Panama Cuisine

Panama Cuisine

What do you actually eat in Panama?

Different influences mix in the cuisine of Panama. Typical ingredients that the Indians used are corn and beans. But the Spaniards and Americans, who were present in the country for a long time, also influenced what and how is cooked. Finally, on the Atlantic coast, there are also Caribbean influences.

Typical ingredients

Many dishes contain corn, rice, wheat flour, plantains, or cassava. Beef and pork, as well as chicken and seafood, are often found. The seasoning is rather mild. Many tropical fruits grow in the country and are of course also on the menu: pineapples, mangoes, melons and papayas, for example.

Corn in a different way

While in neighboring countries a flour is made from corn, in Panama the whole grains are cooked and then finely ground. This is then used to make the typical tortillas (flat corn cakes). But arepas are even more common with all dishes. They are a bit thicker and smaller than tortillas and are often fried after baking.


The national dish is sancocho, a stew made from chicken and vegetables. Typical ingredients, besides the chicken, are yams and long coriander (culantro). Often they also contain cassava and corn on the cob or the bulbs of taro and otoe that are unknown to us. There is also rice, which you either add to the soup or eat with it.


As in neighboring countries, tamales are also popular in Panama. Here, too, people like to eat them at Christmas or on other festive days, but also more often in everyday life than anywhere else. Maize dough is prepared for tamales, which cooks with other ingredients in a banana leaf. Typical Panamanian tamales are larger than anywhere else and mostly contain chicken, onions, raisins, and tomato sauce. If the whole thing doesn’t cook in a banana leaf, it’s a tamal de olla, i.e. tamal from the pot.

Rice with chicken or “old clothes”

Chicken and rice are often served together as arroz con pollo (“rice with chicken”). In Panama, the chicken is cut into small pieces with rice. Beef with onions, garlic, paprika and sauce is called Ropa Vieja, which literally means “old clothes”. It is also popular for breakfast.


Plantains are used in many ways. Unripe fruits that are still green and fried in slices are called tostones in Panama, a country located in Caribbean and Central America listed on hyperrestaurant. They are eaten salted like chips or french fries. If you deep-fried ripe plantains, they become tajadas. When cooked in a sweet syrup, they are called Pl├ítano en Tentacion (” Plantain in Temptation”).

Morning, noon, evening

For breakfast there is preferably something baked, for example tortillas or arepas or fried manioc. Also carima├▒olas are popular. They are made from cassava flour and baked with a cheese and meat filling. Scrambled eggs and sausages can also be part of breakfast. At lunchtime, people prefer rice dishes or a soup. In the evening it can be a little easier and quick to prepare.

And what is there to drink?

Batidos taste wonderfully refreshing: They are fruits pureed with milk or water. Agua de Pipa is the juice of the young coconut. The adults like to drink coffee too.

Panama Cuisine