From Havana’s vibrant streets to Varadero’s serene beaches, the foods from Cuba are packed with flavour!

Whether you’re craving a tasty snack, the iconic Cuban sandwich or a home-cooked classic dish, here are the 20 Cuban dishes to try.

These top 20 Cuban foods showcase the heart and soul of Cuban cuisine. Let’s begin!

20 Most Popular Foods from Cuba

1) Ropa Vieja

foods from cuba ropa vieja

“Ropa Vieja,” Spanish for “old clothes,” is a classic and treasured dish in Cuban cuisine. It features tender shredded beef slow-cooked in a tasty tomato-based sauce with onions, capsicum, garlic, and various spices.

The name “ropa vieja” is derived from the beef’s shredded appearance, which resembles torn or shredded clothing.

The dish is often served with white rice, black beans, and fried plantains and is one of the quintesssential foods from Cuba that you must try.

2) Picadillo

foods in Cuba, picadillo

Many variations of picadillo exist across Latin America and the Philippines, and each country boasts its unique version. Cuba’s rendition of Picadillo emerges as a comforting staple dish, cherished for its rich flavour and simple preparation.

Traditionally, picadillo accompanies black beans and rice or fills treats like empanadas.

The term “picadillo” stems from the Spanish word “picar,” meaning to mince or chop ingredients, typically involving ground meat and tomatoes. Cuba’s version incorporates olives, capers, and raisins, lending a delightful sweet-savory contrast, of which I’m a huge fan!

Our list of popular foods from Cuba wouldn’t be complete without it.

3) Cuban Sandwich

foods from Cuba - Cuban sandwich

This delicious sandwich is made with roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard, pressed and grilled on Cuban bread.

It’s the perfect example of taking a group of simple ingredients and marrying them together to create layers of flavour.

4) Lechón Asado

foods from cuba lechon asado

Lechón Asado is a beloved dish in Cuban cuisine, famous for its succulent and mouthwatering roasted pork.

This dish typically involves overnight marinating a whole pig in a blend of citrus juices, garlic, herbs, and spices, such as oregano and cumin. The marinated pig is then slow-roasted over an open flame or oven until the skin becomes crispy and golden, while the meat inside remains tender and juicy.

This method reminds me of how they prepare roasted pig in Filipino cuisine, minus the citrus, but equally delicious.

Lechón Asado is often the centrepiece of festive and family gatherings and special occasions in Cuban culture, accompanied by sides like moros y cristianos, yuca con mojo, and fried plantains.

5) Moros y Cristianos

Moros y Cristianos, a Cuban adaptation of rice and beans, has Moorish origins from Spain.

The dish combines black beans (Moros) and white rice (Cristianos) in one pot, with added sofrito for a unique Cuban flavour profile.

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6) Yuca con Mojo

foods from cuba yuca

Yuca con Mojo is a traditional Cuban dish featuring boiled cassava (yuca) served with a tangy garlic sauce called mojo. Yuca, also known as cassava or manioc, is a starchy root vegetable widely consumed in Caribbean and Latin American cuisines.

First, the cassava is peeled, cut into chunks, and boiled until tender. The mojo sauce is made by frying minced garlic in oil until golden and fragrant, then adding sour orange juice, salt, and occasionally other seasonings like cumin or oregano.

Once the yuca has cooked, it’s drained and served hot, with the mojo sauce drizzled over the top. The zesty mojo adds flavour to the yuca, creating a delicious dish.

7) Arroz con Pollo

foods from cuba arroz con pollo

Arroz con Pollo is a quintessential dish in Cuban cuisine, translating to “rice with chicken.” It’s a delicious one-pot meal where tender chicken pieces are cooked with seasoned rice, commonly flavoured with onions, garlic, capsicum, tomatoes, and spices like cumin and oregano.

The dish cooks until the rice absorbs the broth and the chicken becomes tender. I love this comforting dish!

8) Tostones

Cuban foods Tostones

Plantains, originating from Southeast Asia, were introduced to the Caribbean by Spanish settlers. They’re now prominent in Latin American cuisine, particularly in Cuba.

Affordable and nutritious, these starchy, banana-like fruits are perfect for snacks or side dishes.

Tostones, made from unripe plantains, are peeled, sliced diagonally, and double-fried for extra flavour, and often accompanied by mojo dip.

9) Arroz Imperial

foods from cuba arroz imperial

Arroz Imperial is a Cuban dish featuring layers of rice, seasoned chicken, mayonnaise, and cheese, baked until golden and creamy.

It’s a treasured comfort food in Cuban cuisine, known for its rich flavour and gooey texture.

10) Tamales

foods from cuba tamale

There are many variations of tamales across Latin America, and I’ve never eaten a tamale that I didn’t love!

A Cuban tamale is one of the most comforting foods from Cuba. It consists of seasoned masa (corn dough) filled with a scrumptious mixture of meat, typically pork or chicken, along with vegetables and spices.

This mixture is wrapped in corn husks and then steamed or boiled until cooked. Tamales are super popular in Mexican cuisine, I especially love the tamales filled with mole negro in Oaxaca

11) Tostada Cubana

foods from Cuba - Tostada Cubana

I loved eating these scrummy little toasted sandwiches for breakfast as I travelled around this beautiful country.

In Cuba, a tostada Cubana typically refers to crispy bread topped with savoury ingredients such as ham, cheese, tomato, lettuce, and sometimes additional elements like mayonnaise or mustard.

It’s simple, satisfying, and a popular dish often enjoyed for breakfast or a quick snack.

12) Chicharrones de Cerdo

foods from cuba Chicharrones de Cerdo

Chicharrones de Cerdo is one of the most popular foods in Cuba because, let’s face it, a bag of hot fried pork rinds always hits the spot!

Essentially, pork skin with a layer of fat underneath is seasoned with salt and other spices and then deep-fried until crispy and golden brown. The result is a crunchy and moorish snack enjoyed in various Latin American countries, including Cuba.

When I visited the Tlacolula Markets in Oaxaca, Mexico, I enjoyed some of the most delicious fried pork rinds of my life.

Chicharrones de Cerdo can be eaten on their own as a snack or used as a topping for dishes like rice and beans; the texture this adds to a dish is mind-blowing!

13) Fufu de Plátano

foods from cuba Fufu de Plátano

Fufu de Plátano is a super satisfying food from Cuba, made with mashed green plantains (plátanos).

Plantains get boiled until soft, then mashed with garlic, salt, and sometimes butter or pork fat until smooth and creamy. I think pork fat is essential to this dish.

The mixture is shaped into small balls or cakes and served as a starchy side dish alongside main courses like meat or fish.

14) Fricase de Pollo

foods from cuba Fricase de Pollo

Here is another cherished dish to add to your list of foods from Cuba you need to taste.

Fricase de pollo is a savoury chicken stew featuring chicken and potatoes simmered in a tomato sauce, enhanced with sour orange juice and garlic for added zest.

15) Pan con Lechón

foods from cuba Pan con Lechón

Pan con Lechón is a yummy Cuban sandwich that stars tender marinated slow-cooked roast pork nestled between slices of Cuban bread.

The sandwich is then generously layered with onions and garlic and topped with a slathering of mojo sauce for a burst of flavour.

This is one of the most common Cuban foods found in small shops and eateries around the country. If you visit Lima, Peru, you can find these little sandwiches all over the city.

We enjoyed delicious Pan con Lechón in the Baranco district, you can read our top food recommendations in our 2 Perfect Days in Lima post.

16) Vaca Frita

foods from cuba Vaca Frita

Vaca Frita is a Cuban dish featuring shredded beef that is first marinated and then pan-fried until crispy.

The beef is typically marinated in garlic, lime juice, salt, and pepper, then pan-fried with onions until golden and crispy on the outside while remaining tender.

Vaca Frita is often served with classic Cuban sides such as white rice, black beans, and fried plantains.

17) Congri

foods in Cuba Congri

This classic Cuban dish combines rice and black beans cooked together, creating a tasty and affordable meal. The rice and beans are seasoned with the usual suspects—onions, garlic, capsicum, and spices like cumin and oregano.

Congri is one of the staple foods from Cuba and it’s very popular in Jamaican cuisine, too.

You can find it served as a side dish or main course alongside other traditional favourites like roast pork or fried plantains.

18) Malanga Fritters

foods from cuba Malanga Fritters
Malanga fritters are popular snack foods in Cuba

Most countries have their own version of a fritter, often using ingredients readily available in the country, and Cuban Malanga fritters are up there with the best of them.

It is made from grated malanga root, a starchy tuber similar to taro or yuca. The malanga root is peeled, grated, and mixed with onions, garlic, eggs, flour, salt, and pepper. The mixture is then formed into patties or balls and deep-fried until golden and crispy.

Dip it in mojo sauce for the best experience. It is one of the simplest yet most delicious foods from Cuba that will satisfy you.

19) Flan

foods from cuba Flan

Flan is a well-known (and beloved) dessert across many Latin American countries and other parts of the world.

Flan is essentially creamy custard topped with caramel sauce, and it’s fantastic! Cuban flan’s silky texture and caramelised sweetness make it the perfect snack to enjoy any time of the day.

20) Pastelitos de Guayaba

foods from cuba Pastelitos de Guayaba

Sweets, pastries and dessert foods from Cuba don’t get much better than this!

Pastelitos de Guayaba is a lovely Cuban pastry filled with guava paste.

These pastries consist of flaky puff pastry dough wrapped around a sweet and tangy guava filling, the perfect accompaniment to a strong Cuban coffee.

If you enjoyed reading about Cuban foods, you might enjoy reading about foods from Haiti & the most popular foods in the Dominican Republic.