11 Foods in Ecuador You Must Eat

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I’ve written about cuy and you already know about ceviche but there’s so much more Ecuadorian food can offer.

Overall my second trip to Ecuador was a bit more successful with many recommendations from local.

23 DISHES TO TRY:  Ecuadorian Food

While this list is by no means exhaustive it gives you an idea of the diversity of Ecuadorian food.

Keep in mind that most of these are sans pig because I earlier wrote a post devoted to all delicious porky products in Cuenca.

Food in Ecuador You Don’t Want to Miss

Dona Menestra meat


Ecuadorians are well-known for taking lesser cuts of meat and making them delicious.

This is a great score for budget travelers, especially when served with the chimichurri sauce and Ecuadorian aji.

Bolon de verde

Bolon de verde

Like a big ball of surprise.

Bolon de verde are baseball sized plantain dumplings are stuffed with stuffed with cheese, pork or meat and then deep fried.

Who doesn’t like a surprise ball of meat?



Ecuadorian food is diverse. From the highlands and most often served with roasted pig, 

llapingachos are mashed potato and cheese balls that are then seared on high heat.

You end up with a crispy exterior and a creamy filling.

Ecuador bread


Spend a bit of time traveling and you’ll appreciate the little things, like bread without sugar in it.

ALSO READ:  Cuy in Ecuador

Ecuador has some great bread and you can even find whole wheat here as pan integral.

You may not think this is a big deal but it’s the equivalent of hearing you just walked into a party with an open bar.

seco de chivo

Seco de Chivo

This Ecuadorian goat stew is apparently a Cuencan dish and while you may wince at the thought of goat, stewing it makes a meaty but mild flavour and was one of the best dishes I had in Ecuador.

Ecuador Fruits
girl eating ice cream

Ice cream

My sister is going to kill me for posting this photo but isn’t she lovely?

It’s a pretty bold statement to say no one likes ice cream more than Ecuadorians but I’m prepared to make it.

After seeing town after town that had more ice cream shops than all other stores combined.

I wondered why there wasn’t an obesity problem given the prevalence of local artisan ice cream, gelato, and old fashion shops.

20 INCREDIBLE: Ecuadorian Desserts
menestra in Ecuador


The national side dish, it appears as a side next to meat.

While menestra can be made with red beans or chickpeas you’ll most often see it with lentils.

It also means vegetarians have options when they eat, just double check it was cooked with oil and not delicious animal fat.



Also known as white hominy, mote is served as a condiment to make soups a bit more hearty and can be served with pork and corn as a snack.

empanadas verde

Empanada de verde

The “verde” is a  twist on a traditional empanada in Ecuador.

Initially I thought these were empanadas with a plantain filling but quickly realized the dough was plantain and the filling was cheese, beef or chicken. I loved the cheese but have been told beef is better.

plantain maduro with cheese

Maduro with fresh cheese

One of my favorite ways to eat plantain, sweet cooked plantain is filled with salty fresh cheese.

You can also get it with chicken or beef but the cheese was so delicious I stuck with it.

muchin de yuca

Muchin de yuca

Yuca is one of the rare things I had heard about but not yet tried and I’ve fallen madly in love with it. I love in in soup, stews, on its own.

When I heard about these cheese yuca fried dough I added yet another way I love yuca to the list.

They are similar in texture to llapingachos but are just a bit lighter because of the yuca, they almost make you forget they are deep fried.

Did I miss any Ecuadorian food that you love?

Lead photo (c) Andrea Leon

Join the Conversation

  1. I want to see if I can find any Ecuadorians food here. I want to try those plantain dumplings. I bet they probably don’t have it here. :(/ wOO i’M the first to comment, I feel special hahah

    1. Tom and Ficilta says:

      I wish there were recipes here. Also, what flavor ice cream is that? it appears to have a fruit or something in it.

  2. All that fried stuff looks dangerous, but empanadas and plantains and fried mashed potato balls-YUM!

  3. These photos are awesome!! The way you describe this food makes me really hungry. I would love to try the maduro. Looks so tasty!

  4. ecuador is also where i learned to put popcorn in soup very tasty and a lovely alternative to bread or crackers.

  5. I am going to kill you!

  6. ann wellwood says:

    Hope your sister doesn’t kill you!!!We would miss all your beautiful pictures and stories!!!

  7. and now I’m hungry, why doesn’t Asia put cheese in everything??

  8. You are killing me with the food posts lately. Great job again, as all these dishes look delish! Especially that cheese filled plantain, YUM! And the mystery ball of meat, you can’t beat that.

  9. Balanced Melting Pot says:

    Most of these foods can be found in some variation in Caracas, as well. Your pictures make them look absolutely delicious!!

  10. Ayngelina Author says:


    The only time I saw that combination was a fusion restaurant where they turned platains into a pizza base.

  11. I agree with you. Finding surprises in meaty balls is awesome. Just remember to wipe your chin after.

  12. Exactly what Poi said. Cheese makes everything better.

    Did Colombia have Maduro with fresh cheese? I don’t remember seeing it or eating it.

  13. Carmie Brogan says:

    I am so going to miss your cooking at Christmas. You always make food look great…except for the Cuy ( but again it was the little paw that threw me).

  14. Liz Ashworth says:

    Not sure I’m down with the maduro, Ayngelina! Perhaps I’d be more into some inauthentic Ecuadorian eats. (Just kidding – this stuff all looks awesome!)

  15. Oooh, so many unusual and tempting dishes. That turquoise-coloured ice cream looks interesting. Which flavour is that?

  16. Locro Sopa! Potatoes, cheese, avocado soup, it’s on every menu.

  17. The meat looks tasty but tough. I’m sure it’s not though. It’s breakfast time here but mouth is watering for a full dinner after looking through the photos.

  18. i too am pretty much down with cheese on and in everything. why arent plaintains a worldwide phenomenon?

  19. Camels & Chocolate says:

    PLANTAIN DUMPLINGS? Where can I get me some of that fried goodness Stateside? Or maybe you could overnight me some from South America? 😉

  20. Chris - The Aussie Nomad says:

    Grr Ayngelina why am I always reading your food posts when I’m hungry now I want some goat stew

  21. I’m lusting after the yuca, yum!!! Gotta tell you the best helado is found in Argie. Just you wait!

  22. Oh my! I am starved not. I can see trip to Ecuador in my crystal ball, just for the food!

  23. My favorite was actually Pan de Yuca, which Aracely’s family makes on the coast. I seriously eat them until I can’t eat no more. And that’s a lot.

  24. Shannon O'Donnell says:

    I am sold on those platains with cheese!! Those look amazing and tasty and I am sad they didn’t have them in Central America when I was there. Tasty!

  25. Ayngelina Author says:

    @Cam you know I wasn’t impressed the first time around with my family but the second time a local showed me where to eat and it made all the difference.

    Was your cuy roasted on an open spit? I think it makes all the difference.

  26. This all looks so good! And the goat stew sounds amazing. I’m not sure I ever thought about travel to Ecuador but with this much yumminess I may have to!

  27. I wasn’t as big a fan of Ecuadorian food, but I really liked the soups and vegetarian food. We ate guinea pig in Puno, it was okay, but greasy. Not sure if I’d eat it again. Great post! 😉

  28. Yum- I want those fried stuffed surprise balls now!!

  29. Zablon Mukuba says:

    the photos look very delicious. i have to go there and try out their dishes

  30. Migrationology says:

    Looks incredibly tasty, especially that plantain filled with cheese! I like how they serve a plato (like seco de chivo) with some avocado!

  31. The foodie in me can never resist a post like this! Suddenly the salad I was going to have for dinner doesn’t seem that interesting. 🙂

  32. Jools Stone says:

    Damn, to misquote George from Seinfeld, ‘These Ecuadorian eats are making me hungry!’ The steak n dumplings in particular. Stop! Crumpet time!

  33. Ayngelina Author says:


    I did have pan de yuca, they have it in Ecuador too and it’s delicious. The muchin is a bit more like yuca relleno in Peru without the stuffing.

  34. Those plantains w/cheese sound the best! Did you try pan de yuca in Colombia (one of my personal faves!)? I’m wondering if the muchin de yuca tastes similar to that, only fried. In any case–still hoping I get to Ecuador this spring!

  35. The NVR Guys says:

    LLapengachos are one of our all time favorite foods.

    I would add Locros to the list. Potato, avocado and cheese soup.

    Oh, and Salsa de Aji. You know how we feel about this.

  36. Wow these foods look so good! 🙂

  37. I was surprised at how varied Ecuadorian food was myself – one thing that I could stomach though was the tomate de arbol drink.

  38. Speaking of food… DAYUM. Famished now.

  39. Mmmm, Ayngelina you take such amazing photos of food. I just had lunch but after looking at your pics I could totally eat again. 🙂

  40. I have to agree about those plaintains with cheese. That seems like my kind of treat! Luckily there’s a night market tonight here in Chiang Mai so I have an outlet for my sudden craving for good food 🙂

  41. Ayngelina Author says:


  42. Ayngelina Author says:


    I was thinking the same thing! But my Ecuadorian friend insisted that it was not racist as it’s apparently well known that those with African descent are the best cooks and it means ‘good food.’

  43. LeslieTravel says:

    Your food photos are making me hungry! The plantain with cheese looks especially tasty. And your photo of the blackface cartoon was bringing back memories of Argentina and their “Blancaflor” mascot. That would not fly in the US, for sure!

  44. LeslieTravel says:

    @Ayngelina- Interesting argument from the locals! My Argentine host family once told me Brazilians dance so well because of their African blood. Could you imagine if Aunt Jemima adopted a mascot like that in the US? Mass boycotts would follow…

  45. I need llapingachos NOW.

  46. I’ve seen many local food posts, but this one is the most mouth watering one! The Bolon de verde, Llapingachos, and Maduro with fresh cheese looks amazing. And your sister looks lovely 🙂

  47. This post has me longing to visit ecuador again! I distinctly remember visiting Cuenca and staying with a family there who were celebrating a birthday on the first night. We had a traditional platter of onion/tomato salsa with steamed Mote (hominy), roasted Cuy (guinea pig), and roasted pig(pernil), and fried green plantains with cheese.

    I found this facebook page run by an ecuadorian woman who nearly always posts her traditional dishes and I love it, so I thought I’d share 🙂



  48. This food looks so good right now. I love yuca bread it is probably one of my favorite things to eat in Ecuador.

  49. Carol Parsons says:

    You ought to try to gatos encerados down on the coast. These are regular bananas, sliced and filled with white cheese, then batter fried. Yum, yum! We also have a baked , cheese filled yucca bread that’s pretty good! Thanks for sharing. You’ve brought back many memories of our time in Ecuador.

  50. But you forgot Caldo de Bola, Encebollado, congrejos con salsa, pinchos!!! Oh I could go on and on … Also jugo tomatillo … and CAFE! I load my bag with coffee each time we go.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      very true Encebollado is one of my favourites.

  51. Kimberly Romero says:

    I just want to point out being from Ecuador that Llapingacho is a whole dish not just those fluffed potatoes. Just saying!

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