Puerto Rico has a rich culinary heritage, and its cuisine reflects the island’s Spanish roots. From sweet treats like guava paste (pastel de jabon) and coconut cake (tres leches) to savory dishes like rice and beans, Puerto Rican food is delicious.
Puerto Ricans love their sweets, especially during holidays or special occasions. The island also boasts some of the best restaurants in the Caribbean, where visitors can enjoy authentic local fare.
Puerto Ricans eat a variety of foods, from simple snacks to elaborate meals. Some of these recipes are included below.
Tembleque is a traditional Mexican dessert that originated in Oaxaca City. It is similar to flan but uses coconut milk instead of eggs. The name actually comes from the Spanish word tambaleante, meaning “wobbly” or “shaky.”
This refers to how the pudding looks while being served because the coconut milk tends to jiggle around like Jell-O.
Arroz con dulces is a traditional dessert found throughout Latin America, especially during holidays such as Christmas and Easter (see also ‘The 28 Tastiest Easter Cocktail You Can Make For Yourself‘).
While there are many variations of the recipe, most versions include coconut milk, sugar, and sometimes even evaporated milk.
In Puerto Rico, where the dish originated, it’s often served alongside coffee and accompanied by small pieces of pan de muerto — a sweet bread traditionally eaten during times of mourning.
Coquito is one of those drinks that everyone loves. You can find it everywhere during the holidays, especially in the country of Puerto Rico where it is known as ‘coquito’ or ‘coconut milk.’
This delicious tropical beverage is usually served cold and mixed with sugar and vanilla extract.
The origin of this drink dates back to 1841 when the Spanish introduced it to Puerto Rico (see also ‘17 Tasty Puerto Rican Recipes‘). In fact, there are many different versions of coquito around the world, some of which include almonds, bananas, chocolate, pistachios, and Nutella.
Majarete is one of our favorite desserts in Puerto Rico. We love how simple it is to make, and how it tastes just like a regular custard without being too sweet.
This particular dessert is called majarete because it contains both white and brown sugar. However, you can use either type of sugar depending on what you prefer. If you want something sweeter, add more brown sugar.
On the contrary, if you want a less sweet dessert, use white sugar. You can even change up the spices according to your preference, such as adding cardamom powder or nutmeg.
The quesito is a Spanish pastry that originated in the Basque region of northern Spain (find more amazing quesito recipes here). It is similar to puff pastry but much lighter and flakier. These are often used as the main base for desserts such as creams and custards.
Quesitos come in several varieties including chocolate, vanilla, almond, orange blossom, pistachio, cinnamon, and even one flavored with rum.
They are typically served warm or cold and sometimes topped with whipped cream, fruit, nuts, and/or dulce de leche.
A budín is a Spanish term used to describe a type of baked pudding made with stale bread. In Puerto Rico, it is usually eaten for breakfast. A budín de pan con pasos is a special version of this dish found in many homes throughout the island.
Although there are numerous recipes for this bread pudding, most versions include raisins soaked in rum and milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, sugar, eggs, and flour.
Pastelillos pastries are a special type of food for any party or festivity. These light and airy treats are made especially with tasty pastry dough and stuffed with a type of guava paste.
They are baked to perfection and sprinkled with a form of powdered sugar directly before serving, making them a perfect addition to any gathering.
8. Cheese Flan
Flan de queso is a classic dessert from Puerto Rico. It is similar to cheesecake in appearance, but it contains no eggs. Instead, it uses condensed milk and a variety of cheeses. It is often served as a special Easter treat.
This recipe uses three types of milk: evaporated milk, whole milk, and heavy cream. Evaporated milk adds richness and body to the final product.
Whole milk gives the cake a nice yellow color, while the cream provides a smooth and velvety texture.
The secret behind making a good flan de queso lies in the caramelization process of the sugar syrup. If you burn the sugar, the resulting caramel will turn bitter and unpleasant tasting.
To avoid this problem, we start off slowly by adding the sugar over low heat.
Flancocho is a classic Puerto Rican dessert. It consists of three parts: caramel, cake, and flan. The caramel layer is usually cooked in a special bain-marié (a water bath).
Then, the cake batter is poured over the caramel layer, and the flan layer is placed on top of the cake batter.
Finally, the whole thing is baked. When the flan is ready, it is removed from the oven and allowed to cool completely. Once cooled, the flan is cut into pieces and served chilled.
Polvorones are bite-sized pieces of amazing sugar cookies, that have a dip of guava-style paste or sprinkles inside. They are traditionally served during Carnaval celebrations in Brazil (see also ‘27 Delicious Brazilian Recipes‘).
This recipe uses a basic butter and then wheat flour dough that is rolled out into small balls and baked. The dough is cut into pieces and dipped in a sweet filling. After baking, the cookies are sprinkled with powdered sugar.
This Puerto Rico classic combines two common ingredients: sweet potatoes and coconut (see also ‘28 Tasty Sweet Potato Dessert Recipes‘).
The recipe uses evaporated milk, which is added to the amazing shredded style coconut once it readily softens, and then the sweet potatoes themselves cook.
12. Limber De Coco
A limber is a frozen dessert consisting of ice cream and a soft drink. They are usually sold in small cups, but sometimes in bigger ones like glasses. This type of beverage is popular in Puerto Rico, where it is known as “limber.”
The name “limber” originates from the Spanish word “Limon,” meaning lemon. In fact, the most common flavors used in limbers are lemonade and orange soda.
But there are many others, such as strawberry, grapefruit, cola, chocolate, and even coffee.
Limbers are traditionally served during the summer months because they are refreshingly cold and delicious. However, they are very easy to make at home, especially since they do not require much equipment.
Tres leches cake is one of our favorite cakes because it is very low-calorie and moist.
We love how the traditional recipe calls for evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream, but you could easily use regular whole milk and even half-and-half.
This version uses coconut milk, which is lighter than the others and adds a nice flavor boost. You don’t have to add much sugar either; the natural sweetness of the coconut milk balances out the sweetened condensed milk.
Empanadas are traditionally filled with meat or vegetables, but we wanted to try something different. With our favorite flavors of cheese and guava, we discovered this recipe.
These little bites are perfect for lunch or dinner parties. They’re quick to put together and taste great hot out of the oven or cold later in the day.
Polvorones are one of our favorite cookies because they are easy to make and require no egg. They are dense, sweet, and slightly chewy, perfect for dunking into a cup of hot chocolate.
We love making them with dark brown sugar since it gives them a deeper flavor. These are great plain, but you can add chopped nuts or raisins too.
16. Pumpkin Flan
This easy recipe makes one 9-inch pie crust filled with pumpkin custard, topped with whipped cream, and drizzled with chocolate sauce.
We always bake this dessert in a bundt pan, but you could use a loaf pan too. The rum adds some extra flavor and sweetness, plus it helps keep the cake moist during baking.
You’ll want to start preparing this dessert about three hours ahead since you’re making the batter the night before.
The island of Mallorca is known for its rich history and culture, and it seems like there’s always some sort of festival happening here. In fact, the island celebrates one of its biggest festivals every year during the month of August.
During this month, locals celebrate the patron saint of the city, Sant Jaume, and indulge in delicious treats. One such treat is the bread, traditional sweet bread that’s often filled with jam, nuts, or chocolate.
We’ve been making this recipe for years now, and it never fails to impress our guests.
This bread is tender, fluffy and so light. It’s lovely served alongside a pat of butter or can be eaten on its own as a beautiful dessert.
You can fill it with guava paste, Nutella, or a fruit compote and bake for sweet bread that you’ll want to eat over and over again.
19. Platanos Maduros
Plantains are a staple food in Puerto Rico, where they’re often called “platanos maduros,” or “fried sweet plantains.” These fried plantain balls are great as a snack or side dish.
You can serve them hot off the fryer, topped with butter, and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
But you don’t have to wait until dinner to enjoy them; they’re delicious and eaten cold out of the fridge, too.
This recipe calls for plantains that are already peeled and cut into small pieces, but feel free to use ripe bananas instead.
If you want to add some extra sweetness, try roasting the banana slices along with the plantains. And if you like it spicy, sprinkle some cayenne powder over the finished product.
This recipe takes five minutes to make and requires just four ingredients. If you want something sweeter, add more chocolate chips or nuts.
For a healthier version, use skimmed milk instead of whole milk. This delicious dessert is great for parties because it’s easy to transport and store.
Remember how we told you about the guava jam? Well, here are some recipes to help you enjoy it even more! We found one that uses cream cheese and another that makes delicious quesadillas out of it.
And did you know that you can make guava jam without sugar? Not just regular old jam but sweetened cream cheese too!
This frozen drink is called a limbel because it resembles a lima bean. This Puerto Rican favorite uses milk, sugar, ice cream syrup, and rum.
The base is simple; you combine milk, sugar, and lime juice. For the flavoring, you need rum, orange juice, and pineapple juice. Combine everything together and freeze overnight. If you want, you can even add some mint leaves.
23. Guava Cheesecake
We’ve always loved cheesecakes because they are quick and easy, and there are so many different flavors out there. We wanted to try something different though and found this special recipe.
We used a cream cheese mix for the base and added some coconut milk for extra richness. Then we topped it off with a guava sauce.
The guava sauce is really simple to make; just combine equal parts sour cream and condensed sweetened milk. Add some lime juice and a little salt and pepper, and stir well.
You can use it over ice cream, or even add it to plain yogurt for breakfast.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is It About Puerto Rican Food That Makes It So Unique?
The diversity of Puerto Rican culture is reflected in its cuisine. While many people think of it as being similar to Cuban, Mexican, or Spanish food, there are some key differences.
For one thing, Puerto Ricans don’t eat rice; they use bread instead.
They also don’t drink coffee; rather, they enjoy hot chocolate. And unlike most countries, where meat is usually served with every meal, Puerto Ricans prefer to serve fish over red meats.
In fact, Puerto Rican cuisine is so diverse that it’s often difficult to classify it under just one specific style.
Many people compare it to Cuban, Mexican, Chinese, French, Italian, and even Japanese dishes, but no matter how you slice it, Puerto Rican food is something special.
What Is Grown In Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico is known for growing plenty of food crops, and many of those crops end up being incorporated into their cuisine.
Some of the most popular foods grown in Puerto Rico include sugar cane, coffee beans, bananas, plantains, and avocados.
These foods can be used in recipes throughout the world, and many people enjoy eating dishes prepared with these ingredients.
We hope you enjoyed our list of 23 Puerto Rican desserts. There are so many other great things to do on the island besides eating, like visiting museums, going hiking, and taking part in festivals.
But if you’re looking for a place to get your dessert fix, then Puerto Rico has got you covered.