Caribbean Foods: Dominican, Cuban and Puerto Rican Recipes

Sunny island flavors abound in this unique collection of tapas and snacks, meaty mains and sweets from all over the Caribbean. 

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Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Scott Gries ©2015, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC.

Photo By: Scott Gries ©2015, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Picadillo-Stuffed Potatoes (Papas Rellenas)

These savory meat-stuffed mashed potato balls are a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes, although you can certainly start from scratch, as this recipe does. Serve these as a snack, an appetizer or a nice lunch alongside a salad.

Get the Recipe: Picadillo-Stuffed Potatoes (Papas Rellenas)

Cuban Arroz Con Pollo

A common weekly family-style dish, arroz con pollo is packed with flavor and offers an impressive presentation. Classically garnished with bright green peas and roasted red peppers, this dish looks good enough for guests, too.

Get the Recipe: Arroz Con Pollo

Caramel-Glazed Plantains (Platanos en Tentacion)

This sweet side dish adds a nice contrast to other traditional Cuban dishes. You can also substitute rum in place of the Madeira and serve it as a dessert.

Get the Recipe: Caramel-Glazed Plantains (Platanos en Tentacion)

Cuban Picadillo-Filled Empanadas

Every culture seems to have its version of a hand pie, and Cuba is no different. Stuffed with a classic and flavorful ground beef filling, these flaky little pies are great for lunch, for a snack or to pass around at your next dinner party. This recipe makes more than enough picadillo to fill the empanadas. The leftovers can be used for making Papas Rellenas, served over rice or frozen for your next batch of empanadas. You can double the dough recipe to make a total of 24 empanadas with the single recipe of picadillo.

Get the Recipe: Picadillo-Filled Empanadas

Cuban Sauteed Chickpeas with Chorizo

This tapas-inspired dish serves well as a side dish or, when spooned on top of toasted bread, as a passed hors d'oeuvre.

Get the Recipe: Sauteed Chickpeas with Chorizo

Cuban-Style Short Ribs 

This dish offers all the flavors of a classic Cuban-style pot roast, but with luscious and meaty short ribs standing in for the usual roast. Both comforting and elegant at the same time, it's the perfect recipe for entertaining.

Get the Recipe: Cuban-Style Short Ribs

Dominican Bizcocho Cupcakes

These orange-scented cupcakes get an additional tropical fruit boost from the guava jelly. The meringue frosting also has a hint of lime, to balance out the sweetness.

Get the Recipe: Bizcocho Cupcakes

Dominican Fried Chicken

With a name translated as "chicken cracklins," chicharron de pollo is the Dominican version of fried chicken that's marinated in citrus, coated in seasoned flour and fried to a crunchy crisp.

Get the Recipe: Dominican Fried Chicken (Chicharron de Pollo)

Jamaican Beef Patties

Frozen pastry pockets pale in comparison to Rev Run's curry-and-garlic-spiced beef patties.

Get the Recipe: Jamaican Beef Patties

Dominican Pasteles en Hoja

Often made during the Christmas holiday, pasteles en hoja are the Dominican version of tamales. The dough, or "masa," is traditionally made with a combination of starchy vegetables that could include green plantains, green bananas, yams, taro and West Indian pumpkin, all finely grated by hand. We've simplified the recipe, calling for plantains and the more readily available butternut squash, and using a food processor to puree the vegetables.

Get the Recipe: Pasteles en Hoja

Dominican Quipes (Kipes)

This tasty fried snack reflects the cultural influence of Middle Eastern immigrants who settled in the Dominican Republic during the early 20th century.

Get the Recipe: Quipes (Kipes)

Dominican Salt Cod Salad 

Salt cod is a staple in many cultures, and the variety of dishes using this humble ingredient is remarkable. Here the saltiness of the cod is balanced by the sharpness of the dressing and the creaminess of the avocados. The tomatoes and red onions add beautiful color as well as flavor, making this an attractive salad for any table.

Get the Recipe: Salt Cod Salad

Chayote Slaw with Mango Vinaigrette

Chayote and mango are two very popular ingredients in Puerto Rican cuisine. Chayote, very similar in taste and texture to a cucumber, takes on the flavor of the sweet and tart mango vinaigrette to create a refreshingly light and crunchy slaw. If your mango is not particularly sweet, try adding a bit of sugar to taste.

Get the Recipe: Chayote Slaw with Mango Vinaigrette

Puerto Rican Coconut Bread Pudding

This decadent bread pudding can be served warm shortly after baking, or made a day ahead and served cold. Either way, make sure to serve it drizzled with the caramel rum sauce, which is made extra creamy with the addition of coconut milk.

Get the Recipe: Coconut Bread Pudding with Caramel Rum Sauce

Rice and Chickpeas

This aromatic and flavorful side dish takes on a beautiful orange hue thanks to homemade annatto oil. The oil can also be made in bigger batches and stored in an airtight container for one week at room temperature, or one month refrigerated. Use it in place of regular cooking oil to add both flavor and color to other dishes.

Get the Recipe: Rice and Chickpeas

Tostones with Shrimp and Sofrito

Sofrito is a classic condiment in Puerto Rican cuisine that can be used in many different applications. Typically all the ingredients are pulsed in a food processor, but taking the extra time to cut all the vegetables into a fine dice makes for a more refined presentation.

Get the Recipe: Tostones with Shrimp and Sofrito

Spicy Jerk Chicken

Warning: Scotch bonnet and habanero peppers are not for the faint of heart. Choose one to give already-spicy jerk-rubbed chicken an extra kick. 

Get the Recipe: Spicy Jerk Chicken