A Taste of Tradition: Canarian Cuisine Explored

The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago located off the coast of Africa, with Tenerife being one of its most popular destinations.

One of the hallmarks of Canarian culture is its cuisine, which is a unique blend of indigenous Guanche, Spanish, and African influences.

The food of the Canary Islands is characterized by its simplicity, freshness, and use of local ingredients. Canarian cuisine is known for its unique flavors and dishes that have been passed down from generation to generation. In this article, we will take a closer look at Canarian cuisine, its history, ingredients, and techniques, as well as highlight some of the must-try local dishes.

Whether you’re a foodie or just looking to try something new, Canarian cuisine is a must-try when visiting Tenerife, or any of the other islands in the archipelago.

The history of the Canarian cuisine

The Canary Islands have a rich and diverse history that has influenced its cuisine. Canarian cuisine is a blend of indigenous Guanche culture, Spanish colonialism, and other culinary influences.

The Guanches were the indigenous people of the Canary Islands before the Spanish arrived in the 15th century. Their diet was primarily based on meat, fish, and vegetables, and they used a unique cooking technique called gofio, which is still widely used in Canarian cuisine today. Gofio is a flour made from toasted grains, and it was used by the Guanches to make bread, stews, and desserts.

Spanish colonialism had a significant impact on Canarian food, with the Spanish introducing new ingredients such as potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers. The potato, in particular, became a staple ingredient in Canarian cuisine and is used in many traditional dishes. The Spanish also brought with them their cooking techniques and recipes, which were adapted to the local ingredients and flavors.

Other culinary influences on Canarian cuisine come from Africa and Latin America. The Canary Islands served as a stopping point for ships traveling between Europe and the Americas, and as a result, Canarian cuisine has been influenced by African and Latin American flavors and ingredients.

Ingredients and Techniques

Canarian cuisine relies heavily on local ingredients and simple cooking techniques. Many of the dishes are prepared using the same basic ingredients, such as potatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic, which are readily available and grown locally. Here are some of the key ingredients and techniques used in Canarian cuisine:


  • Potatoes: Potatoes are a staple ingredient in Canarian cuisine and are used in a variety of dishes, from papas arrugadas con mojo to ropa vieja.
  • Peppers: Peppers, both red and green, are used in many Canarian dishes, particularly in sauces like mojo.
  • Gofio: Gofio is a flour made from toasted grains and is used in a variety of dishes, including bread, stews, and desserts.
  • Fish and Seafood: With its proximity to the ocean, the Canary Islands are known for their fresh fish and seafood, which are often used in dishes like gofio escaldado and paella.
  • Meat: Beef, pork, and rabbit are commonly used meats in Canarian cuisine, often in stews or slow-cooked dishes.
  • Local cheeses: The Canary Islands are home to a variety of unique cheeses, such as queso de flor, which is made from goat’s milk and aged in caves.


  • Gofio: Gofio is a key ingredient in many Canarian dishes and is used to thicken stews and soups, as well as to make bread and desserts.
  • Slow Cooking: Many Canarian dishes, such as conejo en salmorejo and ropa vieja, are slow-cooked over low heat to allow the flavors to meld together.
  • Saltwater Boiling: Papas arrugadas con mojo is a signature dish of Canarian cuisine, and the small potatoes used in the dish are boiled in salt water until they become wrinkled and tender.
  • Mojo Sauces: Mojo sauces are an essential part of Canarian cuisine, and they are made using a combination of peppers, garlic, and oil. The red mojo sauce is typically spicier, while the green mojo sauce is milder and often includes coriander.
  • Grilling: Grilling is a popular cooking technique in the Canary Islands, particularly for fish and meat dishes. The grilled fish is often served simply with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.

Local Canarian food you have to try

One of the most famous dishes in Canarian cuisine is papas arrugadas con mojo. This dish consists of small, wrinkly potatoes boiled in salt water and served with two types of sauce, red mojo, and green mojo. The red mojo is made with red peppers, garlic, and oil, while the green mojo is made with green peppers, coriander, and oil. Papas arrugadas con mojo is a staple dish in Canarian cuisine and can be found in almost every restaurant and household in the Canary Islands.

Another traditional dish in Canarian cuisine is gofio escaldado, which is made by mixing gofio with fish or meat broth and adding vegetables. The resulting mixture is then cooked over low heat until it thickens. Gofio escaldado is a hearty and filling dish that has been eaten in the Canary Islands for centuries.

Conejo en salmorejo is another traditional Canarian dish that is made with rabbit, garlic, onions, peppers, and red wine. The ingredients are combined and slow-cooked until the rabbit is tender and flavorful. Conejo en salmorejo is a popular dish in the Canary Islands, particularly on the island of Gran Canaria.

Ropa vieja is a stew made with chickpeas, beef, pork, and vegetables. The dish is slow-cooked until the meat is tender and falls apart. Ropa vieja is a hearty and flavorful dish that is often served with potatoes or rice.

Puchero Canario is a traditional Canary Islands stew made with a variety of meats, vegetables, and chickpeas. The stew is often served with potatoes and gofio, making it a filling and satisfying meal.

Bienmesabe is a traditional Canarian dessert made with ground almonds, sugar, eggs, and lemon. The ingredients are combined and cooked until the mixture thickens, and it is then served cold with cinnamon and whipped cream.

Queso de Flor is a type of cheese that is unique to the Canary Islands. It is made from goat’s milk and is aged in a cave, giving it a distinctive flavor and texture.

Canarian cuisine is a unique blend of indigenous, Spanish, African, and Latin American influences. The use of local ingredients, simple cooking techniques, and unique flavor profiles make Canarian cuisine a must-try for anyone visiting the Canary Islands. From papas arrugadas con mojo to bienmesabe, there are plenty of delicious dishes to discover and enjoy.


In conclusion, Canarian cuisine is a rich and diverse culinary tradition that has been shaped by centuries of history, culture, and geography. From the indigenous Guanche influences to the later Spanish and Portuguese influences, Canarian cuisine has developed a unique identity that is characterized by the use of local ingredients and simple cooking techniques.

The history of Canarian cuisine is deeply rooted in the island’s past, with each dish reflecting a particular moment in its history. From the gofio-based dishes that were popular among the Guanches to the stews and soups that were eaten by the island’s early settlers, Canarian cuisine tells a story of the people who have inhabited the islands for centuries.

The use of local ingredients and simple cooking techniques is a hallmark of Canarian cuisine, and the island’s chefs have turned these humble ingredients into delicious and flavorful dishes. Whether you’re a fan of seafood, meat, or vegetarian dishes, there’s something for everyone in Canarian cuisine.

Overall, Canarian cuisine is a testament to the island’s rich cultural heritage and its commitment to preserving its culinary traditions. If you have the opportunity to visit the Canary Islands, be sure to indulge in some of the delicious and unique dishes that the island has to offer.

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Daniel Carlbom
I love to travel and explore the world with my family. When I'm not traveling, time is usually spent enjoying time with my wife and kids at home, playing with the dogs, or roaming around with a camera.

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