Love Puerto Rican food? Try one of these must-have cookbooks.

Shutterstock/Svitlana Sokolova

By Crystal Harlan

January 4, 2024

From classic “bibles” of Puerto Rican cooking to new titles by the most renowned Boricua chefs, here are some of the best Puerto Rican cookbooks.

Yes, you can find recipes for just about anything on TikTok. But are they any good? Judging by the amount of accounts dedicated solely to reacting unfavorably to other people’s cooking, you’re taking your chances when you get recipes from social media.

That’s why cookbooks have not gone out of style. We picked five cookbooks that belong in every Puerto Rican kitchen—some are tried-and-true classics, while others are written by today’s top Boricua chefs. With these cookbooks on your shelves, you’ll be whipping up your own mofongo and alcapurrias in no time. 

Cocina Criolla by Carmen Aboy Valldejuli

Love Puerto Rican food? Try one of these must-have cookbooks.If you could only have one Puerto Rican cookbook, this one would be it. The New York Times has this to say about its author “the foremost authority on Puerto Rican cooking is a silver haired, stylish, and warmly hospitable woman named Carmen Aboy Valldejuli . . . [her books] are considered today to be the definitive books on island cooking.”

While Aboy Valldejuli passed away in 2005, her cookbook lives on. Cocina Criolla is in its 68th printing, and includes hundreds of recipes as well as advice for inexperienced cooks. There is also an English-language edition of this book called Puerto Rican Cookery.

Puerto Rico True Flavor by Wilo Benet

Love Puerto Rican food? Try one of these must-have cookbooks.By San Juan’s award-winning chef, television personality and restaurateur, this cookbook bills itself as a “bible” of Puerto Rican cooking with recipes for classic dishes such as alcapurrias, piñon, pernil, and bacalaitos. There is also a pictorial how-to section and ingredient glossary. The Spanish-language edition of this book called Puerto Rico Sabor Criollo.

“Wilo Benet is one of the great chefs of Puerto Rico, and in this book he brings the world of traditional Puerto Rican flavors and dishes into your home,” writes Eric Ripert, executive chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin, New York.

Diasporican by Illyanna Maisonet

Love Puerto Rican food? Try one of these must-have cookbooks.More than just a collection of recipes, this cookbook by Illyanna Maisonet, a James Beard Award winner and the first Puerto Rican food columnist in the US, traces the story of Puerto Rican cooking and the cultures that have shaped it through geography, immigration, and colonization.

Among the more than 90 recipes, you’ll find tostones, arroz con gandules, pinchos with BBQ guava sauce, rabbit fricassee, and flan de queso.

NPR has this to say about the book: “Her book is a memoir, cookbook, and retelling of Puerto Rican history and it’s a testament to her life’s work of documenting and preserving food throughout the Puerto Rican diaspora.”

The Easy Puerto Rican Cookbook: 100 Classic Recipes Made Simple by Tony Rican

Love Puerto Rican food? Try one of these must-have cookbooks.This cookbook proves that delicious Puerto Rican food doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. The 100 recipes are weeknight-friendly and take 30 minutes or less to prepare and serve, require five ingredients or fewer, or can be made in a slow cooker or as a one-pot meal. And they focus on whole foods, so you don’t have to sacrifice nutrition. In addition to classic Puerto Rican recipes, there is also a guide to stocking your Puerto Rican pantry with essentials like annatto seeds and guava paste.

Originally from Santurce, Tony Rican was previously a professional wrestler, and is now the creator of “Average Guy Gourmet,” a YouTube cooking channel.

El Cocinero Puerto-Riqueño

Love Puerto Rican food? Try one of these must-have cookbooks.This is a classic to keep on your bookshelf! First published in 1859, it includes hundreds of recipes by an unknown author. The language and format of the recipes are far from contemporary, so don’t expect exact measurements or easy-to-follow steps—rather than a teaspoon, it’s common to find “un poco de.” But if you love culinary history, this book is for you.

RELATED: 6 Puerto Rican food influencers to follow on Instagram and TikTok

Author

  • Crystal Harlan

    Crystal is a bilingual editor and writer with over 20 years of experience in digital and print media. She is currently based in Florida, but has lived in small towns in the Midwest, Caracas, New York City, and Madrid, where she earned her MA in Spanish literature.

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