23 Most Popular Venezuelan Foods
Venezuela is a country with an incredibly diverse culture, from the bagpipes of the maracuchos to the joropo (national dance). And it has culinary traditions that remain almost intact from the beginning of its existence.
An entire book would be needed to cover the huge variety of Venezuelan cuisine. But to make it easier, in this article, we’ll showcase the main dish of each of its 24 states.
Each Venezuelan state has its own culture and regional gastronomy. It took us some time to decide which dishes to choose and, of course, which to leave out – there are so many options and too little space.
Anyway, let’s start our culinary trip through this beautiful country and round-up some of the best foods you need to try out on your next trip to Venezuela.
Most Popular Dish in Amazonia
With a gastronomy based on foods that grow in the wild, iAmazonia’s dishes are made up of ingredients that are, let’s say, there for the taking. Living along the largest river in the world by volume, most of the diet is based on freshwater fish.
1. Pisillo de Pescado
The preparation of this dish is somewhat time consuming but it’s not complicated. Simply, place the fish in boiling water and let it cook until it’s as soft as possible so that the meat can be easily separated from the bones.
The locals usually prepare the pisillo with very few ingredients since the fish has a wonderfully fresh flavor when simply seasoned with salt.
But this does not mean that these can’t be added:
- a little oil or powder of onoto (a spice made from the seeds of the achiote tree)
After stirring all the ingredients together with the cooked fish, the dish is ready for the table.
Most Popular Dish in Anzoátegui
It’s natural to expect that the most popular dishes from this coastal region would be based on fish, but the popular dish I’ve chosen may surprise you!
2. Morrocoy Cake
The morrocoy cake is a dish based on bananas, eggs, onions, and the main ingredient: turtle (turtle meat is considered seafood by many)!
The cooking process is very similar to the Amazon dish – cooking the turtle until it’s soft enough and the meat falls off the bones. After cooling, it’s mixed with coriander and garlic and stir fried.
The banana is chopped into wheels and fried, then laid out to form a bed for the turtle mixture. On top, there’s another layer, this time of tortillas made with eggs. This is repeated to form a cake of a significant thickness.
This rare but delicious dish is something to look out for when you’re visiting this beautiful coastal area.
Most Popular Dish in Apure
The Apurian region offers a wide and varied range of Creole delicacies using river fish, fried yucca, and much more.
3. Veguero Pavilion
This simple dish is the state’s most popular meal, made with roasted chiguire (a large rodent), white rice, slices of ripe fried plantain, and a good piece of cheese.
In this dish, unlike those mentioned above, everything is prepared separately. The rice and bananas are prepared individually as is the chiguire, whose preparation is the same as that of the fish pisillo.
Most Popular Dish in Aragua
One of the characteristics of the state of Aragua’s cuisine is that most of its meals contain meat.
4. Mondongo Soup
This is a soup made with the belly of the cow, which is boiled for a good long time after being thoroughly cleaned.
Once ready, it’s placed in a pot with potatoes, carrots, ocumos, cassava, and chickpeas, and left to boil until it becomes a thick nutritious concentrate. Mondongo soup is a popular recipe, found in different parts of Latin America, with versions in Panama, Ecuador and Peru. There are even variations of this dish in some parts of Europe, particularly in France, Italy, Romania, Scotland, Portugal, and Spain.
Most Popular Dish in Barinas
This meal is not only traditionally found in Barinas, but is one of the most popular meals in the whole country.
5. Meat Skewers
Meat skewers are not only popular on the plains of Barines and Apureños, but also across the country.
To make them, you only need three essential elements: good firewood, good meat and, most importantly, a good hand.
The wood must be quite dry, to create good embers.
The meat must be a good quality, obviously, and preferably from a somewhat young and tender cow.
The good hand refers to the grill as the meat must be kept a good distance from the embers, that is, neither too far away nor too close. The hand is also the cook, who’s in charge of seasoning the meat, although only salt is used.
Most Popular Dish in Bolivar
The state of Bolivar is the largest in Venezuelan territory, occupying 25% of the country. Due to its size, people of many cultures exist together, creating many diverse and delicious food combinations..
6. The Sapoara
Sapoara is a river fish and is an important element in the traditional cuisine of this region as it abounds in the adjacent Orinoco and Caroní rivers.
It can be stuffed, roasted, fried, and even par-boiled.
A curious fact about this fish is that it only appears once a year in this area. Its arrival is celebrated throughout the month of August with the internationally famous La Sapoara Fair.
Most Popular Dish in Carabobo
The industrialized state of Carabobo is located in the central-north region of Venezuela, covering a vast area, and connecting several major cities.
Among the popular dishes found here, and well-loved by all Venezuelans, is the following.
Tostones from this coastal region are made with fried green bananas. Before being fried, they’re crushed, mostly with a hammer or, failing that, a stone, so that most of the banana flesh squishes out of cracks in the skin.
After frying, they are topped with cabbage and carrot salad, grated cheese, mayonnaise and tomato sauce, according to taste. Delicious and packed with goodness!
Most Popular Dish in Cojedes
One of the llanero (planes) states of Venezuela, Cojedes is culturally diverse, giving it one of the richest heritages in terms of its food. .
For the first time on our trip, we will talk about a dessert as it is one for which Cojedes is famous far beyond its borders..
8. Venezuelan Majarete
The people of Venezuela consider majarete a heavenly dessert. It’s made with coconut milk and cornmeal, sprinkled with powdered cinnamon.
Preparation is simple. Coconut milk is extracted by liquefying it with hot water, then it’s strained, leaving the “che” behind. The milk is put on the heat and flour, cinnamon, sugar and salt are added. The mixture is left to cook over a medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes and is finally poured into any mold and left to stand at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Most Popular Dish in Delta Amacuro
The gastronomy of Delta Amacuro, being influenced by the Warao, Guyanese, and Margarite cultures, offers a wide variety of dishes made with different species of fish. .
9. Fish Sancocho
This is a fabulous dish to share with friends on a Sunday, not only because of how easy it is to fish nearby but also because of its high nutritional content.
The preparation is straightforward. Simply assemble a good-sized pot of garlic, coriander, yucca, occumo, green banana, yam, and even auyama (pumpkin), and spices to taste. Once the vegetables are soft, add the fish and let it simmer.
This dish is traditionally accompanied by vegetables such as casabe or arepas.
Most Popular Dish in Distrito Capital
Due to the influence of migrants from many parts of the country and the world for that matter, we can find pretty much all regional culinary specialties in the Capital District, creating a cuisine with a little bit of everything.
10. Creole pavilion
This pavilion is basically a meatloaf featuring black beans. The preparation is basically the same as the pavilion veguero, creating delicious Venezuelan food at its best.
This dish is considered one of the most popular in Venezuela.
Most Popular Dish in Guárico
The Guárico state is located in the central region of Venezuela, specifically in the plains region, which is famous for its livestock. This explains why meat and chicken play such an important role on local tables.
11. Chicken stew
This chicken stew is one of the most popular traditional recipes on the Venezuelan plains, and is especially popular in the Guárico state. It’s ideal to share with friends.
Preparation is simple – cook the chicken with abundant green dressings and vegetables, let the flavors combine and deepen, then enjoy!
Most Popular Dish in Lara
The ‘twilight city’ is recognized for its unique seasonings and love of creative cooking, which provides an endless variety of dishes. It’s not easy to pick a favorite so here, we will only talk about just one.
12. Goat Mondongo
This soup is made with a goat’s head,plus the guts and spine. Legumes, vegetables, and spices are added during cooking.
For Larenses, this dish represents the true taste of home. So if you visit, it’s worth searching it out and sampling the unique flavor of this dish!
Most Popular Dish in Mérida
The state of Mérida features the spectacular mountains and valleys of the Andes. Despite the sloped terrain, livestock is raised everywhere. However, you may be surprised by one of their most important dishes.
13. Andean arepa
The Andean arepa (corn cake) is totally different from the traditional Venezuelan arepa, both in its preparation and ingredients.
The Andean version is made from self-raising or all-purpose wheat flour with a little baking soda or yeast. The recipe also calls for water, egg, and a touch of salt.
The preparation takes time, which is totally contrary to the preparation of traditional arepa. First, all the dry ingredients are mixed in a container and then water along with other ingredients are added. It must be kneaded very well to create a dough that is neither too hard nor too soft.
After this, it’s left to rest and then rolled out until it’s approximately half a centimeter thick before being chopped and shaped. Once this is done, the griddle or pan is heated and greased to let the arepas cook until golden brown on the outside.
Most Popular Dish in Miranda
Being another of the coastal states of Venezuela, Miranda’s traditional dishes are based on the local fish, as well as the corn and bananas that grow in the area. However, surprisingly one of the region’s most popular meals is based on beef.
14. Roasted Black
The black roast is made with a beef cut called “Round Boy”, whose characteristic is its rich, deep color and its sweet taste.
To prepare, the meat is cut into slices and marinated overnight in red wine, black pepper, garlic and salt to taste.. Then it’s cooked in a large pot with other ingredients such as tomatoes, onion, oil, and pepper until it acquires its dark hue and succulent texture dripping with meaty goodness!
Most Popular Dish in Monagas
This state in the northeast of the country borders the Atlantic Ocean. Unsurprisingly, Monagas is famous for its great variety of fish-based dishes.
15. Sancocho de Guaraguara
This is a soup based on a river fish called Guaraguara, vegetables and locally-grown sweet peppers.
As in all sancochos, you should use a good-sized pot, with approximately 5 liters of water, along with all the chopped vegetables and seasonings. Once the vegetables are soft, the fish is added and allowed to simmer for approximately 20 minutes, giving the flavors time to meld, and creating a delicious soup bursting with goodness.
Most Popular Dish in Nueva Esparta
Nueva Esparta is located in the interior of Venezuela. In recent years it has attracted flocks of tourists eager to sample its unique gastronomy.
The region’s dishes are characterized by unique local seasonings, and are often based on ingredients such as onions, sweet peppers, and garlic. Here is an unexpected speciality, based on fish.
The dogfish is a species of small shark that is eaten chopped and stewed. You’ll find cazón empanadas (pasties) as a popular street food in the towns of Nueva Esparta.
They also have other seafood-based dishes, but an entire book would be needed to talk about them all – so when you visit, start by sampling the local dogfish.
Most Popular Dish in Portuguesa
This state is located in the central-western region of the country and is considered to be “El Granero (barn) de Venezuela” due to its huge agricultural production.
Not only that, it’s the only state where limpets (lapas) are so widely harvested and cooked.
17. Lapa Stew
Although barnacles/limpets are found in different parts of Venezuela, Portuguesa is the only state where they’re abundant enough to make this seafood an essential part of its traditional dishes.
Although prepared in different ways elsewhere, the Portuguese usually accompany this ingredient with arepas, black beans, fried plantain, llanero cheese, and meatloaf, earning it the name “Creole breakfast”.
Most Popular Dish in Sucre
Although this state is located on the Venezuelan coast, so many of its meals come from the sea, its most popular dish is based on chicken. Yet another surprise on this long trip through Venezuelan gastronomy!
18. Cocoa Chicken
Cocoa is the main product of the Arismendi area of Sucre.
To prepare the cocoa chicken, first marinate the chicken with cocoa liquor and salt and pepper to taste. The chicken must be cooked over high heat and with little oil so that it drains and browns quickly.
Grated cocoa and a couple of julienne charlotte potatoes are added for each chicken breast. The meat is simmered in a little chicken consommé with a tablespoon of tomato paste, until a thick sauce forms.
Most Popular Dish in Táchira
Táchira is another Andean state , which is close in culture and gastronomy to Mérida, although they differ in some respects.
Táchira’s food was strongly influenced by the arrival of Italians, Spaniards, and Portuguese. Even so, a little Creole essence was preserved and this creates a fascinating melange of flavors.
19. The Andean Find
Hallaca is a traditional Venezuelan Christmas dish, popular across the country. But it’s also a typical dish from this region, where it’s given an indigenous twist with the use of chickpeas.
Preparation is somewhat complex because the dough and stew are made separately.
For the stew, all the ingredients are combined and allowed to rest in the refrigerator overnight.
To prepare the dough, mix Gold Bell oil and onoto (anatto) seeds in a pot, heat and strain. After this, mix chicken broth with corn and onotto oil and add while kneading to form a soft dough.
Once prepared, this is wrapped in well- washed banana leaves. They are tied delicately but securely so that they don’t come loose. The whole dish is boiled for an hour, and then this tasty treat is ready to serve!
Most Popular Dish in Trujillo
When talking about varied but abundantly nutritious cuisines, we must consider Trujillo, since it represents a series of dishes with ingredients of all kinds.
20. The Andean pinch
This is undoubtedly one of Trujillo’s most traditional dishes, with plenty of options in terms of ingredients. However, the recipe always contains the same steps.
In a deep-bottomed pot, cook chicken broth and potatoes until they soften. While this is cooking, garlic and onions are sauteed in butter until they are softened and are then added to the potato pot, which is allowed to reduce.
After seasoning, the milk, egg, and cheese are added and stirred to blend them together without curdling the eggs. Fresh coriander is added at the end.
And that’s it! Enjoy!
Most Popular Dish in Vargas
In this state, the most representative and sustainable activity is fishing, which greatly influences gastronomy. Vargas is yet another Venezuelan state that proudly preserves its culinary traditions.
21. Sweet Arepas
Arepas are a traditional dish throughout Venezuela. However, in the state of Vargas there is a sweet variation, unique to the region.
The preparation of these arepas is simple, using star anise and paper in addition to traditional arepa ingredients. These arepas are accompanied by other ingredients which can vary greatly since the arepas are perfect for breakfast and dinner.
Among the ingredients are cheese, meat, fish, chicken or anything that’s close at hand.
Most Popular Dish in Yaracuy
Out of all the states in the country, the food of Yaracuy is the one that has the most tradition in history and culture. The dish mentioned here is another national symbol like the Creole pavilion and the arepa.
22. Corn Cachapa
Corn cachapas were originally created by the indigenous people who inhabited the Mirandine lands.
To prepare them, the first thing to do is to peel the jojotos and grind them as finely as possible.
After this, mix with sugar, a little salt, and milk, to make a thick dough. In a very hot pan, the oil is spread and a little dough is added, forming a thin cake.When golden brown, it’s turned over and cooked evenly on the other side.
Most Popular Dish in Zulia
Located in the northeast of the country, this is one of the most populous states. Its traditional cuisine is mostly based on banana, coconut, fish, and red meat.
Petacones are considered fast food in Maracaibo, where you’ll find them served with different sauces. Even so, for the Zulians these luscious, irregularly-shaped thin banana slices fried in oil are iconic.
Have we included your favorite Venezuelan speciality? The dish that truly symbolizes the nation’s cuisine? Share your feedback with our community and leave your comments below! We love to hear from you!