The Best Foods to Try in the North of Argentina

Corn field in Tilcara, Jujuy.
Corn field in Tilcara, Jujuy. | © Pam Flores-Lowry
Photo of Pam Flores-Lowry
18 June 2018

Argentina has a wide variety of dishes — it’s not all just asados and picadas. In fact, each Argentinean region has its own traditional cuisine. While the north of Argentina is famous for its empanadas, there are so many other unique dishes. Here are some of the most traditional dishes from the north of Argentina that you should try next time you visit places such as Jujuy, Salta, or Tucumán.


Salta and Jujuy are renowned for their empanadas. They can be fried or baked and filled with beef, chicken, llama jerky, or ham and cheese. You can find them at restaurants, bakeries, and on the street, though both tourists and locals particularly enjoy empanadas that they buy at stalls or from norteños selling them in baskets. In the north of Argentina, some people like to add extra spice by preparing a hot sauce that they pour inside the empanada after their first bite.

Empanadas | © Madeleine Deaton / Flickr


This is a delicious dish of Amerindian origin. Tamales are usually prepared with corn flour filled with meat from the head of a pig or cow, eggs, potatoes, green onions, peppers, and paprika. A traditional tamal is made of boiled meat that disintegrates into small “threads.” The filling is then wrapped in corn husks, and the preparation varies in different regions and countries of Latin America. In Salta and Jujuy, the tamal has a round shape that makes it look like a big wrapped candy; in Tucumán, it’s wrapped like a little square. This traditional dish has its own National Celebration in Chicoana, Salta in July.

Tamales are wrapped like candies. | © Linda Paul / Flickr

Humitas, steamed fresh corn cakes

The word humita can refer to an empanada filling with corn or to a completely separate dish itself. The humita dish consists of steamed fresh corn cakes made from a mixture of ground corn, eggs, goat cheese, onion, garlic, and cream. The mixture is then wrapped into corn husks, and smaller husks are broken into long strips to tie around the humitas before steaming them. These corn cakes can be sweet or salty, but they always have goat cheese inside. Though humitas may seem pretty similar to Argentinean tamales, the main difference is the use of goat cheese and the way they are wrapped.


A perfect dish for winter, locro is a thick stew popular in the Andes mountain range made with different types of meat such as beef, pork, Italian sausage, and bacon. It’s similar to a soup prepared with a lot of pumpkin, beans, corn and potatoes. Locro is usually accompanied by a spicy sauce made of fried green onions and red pepper.

Locro from Salta served with its traditional sauce on top. | © Miguel Vieira / Flickr


Anchi is a dessert that can be served cold or lukewarm. It’s prepared with boiled water, corn flour, sugar, and a lot of lemon juice. The main ingredient in this popular dessert is the same corn flour that’s used to make polenta. In Salta, dried fruits are added to anchi, such as raisins, dried peaches, or nuts. Sometimes a little bit of honey is also mixed with this dish.


Kalapurca is a traditional dish from the Andes mountain range, and is popular in Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile. This special soup varies from country to country. In the north of Argentina, kalapurca is prepared with crushed red pepper, onions, beef jerky, corn, potatoes, and tomatoes. Before serving the soup, stones are preheated in embers. The stones are then placed inside the soup, giving a unique toasted flavor to the dish. It’s like real life stone soup!

Chayote marmalade

Chayote Marmalade, or dulce de chayote, is a popular marmalade in the northern region, also known as “golden treat.” Many people make it at home, but it can also be purchased. Restaurants often offer small chayote empanadas. Chayote is an edible fruit that has the shape of a pear and has a crunchy, sweet flavor. The marmalade is made with the fruit, cloves, and sugar.

Chayote is the main fruit used to make marmalade. | © Pam Flores-Lowry

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