5 Traditional Ecuadorian Foods & 3 Drinks to Try

 Overview: You can’t visit Ecuador without trying their most popular traditional foods 

Widely known as one of the fourth-smallest states in South America, Ecuador is famous for its magnificently beautiful natural wonders. However, there’s much more than just the places that put Ecuador on the map – from people and culture to traditions, hats, and food; Ecuador is a heaven for tourists. And if you’re moving around in Ecuador but missing the food, you’re doing yourself a serious disservice.

While visiting the local markets in Ecuador, you’ll come across many vendors selling traditional drinks, snacks, or lunch/dinner items. Among those traditional market-based food options, you’ll find dishes that are eaten throughout Latin America.

Despite the fact that Ecuador is a small country, it holds diversity in terms of gastronomy. In this blog, we’ll spill the beans about traditional dishes, hoping that you won’t hesitate to indulge yourself in the experience of enjoying incomparable flavors. Here are some must-try traditional foods of Ecuador.

1) Encebollado:

Encebollado de Pescado is at the top of our list because of the uniqueness it has. The ingredients of this dish contain seafood as a soup (usual tuna) with boiled yuca, red onion pickles, tomato – topped with cilantro, and a squeeze of lime/lemon juice.

Having tuna as the main ingredient, this dish is often served on the coast; however, you may also find it in the Andes region.

Encebollado is a delicious traditional soup, served for lunch and dinner – sometimes for breakfast too. As for the side item, usually Tostado (crunchy corn kernels), popcorn sprinkles, and chifles on the side.

2) Empanadas:

We’re sure you’ve heard this name and might have eaten a version of it. A beloved traditional food of Ecuador’s entire Europe, Empanadas is eaten as a snack, lunch, breakfast, and dinner, as the main course – even appetizer or snack.  

The shape of Empanadas is like a bit of pie, made with wheat flour, green plantain, or cornflour. Mixed with water in a specific quantity, the dough is formed into little balls and later rolled into flat circles.

Now comes the filling part – depending on the maker’s choice, it’ll be either savory or sweet, placed in the center, folded, and pinched to secure the filling. These Empanadas are fried/baked and served with a dipping sauce.   

Another version of Empanadas is cheese-filled that is served warm with sugar sprinkled on the top – favorite savory of consumers.

3) Hornado:

If you’re a meat fan, Hornado will be your absolute favorite in Ecuador. Hornado is roast pork with crispy skin and is well-loved, especially in the Sierra. It’s served with mote (large kernels of boiled corn), llapingachos (fried potatoes filled with cheese), and other vegetables.

4) Cuy:

Similar to Hornado, Cuy is a rich, traditionally popular dish. Seasoned with garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin, Cuy is usually served at special events/celebrations. Cuy is an attention-grabber for the richness in texture and the serving size.

Often served whole with a few slices of avocado, potato, mote, and fresh vegetables, including tomato, Cuy is a lump of rich meat – and the whole serving will be too much unless one has a large appetite.

Unless you’ve a large appetite and you’re with a group, don’t get the whole Cuy – it’ll be too much. A quarter Cuy with side dishes will be enough for a person with an average appetite.

5) Guaguas de Pan:

Prepared during the Day of the Dead celebrations, Guaguas de pan or baby bread is a sweet pastry filled with jam, chocolate, or caramel.

These pastries have an interesting background – these sweets are wrapped tightly like the infants in swaddling clothes, and they’re seen as mummifying the dead – a pre-Columbian tradition.

Not all pastries are consumed, but some are left on the gravestones of the dearly departed. The Guaguas are served with a thickly brewed beverage – Colada Morada.

Colada Morada contains cornflour, sugar, blueberry, pineapple rind, spices, and blackberry.

3 Ecuador Traditional Drinks – You Shouldn’t Miss:

1) Pinol:

Invented by Rafael Emilio Madrid, Pinol is similar to a Guatemalan drink Atol de Pinol. It’s said that Rafael had seen laborers sucking on pieces of sugar cane, so he came up with the idea of mixing with spices, machica (barley flour), and water/milk.

Drinking Pinol is a part of Ecuadorian culture and is more like a national drink. And women make traditional pinol at home, but you can also find it in coffee shops, juice shops, or ice cream parlors where drinks are offered.

2) Morocho:

Another name for Morocho is spiced corn pudding – having a thick consistency resembling milkshakes and pudding. So you’ll need both a spoon and straw to enjoy it.  Ecuadorians like drinking Morocho during hot weather for the soothing effect. Filled with a bunch of aromatic flavors, Morocho is a spicy drink made from cinnamon, raisins, cracked corn, and milk. The fun part about this drink is that it’s a drink and dessert in one – depending on the consumer’s choice and the one who’s making it.

3) Ecuadorian Coffee:

No, we don’t forget coffee lovers! Ecuadorians are also fond of coffee, just a slight variation of making it their way.  But it’s no secret that they make one of the best coffees in the world.

Ecuador is biologically blessed with a diverse ecosystem to produce the most complex coffee beans for locals and coffee lovers worldwide. And (quick history lesson here), tracing back to the 19th century, the coffee production of Ecuador started – Ecuador is one of 15 countries that grow the famous robusta and arabica coffees and export them. These two coffees are consumed for their intense and rich flavors.

In Summary:

So was the blog as mouthwatering to you as it was to us? We struggled writing it (too busy drooling from hunger on the keyboard). We can’t disagree that Ecuador is a blessed state – from the nutrient-rich soil to landscapes and traditional foods, Ecuador is heaven for you. Don’t miss the traditional food there!