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.

Image Creative Commons by cheryl

Guatemalan Recipes


Ingredients | Tomatillo Image

(Guatemalan shredded beef in tomato-tomatillo sauce)

Hilachas is a popular Guatemalan dish made of cooked and shredded beef that is simmered in a mildly spicy tomatillo-tomato sauce. Pair it with a side of rice and fresh corn tortillas for a full meal. Read more »

Horchata de Arroz

Beverages | Horchata de Arroz Image

(Mexican sweet rice beverage)

Horchata (or-CHA-tah) is a milky white, sweet beverage that was introduced to Spain by the Moors. The original Spanish version is made with ground tiger nuts and is especially popular in Valencia. In Latin America, where the tiger nut is not commonly available, pulverized rice is used. In Mexico, horchata is one of the most common aguas frescas and is ladled from large glass jars set in ice. Read more »


Poultry | Jocon Image

(Guatemalan chicken in tomatillo-cilantro sauce)

Jocón or pollo en jocón is a dish popular with the Mayan population of Guatemala. Chicken is simmered in a tasty sauce tinted a beautiful green by tomatillos and cilantro and thickened with ground sesame and pumpkin seeds and corn tortillas. Read more »

Picado de Rábano

Ingredients | Radishes

(Guatemalan radish salad)

Serve picado de rábano as a refreshing side salad for Guatemalan meals. Adding chicharrones, or fried pork rinds, turns it into a salad called chojin. Read more »

Plátanos Fritos

Ingredients | Plantains Image

(Latin fried ripe plantains)

Plátanos fritos are popular in many countries around the world where the plantain is sometimes a major source of starchy calories. It is important to use ripe plantains for this dish (they have black skins). Green plantains will be much too dry. The Caribbean cook will often use fried plantains as an accompaniment to beef or goat dishes. Read more »

Salpicón de Res

Meats | Salpicon Image

(Central American shredded beef salad)

Popular throughout Central America, salpicón is a refreshing salad that is great as a topping for tostadas or wrapped in fresh corn tortillas. It is especially easy to make in large quantities for parties and family gatherings. Read more »

Tamales de Elote

Breads | Tamales de Elote

(Central American fresh corncakes)

Tamales de elote are a favorite breakfast food in Mexico and throughout Central America. In El Salvador and Guatemala they are often served as the starchy portion of a meal. The fresh elote, or corn, used in Central America has a higher starch content than that in the United States, but the addition of masa harina in this recipe produces a very good approximation of the original. Read more »

Vinagre de Piña

Fruits | Pineapple Image

(Central American pineapple vinegar)

Homemade fruit vinegars are popular throughout Central America, and vinagre de piña is a favorite. The trimmings of a pineapple are mixed with piloncillo and water and set aside to ferment for a few weeks or even months. Read more »