If it’s good, it doesn’t have to be Goya. Goya Foods is a staple brand in many Latin American kitchens and a go-to for home cooks of all backgrounds, but there are so many other excellent Latinx-owned brands worth supporting.
Ask any passionate home cook from a Latin American background what their favorites are and you will get a whole basket full of recommendations. Here are just a few of the best. These smaller, mostly independently-owned brands offer blended spices, sauces, beans, and more—many made without preservatives, additives, extra sugar, or chemicals. Avoiding gluten or grains? We've got you covered. And if you're miles and miles away from the nearest Latin American grocery, many of these staples are available to order online.
Here are some delicious Latinx-owned staples for you to get cooking with right now.
Plantains are the name of the game for this company founded (full disclosure) by the mother-in-law of one of our colleagues here at The Spruce Eats. All Green Food produces treats like tornaditos, twister-shaped green plantain snacks, as well as agua de panela.
Arguably, the third member of the Holy Trinity of Latin American food is sofrito, a foundational tomato-based sauce of pesto consistency used for flavoring meats, fish, stews, beans, and rice. Think of it like a mirepoix in French cuisine. It's generally composed of tomatoes, garlic, onions, bell peppers of all colors, achiote, cilantro, oregano, or parsley. And it's one of the best projects made by family-owned, Miami-based company Badia. Well, maybe tied with their mojo marinade.
Badia carries a large range of staples, from spices to coconut milk to nuts, seeds, and oils.
Latin America boasts some of the best coffees in the world. And we already know we're committing a grave injustice by not listing all of the Latinx-owned coffee brands (like Cuba original Café Pilon). We think Colombian-owned and sourced single-origin beans from Devocíon are a standout. But we also have to mention Latin American-grown and sourced Cervantes.
Love Ecuadorian food? You need to know La Cholita, They make machica, a spiced barley (and other grain) flour mixed into drinks and desserts. And do we need to tell you about their figs in syrup? It's a thing, and it's worth checking out. La Cholita-brand foods are available via online Latin food market ZocaloFoods.com.
If you can eat it, you can (probably) put adobo on it. Adobo seasoning may be the number one essential in the Latin American Holy Trinity. It’s a savory, all-purpose product in every Latinx pantry used from grilling, roasting, frying, or sautéing and as a base seasoning for meats, fish, stews, sauces, beans, soup stock, and vegetables.
And we're big fans of Loisa's foundational blended seasoning of salt, garlic, turmeric, black pepper, and oregano comes organic. Their adobo is certified organic by the Department of Agriculture, as well as non-GMO, vegan, and gluten free.
Loisa also makes another member of the Holy Trinity, sazón, known for its distinctive savory taste and red-brown color. This popular spice blend is traditionally of achiote (annatto), salt, cumin, coriander, garlic, oregano, and pepper. Loisa offers an organic version of sazón sans fillers and MSG.
For the longest time, Maseca was the only game in town (well, in the U.S.) for the masa harina used to make corn tortillas and tamales. Then came Masienda, a startup that begin importing heirloom corn direct from family farms in Oaxaca to restaurants in the U.S. Now we home cooks can order their chef-grade masa harina, too. And if you're very ambitious, you can order varieties of corn and the equipment for making your own fresh, nixtamalized masa.
If you need a stand-in for yellow or white cornmeal, look towards P.A.N. (Producto Alimenticio Nacional) masarepa. Masarepa is a pre-cooked and finely ground corn flour (harina de maíz refinada precocida) used to make arepas and empanadas. As a subsidiary of Empresas Polar Inc. it's not exactly a small, indie brand; but when it comes to corn-based recipes, it's our go-to.
Born in Brooklyn, Pisqueya is an MSG and preservative-free hot sauce based on a recipe passed-down through a family of Dominican cooks. There’s something for everyone along the Scolville scale, from Smoky Hot to Medium Buzz and Spicy Sweet. Pisqueya is available in the United States and the Dominican Republic.
When it comes to Latin American spirits, we figure you've already heard about tequila, mezcal, pisco, and cachaça. One spirit you may not be familiar with is pitorro. Up in the Bronx, The Port Morris Distillery makes this Puerto Rican spirit with a vodka base and brown sugar, apples, and honey,
Dietitian Karin Arias of the Bronx, New York wanted to create an adobo mix to combat the prevalence of high blood pressure in the Latinx and Bronx communities. So she created a salt-free adobo blend. Sabroso Healthy Vibes is a tiny company with one product, but we say small can be mighty.
Love Mexican food, but can't digest grains? Siete Foods was founded to help people just like you. The Garza family founded the company when one of their members began suffering from debilitating autoimmune conditions. They began with grain-free tortillas and tortilla chips, and since then have added hot sauces, salsa, queso and even cookies to their line. You'll find their products in stores all over the country.
We're giving the main stage to Latinx-owned brands. But there's one gringo-owned company that throws so much support behind Latin American farmers and makers, we want to give Tio Steve Sando a shout as well.
Rancho Gordo dried beans are a favorite with home cooks and food bloggers; the brand specializes in heirloom beans and focuses on products indigenous of the Americas. Lauded for their flavor and creaminess, the extra cooking time is well worth it. Rancho Gordo offers dried black beans, pinto beans, and garbanzos. And don't sleep on their high-quality dried peppers, like anchos, guajillo, chipotle, and more.