Traditional Christmas Food in Puerto Rico

As with any major holiday, Puerto Ricans have a particular menu for Christmas. Fruitcake, eggnog (at least the Americanized version) and ham take a back seat to island specialties.

Not surprisingly, a certain roasted suckling pig every Puerto Rican knows and loves makes an appearance, but so do pasteles and tembleque and the creamy and rich 'Rican version of eggnog.

Check out the recipes to plan a full Christmas menu full of PR island flavor.

  • 01 of 04

    Lechón Asado

    roast sucking pig (lechon)
    ••• Getty Images/Wicki58

    Lechón, or roast suckling pig, is a sacred food all over the island, a weekend tradition and the perfect thing for group gatherings. But at 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.

  • 02 of 04

    Pasteles

    pasteles
    ••• Flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture

    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.

  • 03 of 04

    Tembleque

    tembleque
    ••• Flickr/photomato

    A coconut-based pudding will go down smooth and easy after a rich holiday meal. Creamy, jiggly and delicious, this Puerto Rican sweet treat is perfect for the holidays, parties, or anytime a special dessert is in order.

  • 04 of 04

    Coquito

    Holiday eggnog with cinnamon sticks.
    ••• Getty Images/Diane Macdonald

    Puerto Rico's take on eggnog combines rum, cinnamon, cloves, coconut, and egg. It's a rich, creamy drink, and every PR household will have a glass ready on Christmas Day.​