What Do Latinos Eat for Easter? Our Top 5 Pascua Dinner Ideas

pernil mojo

What does your familia make for Easter dinner every year?

I’m betting the answer is: “nothing special.”

To my sopresa, when we started planning favorite Latinx Easter Sunday traditional family recipes to spotlight on Familia Kitchen, not one traditional dish came to mind.

And that’s when it really hit me.

For most Latino families I know, including my own, Easter is all about planning the dishes to make for the meatless Fridays of Lent. But when we finally get to the end of 40 long days after Ash Wednesday to semana santa and the flower-filled grand finale—Easter Sunday! Pascua!—nada. You’d think we’d have a food feast for the whole family to enjoy together, like we do with the other big holidays.

A huge ham or beef roast Easter Sunday family blowout?

Not so much, it turns out.

What do Latinos eat for Easter? I asked a sampling of my Latinx family and friends, and I heard a whole lot of no-big-deal when it came to our Mexican, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Cuban and Venezuelan family food traditions on Easter Sunday, including these highlights:

• “Oh, we never did much of a big deal, food-wise. We just went to church in the morning and then hung around the house the rest of the day,” said my Puerto Rican mom, Marisa Jiménez Caviness.

• “We would go to church and then my mom made a normal dinner later. I think,” said Familia Kitchen co-founder Ana González Quaid, of her Mexico-born mother, Gollita, and their family Easters.

• “We went to church in the morning, and then we would order out. I can’t remember what. Maybe Chinese?” said Angela Pagán, our social media director, of Puerto Rican and Mexican heritage.

• “My mom sometimes makes this Dominican dessert, habichuelas con dulce, and then she traded it with friends and comadres and cousins. But not something every year for dinner,” said one of our favorite Dominican cocineras, Familia Kitchen Healthy & Delicioso editor Naihomy Jerez of Bagels and Brussels.

• There was one exception—a notable one! A super-talented Venezuelan homecook who lives just outside of Chicago, Liliana Hernandez, told me she thought her family did nothing special, but then she checked in back home in Venezuela. “My familia just reminded me,” Liliana later reported, ”that for Easter we like to make a plato riquísimo called pastel de chucho. Chucho is a fish very much like shark or cazón and we make it like a lasagna, but with ripe plantains. It’s delicious!” Sounds a lot like this Puerto Rican pastelón recipe, but with fish instead of ground beef: mmmm. We’re intrigued. Also: Liliana is more than happy to share her recipe for empanadas de cazón and we’ll soon be featuring her family recipes for arepas, pabellón criollo, and asado negro, which she cooks in person on her Spanish-language YouTube channel, Mi Show de Cocina.

But, with the exception of Liliana, my Latinx friends remembered the church part, but not the getting-the-family-together-and-eating afterwards comida part.

Familia Kitchen would like to help change this: food is family. Family is food.

To help us all get into the springtime family-food celebration spirit, here are 5 suggestions for Easter dinners, con carne and sin carne—with meat and without meat. All familia-friendly and guaranteed delicioso recipes. Plus, all #abuela-approved!

Easter Sunday Meal Ideas—With Meat

Lig’s Dominican Pernil with Lemon, Oregano and Mojo

”Holidays in our home always included this pernil with mojo or slow-roasted ham, sometimes cooked in a pressure cooker, sometimes on a spit, sometimes in the oven. But always, however we made it, the pernil was roasted low and slow, which Mom and my grandmother swore yielded the most tender meat and best flavor,” writes Ligia Mendez Goodwillie of her family’s succulent pernil recipe.

Lig pernil mojo

Ana’s Ropa Vieja with Muchos Spices and Red Wine

One of our favorite cocinera abuelas, Ana Osadzinski (Colet) was born in Cuba—in the city of Bayamo, located in the Oriente province—and moved to the States at age 14. Ana is an expert at making Cuba’s national dish, ropa vieja or shredded beef, in a delicious and wine-rich tomatoey sauce. In fact, she reports, ropa vieja is one of her most requested dishes from her now-grown kids and their kids. A close second is her picadillo with olives and raisins, which she serves alongside crisp yuca con mojo—or tostones.

ropa vieja ana

Titi Rosa’s Arroz con Pollo, Made With Love and Pegao

No denying it, arroz con pollo is the official traditional Latinx comfort food for Boricuas. One of our favorite Puerto Rican cooks, Michelle Ezratty Murphy of @BowlandApron, learned to make this hearty rice and chicken dish when she was dating her Puerto Rican husband. Pat would always take her to his aunt’s house in the late afternoon, where all the family would congregate. This is his Titi Rosa’s recipe. And it’s the winner of our Familia Kitchen Your Favorite Arroz con Pollo recipe contest.

Michelle Ezratty Murphy arroz con pollo

Easter Sunday Meal Ideas—Meatless

Veronica’s Vegan Verde Pozole Party

”My intention is that this spicy, meat-free pozole verde dish will not only bring you and your family together warmly, but it will also leave you feeling full—in your belly, heart and soul!” writes Veronica Giolli, a Mexican homecook and holistic health coach based in Laguna Beach, California.

meatless pozole verde

Baja-Style Fish Tacos With Tilapia, Pineapple and Chipotle Sauce

If you want to plan a healthy, fish-forward Easter dinner, may we recommend these crunchy-creamy fish tacos? The grilled or roasted pineapple adds a festive flavor and the chipotle-mayo sauce is out of this world. “My family loves these Baja sauce-drizzled tilapia fish tacos and I hope yours does too. I use tilapia, which is sweet, light and fresh-tasting and takes on the flavors of the chile and cilantro beautifully,” writes one of our favorite Mexican homecooks, MariCarmen Ortiz Conway.

tilapia fish tacos

Habichuela Con Dulce 2 Ways: Traditional and Flipped

Habichuela con dulce has forever been a family-favorite Easter sweet treat in the family of Naihomy Jerez, one of our favorite Dominican cocineras. The New Yorker remembers her Dominican mom making her own version of the dessert and trading with friends, comadres and cousins.

This Easter, Naihomy and her mom, Mamá Rosa, offer us their dueling versions of the traditional Dominican postre. The mother-daughter duo did this same flip thing last fall with pumpkin flan in their bakeoff: Dominican Flan de Calabaza 2 Ways: Classic and Dairy-Free—and all of us in the Familia Kitchen community are better for it. Try both of their habichuela con dulce recipes to judge the best one for yourself!

habichuela de dulce traditional
Mamá Rosa’s TRADITIONAL habichuela con dulce
habichuela de dulce
Naihomy’s FLIPPED habichuela con dulce.

Easter Sunday is a day to celebrate what’s most important and family togetherness—and what better way than over a traditional meal that invites Latinx families to cook our way home—together?

Food is familia. Familia is love. Here’s wishing you a festive, safe, family-and-food-filled day, whoever you spend it with, including yourself.

Happy Easter Sunday, Familia Kitchen familia.

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