Exploring the sweet side of Cuba, you might wonder what traditional desserts are cherished in this vibrant Caribbean nation.
Cuban cuisine is rich and varied, reflecting the island’s cultural diversity and history. However, when it comes to desserts, it can be a challenge to pin down the most authentic and traditional options, as many recipes have been passed down through generations and have regional variations.
To guide you on your culinary journey, we have curated a list of 20 traditional Cuban desserts that you must try, from the creamy ‘Flan Cubano’ to the unique ‘Cascos de Guayaba con Queso Crema’ – a guava shells with cream cheese delight.
Each dessert on this list tells a story, blending indigenous ingredients with Spanish and African influences, creating a palette of flavors that is uniquely Cuban.
In A Rush? Key Takeaways:
- Dive into the richness of Cuban desserts with classics like ‘Arroz con Leche’ and ‘Turrón.’
- Don’t miss out on regional specialties like ‘Cocada’ and ‘Buñuelos.’
- Embrace the sweet and savory combo in ‘Cascos de Guayaba con Queso Crema.’
Arroz con Leche is a classic Latin American rice pudding made creamy and sweet with milk and cinnamon. Short grain rice simmers in a vanilla-infused milk mixture until soft and creamy for a satisfying dessert in minutes.
The rice absorbs the sweetened milk as it cooks, resulting in a lovely velvety texture and natural sweetness. Spices like cinnamon and vanilla add warmth and depth of flavor. The pudding thickens further once chilled. Topped with fruit, nuts, or whipped cream, this humble rice pudding makes for an elegant yet easy dessert.
These bars infuse the bright, tropical flavors of a refreshing mojito cocktail into a buttery shortbread for a unique twist. A simple dough of butter, sugar, flour, and lime zest bakes up crispy and sandy thanks to lots of butter.
Once cooled, the shortbread gets brushed with a mojito-inspired syrup of lime juice, sugar, rum, and mint. Finally, a dusting of powdered sugar adds a sweet crunch. The tangy lime pairs perfectly with the buttery shortbread while the rum and mint provide a fun mojito essence.
These melt-in-your-mouth Cuban shortbread cookies get their signature sandy texture from lots of butter. Just three ingredients – flour, butter, and sugar – are creamed together and sliced into buttery, crumbly cookies that practically melt on the tongue.
A high proportion of butter gives the shortbread its delicate texture that simply shatters into buttery flakes with each bite. Vanilla and lime zest add subtle flavor depth. The very short ingredient list and simple hand-shaped cookies make preparation easy.
Cuban flan relies on quality ingredients to shine – just sweetened condensed and evaporated milk, eggs, vanilla, and caramel. Though it requires no special skills, its elegant silky texture and sweet-tart flavor elevate it to new heights.
This dessert is beloved for its timeless appeal – warm, familiar, and made special with simple ingredients. The flan gets its signature creaminess from eggs and milk which bake into a lightly sweet, luxurious custard. Their portable size also makes them perfect for packaging up and enjoying on the go.
Guava is iconic in Cuban pastries for its combination of sweetness and slight tartness. These miniature hand pies hold a bit of tropical sunshine in each bite. Made with a simple dough and easily found guava paste, they’re easy to whip up for a unique dessert.
A dough of butter, flour, salt, and sugar gets rolled out and filled with guava paste or jam before sealing and baking until golden. With their crispy pastry and bright guava filling, these little Cuban pastries offer a delicious taste of the tropics.
The sweet, tropical flavor of the maduros becomes concentrated, with notes of caramel and brown sugar intensifying. Cinnamon is also commonly sprinkled on top for extra warmth. Despite their decadence, they come together easily with just plantains and oil.
Plátanos Maduros Fritos are sweet fried ripe plantains that capture the essence of Cuban comfort food. Very ripe plantains are sliced into disks and shallow fried in oil until caramelized and crispy on the outside yet soft and tender inside.
The strong coffee flavor is prominent yet balanced by sweet notes. The custard firms up when chilled but remains velvety. Brightened with a dusting of cinnamon, these little custards encapsulate beaucoup Cuban flavor in spoonable form.
Capuchinos showcase the very best of Cuban cafe culture with their harmonious blend of strong coffee and sweet milk. Easy to whip up and enjoy morning or night, they’re an iconic Cuban dessert. The egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk create a lush texture almost like that of a creamy mousse.
Dulce de Leche Cortada is a combination of sweet and sour flavors that come together to create a dessert that will leave you wanting more. The caramelized condensed milk is creamy and rich, while the lime juice adds a tartness that balances out the sweetness.
This indulgent dessert is made by cooking condensed milk until it becomes caramelized and thick. The dish is then finished by adding lime juice, which causes the mixture to curdle. This gives the dessert its distinct texture and tangy flavor.
The recipe for Churros is relatively straightforward and involves making a dough from flour, water, and salt. This dough is then piped into long thin strips, fried until lightly golden, then rolled in cinnamon sugar. The result is a crispy and sweet dessert that is impossible to resist.
Churros are a classic and beloved Cuban dessert that originated from Spain. These deep-fried dough pastries are delicately crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. They are typically dusted with a generous amount of cinnamon sugar and served with a rich and creamy chocolate dipping sauce.
The process of making Cuban Sugar Cookies is relatively simple, yet it requires precision and patience. The dough is made by creaming butter and sugar together, then gradually adding in the flour and vanilla. Once mixed, the dough is formed into little balls and baked until they are lightly golden.
After the cookies have cooled, they are rolled in a generous amount of powdered sugar, giving them their signature sweet and crumbly texture. These cookies are perfect for enjoying with a cup of coffee or tea or as a sweet treat anytime.
Coquitos, also known as coconut kisses or macaroons, is a delightful and sweet dessert that is popular in Cuba and the Caribbean. These coconutty goodness morsels are made with just a few simple ingredients, including shredded coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract.
The coconut is toasted until it’s golden brown, then mixed with the condensed milk and vanilla to create a delicious and chewy texture. The dough is then scooped into little balls and baked until they’re golden and crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.
The balance of flavors in Guava Cheesecake is what makes it truly special. The creaminess of the cheesecake is balanced out by the sweetness and tanginess of the guava sauce. The slightly crunchy texture of the crust adds another layer of texture that makes this dessert even more enjoyable.
This recipe combines a creamy cheesecake filling with a guava sauce that’s made by cooking fresh guava with sugar and water until it becomes a thick and fruit-filled syrup. The cheesecake crust is made with graham crackers and butter, and it complements the filling and guava sauce perfectly.
This recipe is a fan favorite because of its simplicity and deliciousness. The crunchy, flaky shell of the empanada is made from a mixture of flour, salt, sugar, and butter. The filling is made with delicious, juicy apples, cinnamon, and brown sugar.
What makes Abuela’s Apple Empanadas so delicious is the combination of flavors and textures. The warm, sweet apple filling is perfectly complemented by the buttery, flaky crust. The use of cinnamon adds a warm, comforting flavor that makes this dessert even more irresistible.
The soft, tender bananas are the perfect contrast to the crunchy vanilla wafers. The sweet, creamy custard that holds everything together is what really sets this dessert apart, though. It is rich and decadent, with just the right amount of sweetness.
Banana Casserole is a classic Cuban dessert that is loved by many. This recipe is the perfect way to use up overripe bananas, and it is incredibly easy to make. What makes Banana Casserole so delicious is the combination of textures and flavors.
The guava paste is cut into small cubes or strips and then cooked down with sugar and water. Then, it is mixed with the cream cheese and cooked a little more until it becomes a soft and creamy mixture. It is then served as a spread on top of crackers or bread slices to create a sweet, delicious snack.
What makes Casquitos de Guayaba so delicious is the unique combination of flavors. The sweetness of the guava paste is beautifully balanced by the creaminess of the cream cheese, creating a perfectly harmonious dessert.
Bolitas de Tamarindo is a traditional Cuban dessert that is a delicious sweet treat enjoyed by many. The main ingredient in this dessert is tamarind pulp, which is mixed with sugar and water to create a sweet, tangy syrup.
The tangy tamarind pulp is tempered by the sweetness of the sugar, resulting in a perfectly balanced dessert. The sugary coating adds a nice crunch to each bite, making it the perfect snack to enjoy throughout the day.
If you are looking for a delectable treat that will surely satisfy your sweet cravings, then the Copycat Cuban Lunch Squares is something you should try. Known for its irresistible creamy filling and flaky crust, this dessert is a classic in the Cuban food culture.
It is easy to make and the ingredients are readily available in any local grocery store. The crust is made with flour, butter, sugar, and salt, while the filling is made with peanut butter and melted chocolate.
Pina Asada is a quintessential part of Cuban cuisine and one of the must-try desserts on my blog’s list of traditional Cuban desserts. What I love most about this dessert is the way it combines different textures and flavors to create a unique taste experience.
The juicy and succulent pineapples, coupled with the sweetness of the brown sugar and cinnamon, create a harmonious balance that will leave you wanting more. The addition of grilled smokiness takes it to a whole new level of deliciousness, making it the perfect dessert for a backyard BBQ.
Cuban coffee is not just a beverage – it is a cultural experience. It is a perfect example of how simple ingredients can create an incredibly delicious drink.
The creaminess and sweetness of the crema are perfectly balanced by the bold strength of the coffee, creating a harmony of flavors that will tantalize your taste buds. A shot of Cuban coffee is like a jolt of energy that brings you into the rhythm of the vibrant Cuban culture.
This drink is a fusion of two classic cocktails – the Mojito and the Margarita – creating a delightful blend of flavors that will take you on a journey to the beautiful beaches of Cuba. The ingredients include fresh mint leaves, lime juice, tequila, triple sec, and simple syrup.
The mint leaves and lime juice are muddled together, creating a fragrant and zesty base, then tequila, triple sec, and simple syrup are added, creating a perfect balance of sweet and sour flavors. This cocktail is perfect for a Cuban-inspired party or an afternoon of relaxation by the pool.
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