Our Favorite Latin American Recipes

Birria Tacos Recipe
Photo: Greg Dupree

The United States celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15 each year. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile commemorate their Independence Days from Spain during this time, and in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we're honoring the history and cuisines of these and other unique Latin cultures. We've got 15 of our favorite Hispanic Heritage Month recipes for you to try, such as chef Richard Sandoval's Oven-Fried Pork Carnitas with Guacamole and Orange Salsa, chef Elena Reygadas' Vanilla-Sugar Conchas, F&W Best New Chef Fermín Núñez's Homemade Corn Tortillas, and so much more.

01 of 15

Homemade Corn Tortillas

Homemade Corn Tortillas
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Nidia Cueva

F&W Best New Chef Fermín Núñez of Suerte restaurant in Austin shared this recipe for making fresh tortillas at home using just the highest-quality masa harina, salt, and warm water. Mildly nutty with a little bit of natural sweetness and a deliciously strong corn fragrance, these tortillas are a flavorful canvas for tacos. Choose a heavy tortilla press: the weight of the press does all of the work and will help form the most evenly shaped tortillas. Núñez prefers the Doña Rosa x Masienda Tortilla press. "This is the press that will outlive you," he says. "It's like the tortilla press you find in any reputable place that does tortillas in Mexico, from fancy restaurants to markets." Pair the fresh tortillas with Núñez's Charred Chile–Marinated Grilled Chicken and Tomatillo Salsa Cruda, or enjoy them with your favorite taco fillings.

02 of 15

Tomatillo Salsa Cruda

Tomatillo Salsa Cruda
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Nidia Cueva

Fermín Núñez's raw tomatillo salsa combines tart, fresh tomatillos; jalapeño and serrano chiles; tender scallions; and pungent cilantro for a juicy, refreshing salsa perfect for topping tacos, eggs, or tortilla chips.

03 of 15

Cuban-Style Black Beans

Cuban-Style Black Beans
Romulo Yanes

Rob, the partner of the late and beloved food photographer Romulo Yanes, wanted to have Yanes' mom's Cuban dishes at his birthday party one year. Yanes told Food & Wine before his death in 2021, "He always loved certain dishes that she made, especially her beans and rice." Yanes' mother had passed away earlier that year, and this was his first time cooking her recipes without her, and she never wrote anything down. He took on the challenge, saying, "There was a freshness in my mom's cooking. It was homely and not overly fussy. Her black beans are a perfect example." These dried black beans meet onion, green pepper, and bay leaf in a pressure cooker, making quick work while turning them very tender and soft, but an overnight soak works well, too.

04 of 15

Bollitos de Papa y Elote (Potato Elote Bites)

Bollitos de Papa con Elote
Emily Kordovich

Crunchy, cheesy, and a little bit spicy, these potato elote bites are pastry chef Paola Velez's take on bollitos, one of her favorite snacks in the Dominican Republic. She makes a spiced corn filling based on elote, the classic Mexican street food, then wraps it up in spiced mashed potatoes, and deep-fries it. The delicate crust on the potato bites is made with tapioca flour, keeping the recipe gluten-free. Garnished with lime-flavored crema and fresh cilantro, the bites are as pretty as they are delicious.

05 of 15

Skirt Steak and Asparagus with Salsa de Semillas

Skirt Steak and Asparagus with Salsa de Samillas Recipe
Victor Protasio

"Loaded with pumpkin seed kernels, cashews, and sesame seeds, salsa de semillas is a lesser-known but beloved Mexican nut-based salsa," notes chef and writer Paola Briseño González. It's a perfect complement to quickly-seared steak and crisp-tender asparagus.

06 of 15

Oven-Fried Pork Carnitas with Guacamole and Orange Salsa

Oven-Fried Pork Carnitas with Guacamole and Orange Salsa
© James Ransom

Chef Richard Sandoval first tasted the moist, creamy, slightly sweet Spanish Requeson cheese used here during childhood trips to the market with his grandmother. In the U.S., Requeson is sold at Latin markets and some supermarkets. If you can't find it, substitute fresh whole-milk ricotta.

07 of 15

Chicken Breasts with Mole

Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts with Mole Negro
© Maura McEvoy

Oaxaca is famous for its complex mole sauces, often made with more than 20 ingredients, like unsweetened chocolate, seeds, and chiles. Since moles are so time-consuming to make, many Mexican cooks rely on the prepared pastes sold at the outdoor markets, and Alejando Ruíz Olmedo is no exception. Instead of stewing chicken in the mole, he takes a more deliberately composed approach, roasting chicken breasts until the skin is crisp and serving the mole alongside.

08 of 15

Birria Tacos

Birria Tacos Recipe
Greg Dupree

A combination of two meats creates the best balance of tender texture (from chuck roast) and succulence (from short ribs). Chef Claudette Zepeda's Birria Tacos get slow-cooked flavor from an adobo sauce.

09 of 15

Niños Envueltos Dominicanos (Dominican Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)

Ninos Envueltos | Dominican Stuffed Cabbage
Ellen Mary Cronin

Rich with the flavors of sofrito and three types of ground meat, these savory cabbage rolls are irresistible—especially in this version, which comes from writer Stephanie Gravalese's Dominican grandmother. The name of the dish, which translates to "swaddled children," comes from the shape of the cabbage rolls themselves, but also nods to their deeply comforting nature.

10 of 15

Vanilla-Sugar Conchas

Vanilla-Sugar Conchas
Victor Protasio

Crunchy vanilla crust gives these sweet rolls their namesake seashell appearance. Conchas are popular in Mexico for a light breakfast, served warm with a cup of coffee. "For me, experimenting with the Mexican tradition of sweet bread has always been fundamental," says chef Elena Reygadas of Panaderia Rosetta in Mexico City. She enriches her dough with eggs and butter and lets the dough rise slowly overnight, with airy results.

11 of 15

Alfajores de Maizena (Sandwich Cookies Filled with Dulce de Leche)

Alfajores de Maizena (Sandwich Cookies Filled with Dulce de Leche)
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

Extra-thick dulce de leche between two buttery cookies rolled in shredded coconut all add up to the perfect bite in these Alfajores de Maizena. Argentinian League of Kitchens instructor Mirta Rinaldi learned how to make these melt-in-your-mouth sandwich cookies from her mom. One of the most popular cookies in Argentina, they're found in all sizes at bakeries there and are picked up by the dozens for special occasions and celebrations year-round. Because of the generous amount of cornstarch in the dough, the cookies remain tender and soft after baking. Seek out dulce de leche repostero, which is made for pastry and baking, for this recipe; it's extra thick, with a firm body that won't squeeze out past the edges of the cookies in between bites.

12 of 15

Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake
© Christina Holmes

Star chef José Andrés makes a delicately light and sweet version of tres leches, the classic chilled cake soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream.

13 of 15

Cinnamon-Sugar Churros with Cajeta

Cinnamon Sugar Churros Recipe with Cajeta
Greg Dupree

Churros require a relatively stiff batter to help them hold their ridged shape, leaving plenty of nooks for cinnamon-sugar, says chef Claudette Zepeda. To prevent blowouts while piping the batter, be sure to double-line the pastry bags, which will also give you more control.

14 of 15

Yelapa-Style Banana Pie (Pay de Plátano de Yelapa)

Yelapa-Style Banana Pie
Victor Protasio

What's better than sipping a good Paloma while relaxing to the sounds of the sapphire-blue waves on a secluded beach only reachable by boat? How about a freshly baked pie made with fruit gathered just a few hundred feet away? Yelapa, a tiny beach community about 45 minutes away from Puerto Vallarta via water taxi, is known for its tropical pies. This version from chefs and writers Javier Cabral and Paola Briseño González features caramelized bananas and vanilla custard. The sturdy crust is salted and shortbread-like because the pie has always been eaten while sunbathing, with no utensils around. Take big bites—it'll taste even better.

15 of 15

Natilla (Creamy Egg Custard)

Natilla: Creamy Custard
© Lucy Schaeffer

"A direct descendant of the Spanish crema Catalana, natilla is a rich, creamy egg custard made without the crispy sugar topping," says writer Lourdes Castro. "It's sweet, thick, comforting, and perfect for entertaining because it can be prepared ahead. Be careful when adding eggs to the warm milk mixture; if you combine them too quickly you can wind up scrambling the eggs. To prevent that, add the milk mixture to the eggs very slowly in order to increase their temperature gradually."

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