El Salvador Foods. 20 Traditional Salvadoran Foods to Try Today

El Salvador foods
El Salvador traditional foods.

El Salvador foods. The best traditional Salvadoran foods are Pupusas, Tamales, Yuca Frita con Chicharon, diffrent types of soups, Empanadas, Pastelitos, Quesadillas, Panes con Pollo, and desserts. These typical Salvadoran foods have unique flavors that make them popular with locals and foreigners.

El Salvador foods are a mixture of Spanish cuisine and indigenous foods from native groups such as Mayan, Xinca, Lenca, Pogoman, Cacaopera, and Pipil.

Tasty local dishes are served all over the territory. And even though the country is small, different regions offer variations of the same traditional meals.

El Salvador Foods
El Salvador food festival in Juayua. Photo by El Salvador Travel.

Near the coast, the traditional foods include a mixture of fresh seafood. In the country’s inner part, such as the nation’s capital, you will find local foods that include meats such as pork, beef, and chicken.

Surfing in El Salvador x
Surfing in El Salvador

What Salvadoran Food to Eat?
20 Popular Salvadoran Foods to Try

The following 20 Salvadoran foods are the most popular in the country and available all over the territory; it includes appetizers, desserts, and regular meals.

1. Pupusas. The National Dish of El Salvador

El Salvador Food
Salvadoran Pupusas

Pupusas are hand-made tortillas made of corn or rice flour filled with cheese, pork, beans, or Loroco, a local edible flower. Pupusas are the national dish of El Salvador.

Salvadoran Pupusas can be eaten just as they are with no additional toppings. However, you can top them with homemade Curtido (a sour cabbage salad) and tomato sauce, also known as salsa.

Pupusas are well-known worldwide; they are the pride of all Salvadorans. Tell any Salvadoran that you will visit El Salvador. I am sure all of them will tell you that you have to try pupusas.

Here are a few things for you to keep in mind when eating pupusas in El Salvador.

Pupusas are traditionally made of corn-based flour. However, they can also be made with rice-based flour. The taste is different, so it will be up to you to decide which you prefer.

The traditional fillings of pupusas are cheese or pork; nevertheless, you can get them with other items such as beans, Loroca flower, or Ayote (Salvadoran Punkin.)

When it comes to Curtido, each Pupuseria will serve a different variation of this side dish.

The main ingredients of Curtido are cabbage, carrots, and onions. Yet, some Pupuserias will add other items and spices to give it a unique flavor. Therefore, the taste of Curtido is different at each Pupuseria.

Pupusas is a dish that you can easily find all over El Salvador. This traditional Salvadoran food is good at any point of the day, breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a snack.

2. Tamales. Best Salvadoran Food for Special Celebrations

Salvadoran Tamales
Traditional Salvadoran Tamales.

Salvadoran tamales are made using corn dough mixed with spices and are filled with chicken, a slice of boiled egg, and tomato-based sauce.

Tamales also include vegetables such as olives, green pepper, or a thin piece of potato. It is then wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in water.

The tomato-based sauce, which goes inside the tamale, changes depending on the individual or family; everyone, who makes tamales, has their own recipe for this sauce.

Tamale is the food most Salvadorans make for special events, from funerals to weddings.

In El Salvador, you will find different types of Tamales; here they are with more details.

Traditional Salvadoran Tamale

Traditional tamale is stuffed with a reddish tomato-based sauce, meat (chicken, pork, or turkey), vegetables (olive, green pepper, potato, or a combination), and in some instances, a slice of boiled egg.

Tamales Pisques

Tamales Pisques are traditionally made with corn dough and typically stuffed with refried beans; however, some add Salvadoran cheese to the mix.

Tamales de Azucar or Sugar Tamales

These Tamales are made mainly in individual homes and for personal use. They are made out of corn dough and stuffed with Salvadoran sugar (Dulce de Atado).

Some Salvadorans go out the way and stuff these Tamales with either chicken or pineapple jam. This tasty dish has a sweet taste.

Tamales de Elote or Corn Tamales

This tamale is seasonal. The main ingredient is fresh corn, available only at the crop’s earliest stages. These tamales are served with Crema, a Salvadoran cream cheese.

The corn dough is prepared with milk, butter, salt, and sugar; then, it is wrapped in corn husks instead of the traditional banana leaves and cooked in water.

3. Yuca Frita con Chicharron or Deep-Fried Cassava with Pork Chunks

El Salvador Foods
Yuca con Chicharron. Deep-Fried Cassava with pork chuncks,

Yuca con chicharron is fried pieces of Yuca root or Cassava, served with chunks of crispy pork meat. The typical dish is topped with cabbage and tomato sauce. Chicharrones are pork belly chunks or pork rinds deep-fried.

Yuca Frita is made from a delicious root vegetable similar to Cassava. It is a starchy root, almost like a potato when it comes to texture and taste.

The preparation is more tedious; firstly, you need to steam it and then deep-fry it to a golden brown color.

All over El Salvador, you will find the same Yuca Frita with Chicharron; the only thing that will change is what they are served with, such as the type of cabbage and sauce.

4. Sopa de Pata or Cow’s Foot Soup

Sopa de Pata
Salvadoran Sopa de Pata.

Sopa de Pata is made with meat from the cow’s feet, cooked with vegetables, such as Yuca, corn, plantains, beans, tomatoes, and cabbage.

This soup is a delicacy that is not available all the time, most places that make it will do it on specific days of the week and for lunch.

This lunch dish is popular with locals, especially the elderly. The combination of meat with vegetables, lemon juice, and cilantro adds the perfect zest to this traditional soup.

5. Sopa de Res or Beef Soup

Sopa de Res
Salvadoran Beef Soup.

Sopa de Res is a traditional Salvadoran lunch soup made by cooking large chunks of beef with corn, carrots, yuca, cabbage, plantains, and zucchini.

This famous soup is found principally at lunchtime in small food places at the local markets.

6. Sopa de Mondongo or Tripe Soup

Mondongo soup
El Salvador food. Mondongo soup

Mondongo soup is made using cow’s tripe, tendons, and cartilage mixed with spices, corn, cabbage, carrots, and yuca. Mondongo soup is a popular dish among local Salvadorans for getting rid of hangovers. It is regularly sold during the weekends at lunchtime.

7. Sopa de Gallina India or Wild Chicken Soup

Sopa de Gallina India
Salvadoran Sopa de Gallina India. Photo by @SalvadoranPride

Wild chicken soup or Sopa de Gallina India is made using wild or indigenous Indian chicken. The soup is mixed with chopped vegetables, garlic, herbs, and spices.

Sopa de Gallina India is a popular lunch dish found in local markets, mainly at lunchtime. Most restaurants only serve it on special occasions or during the weekends.

8. Empanadas de Leche o Frijoles

Empanada de Leche
Empanade de leche. Photo by @ahistoriasv

Empanadas are ground plantain molded into oval balls stuffed with vanilla custard or beans; this sweet food is served with sugar sprinkled on top. Empanadas are served as a dessert or snack, usually with coffee.

9. Pasteles or Pastelitos

Salvadoran Food
Salvadoran Pateles.

Fried Pasteles or Pastelitos are a popular Salvadoran food eaten mainly as a snack or appetizer. This food is similar to Spanish Tapas from Spain.

Each Pastelito is made with corn dough, achiote powder, and other condiments. It is then made into a half-moon shape filled with either meat, vegetables, or a combination. They are then deep-fried and served with tomato sauce and cabbage on the side.

10. Quesadillas. Salvadoran Cheesecake

Salvadoran Qyesadillas
Salvadoran Quesadillas. Photo by Roberto Carlos

Quesadilla is a delicious traditional Salvadoran dessert made with local cheese, butter, eggs, milk, and flour. This food is cooked in an artisanal oven that uses wood.

The quesadillas are top with sesame seeds and usually served with a hot cup of coffee or chocolate.

The traditional food is available everywhere, in restaurants, coffee shops, and on the side of the Salvadoran roads.

11. Panes Rellenos. Salvadoran Sandwiches

Salvadoran Panes Rellenos
Salvadoran Panes Rellenos.

Panes Rellenos are chicken or turkey subs mixed with a tomato-based sauce and spices; it is served with tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce.

Panes Rellenos are also known as Panes Migueleños because they are a characteristic food of the department of San Miguel, in the eastern part of the country.

12. Platanos con Huevos, Crema y Frijoles.

El Salvador food
El Salvador food. Traditional breakfast.

Platanos, con Huevos, Crema y Frijoles or fried plantains with eggs, cream, and beans is the typical Salvadoran breakfast found all over El Salvador. This breakfast dish includes either Tortillas or bread (Pan Frances).

Each location that serves a typical Salvadoran breakfast will offer different variations of scrambled eggs and beans for you to choose from.

13. Lomo Relleno. Stuffed Pork Loin

Salvadoran Lomo Relleno
Salvadoran Lomo Relleno. Photo by Tipicos Salvadoreños

Stuffed pork loin or Lomo Relleno is a traditional meal mainly cooked during special occasions such as Christmas.

It is pork or beef tenderloin flattened and then stuffed with more meat and vegetables. The typical stuffing includes carrots, onions, potatoes, peppers, and diced bacon or ham.

14. Coctel de Conchas or Shellfish Cocktail

Coctel de conchas
Coctel de conchas. El Salvador food.

Shellfish cocktail or Coctel de conchas is a typical dish popular in the Salvadoran coastal areas. It combines black shell clams (conchas Negras), diced tomatoes, cilantro, lemon juice, and onions. Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and salt are added to give it flavor.

15. Salvadoran Enchiladas

Salvadoran Enchiladas
Salvadoran Enchiladas.

The dough for this food is made with corn dough mixed with achiote powder and other condiments. The dough is flattened like a tortilla and then fried until done.

A typical Salvadoran enchilada is topped with beans paste, hard-boiled eggs, sliced tomatoes, avocado, and cabbage. Shredded cheese and other sauces are added to give it a unique taste.

16. Mariscada or Seafood Soup

Salvadoran Maeiscada
Salvadoran Mariscada or Seafood Soup.

Mariscada is a typical Salvadoran seafood soup common in the coastal areas of El Salvador. This delicious soup has fish, shrimp, squid, crabs, clams, and lobster.

A traditional Mariscada is top with cilantro and chives for extra flavor. Mariscadas is available in a clear broth or made with Salvadoran cream for a creamy look and taste.

17. Nuegados

Salvadoran Nuegados are made of Yuca or corn dough. Nuegados are deep-fried and served with honey; it is a sweet dish eaten, usually as a snack or dessert. This tasty dish is served accompanied by Chilate, a traditional drink in El Salvador.

18. Arroz con Leche or Rice with Milk

Arroz con Leche is a popular dessert item in El Salvador. Rice with milk or Arroz con Leche is easy to make. To prepare it, you need to boil rice, sugar, cinnamon, and milk. This dessert can be eaten hot or cold.

19. Casamiento

Casamiento is made with leftover beans and rice. They are mix together and refried again to give it a unique taste; some places add vegetables such as peppers, onions, and tomatoes, to give it additional flavor. Casamiento is a complementary side item served with other meats or with scrambled eggs for breakfast.

20. Marquesote or Salvadoran Cake

The Salvadoran Marquesote is a traditional fluffy cake usually served as a snack with coffee or hot chocolate. This typical dessert cake is made with flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon.

Salvadoran Food
The Perfect Combination, Pilsener Beer and Pupusas.

What Are the Most Common Salvadoran Foods?

The most common Salvadoran foods are pupusas and the different types of tamales and soups. These types of foods are popular and available everywhere.

Pupusas are so famous that they have their national holiday; the second Sunday in November is National Pupusa Day in El Salvador.

Tamales are common in El Salvador as well. This Salvadorian food is served at funeral viewings, weddings, birthday parties, and other typical celebrations. Most gatherings in El Salvador will offer tamales as a meal.

Soup is another popular food item in El Salvador; this dish is widely available. Soups are one of the most popular lunch dishes, especially in smaller communities.

El Salvador Foods

El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America, but it has fantastic gastronomy. Try the traditional Salvadoran foods; I am sure you will enjoy them!

Travel to El Salvador and indulge yourself with the excellent local cuisine or look for a recipe online and prepare a typical Salvadoran food.

Also, most of the 20 foods listed here are available in most major cities. Due to the armed conflict of the 1980s, Salvadorans immigrated everywhere and brought the recipes for these foods with them.