14 Popular Cuban Christmas Food 


Cuba is the perfect place to visit on your Christmas holidays. One of the best things about Cuba is the food. Their food is a unique cuisine with Caribbean, Spanish and African influences.

A Cuban Christmas is celebrated not on Christmas Day itself but on Christmas Eve. This leaves Christmas Day for religious observance. The Christmas Eve celebration is the culmination of almost 10 days of lively partying.

Known as Nochebuena or “goodnight,” this is the festival to top all festivals for people who know how to party. The party goes on until the early hours of Christmas morning.

The main course for Cuban Noche Buena always includes lechon asado (Cuban roast pork), frijoles negros with rice or moros, yuca con mojo which turns into yuca frita the next day, and platanos maduros.

This Cuban Christmas feast would end with either flan, arroz con leche or Cuban buñuelos with cafecito for dessert.

Cuban Christmas Food

Here are some of the dishes you will definitely want to try on your visit to Cuba.

1. Cuban Sandwich

Traditional cuban sandwich with cheese, ham and fried pork, served on a wooden board

The Cuban sandwich is the most popular Cuban food to become popular outside of Cuba. It’s a lunchtime staple and is made of Cuban buttered bread, Serrano ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, mustard and dill pickles. Then, it’s usually put on a panini grill, which gives the sandwich that perfect crunch.

2. Ropa Vieja

Ropa vieja, traditional flank steak dish with rice, cuban beans and plantains

Ropa Vieja is one of the national Cuban food dishes and in English, it means old clothes. It’s made by stewing beef with vegetables. It resembles a mess of rags and is usually served with rice and beans, though it’s also great on tortillas or in a sandwich.

3. Lechon Asado (Mojo-Marinated Pork)

Baked pork meat ham on black kitchen table. Top view with copy space.

Cubans love pork and no dish showcases it more than lechon asado. What sets Cuban pork apart is mojo criollo, a highly seasoned marinade made of sour orange juice, garlic, cumin and oregano.

4. Empanadas

Homemade Stuffed Chicken Empanadas on a Background

The Cuban empanada is a stuffed pastry, usually stuffed with a spicy minced meat filling called picadillo. Many Cuban families make them for special occasions such as Christmas or Birthdays. They are incredibly delicious. And it’s hard to eat just one.

5. Arroz Con Leche (Rice Pudding)

Traditional rice pudding with cinnamon. Tasty and nutritious breakfast

Arroz con leche is the perfect Cuban comfort food. Made with rice, vanilla, cinnamon, milk and lemon zest, it’s richer and sweeter than the rice pudding you may be used to. It’s usually served warm and is the perfect ending to a meal.

A Cuban spin turns this comfort food into a party dish to remember. Condensed milk creates a sweet and creamy base with comforting rice. Cinnamon adds spice and an exotic Christmas aroma.

The distinctive Cuban character comes from the addition of lemon zest and a mint leaf.

6. Tender Lechon Asado (Cuban Roast Pork)

Experience the rich tradition of Cuban Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) with this mouthwatering Cuban Lechon Asado. The pork shoulder is marinated in a homemade garlic-citrus mojo marinade and then slow-roasted to perfection in the oven.

The result is tender, juicy shredded pork with that coveted crispy pork skin, making it a delightful tradition reminiscent of holiday gatherings you’ll want to savor year-round.

7. Moros y Cristianos/Arroz Congri (Cuban Black Beans And Rice)

A dish of traditional Cuban cuisine with black beans and rice

Moros y Cristianos (or Congri) is a flavorful Cuban black beans and rice side dish made with long-grain rice, black beans, bacon and fragrant spices.

You can make this classic dish with canned black beans or dried black beans, depending on how much time you have. This dish is best served with Cuban roast pork and yuca con mojo.

This humble Cuban side dish is the perfect accompaniment for the rich meat. The rice takes on the dark color from the beans.

8. Cuban Yuca with Mojo

Yuca (aka cassava) is basically the Cuban potato. By itself, it tastes boring—just your typical starchy vegetable—but that’s where the mojo comes in.

Mojo is a sauce that includes garlic, olive oil and citrus juice. Recipes vary, but really, you can’t go wrong with lemon or lime juice. It adds the perfect tang of flavor to your yuca.

9. Authentic Cuban Tostones (Twice-Fried Plantains)

Traditional Central American caribbean cuban colombian food. Fried tostones, green bananas plantains with guacamole sauce. Top view, flat lay

Tostones, a classic Latin staple, are twice-fried plantains made from green plantains. They’re prepared by peeling, slicing, frying, smashing and then frying again.

For a Cuban twist, serve tostones with a garlic mojo dipping sauce. Enjoy them as an appetizer or side dish alongside dishes like picadillo, arroz con pollo, or sopa de pollo.

The fried tostones are served with dipping sauces. These Cuban-style thick chips are a crispy and tasty accompaniment to the meal, much like their sweeter cousin, platanos maduros.

10. Frijoles Negros (Cuban Black Beans)

These frijoles negros are a silky, smooth black bean recipe cooked to perfection. The most flavorful Cuban side dish served with white rice.



Flan is a Cuban classic, a creamy sweet custard in cake form that is topped with gooey caramel sauce. You’ll want to shovel it down by the plateful. Enjoy your flan with a steaming mug of Cafe con leche and you’ll be in Cuban heaven.

12. Buñuelos

Buñuelos are the Cuban Christmas pastry. They’re like a combination of fried dough and a doughnut or, in other words, they are delicious. They are made of yuca too, which means you should stock up on yuca as it is prominently featured in this meal.

They are served with syrup or powdered sugar, but if you like to live on the edge, you could add a scoop of ice cream to the mix.

13. Cake de Ron


No Christmas feast is complete without a Christmas cake. The Cuban rum cake is rich and moist. Its ingredients include the eggs, flour, sugar, and butter you would expect. In addition, there is vanilla, lemon peel and dark rum.

Cuba’s most important crop is sugar cane. The alcohol produced from cane sugar, rum, finds its way into much of Cuba’s cooking. The Cake de Ron is a celebration of this magic ingredient.

The cake is served with a sauce made from more rum, banana liqueur, butter and more sugar. It’s sweet and delicious—a classic Cuban dessert.

14. Turrón

This candy nougat has it’s roots in Spain but you’ll find turrones on every Cuban Christmas dinner table without fail.

Turrón comes in various flavors but the two most popular are turrón de alicante and turrón de jijona.

What’s Christmas Like In Cuba?

If you’d rather stay away from the classic Western-style consumerist frenzy and constant gift buying and carol singing, you’ll love Cuban Christmas.

Although Christmas can feel pared down compared to how other countries celebrate the festivities, a lot of travelers find Cuban Christmas a refreshing experience.

Celebrate Cuban Christmas Dinner with Family and Friends

Every culture has its own unique Christmas traditions. And Cubans have theirs too.

A Christmas dinner is a great time to get together with family and friends. Classic foods that you love to eat remind you of home and past Christmas times.

Food, especially dishes like this, plays an important role in strengthening familial and communal bonds. The preparation and enjoyment of traditional dishes create a shared experience that fosters closeness and unity among family members and friends.

Nochebuena (Christmas eve, 24th December)

Nochebuena ( the good night) is the main celebratory date in the festive calendar. For Cubans, Nochebuena is a time to get together with your family at home, cook and enjoy an evening meal.

The traditional Nochebuena meal includes roast leg of pork, congrí rice (rice cooked with black beans), yucca with garlic dressing, fried plantains and salad, but most people cook with whatever they have.

Those with money tend to follow US traditions, so they cook a turkey, put lights on their house and even decorate a Christmas tree, usually fake and boasting very kitsch vibes.

Very few go to church and attend a festive mass. The next day, December 25, is a national holiday, and it’s used as a day of rest. Some paladars, restaurants and nightclubs do special Christmas events, but the majority of the country can’t afford to attend them.

Why do some Cuban families roast a whole hog/pig for Christmas ?

The cooking process is part of the celebration, and it is tradition to find large gatherings of friends and family roasting a whole pig with different techniques and, of course, different recipes. But they all have one thing in common: MOJO.

This is the secret ingredient for Cuban roast pork: the perfect balance between garlic, citrus and herbs to elevate the meat experience with the most characteristic flavor of the island’s cuisine.

A Taste of Cuba’s Nochebuena,  Preserving Heritage Through Culinary Excellence

Nochebuena celebrations in Cuba symbolize the spirit of togetherness, family bonds and the preservation of cultural traditions. The gathering around the table to savor the iconic “pernil con moros y cristianos,” that dish with plenty of authentic Cuban flavors, embodies the essence of tradition and unity.

As Cuban cuisine gains global recognition, dishes like this serve as ambassadors of culture, and you now have the recipe and background to experience a genuine Cuban meal this holiday season.


During Christmas and New Year, Cubans will also celebrate with a special meal. This meal might include croquettes or tostones as appetizers, along with marinated olives. The main meal consists of black beans and rice, viandas, Cuban salad and roasted pork unlechon.

If you are planning to spend Christmas in Cuba, why not experience local life in one of the smaller, iconic towns of Trinidad or Viñales, Your stay will make a special effort, so you’ll have a Christmas to remember.

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