Our 15 Best Cuban Recipes

From Havana to Miami and back, here’s how to make everything from saucy ropa vieja to inhalable guava butter cookies.

By SAVEUR Editors

Updated on April 11, 2024

While the Cubano sandwich has long been popular stateside, it’s far from the only Cuban food that deserves your attention. Heck, it’s not even the only Cuban sandwich that deserves your attention; exhibit A: the eggy, sugar-dusted medianoche (a Cubano-Monte Cristo hybrid). In this roundup of our best Cuban recipes, we bring you all of our test-kitchen favorites from over the years, from rich, saucy ropa vieja to crumbly guava cookies to 10-minute mojo sauce. So put on some rumba, muddle yourself a mojito, and get cooking.

Farideh Sadeghin

A medianoche (literally "middle of the night") is the kind of sandwich you eat after hours of partying in Miami's Cuban dance clubs. With roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, and pickles, it's almost identical to a Cuban sandwich—save for the bread: a sweet, eggy loaf similar to challah. Get the recipe >

Kevin Miyazaki

This exceptional recipe for the flavor-packed sauté of ground beef, olives, capers, and spices is on the table in 30 minutes. Get the recipe >

Photo: Belle Morizio • Food Styling: Victoria Granof • Prop Styling: Dayna Seman

Pork shoulder is marinated in citrusy mojo sauce and roasted to juicy, crackling perfection in this celebratory, head-turning centerpiece. Get the recipe >

Andre Baranowski

Nitza Villapol, the legendary Cuban cook and author, taught generations of islanders and exiles to make this hearty chicken stew. It draws flavor from alcaparrado, a mix of pimento-stuffed olives and capers, and sweetness from raisins. Get the recipe >

Penny De Los Santos

In Cuba, escabeche (vinegar-marinated food) is synonymous with sawfish, appreciated for its firm, white flesh. The fried sawfish steaks often come in a large earthenware cazuela topped with an olive oil-and-vinegar pickling sauce. Here’s how Maricel E. Presilla, author of Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America, makes the dish. Get the recipe >

Noah Fecks

According to Manny Rodríguez, the award-winning blogger who brought us this recipe, “I've never met a Cuban that doesn't like torticas de Morón. I make my version with cream cheese and guava and a little sprinkle of sea salt on top that makes it very unauthentic, but yummy." Get the recipe >

Photo: Linda Pugliese • Food Styling: Christine Albano • Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

Agua de jamaica owes its deep pink color and tart, perfumy flavor to the flower of a common garden plant: hibiscus. Called jamaica (pronounced ha-MY-kuh) in Spanish, the shrub thrives in subtropical climates and makes this drink subtly sweet. Get the recipe >

Photo: Linda Xiao • Food Styling: Jason Schreiber • Prop Styling: Summer Moore

Mojo is a fragrant garlic-and-herb sauce that adds zest and spice to many Cuban dishes. It can be used as a marinade for pork, beef, or seafood, or passed tableside as a condiment. Unlike Canary Island mojos, which rely on chiles and vinegar, Cuban mojo gets its signature tartness from bitter orange juice. Get the recipe >

Photo: Paola + Murray • Food Styling: Jason Schreiber • Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

Green guavas simmer in vanilla sugar to make this silky, crimson treat that tastes wonderful with a dollop of queso fresco. Get the recipe >

Todd Coleman

Saucy shredded beef, olives, and capers make this dish one of our favorite Cuban braises. Get the recipe >

Michael Kraus

At Floridita bar, this daiquiri tart with fresh grapefruit and lime juices was a regular order of author Ernest Hemingway. Get the recipe >

Todd Coleman

With lemon, oregano, and cumin, the Cuban-inspired marinade for this whole roast bird is a welcome shock to the tastebuds. Get the recipe >

Photo: Linda Xiao • Food Styling: Jason Schreiber • Prop Styling: Summer Moore

This sumptuous grilled sandwich—a crusty roll filled with roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, and pickles—originated in Cuba but has caught on throughout the U.S. Also known as a Cubano, it's a great way to use up leftover pernil asado con mojo. Get the recipe >

Todd Coleman

Commonly served for merienda (afternoon tea) in Cuba, this sandwich of turkey, jam, and cream cheese on a roll is sweet and savory all in one. Get the recipe >

Christopher Hirsheimer

Making a textbook-perfect mojito, Cuba’s signature minty rum cocktail, is easy—if you follow these simple instructions. Get the recipe >

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