30 Traditional Guatemalan Foods And Recipes

Guatemala is famously known for its dramatic volcanic landscapes, fascinating Mayan culture, and the infamous colonial city of Antigua.

Just like the country’s wonderful history and thriving culture, Guatemala is also home to a colorful cuisine.

30 Traditional Guatemalan Foods And Recipes

Nothing quite beats the flavors of Central American food, and Guatemala is no exception. While you may have heard of some of the country’s foods, you probably don’t know the vast majority of their dishes – until today.

Whether you want to delve into your Guatemalan ancestry or expand your culinary knowledge, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 30 traditional Guatemalan foods and recipes!

1. Traditional Guatemalan Enchiladas

Enchiladas are most commonly associated with Mexico, but Guatemalan enchiladas are actually very different to their Mexican counterparts.

Traditional Guatemalan enchiladas (or jardineras) consist of ground meat, beets, and vegetables piled on a crunchy fried corn tortilla. They are served with cheese and a hard-boiled egg on top.

These enchiladas are served at street vendors across the country, and every household has their own recipe.

2. Guatemalan Tamales Colorados

Tamales are so popular in Guatemala that some even consider it to be the country’s national dish, though this isn’t true. Still, tamales are served at holidays, feasts, and Saturdays (also known as tamales days).

Tamales colorados consist of meat or vegetables cooked in a recado sauce encased in a corn masa and wrapped in banana leaves.

The key difference between Guatemalan and Mexican tamales is that the former are slightly thinner.

3. Pepián De Pollo

Pepián de pollo is the national dish of Guatemala. This is a hearty and velvety chicken stew cooked in a tomato, chili, and pumpkin seed sauce.

It’s aromatic, packed with flavor, and the true star of parties and holidays. While every household has their own method of cooking pepián de pollo, it’s still an easy stew to make.

Serve with tortillas or bread to soak up the sauce.

4. Guatemalan Chicken With Pineapple

Pollo en pina is a popular Guatemalan dish consisting of (as the name suggests) chicken and pineapple.

Guatemalans love the flavor combination of sweet and savory, and this almost beats the beloved pineapple on pizza. This dish is incredibly easy to make and uses ingredients you probably already have.

Serve with a bed of white rice.

5. Caldo De Pollo

Nothing quite beats a bowl of brothy soup. Caldo de pollo is a heartwarming broth consisting of chicken, carrots, potatoes, jalapeños, onions, tomatoes, and seasoning.

It’s the type of meal your mum or grandmother would make when you’re sick or if you’ve had a rough day at school or work – filled with goodness and love.

What’s more, this broth only takes about 45 minutes to prepare and make.

6. Shucos

Shucos, or Guatemalan hot dogs, are a popular junky street food that will change your mind about the hot dogs we know and love.

This is a hot dog with all the trimmings, including hot dog wieners, longaniza sausages, seasoned cabbage, guacamole, and a range of sauces all squished into a toasted hot dog bun.

Definitely make these delicious hot dogs at your next barbecue to impress your guests!

7. Guatemalan Rice Pilaf

Arroz Guatemalteco is a Guatemalan rice dish that quite simply consists of white rice, various vegetables, and chicken stock.

This is a popular side dish that often accompanies other Guatemalan dishes, and can also be made quickly for lunch. This dish is also inexpensive and a good way to use up leftover or frozen vegetables.

Every household has their own variation of this dish, so time to experiment!

8. Chuchitos

Chuchitos are another popular Guatemalan street food that are fairly similar to tamales, in that they consist of meat or vegetables cooked in a tomato sauce wrapped in a corn leaf or dried maize.

However, the main difference is that chuchitos tend to be smaller than tamales, which is why they’re often eaten as a snack or appetizer rather than a main meal.

9. Hilachas

Hilachas is a Guatemalan shredded beef stew that is commonly made as a comfort food. The stew consists of thinly shredded beef, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, chayote squash and sometimes other vegetables in a tomato sauce.

Hilachas is typically served with white rice, but it can also be eaten with tortillas and slices of avocado. It is best cooked in the slow cooker to tenderize the beef.

10. Paches

Paches are another form of traditional Guatemalan tamales, except the outside is made of mashed potatoes rather than a corn masa.

This is a good savory option for vegetarians, as patches don’t typically contain meat. Instead, they consist of mashed potatoes combined with cornflour or bread, cooked in a tomato sauce, and wrapped in banana leaves.

Patches are typically eaten on Tuesdays, also known as “Jueves de Paches”.

11. Tostadas

Tostadas are the go-to for a quick lunchtime meal or snack throughout the day, so if you don’t have time to make a stew or soup, this is easy to whip up.

A tostada is essentially a deep-fried tortilla that can be bought pre-made or made from scratch.

The tostada is then loaded with a range of toppings, including a black bean spread, guacamole, or fresh salsa.

12. Jocón De Pollo

Jocón de pollo is a green chicken stew that is commonly made as a quick weeknight meal in Guatemala.

The sauce of the stew maintains its colorful appearance and flavor thanks to the inclusion of jalapeños, cilantro, tomatillos, and green onion.

The chicken is also poached before being cooked into the sauce, making this a healthier option to chicken that’s fried.

13. Cocido

Cocido is another traditional Guatemalan stew, this time consisting of beef and vegetables.

This is a true comfort food to eat in cold weather, and it’s especially good when cooked in a slow cooker to allow the beef to tenderize. Vegetables such as carrots, cassava, tomatoes, and onions are also included.

Cocido is typically served over white rice and with a splash of hot sauce.

14. Pulique

If you like juicy chicken, you have to try this Guatemalan dish. Pulique is a type of thick stew-like sauce that is smothered over large chunks of chicken, making for a flavorful and juicy dish that will get your hands messy.

It also includes green beans, chayote, and bell peppers.

Pulique is most commonly served at rituals, festivals, and parties.

15. Fiambre

Fiambre is a Guatemalan salad that is as flavorful as it is colorful. This is a cold salad most famously prepared to celebrate Día de los Muertos and Día de Todos los Santos.

Each household has their own variation of the salad, but it mostly consists of various meats, pickled onion and baby corn, hard-boiled eggs, beets, olives, cauliflower, carrots, cheeses, and more.

16. Ceviche De Camerón

Ceviche de camerón is a shrimp-based Guatemalan dish consisting of freshly cooked shrimp, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, celery, and lime juice.

This is a refreshing dish typically served as a light lunch, a snack for days at the beach, or a side dish. It is most commonly eaten with saltines or by itself.

There are other variations of ceviche, including octopus, black clams, and white fish.

17. Chojín

Chojín is a Guatemalan radish salad that is typically served as a side dish to a grand meal.

This salad consists of chopped radishes, mint, and fried pork rinds known as chicharrones. However, it can be easily made vegan by not including the pork.

Some even like to add diced cucumber and avocado to compliment the spiciness of the radishes.

Serve as a side dish at a big meal or make for a quick lunch.

18. Tapado

Tapado is a dish served across Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. This is a seafood soup consisting of lobster, fresh fish, shrimp, yucca, and plantain, boiled in a coconut milk-based broth.

The fishy flavors along with the sweet yucca are balanced beautifully with the coconut milk broth, making for a comforting and slightly spicy meal.

19. Chiles Rellenos

Guatemalans have their own twist on several Mexican dishes, including chiles rellenos.

This is essentially a stuffed pepper recipe (using sweet peppers instead of Mexican spicy poblanos), featuring roasted peppers stuffed with beef and vegetables.

The peppers are then dipped in a batter, fried in a batter, and topped with tomato sauce.

20. Escabeche

If you love spice, you need to make escabeche. Escabeche is technically a sauce or side dish made up of pickled jalapeños, carrots, onions, cabbage, and pacayas.

The pickled jalapeños are certainly not for the faint of heart, and instead make for a deliciously spicy and hot snack or side dish.

21. Kak’ik

Kak’ik is another traditional Guatemalan soup, made up of dark turkey in a slightly spicy red broth.

This is an iconic Mayan dish known to warm a person up during winter, which is why it’s so popularly made during the holiday season.

The sauce is particularly unique, consisting of red peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, cloves, cinnamon, and a Cobanéro chili.

Serve with white rice, small tamales, or bread to soak up the juices.

22. Chirmol

Chirmol is a traditional Guatemalan dip that can be found across Latin America. This sauce is made of charred tomatoes, lime, onions, cilantro, and mint, kind of like a salsa (which is why it’s often called the Guatemalan salsa!).

While it’s simple to make, this sauce is packed with flavors and makes for an excellent dip for tortillas and chips.

23. Sopa De Frijol

Sopa de frijol is a Guatemalan black bean soup that is served as comforting soul food. This soup simply consists of black beans (dried turtle beans), garlic, onion, and water, making for a hearty and gently flavored vegan soup.

It is then topped with cilantro, feta, or sour cream – though avoid the dairy products to make this a vegan dish.

For extra saltiness, you can also add pork rinds.

24. Garnachas

Garnachas can be made throughout the day for a lunchtime meal, light dinner, or midday snack.

This dish consists of a crunchy tortilla (pre-made or make it yourself) topped with a pile of toppings, including ground beef, salsa, purple cabbage, tomatoes, and more.

With a sprinkle of feta or sour cream on top, you’ve got yourself a snack packed with flavor!

25. Empanadas De Leche

A popular sweet dessert in Guatemala is empanadas de leche, or sweet cream empanadas.

This dessert consists of a dough made of flour and cornmeal, filled with a creamy cinnamon and vanilla filling and baked until slightly brown.

This dessert is most popularly made in the week leading up to Easter, also known as Semana Santa.

26. Champurradas

No, this isn’t a recipe for the Mexican champurrado drink. Champurradas are tasty Guatemalan cookies that are eaten as a snack throughout the day, as a light dessert, and with a hot beverage like coffee.

These cookies are made of a handful of ingredients – butter, flour, sugar, and eggs, along with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.

Make sure to prepare a batch of these cookies before your guests arrive, because they’re bound to be gone within seconds.

27. Torrejas

Also known as the Latin American version of French toast, torrejas is a sweet dish typically served at Christmas and Lent.

Torrejas are brioche or sweet bread soaked in a mixture of eggs and milk, and then fried in oil. The bread is then bathed in sweet syrup typically made of sugar, spices, and often rum.

There are lots of variations of torrejas, so experiment with the flavors!

28. Rellenitos De Plátano

Rellenitos de plátano is another cookie-like Guatemalan dessert that explores the boundaries of sweet and savory.

This dessert is made of refried black beans, plantains, sugar, and sometimes cinnamon and vanilla. The rellenitos are then fried until brown and devoured for dessert or a sweet treat.

29. Arroz Con Leche

Arroz con leche is Guatemala’s version of rice pudding. This is a comforting dessert that can also be considered a drink thanks to its milky warmth, but it includes rice, making for a comforting and warming bowl of rice pudding.

The inclusion of evaporated milk, sugar, and cinnamon makes this a delightful dessert, especially during winter.

30. Mazapán Candy

You’ve probably heard of marzipan, but did you know Guatemala is known for marzipan candies?

Mazapán candy is a sweet treat enjoyed by locals and foreigners alike, sold throughout the year and typically during festivities of the patron saint.

The candies are easy to make and can be made into various shapes and flavors, so experiment with other ingredients to make your own candies!


So, there you have it! Guatemala might be mostly famously known for its Mayan culture, but now you know more about its colorful and thriving cuisine. Happy cooking!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Guatemala’s Main Dish?

The national dish of Guatemala is pepián de pollo, which is a stew consisting of chicken, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, chilies, tomatoes, and onions.

It is most commonly served with tortillas to soak up the sauce. While chicken is the most popular meat in pepián, there are also varieties that include beef and pork.

What Is A Typical Breakfast In Guatemala?

An average Guatemalan breakfast typically consists of beans, eggs, tortillas, plantains, and seasonal tropical fruits like bananas, mango, papaya, and avocado.

The breakfast is typically light, as lunch is seen as the most important and main meal of the day.

30 Traditional Guatemalan Foods And Recipes

30 Traditional Guatemalan Foods And Recipes

Recipe by Jenna

Guatemala might be known for its colorful culture and history, but what about food? Here are 30 traditional Guatemalan foods and recipes to try out!

Course: Dinner
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