Ooh wee, prepare to have your taste buds teased and tantalized by this list of the best 10 Colombian snacks that you need to try!
Just looking at them can make your mouth wet with drool; they all look so damn yummy. It’s easy to see why a transplanted Colombian may be dreaming of and craving all of these traditional Colombian snacks.
You can barely swing a cat without hitting a vendor selling kebabs or empanadas walking down the streets of Colombia, but in non-Latin countries, you’re going to be hard pressed to find anything as good. Even in the USA where Latin foods are part of the national cuisine, specifically Colombian fare can still be hard to find.
Lucky for you we not only found the best Colombian snacks for you to try – we found recipes for all of them so that you can make your own homemade version! And with a little snooping around we actually found some pre-packaged Colombian snacks that you can order online at Amazon right now—more on that later.
Whether you are just a curious foodie interested in taking a culinary adventure in Colombian treats or you are a displaced Colombian longing for the taste of home, you’ve come to the right place. So sit back and get ready to discover the best snacks Colombia has to offer!
10 Best Colombian Snacks that You Need to Try
Chances are, you’ve heard of empanadas before. That’s probably because practically all Latin countries have some version of empanadas, and Colombia is no exception. These fried spicy beef and cheese potato snacks are becoming almost as popular in the U.S. as tacos and it’s no wonder!
Stuffed inside of a crispy golden brown deep fried pocket is beef seasoned with chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper, and blended with red and green bell peppers, cheese, potatoes, and onions. Are you drooling yet? We are!
Empanadas are served with aioli dipping sauce (or your preferred sauce). You can buy aioli dip or you can make it with just a cup of mayo, a tablespoon of adobo and a half a lime. The Food Network has a terrific recipe for empanadas and aioli dip.
#2. Buñuelos Colombianos (Colombian Buñuelos)
They look like hushpuppies like you’d get from Long John Silver or Cap’n Ds but they taste completely different. These puffy balls of cheese are a simple snack that reminds most native Colombians of Christmas time, even though they are a popular treat all year round.
These cheese balls take skill to make. First and foremost you have to have the right kind of cheese. Authentic buñuelos are made with queso Costeño. The problem is you can’t find this salty specialty hard cheese anywhere outside of Colombia; not even on Amazon.
So we found an excellent recipe that does a hell of a job of coming up with a mix of cheeses that gets the taste almost exactly right! This is the perfect snack to go with a nice hot cup of cocoa or with your morning coffee.
It’s not hard to see why arepas are so popular in Colombia. You only need water, salt, oil, and corn flour to make them. They’re easy as hell to make, and they are gum-smacking good to boot! The biggest challenge to making these famous Colombian snacks is finding the right flour.
You need a specific kind of yellow corn meal called masarepa. It comes in both white and yellow versions. You’ll need both for the family recipe we found for you. The good news is you can buy both from top brand Goya on Amazon.
Basically you mix the flour, water, and salt together to make dough. You split the dough into balls the size of your fist, flatten them into a pancake and then either deep fry or pan fry them, and there you have it. In the recipe from minamilistbaker.com, their family recipe uses half yellow and half white masarepa.
Cakes should be soft on the inside and crisp on the outside when they’re done. Serve with black beans, or stuff them with cheese, rice, meat; whatever really.
#4. Pandebono (Colombian Cheese bread)
Do you have a food processor? You’re going to need a food processor to do pandebono right. You’ll also need some parchment paper to line a baking sheet. Now that all of that is out of the way, you’re going to love this uniquely Columbian version of cheese bread. You’ll need some masarepa for this recipe too mixed with cheese, eggs, and cassava starch.
You’ll turn the flour and starch into a dough that you then turn into a dozen little dough balls. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes and you have a quick and easy snack for morning or afternoon. Spread some guava jam (bocadillo) on it and serve with a hot cup of java or a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
#5. Dulce de Leche
Okay, dulce de leche, literally translated, means sweet milk, and is not technically a snack all by itself, but it goes well with many of the snacks on this list, so we thought we’d include it. You can buy premade dulce de leche like the Dulce de Leche Caramel Spread from Alpina, or you can be gangster and whip up your own dulce de leche spread from scratch!
We found two different methods for making dulce de leche from epicurious.com. The traditional method cooks way faster than the other way but you have to stay right on top of it, stirring constantly so that you don’t ruin it. The other way takes longer and is made with condensed milk. You cook it in the oven for about an hour and a half – but you don’t have to stand over it the whole time.
These pretty little treats called chicharrón are the equivalent of what Americans call pork rinds. However, Colombian pork rinds or chicharrón are meatier. Making them homemade takes more than half a day although it only takes a few ingredients.
You’ll only need some ancho chile powder, kosher salt, cumin, canola oil, and a pound and a half of quarter inch thick pork skins for this chicharrón recipe. You’ll boil the pork skins for about two hours before putting them on a baking sheet and popping them in the oven.
When they cool, you’ll be able to scrape the skins right off. You’ll the skins on a new baking sheet and then cook them in the oven on low heat for another eight hours. Sounds intense, but well worth it!
#7. Deditos de Queso ("Cheese Fingers")
Something like jalapeno poppers but not quite, deditos de queso are another Colombian favorite at snack time. Deditos de queso (English translation, cheese fingers) are made with queso Costeño but if you can’t find any, mozzarella will do.
This deditos de queso recipe from mycolombianrecipes uses white cheese instead. You make the dough in a food processor before turning it into a giant flour ball and placing it in the fridge for just over a half an hour. After that you take a rolling pin and flatten out the dough, and then slice it up into several squares like you would to make a croissant.
Next you turn the dough into strips that are big enough to wrap around your blocks of cheese. Wrap, the cheese, freeze it for a couple hours, and then deep fry over medium heat. Or you can actually order some Tequenos de Queso from Tio Simon online and save yourself the trouble!
#8. Pastel Gloria
To make Pastel Gloria you’re going to need a couple of the items we’ve already included in this list. For instance you’re going to need some dulce de leche. If you made the recipe above and had leftovers, that’s great because it keeps for at least a few weeks in the fridge.
You’ll also need some guava paste, which is slightly different than the jam. And finally, this recipe for Pastel Gloria from mycolombianrecipes.com calls for either white cheese or mozzarella. Basically you’re going to make the flaky dough and stuff it with guava paste and cheese.
It’s a sweet treat so you sprinkle sugar on top after it’s finished. Serve warm with coffee or cocoa for a lovely morning snack.
#9. Papas Rellenas (Stuffed Potatoes)
One of the heartiest most delicious Colombian snacks you need to try is the papas rellenas. In English, it means filled or stuffed potatoes and boy are they stuffed. This is another popular snack that you’ll often find on street vendor menus. You can fill these darlings with many different things.
Some people use rice instead of potatoes. Many people add peppers and onions to the cheese and meat and some add a creative mix of vegetables that make their papas rellenas more unique. Generally speaking, this is a fairly easy dish to make, plus it’s very filling for a snack food.
Typically what you’ll get is a mix of meat, cheese, and potatoes, batter dipped and fried until golden brown. You can have it as an afternoon snack with aji sauce or make it as a breakfast snack by adding eggs and sausage instead of chicken or beef. Want to try your hand at making this super snack? Check out this recipe for 10 papas rellenas.
#10. Kebabs (Chuzos de Res)
Colombians have their own version of shish kebabs called chuzos de res. Wherever there are street vendors in Colombia, you’ll find one selling this tasty little treat. Basically it’s grilled beef, chicken, or sausage mixed with peppers, onions, and potatoes on a wooden skewer.
What separates the contenders from the pretenders in the street vendor game is the spice. Everyone marinates their meats differently and with their own spice blends. Some mix in a variety of different vegetables and meats to make an extra generous kebab.
Usually you have the option between beef, chicken, or sausage and sometimes two or more meats are included. Whichever meat you choose, you can be sure it has been marinated for hours to bring out the flavor of the seasoning. We know you’re going to love this savory chuzos de res recipe. It’s a real palate pleaser!
Order These 3 Colombian Snacks on Amazon!
Frankly if you want to try most of the snacks on this list, unless you plan on traveling to Colombia some day, you’re going to have to make them yourself. But we did find a few traditional Colombian snacks that surprisingly you can order online.
#1. Packaged Ponque Ramo Chocolate Pound Cakes
A national favorite of Colombians everywhere is their version of pound cake called ponque ramo. We found a terrific recipe for homemade ponque ramo as well as a five pack of ponque ramo from Chocorramo.
#2. Colombian Wafers
On our list we didn’t get to a very popular snack beloved by many Colombians and that is their version of flour wafers called obleas. You can order a dozen Obleas from La Fe without going through the trouble of making them yourself – especially when you are looking for a quick handy snack.
#3. Medium Roast Colombian Coffee
Last and certainly not least, many of the most famous Colombian snacks go hand-in-hand with a nice brew of Colombian coffee. So we found some authentic Medium Roast Ground Colombian Coffee from Sello Rojo. Now you have everything you need to try the best Colombian snacks!