Are you hungry for the best vegetarian food in Guatemala? If so, you’ve come to the right place!
This is a special guest contribution from Yvonne of Guate Adventure.
I was born and raised in Guatemala and I LOVE the food here. I also know from personal experience what it’s like to deal with dietary restrictions while traveling. Finding delicious food that won’t risk your health or nutritional preferences is essential.
Fortunately, it’s entirely possible to travel as a vegetarian in Guatemala. Let’s dive into the mouthwatering culinary options you can enjoy!
Before we start, it’s worth introducing Guatemalan food in general. The staples here are black beans, corn tortillas, and tomato sauces seasoned with seeds, herbs, and spices.
Unlike Mexican fare, which is usually spicy hot, most Guatemalans prefer their chili on the side. Soups, stews, and other saucy cuisine is the norm.
Fresh raw veggies are usually served doused in lime juice and sprinkled with salt or served in a mayonnaise dressing.
29 Best Vegetarian Foods in Guatemala
Although you can eat any of the foods below at any time of day, I organized them into categories including breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and desserts.
Best Vegetarian Breakfasts in Guatemala
Breakfasts in Guatemala are usually star delicious eggs made-to-order, fried plantains, delicious tomato sauces, and creamy oatmeal.
1. Desayuno Chapín
Guatemala’s most traditional breakfast is the “desayuno chapín.” It usually includes eggs, black beans, fresh farmer’s cheese, cream, fried plantains, fresh tortillas, and coffee or tea.
You can order the eggs scrambled or fried, but my favorite way to eat them is scrambled with onions and tomatoes. (Huevos revueltos con tomate y cebolla.)
Tip: Black beans are sometimes made with pork lard (manteca de cerdo). Check with your waiter before ordering.
2. Huevos Divorciados
“Divorced eggs” is another common breakfast menu option. Although the dish is originally from Mexico, it has been adopted as a tasty Guatemalan morning meal.
It features two fried eggs atop a corn or flour tortilla. One egg is bathed in a red sauce, while the other is bathed in a green sauce. Yum.
3. Huevos Rancheros
Huevos Rancheros or “Rancher Eggs” are another delicious spicy morning option. This meal consists of two fried eggs on top of soft corn tortillas.
The yolk is ringed with a spicy tomato sauce that’s mouth-wateringly delicious.
4. Atol Blanco con Palitos
Another traditional breakfast vegetarian food in Guatemala is “Atol Blanco.” Although technically a drink, it is served in a bowl and eaten with a spoon.
Atol Blanco, or white atol, is a thick steamy beverage made from corn masa. Salt, black beans, and ground pumpkin seeds are favorite add-ins.
For the complete cultural experience, be sure to ask for your “atol blanco” with a bag or two of “palitos.” These crunchy corn “sticks” are spicy chips that add extra flavor and texture to your meal.
If you’re looking for a lighter breakfast, consider ordering “mosh.” This beverage is made from milk, cinnamon, sugar, and oatmeal and is typically very thin.
You can eat it with a spoon or drink it from a mug.
Best Vegetarian Lunches in Guatemala
When it comes to light lunches in Guatemala, there are plenty of delicious options. Many feature eggs, corn, and beans.
A favorite Guatemalan side dish that can serve as a vegetarian lunch is “ensalada.”
Guatemalans call any fresh raw vegetable a “salad,” especially when it is served doused in lime juice and sprinkled with salt.
Some of my favorite “ensaladas” include radish salad (shredded or minced radish and onion topped with lime and salt) and cucumber salad (cucumbers in lime and salt).
Tip: Eating lettuce in Guatemala can be risky, as it is hard to clean. I only eat triple-washed disinfected salad from the supermarket.
Another yummy crunchy vegetarian food you can enjoy in Guatemala is tostadas. These crispy corn tortillas can be topped with any number of delicious foods.
Some favorites include black-bean-topped tostadas garnished with onion and dry cheese, guacamole tostadas, tomato sauce tostadas, and tostadas topped with mayo carrot salad.
If you’re picturing Mexican enchiladas, wipe that image from your mind. Guatemalan enchiladas are made from a mixture of cooked and diced beets, peas, and carrots seasoned with vinegar, thyme, and salt.
They are served atop a tostada, then garnished with tomato sauce, sliced boiled egg, parsley, and dry crumbly cheese.
Most enchiladas are also garnished with ground pork but simply ask for yours without.
9. Chilaquilas de Güisquil
A Chilaquila de Güisquil is like a veggie and cheese sandwich sans the bread. The “slices” are made from boiled chayote squash (güisquil in Guatemala).
A slice of fresh farmer’s cheese and onions and tomatoes make up the filling. The whole “sandwich” is then coated with foamy beaten egg and fried until golden.
They are often served topped with tomato sauce and cheese.
10. Ejote en Huevo
Guatemalans love preparing vegetables with eggs. One of their favorite dishes is made from boiled green beans.
A small stack of green beans is tied together with string, then dipped in foamy beaten eggs and fried in oil.
The beans are served with tomato sauce and cheese.
11. Tamalitos de Chipilín
Tamalitos de Chipilín are a savory and filling Guatemalan snack food that can double as a lunch.
They are made from corn “masa” (just the same as corn tortillas), but mixed with chipilín leaves. This tasty and nutritious green adds a delicious herbaceous flavor that’s hard to describe.
The “masa” is steamed in corn husks, then either eaten hot from the pot or toasted until golden on charcoal grills.
Although tayuyos aren’t super common, they are another tasty corn-based vegetarian food.
Much like the “tamalitos” above, tayuyos are made with corn masa and steamed in corn husks.
Instead of chipilin leaves, the masa is layered with refried black beans. ¡Qué rico!
13. Tortillas con Frijol y Guacamole
Nothing beats eating fresh corn tortillas hot off the griddle. Black tortillas are the softest and most delicious, in my opinion, but any super fresh tortillas get my mouth watering.
I love tortillas sprinkled with salt or topped with black beans, guacamole, or even non-traditional peanut butter.
14. Verduras en Escabeche
If you love al dente cooked veggies, “Verduras en escabeche” is a delicious choice. These pickled veggies are parboiled, then marinated in thyme, bay leaves, and vinegar.
15. Chiles Rellenos
Although many chiles rellenos have meat in them, it is possible to find (or special order) vegetarian versions.
They are made by roasting and peeling whole red peppers. They are then de-seeded and filled with a mixture of vegetables. The entire pepper is dipped in foamy beaten egg and fried until golden.
Guatemalans love eating chiles rellenos topped with tomato sauce and cheese, or tucked inside a section of “pan francés” bakery bread.
Best Vegetarian Dinners in Guatemala
When it comes to dinners or heartier meals in Guatemala, there aren’t a ton of vegetarian options. However, you can either special order a vegetarian version, or make it yourself.
Check out my list of Antigua Food Tours to find a cooking class or tour that caters to your dietary needs.
That way you’ll get to eat amazing Guatemalan food, enjoy a cultural experience, and even go home with the means of making the dish again.
16. Jocón con Verduras
Traditionally made with chicken, jocón consists of a green sauce made from tomatillos, green bell peppers, and green onions.
The veggies are processed into a thick sauce, then cooked in a frying pan. Swap out the chicken for your favorite combination of veggies or tofu, and voila!
17. Pepián Vegetariana
Pepián is another mouthwatering meal traditionally made with chicken. The sauce, however, is easy to make vegetarian. You can then pair it with any cooked veggie you desire.
The red sauce is made from roasted tomatoes, bell peppers, chiles, seeds, and spices. I love the layered flavors in this dish.
18. Tamales Vegetarianos
Make friends with a tamale vendor and you can get your own made-to-order vegetarian tamales.
Unlike the Mexican version, Guatemalan tamales are steamed in banana leaves and feature a much moister less-dense corn dough.
Yummy red sauce and your veggies of choice made up the tasty center.
19. Sopa de Frijol Negra
If you’re looking for a light dinner, black bean soup could be just the thing–-especially on cold rainy nights.
Black bean soup is made from black beans that have been blended into a smooth creamy consistency. You can make your own or order from a restaurant.
Tip: Some black bean soup recipes call for bacon or pork, so ask your waiter about the ingredients before ordering.
Best Vegetarian Snacks in Guatemala
Snacks are a tasty part of life in Guatemala and most of them are vegetarian. Check out these top favorites.
20. Elotes Locos
“Crazy corn” is a favorite street food snack you’ll definitely want to try.
Boiled corn cobs are roasted on a charcoal grill, then topped with mayonnaise, green “picamás” hot sauce, ketchup, mustard, and dry cheese. The result is a green, yellow, white, and red ear of corn.
Of course, you can also order the less adventurous “elote con limón y sal.” This is my go-to. The roasted cob of corn is rubbed with lime, then sprinkled with salt.
21. Fruit Cups (Plain or Spicy)
Fruit is a common snack you’ll find when out on the town. You can purchase a cup of sliced seasonal fruit on most busy street corners in Guatemala.
Although you can eat the fruit as-is, it’s even more tasty when seasoned with local spices. A common combination is sliced fruit with “pepitoria” (toasted ground pumpkin seeds), lime juice, and salt.
Some vendors also add consommé, hot sauce, and tajín (a combination of chile, lime, and salt).
The fruit cups are made to order, so mix and match according to your heart’s desire.
Tip: If you buy your own fruit from the market (with the exception of bananas), be sure to disinfect it before eating. An easy way to do this on the go is by spraying it with white vinegar and then spraying it again with hydrogen peroxide. Rinse with pure drinking water and you’re good to go.
22. Habas Tostadas
Another fun crunchy snack I’m partial to is “habas tostadas”.
Habas are dried fava beans that are toasted in oil and sprinkled with salt.
You can also purchase peanuts (plain, spicy, and candied) and cashews.
Best Vegetarian Desserts in Guatemala
Most desserts around the world are vegetarian by default, but it’s still worth mentioning a few to keep your eyes out for when traveling in Guatemala.
23. Candied Figs
Candied figs are my favorite sweet Guatemalan treat. The figs are picked while still green, then boiled in sugar water.
The result is a delicious sugary delicacy.
24. Candied Squash
Guatemalans love candying just about any fruit you can think of, and chilacayote is one example.
Even though this large squash resembles North American watermelons, don’t be fooled. The inside is white-fleshed and virtually tasteless.
To make use of this unspectacular vegetable, Guatemalans boil chunks of the squash in panela sugar. Chilacayote is rarely served any other way.
You can also try candied sweet potato (camote en miel) and candied crab apples (manzanillas en miel).
25. Rellenitos de Plátano
My favorite dessert/snack in Guatemala is “rellenitos de plátano.” This tasty dessert is made by boiling plantains, mashing them until they form a dough, then forming them into balls.
In the center, they are filled with sugary black bean puré seasoned with cinnamon and sometimes a hint of chocolate.
The balls are fried until golden and then topped with sugar and cream, but they are also delicious plain.
26. Mole de Plátano
Molé de Plátano is another nod to our Mexican neighbors. Slices of fried sweet plantain are doused in a thick sweet sauce made from seeds, spices, and chocolate.
This dish is usually served sprinkled with sesame seeds.
27. Pastel Frio
If you love cake, consider trying Guatemala’s “cold cake.” It tastes much better than it sounds, trust me!
Pastel frio is basically a white cake soaked with sugar water and then topped with whipped cream and canned peaches or fresh strawberry slices.
Tip: It is best to avoid eating fresh strawberries in Guatemala as they are hard to properly disinfect.
28. Pastel Tres Leches
“Three Milks Cake” is another creamy über moist cake. It is made from regular milk, evaporated milk, and condensed milk, and is topped with whipped cream and fruit.
Flan is my all-time favorite Guatemalan dessert. This light and creamy custard melts on the tongue. It is served topped with a sauce of caramelized sugar.
Yvonne McArthur is a writer, word-lover, and adventurer born and raised in Guatemala. She spent her childhood swimming in caldera lakes, mountain biking through maize fields, and toasting marshmallows over molten lava. As an adult, she’s kept doing all those things, plus more. She loves sharing her passion for Guatemala with visitors and locals alike, whether on her site, Guate Adventure, or other awesome blogs like this one.