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Like in many Latino families, holidays are a big deal in our home, and they all center around food. The holiday dinner table--whether it's Thanksgiving, Noche Buena or Christmas Day-- is always overflowing with delicious foods. And being that my siblings, cousins and I were fourth generation, by the time we were children, our holiday gatherings always featured traditional American and Puerto Rican dishes, from pavo and pernil to arroz con gandules and macaroni and cheese.

More from MamásLatinas: 10 Traditional Latin desserts to celebrate Christmas!

Everybody had their favorites. And these days when we gather for the holidays we make sure to include the best from both cultures in our meals. The Latino dishes always add a bit of extra flavor and make the meal a lot more interesting and totally satisfying. Plus, they make for excellent leftovers the rest of the week.

Latin and Latin-inspired side dishes are perfect for filling out your holiday meal. You can include traditional Latin holiday menu items or just your favorites that you eat any time of the year. Click through our gallery for some ideas to get you started, including several sweets, because we all have that one uncle that piles dinner and dessert on the same plate.

Start off with a bowl of Colombian ajiaco. 1

Start off with a bowl of Colombian ajiaco.

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Lots of people start Thanksgiving off with a hearty, seasonal soup. Colombian ajiaco is full of corn and root veggies, so it totally fits the bill.

Get the full recipe from Fork in the Road.

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Arroz con gandules is a classic holiday side. 2

Arroz con gandules is a classic holiday side.

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Puerto Rican arroz con gandules is a traditional Christmas dish, but it makes an appearance at pretty much every holiday meal in my home.

Get the full recipe from El Boricua.

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Arroz con dulce is another holiday staple. 3

Arroz con dulce is another holiday staple.

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On the sweeter side, arroz con dulce which is basically rice pudding spiced with cinnamon and sweetened with raisins is a delicious way to end a holiday meal.

Get the full recipe from Goya.

Make pao de queijo instead of standard dinner rolls. 4

Make pao de queijo instead of standard dinner rolls.

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Instead of those store-bought take-and-bake dinner rolls that appear on many holiday dinner tables, treat your family to some Brazilian cheese bread.

Get the full recipe from Our Best Bites.

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Serve some pumpkin on the side. 5

Serve some pumpkin on the side.

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Calabaza or pumpkin is pretty common in Latin cuisine and it makes an awesome holiday side dish. Try it simply grilled or roasted with seasonal herbs.

Get the full recipe from iCuban.

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Chicharrón is a tasty and addictive starter. 6

Chicharrón is a tasty and addictive starter.

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Simple fried chicharrón or pork rinds is a tasty way to tide everyone over until the full meal is ready.

Get the full recipe from Dominican Cooking.

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Try Mexican Christmas salad this year. 7

Try Mexican Christmas salad this year.

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Mexican Christmas salad is full of beautiful fruits and vegetables like beets, jicama, oranges and apples and totally highlights the bounty of the season.

Get the full recipe from Curious Cuisiniere.

Sweeten things up with Colombian buñuelos. 8

Sweeten things up with Colombian buñuelos.

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Colombians typically eat buñuelos during the Christmas season.  They are a lightly sweetened, cheesy fritter that is typically dipped in melted chocolate. How could you go wrong?

Get the full recipe from My Colombian Recipes.

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Or you can try the Mexican version. 9

Or you can try the Mexican version.

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Mexican-style buñuelos are actually quite different from their Colombian counterpart. Though they are still fried dough, they are flat and crispy, don't have any cheese in them and are dusted in cinnamon sugar. Yum!

Get the full recipe from Muy Bueno.

Jazz up standard cornbread with some Latin ingredients. 10

Jazz up standard cornbread with some Latin ingredients.

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Cornbread is pretty standard holiday fare in some parts of the U.S., but versions of it are actually common in Latin America as well. Mash up the the two by adding jalapeño and cotija cheese to your holiday batch.

Find the full recipe on MamásLatinas.

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Make Latin corn pudding instead of the American version. 11

Make Latin corn pudding instead of the American version.

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In America, corn pudding is typically served as a Thanksgiving side, but it's also a popular dish throughout Latin America. However, the Latin version is smooth, creamy and spiced with cinnamon unlike the more savory American version.

Get the full recipe from Dominican Cooking.

Cranberry sauce is the perfect vehicle for Latin spices. 12

Cranberry sauce is the perfect vehicle for Latin spices.

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Cranberry sauce is the perfect complement to any holiday meal, but it doesn't have to be basic. Add some chipotle, mango, pineapple and chiles and you're good to go.

Get the full recipe from Latino Food.

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Upgrade your corn on the cob. 13

Upgrade your corn on the cob.

Corn on the cob is pretty common on Thanksgiving, but it can be a little boring year after year. Switch things up a bit by serving flavorful elote--corn smeared with crema and spinkled with cheese and lime.

Get the full recipe from Oh Sweet Basil.

Puerto Rican pastelillos are a crowd-pleaser. 14

Puerto Rican pastelillos are a crowd-pleaser.

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Make a batch of Puerto Rican pastelillos (similar to empanadas) for the holidays, and we guarantee you'll get request for them year after year. The ground beef version is a classic and a great addition to any meal.

Get the full recipe from The Noshery.

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There's a sweet version too. 15

There's a sweet version too.

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Sweet, dessert empanadas are so tasty! They are typically filled with guava jam or paste with or without cheese, but the options are pretty much up to your imagination.

Get the full recipe from Dominican Cooking.

Offer up some Brazilian-style flan. 16

Offer up some Brazilian-style flan.

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Flan is a classic Latin dessert and makes an appearance at lots of holiday meals. It's actually a lot simpler than it seems. Try this Brazilian version.

Get the full recipe from Olivia's Cuisine.

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Warm everyone up with a bowl of pozole. 17

Warm everyone up with a bowl of pozole.

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Mexican pozole is a pretty common addition to a holiday meal. Soup is always a delicious starter, especially during the cool months! The green version is full of chicken and tasty veggies.

Get the full recipe from Mama Latina Tips.

Pozole rojo is another great option. 18

Pozole rojo is another great option.

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Red pozole is another variation to consider. It's made with pork and has a deeper, earthier flavor.

Get the full recipe from Mexico in My Kitchen.

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More fried dough! 19

Hojuelas are another Christmas treat from Colombia. This fried dough is accented with orange juice and orange zest and great for snacking throughout the day.

Get the full recipe from My Colombian Recipes.

Take stuffed peppers to another level. 20

Take stuffed peppers to another level.

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These kale and buttenut squash stuffed poblano peppers are packed with seasonal ingredients and full of rich flavor.

Get the full recipe from Latino Foodie.

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Mofongo will shine on your holiday table. 21

Mofongo will shine on your holiday table.

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It may be a bit labor intensive, but Puerto Rican mofongo stuffed with chicharrón, chicken or shrimp will be the star of any holiday dinner. So much flavor!

Get the full recipe from Food So Good Mall.

Latinize those mashed potatoes. 22

Latinize those mashed potatoes.

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Everybody loves mashed potatoes, but it's nice to spice things up every so often. Instead of regular mash, whip up a batch of Ecuadorian molo for the holidays. It's mashed potatoes flavored with garlic, onions, achiote, queso fresco and lots of butter.

Get the full recipe from Laylita.

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Tamales are a must. 23

Tamales are a must.

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In Mexico, it's not Christmas without tamales. Make a big batch filled with chicken or pork ahead of time and serve some up with every holiday meal.

Get the full recipe from How to Feed a Loon.

 

Sweet tamales are special treat. 24

Sweet tamales are special treat.

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Lesser known sweet tamales are also served around the holidays. They are flavored with cinnamon, vanilla and raisins and sweetened with condensed milk.

Get the full recipe from Mariachi Los Muertos.

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Or try pasteles for a Caribbean twist. 25

Or try pasteles for a Caribbean twist.

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In Puerto Rico, pasteles are standard Christmas fare. They are very similar to tamales, but the dough is made with plantains instead of corn.

Get the full recipe from Average Guy Gourmet.

There is also a yuca version. 26

Though less common, pasteles can also be made with yuca instead of plaintain. The texture and flavor are a little different, but they are just as delicious. This chicken version looks amazing.

Get the full recipe from Dominican Cooking.

 

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Kids will love Argentinean pan dulce. 27

Kids will love Argentinean pan dulce.

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The pan dulce commonly served at Christmas in Argentina is similar to Italian panettone. The yeast-based bread is eggy, rich and tender, and is filled with spices, dried fruits and nuts.

Get the full recipe from Vamo Spanish.

Pastelón can replace the standard casserole. 28

Why settle for a boring casserole when you can have pastelón instead? This savory layered dish of sweet plantains, ground beef and cheese is always a winner.

Get the full recipe from The Noshery.

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Make more flavorful potato salad. 29

Throughout Latin America a dish known as "Russian potato salad" is pretty common on special occasions. It's potato salad with carrots, apples and peas and it's really yummy.

Get the full recipe from Dominican Cooking.

Go traditional with Chrsitmas ponche. 30

In Guatemala, homemade fruit punch is a crowd-pleaser. It's technically it's a beverage but each cup is served with a heaping of the fruit the juice simmers with, so it's kind of a snack too. It can be served with or without rum and hot or cold.

Get the full recipe from Antigua Daily Photo.