Cuban recipes – 10 delicious ideas for traditional dishes from Cuba

Cuban recipes traditional dishes

Cuban cuisine shows many different influences from what it’s called a fusion kitchen. It is generally considered to be a mix of influences from Spanish, African, Caribbean and Chinese cuisines. For this reason, there are many techniques and ingredients to be noted in the recipes from Cuba that are just as typical of other countries and cultures. If you would like to try the traditional dishes from Cuban cuisine without necessarily flying to Cuba, then you have come to the right place! We present some typical Cuban recipes for main courses and desserts that you can prepare yourself at home.

The peculiarities of Cuban cuisine


The recipes of Cuba are strongly influenced by the history of the country and feature elements from different international cuisines. In addition to the indigenous population, other cultures have settled in Cuba. So the Spanish conquerors, the African slaves, the Caribbean neighbors and the Asian immigrants exerted their influence on the local cuisine and contributed to the Cuban recipes. The techniques and spices from Spanish and African culinary arts play a much greater role than those from the Caribbean and China.


In Cuba, one can distinguish between two different regional cuisines – East Cuban and West Cuban cuisine. Because of the Caribbean immigrants in the east, Creole recipes dominate the eastern Cuban cuisine. A difference can be seen in the spices. In contrast to the Creole recipes, Cuban recipes are not seasoned with spicy ingredients, but rather with onions, garlic, oregano, cumin and bay leaves.


Many Cuban recipes are based on rice and beans and are made with meat. Chicken, pork or beef are mainly used here and cooked together with various vegetables. Potatoes, tomatoes, yams, avocados, carrots and the typical Cuban plantains dominate the selection of vegetables for Cuban recipes.


The western Cuban cuisine, on the other hand, has just as much to do with Creole, but one can notice the influence of Spanish cuisine here. Especially in Havana, the capital of Cuba, European ingredients and cooking techniques have a strong influence on the recipes. Many Cuban recipes from this area also have a Chinese twist.


The western Cuban cuisine has a sweet and sour taste in many of its recipes. It is made with a special mix of olives, raisins and capers called “Alcaparrado”. In addition, flour is often used in the west in the preparation of typical recipes.

Prepare typical Cuban recipes


If you would like to prepare traditional Cuban recipes yourself, we have some delicious ideas that will help you with the preparation. We’ll start with the most popular recipes from Cuba that you absolutely have to try on a vacation in Cuba. The main courses in Cuban cuisine are usually cooked on a low heat and the cooking time usually takes at least 2-3 hours.

Ajiaco – the national dish of Cuba


Cuba’s national dish is called ajiaco and is a kind of stew made from various types of meat and vegetables. You can vary the ingredients and spices to your taste, but the traditional recipe is made with some of the most famous ingredients for Cuba.


  • 250 g of beef jerky
  • 250 g of chicken
  • 500 g ground beef
  • 500 g pork cut into strips
  • 250 g pork belly
  • 250 g pumpkin
  • 2 green and 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 500 g cassava
  • 500 g sweet potatoes
  • 1 spring onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 250 g of pureed tomatoes
  • 30 ml of oil
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • about 7 liters of water


First let the dried meat soak for at least 12 hours. Then put it in the water with the chicken and simmer on a low heat until it becomes soft. In the meantime, dice the pork belly and add it with the pork and salt. Cook everything for another hour. Then fry the minced meat in a pan with oil, spring onion, garlic and paprika, add the tomatoes and then put everything in the pan with the boiling meat. Finally, dice the rest of the vegetables and add to the soup along with the bananas and lemon juice. Let the dish simmer for another hour and enjoy warm.

Popular Cuban Recipes – Ropa Vieja


Ropa Vieja is a typical Cuban dish from Eastern Cuban cuisine, which is usually prepared with beef and tomato sauce. This main course is usually served with rice and is perfect for lunch or dinner.


  • 2 flank steaks
  • 250 g peeled tomatoes
  • 150 ml of pureed tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp rum
  • 4 tbsp white wine
  • olive oil
  • fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper



First cut the meat into strips, fry on all sides in a pan with a lid and set aside. Then fry the onions and garlic in the same pan, add the tomato paste and let it caramelize. Now add rum and white wine and stir well. Then add the peeled and pureed tomatoes, the caraway seeds, oregano and the bay leaf and bring to the boil. Then add the meat, put the lid on the pan and cook on the lowest setting for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally. You can serve the finished dish with rice or beans.

Popular Cuban Recipes with Rice – Moros y Christianos


Rice is one of the ingredients that should definitely not be missing in recipes from Cuba. Many Cuban recipes are made with rice mixed with both meat and vegetables. Another recipe from Eastern Cuban culinary art is the dish “Moros y Christianos”, which consists of rice and black beans.


  • 300 g rice
  • 80 g black beans
  • 500 ml of water
  • 25 g pork belly
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 50 ml of oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt, oregano and cumin


Soak the black beans in the water overnight, bring them to a boil the next day in the same water and cook until soft. Then fry the pork belly with diced onion, garlic and paprika and season with oregano, caraway seeds and bay leaf. Then add the rice and beans and season with salt. Cook the dish for about 20 minutes and you’re done.

Recipe for congris


Since rice and beans are a popular combination in Cuba, some of the most popular Cuban recipes are made with them. In addition to black beans, red beans are often used in Cuba. They are also part of the Cuban recipe for congris.


  • 250 g long grain rice
  • 1 onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 250 g peeled tomatoes
  • 50 ml of oil
  • red beans (soaked in water overnight)
  • Salt, pepper and caraway seeds


First wash and drain the rice. Then dice the onion, garlic, peppers and tomatoes and fry them in a pan. Then put the rice and beans in the pan and pour in enough water. Season with salt, pepper and cumin and bring to the boil. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice and beans are cooked through.

Quick Cuban Recipes – Papas Rellenas


In western Cuban cuisine, potatoes or sweet potatoes are often used for cooking, which make Cuban food particularly nutritious. A popular recipe from this region is “Papas Rellenas”. These are kind of potato balls that are filled with minced meat and then fried.


  • 1 kg of boiled potatoes
  • 250 g minced beef
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • black olives
  • flour
  • Oil for frying
  • 2 sprigs of parsley
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tbsp chilli mus or chilli powder
  • Oregano, salt and pepper

cuban-recipes-potato-balls-minced meat


First boil the potatoes and then crush them with the potato masher. Then add the beaten eggs with a little salt and pepper. Stir well until a homogeneous, light mass is formed. Then fry the minced meat with the vegetables in a pan and season. When the filling has cooled, make small balls out of the potatoes with your hands and fill them with the mixture of meat and vegetables. Then roll the potato balls in the flour and fry them in hot oil until golden brown.

Cuban sandwich recipe


While many Cuban recipes take a long time to prepare, there are also some that are super easy and quick to prepare. A typical example of a quick Cuban meal is the Cuban sandwich. This sandwich is made from Cuban bread and has a typical filling. Traditionally it is filled with thin slices of Serrano ham, Emmental cheese, sweet pickles and yellow mustard. Finally, the bread is pressed in a panini grill so that the cheese melts.

Cuban recipes for dessert


The fried plantains are typical of many Cuban recipes and are often served as a side dish. Nevertheless, they also taste perfect as a dessert, because they have a slightly sweet taste. If you want to fry bananas, then you should buy ripe plantains, the skin of which has many brown spots. Peel and slice the fruit before frying. Then fry both sides until golden brown over a medium heat. Use the fried bananas either as an accompaniment to the main course or as a simple dessert.

Cuban flan recipe

cuban-recipes-dessert-flan-caramel cream

A typical dessert from Cuban cuisine is the flan. This is the Cuban variant of the well-known creme caramel from French cuisine. Cuban recipes for flan are often made with coconut or pumpkin and thus differ from the European variants of the dessert. In the following we give the ingredients for a coconut flan.


  • 120 g of sugar
  • 3 eggs and 3 yolks
  • 2 cups of coconut meat in syrup


First let the sugar caramelize in a pan and put in suitable flan forms. Then stir the eggs and egg yolks until frothy and mix with the coconut meat and syrup. Pour the resulting mass into the molds and bake in a water bath at 200 degrees for about 1 hour.


Cuban recipes taste best with beer or a suitable cocktail. The cocktails typical for Cuba are prepared with rum as the main ingredient and are world famous. For a Cuban garden party you can, for example, prepare Cuba libre, Mojito or Daiquiri and bring the Cuban summer into your own garden.