America Recipes

C for Cuba (Pan Cubano)

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Pan Cubano (Cuban bread) is perfect for a breakfast sandwich.

During my trip to Cuba in 2011, I learned that Cubans love homemade sandwiches, not just for breakfast, but at any time of the day or night. But more on that in a moment. First, a few words about Cuban cuisine in general.

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Trip in an Oldtimer, Havana 2011

Cuban cuisine

Cuban cuisine has elements of Spanish, African and Caribbean cuisine. It is simple and relatively mild esp. compared to Mexican cuisine.

The national dish consists of rice and beans. Typically, rice, red or black beans are seasoned with a sauce made from finely chopped garlic cloves, olive oil, onions and tomatoes (sofrito sauce). Together with vegetables such as peppers and meat, this dish forms a simple and tasty meal.

Cubans love meat, especially chicken. Chicken is often offered fried (pollo fritto) or roasted (pollo asado).

Beef is also very popular. A traditional beef stew is Ropa Vieja (literally: old clothes). This is beef simmered in a tomato sauce with peppers and onions until it almost falls apart like “old clothes”, hence the name.

Another classical dish is roasted pig, which is often served with a sauce made from oil, onions, garlic, orange or lime juice and spices such as oregano (mojo or mojito).

Although Cuba is located in the middle of the Caribbean, fish is rarely found on the menu. And if so, it is extremely expensive.

Even if vegetarian dishes are not very common, Cubans use plantains, yucca, cassava and sweet potatoes* in many dishes, side dishes or soups.

Of course, bread (Pan Cubano) is on the table at every meal.

Unfortunately, the selection of fresh salads is not very varied. On the menu is what is available right now. Canned vegetables and fruit are used insted.

However, there are very tasty desserts such as flan, a kind of pudding made from eggs set in a water bath, milk and sugar. Churros originally come from Spain, but are also a traditional delicacy in Cuba. This is an long piece of pastry that is fried in oil and then sprinkled with a lot of sugar. Churros taste even better with a cream filling! Cuba also has surprisingly good ice cream.

*You can also find out more about yucca and cassava on my website in the article about Fidji and Paraguay.

Where to eat?

State-run restaurants usually offer little choice. The dishes are also rarely convincing in terms of taste.

Much better and typical of Cuba are private restaurants, the so-called paladares. Paladares can be found all over the country. They are often difficult to find, especially when they are hidden behind old house facades. The hosts are very warm and the food tastes excellent. Important to know: The daily offer varies and depends on the current market situation and availability of products.

Exterior facade of a paladar in Havana, Cuba
Evening atmosphere in a paladar, Cuba
Rainbow after a rain shower during a paladar visit in Cuba


Street food is absolutely typical for Cuba. Pizza, hamburgers, etc. are sold directly to customers through a simple window in the house or at a mobile street stand.  

The so-called cajita is very popular as well: a square cardboard box filled with juicy pork, rice, beans and a little salad.


Most often, mobile street stalls offer sandwiches. Delicious Cuban white bread (Pan Cubano) is topped with roast pork, ham and/or cheese. Sometimes the finished sandwich is also grilled on a griddle so that the cheese melts and the bread is golden brown and crispy on the outside. Sandwiches are so popular in Cuba that they are available 24 hours a day.


Of course, sandwiches with Pan Cubano are also ideal for an early (small) breakfast after a night of (salsa) dancing or for a later breakfast with more choice: A typical Cuban breakfast includes bread (Pan Cubano), rolls (Panecillo), Pastries, butter and jam. Meat, ham, sausage or bacon, cheese and eggs (omelette or scrambled eggs) are also served - especially for tourists. It is not uncommon for people in Cuba to eat rice and beans for breakfast. Depending on what is available, there are of course also fruit, such as papaya or pineapple, for breakfast.

Pan Cubano

The typical Cuban bread is a loaf of white bread. What's special about Pan Cubano is that it's made with lard instead of oil and more water than usual. This gives the bread a very special taste. Pan Cubano is very light and fluffy. The consistency reminds me a bit of milk rolls. In terms of taste, however, it is more neutral and less sweet.

Pan Cubano

I personally, like Pan Cubano very much, although I usually prefer dark bread. The method of preparing Pan Cubano is simple, as you can see in the following recipe.

Have fun baking and Buen provecho (enjoy your meal)!

Pan Cubano

Course Bread, rolls, breakfast, sandwich
Cuisine Cuban, street food
Servings 8 breads


  • 500 g flour          
  • 40 g sugar
  • 1/2 Dice yeast
  • 60 g lard
  • 300 ml water
  • 5 g salt


  • Dissolve yeast and sugar in lukewarm water.
  • Add remaining ingredients and knead into a smooth dough that is soft but does not stick to your hands. If necessary, adjust the consistency with a little water or flour.
  • Cover the dough and let it rise at a warm place for at least 1 hour.
  • Divide the dough into eight equal portions.
  • Form each piece into a baguette-like roll.
  • Carve the dough pieces lengthways and let them rise for 30 minutes.
  • Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.
  • Sprinkle the dough pieces with a little water before baking.
  • Bake the bread for about 20 minutes until nicely browned.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool.

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Thanks a lot!

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