16 Classic Recipes Every Latina Should Know!

We Latinas do a lot of entertaining, and being entertained...and that almost always means food! We know, no recipe will ever taste exactly like abuela’s cooking, but whether you are hosting or visiting, there are some recipes every Latina should know!

These sixteen staples of our cuisine will take you from the dog days of summer to the chilly holiday season without missing a beat.



This is the perfect summer food because it requires no heat to cook and you serve it cold. A traditional Central and South American cooking method, ceviche is usually made with raw fish, citrus juice and chilies. This version is just bare bones but if you Google ceviche recipes there are literally thousands of variations with fish, shellfish and even no fish.

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Latinos like their sweet drinks, especially in the summer. We like a batido because it is like having a milkshake, only with fewer calories because there is no ice cream. This version uses mango, but other fruit can be substituted.

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Hamburgers aren’t Latino, we know, but they do scream summer so you should know how to do a good one. Food Contributor Pati Jinchi agrees and gave us a wonderful recipe for an ancho chile hamburger that gives a little Latin kick to the classic American food. 

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Quinoa salad

Quinoa is an ancient South American grain that is high in protein and gluten free. It is ridiculously healthy and traditionally Latino. All Latinas should have one go-to quinoa recipe and during the summer, it is a perfect take-along side dish. This recipe mixes quinoa with another traditional food, corn.

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Chimichurri and grilled steak go hand-in-hand so if you are making one, you should make the other. This herb-and-garlic sauce is native to Argentina, but has been adapted by many Latinos. Our version uses parsley, but we have seen recipes that use cilantro.

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Fruit Salsa

We all know how to make salsa, but in the summer, you should have one fruit salsa recipe on hand to top grilled fish or chicken.

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Before you call it a chain restaurant cliché, fajitas are easy to make for a crowd and people love them. Doing them right, which means simple seasoning and grilling, will set the authentic Latina version apart from the fast food assembly line. Here is a vegetarian version, but you can always swap out the mushrooms for chicken or steak. 

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You don’t get more iconic, or easy, than gazpacho. Usually a cold tomato-based vegetable soup, most people don’t realize that gazpacho can be made with bread, almonds and fruit. Here we have a very non-traditional, but versatile, recipe made with mangos and peaches.

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Coquito: Basically, egg nog but SOOOOOOO much better. This is a great recipe to bring to any holiday party you attend or to just sip on while decorating the tree.

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Buñuelos: Colombians, Cubans and Mexicans all have a version of this pastry, normally munched on with coffee or hot chocolate. Our version comes from Mexico. 

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Natillas: This is basically our version of Christmas pudding. In Spain it has eggs, in Colombia it doesn’t, in Peru it is another name for Dulce de Leche. However you make it, it wouldn’t be Christmas without sharing this soft, silky dessert.

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Tamales: The best part of this traditional recipe is making the tamales with your family—because it takes an army of relatives to make them! Our recipe is by no means the definitive tamale; that we’ll leave to your abuela.

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Pasteles: This Caribbean tradition is very similar to tamales, except the dough is made from plantains instead of corn and wrapped in parchment instead of cornhusks. But like tamales, making them is a holiday event, where the family takes over the kitchen.

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Lechon: It would not be the holidays, American or Latino, without some kind of roasted meat. Here a recipe for traditional Cuban roasted pork.

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Arroz con Gandules: There really is no end to the amount of rice you can eat during the holidays. This Puerto Rican dish mixes it up with pigeon peas and pork.
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Flan: Chances are, you have never made flan because one of your aunts always brings it and it always seemed a little intimidating. But flan is actually super easy to make and a great dessert to bring to a party—which is why Titi always brings it.

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