11 Authentic Guatemalan Dishes You Should Try | Top Guatemalan Dishes

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For many tourists or single travelers, being unfamiliar with Guatemala, its culture, and food might be difficult. For anyone wanting to visit Guatemala, a quick and precise introduction to the country’s gastronomy and history would go a long way.

My vacation to Guatemala exposed me to a variety of enlightening culinary experiences. Guatemalan cuisine is excellent, inspired by Mayan and Spanish culture and oh-so-authentic!

There was not a single dish that I did not like. Every native Guatemalan food has a distinct flavor that stems from the multi-cultural land traditions.

The nation is well-known for its steamed corn, rice, tortillas, and beans, among other things. When you taste their loaded baked dishes packed with unusual cheese, potatoes, chicken, pig, and beans, your mouth will wet.

Traditional Guatemalan cuisine is heavily influenced by Mayan or Mesoamerican inhabitants. Corn was widely grown and consumed by ancient humans.

Guatemala, which borders Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador, is rich in cultural variety, natural and archaeological beauty, and culinary luxury.

After Guatemala, are you going to explore Mexico? These guidelines may be found here:

  • 10 amazing restaurants in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico
  • 17 best things to do in Mexico City
  • 20 Best Restaurants In Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico

If you’re a gourmet and a traveler like me, Guatemala’s local streets have a lot to offer, from delectable cuisine to warm pastries. So let’s go deep into Guatemalan cuisine and look at the eleven highlights that made the largest effect on me.

11 Authentic Guatemalan Dishes You Should Try

Pollo Pepiano Chicken Soup

Pepian De Pollo, Guatemala’s national dish, is a thick, spicy, and creamy chicken stew with a pepitoria and sesame seed paste. To compliment the overall tastes and scent of the dish, veggies and chicken pieces have been blended.

Pepian is the most popular main-course food in Guatemala, often served with tortillas and rice. While this is a chicken stew, you can easily swap pig or beef (Pepian De Res.)

Fried Corn PattiesPupusas

Pupusas are a traditional Guatemalan meal. It serves crispy corn tortillas loaded with refried beans, pork, and cheese. Since pupusas are so popular, numerous kinds of filling may be utilized based on personal preference.

  • Traditional chicharron (pork) with cheese and mashed beans.
  • Chicken pupusas. 
  • Restaurants also use loroco—a Mesoamerican vine, along with bell pepper, onions, tomato, rice, etc., in their fillings. 

Pupusas are usually served with handmade spicy tomato salsa and curtido.

Curtido is often cooked with raw salad vegetables such as carrots, onions, cauliflower, and capsicum (optional). This vegetable combo tastes delicious when seasoned with spices and vinegar.

Dress these vegetables on top of your golden-brown crispy pupusas and you’ll be in paradise in Guatemala.

Tamale with Banana LeavesGuatemalan Christmas Food

Vegetables were added to the beef stew. A Guatemalan tamale, unlike a Mexican tamale covered in corn leaves, is wrapped and cooked in large, green banana leaves. Despite being prepared and steamed in a variety of ways, Guatemalan tamales steal the stage with their unique flavors and chicken.

Both leaves are beneficial. Banana leaves, on the other hand, are thicker, juicier, and greener, providing fresher aesthetics as well as several health advantages to your tamale. Also, banana leaves will allow for better steaming without the need of water.

Tamales are a popular dish in Guatemala as well as other Central American nations such as Mexico. It is prepared with steamed corn bread, beef stew, and either steamed or fried vegetables.

For the baked foundation, the Corn Masa is a thick maize and water mixture. The meal is topped with a meat stew, and the gravy includes stock, sesame seeds, pepitorias, spices, tomatoes, and other vegetables.

Yellow pepper, for example. These components are sandwiched between steamed banana leaves. It’s topped with seasoned, raw, or fried veggies such capsicum, onions, bell pepper, tomatoes, and green onions.

Cook on top of the paste. Next, as the last layer, add veggies to the dish. All of this is wrapped in a banana leaf and put in a large container to steam. And in an hour, you’ll have the ideal Christmas Tamale. Then, apply the corn paste to the leaves. The gravy comes next.


Guatemala empanadas are a vegetarian pleasure found on the streets of Central America. It is frequently buttery and cooked till crisp. These pastries are filled with sautéed veggies and topped with salad and dry spices.

Outside of the nation, you may get meat versions of this meal. In Guatemala, however, the most common stuffing is potatoes, capsicum, and spinach with tomatoes, onions, and bell pepper added.

Sweet empanadas are being fried. The filling is made of milk, sugar, and condensed cream. Empanadas Manjar De Leche or Dulce De Leche are another famous delicacy in Guatemala. There has been a little modification in baking.

You can always add chocolate to the stuffing while it’s cooking. Cinnamon, vanilla essence, eggs, and 50% corn flour and 50% all-purpose flour are used in the pastry.

This traditional Guatemalan breakfast meal was given to the nation by Spanish settlers. Additional options for empanada fillings include fish, shellfish, and pork.

Tostadas de Noodles o Enchiladas

vegetarian). Enchiladas from Guatemala and Enchiladas from Mexico are two distinct recipes. Mexican enchiladas are wrapped chicken tortilla bliss. Guatemalan enchiladas, on the other hand, are taco-like open tostadas with prepared salsa, veggies, noodles, and toppings (meat).

Again, noodle tostadas are a popular Guatemalan street snack with several variations. Noodle tostadas, beef and lettuce tacos, cheese and mixed vegetable tostadas, chicken tostadas, and the list goes on.

Guatemalan Enchiladas, topped with abundance of veggies, are regarded as one of the country’s healthiest fast snacks. On top, there’s a cooked or baked egg, ground chicken, and beans.


Hilachas are similar to pepian in that the primary meal is generally rice, beans, and tortillas. The stew is made with beef flank or flat iron steak, potatoes, vegetables, guajillo (a fiery, dried mirasol chile from Spain), tomato sauce, and other ingredients.

Hilachas’ flesh is readily shredded in the semi-spicy stew. You may have simple Guatemalan rice or mixed-vegetable rice with your hilachas to make a great supper.


Kakik was also designated as part of Guatemala’s intangible heritage in 2007, and it is considered one of the country’s national meals. The dish’s name and recipe are originated from the qeqchi ethnic groups, where ik refers meaning spicy. As a result, Kakik could be the spiciest turkey stew in the nation.

Kakik is a tasty beef stew with a combination of cobanera, achiote, coriander, and other chilies for those who like something hotter and spicier.

But, if you’re not accustomed to a lot of heat, most chilies are smoked to soften their flavor. Kakik, like pepian or hilachas, goes well with rice, beans, and tamale (wrapped in banana leaves).

Kakik’s primary component is turkey legs, however boneless turkey flesh chunks may also be used in the stew. Tomatoes, cilantro, and chiles are possible additions.

Fiambre Salad or All Saints Day Salad

Fiambre Salad, prepared and garnished with over 100 components, is the All Saints Day special! This day is observed with tremendous zeal in honor of recognized and unknown saints. People devote hours and days to preparing various meats and marinated veggies for the Fiambre.

Chicken breasts, smoked sausage (chorizo), salami, ham, mortadella, and various chicken and hog variations are also popular meats. You may also use beef and turkey in this recipe.

Green lettuce, potatoes, dried thyme, tomatoes, green peas, maize, pacayas, bay leaf, mini-gherkins, Spanish olives, beets, and other seasonal vegetables. The majority of these vegetables are boiled and then marinated. Cauliflower and red peppers are popular salad veggies.

Champagne vinegar, for example. The components are either cooked in oil, boiled, or marinated. The large salad tray is then topped with Parmesan, queso fresco cheese, parsley, boiled-cut eggs, olive oil, species, honey (optional), and white wine vinegar.

Breakfast Traditional

Desayuno Tradicional is a traditional Guatemalan breakfast that may be found in any comfortable restaurant. Breakfast consists of typical Guatemalan healthy quick dishes.

This comprises boiled or scrambled eggs, frijoles (refried and mashed black beans), sliced and fried banana chips, chirmol (tomato sauce), and tortillas.

This dish is topped with white cheese (queso fresco), sour cream (frijoles), and fresh fruits, and it is served with black coffee.

When you choose Desayuno Tradicional, you will experience the ideal blend of sweet, sour, cooked, boiled, fried, crunchy, and mashed breakfast. As the Guatemalans say, Desayuno Tipica ChapinIt’s a champion’s breakfast!

Relleno de Guatemala

My passionate fondness for spicy fast food often leads me deep into the alleyways delivering the true flavor of the nation. Chile Rellenos is a traditional Guatemalan dish.

A roasted sweet or poblano bell pepper is filled with minced meat and veggies. Potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, peas, and other vegetables may be included. The filled chilies are then dipped in beaten egg whites before being pan-fried till crisp and golden brown.


On a sweeter note, Guatemala offers Rellenitos, a Spanish-influenced dish. These deep-fried rellenitos are made of plantains (green, thick bananas) and black beans. They are presented with honey and powdered sugar on top.

Rellenitos are oval in form and are often eaten with coffee in the morning. After being mixed with sugar, these black mashed beans and firm plantains have a similar composition, texture, and flavor like chocolate.

After frying, rellenitos have a rich golden-brown hue with a white contrast of sprinkled, crushed sugar.

FoodChojin Bonus Guatemalan Culture

Salads and tortillas are popular foods in Guatemala. Chojin, often known as Chicharron Salad, is one such salad treat. Chicharron (pig skin) is fried and combined with lime juice with other vegetables such as radish, white onions, cilantro, tomatoes, and so on.

Season with salt, pepper, and other spices to experience a delightful combination of meat and fresh, juicy veggies.

Food for Christmas in Guatemala The Festival of Sweets!

Guatemalans celebrate Christmas with a variety of delicacies. The signature dish is a tamale covered in banana leaves. Yet, the nation also appreciates sweet sweets and dinners throughout the festive season, like torrejas, bunuelos, tortas (sweet bread), sweet black bean tamale, and ponche.

Torrejas bread is only accessible throughout the season and is rather easy to prepare. Boil the milk with the honey and cinnamon stick until it has the required creamy color and consistency.

Soak your bread in the semi-sweetened milk for 15 minutes. Dip the moistened bread slices in the beaten egg white and fry until crispy and golden brown.

Bunuelos are sweet balls prepared with all-purpose flour, eggs, and baking powder. They are accompanied with agua fiel, a sweet, viscous syrup prepared from water, sugar, and cinnamon sticks. Pour the syrup over the balls after they’re ready for a joyous evening.

Layer by layer, corn leaf. Sweet potato and black bean tamale is made with fried and mashed sweet potatoes as well as entire black beans. Cumin, pepper, and salt are sprinkled over the dish. The tamale is then wrapped in a banana leaf.

The first layer is tomato paste, the second is mashed sweet potatoes, and the third layer is black beans. It takes more than an hour to completely steam the wrapped leaves. The first layer is made of maize masa (dough).

Guatemalan Food Facts

  • The three main ingredients that Guatemalan people use in food are rice, beans, and corn. 
  • Spanish and Maya cultures greatly influenced the cuisine.
  • Guatemalan food is not as spicy as it may appear, except for kak’ik. 
  • It’s inexpensive and diverse. 
  • The Guatemala diet is rich in meat and poultry and makes delicious stews and gravy. 
  • Chocolate originated in Guatemala. 
  • Guatemala produces some of the best single-origin coffee bean varieties. 

Here’s a Guatemalan food guide to help you enjoy nutritious, sanitary meals in the nation.

Guatemalan Food Frequently Asked Questions

Is Guatemalan cuisine spicy?

No. Guatemalan cuisine is not hot, despite its reputation because to its red-chili stew and look. Instead, it’s smoked and has faint spice notes.

Apart from the two nationally famous dishes, pepian and kakik, the majority of Guatemalan cuisine are mild and delicate in taste.

What should you avoid eating in Guatemala?

Avoid buying and drinking peeled fruits and tap water when in Guatemala. Skip the hot pepian and kakik stew if you’re not accustomed to spicy cuisine. Apart from that, Guatemala has a wide variety of wonderful dishes.

  • Polvorosas: A baked cookie delight with a crisp layer on the outside and powdery goodness on the inside
  • Borracho: It’s also widely known as the drunk cake. For the extravagant taste and drunk muse, this pastry is soaked in rum syrup, milk pudding, and fruits. 

Is it possible to drink all you want in Guatemala?

  • The Christmas hot milk drink—Ponche with piquete or Bacardi Rum.
  • Gallo and Moza beer. 
  • Quetzalteca Rosa De Jamaica: It’s an inexpensive drink with sweet, robust, and intense notes. 
  • Zacapa rum.

To conclude the 11 Traditional Guatemalan Foods,

The streets and restaurants of Guatemala may seem to be easy meal options, but the variety is astounding. The nation is a gastronomic center serving the entirety of Central America and sections of Spain.

Boiling eggs, black coffee, spicy salad, tacos, and tortillas. Mornings in the country may still be spent eating a traditional American breakfast of scrambled eggs.

You can experience the Mayan and Spanish traditions of kakik turkey stew and rellenitos in the afternoons and nights. Guatemala has much to offer at all times of day. If you are planning a trip to Guatemala, Christmas is a terrific time to sample delicious cuisine, drinks, and sweets.

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