Guatemala Independence Day

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with one of our favorite Guatemalan dish; Guatemalan enchiladas! Did you know that Guatemala gained its independence on September 15, 1821? It was a long process filled with different conflicts and moments of uncertainty for the native people. There were several brief periods during which Guatemala was ruled by an outside party or individual before gaining permanent independence. After much struggle, Guatemala gained its independence from Spain with the help of Mexican forces. Since then, September 15 has been celebrated as a national holiday in commemoration of the day when Guatemala became an independent country. In celebration of its independence, we are sharing our ultimate favorite Guatemalan recipe with you. We hope you enjoy it!

What about the culture of Guatemala

Guatemalan cuisine is a fusion of Spanish and Maya indigenous cultures. This mixture of ingredients resulted in dishes with a unique flavor and plenty of cultural significance.

If you know anything about Guatemala, you probably have heard or seen two of the most popular foods; tamales and pupusas. You may also know that there's a long standing disagreement of the origin of pupusas. Salvadorians claim it as their own but if you are Guatemalan, you will never agree with such claim. We will address the real origin of pupusas in another blog, but for now, just wanted you to know that pupusas are also claimed by Guatemalans. 

And though tamales and pupusas are traditional dishes in Guatemala, we will be sharing another important staple in the Guatemalan kitchen. 

Guatemalan Tamales

Our favorite guatemalan recipe on independence day: Enchiladas

During the entire month of September, Guatemalans celebrate their Independence day with many marches, festivals and of course, lots of traditional food. We want to share our ultimate favorite dish. These are not your typical cheesy enchiladas, these are similar to a tostada but packed with so much more flavor. Piled high with a “curtido” of pickled beets, spring vegetables, and dried farmers’ cheese, the Guatemalan Enchilada is a culinary canvas of texture and tradition.

Guatemalan enchiladas are a traditional Guatemalan dish and one of my family's favorite meal. We often have enchiladas once a month on on special occasions. Made with flavorful ground beef and piled high with veggies, Guatemalan enchiladas are our favorite traditional food to share with family and friends on special occasion. 

In Guatemala, everyone makes these enchiladas a little different and every family has their own slightly different recipe, specially when it comes to how to prepare the vegetable salad. One of the main incredients for this recipe are the beets. We know that beets are not that popular but I promise you, you will end up loving beets after you try these Guatemalan enchiladas.

The key to this recipe is the beet salad or escabeche as this is what gives this dish it's unique flavor. You can modify your beet salad as you wish to make this your own version of enchiladas. Enchiladas are assembled over a crunchy tostada, a crispy baked or fried corn tortilla which you can make at home or get at the supermarket. Over the tostada you layer the following in this order: fresh lettuce, then comes the ground or shredded beef with is topped with the vegetable escabeche. Finally you drizzle the Guatemalan enchilada with a smooth tomato based sauce and top it off with a slice of hard boiled egg, fresh cilantro and Queso fresco or other hard crumbly cheese like Feta. 

We have to warn you, that first, irresistible, crunchy bite will make or break it—no, literally, the delicious tostada vessel sometimes cracks, leaving your fingers stained beet-red and your plate a mess of enchilada toppings (which, when nobody is looking, you will probably lick clean.) At its simplest, it is a messy finger-food, but this unique enchilada dish is also exciting, vibrant, and celebratory.

Sharing these Guatemalan enchiladas is truly a symbol of love in my family. They are made with heart, and it is a privilege to enjoy them. This recipe is passed down from generation to generation. Today, I feel honored and ecstatic to learn from my mom and grandma, and share my family’s recipe with you all. Enjoy!

Enchiladas - The Chapin Way

  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Total: 1 hour 10 mins
  • Yield: 10 Enchiladas


  • 1 lb groud beef
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 eggs, hard boiled and cut into slices
  • ¼ cup queso fresco
  • 1 package of corn tortillas
  • 10 lettuce leaves
  • ½ lb green beans, chopped
  • 3 small carrots
  • 2 cups of green peas
  • 4 beets
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 laurel leaves
  • 1/2 cup of white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Guatemalan Enchiladas


Step 1


  1. Place beets in a saucepan covered with salted water to taste. Full Disclosure: you can also purchase 2 cans of beets - you'll have to slice them into smaller pieces but it's way easier and more convenient.  
  2. Add 1 tsp of vinegar.
  3. Boil until tender about 40 minutes.
  4. Drain and run cold water over beets.
  5. Cut beets into small squares.
  6. Place 4 cups of water in a large saucepan.
  7. Add the green beans, carrots, green peas, and bay leaf.
  8. Bring water to a boil and cook vegetables until soft (don’t overcook as you still want some crunch).
  9. Let the vegetables cook and then chop the green beans and carrots into small pieces.
  10. Mix the vegetables and beets together.
  11. Add thyme and laurel to the mixture as well as the vinegar and one tablespoon of olive oil.
  12. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 2


  1. Chop 1 tomato and half of one onion.
  2. Place a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add one tablespoon of olive oil.
  4. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, add the tomato and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes until softened.
  5. Remove 2/3 of the tomato and onion mixture from the saucepan and set aside.
  6. Leave the remaining 1/3 of the mixture in the saucepan and add the one more tablespoon of olive oil and the ground beef.
  7. Saute until beef is browned, about 10 minutes.

Step 3


  1. Place half of the onion and two tomatoes on a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Cook until tomatoes are soft.
  3. Remove tomatoes and onion from the heat, drain and let the vegetables cool.
  4. Remove the skin from the tomato.
  5. Place tomatoes and onion in a blender and blend until smooth.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Step 4


  1. To assemble the enchiladas place a lettuce leaf on the tostada, add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable salad on top of the lettuce leaf, add a couple of tablespoons of ground meat, top with one slice of hard boiled egg, drizzle a tablespoon of tomato sauce and sprinkle with cheese and fresh parsley. Viola! We hope you enjoy this Guatemalan recipe!

Guatemalan Enchiladas
Guatemalan Enchiladas
Angelica Reyes-Johnsen