Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in South America, but the richness and diversity present in its cuisine are no short of impressive. The country’s food is the product of a delicious mixture of amazing recipes from Spanish, Amazonian, African, Lebanese, and even Chinese people.
Undeniably lovers of red meat, stews, seafood, and fresh fruit drinks – known amongst natives as batidos – the Ecuadorian people sure know how to please people with different tastes in food.
The following recipes not only look amazing but most of them are rather easy to make, with a mixture of traditional and exotic flavors that will surely work as a trip on its own.
If you’re spending a few days in this lovely tropical country, make sure to check some of these recipes out, and if not, why not try to cook a couple of them yourself? No harm in trying, especially when the reward can be so utterly tasty.
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Fritada de Chancho (Fried Pork)
Fritada de Chancho is one of those dishes typically served during family gatherings on the weekends, although you can easily find it being sold by street vendors as well. The dish can be served both in dinner or lunch settings.
The boneless chopped pork is cooked in a mixture of water, orange juice, onions, garlic, and a bit of cumin – a spice South Americans love to use in their recipes. The meat is cooked until the water evaporates and then the pork gets fried in its own fat, getting some of that wonderful brown coloring in the process.
Pan de Yuca (Cheese Breads)
This is a type of recipe that can have different names in each country it is served. In Brazil, they’re known as “Pão de Queijo”, in Colombia, they’re called “Pan de Queso”, and in Ecuador, they’re the famous Pan de Yuca. The recipe doesn’t change much from place to place, and these cheese breads will probably be delicious anywhere you eat them.
The recipe is simple enough: they’re made from yuca starch, cheese, butter, and eggs. They’re best if eaten right after they’re out of the oven, in order to preserve their soft texture and flavor. They’re usually served as appetizers or afternoon snacks.
Cuy Asado (Roasted Guinea Pig)
The name may not paint a pretty picture to some, but hey, you gotta keep an open mind when exploring international food, right? Cuy Asado is a top delicacy in Ecuador (also in Peru), and the dish usually consists of a whole roasted guinea pig served with roasted potatoes, tomatoes, and salsa or lettuce.
The dish is typically served on special occasions like Ecuadorian family or friend gatherings. And although it could be pointed out as an off-putting dish by some, it is actually one of the most searched native dishes by tourists.
Bolon de Verde (Fried Cheese Balls)
This Bolon de Verde is seen as the peak Ecuadorian appetizer by many, and understandably so. These little fried balls are made of mashed green plantains and butter, with a cheese and/or pork filling that is simply to die for.
Once the balls are properly shaped and filled, they’re pan-fried – as opposed to deep-fried – until that golden coloring is obtained. After that, they’re served hot to preserve their crispy texture on the outside and tender texture on the inside. This dish is typically served in breakfast or brunch settings in Ecuador, although nothing’s stopping you from having them with a couple of beers during nighttime.
Encebollado de Pescado (Fish Soup)
I’d obviously have to make room for some delicious seafood on this list. This seafood soup (encebollado de pescado) delivers such a pleasurable range of flavors that would be a sin to leave it off the list.
The main ingredients for this dish are albacore tuna, onions, tomatoes, chopped pieces of yuca, and to finish off this rich composition, lemon juice, chili powder, and, of course, some cumin. The soup is usually served with a couple of bread slices, fried green plantains, or toasted corn. However, this dish is surely strong enough to hold its own without any sides.
Colada Morada (Red Fruit Drink)
Now it’s time to get us started on some great Ecuadorian drinks. Colada Morada is a type of red fruit punch typically served during Dia de Los Muertos and the Christmas holidays. The drink is made with red fruit, purple corn, and condiments like cinnamon, cloves, and allspice.
Some of the fruit used include blackberries, strawberries, pineapple, and blueberries. To make the drink, you’ll have to boil the mixture at medium heat, constantly interrupting the heating process to add new ingredients, letting it rest for a couple of minutes, then heating it again. The drink can be served either hot or cold.
Humita is a traditional delicacy all over South America, in countries like Argentina, Peru, Chile, and, of course, Ecuador. If you like Mexican tamales or the Brazilian creme de milho, then you’ll definitely enjoy the humitas.
Humitas are a rather simple dish, made with steamed masa, corn, eggs, onions, and cheese, all of that wrapped around a banana leaf that can be either sweet or salty. They are typically sold by Ecuadorian street vendors, but you can easily order them in native restaurants or give them a go doing them yourself at home.
Llapingachos (Potato Appetizers)
Llapingachos are delicious potato-based appetizers, beloved by both natives and tourists alike. Visually, these could easily remind you of a pancake, except they’re smaller and a bit more stocky. They also have this amazing golden coloring that makes your mouth water just from looking at it.
The Llanpichagos are essentially potato patties stuffed with cheese. They’re cooked in a pan until they acquire their crusty texture and golden coloring. They can be served as a standalone snack or side dish for pork meals or salads.
Canelazo (Cinnamon Drink)
Canelazo is a delicious hot cocktail drink with a strong citric flavor. The main ingredients here are orange, cinnamon, and schnapps.
To make the drink, you’ll need to boil a mixture of water, cinnamon, and orange slices. After the mixture boils for long enough, you add the schnapps and put a fresh orange slice inside the glass to make things look fresh. It’s a great drink to have on a cold day with a couple of friends and loved ones.
Locro de Papa (Potato Stew)
Never heard of a potato stew? Well, the Ecuadorians have been doing it for a couple of hundred years now. And guess what? It is delicious and also full of cheese. The dish is typically served as an entreé and the natives like to add a nice spicy kick to it.
Locro de Papa is made with potatoes, cheese, onions, garlic, and cumin. A local peppery spice called annatto adds a providential exotic flavor into the mix. The stew’s consistency is more creamy than watery and the dish is best served hot.
Fanesca (Easter Soup)
Fanesca is an Ecuadorian holiday soup, with such an extensive variety of flavors and ingredients that every single taste bud in your mouth will be required to fully appreciate the dish. The soup is made with cod, pumpkin, squash, cream cheese, onions, lentils, vegetables, and several local spices.
This soup is usually accompanied by sides that go right on top of it such as hard-boiled egg slices, cheese and pepper slices, and delicious empanadas de viento. Soups are typically served as entrées in Ecuador, but the Fanesca is such a robust dish that you could easily have it as a main dish.
Seco de Chivo (Goat Stew)
Seco de Chivo is a delicious stew that usually has goat meat as its main star, although you could also use chicken or beef for it. To go alongside the meat, you’ll use onions, tomatoes, garlic, cane sugar, cilantro, cumin, oregano, and beer. The naranjilla, a local popular fruit with a citric kick, closes off the ensemble of flavors.
This stew is served as a main dish all over Ecuador, with some of the typical sides being yellow rice, salad, avocado slices, and fried plantains. The meat should be as smooth as ever, and the flavor powerful yet diverse.
Encocado de Pescado (Fish w/ Coconut Sauce)
This is one of the most traditional seafood dishes in Ecuador. Encocado de Pescado is a creamy seafood soup that usually has the Corvina fish as its main ingredient, although other local fishes can be used as well.
To prepare the dish, you’ll have to cook large chunks of the chosen white fish in a coconut sauce composed of onions, coriander, cumin, and lots of tomatoes. This dish goes great with some white rice and fried plantains, although some Ecuadorians like to eat this accompanied by a rather unusual side: popcorn.
Arroz con Menestra de Lentejas (Rice w/ Lentil Stew)
If you have heard about the rice and beans as a winning combo you don’t need any introduction to this dish. Arroz con Menestra de Lentejas is a traditional dish all over South America, with every country adding its special touch to it.
The Ecuadorian version is made with lentils, onions, bell pepper, garlic, cumin, and cilantro. The dish is typically served for lunch, alongside any time of red meat you’d prefer, or even chicken, roasted potatoes, and different types of salad.
This is one of those simple recipes that are very rewarding and can go along with pretty much anything. Yellow rice goes perfectly with red meat, chicken, fish, stews, salads, and mashed potatoes; I mean, it’s rice, and this list can go on and on.
To get that traditional Ecuadorian yellow rice, all you have to do is add a bit of annatto to the garlic, onions, and oil pre-mixture typically used for rice. It can be a bit hard to find annatto if you’re outside of Ecuador, but you can easily substitute the ingredient for some achiote, and then you’re good to go!
Seco de Pollo (Chicken Stew)
You didn’t think I’d finish the list without some chicken, right? Don’t worry, I got you! This marvelous Ecuadorian chicken stew should satisfy the urge of any chicken lover. Seco de pollo is cooked slowly – as any stew should – in a sauce composed of beer, naranjilla, onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, parsley, and multiple spices.
Usually, the parts of the chicken used are the thighs and legs, which are cooked within the sauce until they achieve an extremely tender texture. The Seco de Pollo would go along beautifully with some white or yellow, rice, roasted potatoes, salad, or slices of bread.
Empanadas de Viento (Cheese Empanadas)
If you were to translate Empanadas de Viento directly to English, they’d be called air empanadas. But make no mistake, there’s a bit more than air-filling these delicious fried-up golden snacks. These empanadas are one of the most famous – and delicious – appetizers you can find while touring any major Ecuadorian city.
The dough of this pastry is made from flour, butter, baking powder, and a bit of orange juice. Oh yeah, and they’re typically filled with (a lot of) Oaxaca cheese. If you have any trouble finding this particular cheese, just replace it with some mozzarella cheese; they’re quite similar in taste, so you should be all good!
I’m Maria and I love cooking—and mostly EATING—food from all around the world. I’ve been sharing my abuela’s secret Latin-American recipes for the last 7 years with the world on this blog. I’ve been a full-time food blogger for many years and I’m always trying new delicious meals that don’t require a culinary degree or a Michelin-star chef. I also love traveling, cats, and knitting.