Traditional recipes

Best Nicaraguan Recipes

Best Nicaraguan Recipes

Nicaraguan Shopping Tips

Look to specialty stores or the ethnic aisle of your supermarket to find exotic ingredients.

Nicaraguan Cooking Tips

Try to avoid repetition of similar foods and flavors - aim for variety in textures, colors, and cooking methods.


9 Street Food Snacks You Must Try on Your Trip to Nicaragua

Getting stuck into street food is a great way to save money when you’re traveling in Nicaragua. Here are some of the top local delicacies that you should make sure you try.


Nicaraguan Arroz con Pollo Recipe

For the chicken: Place chicken, onion, bell pepper, garlic, salt, peppercorns, and water (chicken should be submerged 2 inches add more water if necessary). Squeeze lime juice into pot and add spent lime halves to pot.

Bring to boil over medium heat, then immediately reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken is cooked through (chicken’s temperature should read 160°FF), about 20 minutes.

With tongs, transfer chicken to large bowl. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite-sized pieces, removing and discarding bones. You should have 4 cups shredded chicken.

Strain broth and discard solids. Reserve 4 cups and store the rest for different use.

For the rice: Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add oil, onion, garlic, and salt and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook until darkened, about 1 minute.

Stir in rice and carrots and cook, stirring, until rice is completely coated with onion mixture, about 1 minute. Add broth and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Continue to boil until most of the liquid has evaporated and you can see small bubbles on the surface of the rice. Reduce heat to the lowest setting, cover, and cook for 20 minutes until rice is done. Remove from heat and fluff rice with chopsticks or fork.

For the arroz con pollo: Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet with high sides. Add sausage and ham and cook over medium heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to plate.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in now empty skillet. Add onion and piquillo peppers and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook until darkened, about 1 minute. Add ketchup and chicken and cook, stirring, until chicken is completely coated in mixture.

Stir in rice, then reserved sausage mixture. Stir in olives, capers, and frozen peas. Cook, stirring occasionally to allow flavors to meld, 10 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and buttered white toast.


Gallopinto (Nicaraguan Rice and Beans) Recipe

For the beans: Spread beans out in a rimmed baking sheet. Pick out any debris and broken beans. Transfer beans to colander and rinse under cold running water. Place rinsed beans in a large pot and cover with cold water water should cover beans about 3 inches. Let soak for 30 minutes.

Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer beans for 30 minutes. Turn off heat, cover beans, and let rest 1 hour. Bring beans back up to boil over high heat. Add 2 teaspoons salt and garlic, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until beans are tender, 30 to 60 minutes.

If storing the beans, cool completely, transfer beans and some of the cooking liquid to quart-sized zipper-lock bags. When ready to use, thaw out in refrigerator and heat on stovetop in saucepan or microwave.

For the rice: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add 2/3 of onion and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add rice and cook, stirring, until grains are shiny and evenly coated with oil, 2 to 3 minutes. Add water or broth and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Place bell pepper on top of rice.

Boil rice without stirring until most of the liquid has evaporated and you can see small bubbles bursting on the surface of the rice. Immediately reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover, and cook (do not stir, do not remove lid) for 15 minutes. Remove and discard bell pepper. Fluff rice with chopsticks or fork, then let cool and refrigerate for 1 day.

For the gallopinto: Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add remaining onion and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add rice and 2 cups beans to skillet and cook, stirring, until rice is evenly coated. Continue to cook, stirring, to allow flavors to meld and mixture to become slightly crisp, about 10 minutes. Cover and cook over low heat an additional 10 minutes. (See note.)


12 must try Nicaraguan dishes

When thinking of Nicaragua, food is surely not the first thing that comes to mind. However, I would dare say that it actually is delicious. The good news is that Nicaragua has some amazing produce. For example, fruit is delicious, and the country is the biggest producer of beef and lamb in Central America, so the quality of the meat is excellent. This implies that among the best things to eat in Nicaragua, there are some fabulous fruits (there are a lot of street vendors who peel fresh fruit) and freshly made fruit juice (no canned or prepacked stuff here!), as well as delicious steaks. My favourite drink when in Nicaragua is limonada: just freshly pressed lemon juice, a hint of sugar and lots of purified ice.

Yes, Nicaraguan cuisine is not internationally famous to the point of being considered UNESCO intangible cultural heritage like the Mexican one. But this mixture of indigenous and Spanish dishes and ingredients that can be truly delicious at times. There are a few dishes and snacks that are very tasty and that anybody travelling through this amazing country should try. These are a few of them:

Tajadas

Thin slices of plantain are fried in oil till they are crispy. They are a great snack that is sold everywhere in the streets. I found them perfect to accompany a sunset cerveza.

Tajadas. Photo by Gabriel López Chópite: http://bit.ly/1NUT1A7

Tostones

Thick slices of plantain fried in oil till they are soft, then drained, pressed and fried again to look like a croquette. I often had them as an appetizer along with cheese.

Nicaraguan tostones. Photo by Sejan Yun: http://bit.ly/1CqtXzH

Maduros

Ripe plantain slowly cooked in oil with a bit of sugar, generally served for breakfast – that’s how I like it!

Platanos maduros. Photo by Vegan Feast Catering: http://bit.ly/1HPCbBZ

Gallo Pinto

A real Nicaraguan staple: people in Nicaragua literally have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I did so too a few times. It is a mixture of fried rice with onion and sweet peppers, red beans which are boiled with garlic, and then everything is mixed and fried together. At breakfast, it accompanies fried or scrambled eggs and a platano maduro at lunch or dinner it is served with grilled chicken, pork or beef along with an ensalada de repollo (cabbage salad) and a corn tortilla.

Gallo Pinto. Photo by hollykathryn: http://bit.ly/1HP1VQH

Vigoron

This dish is typical from Granada. My favourite place to eat it at is a kiosk in the main square called “El Gordito”. To prepare the dish, a plate is covered in plantain tree leaves and then layered with yucca, chicharrón (pork scratchings) and ensalada de repollo. The name literally means “very vigorous” as it supposedly gives a lot of energy!

Vigoron. Photo by nakashi: http://bit.ly/1Cqwh9R

Indio Viejo

In order to prepare this dish, meat is cooked with onions, garlic, sweet peppers and tomatoes. Tortillas are softened in water and grounded till they form a dough. The meat is shredded then fried with the vegetables, the dough and orange juice and finally broth is added. Not for the faint of heart – I did find it tasty although a bit heavy.

Sopa de Mondongo

I must admit I was not too keen to try this dish as I am not a huge fan of tripe. This is a specialty of Masatepe, in the department of Masaya: the sopa de mondongo is made with mondongo (tripe) which is washed in bicarbonate, orange and lemon and then chopped and cooked with onion, sweet peppers and garlic. When the tripe is soft, rice and chopped vegetables (chayote – which is similar to zucchini, sweet peppers, onions and corn) are added. It is served with avocado and cheese.

Sopa de Mondongo. Photo by Alberto Rodriguez: http://bit.ly/1NQ6VCV

Quesillos

I am very health conscious, but quesillos are delicious. This cholesterol bomb is originally from La Paz Centro and Nagarote, in the department of León and in fact that is where it is best to try it. It consists of a freshly baked corn tortilla which is layered with thin slices of a cheese called quesillo, then wrapped up in a plastic bag. A salad of pickled onion is added, and finally fresh cream is poured over, with a bit of salt. They are messy to eat, and heavy but oh so tasty.

Quesillos. Photo by Stefan Krasowski: http://bit.ly/1G8K7IR

Nacatamal

Nacatamales are made of dough prepared with ground corn and butter, stuffed with small pieces of pork or chicken, rice, potatoes, onions and sweet peppers. Then the mixture is packed in plantain leaves, folded and boiled for a long time to reach tasty perfection.

Nacatamal. Photo by H.C.: http://bit.ly/1HhhCMY

Rondon

I love fish and I love soup, so I was bound to love rondon, a soup kind of dish originally from Bluefields that is mostly found on the Caribbean coast and is generally prepared with fish cooked with sweet peppers, pepper, a herb called nargan, onion, plantains, yucca and new cocoyam. It really is delicious!

I had this delicious meal at some Nicaraguan friend’s home. It is usually eaten on Sundays but takes a long time to cook, so preparation starts on Saturdays. Baho, or vaho, is prepared with beef, plantains and yuca wrapped in banana leaves and steamed over water in a large pot.

Baho. Photo by Antonio Carillo: http://bit.ly/1NUSj5X

Pastel de Tres Leches

A cake that is soaked in 3 kinds of milk (whole milk, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk) to give it a rich, dense texture almost like cheesecake. I am lactose intolerant, so you can imagine how I felt after eating this delicious cake. But it was worth it!

Tres Leches Cake. Photo by Lorelei Norman on Wikimedia: http://bit.ly/1dNEb1b

Have you been to Nicaragua?

What was your favourite food there?

Claudia is from Cagliari (Sardinia) and is obsessed with travelling. A former human rights lawyer and academic, after devoting her life to the protection of cultural identity, in November 2013 Claudia decided to give in to her biggest passion and started travelling around Latin America, and she has hardly stopped since. Blogging came as a natural consequence, as Claudia wanted to keep her family and friends updated with her adventures:


3 Nicaraguan Desserts to Put on Your List

1. Bunuelos

These are a deep-fried treat made with a dough of yucca flour and cheese. To top it off, these small round sweets are drizzled with a sweet cinnamon-sugar syrup. Need I say more?

2. Rosquillas

A crunchy butter cookie made using corn flour and Nicaraguan cheese (which is dry and a bit salty). While some brown sugar can be added to the recipe, this dessert is not overly sweet.

3. Chocolate

Saving the best for last, chocolate! All of the ingredients needed to produce amazing chocolate are grown right in Nicaragua. For an indulgent treat, go to the Chocomuseo (Chocolate Museum) in Granada.

Not only do they give free tours outlining the history of Chocolate, they also offer classes to make your own. At the time of writing, they also had a chocolatey breakfast buffet and a chocolate spa. Go ahead, you deserve it!


Barry Oliver - Surfing Nahua

Desserts aren&rsquot too popular in Nicaragua. Desserts in Nicaragua are mostly just like desserts in Mexico. Most of the time we eat dessert out of foreign restaurants in Nicaragua. French-owned or Portuguese-owned restaurants offer some of the best desserts in Nicaragua. There&rsquos a lot of cacao growing in Nicaragua, so there are a lot of chocolate desserts.

Desserts aren&rsquot too popular in Nicaragua. Desserts in Nicaragua are mostly just like desserts in Mexico. Most of the time we eat dessert out of foreign restaurants in Nicaragua. French-owned or Portuguese-owned restaurants offer some of the best desserts in Nicaragua. There&rsquos a lot of cacao growing in Nicaragua, so there are a lot of chocolate desserts.

6 Typical Nicaraguan Dishes We Can’t Get Enough Of

This traditional Nicaraguan dish consists of a cabbage salad known as curtido (chopped cabbage, tomatoes, onions, and chili pepper marinated in vinegar and salt), boiled yuca, and chicharrones (fried pork with skin or with meat) wrapped in banana leaf. This dish is often eaten without silverware. At C$40 ($1.48 USD) vigorón makes for a tasty, filling and affordable lunch.

#2 TOSTONES CON QUESO

An appetizer that you’ll find on the menu at almost every Nicaraguan restaurant is Tostones con Queso. This simple snack of fried plantains topped with a cube of deep fried cheese is often served with chilero (a mixture of pickled onions, carrots and hot peppers). This dish is enjoyed by Nicaraguans, tourists and travellers alike.

#3 JALAPEÑO CHICKEN

For Gordon Nicaraguan salsa de jalapeño is like Frank’s® RedHot®. He could “Put that s^#t on everything”. But his favorite way to have it? On chicken! Sautéed jalapeño and onions are combined with sour cream and a little bit of milk to make this tasty sauce which is typically served on chicken, but is equally as good on steak or fish.

#4 CEVICHE

Ceviche spooned onto crackers with a dash of chile is one of my favorite Nicaraguan appetizers. It’s a nice light tasty snack that is great for sharing. If you enjoy fish (cooked or raw) and have yet to sample ceviche I highly recommend you give it a try.

#5 TAJADAS DE POLLO

Barbecued chicken with thinly sliced fried green plantains (tajadas), gallo pinto and cabbage salad (curtido) is a staple at most every Nicaraguan fritanga and happens to be another favorite typical dish of ours. We enjoyed this particular version of Tajadas de Pollo at Chiverias which is located in San Juan del Sur on the corner near Zen Yoga and the church square .

#6 PESCADO FRITO ENTERO

Prior to moving to Nicaragua I can’t ever recall a time when I ate whole fried fish, but now it’s my absolute favorite way to have it. This dish is almost always served with salad, rice and tostoñes and a garlic or tomato salsa. At C$180 ($6.74 USD) for fresh fish and three sides it doesn’t get much better than this.

What is your favorite traditional Nicaraguan dish?

10 Comments

This food looks fabulous. Wish I was there to eat this in the warm sunshine.

Thanks for all the dishe names and what they have in them! Have tried some and will try the rest now!! YUM!

Why no mention the Saturday night special, nachatamals? When we lived in Granada, vigoron always came with these little, very hot peppers that looked like capers. We were constantly reminding guests that they were not capers and could be very hot, Cannot remember their name. Can anyone help me out?

Sorry Neats, we’re not really fans of the nacatamale.

Those little hot peppers are called “chile congo”.

James goes mad for ceviche – he would have it for every meal if he could – and I am crazy in love with pescado frito!

So glad to see these beautiful dishes. Hoping to be there on the 26 th or so. Hotel recommendations…?.

I sent you an email regarding hotel recommendations. Check your inbox!

OMG. I am going to be a porker when I get there!

i love all these cool dishes! i want to eat them ALL! I am working on a spanish menue project in school, (im a freshman) and this has helped a whole ton! thanks!

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We’re Gordon and Elisha. A Canadian couple living a relaxed life in the colorful beach town of San Juan del Sur. If you’re looking for information on life and travel in Nicaragua you’ve come to the right place!

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Vigorón

This is one of the most popular “typical” meals. Consisting of cooked yucca (cassava), cabbage, tomato in a vinegar-chili sauce and chicharron (fried pork skins) served in a banana leaf, this dish is found all over Nicaragua. However, those “in-the-know” say the best Vigorón is in Granada.

This exquisite dish combines beef, onion, garlic, vinegar, sour orange, ripe plantain, and yucca. The trick is to cook the ingredients just long enough to blend the flavors a little, but still taste the original flavors of each item as well.


The history of Indio Viejo beef stew

Indio viejo is one of the oldest native dishes in Nicaraguan cuisine. The ingredients are native to the region, like corn and beef.

It is said that the name of this dish comes from the lie of an indigenous leader to two Spaniards who passed through a tribe located in Ometepe.

The Europeans saw the indigenous eating and when asked what they were having, one replied that he was enjoying an old Indian. They called it that because it was made of one of the oldest members of the tribe who had just died.

The Spaniards, in the end, decided not to try the dish. But, the truth behind this legend, is that the leader of the tribe told that lie because he did not want to share the food.


Budgeting for Meals

In the Nicaragua capital of Managua, international chains like McDonald's are almost as common as authentic Nicaragua restaurants. Head to the market in Leon for some low-cost Nicaragua cuisine, or the central park in Granada for a plate from a streetside vendor. Along Nicaragua’s gorgeous coast, in areas like San Juan del Sur and Bluefields, you can enjoy some of the world’s freshest seafood—including lobster—at beachfront restaurants. Fortunately, Nicaragua food is super-cheap, and that includes the lobster.