A woman's hand holding a plate with quesitos.

Puerto Rican Comfort Food to Make at Home

Bring the flavors of the Island to your kitchen with these easy-to-make recipes.

Puerto Rican cuisine promises an explosion of color, flavor, and creativity. From simple finger-food to more elaborate entrees, bring a taste of the Caribbean to the comfort of your home. 

Hot chocolate (with cheese?)

There’s nothing like a comforting mug of hot chocolate to sweeten up your day and warm up your soul. Puerto Ricans love hot beverages (even in a tropical climate) and put a unique spin on this traditional drink — just like abuelita used to. 

Serving: Three cups

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 can of evaporated milk
  • 2 ½ ounces of sweet ground chocolate (the Cortés brand is used in most Puerto Rican homes. It comes in bars so you will need two or three tabs of the whole chocolate bar)
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • Cheddar cheese

In a pot, bring the cup of water to a simmer and place the chocolate bars until melted (already grounded chocolate makes the process faster). Stir well to avoid the chocolate sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add the evaporated milk, the cup of fresh milk, and sugar. Heat and stir for several minutes until all the ingredients are blended. 

Cut up small cubes of cheddar cheese and throw into the bottom of a cup (or mug) and serve the hot chocolate. The sweetness of the chocolate will blend perfectly with the salty notes of the cheese. Stir to mix. To complete your Puerto Rican snack, pair it with some salty crackers and guava paste! 

A Puerto Rican staple, corn fritters.

Sorullitos 

A Puerto Rican cuisine staple, crispy outside and soft inside, these are served as appetizers or side dishes. Add some cheese and you’ll have a midday snack!

Serving: 8 to 12 corn fritters

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 ¼ cups of finely ground cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) of shredded cheddar cheese

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix water, butter, sugar, and salt. The amount of sugar may vary, depending on how sweet or savory you prefer them. Bring to a boil and slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Stir continuously with a spoon for 3-4 minutes, or until a soft ball is formed. Remove the mixture from heat and mix cheese until completely incorporated. You can opt for not mixing the cheese and simply stuff them with the cheddar cheese, if desired.

Let the “dough” cool until able to handle. The dough should be smooth and springy – like playdough. If it is crumbly, add a little bit of warm water and, if it sticks to your fingers, add more cornmeal.

Take a rounded tablespoon of dough and knead between your fingers until smooth. Roll into a ½ inch wide log, approximately 3-inches long. If you opted to stuff them instead of working the cheese into the dough, this is the part where you create an indention in the middle and fill it with cheese completely. Fry the sorullitos in boiling oil at least an inch deep for 3-4 minutes. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

Sorullitos are best served with mayoketchup. In a small cup, mix equal parts of mayonnaise and ketchup, add a pinch of salt and garlic powder to taste. 

Asopao de pollo

This traditional Puerto Rican take on “rice and chicken gumbo,” asopao is more than a soup… it is the ultimate cure-all and food for the soul.

Serving: 6 people

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds of chicken cut into pieces seasoned to taste
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup of finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 medium finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 oz of smoked ham cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon of whole oregano
  • 2 packets of sazón (seasoned salt)
  • 1 chicken flavored bouillon
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ cups of medium grain rice
  • 8 cups of water
  • 4 stuffed olives, chopped
  • 1 can (4 oz) of fancy sliced red pimentos, drained
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh cilantro

Season chicken on all sides (you can use salt and pepper or go the Puerto Rican way with adobo). In a medium pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until golden brown on all sides for about seven minutes. Add onions, peppers, ham, garlic, oregano, and sazón; cook for 1-2 minutes until peppers and onions are soft. Add tomato sauce and 8 cups of water, and chicken-flavored bouillon; bring to a boil. Stir in rice and let boil for a minute. Reduce the heat to a medium-low and let the ingredients simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chopped olives, fresh cilantro, and fancy pimentos. Let simmer an additional five minutes until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender. 

*You can replace the chicken for shrimp to make this a seafood dish. 

Passion fruit sangria

Is there something more Caribbean than sipping on a freshly made passion fruit cocktail? Recreate this recipe at home to get a taste of the island.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of white wine
  • 2 cups of passion fruit concentrate
  • 3 oz of vodka
  • 1 cup of soda water
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • ¼ of lemon juice
  • 1 green apple, chopped

In a container, mix all the ingredients and stir. Serve with ice.

Quesitos

Turn your kitchen into a Puerto Rican panadería when you bake the island’s most popular treat! 

Serving: Eight quesitos

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 egg (beaten, add a tablespoon of water)

In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese with one tablespoon of sugar and the vanilla extract until thoroughly blended and divide the mixture into eight equal parts. Cut up the puff pastry sheet into eight squares and place the cheese mixture in the middle. Close the squares by pressing one corner to the opposite corner. Seal the puff pastry by brushing the beaten egg on the top off all the quesitos. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar on top of your creations. 

Bake for 15 minutes at 350°F or until your pastries are lightly golden and crunchy. These are best paired with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. 

Sandwichitos de mezcla

A party favorite, these savory finger sandwiches will please children and adults. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of Spam
  • 1 can of fancy sliced red pimentos 
  • 1 can of cheese spread (like Cheez Whiz) 
  • Bread

Chop the spam into evenly sized cubes. Put the first three ingredients in a blender and mix them until you have a spread with even consistency. Spread on your desired bread and cut into squares. Enjoy!