We love Latin American food but sometimes, we feel like it doesn’t get the attention it rightfully deserves. We won’t argue that tacos and burritos are delicious, but they’re a small part of diverse cuisine that spans across the entire South American continent. Depending on where you are, you’ll find meals that are influenced by African cuisine (Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic), Italian (Argentina and Uruguay), Native American (Mexico, Central America, and Colombia), and more. You probably already know this, but when it comes to cooking, we stand by the fact that it’s all about the sauce. In Latin American cuisine, you’ll find lots of spicy chili-based sauces, like ají, red chimichurri, pebre (which is also made from ají peppers, and mole). You’ll also find plenty of refreshing sauces and condiments as well, like pico de gallo, green chimicurri, and salsas. There’s also guac — we love guac. If you’re lucky enough to live around a lot of Latin American groceries and restaurants or if it’s the cuisine you grew up with, then you’ve already got a head start on making these delicious recipes at home. But if you’re a beginner, maybe you’re not sure where to start. That’s where we come in.
You can make Latin American cuisine in your own kitchen! Worried about obscure ingredients? Don’t be — most can be found in the ethnic food aisle in your grocery store or, like hot peppers, are easily substituted. So, get your shopping list ready because we have 15 vegan Latin American recipes for you to try!
1. Papas Rellenas: Eggplant and Potato Croquettes
Papas Rellenas are a popular croquette in many Latin American countries. In this recipe, the crispy potato croquettes have a savory, sweet, and spicy eggplant filling that’s surrounded by creamy mashed potatoes. They’re then paired with a creamy and irresistible avocado sauce for dipping, but they can also be served with salsa or aji sauce. These are a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes, but it’s also worth making mashed potatoes just to experience this flavorful appetizer.
2. Seitan Asada
This Seitan Asada is a take on carne asada, a dish consisting of grilled beef that’s grilled until it becomes charred. Luckily, seitan is a wonderful substitute for beef! These seitan steaks are marinated in a spicy sauce overnight, to give it as much time as possible to absorb all the flavors. The next day, all you need to do is throw it on the grill and cook until it chars just slightly. Serve it in tacos, burrito bowls, or with barbecue sides like corn on the cob, beans, and coleslaw.
3. Cauliflower Ceviche
Ceviche differs from country to country. While it’s traditionally made with raw, cured fish, it’s easy to make it plant-based! This Cauliflower Ceviche is closest to the Mexican version which contains onions, tomatoes, and peppers. Onion, cilantro, and lime juice have also been added to create a spicy, tangy, and refreshing appetizer. Serve in an avocado for a fun presentation and with plenty of tostadas or chips!
4. Cucumber Chili Paletas
Do you ever wish that your frozen treats could be spicy and chilly? Look no further! These Cucumber Chili Paletas, Mexican ice pops made from water, fruit, and sugar, are a mix of contrasting flavors — sweet, sour, refreshing, and spicy. To prepare these cucumber chili ice pops, you only need five ingredients and they can be prepared in less than half an hour.
5. Chipotle Sausage, Peppers, and Guacamole Flatbreads With Cilantro Cream
This dish of Chipotle Sausage, Peppers, and Guacamole Flatbreads has all the flavors of Latin American cuisine you could ever want. Spicy vegan chipotle sausages sautéed with bell peppers, bring the heat while creamy guac, and cool cilantro cream keep your palate cool at the same time. Serve this on top of flatbread or roll it up like you would with a burrito. Fun fact: a chipotle pepper is actually a smoked jalapeño pepper, rather than its own kind of pepper. The more you know!
6. Tamale Bowls
These Tamale Bowls are a quick and easy dish, ready in less than 30 minutes, but they bring home the flavors of a bowl of tamale pie. The filling contains black beans, pinto beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, chilis, and vegan cheese. For ease and simplicity, this recipe utilizes pre-cooked polenta rolls or logs, available at most supermarkets.
7. Chorizo Torta
Looking for a no-fuss dinner? Chorizo Torta, to the rescue! A torta is basically the Mexican version of a sandwich A bolillo, or French-style roll, is spread with refried beans and creamy avocado and filled with a spicy chorizo center, tomato, and a couple of slices of onion. The whole thing is then toasted on a griddle, similar to how you would make a panini. Serve this delicious and warm sandwich with pickled jalapeños for an extra kick.
8. Roasted Poblano Cilantro Empanadas
These Roasted Poblano Cilantro Empanadas are full of flavorful goodness! The poblano adds the yummiest roasted pepper flavor and the combination of poblano, cilantro, and melty vegan cheese cannot be beat. The slaw becomes a beautiful bright pink and adds the much needed fresh crunchy quality to the mix. The beauty of empanadas is that they are easy to reheat, which makes them great for when you’re on the go.
9. Mango Lime Tres Leches Cake
Traditional tres leches cake is made from sponge cake soaked in three types of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream.In this dairy-free recipe for Mango Lime Tres Leches Cake, vanilla sponge cake is soaked in a mixture of soy milk, coconut milk, and coconut cream are used to create a dessert that’s moist and decadent. Topped with coconut cream frosting, fresh mango, and lime zest, this cake tastes like a cross between a mango margarita and a traditional tres leches cake. It’s not overly sweet, making it perfect for any celebration.
10. Olive Oil Tamales
Tamales are made by steaming masa, a corn-based dough, inside a corn husk until tender. Typically, tamales are made with vegetable shortening, but with this recipe for Olive Oil Tamales, you can leae that shortening in the dust! The result is a tender masa with a distinct flavor that pairs perfectly with rich tomato sauce and vegan cheese.
11. Frijoles Negros: Cuban Black Beans
You haven’t truly experienced black beans until you’ve tried a delicious Latin American version. These Frijoles Negros are rich, bold, and incredibly tender. The trick is the seasoning: onions, garlic cloves, black pepper, bay leaves, cumin, and oregano. Simple, but oh so very good.
12. Salsa de Palmito: Brazillian Hearts of Palm Salad
This simple and refreshing Salsa de Palmito is perfect for your summer barbecue. Hearts of palm are tossed with tomatoes, onion, and spring onion in a simple dressing made from olive oil, lime, salt, and pepper, to give it a little bit of spice. If you’ve never tried hearts of palm before, this salad is a great place to start.
13. Chorizo-Spiced Potato Enchiladas
These Chorizo-Spiced Potato Enchiladas are really tasty! Potatoes are tossed in a blend of hot spices and wrapped up in a warm tortilla with black beans and fresh herbs. They’re then topped with a spicy sauce and a creamy vegan cheese sauce. The red sauce is simple and easy, the potatoes are mix-and-bake and the beans and greens are minimally processed as the flavor is all provided by the chorizo spices. Simple to make, although not completely fuss-free, this is well worth the minimal effort.
14. Black Bean Potato Pupusas
A pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran dish consisting of a thick corn tortilla filled with a blend of meat, cheese, and beans. However, these Black Bean Potato Pupusas are totally vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free! Oh yeah, and they’re just as good as any pupusa you can find at a street cart.
15. Mushroom Ropa Vieja
How do you make a vegan ropa vieja? The answer: Portobello mushrooms. They are “meaty,” can be thinly sliced or shredded, and when cooked, they even have the right color. In this Mushroom Ropa Vieja, juicy, beefy Portobello mushrooms are cooked in a rich sauce of sofrito, olives, and cumin with delicious colorful vegetables.
We got hungry just looking at all these pictures of delicious food.
Lead image source: Chorizo-Spiced Potato Enchiladas