Central America: Cuisine and Recipes

Region | Central America | Maya Pyramid

The food of Central America is astounding in both its variety and flavor. Some of the world's favorite foodstuffs — corn, beans, peppers — orginated in this part of the world. And these same ingredients continue to form the basis of cooking for millions of Central Americans.

Image Creative Commons by kyle simourd

From Mexico in the north to Panama in the south, tortillas and tamales rule alongside rice and beans. Chile peppers add spice to dishes. Mealtimes are sweetened with a wide variety of tropical fruits.

Cuisines of Central America

El Salvador: Cuisine and Recipes

Country | El Salvador Dancers

This tiny country on the Pacific coast has made a rich contribution to Central American cooking. The cuisine of El Salvador is similar to that of its neighbors, with a strong reliance on indigenous foods like corn, beans, squash and tomatoes. The influence of Mayan culture is quite strong, mixed in with contributions from the Spanish kitchen. Pupusas and curtido may be the most well known Salvadoran dishes, but other tasty dishes include pavo salvadoreño, atol de elote, quesadilla and semita. Read more »

Guatemala: Recipes and Cuisine

Country | Guatemala Village Crowd Image

Guatemala is a mountainous Central American country nestled between Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. While most Guatemalans are of mixed indigenous and European heritage, large numbers of chapines -- as Guatemalans refer to themselves -- are pure-blooded Mayan with a culture dating back centuries. The ingredients of Guatemalan cuisine are typical for Central America -- corn, tomatoes, peppers, beans, plantains, tomatillos. Several dishes are uniquely Guatemalan, including jocón , pepián , and hilachas and several varieties of tamales. Read more »

Honduras: Recipes and Cuisine

Country | Honduras Market Image

The food of Honduras, like that of its Central American neighbors, puts a heavy emphasis on corn, peppers, tomatoes and beans. A love for pupusas is shared with Salvadoran neighbors in the west. Nacatamales are as popular in Honduras as they are in Nicaragua to the south. Coconuts are used more widely in Honduran cuisine than in neighboring countries and numerous fish dishes reflect a long Caribbean coast. Popular dishes include sopa de caracol (conch soup), carne asada, and baleadas. A panoply of tropical fruits makes for great desserts. Read more »

Mexico: Recipes and Cuisine

Country | Mexican Vendor of Dried Peppers

Long before the arrival of Europeans, Mexico was home to the great Maya, Aztec and Zapotec civilizations. These peoples had a well developed agriculture all their own. Staples included corn, peppers, beans, avocados, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, jicama, chayote and other squashes. Read more »

Nicaragua: Cuisine and Recipes

Country | Nicaragua Horse Car Image

"La comida Nica," as Nicaraguans call their cuisine, is a Latin creole mix of indigenous and Spanish dishes and ingredients. Corn, beans, plantains, yuca and pork are popular ingredients. Seafood is common along the Caribbean coast. Nicaraguans make extensive use of a wide variety of tropical fruits. Typical dishes include nacatamales, vigorón, indio viejo and gallo pinto. Read more »