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, cheese breads, quinoa breads, and creative combinations of ham, cheese and bread  - tend to have protein and will give you energy for a busy...MORE morning. 

  • 01 of 15
    Empanadas
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    Empanadas are very convenient for a 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.

    Ham and Cheese Empanadas - Empanadas de Jamon y Queso
    Bacon and Egg Empanadas
     

  • 02 of 15
    Arepas
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    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.

    Basic Arepa Recipe
    Arepas de Queso - Cheese Arepas
    Bacon Cheddar Arepas

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

    Arepas Con Huevo

  • 03 of 15
    Bread pudding
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    This 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.

    Sausage & Cheese Bread Pudding
  • 04 of 15
    Quinoa bagels
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    Quinoa is a high protein grain that has been grown in the Andes mountain regions of South America for hundreds of years. Recently 'redisovered' for it's nutritional properties, quinoa is exceptionally high in protein and will help keep you energized until lunchtime.

    Quinoa Bagels
    Honey Quinoa Bread
    Bread Machine Quinoa Oatmeal Bread

    Continue to 5 of 15 below.
  • 05 of 15
    Smoothie bowl
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    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 acai berry smoothie bowl is another excellent Brazilian breakfast choice - perfect for hot beach days.

  • 06 of 15
    Cinnamon roll
    Denise Panyik-Dale/Getty Images

    These cinnamon rolls are made with a tender sweet potato dough, and filled with cinnamon, melted butter and dulce de leche. A caramel glaze gives them extra flavor and shine. The final touch is a drizzle of dulce de leche frosting when they come out of the oven.

    Cinnamon Rolls with Dulce de Leche
  • 07 of 15
    Venezuelan Perico
    Wikimedia Commons

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

    Recipe for Perico

  • 08 of 15
  • 09 of 15
    Colombian Cheese Bread
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    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.

    Recipe for Pandebono
  • 10 of 15

    Coconut Biscuits with Guava Jelly

    Biscuits
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    Guava jelly is the perfect accompaniment to these buttery coconut biscuits.

    Recipe for Coconut Biscuits

  • 11 of 15
    Croissants
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    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.

    Recipe for Cachitos

  • 12 of 15
    Cheese doughnuts
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    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. I 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.

    Recipe...MORE for Bunuelos

    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • 13 of 15
    Brazilian doughnuts
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    These delicious little cinnamon sugar doughnuts are named for their raindrop shape.  They are quick and easy to make (no yeast involved) and kids love them.

    Bolinhos de Chuva

  • 14 of 15
    Banana bread
    K. Miller Photographs/Getty Images

    This super moist and flavorful banana bread is inspired by the breads and cakes popular in the Caribbean and the South American countries Suriname and Guyana. A combination of sweet potato cake (think sweet potato pone) and tropical-style banana bread, this batter can be baked in muffins tins, a bread pan, or cake pans.

    Caribbean Banana Bread

  • 15 of 15
    Arroz con Leche
    Gary Conner/Getty Images

    This South American staple 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.

    Arroz con Leche