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Cuban Cigars

Our Favorite Cuban Food Staples

Holt's Staff Cigar's picture

Holt's Staff

Cuba’s cigars are world-famous, their rum is renowned, and they’re responsible for some of the most refreshing cocktails around the globe. But what about their food? What are some traditional Cuban food staples? And how do they compare to the country’s other notable exports?

Let your friends at Holt’s get you up to speed on your Cuban food facts. Cuba’s food history is rich with sweet and savory staples that can be found on any table in the country – from family gatherings to everyday meals. Prepare to whet your appetite for authentic Cuban cuisine to enjoy before that after-dinner cigar.

Arroz y frijoles 

This rice-and-beans dish is to Cuba and other Central and South American countries what potatoes are to the United States. It’s a Cuban dish that’s simple and versatile; packed with fiber, protein, and great flavor. Eat it alone or add it to an entrée as the perfect accompaniment to fish or chicken. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, arroz y frijoles is a staple at any meal, any time of day. To add a little extra flair to this simple dish, try moros y cristianos (aka congri). It’s a similar white rice and black bean dish but cooked in garlic, oil and other spices. Muy delicioso! 


Do you like chicken fingers? Crab cakes? Or any fried, breaded meat? Yes, of course you do. Well, this mashed-up meat dish is also breaded and flash-fried to pack a flavorful blend of taste and texture. Along with your choice of mashed meat (veal, beef, chicken, turkey, shellfish or fish), croquetas can combine mashed potatoes, vegetables, cheese, and béchamel sauce to top it all off. 


When many a Cuban needs to satisfy a sweet tooth craving, they turn to pastelitos to do the trick. Imagine a flakey pastry like a croissant that’s filled with sweet, tantalizing guava, cream cheese, pineapple, or coconut among other fillings. It’s ideal for brunch or desert. No matter what time of day you choose to enjoy a pastelito, your sugary taste buds won’t be disappointed. There are also meat-filled pastelitos that are far more savory than sweet. If a delectable, airy pastry isn’t your thing and you’re more inclined to indulge your carnivorous side, give one of those a try. 

Lechon asado

You didn’t think you were going to make it through a Cuban cuisine list without a pig on a spit did you? Family gatherings are kind of a big deal in Cuba and nothing tops off a family get-together like a pig on spit. In the case of lechon asado, it’s a milk piglet cooked on a spit until its skin is crispy and often served with a spicy Cuban marinade called mojo.


Americans love ground beef for its versatility. For Cubans, picadillo is the equivalent of ground chuck but with a Latin twist – more ingredients (veggies and herbs) are ground into it. No, it’s not a burger, but it does pair exceptionally well with a side of the aforementioned arroz y frijoles (rice and beans).


Baby. Back. Ribs. Cuban style. That’s all that needs to be said. But just to give your taste buds extra incentive to gear up for maximum flavor, this dish is typically served with a mix of sour orange juice, lime juice, oregano, garlic and olive oil for a delightfully sweet and tangy taste.

Arroz con leche

Yes, Cubans love their rice. And yes, Cubans love their sweets. Both are a cultural staple. Put them together and you get arroz con leche, which translates to “rice with milk.” Sounds a little weird, right? Wrong. It’s delicious. The consistency of the rice blended with silky, creamy milk and topped with a dash of cinnamon is a favorite dessert for Cuban families on the island or elsewhere in the world. Think of it as a more texture-rich rice pudding.

Shrimp in coconut sauce

This irresistible seaside treat typically consists of lechita (coconut sauce) that is prepared with coconut milk, tomato paste, garlic and a mixture of other spices. Once the coconut sauce has been prepped, it’s poured over shrimp, octopus, or lobster.

Man (and woman) cannot live on cigars alone! The next time your herf-mates are hankering for something substantial to enjoy alongside a spread of fine cigars, tap into these tried-and-true Cuban cuisine favorites to enhance the flavor (and fun) of the next congregation in your man cave. 

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