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 15

    Empanadas - Portable Pocket Sandwiches

    Philip Wilkins/Getty Images

    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.

  • 02 of 15

    Arepas - Quick Griddle Corncakes

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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 fried in oil, then split and filled with an egg and fried again until the egg is just cooked.

  • 03 of 15

    Savory Sausage Bread Pudding - Pudin de Pan Salado

    Overnight Sausage and Egg Casserole

    The Spruce

    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.

  • 04 of 15

    Quinoa Breads

    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.

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  • 05 of 15

    Breakfast in Brazil

    Smoothie bowl
    Martina Gruber / EyeEm/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 acai berry smoothie bowl is another excellent Brazilian breakfast choice - perfect for hot beach days.

  • 06 of 15

    Dulce de Leche Cinnamon Rolls

    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.

  • 07 of 15

    Venezuelan Perico - Scrambled Eggs with Onions and Tomatoes

    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).

  • 08 of 15

    Breakfast Muffins

    K. Miller Photographs/Getty Images

    Tropical Breakfast Muffins
    Passion Fruit Muffins
    Quinoa Apple Muffins

    Mango Blueberry Muffins

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  • 09 of 15

    Pandebono - Colombian Cheese Bread

    Colombian Cheese Bread
    Jupiterimages/Getty Images

    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.

  • 10 of 15

    Coconut Biscuits with Guava Jelly

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

    Recipe for Coconut Biscuits

  • 11 of 15

    Cachitos - Venezuelan Ham 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.

  • 12 of 15

    Buñuelos - Colombian Cheese Doughnuts

    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.

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  • 13 of 15

    Brazilian Cinnamon "Raindrop" Doughnuts - Bolinhos de Chuva

    Brazilian doughnuts
    DircinhaSW/Getty Images

    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.

  • 14 of 15

    Caribbean Banana Bread

    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.

  • 15 of 15

    Arroz con Leche

    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.