These Cuban appetizers and snacks will be a great addition to your holiday party or any special occasion. In this collection you can explore a variety of popular Cuban recipes that will bring tropical vibes to your next party.
Many of the ingredients used in Cuban cuisine are easy to find but some of the exotic ones can require some effort. Not to worry, in this Cuban recipe collection you can find suitable substitutions and frozen alternatives to fresh ingredients. To learn more about cooking Cuban style, read our Cuban food basics post.
Read on to find wonderful appetizer ideas for gameday, your next tropical themed party, or anytime.
A medianoche (which translates to midnight) is a popular sandwich typically eaten as a snack or after a night of partying. Cut them into strips or triangles to make them into small sandwich bites.
2. Chicharrones de pollo
Replace chicken wings at your next party with the Cuban version of fried chicken. In this recipe, dark meat chicken pieces are cut into chunks and seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper. Then they’re coated in seasoned flour and fried until golden and crispy.
3. Malanga chips
Malanga is a starchy root vegetable that’s popular in the Caribbean and Latin America. They are similar to potatoes with a mild, earthy flavor. These crispy baked malanga chips are easy to make and perfect for snacking.
4. Chicken Empanadas
These shredded chicken empanadas are great as an appetizer or snack. With shredded chicken in a flavorful tomato sauce, these will be a delicious addition to any party.
5. Cuban Sandwich
The Cuban sandwich (also called a Cubano) is made with ham, roast pork, pickles and swiss cheese all generously stacked on Cuban bread. Then the sandwich is then lightly buttered and pressed until toasty. Make a large sandwich and cut it into strips or triangles for a delicious appetizer that will fly off the table.
6. Frituras de Malanga
Frituras de malanga (malanga fritters) are grated malanga combined with egg and flavored with parsley, garlic, salt and vinegar. They’re crispy on the outside, tender and mild on the inside.
7. Yuca Frita
Fried yuca is similar to French fries. It has a mild flavor, with a creamy and slightly grainy texture. When they’re fried the outside gets super crispy and the inside stays soft and creamy. Serve them with a cilantro garlic sauce and make sure you get one before they are all gone.
8. Crema de Malanga
Crema de Malanga (cream of malanga) is a thick, creamy soup, made creamy more by the texture of the Malanga root than actual cream. It’s a perfect starter because it will tide everyone over until dinner is ready without being too filling.
9. Pastelitos de Carne
Pastelitos de carne are meat filled pastries that are topped with a sweet glaze. These are my absolute favorite appetizer, and they are super easy to make. For the pastry we take help from the market and purchase puff pastry; and that sweet glaze is honey.
Tostones are fried green plantains; actually, they’re twice fried green plantains. They are often served as a side dish to a myriad of Cuban dishes, but they are great as an appetizer too. You can even top them with cooked shrimp or ropa vieja to make them extra special.
11. Sopa de Platano
Sopa de platano (plantain soup) is a thick, starchy soup. This is a Cuban-style sopa de platano that is wonderful to serve before dinner. The ingredients for this soup are few and simple so that the plantains get a chance to shine.
12. Cuban Sliders
These Cuban sliders are a mini version of the popular Cuban sandwich. They’re made with pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickles all layered on slider buns. They’re a fun addition to any party and a crowd pleaser for sure!
13. Cuban Coffee
A little Cuban coffee (café cubano) offers your guests a little pick-me-up. Make a colada at the beginning of the party then a little more towards the end (especially if there is dancing involved). This recipe breaks down the steps to making the best Cuban coffee!
These Cuban-style beef empanadas are filled with a flavorful picadillo. They are ideal for breakfast, as an appetizer or mid-day snack.