Traditional Food in Aruba: 10 Must-Try Local Dishes

Get ready to try traditional food in Aruba! These must-try local dishes will wake up your taste buds!

Aruba, the Caribbean jewel renowned for its pristine beaches and warm hospitality, is not only a feast for the eyes but also a haven for foodies!

One of the best parts about travel for us is trying new food. We love trying local food wherever we go, and Aruba certainly doesn’t disappoint!

From delicious, fresh seafood to unique local specialties, the island’s diverse culinary scene promises a gastronomic adventure like no other. Explore the must-try dishes in Aruba that will leave your taste buds dancing in delight.

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1. Keshi Yena

Embark on your culinary journey with Aruba’s signature dish – Keshi Yena

This hearty and flavorful creation involves a ball of melted Gouda cheese stuffed with spiced meat, olives, and raisins. The dish reflects the island’s rich history and cultural influences, making it a true Aruban delight.

You will find Keshi Yena on many menus throughout Aruba!

2. Pastechi

For a quick and delicious snack, try Pastechi – a local pastry filled with various savoury ingredients like cheese, meat, or fish. 

These delightful pastries are a popular choice for breakfast or a midday pick-me-up, often enjoyed with a cup of strong Aruban coffee.

Our favourite place to grab Pastechi was right in Oranjestad at The Pastechi House. You won’t be disappointed! 

pastechi in aruba must try food
Keshi (Cheese) Pastechi

3. Fresh Seafood

Being surrounded by the azure Caribbean Sea, it’s no surprise that Aruba boasts an abundance of fresh seafood. 

Indulge in the catch of the day, whether it’s red snapper, mahi-mahi, or grouper. Grilled, fried, or served as ceviche, the seafood in Aruba is a symphony of flavours that seafood lovers shouldn’t miss.

If you love whole fish, try the Old Cunucu House for local Aruban cooking. Zeerovers and Red Fish are other popular places to try an assortment of seafood!

seafood in aruba
Red Snapper at the Old Cunucu House

4. Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin soup (sopi di pampuna) is a traditional Aruban dish that showcases the island’s love for comforting, home-cooked meals.

Made from pureed pumpkin, local spices, and vegetables, this soup has a deliciously smooth texture. Pumpkins aren’t often associated with the Caribbean but it reflects the influence of early settlers who introduced this vegetable to the island!

pumpkin soup aruba traditional food
Pumpkin Soup at Passions on the Beach

5. Funchi

Sample the traditional side dishes of Aruba – Funchi and Banana Hasa

Funchi is a cornmeal-based side resembling polenta, while Banana Hasa features green bananas sautéed to perfection. 

These accompaniments are often paired with stews and meats, providing a unique twist to your meal. You will also find them as a side to burgers instead of regular french fries!

6. Balashi & Chill Beer

Balashi Beer, a beloved local brew in Aruba, is renowned for its crisp taste and refreshing flavour, perfect for relaxing under the Caribbean sun. 

Meanwhile, Chill Beer offers a laid-back vibe, capturing the essence of Aruban leisure with its smoothness, making it a favourite among tourists and locals alike!

Either one is a perfect choice for relaxing on one of Aruba’s unique beaches

P.s. You will also find another local brew, Mango Magic. While it seems popular amongst visitors, I asked our waiter one night what he thought of it and he said it tasted like medicine. I had to try it for myself and it wasn’t my favourite. It’s worth a try if you’re curious!

must try aruba food chill beer
Enjoying a Chill Beer on Arashi Beach

7. Aruban BBQ

Don’t miss the opportunity to savour Aruba’s barbecue delights. 

Whether it’s ribs, chicken, or locally caught fish, the island’s barbecue scene is infused with aromatic spices and marinades that make every bite a savoury celebration.

Try Yemanja Wood-Fired Grill in Oranjestad for a sit-down meal or head to Smokey Joe’s Island Grill or BBQ Express Aruba to grab your meal to go!

8. Stoba

Stoba is another food to try in Aruba! This hearty stew is typically made with beef, chicken, or goat meat, simmered with vegetables like onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and sometimes okra or pumpkin. 

It’s seasoned with a blend of herbs and spices, creating a rich and flavorful dish that’s often served with rice, funchi (cornmeal), or pan bati (cornbread). 

Stoba showcases the island’s culinary heritage and is a must-try for anyone visiting Aruba.

9. Dutch Pancakes & Treats

Indulge in the delectable delight of Dutch pancakes in Aruba! 

These thin, crepe-like treats are a culinary treasure, often topped with a variety of sweet or savoury toppings like powdered sugar, syrup, fruits, or cheese. Whether enjoyed for breakfast or dessert, Dutch pancakes offer a taste of authentic Dutch cuisine in paradise.

If you’re looking for more Dutch treats, Aruba offers delectable treats such as stroopwafels (thin waffle cookies filled with caramel syrup) and poffertjes (miniature fluffy pancakes). These sweet delights are perfect for satisfying your dessert cravings.

We really enjoyed Willem’s Dutch Pancakes in Palm Beach for our Dutch Pancakes. Linda’s Dutch Pancakes and the Pancake House are also popular spots!

Brie, honey, walnut, and arugula Dutch Pancake!

10. Local Desserts

Round off your Aruban culinary adventure with local desserts like Cashew Cake and Bolo di Banana (Banana Cake).

The Cashew Cake is a sweet treat made with locally grown cashews, and banana cake it traditionally made with bananas or plantain, raisins, cinnamon, and sherry. 

You can also try a traditional local dish at the Old Cunucu House; the Chuculati Pinda Criollo. This hot peanut butter cup is made with hot peanuts served in a mixture of blended peanuts & milk, in a way they call the “Old Colonial Way.”

You can find an assortment of local baked goods and desserts at Bright Bakery, right near Hooiberg Mountain. We visited many times during our visit to Aruba!

traditional food aruba
A favourite bakery amongst Arubans: Bright Bakery!

Food to Try in Aruba

As you explore the vibrant flavours of Aruba, remember that the island’s cuisine is a reflection of its rich cultural heritage and diverse influences. From savoury stews like Stoba to sweet treats, each dish tells a story and offers a unique culinary experience. 

So, whether you’re indulging in fresh seafood by the beach or savouring the warmth of homemade pastechi, every bite is a journey into the heart of Aruban culture. 

Let your taste buds guide you through this gastronomic adventure, and savour every moment of discovering the must-try foods that make Aruba truly unforgettable!

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