Looking for the best Nicaraguan appetizers to tickle your taste buds?
You’re in the right place, as we’ve got a nifty list of the tastiest starters to get you started with Nicaraguan cuisine!
Delicacies from Nicaragua are some of the rare foods that you can find outside of the border.
Yet, the largest country in the Central American republics is attractive to many tourists.
People come to the Land of Lakes and Volcanoes for the outdoor experience it offers–snorkeling, diving, and hiking.
But, their food is an attraction that many come to experience as it is sure to be one-of-a-kind.
Nicaraguans are big on maize or corn, yucca or cassava (tapioca starch), coconuts, papayas, mangos, and the tastiest pineapples.
Eating with hands, devouring food straight from banana leaves, and sipping cooling drinks in plastic bags are standard.
Like most Hispanic foods, their cooking also uses a lot of different spices and chilies.
You’ll find chili mixed with cheeses, tortillas, and desserts.
Get started with the quintessential starters like Vigorón and Nacatamales.
You also don’t want to miss out on #16—it’s the tastiest way to whet your appetite.
There are so many to try to recreate back home, so let’s get to the recipes.
Table Of Contents
- 1. Vigorón
- 2. Plaintain Empanadas
- 3. Ceviche
- 4. Nicaraguan Style Steak Skewers With Chimichurri
- 5. Guacamole
- 6. Quesillo
- 7. Repochetas Taco Boats
- 8. Tostones
- 9. Pati (Empanada)
- 10. Nacatamales
- 11. Frijoles Refritos (Refried Beans)
- 12. Salpicón De Res
- 13. Tajadas
- 14. Ropa Vieja Sliders
- 15. Queso Frito
- 16. Nicaraguan Chicken Meatball Soup
- 17. Atolillo
- The bottom line
- Best Nicaraguan Appetizers
If you ever get the chance to visit the city of Granada, you’ll find plenty of street food vendors selling this unique setup.
Vigorón is proudly known as the official dish in this Western side of Nicaragua.
It’s a play of textures and savory goodness.
There’s the staple food yucca boiled to soft perfection.
You have the spicy-sour salad that is much like coleslaw.
Then, you have the crispy pork skin or Chicharrón.
Finally, finish the appetizer plate with a serving of Mimbro, a local fruit with a bit of a tang to it.
Plantains are cousins of bananas but are tougher, bigger, and often less sweet.
The starchiness of a plantain makes it ideal for creating a special dough.
You’ll want to go for the darker varieties for their sweetness–it’s even sweeter once cooked.
Seasoned beef makes up the filling for when you’re making the empanadas.
A little cheese inside will surely level up its taste, so don’t be shy and stuff them with some–preferably mozzarella.
This country has a lot of lakes all around.
So, it’s only natural for their home cooks to incorporate seafood into their delectable cuisines.
Ceviche uses local catches like halibut and snapper.
It “cooks” the raw fish by leaving it to marinate in citrus juices.
Chilies and some fresh vegetables balance the sourness of its base.
Enjoy this Nica-style food by serving it in cocktail glasses.
Serve with Tabasco sauce, mayo, and ketchup on the side for a truly delicious appetizer.
Summer potlucks and get-togethers are incomplete without finger foods and skewers.
Bring something new to the table with these delightful grilled starters.
Churrasco is a thin steak that is oh-so-full of flavor.
It’s often marinated and later served with a side of the condiment Chimichurri.
You can make it ahead and grill it on each side for a couple of minutes.
Serve your friends and family this tasty meat appetizer as you go ahead and grill the main fare.
Hard-boiled eggs left to cool down to room temperature are the best add-on Nicaraguans like to put in their guacamole.
Their style is chopping up the avocados and eggs in chunkier pieces.
That way, it won’t be too soft or runny.
But you can also puree the avocados for a more even consistency.
Choice herbs and lime add flavor to this dish.
Serve with some bread, and enjoy!
Since corn is a staple in Nicaragua staple, tortillas made of maize are famous.
Lay some soft cheese into each tortilla wrap.
Then, make it better by adding onions pickled with banana vinegar.
Also, a bit of sour cream should help spruce up the dish.
Are you tired of the usual fare of hot dogs and burgers on Game Night?
Get your buddies excited by challenging them to try something new for Football Nights.
These are cool-looking boat-shaped tacos.
Fill these little boats with refried beans topped with sour cream, tomatoes, and shredded lettuce.
A layer of salsa verde on top will kick your appetizer.
Top it off with crumbled queso fresco and serve in style.
Here’s a comfort food you’ll be craving once you get a taste!
It’s quite a guilt trip whenever you eat these twice-fried plantains, but it sure is worth it.
Go for the green variant but be sure it’s not too hard.
The less sweet type makes it a savory pairing with cheese.
These finger foods are oh-so-good and sure to get the party started.
It’s great to make just for yourself to enjoy, too!
Much like most Hispanics, Nicaraguans also adopted the empanada in their cuisine.
While they often make empanadas with plantains, they would also go the traditional route with flour dough.
Lard and butter add to the rich taste of this dish.
The ground beef is well-seasoned and browned to perfection.
It can be challenging to get the dough to the right thickness, but once you perfect the recipe, you’ll make more of this starter.
Sundays with the family and holidays like Christmas cannot be without traditional dishes like this.
While Nacatamal is often large and filling, you can make them appetizer-style in cocktail sizes.
Guests will appreciate the presence of this dish on a carefully-curated table spread.
Nicaraguans are sure to say this dish feels like home and will have fond memories and stories to share with everyone.
You can taste the perfectly-seasoned pork meat in there.
It also comes with an assortment of local ingredients like prunes, nuts, potatoes, and habanero.
This dish is a winner when it comes to versatility.
You can serve it as a dip or with some tortillas.
You can assemble an appetizer plate with these refried beans if you have plantain chips and sour cream.
There are so many local versions of the Frijoles refritos, but you can give this recipe a go!
12. Salpicón De Res
Widely known in Latin American cuisine, this dish hits home and melts hearts every time.
Those familiar with the cooking on this side of the world may relate this meal to the Chojin.
Yet, this recipe uses less oil and makes do without fried pork rinds.
This version is a party fave served as an appetizer that’s great for any event.
One can never go wrong with plantains when cooking for a crowd of Nicaraguans.
These banana chips are widespread across the border, and it’s so delicious that you’ll want to recreate these at home, too.
Tajada means “to slice,” which is what this dish is–banana pieces sliced round or lengthwise and then fried.
Frying will make it sweeter.
You may find Tajadas cooked in a different style in local cities.
An equally-popular version is to grill the plantains instead of frying them and adding some cheese.
It depends on your preference, as both variations are oh-so-yummy!
Kids will surely love these shredded beef sandwiches!
Nicaraguans have a childhood dish called Ropa Vieja, with meat and veggies in easy-to-eat shreds.
Fun fact: The name comes from the Spanish translation of “old clothes,” as the way you cut the ingredients makes it look like rags or pieces of clothing.
This modern twist to the traditional dish makes it a well-loved version that you can serve any day of the week, even at parties.
15. Queso Frito
Now here’s a recipe you don’t want to miss!
Directly translating to “Fried Cheese,” this dish is a true delicacy in Latin America.
You’ll want to steer clear of cheese that melts in high heat.
Famous fresh white cheeses you can use include Queso Asadero, Greek cheese, Halloumi, and most Mexican cheeses.
Thin cheese slices are pan-fried, not deep-fried, and served alongside popular starters like tostones and plantains.
This soup is fun to make and serve at your special gathering.
It leans on the savory side, thanks to its chicken soup base made from crushed tomatoes, cilantro leaves, and chicken broth.
Adjust the seasoning if needed, and remember to serve it hot.
Complete your starter spread with a bowl of atolillo to get the appetite going.
It’s a holiday favorite often served on Christmas and other family gatherings.
The special dish has rice, milk, spices, and raisins–a genuinely heartwarming combination.
Nicaraguans love to incorporate their staple food when whipping up appetizers.
These finger foods mix sweet, sour, savory, and spicy.
You can find a recipe that you will love and will remind you of your travels across the border.
Skewers, fritters, empanadas, Maize, and Yucca are some of the usual delicacies in this type of cuisine.
There’s just so much to love about their cooking!
Get busy in the kitchen and start enjoying these dishes.
- Plaintain Empanadas
- Nicaraguan Style Steak Skewers With Chimichurri
- Repochetas Taco Boats
- Pati (Empanada)
- Frijoles Refritos (Refried Beans)
- Salpicón De Res
- Ropa Vieja Sliders
- Queso Frito
- Nicaraguan Fritters
- Find your favorite recipe from our Nicaraguan Appetizers list.
- Gather all the ingredients needed.
- Start cooking and make us proud!