A famous travel destination in Latin America, Guatemala is one of the most beautiful countries in the world; it also doubles as the largest Central American country. Beyond pretty beaches and colorful streets, there are some amazing sweets and desserts from Guatemala that are not to be missed.
What Is Special About Guatemalan Desserts?
Desserts in Guatemala have a tight relationship with aromatic spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Milk is also a staple in many Guatemalan desserts. Beyond these flavors, you would find some of the best banana-based goodies in Guatemala.
An interesting fact about Guatemala that you might not know – the country used to be known as the “Banana Republic” in the early 90s. It probably still is, as the country’s economy depends largely on agriculture, and their top exports still include bananas.
They form a significant portion of traditional Guatemalan cuisine, so don’t miss out on them.
Fried Guatemalan Desserts And Sweets
Bunuelos (Deep Fried Dough Balls)
Bunuelos is a popular fried dessert from Guatemala. You can see them across Central America, but make no mistake, they are not the same, as every country has its version. Some countries use wheat flour, while others use all-purpose flour to make their batter.
Some countries have their bunuelos in the form of tortillas (thin, circular unleavened flatbread), but that’s not the case in Guatemala. Guatemalan bunuelos are small round dough balls deep-fried in oil.
The main ingredients include flour, butter, eggs, and yeast. You can also add cinnamon if you like. When fried, it takes on an attractive golden-brown color. This Guatemalan dessert is enjoyed nationwide.
Corbatas (Honey-Soaked Fried Dough)
Corbatas is named after a necktie as it has a similar shape. It is culturally important to Guatemalans as they tend to make this dessert more during Lent (a fasting period for Christians). But you can enjoy this crunchy puff pastry all year round in the country.
Corbatas is made with flour; you can use fine corn flour or all-purpose flour; the dough is soaked in honey or syrup to make it sweeter before frying in oil.
Popular Desserts In Guatemala
Tres Leches Cake (Three Milk Cake)
This is a classic Guatemalan dessert and a staple in many Latin American countries. It is a cake born out of three different types of milk: sweet, evaporated, and condensed milk. These three kinds of milk lay the foundation for this impressive treat.
In addition, this dessert in Guatemala is rather easy to make. Start by baking your spongy and moist cake. Then you poke holes into the cake with a fork after it has cooled. You pour the milk mixture on the cake, allowing it to absorb through the holes. Cover and allow it to refrigerate for at least 60 minutes before serving.
While it’s not part of the traditional version, you can even add whipped cream or sliced fruits like a strawberry on the cake for extra flavor and sweetness.
Ayote En Dulce (Sweet Pumpkin)
Ayotte en dulce is a sumptuous Guatemalan dessert; it has similarities with the English pumpkin pie. However, it doesn’t have all the crust and fuss the English pie has.
Instead, ayote en dulce is spicy, soft, and sweet. It has a nice flavor that is soothing to the palate and soul. The best part is that it is easy to make.
You only need your pumpkin (diced), sugar (brown or piloncillo), and cinnamon. Mix well and boil until it blends perfectly. Once it is cooked, you have yourself an amazing Guatemalan dessert you can never get enough of.
Polvorosas (Round Shortbread Cookies)
It’s hard to talk about desserts in Guatemala and not mention polvorosas. Although this dessert is more popular in Venezuela and Colombia, it is also common in Guatemala. Unlike the other versions, this crunchy Guatemalan dessert is hard on the outside but soft and powdery on the inside.
Polvorosas are often covered with powdered sugar, which ultimately gave them the name. These cookies are made with flour, fat, cinnamon, and granulated sugar.
Polvorosas assume a round shape with a flat top coved with powdered sugar. Spoiler, this dessert is a fun treat but can get a bit messy. When you bite, it might leave crumbs and powder (sugar) on your hands and lips. That shouldn’t stop you from enjoying this delicious Guatemalan dessert.
Guatemalan Candy And Sweets
Canillitas De Leche (Milk Candy)
Canillitas de leche is a dessert in the form of candy. Many visitors have picked this as their favorite sweet in the country. This Guatemalan candy has milk (powdered and condensed) and sugar as the base ingredient.
It takes less than a quarter of an hour to make. Canillitas de leche has a hard texture on the outside but is soft on the inside, allowing it to melt easily in the mouth.
It’s a natural candy with no special preservatives; you just need to melt your milk and sugar, then mold it to whatever shape you like.
El Dulce De Leche (Caramelized Milk Candy)
A popular caramelized milk dessert in many Latin American countries, this Guatemalan candy is made by heating sugar and milk on low heat for hours until it melts for a sauce-like consistency.
Unlike other candies, el dulce de leche is often used as an additive to make other foods sweet, although it can also be enjoted alone. It is brown, and you can add any spice you choose to give it a desired flavor.
Chocobananos (Banana Sweets)
There are claims that chocobananos originated from El Salvador; it doesn’t matter, though, as it is a staple dessert in Guatemala.
This is an exciting Guatemalan sweet dessert that is loved by kids. However, adults too can enjoy chocobananos. This sweet treat is made out of frozen bananas dipped in chocolate. You can spice it up with candy sprinkles or crushed nuts.
Pudding In Guatemalan Desserts
Arroz En Leche (Rice Pudding)
Arroz en leche is a famous dessert in Latin America; as such, there are variations of this classic Guatemalan dessert. Guatemalan arroz en leche is a rice pudding made by boiling rice with a cinnamon stick until it absorbs the cinnamon and attains a soft and spongy texture.
In Guatemala, it is served more as a drink than a dessert you eat, like cake or cookie. After boiling the pudding, add whole and evaporated milk, sugar, salt, and raisins to enhance the flavor.
You can enjoy arroz en leche hot or cold. It’s a dessert in Guatemala synonymous with the summer months.
Banana-Based Desserts In Guatemala
Rellenitos De Platano (Plantain Balls With Black Beans)
Plantain is a staple food in Guatemalan cuisine, and many desserts from Guatemala have a touch of plantain.
Rellenitos da platano is a fried plantain balls dessert stuffed with black beans and sprinkled with sugar. It is a famous food in the country. You can find them sold on the streets and made in every household.
To make rellenitos, simply mash ripe plantain and stuff them with fried black beans. You can also add cinnamon, sugar, and sometimes cocoa powder to give it a real Guatemalan taste.
Bananas En Leche (Creamy Vanilla Banana)
As you already know, bananas are staples in Guatemalan desserts. This simple treat balances the richness of bananas and the creaminess of vanilla sauce.
You can have Bananas En Leche with a cup of coffee or with a scoop of ice cream. It is best enjoyed in the early noon or the evening.
Guatemalan Bread And Desserts
Pan De Banano (Guatemalan Banana Bread)
Pan de banano is a Guatemalan dessert similar to regular banana bread, albeit with a Guatemalan twist. Compared to traditional banana bread, pan de banano is moister and crispier on the outside.
Mashed banana is mixed with flour, butter, cinnamon, sugar, eggs, and baking powder before baking to create this delight. This bread is not overly sweet, but the banana goodness makes it yummy. With honey and butter drizzled over it, it offers a phenomenal taste that words cannot describe.
Torrejas (Guatemalan Sweet Bread)
Another Guatemalan bread dessert, Torrejas is delicious, flavourful, and easy to prepare. This sweet bread is made with eggs, flour, pan dulces (brioche bread), and vegetable oil.
The secret of torrejas is in the syrup that takes the taste up a notch. It is made of orange, allspice, clove flavors, and cinnamon. You can add raisins and sugar to the mix as well. People also sometimes sprinkle colored sugar on it to give it a better visual.
Bocado De Reina (Bread Cake)
This beautiful Guatemalan dessert is made with leftover bread but has a cake-like appearance. Because of its shape and form, it looks unique compared to the usual bread pudding.
Bocado de reina is primarily made with a mixture of condensed milk, eggs, and breadcrumbs. Vanilla extracts, raisins, and cinnamons are added to give it more flavor.
People often enjoy this rich and creamy dessert with a warm cup of tea or a hot cup of coffee.
Guatemalan Borracho (Drunken Cake)
It’s fair to say borracho is the poster boy of all cake desserts in Guatemala. The name borracho is Spanish for “drunk.” This cake is soaked in an alcohol-based syrup hence the name.
The barracho is made with dark rum, whipped cream, and sugar. You can add a twist to it by topping it with fruits of your choice or pitted prunes.
Borracho is popular in other Latin American countries but goes by a different name, “Sopa borracha,” notably in Nicaragua and Panama.
Snacks And Cookies In Guatemalan Desserts
Champurradas (Sesame Seed Cookies)
Champurradas are well-loved desserts in Guatemala. The origin of these Guatemalan cookies cannot be confirmed as it has different variations across Europe.
Unlike regular cookies, champurradas are not that sweet. But this thin, crispy, buttery treat has the flavor and crunchiness to compensate for its lack of sweetness with the sesame seed toppings on it.
It’s an easy dessert to make with no standout ingredients. The main ingredients include masa harina (corn flour), piloncillo (cane sugar), sesame seed, and butter. Interestingly you don’t make champurradas with yeast.
Many locals enjoy these Guatemalan cookies with tea for breakfast or coffee during “café de las tre” (traditional mid-afternoon coffee break in Guatemala).
Empanadas De Manjar (Guatemalan Pineapple Empanadas)
Guatemalans love their pineapple empanada. Empanadas are popular in the Americas and even in some parts of Europe, although a pineapple stuffings version is rather rare.
This beautiful Guatemalan dessert has a meat pie-like shape but is more sumptuous with its sweet fruity filling. It has a flaky crust covered in powdered sugar.
You make your empanadas with an all-purpose flour dough housing sweet pineapple filling. You can enjoy it any time of the day; definitely a dessert in Guatemala to try.
Empanadas Dulces (Sweet Empanadas)
This is another empanada loved by Guatemalans, and it becomes more popular during Semana Santa (the week before Easter). This is not the regular empanadas as the name implies; dulce in Spanish which means “sweet.”
It’s more like a homemade pie filled with sweet stuffings like vanilla, fruit jam, or cinnamon-flavored pastry cream. The exact origin of this dessert is still a mystery, but it is a dessert enjoyed in Guatemala.
Chancletas means slippers or flips flops in Spanish, but make no mistake; this Guatemalan dessert has nothing to do with slippers or feet. This is one dessert from Guatemala that can be found across Latin America.
Chancletas is made from chayote squash steamed or boiled to soften, then split in half to remove some of the flesh. This treat is stuffed with raisins, almonds, and nuts; then, you bind them with breadcrumbs and egg yolk. It’s and healthy and sumptuous Guatemalan dessert you should try.
Quesadilla De Arroz (Rice Quesadilla)
This is not the Mexican savory quesadilla which is a tortilla filled with cream, cheese, or even meat. This Guatemalan dessert is more of a sweet pound cake, with a brown exterior and a dense color on the inside.
Rice flour is mixed with fat, sugar, cream, and cheese to form a rich batter. The result is one of many delicious Guatemalan sweet breads. It’s a staple dish in many bakeries and café across Guatemala.
Magdalena Cake (Guatemalan Fluffy Bun)
This bun dessert is popular for its creamy consistency and orange zest flavor. Coupled with that, it has a sweet and fluffy texture.
This is a core traditional Guatemalan dessert loved by young and old. Magdalena Cake is best enjoyed after lunch, cold or hot, depending on your preference. It goes well with a warm cup of tea or hot brewed coffee. To take it further, try it with a scoop of ice cream for the ultimate treat.
Discovering Guatemalan Desserts And Sweets
Influenced by its Mayan heritage and Spanish colonials, Guatemalan desserts offer a perfect cultural blend. Guatemala is famous not only for its volcanic landscapes and Mayan culture but also for its amazing sweets and desserts. The perfect blend of intercultural gastronomy makes Guatemalan dishes one to try.