10 Traditional Cuban Recipes with Big Flavor

Just 100 miles off the Florida coast yet a world away, Cuba is a land of history and mystery, all of which is revealed in its incomparable cuisine. More mild than wild, Cuban cuisine relies on spices like cumin, oregano, and bay leaves instead of hot chiles and lengthy simmering to build flavor. Meats (pork and beef) slow-simmer in Spanish sofrito sauces. Let's take a look at some of our favorite authentic Cuban recipes.

01 of 11

Cuban-Style Picadillo

Seasoned ground beef with pimento-stuffed green olives and red bell peppers in a yellow bowl
Photo by lutzflcat.

"There are many variations of picadillo," says lutzflcat. "This is a savory and traditional Cuban home-cooked meal with ingredients that are readily available in any supermarket. Do not omit wine, as it's really important to the flavor of this dish. Serve with garlic and onion white rice, black beans, and fried ripe plantains. Garnish with strips of ham and roasted red pepper."

02 of 11

Ropa Vieja (Cuban Beef)

Ropa Vieja (Cuban Beef)
Chef John

"This Cuban braised beef dish literally translates to 'old clothes,' because apparently some people thought the fall-apart meat and colorful strips of onions and peppers, tangled together, looked like old, tattered clothing," says Chef John. "You'll love this dish if you're into big, bold flavors, since there's nothing subtle about the seasoning here. Delicious served with beans, rice, and plantain chips. Garnish with more cilantro."

03 of 11

Carne Con Papas

Carne Con Papas
Photo by Erika Isabel.

"An old fashioned Cuban dish, with tender succulent meat and potatoes bursting with flavors," says HEATHERMUNOZ. "It is definitely a pleaser for any meat and potatoes fan."

04 of 11

Moros y Cristianos (Cuban Black Beans and Rice)

Moros y Cristianos (Cuban Black Beans and Rice)

Black beans and rice is a Cuban staple. The dish is called Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians), which may be a cheeky reference to how Moors and Christians came to live together after the Moors conquered the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century.

05 of 11

Cuban-Style Black Beans

Cuban-Style Black Beans
Photo by France C.

"This recipe makes a delicious side dish when paired with yellow rice," says Catherine McCann Shelton.

Have an Instant Pot? You might like:

06 of 11

Cubanos Frijoles

Cubanos Frijoles
Photo by cookinmana.

"Originally this came from a Cuban friend, but I've since doctored it quite a bit," says William C. Smith. "This dish is hearty and a meal in itself. By adding more meat, beans, and rice, you can feed a large group of people. You might want to add more spice as well."

07 of 11

Cuban-Style Yellow Rice

Cuban-Style Yellow Rice
Photo by lutzflcat.

"Yellow rice is a staple in the Caribbean because of its beautiful color and flavor," says Mombabe. "Being Cuban, our household often served yellow rice. It's traditional to garnish yellow rice with pimentos, but I don't like them so I don't. Serve yellow rice with Cuban-style roast pork, or add cooked chicken pieces while cooking the rice to make Arroz con Pollo."

08 of 11

Cuban-Style Roast Pork

Cuban-Style Roast Pork

The popularity of pork in Cuban cuisine has long historical roots. Fun fact: Spanish explorers purposefully let pigs loose upon islands of the Caribbean to ensure that a ready, plentiful food supply would greet future expeditions. The pig population quickly exploded. "Fragrant, savory, and succulent pork roast the whole family will love," says Michele Kerr Fielding. "Serve with cumin scented black beans, and mashed sweet potatoes."

09 of 11

Toasted Cuban Sandwich

Cuban Sandwich
Cuban Sandwich | Photo by Meredith.

This Cuban sandwich is piled high with ham, roast pork loin, Swiss cheese, and dill pickles, then toasted to warm and crunchy perfection.

10 of 11

Lechon Asado (Cuban Shredded Pork)

Cuban Shredded Pork

"This is a popular Cuban pork dish known as Lechon Asado," says ZIBBLER. "My version is a shortcut. The pork is simmered in a broth until tender, then shredded. It's traditionally served with black beans and rice."

11 of 11

More Like This

Moroccan Chicken with Saffron and Preserved Lemon
Allrecipes Magazine
Was this page helpful?
You’ll Also Love