg custard or crème caramel.
It is made by pouring the custard over a sugar base that’s been caramelized, baked, and then flipped upside down. The result is a gorgeous caramel covering.
It is a wonderful dessert as it is sweet but light, and tastes very refreshing. It’s the perfect dessert to follow all the delicious foods served on Nochebuena.
12. Asopao De Pollo
The National soup of Puerto Rico is Asopao, so it only seems fitting to include it in this list as it is another common dish that is served around Christmastime.
It is based on the traditional Spanish paella and often includes pork, seafood, and chicken, as this recipe does.
The base is normally a sherry broth, and it is often served with dumplings made from plantain.
It is perfect for a cold winter night, making it very fitting for the Christmas season.
In summary, Christmas in Puerto Rico will be like no other experience. From its stunning sceneries and gorgeous beaches to its wonderful climate and festivities, you’ll be in for a really memorable experience.
Aside from the above, Christmas in Puerto Rico revolves around food and family.
Their main celebration takes place on Christmas Eve, leaving Christmas day as a day filled with relaxation, and looking back on the wonderful memories you’ve made the night before.
Their staple foods are all deliciously warm, hearty, and wholesome, filled with hearty vegetables, and delicious meats, and made with love.
If you can’t make it to Puerto Rico for whatever reason, then you can bring Puerto Rico to you by creating some of these recipes at home!
We hope this article has given you some inspiration for creating these in your own kitchen!
Frequently Asked Questions
Puerto Rico is a stunning place with breathtaking views and beaches. If you’re visiting at Christmas, you’re likely wondering if it’ll be warm enough to spend some time on the beach.
Luckily for you, the climate of the island is tropical marine, which means it’s mostly sunny and warm throughout the entire year!
In December, you’re likely to experience high temperatures of around 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
Since Puerto Rico has a tropical marine climate, it is relatively warm and sunny all year round. However, when it comes to the ‘coldest’ months of the year, you can expect January to have lows of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, this month does still see some warmth, and the average highs throughout January reach around 83 degrees Fahrenheit.