11 Guatemalan dishes that are definitely worth sampling

Guatemalan dishes - Jürg Widmer Probst

There are so many reasons to visit Guatemala as soon as the pandemic allows. From the beautiful countryside to the fascinating culture and history, I’d always recommend it as the ideal holiday destination. But one thing I haven’t talked much about yet is the food.

Guatemalan food is a mix of colonial influences and traditional Mayan dishes, which means fascinating and delicious cuisine. Here are some of the best Guatemalan dishes I think you should try when you visit this stunning country.

My 11 favourite traditional Guatemalan dishes that you should try

  1. Pepian

One of the main national dishes, pepian is a rich, thick stew. Made from meats and roasted spices mixed in with a tomato-based sauce and rice, it’s thick and delicious. A real comfort food and one of my favourite Guatemalan dishes.

  1. Kak’ik

Guatemalan cuisine includes many different kinds of stew, and this is another traditional dish. This version of a stew is made with turkey stewed with coriander, sometimes other meats, onions and coriander. It’s served with tortillas and rice.

  1. Fiambre

This is a salad and is traditionally served to celebrate the big national holiday of the Day of the Dead and All Saint’s Day in November. A mix of all kinds of ingredients, it varies from chef to chef and can include as many as 50 different foods. Generally it includes beef and other cold cuts.

  1. Elote loco

This directly translates as ‘crazy corn’, which may not sound like the usual dish but it’s really tasty. It’s often sold as a street food with grilled corn on the cob served with mayonnaise, ketchup and cheese.

  1. Rellenitos

The first pudding on my list, rellenitos make the ideal dessert and they are fully Guatemalan. Refried beans and plantains are cooked up with cinnamon and plenty of sugar to produce a doughnut like sweet treat.

  1. Tamales

Lots of Latin American countries serve a version of this dish. Guatemala’s tamales are bigger than the Mexican versions and are served in banana leaves.

  1. Jocon de Pollo

Another Guatemalan stew, this time it’s chicken. Comforting and hearty, it’s ideal if you’re up in the colder mountain areas of the country. Warming and delicious and just the thing after a busy day hiking and exploring.

  1. Tapado

This is made along the Caribbean coastal region of Guatemala, so if you head to the town of Livingston you’ll find tapado everywhere. And it’s the kind of stew that can be eaten on cold and hot days alike. Seafood and coconut milk give this dish a delicious depth of flavour.

  1. Chiles rellenos

Hugely popular with people in Guatemala, this dish consists of peppers stuffed with a mix of spices, meat and different vegetables. The peppers are then fried in egg batter to give a light, crispy finish – a bit like tempura.

  1. Hilaches

Another of my favourites, hilaches is a traditional Guatemalan dish made up of shredded beef in a rich, delicious tomato sauce. It’s filling and satisfying when served with tortillas and rice. Highly recommended.

  1. Pupusas

Actually not an indigenous Guatemalan dish, pupusas were invented in El Salvador. But they are very popular in Guatemala and you should definitely try them. They consist of small disks made of a corn mixture filled with beans, pork or cheese. While they’re always reasonably priced it’s worth noting they’re not the healthiest option., so you may not want to eat them every day of your holiday!

Travel to Guatemala for a holiday and discover delicious food

Holidays have very much taken a back seat for the vast majority of us during the global pandemic. But there are now signs that countries are beginning to open up slowly. Vaccinations still need to reach the developing regions, but we can be relatively confident that travel will be on the cards towards the end of 2021, if not before.

If you are considering planning a holiday, have a look at Guatemala. There is so much to see and do, and for a country that depends on tourism, it’s important that people return when it’s safe to do so.