Breakfasts With Latin Flavor

Ideas for when you're tired of cereal and toast...

In South America, breakfast tends to be light, in anticipation of the big midday meal. A sandwich or bread with coffee and fruit is typical. Sweeter things like doughnuts, pancakes, bagels, muffins are more likely to be enjoyed in the late afternoon, as a snack with coffee.

Traditional Latin American breakfast and midmorning snack fare—empanadas, arepas, cachapas, cheese breads, quinoa breads, and creative combinations of ham, cheese, and bread—tend to have protein and will give you energy for a busy morning.

  • 01 of 11

    Empanadas - Portable Pocket Sandwiches

    Famous Latin American Empanadas

    Felipex / E+ / Getty Images

    Empanadas are very convenient for breakfast in a hurry. Make them ahead and keep them frozen. A few minutes in the toaster oven or a quick zap in the microwave and you have a delicious breakfast to go. Some popular options include chicken empanadas and bacon and egg empanadas.

  • 02 of 11

    Arepas - Quick Griddle Corncakes

    Homemade South American Arepas

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

    Arepas are a type of corncake, cooked on a griddle, popular in Colombia and Venezuela. Arepas can be filled with cheese, made into sandwiches, or just enjoyed plain. The batter mixes up quickly - you can even make it the night before. Cook the arepas a few minutes on each side and you have a delicious treat: crispy on the outside and soft and cheesy on the inside.

    Arepas con huevo is a special breakfast treat: the arepa is fried in oil, then split and filled with an egg and fried again until the egg is just cooked.

  • 03 of 11

    Savory Sausage and Egg Breakfast Casserole

    Overnight Sausage and Egg Casserole

    The Spruce

    This savory sausage bread pudding is great for breakfast—the sausage, cheese, egg, and toasted bread combination is warm, filling, and delicious. You can assemble this casserole the night before and just heat it in the oven before serving.

  • 04 of 11

    Quinoa Breads

    Homemade High Protein Quinoa Bagels
    Marian Blazes

    Quinoa is a high protein grain that has been grown in the Andes mountain regions of South America for hundreds of years. Recently 'rediscovered' for its nutritional properties, quinoa is exceptionally high in protein and will help keep you energized until lunchtime. Quinoa breads like bagels and bread machine quinoa oatmeal bread are excellent choices.

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  • 05 of 11

    Breakfast in Brazil

    Pingado, Brazilian breakfast
    iara venanzi / Getty Images

    One of the best things about breakfast in Brazil is that it's perfectly normal to have cake! Brazilians love cake, and there are many recipes for unfrosted simple tender pound cakes, typically baked in a ring pan. But an açaí berry smoothie bowl is another excellent Brazilian breakfast choice—perfect for hot beach days.

  • 06 of 11

    Venezuelan Perico - Scrambled Eggs With Onions and Tomatoes

    Venezuelan Perico

     Lauri Patterson / Getty Images

    Venezuelan Perico is a savory breakfast dish of scrambled eggs seasoned with sautéed onions, tomatoes, and peppers. It's often served inside arepas (a Venezuelan egg McMuffin of sorts).

  • 07 of 11

    Pandebono - Colombian Cheese Bread

    Pandebono: Colombian Cheese Bread recipe

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    These may look like bagels, but they are actually something called pandebono. Pandebono is a delicious cheese bread, perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack with coffee. It's a simple recipe made with cheese, eggs, tapioca flour (cassava or yuca starch), and precooked cornmeal, or masarepa.

  • 08 of 11

    Cachitos - Venezuelan Ham Croissants

    Cachito Venezuelan Ham Croissants

    Laurence Mouton / Getty Images

    Cachitos are little ham-filled, crescent-shaped rolls. They are sometimes called Venezuelan croissants, but they have the rich texture of a dinner roll rather than the flaky texture of a true croissant and are much easier to make.

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  • 09 of 11

    Buñuelos - Colombian Cheese Fritters

    Bunuelos Colombian cheese fritters

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    These are a Chilean Christmas treat, but don't let that stop you from enjoying them anytime. They are enjoyed all over South America, often as a snack. Colombian buñuelos are made with farmer's cheese and are not particularly sweet. In other countries, they are sweeter, or flavored with anise, and often served with syrup or powdered sugar. We like the cheese version for breakfast best and the sweet kind for an afternoon snack. Fill them with pastry cream for an extra special treat.

  • 10 of 11

    Brazilian Cinnamon "Raindrop" Doughnuts - Bolinhos de Chuva

    Brazilian Cinnamon Doughnuts (Bolinhos De Chuva) Recipe

     The Spruce

    These delicious Brazilian cinnamon raindrop doughnuts are named for their raindrop shape. They are quick and easy to make (no yeast involved) and kids love them.

  • 11 of 11

    Arroz con Leche

    Arroz Con Leche: Mexican Rice Pudding

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    This South American staple, arroz con leche, may not be the most traditional breakfast, but it's delicious warm (in the winter) or cold (when you're running out the door), and really hits the spot.