noche buena menu

Cuban Noche Buena Food To Make This Year

Enjoy a traditional Cuban feast with these Noche Buena recipes made from scratch. Noche Buena in Spanish means “Good Night.” And it is a good night surrounded by friends, family and fantastic Cuban food!

I’ve put together a Noche Buena menu for you with traditional Cuban dishes, desserts and more. I hope you enjoy making these for Christmas!

Our traditional Cuban Christmas Eve Dinner includes:

Lechon Asado

Roast Pork


Black Beans & Rice

Yuca with Mojo

Starchy Yuca Vegetable with Garlicky Citrus Sauce

Caramel Flan

Here are all the Cuban food recipes you need to make the best Noche Buena feast this Christmas!

¡Buen Provecho!

Cuban Roast Pork “Lechon Asado”

Cuban Roast Pork

Cuban roast pork is as Cuban as it gets, folks. This traditional Cuban dish is known as lechon asado in Spanish, and it’s the go-to feast for every special occasion, especially Noche Buena. It’s served for Christmas and, in many Cuban homes, for Thanksgiving, too! The pork is marinated overnight or even longer and then cooked until it falls off the bone and the skin is super crispy.

The Best Cuban Congrí Rice (Black Beans And Rice) 

Congri Rice

Congri is my favorite Cuban side dish to make for Noche Buena. This is Mami’s best beans and rice recipe and the one that her kids and grandkids want to learn and pass down. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, my brother calls from North Carolina asking how to make it. It’s the best! But some folks prefer to have their black beans and rice cooked separately. If you’re one of those, I’ve got a black bean recipe for you as well.

Yuca With Mojo Is A Must For Noche Buena

yuca with mojo

Yuca with mojo is the traditional cuban side dish to serve with Cuban roast pork. In fact, yuca is preferred over the usual fried plantains. As much as we love our fried maduros and tostones, yuca and roast pork are a Cuban power couple. And, of course, you have to make enough for yuca fries the next day! 

Caramel Flan Is The Best Cuban Dessert For Noche Buena


Caramel flan is, hands-down, the most popular Cuban dessert, and for a good reason. It’s a luscious, creamy, special-occasion-worthy dessert that is super easy to make. This is the dessert that’s on every Cuban table for Noche Buena

Noche Buena Menu

Other Traditional Cuban Dishes To Make For Christmas, Even Before Noche Buena

We also love to make goodies like Cuban shortbread, coconut balls, guava bars and Cuban eggnog with sweeteneded condensed milk and rum. I invite you to try some of these Cuban holiday favorites! But you don’t have to wait until Christmas Eve to enjoy these. Make them a few days early and start your Noche Buena festivities early🎄🎅

Torticas De Moron (Cuban Shortbread) Is Melt-In-Your-Mouth Delicious

torticas de moron

Torticas de Moron are a wonderful Cuban shortbread cookie that’s simple to make and so delicious! The shortening makes this cookie perfectly crumbly and once you bite into it just melts in your mouth. And it’s made even more irresistible with a dollop of guava paste! It’s a great addition to your Noche Buena menu, along with the Cuban flan, of course!

Coconut Balls Are Quick, Easy And So Adorable!

Coconut Balls

These coconut balls are such a Cuban treat. First of all, we LOVE coconut, so of course, we would make these. And if your an Almond Joy or Mounds fan, you’ll love these dipped in chocolate and topped with coconuts or almonds. They make great holiday gifts, too.

Boozy, Sweet Crema De Vie (Cuban Eggnog) Is So Good!

crema de vie

Cubans have their own version of eggnog known as crema de vie, and if you have a sweet tooth, you’ve got to try it! The Spanish translation for Crema de Vie is cream of life, and I can see why it’s called that. It tastes a lot like spiked flan because it has very similar ingredients. I like to have a little eggnog as I’m cooking up my Noche Buena feast, so I make this a few days early. You also need to let it sit for a day, so definitely make it early!

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Eve celebration surrounding by family, friends and Christmas joy. ¡Feliz Navidad!

Noche Buena Menu
Backyard Barbecue

Easy Backyard Barbecue Menu with Skirt Steak Chimichurri

I love backyard barbecues that are easy, tasty, and filled with my favorite Latin flavors! This menu featuring skirt steak chimichurri is one of my go-to summer grilling favorites, and it was my Thanksgiving menu for many years. We live in Miami so backyard barbecues are great in November. 

Sometimes I spend more time putting a menu together than I do cooking it. So I wanted to provide you with an easy backyard barbecue menu so you can spend more time chilling this summer. You’ll find that skirt steak is an easy and flavorful steak perfect for the grill and this Cilantro Chimichurri sauce is great on steaks, veggies, bread, plantain chips (mariquitas), just about everything!

Grilled sausages, peppers and onions

Easy Backyard Barbecue Menu

You can pair this skirt steak chimichurri with a grilled vegetable salad and crusty bread for an all-grill meal that’s ready in under 30 minutes. Or you can enjoy the grilled skirt steak with congri rice and maduros, this is how I prepared it for Thanksgiving. (My family is not big turkey, so we went non-traditional most years.)

The first time I ate skirt steak chimichurri it was at a Nicaraguan restaurant and they paired it with congri rice and fried sweet plantains (maduros). The limey chimichurri and the sweet fried plantains were such a good combo!! You can make the rice ahead of time and just reheat and the maduros take no time to fry. If you have an outdoor grill with a side burner, it’s even easier because you can fry the maduros as the steak is grilling. 

For starters, I like to have grilled sausage and peppers montaditos. These are appetizer-sized choripan, a popular Argentine street food made with chorizo and chimichurri sauce. You’ll find the chimichurri sauce will be doing double and triple duty in this meal.

To finish this crazy good backyard barbecue menu, we have caramel flan, a very traditional Cuban dessert that is easy and so very velvety sweet you’ll fall in love with it. 

So here are the two menu options:

Backyard Barbecue Menu Option 1:
Grilled Sausage and Peppers Montaditos
Skirt Steak Chimichurri
Grilled Vegetable Salad
Crusty bread
Caramel Flan
Backyard Barbecue Menu Option 2:
Grilled Sausage and Peppers Montaditos
Skirt Steak Chimichurri
Congri Rice
Caramel Flan

Grilled Sausage and Peppers Montaditos

These little Grilled Sausage and Peppers Montaditos made with Argentinian sausage are perfect for summer grilling! Slices of crusty bread are piled high with grilled sausages and peppers and onions and drizzled with chimichurri sauce. Montadito is a Spanish tapas that consists of little breads or slices filled with savory toppings.

You can pace your grilling so it’s laidback by starting with these chorizos on the grill as a first course. This way you don’t have a huge amount to grill all at once. While folks are enjoying their montaditos you can add the other items to the grill. The skirt steak and veggies cook quickly, in about ten minutes so you may want to wait a bit before you throw them on the grill. 

This recipe serves eight people.

cilantro chimichurri

Cilantro Chimichurri

Chimichurri is originally from Argentina and Uruguay, but it’s popular all over Latin America. The traditional sauce has a lot of fresh chopped parsley and olive oil and smaller amounts of garlic, oregano, and vinegar. I opted for lemon juice in my recipe. You’ll need to double this recipe so you can have plenty for dipping, topping drizzling and slurping (I know, I’m over the top about this sauce!).

Cilantro chimichurri is the star of this backyard barbecue menu. Because you’ll use it as a skirt steak marinade and steak finishing sauce, it’s drizzled on the montaditos, and can also be used as a dipping sauce for the crusty bread. I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a staple in your barbecues. 

Grilled Skirt Steak Chimichurri

Another name for skirt steak is churrasco, which is very popular in Argentine cooking. Argentines are famous for their epic backyard barbecues that include skirt steak churrasco among other cuts of beef, chorizo, and blood sausage.  

Skirt steak is perfect for grilling and can really absorb the flavors of the marinade. You can find inside and outside skirt steak at your local supermarket. The best cut to use in inside steak because it’s more tender. But I’ve used outside skirt to make my Grilled Steak Chimichurri with great results too (it helps that my son is great at grilling meats!).

This recipe serves four so you’ll need to double it if you have more guests.

Grilled veggie salad

Grilled Vegetable Salad

If you love the smokey flavor of char-grilled veggies, you’ll love this Grilled Vegetable Salad that’s a perfect complement for the skirt steak chimichurri. This recipe makes four servings, so you’ll need to double it if you have more peeps coming.

I like that all the elements of your meal can be cooked on the grill so you don’t have to keep running into the kitchen to finish some things. You can enjoy your backyard barbecue to the fullest, with a glass of wine or an ice-cold beer and great convo from your favorite guests. 

Cuban Congri Rice

Cuban Congrí Rice

Congri Rice is a traditional Spanish black beans rice side dish served with just about anything Cuban, especially meats and pork. It’s great with the skirt steak chimichurri. This is an authentic Cuban recipe and it’s one of my mom’s best recipes (aka Bean Train). 

You can make the beans in the Instant Pot and then finish the rice on the stovetop. If you want to keep your summer grilling simple, I suggest you make the congri rice the day before and then reheat it. It’s great the next day. In fact, this is a recipe that you can freeze for later if you have any leftovers. 

This recipe serves eight people, maybe more.


Fried Sweet Plantains (Maduros)

Fried Sweet Plantains, known as plátanos maduros, are a very common side dish in Cuban cooking. It’s usually served with savory meat dishes like this one. The trick to making these is to choose very ripe plantains. They are best when they are almost black. Each plantain will yield about 6-8 slices, so you may need to fry up a few of these sweeties.

Maduros cook quickly and can be done on the side burner while the steak is grilling. If you can’t find plantains in your supermarket produce section, try the frozen foods. You may find some Latin brands that are already sliced and just need to be fried for a few minutes. 


End With a Traditional Cuban Dessert – Caramel Flan

Caramel flan is the most popular Cuban dessert served for any special occasion. It’s luscious, creamy, and ridiculously easy to make. You do need to make this flan recipe the day before, so it has time to chill. 

What makes this dessert so amazing is the caramel sauce which is nothing more than melted sugar but tastes like so much more than that! 

You can make the individual portions in ramekins which are so pretty or make the flan in cake pan or pie plate for easy serving. A cake also gives you more flexibility with the portions. This recipe can be made in the Instant Pot or oven. If you’re going to use the Instant Pot, you’ll need to by a flan mold insert.

I do hope you enjoy making this backyard barbecue menu as much as you’ll enjoy eating it! ¡Buen provecho!

Backyard Barbecue Menu Cookbook
Brunch Menu

Quick and Easy Brunch Menu for Eight

Let’s do brunch together! I have the perfect brunch menu for you. It’s easy and quick to put together and features brunch favorites like smoked salmon and egg casserole with just a little Cuban twist. 

While I love a great restaurant brunch, it’s so much nicer when you have brunch at home. To begin with, there is no waiting, no noisy, crowded spaces, and you can really take your time. And with my easy brunch menu, you can put together an impressive spread in under an hour. Because almost all the prep work is done the day before. 

Brunch Menu Ideas With A Cuban Twist 

You’re probably wondering if Cubans even do brunch. Of course, we do. We run on Cuban time, especially on the weekends. So by the time we get up and get ready for breakfast, it’s already brunch time!! 

So here’s my quick and easy brunch menu that’s perfect for Easter, Mother’s Day, or any lazy Sunday. 

  • Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast 
  • Spanish Chorizo Egg Omelet 
  • Chery Tomato Salad
  • Guava Bars 
  • Mango Mimosa 
  • Café con Leche 

Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast 

smoked salmon avocado toast

Certainly, avocado toast has become really popular, but it’s always been a Cuban thing. It’s served on Cuban bread with olive oil and garlic. My version includes smoked salmon… a brunch classic, and one of my favorite breakfasts. 

This salmon avocado toast is easy to make and looks so impressive on your brunch table. Crostini is piled high with avocado slices and smoked salmon and dressed in a lemon, caper, and cilantro gremolata. The dish comes together quickly, and it’s so, so tasty. 

Here’s my Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast recipe. 

Chorizo Egg Casserole 

chorizo egg casserole

I love this chorizo egg casserole because it tastes just like a Spanish omelet without all the work. You prepare the egg casserole the night before and just pop it in the oven in the morning. Basically, this recipe is a Cuban version of a traditional Sausage egg and hashbrown casserole. Instead of breakfast sausage, I used chorizo and a few Latin ingredients like Manchego cheese, and smoked paprika. Cubans especially love chorizo and use it on many dishes, including omelets, pastries, soups, and stews. 

Here’s my Chorizo Egg Casserole recipe. 

Guava Bars 

guava bars

Guava bars are made with layers of buttery dough and guava paste. This popular Cuban pastry is delicious for breakfast or as a dessert with coffee. Cubans love guava paste and use it pastelitos and often eat it on Cuban crackers paired with cream cheese. Another great thing about this recipe is that it’s quick and easy to make and can be baked the day before, so you have even less to do on brunch day. 

Here’s my Cuban Guava Bars recipe.

Cherry Tomato Salad  

chery tomato bruschetta

This quick little side dish will add more veggies to your spread. You can serve it as a side salad with the egg casserole, or you can spoon it on top of French bread and serve it as bruschetta alongside the avocado toast. I don’t use a recipe for this. I just mix the ingredients to taste. Here’s your starting point: 

  • 2 pints of cherry tomatoes (preferably mixed medley) 
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
  • 2 tablespoon slivered basil leaves 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

First cut the tomatoes in halves or quarters, then mix in the rest of the ingredients. Adjust seasonings to taste. I like to chiffonade the basil, which is easy to do. To do this, just stack the leaves and then roll them together as you would a cigarette. Then cut crosswise to make ribbons. Here’s a quick video on how to do it.

Mango Mimosa 

Of course, no brunch menu would be complete without bottomless mimosas! Instead of using orange juice, mix in a bit of mango nectar. I like my mimosas weak, so I tend to use half champagne and half nectar. But you can adjust to whatever strength you want. If I make mine too strong, I turn into tipsy mom and then have to take a nap for the rest of the afternoon! 

Cuban Coffee 

cuban coffee

Finish off your meal with a bit of Cafecito! Cuban coffee can be served as an espresso or mixed with milk to make a cortadito (half espresso and half milk) or a café con Leche (Cuban latte). Here’s my recipe on how to make Cuban coffee

There you have it, a quick and easy brunch menu inspired by my favorite Cuban flavors. So now you can sleep in and still get brunch on the table in no time.

Download Brunch Menu Recipe Book

Make brunch even easier with this Brunch Menu e-book that includes an easy-to-make brunch menu, complete with a shopping list and all the recipes you need. Download the book and let’s get cooking!

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