Puerto Rican Food Terms You Must Know

puerto rico rican food terms

Curious about Puerto Rican cuisine? Then you’ll want to know a bit about Puerto Rico as well as some basic Puerto Rican food terms as well.

Puerto Rico is a Carribean island and a territory of the United States. It’s located to the east of the Dominican Republic and north of Venezuela.

Puerto Rican cuisine

Puerto Rican cuisine is a mix of culinary influences from Spain, Africa, the Americas and natives of the Caribbean.

It is characterized by seasoned meats (pork, beef, chicken and seafood) and fried crunchy textures accompanied by salty, savory and sweet flavors. Common seasonings and flavorings include garlic, oregano, crushed pepper, olive oil and lime juice.

Plantains are a very important crop in Puerto Rico and are used in many Puerto Rican dishes. They can be either sweet or savory and are often mashed like mashed potatoes or fried to provide a crispy texture.

Puerto Rican food terms (Spanish)

Expand your international dining vocabulary with these basic food-related words translated from English to Spanish.

meat – carne

  • pork – cerdo
  • beef – carne de vaca (literal translation “meat of cow”)

poultry – aves de corral

  • turkey – pavo
  • duck – pato
  • chicken – pollo

seafood – mariscos

  • fish – pescado
  • shrimp – camarónes
  • oyster – ostra
  • shellfish – mariscos

meatless/no meat – sin carne

  • vegetables – vegetales
  • fruits – frutas
  • eggs – huevos
  • tofu – tofu
  • nuts – nueces
  • vegetarian – vegetariano (male) / vegetariana (female)
  • vegan – vegano (male) / vegana (female)

drinks – bebidas

  • water – agua
  • alcohol – alcohol
  • beer – cerveza
  • wine – vino

other eating/dining-related terms

  • yes –
  • no – no
  • good – bueno
  • yummy – sabroso
  • eat – comer (literally “to eat”)
  • cook – cocinar
  • I’m hungry – tengo hambre
  • I’m full – estoy lleno
  • more – más
  • less – menos
  • only – solo
  • please – por favor
  • thank you – gracias
  • baked – horneado
  • fried – frito
  • grilled – a la parilla
  • roasted – asado
  • steamed – cocer al vapor
  • hot – caliente
  • warm – caliente
  • cold – frío
  • bitter – amargo
  • salty – salado
  • spicy – picante
  • sweet – dulce
  • allergic – alérgico
  • bathroom – el baño

Watch this video to hear how letters and words sound in Puerto Rican Spanish.

Puerto Rican food to try

  • alcapurrias – plantain/yucca fritters filled with ground beef
  • bacalaitos – codfish fritters
  • empanadilla – small half moon-shaped pastries filled with meat and/or vegetables
  • jibarito – a sandwich with plantains used as bread
  • maduros and tostones – fried sweet and savory plantains
  • mofongo – fried plantains and pork
  • papas rellenas – mashed potato croquette filled with seasoned ground beef or pork
  • pastelon – Puerto Rican lasagna: seasoned meat between layers of plantains
  • pernil – roasted pork shoulder

Interested in learning about other cuisines around the world? Discover food terms from other countries here.

Hello! I'm Kristina

Kristina Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Glutto and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego. She writes articles & posts for Glutto Digest with insights from fellow industry experts. Furthermore, she is the author of The Fittest Food Lovers: How EVERY BODY Can be Incredibly Fit and Still Enjoy Food, a collaborative philanthropic book with proceeds going to charities that fight world hunger.