Ecuadorian food: The most traditional dishes you must try

Ericka & Stefano

Ecuadorian culture is not only experienced through its tourist attractions, but also through its cuisine.

Despite Ecuador’s small size, each of its four regions has a diverse selection of traditional dishes that would require a lengthy post to cover in full.

However, few dishes stand out and are emblematic of traditional Ecuadorian cuisine.

Most of them are native to the Coast and Highland regions.

Even though there are traditional dishes from the Amazon as well, you probably won’t find them in many places in Ecuador.

In contrast, if you go to Cuenca, you can eat a great bolon costeño, or if you go to Guayaquil, you may eat a fantastic Llapingacho serrano.

The ingredients that predominate in each region distinguish the regional cuisine. That is why many dishes use the same elements, but in different formats.

Ecuador’s coast is dominated by seafood, plantains, and peanuts, while the highlands are dominated by dry grains, pig, corn, and potatoes.

Here is a list of traditional Ecuadorian foods that you should try if you visit our country.

Read also: Palo Santo: The sacred wood in Ecuador


Encebollado is the most typical meal along the Ecuadorian coast and in the Galapagos Islands.

It is a fish soup (albacore or tuna) with onion, yucca, tomato, bell pepper, and other herbs. It is usually served hot with chifle (sliced fried green plantains) or bread.

People usually eat it for breakfast, but it can also be taken in the early morning to get rid of “chuchaqui” (hangover).


Ecuadorian Ceviche

It consists of a chilled soup with tomato, coriander, and other spices, along with shellfish that has been pickled in lemon juice. It is served with roasted corn, chifle, or popcorn (canguil).

Depending on the type of seafood, there are various ceviche varieties, including fish ceviche, shrimp ceviche, shell ceviche, and ceviche mixto (shrimp, fish, shell, octopus, etc.).

Although our ceviches are soups, you may also find pickled ceviches on some beaches in Ecuador that are similar of those in Peru.

Our favorite ceviche is definitely the fish ceviche from Manabi (ceviche manaba), which has a bit of peanut paste added to it. You must try it!

Ceviche Solymar Mixto Frente al Mar !!!

Bolon de verde

It’s a plantain dough ball (“bolón“) stuffed with cheese, pork rinds (chicharrón), or both.

It is a traditional breakfast on the coast, and it is very filling. We often skip lunch when we have it for breakfast since we are still full.

This bolon can be made into a Tigrillo, another common coast meal, by mashing it with milk and eggs.

Bolon at Tropical II - Greenpoint Avenue - Sunnyside, Queens NYC


It is a classic dish from Esmeraldas.

It is made with seafood, coconut milk (this is why it is called encocado), bell pepper, onion, cilantro, and parsley, among other ingredients. It comes with rice and either maduro frito (sweet ripe fried plantain) or patacones (salty fried plantains).

There are many different kinds of encocado, each one suited to a specific type of seafood, such as fish encocado, shrimp encocado, crab encocado, and so on.

They are consumed during lunch or dinner.

B18 Encocado de Pescado

Secos (stews)

Secos are a sort of meat stew served with white or yellow rice (rice with achiote).

Secos come in a wide variety in Ecuador, including seco de pollo (chicken), seco de chivo (goat), seco de chancho (pork), seco de pato (duck), and seco de guanta (which is well-liked in the Amazon).

It is a traditional lunch entrée.

Seco de pollo


Corviche is a sort of plantain dough with peanut sauce, bell peppers, achiote, coriander, and seafood like fish, shrimp, and tuna.

This dough is deep-fried, resulting in a crunchy surface and a creamy interior. It’s also served with chili.

It’s eaten for breakfast, lunch, or as a snack.

Un "corviche de pescado", spécialité de Manabi


The Tonga is a traditional Manabi dish from the Montubian culture of the region.

It is basically a chicken stew, peanut sauce and fried ripe plantains wrapped in a banana leaf.

All of this is cooked over a charcoal or wood fire.


Locro de papa

My favorite Ecuadorian soup.

Locro de papas is a thick, hot soup made from potatoes (papa chola), cheese, and milk.

It is served with onions and avocado.

Locro de Papa

Caldo de salchicha (sausage broth)

It is a traditional sausage broth from the Ecuadorian coast, specifically Guayaquil.

Although it does not have an appealing appearance, its flavor is wonderful.

It consists of a dark soup prepared with blood sausage (made from hog offal), pig’s blood, rice, cabbage, green plantains, and other spices.


Cuy asado

Cuy asado con papas is a traditional Ecuadorian dish from the Highlands and the Amazon region.

Essentially, the dish consists of a completely cooked guinea pig served with potatoes, lettuce, and, in certain cases, a small amount of peanut sauce.

Cuy asado


Cevichocho is a variation on the traditional coastal ceviche. But instead of fresh fish or shellfish, it has chocho, a grain from the mountains.

It is made using chochos, tomato juice, pork skin, onions, and minced beef. It is usually served with chili and popcorn.

Cevichochos, vendor outside Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Corona, Queens


Another of our favorite Ecuadorian traditional foods.

The llapingacho is actually a cooked potato tortilla packed with cheese.

However, the dish with the same name consists of potato tortillas with fried eggs, sausage, avocado, pico de gallo, peanut sauce, and chili.

It is consumed as lunch.



Fanesca is a traditional dish served during Holy Week in Ecuador.

It is a thick soup made of tender grains and dried fish (cod) that is served with fried ripe plantains, red bell pepper, parsley leaves, cheese, slices of cooked eggs, and empanadas.

There are two variants of Fanesca, one from the coast and one from the highlands. The only difference between them is the variety of beans used.

Personally, we prefer fanesca from the Highlands.



Another traditional Ecuadorian food is the Fritada, which is made with lard-cooked pork and served with mote, avocado, corn, roasted potatoes, fried ripe plantains, and pico de gallo.

It is a classic highland meal, but it is equally popular on the coast.


“Viento” and morocho Empanadas

Both types of empanadas are traditional Ecuadorian snacks or accompaniments to other traditional entrees.

Empanada de viento is a huge fried empanada filled with cheese and coated with sugar on the outside.

Empanada de morocho is made from morocho maize dough and filled with pig or beef, carrots, peas, and rice.

The morocho corn is a white and firm corn cob that is native to The Andes.

Empanada de viento
empanadas de morocho

Mote pillo y mote sucio

Mote is a type of peeled and cooked maize that is popular in Ecuador’s highlands, particularly in the province of Azuay.

Although it is used in many traditional meals, two variants stand out: Mote pillo, which is mote fried with white onion, eggs, milk, achiote, and cilantro or parsley; and Mote sucio, which is fried in pork lard where pork meat has already been cooked (known as mapahuira).

Mote pillo de Cuenca (Ecuador)


Humitas are a type of fresh maize dough stuffed with cheese and steamed in corn husks.

They are served for breakfast or dinner, along with a cup of coffee.



A tasty dessert from the Highlands.

Quimbolitos are made with corn flour and cooked in achira leaves (an indigenous plant). They are decorated with raisins.

It differs from humitas in that its texture is similar to that of a sweet cake.


Pan de yuca

Our pan de yuca is similar to the Brazilian pao de queijo, but it is made with cassava starch.

They consist of little cassava bread balls filled with cheese and served with yogurt.

A23 Pan de Yuca


It is a traditional Ecuadorian drink that is quite sweet and is made by cooking morocho maize with milk, cinnamon, and raisins.

This beverage can be found throughout the country.

Morocho Cooked with Spices and Milk
About the author

Hey there! We are Ericka and Stefano. As longtime citizens of this amazing country, we are honored to serve as your tour guides and offer our firsthand experiences, insider advice, and must-see attractions in Ecuador. So be prepare for an exciting journey through Ecuador’s unique treasures.

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