Cuban cuisine is a magnificent blend of several cultures. Check out this incredible list of Cuban Appetizers!
The country was the first and last place in the Caribbean colonized by the Spanish, and thus, many Cuban appetizers resemble traditional Spanish tapas.
Other food influences stem from African, Taino, and Caribbean cultures.
Staple ingredients in Cuban cuisine include pork, chicken, fish, and root vegetables.
Sweet ingredients such as mangoes and bananas are common in otherwise salty and savory dishes. Cuban cuisine often uses citrus juice for denaturing seafood, giving these dishes a unique “raw” appearance, similar to ceviche.
Unlike in other parts of Latin America, Cuba abstains from using spicy ingredients in most dishes.
However, you’ll still find a fantastic combination of flavorful spices in the food.
You’re not going to miss out on flavor with Cuban cuisine!
Cheese is a crucial component in many Cuban dishes, and you will see several types in these recipes.
Does it surprise you to learn that they add cream cheese to both salty meat dishes and sweet ones?
Because agriculture isn’t one of the country’s strong points, many Cuban dishes creatively put together available resources.
The result is a vast array of unique combinations exclusive to Cuban culture.
Cuban finger food, in particular, is packed full of flavor and color.
This recipe list includes enough variety for everyone’s taste, such as Cheese Fried Yucca Balls, Ropa Vieja Sandwiches, and Cuban-Style Avocado Salad.
#24 is a yummy dessert, you’ll definitely want to try it!
Cuban food is versatile with sweet finger foods to savory seafood appetizers.
Whether you’re seeking to surprise your guests with an unexpected menu or you need the perfect Cuban snacks to take to a potluck, these authentic Cuban appetizers are a guaranteed hit.
One of the best things about this dish is that it works with leftovers.
It’s a classic Cuban sandwich filled with delicious, juicy pork, swiss cheese, and an excellent marinade.
Pack it into a sweet roll and prepare for a heavenly slider.
This is one of those incredible, sweet & salty combinations that are typical in Cuba.
These fried and breaded plantains will have your guests wanting more.
A crucial feature is using green plantains rather than yellow ones.
Croquetas de Jamón, or Ham Croquettes, is a Spanish-inspired Cuban dish.
Not only are these buttery and tasty, but they’re also easy to make.
Less than ten steps and you’ve got yourself one of the best traditional Cuban appetizers to impress your friends.
What is it?
Think shredded beef baked inside pastry drenched in a sweet syrup.
This dish is divine and balances meaty flavor with just enough sweetness without overwhelming the taste buds.
Baking also means you pop them into the oven, set your timer, and forget.
Who doesn’t love fried cheese balls?
Add a Cuban twist to your next dish by making this recipe that combines a classic cheese-filled ball with sweet Yuca flavor.
Topped with Cilantro sauce, these balls are sure to go fast at your next event.
The name alone makes your mouth water.
These amazing pastries are on the sweeter side and don’t include meat, so they make the perfect dessert.
The Guava is an unexpected, exotic component that will please your palate.
If you have trouble finding guava paste, you’re better off turning to the internet, like Amazon, to order some.
Seafood lovers will especially enjoy these shrimp kebabs.
Use orange juice, lime, and a few basic spices to create this incredible finger food.
The marinade is delightful.
You’ll want to use it again for other types of fish or seafood.
Whether you’re grilling these or tossing them in the oven to broil, you’ll have a dish packed with flavor.
When you hear the word Cuba, one of the first images that probably come to mind is plantains.
This traditional Cuban staple is perfect for making crispy chips to snack on.
The orange and lime complement the sweet flavor nicely to create a tangy snack.
Though it looks similar to Taro, malanga is closer to potatoes in flavor.
This traditional Cuban tuber is white on the inside and has a milder profile.
Just fry with a tad of red wine vinegar.
These fritters will satisfy your need for a fried snack.
10. Miami Cuban Dip
Everyone loves a good dip for an appetizer, and this one will become one of your favorites easily.
The best part of this recipe is that you can pour the dip into a bread bowl for the ultimate convenience.
This dish is a perfect marriage of American and Cuban cuisine, producing an appetizer that’s truly mouthwatering.
This recipe uses only key ingredients but is loaded with tremendous flavor.
Instead of Swiss cheese, the recipe calls for Gruyere for a surprising twist.
It’s also an easy sandwich to make and something you’ll want to snack on regardless of the occasion.
12. Cuban Ceviche
The fish in this Cuban dish is prepared only by using citrus juices to denature it.
It isn’t cooked in the traditional sense, but that’s what gives it such a fresh flavor.
Add in some cilantro and tomatoes and prepare for a refreshing delicacy.
These cheesy eggs are mouth-watering.
They lack the hot spices you would expect in many deviled egg recipes but make up for it with other fresh ingredients.
These are perfect for spring or summer.
You’ll use a French baguette for making these savory sandwiches.
The beef stew and tomato sauce combination pairs perfectly in these tapas-style Cuban appetizers.
Get ready to transform plantain into a savory delight.
Enclosed sandwiches, or empanadas, are highly popular throughout Latin America.
Empanadas originated in Spain.
Spanish settlers introduced them to several colonies, including Cuba.
These chicken and cheese empanadas are a simple appetizer with an impressive look and an even better taste.
16. Cream Of Malanga
This is a light soup that uses one of the most Cuban ingredients: malangas.
Its flavor profile is subtle and light.
This is one of the best appetizers to start with because it’s satisfying but not overpowering or too filling.
Though this recipe uses pork and chicken broth, you can easily make it vegan by leaving the meat out and substituting chicken broth with vegetable broth.
It’s a delicious treat either way.
The thickness is very satisfying, and it makes an excellent leftover dish.
18. Ham Roll-Ups
Ham Roll-Ups are some of the easiest snacks to make any day of the week.
They’re also a low-carb option as they use ham as a wrap.
The mustard, dill pickles, and lettuce create a fresh combination that the whole family will love.
Avocado salad is a light and refreshing appetizer for any occasion.
The Cuban take on this easy salad makes it a little tangy.
It uses another Cuban staple ingredient: lime juice.
This dish is lovely in the summer.
These are crispy potato balls packed with a beautifully seasoned filling.
They traditionally include ground meat and vegetables, but you can tweak these and leave out the meat if you wish.
This dip is a cheesy sauce with key but flavorful ingredients.
It’s perfect for dipping bread in or using it in sandwiches.
You can also use chips or vegetables for dipping.
These Cubanos look like tiny, exotic hot dogs.
All you need are cocktail franks, deli ham, and crescent rolls.
Add yellow mustard and pickles, and you will be all set.
23. Cuban Pinwheels
Pinwheels are simple wraps filled with tasty ingredients.
These use flour tortillas and take only minutes to roll up and pin with a toothpick.
You can enjoy these with your favorite Cuban dip as well.
These are also great for picnics or outdoor events because they’re easy to pack up.
When fall season starts, we’re all looking for something to do with pumpkin puree.
If you’ve got extra pumpkin puree cans on hand, why not create this unique recipe?
The cream cheese, caramel, and condensed milk give this treat a highly addictive taste.
Savory ham, cheese, and mini dill pickles come together to form the core of these cute and delicious little appetizers.
The best part is, you can get everything pre-packed, meaning there’s no cooking involved.
All that Cuban Sandwich goodness on a tiny toothpick skewer with no cooking whatsoever?
Oh yes, please!
Ingredients include: Ham, Swiss cheese cubes, mini dill pickles, and whole grain mustard.
This entry presents us with the world’s most popular side dish, Cuban style!
These Fries With Cilantro Sauce are made from yuca, which is a root crop that is very much like a potato.
When fried, yuca turns soft on the inside and crispy out; season it properly and you’d end up with a seriously tasty side.
Ingredients include: Large Yuca stalks, cilantro, mayo, lime or lemon juice, and sea salt.
In entry #25, we had our Cuban Sandwich pieces made up into cute little skewers.
This time, we’ll be stuffing them into jalapenos for some serious heat!
Once again the Cuban Sandwich cast: ham, dill pickles, and cheese come together to reprise their roles in this spicy little dish!
Ingredients include: Jalapenos, kosher pickles, panko breadcrumbs, dijon mustard, and butter.
Did you like #27 but were hoping to have something like it as a sandwich instead?
We got you covered!
In this recipe, you’ll be getting all that spicy Cuban Sandwich goodness in its original form, with a little twist!
Ingredients include: Ham, cream cheese, green olives, roasted red pepper, and Hawaiian rolls.
Are you still looking for the perfect iteration for your Cuban Sandwiches?
In this recipe, they’ll be coming in Wonton form!
Crispy, golden brown wonton wrappers join the fray to enclose your ham, cheese, and dill.
Egg Rolls also jump into the fun for a neat texture variety!
Ingredients include: Ground pork, honey ham, genoa salami, swiss cheese, and dill pickles.
Savory ground pork, crunchy veggies, and eggs combine to form the filling of these scrumptious Empanadas!
They’re perfect for any meal of the day.
Pair them with some coffee for an authentic Miami-style pick-me-up!
Ingredients include: Ground beef, tomato sauce, empanada discs, white wine, and cumin.
No, these aren’t the type of cigars you light up when you need to think or relax.
But if you’re celebrating Cigar Festival, this is the appetizer you need.
Rather, these are the ones you fill with ground beef, pimento-stuffed green olives, and tomato sauce for a delicious meal!
Ingredients include: Frozen filo dough sheets, pimento-stuffed green olives, ground beef, tomato sauce, and garlic.
When making Cubanos, or Cuban Sandwiches, it’s a good idea to brush up on the bread for them,
So here’s the recipe for Cuban Medianoche Bread.
Medianoche means ‘midnight’, and while we’re not sure why it’s named that, what we do know is that this eggy, fluffy, and delicious bread is the one true complement for your Cubano!
Ingredients include: Dry active yeast, white sugar, lard, eggs, and bread flour.
Chicharron de Pollo literally means ‘crackling of chicken’.
Yes, when you bite into chicharron, it produces a very loud crackling sound due to its extreme crispiness.
So here we have chicken covered in a tasty batter of flour and seasoning that’s deep-fried until it transforms into a delicious state of chicharron!
Ingredients include: Boneless, skinless chicken thighs, all-purpose flour, ground cumin, oregano, and vegetable oil.
34. Cuban Meatballs
We now revisit our Cuban Sandwich series with this recipe for Cuban Meatballs.
Now the motley crew of ham, cheese, and dill pickles resurface to collaborate with ground pork to form these tasty little spheres.
Serve them together with a few rolls of Medianoche Bread for an authentic Cuban meal.
Ingredients include: Ground pork, breadcrumbs, mustard, dill weed, and olive oil.
Plantains are a type of banana used for cooking; they’re larger, starchier, and generally don’t taste as good as normal bananas raw.
In this recipe, we’ll be wrapping them in delicious bacon, before baking them just enough to brown the outside slightly.
They make the perfect appetizers for game day; you know you did your job right if they don’t make it to halftime!
Ingredients include: Goya frozen baked ripe plantains and bacon.
Crostinis are the Deviled Eggs of the bread world.
So if you find yourself at a cocktail party and they aren’t serving Deviled Eggs, you can expect they’ll be serving Crostinis instead.
Another thing that Crostonis have in common with Deviled Eggs is that they have a large, flat surface area that makes them perfect receptacles of whatever topping you desire.
The toppings for this entry would be of the Cuban Sandwich group: ham, cheese, and dill.
Ingredients include: Cuban bread, pork shoulder, deli ham, swiss cheese, and orange juice.
You’ll absolutely adore these Cuban Sausage Pinwheels.
They’re so flavorful and really easy to make!
All that’s needed is to roll the ingredients in a tortilla before cutting the tortilla crosswise.
They’re meant to be served as appetizers, but you can enjoy them for any meal of the day you want!
Ingredients include: Ground sausage, bacon, tortillas, pickles, and cheddar cheese.
Tostones is the name given to twice-fried plantains.
The plantains are fried once to make them tender, as such they’re molded into flat little discs before they’re fried again; this time to lock them into shape.
They’re crispy and delicious and will taste amazing with mojo sauce!
Ingredients include: Green plantains, olive oil, garlic, cumin, and lime juice.
39. Guava BBQ Wings
This recipe for Guava BBQ Wings is a literal flavor bomb!
The chicken wings are first seasoned with adobo and oregano and then insta-potted for 5 minutes before being baked in BBQ sauce and guava paste.
It’s sweet, savory, and refreshing, with just a hint of umami lurking underneath.
Give it a try and let us know what you think!
Ingredients include: Wingettes, bbq sauce, adobo, guava paste, and oregano.
40. Yuca Con Mojo
Yuca, also known as cassava, is a root crop that, interestingly, tastes like potatoes when cooked.
In this recipe, we’ll be preparing them Con Mojo, meaning we’ll be boiling them tender before simmering them in a garlic-infused citrus sauce.
Ingredients include: Yuca, Himalayan pink salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and coconut oil.
Quesadillas of any stripe are always welcome under my roof.
Who could say no to a pastry filled with ham, cheese, dill pickles, and whatever else your heart desires?
Not I, and surely neither will your guests.
They’re a sure crowd-pleaser, so be sure to make extras!
Ingredients include: Cuban pulled pork, ham, dill pickles, cacique manchego, and flour tortillas.
This recipe for Crock Pot Cuban Nachos is simply superb!
Cuban spiced pork is slow-cooked in citrus and then piled up high on a bed of tortilla chips, where it is joined by the Cuban Sandwich’s usual suspects: ham, cheese, and dills before being smothered in a rich and luxurious nacho cheese.
Ingredients include: Deli ham, boneless pork butt, corn tortillas, mustard powder, and milk.
43. Cuban Pork Tacos
This recipe for Cuban Pork Tacos differs from regular tacos in a number of ways.
It uses pulled pork for one, instead of ground pork or beef for regular Tacos.
The salsa differs too, but we won’t go into too much detail with that.
It’s delicious, and makes for a nice variation for Taco Tuesday!
Ingredients include: Cuban pulled pork, taco boat, salsa, cotija cheese, and avocado.
44. Fried Plantains
If you liked #35, but are trying to cut down on meat, or maybe you just want to avoid the hassle of baking, then this recipe for Fried Plantains is for you!
If you use very ripe plantains, the sugar caramelizes quickly on the outside once it meets the hot oil during frying, which makes a nice glaze.
They also cook quickly, so you’re only looking at a total prep time of 10 minutes or less!
Ingredients include: Plantains, oil, and salt.
Everyone familiar with Mexican cuisine will have heard of Tamales at one point or the other; about how delicious they are, and about how long and tedious it is to make them.
Not so in the case of Cuban Tamales though, no sir!
The recipe author claims that Cubans adapt well, and will make use of any implement available to make the process smoother and faster.
Ingredients include: Pork, cumin, chicken broth, corn husks, and Maseca instant corn masa mix.
This recipe for the Cubano Monte Cristo With Garlic Honey is so much fun!
It’s a hybrid of two iconic sandwiches: The Monte Cristo and The Cuban Sandwich.
Get the best of both worlds with every bite!
Ingredients include: Bread, powdered sugar, honey, pulled pork, and ham.
Ahh, Sloppy Joes!
A true classic!
Now how does one turn this into a Cuban appetizer?
Follow the recipe for a detailed step-by-step how-to!
Ingredients include: Ground pork, canola oil, brown sugar, ground coriander, and brioche buns.
Here we have classic chicken wings marinated in Cuban mojo and spices before being baked to golden-brown perfection!
Serve with your favorite sauce and a wedge of lime to seal the deal!
Ingredients include: Chicken wings, mojo marinade, sazon completa, and lime.
49. Cuban Salsa
The right dip at the right time can mean the difference between success and disaster.
Now aren’t you glad to have this recipe in your pocket whenever you need it?
Bringing to bear the force of all that refreshing, yet spicy flavor at will.
That’s Cuban Salsa for you: simple, elegant, and utterly profound.
Ingredients include: Castelvetrano olives, red pepper stuffed manzanilla olives, capers, white wine vinegar, and garlic.
From this list, we’ve shown you a number of chicken wing entries and a variety of ways to prep them.
Now comes this delicious recipe for Garlicky Lemon Cuban Chicken Wings!
It’s the powerful and familiar flavor of garlic combined with Cuban spices that make the base for this recipe!
Ingredients include: Chicken drumettes, lemon juice, olive oil, fresh oregano, and sea salt.
The bottom line
Despite only a few key ingredients, Cuban cuisine is far from bland.
All the Cuban appetizers on our list are brimming with flavor, easy to prepare, quick to make, and even quicker to eat.
Infused with Mediterranean, African, and Spanish inspiration, they are as healthy as they are delicious.
Many of the Cuban appetizer recipes use unexpected ingredient combinations that lend these dishes an exotic feel that pleasantly surprises our taste buds.
Pumpkin, citrus fruits, and bananas or plantains are regulars in Cuban cuisine.
But they also combine sweet with savory, giving it its unique Cuban-style character.
Why not surprise your guests with these 24 appetizers that use stunning combinations and authentic Cuban ingredients?
They will remember this party for a long time.
More Cuban Recipes
- Easy Cuban Sliders
- Little Plantain Balls
- Ham Croquettes
- Cuban Beef Pastries
- Cheese Fried Yucca Balls
- Guava Cream Cheese Pastries
- Mojo Shrimp Kebabs
- Cuban Plantain Chips
- Malanga Fritters
- Miami Cuban Dip
- Sheet Pan Sandwich
- Cuban Ceviche
- Cuban Deviled Eggs
- Ropa Vieja Sandwiches
- Chicken Empanadas
- Cream Of Malanga
- Cuban Lentil Soup
- Ham Roll-Ups
- Cuban-Style Avocado Salad
- Cuban Potato Balls
- Cuban Sandwich Dip
- Cubanos In A Blanket
- Cuban Pinwheels
- Cuban Pumpkin Flan
- Cuban Sandwich On A Stick
- Baked Yuca Fries With Cilantro Sauce
- Cuban Sandwich Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers
- Pasta De Bocaditos (Cuban Deviled Ham Sandwiches)
- Cuban Wontons & Egg Rolls
- Cuban Style Empanadas
- Cuban Beef Cigars
- Cuban Medianoche Bread
- Chicharron de Pollo (Cuban Fried Chicken Chunks)
- Cuban Meatballs
- Bacon-Wrapped Plantains
- Cuban Sandwich Crostini
- Cuban Sausage Pinwheels
- Cuban Tostones With Mojo Sauce
- Guava BBQ Wings
- Yuca Con Mojo
- Cuban Quesadillas
- Crock Pot Cuban Nachos
- Cuban Pork Tacos
- Fried Plantains
- Instant Pot Cuban Tamales
- Cubano Monte Cristo With Garlic Honey
- Cuban Sloppy Joes
- Crispy Baked Mojo Chicken Wings
- Cuban Salsa
- Garlicky Lemon Cuban Chicken Wings
- Check out our Cuban Appetizers list.
- Select a dish.
- Cook to your heart’s content!
- Don’t forget to share this list of meal inspirations!