Easy Latin American Recipes to Try at Home

Latin American food is popular the world over. Wherever you are in the world it is possible to find places serving tacos, tortillas, arepas, tamales, and so on. If you are a fan of the cuisine and want to try cooking it for yourself, then here are some easy recipes that you can follow at home.


Saltena are Bolivian style turnovers. They have flat bottoms and stewed fillings and can trace their history back to 19th century Bolivia. They are incredibly simple to make. Just follow this recipe to make a serving of 12.

For the dough

  • 650g (5 cups) plain flour and a little for dusting
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 250ml (1 cup) melted butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 120ml (1½ cups) warm water with ½ tbsp salt added
  • 1 whole egg, beaten, to glaze

For the filling

  • 120ml (½ cup) melted lard
  • 2 white onions, chopped
  • 1 fresh aji amarillo, chopped – this is a fruity chilli from Peru, habanero chillies will also work
  • 450g minced beef (or use shredded chicken)
  • 2 litres (5 cups) beef stock
  • 1 gelatine leaf, soaked in ice-cold water
  • 3 tbsp parsley chopped
  • 6 peeled and boiled potatoes, cut in small cubes
  • 130g (1 cup) cooked peas
  • 1 tbsp aji amarillo paste 
  • salt and ground pepper


  1. Place the lard for the filling in a frying pan and heat it until very hot. Then, sauté the onions and fresh chilli for around 8 minutes, until they are soft and brown.
  2. Add the beef and cook it for 4 minutes before pouring in the stock with the squeezed-out gelatine. Let it simmer for 35 minutes
  3. Add the parsley, season with salt and pepper, then remove from the heat.
  4. Add the potatoes and peas and then refrigerate until needed.
  5. To start the dough, mix the flour and sugar in a bowl. Add the melted butter and mix with a wooden spoon.
  6. Add the egg yolks and slowly mix in the warm, salted water.
  7. Knead into a soft uniform dough with your hands and then put it on a floured surface and roll it out to a thin sheet, about 3mm thick.
  8. Head the oven to 160C fan-forced (180C conventional).
  9. Use an 11cm round cutter to stamp out discs from the dough and place them on a lined baking tray.
  10. Place a full tablespoon of the filling in the middle of each disc.
  11. Using your finger, wet the edges of the disc with water and then fold the dough in half to seal it.
  12. Brush the outside with beaten egg and then bake for 15 minutes.

Drowned Sandwich (Torta Ahogada)

Originally from Guadalajara in Mexico, this spicy dish dates from the early 1900s. There are three components, a birote, which is a long crusty roll (although you can use a baguette), spicy sauce, and tomato sauce. Simply follow this recipe to make a serving of 4.


  • 675g pork shoulder
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 250ml (1 cup) water
  • 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced into half-moons
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4 birote rolls (or baguette)
  • 4 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • Salt and ground pepper
  • Lime wedges, to serve

For the Spicy Sauce

  • (15g) dried chillies de arbol 
  • 250ml (1 cup) hot water
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 30g (¼ cup) toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

For the Tomato Sauce

  • 900g tomatoes
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ white onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C conventional or 160C fan-forced.
  2. Season the pork with salt, pepper and garlic, and place it in a roasting pan.
  3. Add water and the bay leaf to the bottom of the pan and then cook it in the oven for 2 hours (turn the meat over after 1 hour). It is ready when a knife inserted into the middle comes out warm. When it is ready, remove it and let it cool until it is warm. Next, shred the meat with your hands and set it on the side.
  4. To make the spicy sauce, place hot water in a bowl with the chillies de arbol and let them soak for 15 minutes. Drain the chillies and then place them in a blender with the garlic, vinegar, sesame seeds, oregano and cumin. Season it with salt and pepper and blend it until it is smooth. Strain the mixture and keep the liquid sauce.
  5. To make the tomato sauce, boil the tomatoes in water for 10 minutes, drain them and peel. Having cleaned the blender, add the tomatoes, cumin, onion, oregano and garlic, and blend it to a paste. Heat oil in a medium pan and then add the tomato mixture. Cook it for 20 minutes while stirring continuously so that it doesn’t stick.
  6. Add salt and lime juice to season the red onion and then let it sit for 5 minutes.
  7. Cut open the bread, place the meat inside with onions on top. Pour some tomato sauce over the bread and add spicy sauce and coriander. Serve it warm with lime wedges.