The typical Nicaraguan food is very original, dating back to pre-Columbian times and then merging with Spanish culture during the conquest. Although typical Nicaraguan dishes have been combined for years to give it peculiar characteristics, in an extensive area of the country, corn is based on the Nicaraguan food.
It should be noted that there is a difference between the Pacific meals of Nicaragua, the Atlantic, the North, the Caribbean and the Center. Each area, according to its cultural and geographical peculiarities, originated several dishes, drinks or sweets that over time became known throughout the country.
Some regional dishes in Nicaragua defend their authorship through locals, who sign and specialize in certain recipes, but most are already known nationally.
Most Common Ingredients Used in Nicaraguan Food
The basic foods and grains that are used in Nicaraguan food are many and can vary depending on the area of the country. The following ingredients are the most commonly used:
Corn as the main ingredient
Corn is one of the food bases of Nicaraguan, and is used in many dishes such as nacatamal, yoltamal and indio viejo.
In addition to be used as a complement in the form of tortillas, it is an ingredient for drinks such as pinolillo and chicha, as well as in sweets, doughnuts and typical desserts.
Rice and Beans
After corn, rice and beans are the ingredients that are almost never missing in a Nicaraguan dish.
One of the main reasons is that these two ingredients are used to cook one of the most representative and traditional dishes in the country, as is the Gallo pinto.
Also, in Nicaragua many people make the famous bean soup, which can be eaten with chicharrón and eggs.
Cheese and other dairy products
Cheese, another main ingredient that is almost never lacking in a Nicaraguan meal, serves as a complement for famous dishes such as the Gallo Pinto and even only with rice and beans.
Cream is another dairy widely used as a complement to meals and for one of the typical dishes of the country called quesillo, a different type of cheese with cream and onion topped with a corn tortilla.
What Are the Most Traditional Dishes and Drinks in Nicaragua?
Nicaragua has a wide variety of traditional meals and drinks that are very delicious and appetizing to the palate. Here’s a list of the top traditional food and drinks:
Traditional Nicaraguan meals
This dish is characterized by carrying two very important basic grains such as rice and beans, together they are delicious, their preparation is extremely easy and can be accompanied with what one desires, that is why Nicaraguans love this dish, besides that anywhere in Nicaragua can be found. Click here to get the recipe
If you want to enjoy a weekend with a Nicaraguan dish, we recommend nacatamales, these can be chicken or pork, are eaten with bread and coffee or some natural drink. Sometimes it can be found on Friday. Click here to get the recipe
Vigoron is especially found in Granada because it is its typical dish, but it can also be found anywhere in Nicaragua, although being a dish of few ingredients is very delicious and highly sought after by Nicaraguans, does not require many procedures and can easily be done at home. Click here to get the recipe
El Indio Viejo is prepared anywhere in Nicaragua, is one of the best-known dishes in the country and is located in any local restaurant, mainly in the department of Carazo. Its texture is similar to an atol or a thick soup and is complemented by a cooked green banana. Click here to get the recipe
Baho is one of many typical meals of our country, usually, weekends are the days when you eat this dish with its variety of ingredients makes Nicaraguans look for it. Although in the capital there are certain places that are prepared all week (it is very common to find them in the markets). Click here to get the recipe
It is a very delicious dish, they are found throughout Nicaragua especially in Nagarote, it is a very popular dish to eat on hikes because it is a light dish, they can also be found in places where there is a lot of traffic (bus stops, service stations, markets, etc). Click here to get the recipe
This soup is typical in one of the municipalities of Masaya called masatepe, it is considered the best soup in the department. It is a dish that can be found in markets, restaurants and street food stalls. Click here to get the recipe
Traditional Nicaraguan drinks.
Nicaraguan Cacao Drink
It is a typical nicaraguan drink, it is delicious and very simple to prepare, you can drink this drink with any Nicaraguan meal. The Nicaraguan Cacao drink is marketed in supermarkets, restaurants, pulperas and can even be prepared at home. Click here to get the recipe
Nicaraguan Pinolillo Drink
It is the drink that most represents all Nicaraguans, for this drink, Nicaraguans are called “pinoleros”. It is a very refreshing drink, its main ingredients are corn and cocoa, it is marketed in supermarkets. Click here to get the recipe
Semilla de Jícaro
The jicaro seed, prepared with very nutritious ingredients, rich in protein and carbohydrates with it is made a traditional Nicaraguan soda of jícaro seed or horchata mixed with milk make it a very delicious soft drink, can be found in any Nicaraguan comideria or restaurants.
Chicha de Maiz from Nicaragua
Corn chicha, as the name says, is prepared from corn, enjoyed by all Nicaraguans at any time of the year. It is a soft and very refreshing drink, its preparation is very easy, you can also buy already prepared just to add the water.
Tiste is a Nicaraguan drink that contains very delicious ingredients which make the drink thick and very refreshing to the body. This drink is very similar to the pinolillo with the only difference that this one contains a lot of cocoa. It can be found in local restaurants.
Chia con Tamarindo
It is a simple drink, as its name says it is a combination of chia with tamarind, this drink is very refreshing and helps with digestion, it is found everywhere in Nicaragua mainly in markets and in restaurants.
Traditional Nicaraguan Desserts
Cajetas from Nicaragua
There are varieties of cajetas, among them are coconut, piñonate or papaya box, coyolith box, peanut box, etc. its preparation is very easy that many people make it and go out to sell them street by street.
Almibar from Nicaragua
Just like cajetas, there are several ways to make almibar, their main ingredients are fruits, the most common are pineapple, mango, papaya, nancites, etc. syrup is usually consumed with a pinolillo glass or simple pinol.
Buñuelos from Nicaragua
One of the most consumed and richest desserts of Nicaraguans is the Buñuelos, it is consumed at any time of the year, many like to enjoy it on weekends. They can be found in homemade shops, pulp shops, can even be done at home as you only need cassava, cheese, oil and honey.
Rosquillas from Nicaragua
Among the rosquillas we have the old ones, simple doughnuts, roasts, among others, they are highly sought after by all Nicaraguans, they take them on their trips because they are very light and also by all tourists, we are blessed to be able to find them in markets surrounding the town, also some sales.
Melcochas from Nicaragua
One of the most representative products is melcochas, its process or its ingredients may be simple but the combination of these ingredients produce delicious sweets that are sought after a lot by children, young people and adults.
Fritangas from Nicaragua
Nicaraguan enchiladas, it is a night meal, this is because it is only found in fritangas, its preparation is simple and does not need many ingredients, but the result is exquisite.
Like enchiladas, tacos are very common to find at night in small businesses located in neighborhoods or parks, their delight is due to their ingredients that are: fried omelette, shredded meat, salad and cream.
There are many ways to make potatoes, in this occasion Nicaraguans prepare the fried potato and add shredded chicken or meat, this is why they are called stuffed potatoes, with a little salad and cream.
Roast beef can be beef or pork, it is very common to serve them with fried slices, fried ripe or with omelette, accompanied with a salad.
Fried chicken is served with slices, fried ripe or omelette, it is very similar to how roast beef is served, some Nicaraguans add a slice of pinto rooster.
Is Nicaraguan Food Expensive?
Are you planning to visit Nicaragua, but you are worried about not being able to enjoy all the Nicaraguan food? Honestly Nicaraguan food is very cheap, this means that with little money you can enjoy all variety of meals. I’ll show you an estimate of what it takes for each meal time:
In this time of food usually does not require much money, with less than $3 dollars you can have breakfast at ease; among these meals are nacatamal, sour milk with omelette, omelette with fried, etc.
Usually, lunch is the heaviest food, that makes us think that a lot of money is going to be spent, but it is not, if you go to a meal plate costs as much as $2 dollars, this food dish can bring chicken (fried, roasted, with vegetables), rice, beans, complements (tortilla, ripe fruit, banana, etc.) and soda.
Nicaraguans usually dine fritanga (roast beef, roast chicken with slices or fried ripe, enchiladas, stuffed potatoes, tacos, etc.) complemented by a gallo pinto, this can be found in any food, its price does not exceed $3 dollars.
Let’s Talk a Little Bit About Nicaraguan Food Culture
Nicaragua has a long culinary tradition and has many typical rich and cheerful dishes, some of them are eaten daily or at private parties.
In Nicaragua it is very common to eat directly in kiosks that are on the street or in small stalls, thus transforming food into a time to socialize. In restaurants, particularly those popular, it is possible to eat at almost any time of the day as long as it is well in advance before closing time, in any case in the central and tourist area are located restaurants that serve late.
All over the city it is not uncommon to find street vendors who can offer ready-to-eat seasonal fruits, roasted corn, quick sandwiches such as quesillo (a corn tortilla wrapped with cheese, cream of milk, onion and chilli) or vigoron (chicharrón with cassava and cabbage salad).
Along the streets you can find places where they sell fruit-based drinks (pitaya, calala, granadilla) or corn-based (pinolillo, pinol, tiste), cocoa among others.
Normally these drinks are served in plastic bags with ice. As for food there are no hygiene problems, however, the same cannot be said of drinks as they are prepared with un purified water.