Bacalaitos (Puerto Rican Salt Cod Fritters)

Crispy fried bacalaitos are a classic Puerto Rican street food loaded with salt cod, sofrito, peppers, onions and spices.

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Crispy fried bacalaitos are a classic Puerto Rican street food made with a fried flour-based batter loaded with salt cod, sofrito, peppers, onions and spices.

Bacalaitos (Puerto Rican Salt Cod Fritters)

Puerto Rico, with its vibrant culture and rich history, has gifted the world with a variety of delectable dishes that showcase the island’s unique flavors. One such culinary delight that captures the essence of Puerto Rican cuisine is the beloved Bacalaitos. These crispy, golden fritters, made with salted codfish, have become a staple in the hearts and homes of many Puerto Ricans, and their popularity extends to those who appreciate the diverse world of global cuisine.

The Origin of Bacalaitos

The roots of Bacalaitos trace back to the fusion of indigenous Taíno, Spanish, African, and Caribbean influences that define Puerto Rican culture. Bacalaitos, or codfish fritters, were introduced to the island by Spanish explorers and settlers who brought the preserved fish with them during their voyages. Over time, Puerto Rican cooks infused their own creativity and flavors into the dish, making it a unique and cherished part of the island’s culinary landscape. Now, you’ll find these delicios fritters at roadside and beachside stands, like the famous kiosks of Luquillo.

Bacalaitos (Puerto Rican Salt Cod Fritters)

What Ingredients Are In Bacalaitos?

The key ingredient in Bacalaitos is salted codfish, which is soaked to remove excess salt and rehydrate the fish. The cod is then combined with a flavorful batter made from a mixture of flour, water, baking powder, and various spices. Common seasonings include garlic, cilantro, and sometimes a hint of achiote for color. The resulting batter is thick and well-seasoned, creating a perfect canvas for the salted cod.

How To Make Bacalaitos

Preparing Bacalaitos is a labor of love that requires attention to detail and a commitment to achieving the perfect balance of flavors and textures. Once the batter is ready, small portions are carefully dropped into hot oil, creating crispy, golden fritters. The frying process imparts a delightful crunch to the exterior while keeping the inside moist and flavorful.

Bacalaitos (Puerto Rican Salt Cod Fritters)

What To Serve With Bacalaitos

Bacalaitos are often served as a popular street food snack or appetizer, enjoyed during family gatherings, festivals, and celebrations. They are commonly served with a side of mayoketchup, a traditional Puerto Rican sauce made mayonnaise, ketchup and fresh grated garlic. This zesty accompaniment enhances the overall experience, adding a burst of freshness to the savory goodness of these fried delicacies.

Puerto Rican Bacalaitos are not just a dish; they are a celebration of the island’s history, resilience, and rich culinary heritage. These crispy delights have found a special place in the hearts of Puerto Ricans and continue to be a source of pride and joy for those who appreciate the diverse and flavorful world of global cuisine. So, whether you’re exploring the streets of San Juan or recreating the magic in your own kitchen, Bacalaitos are a culinary journey worth taking.

Bacalaitos (Puerto Rican Salt Cod Fritters)

Crispy fried bacalaitos are a classic Puerto Rican street food made with a fried flour-based batter loaded with salt cod, sofrito, peppers, onions and spices.

Course Snack
Cuisine Puerto Rican
Keyword bacalaitos, fish fritters
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6
Author Delish D’Lites


  • ½ pound salted codfish desalinated
  • ½ cup bacalao cooking water reserved
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • ¼ cup diced bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp sofrito
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking powder optional, don't use if you want flat bacalaitos
  • 1 tsp sazón con culantro y achiote
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • pinch black pepper
  • ½ cup cold water plus more as needed
  • neutral oil for frying


  1. In a wide frying pan, preheat 2 inches of cooking oil to 350°F over medium-high heat.

  2. Set a cooling rack set over a sheetpan to drain the fried bacalaitos on later.

Prepare the Bacalaito Batter

  1. Rinse the excess salt off the codfish and place into a stock pot. Add enough water to fully submerge the fish, and cook on a simmer for 20-30 minutes. Don't boil it, or your pot will bubble over.

  2. Once the fish is tender, reserve 1/2 cup in a measuring cup, then drain the fish and rinse it off with cold water. Pull the cooked codfish apart into smaller chunks, and make sure to remove any bones.

  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder (if using) sazón, oregano, and black pepper. Stir the ingredients together with a whisk to distribute them evenly.

  4. Add the sofrito, peppers, onions into the flour mixture.

  5. Combine the cold water with the reserved cooking water from the bacalao. Add anywhere from 1/2 to 2/3 cup of this water to the flour mixture, whisking slowly until a batter forms. The more water you add, the thinner the fritters will be once they're fried.

  6. Using a rubber spatula, fold the fish into the batter just until evenly combined. You want it to be the consistency of loose pancake batter. Don't overmix.

Fry the Bacalaitos

  1. Once the oil reaches 350°F (182°C), scoop a spoonful of the batter up with your kitchen spoon. Bring the spoon to the surface of the hot oil and "lay" it into the oil, spreading the batter with the back of your spoon.

  2. Fry the first “test” bacalaito for 3 minutes, then use a pair of tongs to flip it to the other side.
  3. Fry it for another 3-4 minutes or until it is a deep golden brown and crisp. Taste this bacalaito. Adjust the seasoning/consistency of the rest of the batter as needed.
  4. Once your bacalaito batter tastes how you like, continue frying the batter until you've used it all up.

  5. Transfer the fried bacalaitos to the cooling rack. Serve hot.

Recipe Video

Bacalaitos (Puerto Rican Salt Cod Fritters)


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I’m Jannese, Founder of Delish D’lites

I’m a Puerto Rican girl living in paradise (Florida), and the creative mind behind Delish D’Lites. I love sharing my family recipes and travel inspired cuisine! My favorite things include collecting passport stamps, twerking to Latin music, and kissing puppies. Follow along on social.