Top 25 Colombian Foods (With Photos!)
Colombia as known as a tropical paradise. It is a nickname that reflects the diversity of ingredients in the traditional cuisine, most of them produced locally. Colombia’s 5 different regions each have a different geography and social contexts that influence the style of cuisine and its flavors.
Columbia cuisine was heavily influenced by the culinary traditions of the Indigenous Colombians, as well as Spanish and African cuisines, as Colombia has one of the largest populations of African descent in the Americas.
Drum rolls please for the most popular Colombian foods.
This is a typical food of Valle del Cauca, in the Colombian Pacific area. It is a mix of sweet and salty flavors. Banana is filled with cheese and guava, then fried to create a flavor bomb that you won’t find anywhere else.
It is a very local food and is rarely found in other parts of the country. But it is so popular that thousands of people travel to Cali (the capital of Valle del Cauca) simply to enjoy this delicacy.
24. Cholao (Exotic Fruit Salad)
This is a typical fruit salad from the department of Valle del Cauca. It is prepared on a base of shaved ice, fruits, different flavored syrups, and condensed milk. Fruits include banana, green apple, strawberry, grapes, papaya, and pineapple. On a hot afternoon, enjoy this refreshing sweet that has all the flavors of the Latin land.
23. Arepa de Huevo (Fried Egg Arepa)
Dough, filled with egg and fried. The only two ingredients are corn and egg, nothing more. The key is in the preparation because the oil for frying must be very hot, then you need the courage to remove the dough and add the egg. It is very popular on the streets of cities and towns in the Colombian Caribbean.
As a great source of fat, it is advisable to accompany it with a very cold drink.
A very well-seasoned dish with a characteristic flavor. It is prepared with beef belly, cleaned, and cut into fine pieces; soft pork, also cut into small pieces; various vegetables and greens, all cooked for a long time and accompanied with dressings and spices.
It is a very controversial dish since the smell of the pork belly is not so delicious. But it is worth putting up with that for this tasty dish.
21. Patacones con Hogao (Fried Plantain with Salty Sauce)
On the Caribbean Coast of Colombia, plantain is used as a complement to various fried fish or meat dishes. The plantain is mashed and immersed in very hot oil. It is usually accompanied with hogao, a salty sauce made from tomato and onion.
In Colombia, the wrap is a part of life for the farmer and coffee picker. The filling is rice, sausage, fried pork, ground meat, boiled or fried egg, a slice of ripe banana and arepa. Wrapped in banana leaves, it is often consumed on walks or at traditional festivities.
19. Chorizo con Arepa (Sausage with Arepa)
A sausage of minced and seasoned fatty pork, very rich in calories. Visitors to Antioquia will enjoy the flavor of this region-specific Antioquia chorizo, accompanied by various types of arepas and a good long drink.
18. Natilla y Bueñuelos (Custard and Fried Dough)
This dish is reserved for Christmas parties. The custard contains panela, which gives it its characteristic caramel color, great consistency, and a sweet flavor, making it one of the most popular Christmas dishes in the country. The base is milk and flour, which becomes an exquisite dessert, complemented with buñuelos.
Buñuelos are deep fried balls of dough. The dough is made with water, milk, eggs, or yeast, creating a kind of edible pokeball that is crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.
17. Empanadas (Patty)
Brought from Spain, Empanadas have been around since colonial times, and the indigenous people incorporated their own ingredients. While the fillings differ throughout the regions, the dough is always made with either corn or wheat flour, giving them a homogeneous character that makes them a symbol of Colombian cuisine.
But each region has its own empanada, with fillings varying from mashed potato to ground beef. You can even find more exotic fillings with ingredients specific to each region.
Butifarras are a typical recipe of the Colombian Caribbean, more precisely, the municipality of Soledad, Atlántico, which is only 5 km from the city of Barranquilla, where they are very popular. These meat balls are sold on the streets throughout the Caribbean, but they are also found at many gourmet events as the perfect aperitif.
Dried tripe is stuffed with meat and rolled into small balls. They are cooked on the grill and served with a slice of lemon.
15. Morcilla (Blood Sausage)
It may sound crazy to some, but blood sausage is one of the most traditional foods in Colombia. Although Spanish in origin, the people of Colombia adapted it and made it their own.
Basically, it is a sausage of cooked blood, generally cow’s, mixed with pork fat and other ingredients to bulk it out, such as rice. The cooking technique is very traditional, but it is familiar throughout Latin America. It is usually eaten at gatherings around a grill or barbeque.
Pandebono looks like bread, but it is not. Rather than wheat flour, cornstarch is used together with fermented cassava starch, cheese, and egg. It is a traditional food of Valle del Cauca, but it is eaten everywhere.
It is eaten for breakfast and as a snack in the afternoon. There is nothing like eating a hot pandebono accompanied with a glass of milk – the aroma is exquisite.
13. Arepa de Chocolo (Sweet Corn Arepa)
The arepa is one of the most important foods in Colombian cuisine. Each region has its own type of arepa, but the one that brings all the varieties together is the “Arepa de chocolo”. The main ingredient is a sweet corn-based dough that gives it the softness of a pancake.
This dish is accompanied with Colombian cheese, called quesito, and a hot drink. They are usually eaten for breakfast. But it is impossible to eat just one, especially when coated with butter, giving you a very happy morning.
12. Picada or Fritanga (Fried Tray)
The Colombian picada is also known as “The Palace of Cholesterol”, due to the ingredients and preparation. Perhaps that’s why people hold back, as it is not eaten very often. It is a plate of patacones, arepa, cassava, colombian sausage, morcilla (blood sausage), pork, chicharron, and Colombian potatoes – all fried.
It is usually consumed at gatherings and parties where plenty of alcohol is served. Colombians eat a lot when they get together with friends.
This dish is considered one of the most exquisite in Colombia. It is eaten for breakfast, lunch, and, in some regions, it is enjoyed on very special occasions such as Christmas or birthdays. The tamal is a dish based on corn dough prepared using different ingredients, depending on the region, and wrapped in a banana leaf.
They say that its origin is pre-Hispanic. Given the number of ingredients and cooking time required, Colombians usually prepare them in large quantities.
10. Mote de Queso (Cheese Soup)
Cheese is an essential of the daily diet on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It is eaten on its own, accompanied with a banana, or it is integrated into other dishes, such as arepa.
An exquisite coastal dish, originally from the departments of Sucre and Córdoba, based largely on cheese is Mote de Queso. It is made with yam, hard cheese, onion, garlic, and coastal serum (a special sauce of the region).
9. Sancocho (Colombian Soup)
Sancocho is one of the most popular dishes of Colombian gastronomy and at various times has been proposed as a national dish. The sancocho is a soup based on potatoes or yucca, to which some meat is added (for example, chicken, fish, beef, etc.)
In each region of the country, sancocho has its own traditional seasoning. The most popular is cooked with chicken, but then there’s the triphasic sancocho, containing pork, beef, and chicken.
8. Posta Cartagenera (Black Sauce Pork)
Usually made with eye of round roast beef, this recipe is mostly served on the Colombian Caribbean coast and is not usually found in other parts of the country. The women of the city guard ancient secrets about the preparation of this food. A unique style of preparation can be found in Colombia’s most important tourist destination.
7. Lechona (Stuffed Pork)
This main dish is composed of pork and cooked peas and is a typical food of the musical region of Tolima.
It involves very particular preparation. Once the pig has been slaughtered, the meat is extracted without breaking the animal’s skin. The meat is then mixed with peas and put back in the body of the pig, which is then cooked in a brick oven for over two hours.
This very important food from the Orinoquian region is prepared on holidays and for big celebrations. It is basically beef seasoned with garlic, onion, spices, and beer, placed on long sticks and roasted for four hours. It is served with potatoes, cassava, arepas, and guacamole.
5. Chuleta Valluna (Breaded Pork Loin)
This is typical of the department of Valle del Cauca, which is located between the Andean and Pacific regions, on the west coast of Colombia. It is a piece of marinated, breaded, and fried pork loin. It can be served with rice, salad, cassava, fried banana slices, or a delicious bean stew.
4. Cazuela de Mariscos (Seafood Casserole)
Colombia has three islands in the Caribbean Sea: San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina. A lot of seafood is consumed here, such as octopus, squid, prawns, oysters, and shrimp. In this soup, the seafood is mixed together with coconut milk, creating a bomb of flavors.
3. Fried Fish
Colombia is the only South American country that borders two seas: the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean. Fish is the principal food in the towns located near the coast. And, of course, the seafood changes depending on what side you are on.
While the two areas have different customs, they generally both serve fried fish, coconut rice, patacon (fried banana) and salad. The secret of this dish is in the local seasoning. The most popular fish from the Caribbean and Pacific are Bocachico, Cachama, Tilapia, catfish, and red snapper.
We’ve already talked about the differences between the regions in Colombia and this chicken soup is a good example. Ajiaco can be made with three different types of potato, pastusa, criolla, or sabanera, depending on where you are. It is a typical food in Bogotá, the country’s capital. A Santa Fe tradition is to complete the soup with cream and corn, given the important cultural role it plays.
1. Bandeja Paisa (Antioquian Tray)
This is the most representative dish and emblem of Antioquia gastronomy, and it is typical of this region. One of the fundamental characteristics of this dish is its abundance, both in quantity and in variety. The best paisa is so large it can only be served on large plates – trays. You can find it in 95% of restaurants.
This wonderful dish integrates a lot of flavors. A red bean base, Colombian sausage, ground beef, rice, fried pork rind called chicharron, arepa, plantain, a slice of avocado, all topped with a fried egg. The quality of a Bandeja Paisa is measured by the size of the chicharron.
The dish was originally served in a wrap (see dish 20), and since the mid-nineteenth century was the only food a muleteer from the Antioquia region and the Old Caldas would carry. It is a culinary delight with an abundance of carbohydrates, which is just as well as it had to supply enough energy for the Antioquia muleteer’s journey.