The Food of Christmas in Puerto Rico

As with any major holiday, Puerto Ricans have a particular menu for Christmas. Fruitcake, egg nog (as you know it) and ham take a back seat to island specialties.

Not surprisingly, a certain roast suckling pig everyone knows and loves makes an appearance, but so do pasteles and tembleque and the 'Rican version of egg nog.

Here's the full Christmas menu.

  • 01 of 04
    ••• Photo © Zain Deane

    Lechón, or roast suckling pig, is a sacred food all over the island, a weekend tradition and the perfect thing for group gatherings. But in Christmas it takes on additional importance; for most Puerto Ricans, no holiday is complete without it. There's a reverence around the lechón at Christmastime, and most 'Ricans will have a home-cooked version waiting for them ... or else.

    If you want to recreate a 'Rican Christmas classic, start with this recipe.

  • 02 of 04

    Pasteles

    ••• Photo © Zain Deane

    Pasteles, or meat pastries, are a very traditional Christmas food. Usually made with pork, they're wrapped in plantain leaves and paper for a festive, Christmas-gifty look. But as with any gift, it's what inside the packaging that counts!

    The ones shown here are much fancier, and not typical of a Christmas pastel, but they're still pretty delicious. For the Christmas version, our own Latin food guide, Hector, has a great recipe.

  • 03 of 04

    Tembleque

    A coconut-based pudding will go down smooth and easy after a rich holiday meal. Actually, I've had tembleque in this form, as brought to you by Hector, and as a hard jello-like cake.  

  • 04 of 04

    Coquito

    Puerto Rico's take on egg nog combines rum, cinnamon, cloves, coconut and egg. It's a rich, creamy drink, and every 'Rican house will have a glass ready on Christmas Day. Here's the recipe.