An Exploration of Panamanian Food in 7 Dishes

Whether you are visiting for a short while on a long vacation, you love to try out new dishes.

Panamanian dishes are great in variety and spices. They leave you craving for more and more.

Take a tour through the culinary history and culture of Panama in this guide to Panamanian food you must try.

1. Sancocho

Panamanian Sancocho Soup served in white bowl
Panamanian Sancocho

This is Panama’s national meal. The meal is also enjoyed by everyone from the elite class to those middle working class.

This is a whole meal made with vegetables, chicken soup, potatoes and served with rice. Panamanians pride themselves in this meal because it symbolizes their diversity.

Sancocho is cooked in different variations in the different regions in Panama. You ought to try the delicacy because of its renowned nutritional value.

Traditional vegetables are thrown in the stew, making it healthy and very delicious. It is proven to cure the most terrible hangovers.

2. Panamanian Corn Tortilla


Next up are Panamanian corn tortillas. Tortillas are a delicious breakfast dish served in many Latin America. They are a snack with indigenous influence from the Panamanian villages.

Panamanian tortillas are not like the Mexican or Colombian tortillas they are thicker. The tortillas are prepared by grilling or deep frying.

Either way, the product amazes the taste buds. They are round, thick, and crispy. These can make you drool when you see them.

What makes them even yummier is that they are usually topped with cheese or eggs. You can enjoy them with your breakfast beverage choice.

3. Carimanolas: Stuffed Yuca Fritters

Carimanolas on a late with sauces
Carimanolas from Panama

Stuffed yucca fritters are a breakfast meal that doubles as a snack. You can have a snack any time of the day.

Carimanolas are made from the traditional cassava plant. Cassava is a root tuber and so rich in carbohydrates.

What makes the yucca delicious is the ingredients stuffed in it. Its preparation entails stuffing cheese and ground beef.

The stuffed yucca is the fried before it is ready for consumption.

4. Ron Ponche

Panamanian Ron Ponche drink with cinnamon stick
Ron Ponche Panamanian Holiday Drink

Pronounced as ‘rum punch,’ Ron Ponche is the signature holiday cocktail in Panama. The ingredients that make the cocktail are traditionally made.

The main ingredients include vanilla extract, evaporated milk, and egg yolk. The drink is spiced up with nutmeg and sugar.

The natives and foreigners enjoy Ron Ponche. It is garnished and served with style.

If you are on holiday or just visiting, this should be the highlight of your trip.

5. Ensalada de Feria

Panamanian Potato Salad served on white dish on wooden table
Ensalada de Feria

It’s as delicious as it is pretty!

Ensalada de Feria is Panama’s version of potato salad. Ingredients needed for this visually satisfying dish include potatoes, beets, eggs, mayonnaise and sometimes carrots.

It is very popular during the warmer summer months, especially at family parties and barbecues.

6. Pargo Frito

Pargo Frito Fried red Snapper
Pargo Frito

Panama’s Pargo Frito is simply fried red snapper prepared with special spices. This is a delicacy that is served in all beach restaurants.

For lovers of seafood, Panama offers the best prepared Red Snapper. The fish is deep fried and served while very fresh.

It is served along with indigenous fried plantain slices called patacones, or french fries, and usually local sauce. This makes it versatile in nature.

The garnishing differentiates the red snapper from other kinds of seafood. Most restaurants garnish with circular dived raw tomatoes.

They are added with lemon to inject the citric flavor. Pargo Frito is flavorful, filling, and addictive.

7. Hojaldre

Hojaldre Panamanian Dish served on white plate on wooden table with rose salt and pepper shakers
Hojaldre Panamanian Bread

They are one of the most popular breads in Panama. Most Panamanians refer to them as hojaldres.

But they also go by hojaldas and hojaldras. Whatever you call them, one thing is for sure, they are absolutely delicious!

Hojaldres are fried pieces of bread very similar to fried dough. They are usually enjoyed at breakfast time, sometimes topped with cheese and served alongside your favorite Panamanian cup of coffee.

Panamanian Food

These seven dishes are but a few of the impressive Panamanian food you must try. The whole meals, snacks, and drinks are a spectacle of the history and culture of Panama.

More importantly, they are as nutritious as they need to be. Your Central American experience is not complete if you haven’t tried these representative Panamanian dishes.

Continue your exploration of Latin American food with these entertaining articles.

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