Traditional Food of Colombia

Traditional Food of Colombia

As in almost all of Latin America, the cuisine of Colombia is the result of combining local food products with those brought by the Spaniards at the time of the conquest. Thanks to this fusion of ingredients, the resulting dishes have become representative foods of the country.  

For years, Colombian cuisine, which has fascinated the palate of both locals and visitors, has earned an undisputed place in international gastronomy. For that reason, we want to introduce you to the most traditional dishes of Colombia

Paisa Tray

It is a typical food of the Antioquia region, closely linked to the Colombian idiosyncrasy. 

Among the characteristics of this dish stands out the abundance of proteins and carbohydrates, among the variety of foods that compose it. This is why it is necessary to serve this food in large-sized viands.

This dish, which in the mid-19th century served as the main (and sometimes only) sustenance of the muleteers of Antioquia, is made up as follows: Rice, chicharrón, fried egg, slices of ripe plantain, chorizo, arepa antioqueña, hogao, red beans, and avocado. 

The Bandeja Paisa, which is the result of a combination of foods with the nutritional requirements for the hard-working days of yesteryear, is usually accompanied with: Mazamorra with milk, ground panela, dulce macho, or guava sandwich.

There are variations of this dish. In places like Valle de Cauca, Tolima, and Viejo Caldas many consider that the essence of the dish is lost.

The extra components are Roast beef and pork, Antioquian blood sausage, and grilled pork liver. These, along with the foods mentioned above, make up the so-called Tray of Seven Meats. 

Fried Mojarra

The fried Mojarra is the typical Colombian dish most often enjoyed on the beaches. It is a fish that comes from Africa and has the ability to survive in both fresh and saltwater.

It is customary to prepare this dish fried, seasoned with lemon juice, some salt, and pepper to taste on the Colombian coasts. People enjoy Fried Mojarra with coconut or white rice, salad, patacones, or french fries as an accompaniment.     

The mojarra, for its exquisite flavor and popularity, is part of the heritage of Colombian gastronomy, specifically of the department of Atlántico. This is one of the most demanded dishes in restaurants by tourists coming from the most diverse latitudes. It is an eminently Caribbean dish prepared in Colombian homes, especially on weekends.

Veal a la llanera     

Ternera a la llanera is a food typical of the Colombian plains. It is also called mamona, since it is obtained from the calf when it is still suckling from the cow, that is, at approximately one year of age.

In Colombia, it is customary to prepare this dish on holidays or in a celebration attended by many people. Its preparation is carried out over low heat (low) for about four hours. It is not recommended to fan the flames, as it is counterproductive to the characteristic flavor.

The knowledge of the cuts of meat is of great importance to prepare this dish. These are:

  • The bear: Tongue, jaw, neck and jowls.
  • Tremblers: It is in the breast of the calf. It is cut into long strips.
  • Heron: The udder area.
  • Stingray: Hindquarters, tail, mules and haunches.

According to the ancestral tradition of the llanera, the way to prepare it is very simple. The cuts must be skewered in chuzos and then roasted with the heat of the embers. Only salt is added, nothing else. The juice of the meat concentrates and gives that delicious flavor after roasting. The entrails, on the other hand, are cooked separately and are called entreverado.

Three-phase Sancocho

In Colombia, sancocho triphasic is typical of the Andean region. It consists of three types of meat, plus beef ribs, pork and chicken. The base of this famous meal is the broth that results from the preparation of beef ribs and pork.  

Among its ingredients are the following: plantain, corn on the cob, yucca, potato, onion, and chopped cilantro. Everything is simmered for a little more than an hour. It’s the kind of meal that brings family and friends together for pleasant conversations.

It is usually eaten with white rice, a piece of avocado, and a hogao. It is a complete dish and full of proteins, wprovidingvitamins. The popularity of sancocho triphasic extends beyond the Colombian borders. It is a dish consumed in several Latin American countries, although with some variations depending on the region where it is prepared.

Mazamorra Paisa

Since ancient times, corn has been one of the vegetables with the greatest presence in Latin American food, and Mazamorra Paisa is one of those. It is a delicious creamy dessert, intimately linked to the region of Antioquia.

It can be consumed practically at any time of the day, however, thanks to its nutritional contribution, many choose to ingest it in the morning hours to start the day with the energy and vigor necessary for the working day.

For children, it is also an excellent choice because it feeds them, nourishes them and they enjoy its flavor.

Mazamorra has its origins in colonial times in Colombia. At that time, the mazamorreras prepared it with cow’s milk. They used to put all the ingredients in a can of milk, then heated for hours until the corn softened.

Later they added sugar, cinnamon, and panel, among other ingredients, to obtain, finally, the delicious taste of the Colombian dessert.   

Nowadays, there are several ways to prepare Mazamorra, but the one produced in Antioquia is considered the original one in Colombia.  

Boyacense Stew

The boyacense stew is a dish that per se speaks of Colombian biodiversity, thanks to the variety of its ingredients. Among its components are: Chugas, ibias, cubes, broad beans, sabanera potato, peas, corn on the cob, beef and pork ribs, tomato, onion, seasonings and herbs, all in a pot with oil.

This dish served with rice, avocado, and hogao sauce, arrived in Colombia at the Spanish conquest. The Europeans brought a dish called olla podrida (rotten pot), which delighted the natives. However, they were forced to substitute several ingredients because of their high cost.

They began, then, to replace them with food from their crops, such as ibias, chuguas, turnips, etc. This is how this dish, which is part of Colombian history, has passed from one generation to another to form an essential part of the diet of peasants. Nowadays, it can be appreciated on the table of homes in Colombia. 

The boyacense stew has achieved national and international notoriety, after in 2016 it was positioned as one of the typical dishes of Colombia in the gastronomic festival that took place in Villa de Leyva.

Asado Huilense

Asado huilense is the signature dish of the San Pedro festivities, which take place every year in Neiva, capital of Huila, in the last week of June. It is a religious celebration that came to Colombia at the hands of the Spanish conquistadors.

For the elaboration of this traditional dish, the pork must be macerated with beer, vegetables, orange juice, spices and herbs. Afterwards, cover the pork with banana leaves and place it in a clay oven, preferably.

This dish is usually accompanied by banana wraps, dog ears, and plain rice. It is the kind of meal that is made in abundance to share with family and friends in the midst of pleasant gatherings.

Nowadays, with the advances in technology, most people use blenders and gas ovens, among others, in the cooking of the huilense asado. However, the final result of the dish differs significantly in relation to the taste that you have to use traditional utensils. Even so, it is still an explosion of flavor in the palates.

Mullet rice


The arroz lisa is a natural dish from Barranquilla. The yellowish color that characterizes it is due to its main ingredient: the mullet, a fish that usually spawns in the mouths of rivers as well as in salt waters.

In its preparation, several components are combined – rice, paprika, sweet pepper, tomatoes, onions, garlic cloves, cumin, and leek, among other spices. It is served in a palm leaf (bijao). It is customary to accompany it with an avocado salad, yucca bun, and refreshing panela water.

This dish is very common to see street vendors offering this dish almost anywhere in the city. Restaurants offer more possibilities to make combinations.

Some people add cheese from the coast, cooked yucca, or whey atollabuey to the accompaniment. Many people take advantage of lunchtime to eat arroz a la lisa to replenish their energy before going back to work.

The arroz lisa, a couple of decades old, is one of the least long-lived dishes. However, it has become part of the hearts and tastes of Colombians and tourists eager for the coastal gastronomy of that country.


One of the favorite snacks of Colombians is the pandebono. This delicacy, which is very common in Valle del Cauca, is made with cornstarch, egg, cheese, starch, and fermented yucca. Pandebono is not proper bread since wheat flour is not included in the recipe.

It is believed that the person responsible for the name of this famous snack was an Italian baker who lived in Cali. He used to go out to the streets every day to sell his bread hawking: pan del bono, which translates as good bread.

With the passing of time, the bun changed its name a little: pandebono. Still, it maintains the flavor that gave it so much popularity and acceptance both in the Cali public and throughout Colombia.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of this particular bread is the quantity and variety of cheeses used to make it. Despite their elastic texture, they are not sticky. Besides, they can be eaten at any time of the day with any kind of filling or with sweet or savory creams, depending on your taste.

It is possible to satisfy the craving either in establishments or directly with street vendors. This Colombian bread can be eaten several times a day, without the risk of losing your figure.


The cuchuco is one of the most famous dishes of the Andean zone in Colombia due to the region’s cold. It is a broth made with pork, very easy to prepare, and helps to warm up. Colombian culture and gastronomy, in part, is reflected in this dish.

It all began in the times of colonization, when the Spaniards brought their food supplies made with typical ingredients from the European country. But they were mixed with Colombian flavors until they reached the dish we know today.

To prepare the cuchuco, the pork backbone is used, carrots and peas are added, then it is seasoned with pepper and salt to taste. Later the cuchuco of wheat is added, which gives a consistency to the soup, similar to cream.  

This dish, usually prepared on Sundays, like almost all soups in Colombia, is accompanied by green plantain. One of the great advantages of this soup is that its ingredients are within reach of almost every pocket. It is very economical and healthy.


One of the most characteristic features of Colombian gastronomy is its diversity. There are many and varied dishes that are elaborated, according to the region of the country, although they always keep their essence.

Colombia’s beautiful beaches, its culture, and the warmth of its people, among other attractions, combine perfectly with its cuisine. Which is directly responsible for bringing Colombian culinary art to all parts of the planet. 

Leave a Comment