Updated on 02/12/2024
I would also like to recommend our Colombia travel guide, which provides a perfect overview of the tourist attractions in Colombia. Enjoy reading it!
Colombia boasts a delicious and diverse gastronomy, featuring a wide array of snacks, affectionately known as “mecato” among locals. From cakes and corn chips to fried delights, let’s delve into the best Colombian snacks that are a must-try, serving as delightful souvenirs from your travels through Colombia. Get ready to tantalize your taste buds!
Colombian Savory Snacks (Packaged)
Todo Rico (Everything Delicious)
Todo Rico is the name of a popular packaged fried snack widely consumed in Colombia for its size and versatility. It’s a mix of potato, plantain, and fried pork rind with a crispy texture. Available in flavors like lemon, creole, and BBQ, personally, the BBQ flavor is my favorite, with its exquisite spicy touch.
You can enjoy it any time of the day, and you can literally find it in every store or supermarket. While other brands produce similar snacks in Colombia, Todo Rico is the most famous.
ManiMoto is a packaged salty peanut product. Essentially, it’s peanuts covered in a salty and baked wheat dough, giving it a sweet touch. It has a very crunchy and slightly hard texture. In the market, you can find it in natural, lemon, and spicy flavors. It’s usually consumed as a companion to other snacks due to its smaller portion size.
Papas de pollo (Chicken Potatoes)
The papas de pollo are artificial chicken-flavored potato chips, slightly seasoned and beloved by Colombians. Typically eaten as snacks or as a side dish to traditional dishes like chicken with rice.
Maizitos are packaged yellow corn salty snacks. They have a mild salty flavor and come in wavy rectangular shapes.
Currently available in various flavors such as natural, lemon, and spicy, they are perfect for pairing with dips like guacamole.
Tostacos is another packaged yellow corn salty snack, very similar to Maizitos. However, these are inflated triangle-shaped snacks. There’s a regular version and a spicy one, which is a favorite for many. Think of them as the Colombian version of Doritos.
The cheetos, or as they’re called in Colombia, chitos, are baked and salted yellow corn snacks. While similar products exist in the market, Colombians always identify them as chitos.
With a subtle yellow color, elongated shape, and a soft yet crispy texture that melts in your mouth, they come in flavors such as cheese, spicy, and lemon.
The famous popcorn in Colombia is known as crispetas or maíz pira (named after the corn used). It’s a light and cost-effective snack, widely consumed in families. There’s even a popular packaged popcorn brand called Popetas.
Crispetas are often mixed with potato chips, fried sausages, and other snacks for sharing at gatherings. Of course, they are also enjoyed at the cinema in various versions, including salted, buttered, or caramel.
Tajadas de plátano (Plantain Chips)
Tajadas de plátano are fried green or ripe plantains, and depending on the type of plantain used, they’ll have a crispy or soft texture. They are incredibly popular in the country and often used as accompaniments. For instance, people add them to popcorn or enjoy them with dishes like rice with fried egg or chicken with rice.
Due to the popularity of naturally fried tajadas, various brands sell packaged plantain chips, such as Natuchips or Tajamiel.
Choclitos are another packaged corn snack, similar to tortilla chips. They are quite similar to Maizitos, but with an intense salt and lemon flavor. In 2019, they released a spicy version.
Rosquillas de queso (Cheese Rings)
Rosquitas de queso are crispy baked rings made from yucca starch, cheese, and corn flour. They are highly consumed during travels and are usually sold in towns or small municipalities, at roadside stalls.
Achiras are a type of baked biscuits made from flour derived from a palm called sagú and a neutral-flavored cheese called cuajada. You can find achiras both in industrialized and artisanal forms.
They have a slight golden yellow color due to the inclusion of corn in their mixture. Rectangular in shape, their flavor is somewhat different from what you might be accustomed to.
Chicharrones are essentially fried pork skin. While there is another type made with a cut of pork meat, the one I’m referring to is a very famous snack in this country.
You can find it both in an industrialized or artisanal form. Colombians typically consume it from a package as a snack. Its flavor has meaty notes and tends to be somewhat salty. Naturally, it’s incredibly crunchy—the kind of chicharrones that come in packages like Todo Rico.
Maní con sal (Salted Peanuts)
The precursor to ManiMoto, salted peanuts are a classic snack in the country. In various stores or markets, you’ll find different brands of this product. Even sweet, sour, and spicy versions are available. It’s also common to find them sold in public transport stations and buses.
Tocinetas are basically a fried dough that simulates the taste, color, and smell of natural pork bacon. They are eaten as snacks or added to other snacks like popcorn. Their flavor is highly seasoned, and being fried, they are crispy. Various brands sell this packaged product, such as Tocinetas Fred.
Tostiarepas is a brand of corn snacks shaped and flavored like traditional Colombian arepas. Their delicious flavor includes hints of cheese and butter. Equally crispy, they crumble with every bite.
Trocipollos are a brand of wheat flour snacks with an official chicken flavor. They are tube-shaped and reddish in color, with a highly seasoned and salty taste. Being fried, they are very crunchy and crumble in the mouth.
They are a classic in Colombian lunchboxes.
Colombian Sweet Snacks
Chocoramo is a popular Colombian sponge cake, known for its combination of a sponge cake called ponqué ramo, covered with a chocolate layer.
Therefore, its texture is very soft.
I could assert that chocoramo is the most cherished sponge cake in all of Colombia. The brand, Productos Ramo, has over 70 years of history in the country.
Barra Ramo, very similar to chocoramo, is a packaged sponge cake covered with chocolate and filled with red fruit jam. It’s also widely consumed by Colombians, whether at their place of study or work. Its texture is very soft, and due to the chocolate and jam, somewhat moist.
Its taste is very sweet, and you might find it enjoyable.
Ponqué Gala is the name of a popular brand of sponge cakes in various flavors.
Essentially, it is a very soft rectangular sponge cake, and as it has no filling or covering, it’s a bit dry. The original has vanilla notes, but it comes in various presentations.
Gansito is the name of a famous brand of sponge cakes filled with jam, cream, and covered in chocolate. This delicacy is one of the favorites among Colombians.
Truly, I could say that every Colombian used to have gansitos as a snack or treat when they went to school. And now, as grown-ups, eating them transports them back to their childhood.
The jam filling is very sweet, but it contrasts with the neutral cream, and well, what can I say about the chocolate—it’s the best part!
Chocolates or chocolate bars are a celebrated snack in Colombia. In this country, there are numerous types of chocolates, each with different shapes, fillings, flavors, cocoa content, among other characteristics.
However, what is most consumed are milk chocolates, although purer chocolate is gaining ground.
The standout chocolate bars, considered by many as the most delicious, are Jet and Jumbo.
Bocadillo is a traditional Colombian sweet made primarily with guava pulp and sugar. It’s popular as a snack, dessert, and filling for other dishes. Many athletes consume it for its high energy content. This snack is part of the country’s gastronomic tradition.
You can also find other variations, such as bocadillo with arequipe (sweet milk) or with cheese, and I recommend trying both.
Arequipe, also known as sweet milk in other Latin American countries, is a creamy and thick sweet made from milk and sugar. Arequipe in Colombia is very versatile. It’s commonly used as a dessert filling, cake topping, or simply spread on crackers, such as soda biscuits.
Barrilete is a popular fruity candy bar consumed as a snack by Colombian children. It has a sweet taste, and its texture is soft and chewy.
Bon Bon Bum
Bon Bon Bum is a brand of lollipops or Colombian candies that is very popular in Colombia. It’s known for its attractive shiny wrapping and various flavors. These candies have a chewing gum center.
Bon Bon Bum comes in a wide range of colors; usually, each color represents a fruity flavor. The classic? The red bon bon bum with strawberry flavor.
Homemade or Artisanal Colombian Snacks
Arepas are a food made from corn or cornmeal widely consumed in Colombia and several countries in Latin America. They are usually grilled, pan-fried, or fried.
Arepas are versatile and can be eaten as snacks or served as a side dish. The most common is the cheese-filled arepa, but each region has its version. I would say you haven’t been to Colombia if you haven’t tried an arepa.
Colombian empanadas are a popular dish and snack consisting of a filled dough, usually fried or baked. The dough can be made from corn or wheat flour.
Similarly, the filling varies, but it commonly includes meat (beef, chicken, or pork), potatoes, peas, and seasonings like onions and garlic. Empanadas have a crescent shape and are crispy on the outside but soft on the inside. They are truly an icon of Colombian gastronomy.
Empanadas are accompanied by different sauces, but the standout is ají, a mix of onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and spicy peppers.
Roscones are a type of baked sweet bread covered with sugar and filled with arequipe or bocadillo. They are sold in almost every Colombian bakery, are very popular, and economical. Their texture is very soft and fluffy, although when freshly out of the oven, their crust is crispy.
Pandebonos are baked cakes made primarily from cheese and yucca starch. They are widely consumed in Colombia for their interesting texture. Due to the yucca starch, they are somewhat chewy yet soft. They usually have a filling of arequipe or bocadillo that you can choose according to your preference.
Colombian buñuelos are fried balls made primarily with cornflour, yucca, grated cheese, and eggs. The dough is mixed with cheese, forming a fluffy mixture that is fried until it obtains a crunchy texture and a golden color on the outside, soft on the inside.
Buñuelos are a popular snack throughout the year, but they are especially enjoyed during the Christmas season in Colombia.
Pony Malta is the brand of a popular non-alcoholic beverage, and it’s essentially the Colombian equivalent of Coca Cola. Believed to have energizing and nutritional effects, its taste is very sweet, and it has a dark color. This bubbly malt drink is the perfect companion for various Colombian snacks.
In Colombia, yogurt is a widely enjoyed snack and a companion to favorite treats.
With a multitude of flavors available, you can find anything from coffee-flavored to exotic fruit options like soursop (guanábana).
Cuban Oat Drink
Despite its name, the Cuban oat drink is neither made from oats nor is it Cuban. This beverage, made with cassava starch and sugar, is common in Colombia. Its name is more a marketing theme than an indication of its composition or place of origin.
The Cuban oat drink has hints of vanilla, and its texture is smooth and thick. It is often paired with artisanal snacks like pandebono or buñuelo.
Colombiana is the commercial name of a famous soda (carbonated beverage) and a flagship drink in Colombia. It has a distinctive cola flavor and an orange-reddish color. Similar to Coca-Cola, you can enjoy it as a companion to almost any meal.
What would Colombia be without its diversity of fruits? Fruit juices, whether natural or artificial, are highly consumed in Colombia. The main fruit juices are made from passion fruit, naranjilla (lulo), mango, guava, tree tomato (tomate de árbol), and blackberry (mora).
Whether to refresh a sunny day or accompany lunch, you can’t leave Colombia without trying its fruit juices.
Most of the mentioned products are well-known commercial brands. Take the example of chocoramo, which is a chocolate-covered sponge cake under that specific brand. However, in stores or markets, you will find numerous variations of similar snack products, although the ones mentioned in the blog are the most consumed and prominent.