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.

Image Creative Commons by Délirante bestiole

Nicaraguan Recipes


Meats | Baho

(Nicaraguan beef, plantains and yuca steamed in banana leaves)

Baho, or vaho, is one of the cornerstones of Nicaraguan cuisine. Beef, plantains and yuca (cassava) are wrapped in banana leaves and steamed over water in a large pot. Baho is food for a Sunday afternoon. Start the recipe on Saturday by marinating the meat. Vaho means "mist" in Spanish and evokes the unique cooking method for this hearty meal. Read more »

Carne Asada

Meats | Carne Asada

(Mexican grilled steak)

Carne asada, or grilled meat, is great backyard grill food. It is enjoyed throughout Central America, but is particularly popular in Mexico. Many recipes get very elaborate with the marinade ingredients, but the original recipe relies on a simple combination of onions and citrus juice to highlight the flavor of the beef. Read more »

Ensalada de Repollo

(Nicaragua cabbage and tomato salad; see Curtido recipe variations)

Flan de Leche

Desserts | Flan de Leche Image

(Latin caramel custard)

Flan, or crème caramel, is one of the most common dessert dishes in the Latin world. Coming originally from the border area of France and Spain, this simple yet elegant dessert has spread in popularity as far as the Philippines and Japan. Read more »

Gallo Pinto

Grains | Gallo Pinto Image

(Costa Rican, Nicaraguan red beans and rice)

If there is one meal that everyone in Nicaragua and Costa Rica eats, it's gallo pinto. This hearty, healthy and filling dish is your basic rice and beans. The beans in this case are red, and the color of the beans on the rice gives gallo pinto, or "painted rooster," its name. Costa Ricans especially are fond of serving gallo pinto with scrambled eggs for breakfast. 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 »


Breads | Nacatamales, Tied

(Honduran, Nicaraguan meat and vegetable-filled tamales)

Nacatamales, are popular steamed corncakes from Nicaragua and Honduras. They are similar to Mexican tamales but are larger, filled with meat and vegetables and steamed in banana leaves. Nacatamales are special occasion food and are most often served as a Sunday morning meal or at Christmas, weddings and other large celebrations. Read more »

Pastel de Tres Leches

Desserts | Pastel de Tres Leches Image

(Central American cake of three milks)

The famous cake of three milks, pastel de tres leches is believed to have originated in Nicaragua. It has become very popular throughout Central America and is becoming more and more common in the United States. Soaking the cake in three kinds of milk gives it a rich, dense quality, almost like a cheesecake. Read more »


Beverages | Pinolillo Gourds

(Nicaraguan, Costa Rican cocoa-cornmeal beverage)

Pinolillo, also known as pinol, is a cornmeal and cocoa beverage very popular in Nicaragua. So popular in fact, that Nicaraguans often refer to themselves as pinoleros. Costa Ricans love it too. Rich and somewhat gritty, pinolillo is an ancient drink and is traditionally served in a dried gourd shell. While instant powder can be bought in many Latin markets, here's how you can make your own. 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 »

Pollo Encebollado

Ingredients | Onions

(Central American chicken simmered with onions)

Chicken smothered with onions, or pollo encebollado, is a popular homestyle dish throughout Central America. It's an incredibly easy dish to make and full of flavor. The red meat variety, bistec encebollado is also a favorite, and both versions are found on most Central American restaurant menus. 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 »

Sopa de Mondongo

Soups | Sopa de Mondongo

(Latin American tripe and vegetable soup)

This simple, nourishing stew of tripe and vegetables is found in innumerable variations throughout Latin America and around the Caribbean. On the islands of Aruba and Curaçao it is known as sopi mondongo. 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 »


Vegetables | Vigoron Image

(Nicaraguan yuca, pork rind and cabbage salad)

Vigorón is Nicaraguan fast food. Boiled yuca (cassava) is mixed with crunchy pork rinds and covered with a spicy cabbage slaw. This meal-in-one is served on a banana leaf and makes up many a Nicaraguan breakfast or late-night snack. The best vigorón is said to come from Granada. It is also popular in Costa Rica. 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 »