What do you eat at Christmas in Cartagena?

When December arrives, Christmas begins to invade the homes of Cartagena. Lights, garlands, Christmas trees, and the nativity manger are part of the decoration of the houses in the city. It is a time to share with those you love the most, in an atmosphere of love and joy. Exquisite dinners are elaborated in order to share with relatives and friends these special dates that invite to celebrate.

Christmas is an important part of Cartagena’s culture. It is a moment of the year in when the gastronomic tradition becomes the star. In here we leave you some of the best dishes they prepare and taste in Cartagena during this time.

“Natilla”Natilla navideña

It is a dairy dessert of gelatinous consistency, different from the creamy one is elaborated in other countries. It is basically made of milk, corn starch, cinnamon and butter; the sweetness can be given with sugar or “panela”, and some people also add grated coconut.

This recipe can never be missed in a Christmas dinner. Its easy preparation and its exquisite flavor make it the favorite dessert in December.

“Buñuelos”Buñuelos navideños

The Christmas fried “buñuelos” are another typical delicacy of this holiday season. Although in Cartagena you can find them at any time of the year, when Christmas arrives, they will always have a place at the table.

Made with flour, eggs, milk, salty cheese, and a little bit of sugar, you fry them in vegetable oil. It is a snack that no one can resist. Just by seeing its round and golden figure, it makes your mouth water, and, when you bite, it is a white and tender interior that make your taste buds rejoice.

“Pasteles”Pasteles navideños

The “pasteles” are a typical dish of this region of Colombia, and at Christmas they become really popular. It consists in a generous portion of rice boiled with vegetables and different types of meats that result in a mixture of flavors that delight everyone who try it. To prepare this delicacy it is necessary to wrap the ingredients in “bijao” leaves (a wild plant) and boil them over several hours over low heat.

As breakfast, lunch or dinner, the “pasteles” are well received at any time of the day.


The “hallaca” is cornmeal cake filled with different types of meats, vegetables, and other savory ingredients. It is specially prepared at Christmas, but you can also find them at other events throughout the year. Many people add raisins to these Christmas “hallacas”.

Its preparation is like that of rice cakes, wrapped either in plantain or “bijao” leaves, and boiled over low heat. This is a dish that you can find in different cuisines around the world, but the one from Cartagena has a special touch that makes it extra delicious.

Christmas turkeyPavo navideño

During December one of the most desired type of meat is the turkey. With its many preparations, it delights the Cartagena’s palates whether it is baked, roasted, stuffed or marinated, diners cannot resist the unique flavor of this Christmas treat.

Pork legPernil de cerdo navideño

Even though the turkey is one of the most desired, it rivals, in favoritism, with the pork, another of the meats that people consume most at Christmas.

The pork leg is a Christmas dish that can be enjoyed in multiple preparations. With exquisite sauces and various stews, it is a guaranteed delicious dinner.

Meat rollRollo de Carne navideño

Ground beef also gains popularity during the last month of the year, specially with its exquisite Christmas recipe. The meat is marinated with different spices and it is rolled with veggies and sometimes with bacon as well.

The roll is cut into portions, to which a sauce is added according to the taste of each person. It is a dish whose mixture of flavors delights diners either at lunches or dinners.

Cartagena always surprises and delights with everything it has to offer, specially during specific times of the year such as Easter and the end of the year, where ancestral recipes come out of the drawers. Enjoy “La Heroica” and savor its exquisite gastronomy.
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