The Ultimate Guide to Yucatecan Cuisine 

Yucatán is home to rich and traditional cuisine that mixes ingredients common to all of México (such as corn, tomato, and beans), with many products that are unique to the state (such as Habanero peppers, bitter orange, and the popular Achiote (annatto seed paste) that gives color and flavor to many meals. 

Yucatecan cuisine is globally renowned because of its culturally rich tradition, which not only keeps Maya identity alive, but also incorporates Spanish, Lebanese, and even Caribbean influences. Here’s a guide to some of its most iconic dishes. 

The most traditional Yucatecan breakfasts

Huevo con Chaya (eggs with Chaya)

As the name suggests, it consists of scrambled eggs with the traditional Chaya leaves (Cnidoscolus chayamansa or tree spinach) that grow so abundantly in the region. As its English name suggests, the taste of Chaya will remind you of spinach, but different. Huevo con Chaya is traditionally a homemade dish.

Traditional Yucatecan homemade dish with egg with chaya, beans, plantains, and salad in Maní, Yucatán.

Huevos Motuleños

This dish consists of fried eggs served on top of a fried tortilla with beans, then covered with tomato sauce, chopped ham, cheese, and peas. It is usually adorned with fried plantains. It’s a very traditional breakfast dish that also makes for a hearty lunch. And while Huevos Motuleños were created in the Magical Village of Motul, the man behind the recipe is said to be Don Jorge Siqueff, founder of Siqueff restaurant. 


Presentation of Huevos Motuleños. This traditional Yucatecan dish consists of a tortilla with black beans and a fried egg topped with tomato sauce, ham, cheese, peas, and plantains.

Tacos y Tortas de Cochinita Pibil or Lechón al Horno. See below.


Delicious Yucatecan botanas (snacks) 


Crunchy corn tortilla tacos that are usually filled with...absolutely nothing. They’re just the crunchy taco shell, covered with tomato sauce and sprinkled with Sopero cheese (similar to Cotija), yet surprisingly tasty.

Plate of mini Codzitos, Yucatecan snacks also known as Tacos made of nothing.

Pickled potato salad

This tangy dish may sometimes be made with sliced sausages, but you’ll find that the most abundant ingredients are potatoes, onions, and sometimes cilantro; be wary when trying it, since some places throw in slices of Habanero. It’s a good idea to ask as soon as it’s served.


Kibis are a tropicalized version of Lebanese kibbeh; you’ll find them in a variety of shapes, price ranges, and presentations, but usually served with pickled onions, cabbage, or both. In cantinas, they are usually served as small patties, about five centimeters in diameter; as street food, you’ll see them transported in containers that resemble fish tanks, oval-shaped like an American football. These are hollow inside; the “Kibero (Kibi vendor)” fills them with pickled onions and cabbage when handing them to you unless you ask otherwise. Lebanese restaurants serve more authentically Middle-Eastern versions. 

 Kibis are a Yucatecan snack that derives from the Lebanese kibbeh. They are sold on the street and in the most elegant restaurants.


Presentations vary, but these are usually fried masa with chopped Chaya, sometimes served with tomato sauce, but sometimes with Xnipek (chopped tomato, onion, cilantro, bitter orange, and, optionally, Habanero).

Chayitas are a type of fried dough pancakes with chaya and are served as a snack in Yucatán.


Though some presentations might look similar to what you might know as “Gorditas,” authentic Polcanes are distinguished by their particular shape, similar to a snake’s head (Pool K’aan, in Maya). Fillings may vary, but the traditional one is Tooksel, which is a vegan-friendly dish made with iibes (lima beans, Phaseolus lunatus) and ground Pepita (pumpkin seed).

Yucatecan Polcanes are like the gordita from CDMX, a fried dough that you open and fill with different fillings from beans to chicken.

Sikil P’aak

A traditional dip made with toasted pumpkin seed, cilantro, and roasted tomato. It’s another great vegan snack, usually served alongside tortilla chips.

A plate with Sikil P’aak, a nutritious vegetarian snack made with roasted and ground pumpkin seeds, cilantro, and roasted tomatoes.


This refreshing salad is made with jicama and citrus, usually oranges and mandarins. Some people add ground chili—either Maax (Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum) or Habanero—, and some also include cilantro. However you try it, it’s a very traditional snack, especially in the fall, which is the season for both jicama and citrus. “Xe’ek’” is also the word we use in Yucatán to describe something messy: “Your room is a Xe’ek’!”

The Xe’ek is a fresh salad eaten in Yucatán, it’s made of jicama and citrus fruits such as oranges and tangerines.


These tacos are filled with chopped hard-boiled egg and covered in two sauces: one is made with toasted pumpkin seed and the other is a tomato sauce. Ideal for vegetarians and omnivores alike.



Papadzules are soft tacos filled with egg covered with pepita sauce. It is a distinctive starter or main course of Yucatecan cuisine.

Yucatán’s best known, most iconic dishes

Sopa de Lima

A very flavorful chicken broth seasoned with local Yucatecan Lima (a different variety from the regular green lime). It is served with shredded chicken or turkey, fried tortilla strips, and sliced Lima.

Sopa de lima is a chicken broth with Yucatecan citrus fruits such as lime.

Panuchos and salbutes

These two dishes both consist of fried, hand-made tortillas topped with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, avocado, and a protein that is traditionally shredded chicken, turkey, or sliced hard-boiled eggs. The difference is that Panuchos are crunchy and the tortilla is filled with refried black beans. The Salbut’s tortilla is fluffy. Nowadays, both Panuchos and Salbutes are commonly served with more elaborate protein options, such as Poc Chuc, Relleno Negro, and even Cochinita Pibil. 

Panuchos are fried tortillas filled with beans with protein and vegetables. They’re at the front of the Yucatecan cuisine.
Panuchos and Salbutes at the Juan José Méndez Municipal Market in Espita, Yucatán.

Cochinita Pibil

Perhaps Yucatán’s best-known dish, Cochinita Pibil is made with pork marinated in Achiote paste and bitter orange juice. It is then wrapped in banana leaves and baked slowly either in a regular oven or in a Píib, or traditional underground oven; when made this way, it’s usually referred to as “Enterrada.” It’s served in tacos, Tortas, or on its own with red onion. 

Cochinita Pibil, the most famous dish of Yucatecan cuisine, accompanied with beans and red onion.
 Traditional Cochinita Pibil tacos, the most famous dish of Yucatecan cuisine.
Cochinita pibil torta,  a traditiona sample of the Yucatecan cuisine.

Pollo pibil

A poultry alternative to Cochinita Pibil, but, unlike Cochinita, it is usually served with rice and beans in addition to the customary tortillas.

A plate of Pollo (chicken) Pibil, prepared with red recado and cooked underground.

Poc Chuc

Roasted pork filet served with bitter orange, red onion, tomato sauce, avocado, and Habanero on the side. It’s usually accompanied by “Frijol Colado,” a blended bean soup. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for a somewhat lighter option while eating out in Yucatán. Learn more about Poch-Chuc.

Poc Chuc, a traditional dish of Yucatecan cuisine accompanied by tortillas, salsas, and onion.

Queso relleno

Prepared with a hollowed-out Edam cheese, which is then filled with ground pork, almonds, raisins, capers, and local spices. It’s covered in a white sauce known as K’ool made with flour, lard, and chicken broth; finally, it’s topped with tomato sauce. Are you feeling brave? Try making it at home by following our recipe.

Queso relleno  is a specialized dish from Yucatecan cuisine with Dutch cheese stuffed with meat.

Relleno negro

This traditional pork and turkey dish is seasoned with a spice blend made from charred chiles and herbs that not only make it spicy and tasty, but provide its iconic black coloring. This dish used to be served at traditional weddings and it’s one of the oldest recipes in our regional cuisine. See our recipe.

Relleno negro, a traditional dish of Yucatecan cuisine prepared with black recado.


Yucatán’s most traditional broths and stews

Mondongo Kabic

This is a very thick broth made from beef stomach and hooves. These are marinated in Achiote, garlic, and lots of bitter orange juice. It is served with whole Habanero peppers, onion, chives, and cilantro. You can usually find it at markets on the weekends.

Mondongo kabic, a  Yucatecan beef belly and hoof broth.

Mondongo a la Andaluza

Similar to Kabic, a beef stomach and hoove broth, but with the addition of traditionally Spanish ingredients, such as sausage, bacon, ham, paprika, and chickpeas.


 Mondongo a la Andaluza, the Spanish version of Mondongo kabic.



The best known version incorporates three types of meat: chicken, pork, and beef, alongside noodles and many vegetables like squash, chayote, and carrots. It’s served with Salpicón (a different version of Pico de Gallo made with radish, cilantro, and bitter orange) for the broth, plus a dish so everyone can “Puch” (mash) their vegetables and meat.



Despite what its name might suggest, there’s nothing chocolatey about this dish; it comes from the Maya word Chokoj, which means hot. It’s a beef loin broth prepared with offal, garlic, and onion, served with a garnish of radish, cilantro, bitter orange, and optionally, Habanero peppers.



Yucatecos’ favorite dishes

Lechón al Horno

Incredibly tender and slowly roasted pork meat. Alongside Cochinita, Relleno Negro, and Asado, it’s one of the most popular street breakfast options, usually served in tacos or tortas with Xnipek. If you’re early, you get a deliciously crunchy bit of pork skin, called “Cáscara.”  


Escabeche oriental

Charcoal-grilled turkey or chicken, seasoned with onion, pepper, sour orange, and local herbs. It owes its name both to its place of origin (Eastern Yucatán) and the eastern spices (such as cinnamon) it incorporates. The meat can be either in pieces or shredded, served in the broth with plenty of onion and Xcatic pepper.  

Escabeche Oriental is a stew based on turkey and onion.


Frijol con Puerco

A black bean broth with pieces of cooked pork. It is served with rice (cooked in bean broth) and topped with finely chopped radish, cilantro, onion, and tomato sauce. It’s Yucatán’s official Monday meal!


Frijol con Puerco, a dish that’s traditionally eaten on Mondays in Yucatán.

Relleno blanco

Turkey served with a ground pork “meatball” that is seasoned with capers, oregano, raisins, and olives. It’s then bathed in K’ool and tomato sauces.



Yucatán’s regional specialties

Lomitos de Valladolid

Diced pork loin prepared with a slightly spicy tomato sauce. It’s served with chopped hard-boiled eggs. 

Lomitos de Valladolid is pork cooked in tomato sauce.

Longaniza de Valladolid 

Pork sausage seasoned with garlic, pepper, and vinegar. As a standalone dish, it’s served with pickled onion, bitter orange, refried beans, tomato sauce, and handmade tortillas, but it can also be incorporated into other dishes as an ingredient. Planning to visit Valladolid? Here’s your guide to this Magical Village.

Longaniza de Valladolid (blood sausage from Valladolid)  is commonly eaten in a taco with sour orange and onion.

Carne Ahumada de Temozón

Wood-smoked pork meat; when served in tacos, you should get sides of bitter orange, avocado, red onion, tomato sauce, and beans. Find out more about Temozón, its sights, and specialties

Smoked meat, it traditionally comes from the town of Temozón, Yucatán.

Kots’ob de Espita

Similar to a rolled-up tamal, Kots’obes are made from white beans, ground chili, pumpkin seed, masa, and other local ingredients wrapped in Hoja Santa (Mexican pepperleaf, or Piper auritum). In Espita you can find it grilled, fried, or steamed. Interested in visiting the Magical Village of Espita? Click here to find out what awaits.



 Espita's traditional Kots’ob is a beans and hoja santa leaf tamale.

Sensationally seasonal Yucatecan dishes


Many describe this as a giant and crunchy tamal. It has a crispy, golden dough and a chicken, turkey, or pork filling (sometimes all of the above). It is baked wrapped in banana leaves, usually in a Píib underground oven. Mukbilpollo, known in Mérida as Pib, is traditionally served during November for the Janal Pixan festivities. Find out more about Mukbilpollo, its preparation, and its deeper meaning through our article Mukbilpollo, a Melancholy Ritual.


Mukibilpollo or pib is a tamale that is eaten on Janal Pixan or Day of the Dead in Yucatán.