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Guanimos recipe: A Tasty Treat from Puerto Rico

Guanimos recipe: A Tasty Treat from Puerto Rico


2About Guanimos
3History & Origin
5Step-by-Step Recipe
6Filling Variations
7Tips for the Perfect Guanimo
8Serving Suggestions
9Storing and Reheating
10Nutritional Information
11Health Benefits
12Guanimos: A Cultural Delight
15Unique FAQS

Guanimos: A Delicious Puerto Rican Snack


Have you ever heard of guanimos? They are a delicious traditional snack from Puerto Rico, often enjoyed as a quick breakfast or as a tasty treat any time of the day. These savory cornmeal cakes are filled with a variety of delicious fillings and are a popular choice for those looking for a hearty and satisfying bite. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of guanimos, exploring their history, ingredients, and the step-by-step process of making them. We’ll also share some tips and tricks to ensure your guanimos turn out perfectly every time!

About Guanimos

Guanimos (pronounced gwah-nee-mos) are a type of Puerto Rican fritter or turnover. They are made with a cornmeal-based dough that is filled with a variety of savory fillings and then fried to golden perfection. The result is a crispy, crunchy exterior with a soft and flavorful filling. Guanimos are a popular street food in Puerto Rico and are also enjoyed as a quick and easy meal at home. They are often compared to other Latin American dishes such as empanadas or arepas, but guanimos have their own unique flavor and texture.

History & Origin

The exact origins of guanimos are a bit obscure, but they are believed to have originated in the rural areas of Puerto Rico, where corn is a staple crop. Cornmeal-based dishes are common in Puerto Rican cuisine, with roots tracing back to the indigenous Taíno people who first inhabited the island. Over time, African and Spanish influences also shaped the cuisine, and guanimos likely evolved from a combination of these cultural influences.

Guanimos are a testament to the island’s rich culinary history, and they hold a special place in the hearts of many Puerto Ricans. They are often associated with comfort food and remind people of home-cooked meals shared with family and friends.


The beauty of guanimos lies in their simplicity. The basic ingredients for the dough are:

  • Cornmeal: Gives the guanimos their distinct texture and flavor.
  • Water: Helps to bind the ingredients together and hydrate the cornmeal.
  • Salt: Enhances the flavor.
  • Shortening or Lard: Adds flakiness and richness to the dough.

For the filling, there are endless possibilities, but some traditional options include:

  • Cheese: Mild cheeses like queso blanco or mozzarella are common choices, adding a creamy and salty contrast to the cornmeal dough.
  • Meat: Ground beef or shredded chicken are popular, often seasoned with sofrito (a Puerto Rican blend of herbs and spices) to give them a flavorful kick.
  • Vegetables: Diced potatoes, onions, and peppers are sometimes added to the meat filling for extra texture and flavor.

Step-by-Step Recipe

Now, let’s get to the fun part: making your own guanimos! This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process:

Dough Preparation

Step 1: In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, salt, and water. Mix until a soft dough forms. The consistency should be similar to playdough; not too sticky or dry.

Step 2: Add shortening or lard and work it into the dough until well combined. This step ensures flakiness and richness.

Step 3: Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes. This allows the cornmeal to fully absorb the liquid, resulting in a more pliable and easy-to-work-with dough.

Filling and Shaping

Step 4: While the dough rests, prepare your filling of choice. For a simple cheese filling, mix shredded cheese with a bit of milk or cream to create a creamy consistency. For meat fillings, cook and season your meat, and let it cool slightly before filling.

Step 5: Divide the dough into equal portions, depending on the number of guanimos you wish to make. Each portion should be about the size of a golf ball.

Step 6: Flatten each dough ball into a circle, about 1/4 inch thick. You can use a rolling pin or simply press it with your hands.

Step 7: Place a heaping tablespoon of filling in the center of each circle. Be careful not to overfill, as this can make sealing the guanimos tricky.

Step 8: Fold the dough over the filling to create a half-moon shape. Press the edges together firmly to seal in the filling. You can use a fork to crimp the edges for a decorative touch.

Frying and Serving

Step 9: Heat oil in a deep pan or pot to 350°F (180°C). You want enough oil to completely cover the guanimos when frying.

Step 10: Carefully place a few guanimos at a time into the hot oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crispy.

Step 11: Remove from the oil and drain on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess grease.

Step 12: Serve your guanimos hot with your favorite dipping sauce or as-is. They are best enjoyed fresh, but we’ll also cover storage and reheating options later!

Filling Variations

The beauty of guanimos is that you can get creative with the fillings. Here are some ideas to inspire your next batch:

  • Crab Guanimos: Try a seafood twist with a crab and cream cheese filling. Season crab meat with a bit of lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and mix with cream cheese for a decadent treat.
  • Veggie Delight: For a vegetarian option, sauté diced bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms with garlic and your favorite spices. This filling is packed with flavor and texture.
  • Spicy Beef: Kick it up a notch with ground beef seasoned with chili powder, cumin, and a touch of cayenne pepper.
  • Sweet Guanimos: While guanimos are traditionally savory, you can also experiment with sweet fillings. Try a dollop of guava paste and cream cheese for a sweet and creamy treat.

Tips for the Perfect Guanimo

To ensure your guanimos turn out perfectly every time, here are a few tips and tricks:

  • When shaping the guanimos, make sure the filling is completely enclosed. You don’t want it leaking out during frying, which can lead to a messy situation.
  • Don’t overcrowd the pan when frying. Fry in batches to maintain an even temperature and ensure the guanimos cook through properly.
  • For a healthier twist, you can also bake your guanimos. Simply brush them with a bit of oil and bake at 400°F for about 20 minutes, or until golden.
  • Get creative with your dipping sauces. Try a spicy mayo, a tangy salsa, or a cool and creamy avocado dip to elevate your guanimo experience.

Serving Suggestions

Guanimos are incredibly versatile and can be served in a variety of ways:

  • As a snack: Enjoy them as a tasty snack anytime. They’re perfect for satisfying those mid-afternoon cravings or as a late-night treat.
  • Breakfast on the go: Guanimos are a great grab-and-go breakfast option. Pair them with a fresh fruit smoothie or a cup of strong Puerto Rican coffee.
  • Appetizer: Serve mini guanimos as an appetizer at your next gathering. Your guests will love the unique and flavorful bite.
  • Side dish: Guanimos can also accompany a main course, such as a hearty stew or soup. They add a crispy and savory element to the meal.

Storing and Reheating

If you find yourself with a batch of leftover guanimos, not to worry! They can be stored and reheated:

  • Storing: Place cooled guanimos in an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Freezing: Guanimos freeze well and can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. Wrap them tightly in foil or place them in a freezer bag.
  • Reheating: To reheat, simply pop them in the oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through. You can also reheat in a toaster oven or even a skillet for a crispy finish.

Nutritional Information

Guanimos offer a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, depending on the filling you choose. The cornmeal dough provides complex carbohydrates and fiber, while the fillings can contribute protein and healthy fats.

Here’s a rough estimate of the nutritional content of a single guanimo (excluding the filling):

  • Calories: 150
  • Fat: 7g
  • Carbohydrates: 18g
  • Protein: 2g
  • Fiber: 1g

Health Benefits

While guanimos are certainly a treat, they can also offer some nutritional benefits:

  • Cornmeal is a good source of complex carbohydrates, providing energy that digests slowly and keeps you fuller for longer.
  • The use of lard or shortening adds healthy fats to the diet, which are important for brain health and overall well-being.
  • Guanimos can be a good source of protein, depending on the filling. Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth.
  • The addition of vegetables to the filling boosts the nutritional profile, providing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Guanimos: A Cultural Delight

Guanimos are more than just a tasty snack; they are a cultural delight that holds a special place in Puerto Rican cuisine. They represent the fusion of indigenous, African, and Spanish influences that shape the island’s culinary landscape. When you bite into a guanimo, you’re not just tasting a delicious treat, but also experiencing a piece of Puerto Rico’s rich history and cultural heritage.


Guanimos are a delicious and versatile treat that is easy to fall in love with. Whether you’re enjoying them as a quick snack or serving them as a unique appetizer, these savory cornmeal cakes are sure to impress. We hope this article has inspired you to try making your own guanimos and explore the endless filling possibilities. As always, remember to enjoy them in moderation and share the love with family and friends!


Here are some frequently asked questions about guanimos:

Q: Are guanimos gluten-free?
A: Yes, traditionally guanimos are gluten-free as they are made with cornmeal, which is naturally gluten-free. However, always check the labels of your ingredients to ensure there is no cross-contamination.

Q: Can I air-fry guanimos?
A: Absolutely! Air frying is a great alternative to traditional frying. Simply brush the guanimos with a bit of oil and air fry at 375°F for about 10 minutes, or until golden and crispy.

Q: How can I make vegan guanimos?
A: To make vegan guanimos, simply replace the lard or shortening in the dough with a plant-based alternative, such as vegan butter or coconut oil. Also, ensure your filling is vegan-friendly, such as a bean and vegetable mixture.

Q: Can I make the dough ahead of time?
A: Yes, the dough can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for up to 2 days. Simply let it come to room temperature and give it a quick knead before using.

Q: How can I tell if the oil is hot enough for frying?
A: Use a candy or deep-frying thermometer to ensure the oil is at the right temperature (350°F). You can also test it by dropping a small piece of dough into the oil. It should sizzle and float to the top immediately, indicating the oil is ready.

Unique FAQs

Q: What is the difference between guanimos and empanadas?
A: Guanimos and empanadas are both types of fried turnovers, but they have distinct differences. Guanimos are made with a cornmeal-based dough, giving them a unique texture and flavor, while empanadas are typically made with a wheat flour dough. Empanadas also tend to have a larger variety of fillings, both sweet and savory, while guanimos are mostly savory.

Q: Can I bake guanimos instead of frying them?
A: Yes, baking is a healthier alternative to frying. Preheat your oven to 375°F and place the guanimos on a greased baking sheet. Brush the tops with a bit of oil or melted butter for added flavor and color. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Q: Are guanimos similar to tamales?
A: While guanimos and tamales both use cornmeal as a base, they are quite different. Tamales are typically made with a cornmeal batter that is steamed or boiled in a wrapper, resulting in a soft and moist texture. Guanimos, on the other hand, are fried, giving them a crispy, flaky exterior.

Q: What is the best type of cheese to use for the filling?
A: Traditional guanimos often use queso blanco, a mild and slightly salty cheese that melts beautifully. However, you can also use other cheeses such as mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or even a cream cheese blend for a creamy texture.

Q: Can I make a large batch of guanimos and freeze them for later?
A: Absolutely! Guanimos freeze very well, making them a convenient make-ahead treat. Simply fry them as usual and let them cool completely. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid, then transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container. They will keep well for up to 2 months.


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