If you are looking for the best Antigua Guatemala cooking class, I’ve got you covered in this article. Taking cooking classes is one of my favorite things to do when I travel. Not only do you have fun, but you get a delicious meal and learn about the local cuisine, which improves the rest of your trip.
I took a cooking class in Antigua Guatemala, during the first few days of my month traveling the country. It turned out to be one of the very best experiences I had in all of Guatemala!
Additionally, as some readers know, I have celiac disease and must travel totally gluten free. I managed to find an incredible cooking school that was already naturally gluten free and knowledgeable about celiac! They can also accommodate other dietary requirements like vegetarian and vegan – read more about it below.
Choosing an Antigua Guatemala Cooking Class
Your first and most important step is choosing your Antigua Guatemala cooking class. Antigua is a pretty touristy city which means there are many cooking schools here. Choosing the right one can be a little overwhelming… at least it was for me!
I did a lot of research before deciding on our cooking school, looking at reviews, prices, menus, frequency, and location.
Some of the main cooking classes in Antigua Guatemala include:
We chose La Tortilla Cooking School because they just seemed like the best of the best in all categories. I reached out to them about working together, and they hosted our cooking class in exchange for this review.
My experience surpassed my expectations, and I’m truly not saying this because we worked with them. I try to take a cooking class in every country I visit and this was honestly one of my favorite cooking classes ever.
And did I mention…. free unlimited wine?!
La Tortilla Cooking School: The Details
La Tortilla Cooking School is a really well-regarded cooking class in Antigua Guatemala. The main reason I loved this cooking class was it had the perfect mix of authenticity and organization. I describe our whole experience in detail below, but I’ll start with the basics.
Cooking class types:
- Basic class: Learn to prepare 5 Guatemalan dishes, including 5 glasses of wine, $45 USD per person.
- Full class (what we did): Learn to prepare 6 Guatemalan dishes, including unlimited wine, $50 USD per person.
- Short class: Learn to prepare 2 Guatemalan dishes, including 2 glasses of wine, $40 USD per person.
- Market tour: Guided tour of the Antigua food market and interactive visit to a tortellleria, can be added on to any cooking class. $15 USD per person.
Cooking classes are offered twice a day, at 10:30am or 4:30pm, and they’re done in a group format so you may be limited based on whatever type of class is being offered that day.
Contact them on WhatsApp to schedule: +502 4168 7068
Dietary Requirements: Gluten Free and More
Another reason I chose La Tortilla Cooking School? They can accommodate dietary requirements!
In fact, this cooking class is 100% gluten free – naturally. They use the traditional, original Guatemalan recipes that are based on corn, not wheat.
These days, a lot of restaurants in Guatemala add wheat flour, bread, or “consommes” to their dishes because it’s cheaper and easier. The original flavor is lost, and of course it’s no longer gluten free and safe for celiacs. That’s one reason I found it challenging eating gluten free in Guatemala.
One time I didn’t struggle? This completely gluten free cooking class. In fact, there was even another celiac in my class! We bonded over how amazing it was to be included in this experience.
Confirm Dietary Requirements During Reservation
When I explained celiac disease and my gluten free requirements over WhatsApp, I was impressed that they already knew all about it. You should definitely confirm over WhatsApp when you make your reservation, though.
La Tortilla Cooking School can also accommodate vegetarian and vegan diets, but be sure to ask about it when you make your reservation.
La Tortilla’s Antigua Guatemala Cooking Class: Our Experience
What I loved about La Tortilla Cooking School was that all the recipes are cooked in the most traditional way, and that’s thanks to chef Sonia, who is a local Guatemalan woman. Sonia led our class and instructed us in everything, helped by Aldo who was her translator!
We did the 4:30pm “full class” with one main dish (pepian) and four side dishes (radish salad, atol blanco, Guatemalan rice, and tortillas), and one dessert (rellenitos de platano).
In addition to Dan and I, our group consisted of two British girls, a Costa Rican couple (one of which also had celiac disease!), and a gentleman from France. It was an international group and we had a lot of fun together!
The first step, after choosing our brightly-colored aprons, was filling up those wine glasses. I’m pretty sure this is the only Antigua Guatemala cooking class with free unlimited wine!
There was both red and white wine. I’m not usually a red wine drinker, but this wine was actually delicious and went with the Guatemalan food really well. I’m sure it also helped everyone loosen up a bit, too!
Preparing the Ingredients
For the first part of the class, Sonia assigned us all ingredients to prepare. We divided the labor but Sonia instructed us all (with Aldo’s translation help) on how all the different ingredients should be prepared.
Dan and I chopped garlic, onion, and radishes, while the others chopped other vegetables, and Sonia roasted the tomatoes and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for the pepian.
Pepian: Guatemala’s National Dish
Our main dish was chicken pepian, which is known as Guatemala’s national dish. I was really excited to try pepian because I love eating traditional local foods when I travel.
Additionally, as I learned from Aldo during the class, it’s nearly impossible to find authentic (gluten free) pepian at most restaurants because these days they often add bread to thicken it, rather than the traditional corn flour.
La Tortilla Cooking School uses the original recipe, which combines roasted tomatoes with toasted pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds, along with roasted vegetables and corn flour into a thick paste full of delicious spices (think chiles, cinnamon, allspice, and more)! This is added to a boiling pot of chicken and other vegetables, to create the yummy stew known as pepian.
One of the side dishes we prepared was a radish salad, which is another traditional dish in Guatemala. I pretty much never eat radishes as home so cooking with them was new to me!
The salad was simple, consisting of radishes, onions, lime, salt, mint, and a bit of jalapeno for flavor. The result was really fresh and perfect accompaniment for the rich pepian.
Atol Blanco: Traditional Guatemalan Drink
While the pepian was boiling away, Sonia taught us how to make atol blanco, which is a traditional Guatemala drink. Atol blanco is made of a base of corn flour and boiling water. The consistency honestly reminded me of porridge, rather than a drink!
In Guatemala, this drink can be served as either sweet (with cinnamon and sugar) or savory (with salt, lime, chile, and ground pumpkin seeds). We each got served two very small cups of atol blanco and added the ingredients to make one sweet and one savory.
Then, we each chose which style we preferred, and got a full cup of our preferred style! Dan (of course) got the sweet one, and I got the savory one (I’m a sucker for salty food… okay?).
This is exactly the kind of thing I would’ve been hesitant to try on the street, but I had the confidence to try it in a cooking class and ended up really liking it!
Our next step was to make corn tortillas! Of course, everyone’s heard of tortillas, but have you ever made them before?
I’d actually had a go at making tortillas a few weeks prior in Granada, Nicaragua, and utterly failed. This was my chance at a comeback!
Sonia showed us how to press the corn dough quickly between the heels of our palms. Obviously, she made it look all too easy and none of our tortillas were up to her standards, haha.
Anyway, we had fun practicing and laughing at everyone’s tortilla attempts!
Rellenitos de Platano
Finally, for dessert we prepared rellenitos de platano. This was my very favorite dish of the cooking class because it is just so unique!
Rellenitos are made of a dough of boiled and mashed plantain, which is then filled with a goopy mixture of chocolate and… refried beans! Yes, beans and chocolate for dessert!
We each filled a few rellenitos ourselves and then fried them. Perfection!
Enjoying our Meal
While the last rellenitos were sizzling away in the pan, we all grabbed our wine glasses, doffed our aprons, and transitioned to the long wooden table for a communal meal.
We passed around the rice, radish salad, pepian, and (wonky) tortillas, and of course with a wine top-up here and there, we had a wonderful dinner all together with our new friends.
We finished things off with the surprisingly delicious plantain/chocolate/bean creations AKA rellenitos.
At the end of the cooking class, we said goodbye to Sonia and Aldo, and headed home through the streets of Antigua. Actually, we accompanied a couple of our new friends back to their hostel, where we gifted them some of our blister bandaids (they were attempting the Acatenango Volcano hike the next day, and had a few blisters that needed tending!).
I know that’s a random tidbit to add to an article about cooking classes in Antigua, but it just shows how quickly you can make friends over pepian (and wine)!
The finishing touch that made me fall in love with La Tortilla Cooking School even more? A day or so after our cooking class, they sent us a list of recipes for all the dishes we made!
The recipes are in a really detailed, well-designed PDF so you shouldn’t have any questions about what step comes where or which ingredients you need.
I’ve gone to plenty of cooking classes in the past that promised to send recipes but then never did, which resulted in me never making those dishes again! So I really, really appreciated this small addition.
Is This the Best Cooking Class in Antigua Guatemala?
Look, I can’t attest to every other Antigua Guatemala cooking class because the only one I took was the one we did at La Tortilla Cooking School! Chances are, you’re only going to sign up for one cooking class, too.
However, having taken many cooking classes around the world, this was one of my favorites ever. So it’s hard to imagine how other cooking classes could easily top it!
What separated this cooking class as top notch was the combination of authenticity with really great organization.
We appreciated that the class was led by Sonia, who spoke in Spanish as she instructed us in the original recipes. Aldo was an efficient and seamless translator, so we always knew what was going on.
The adorable (extremely clean) kitchen, prepped ingredients, good communication, and recipe PDF all added to the experience.
And of course, the fact they were so on-it with dietary restrictions, like celiac disease, was the very best part for me personally.
Taking a cooking class was not only one of the very best things we did in Antigua Guatemala, but also in Guatemala in general!
I highly recommend the “full class” by La Tortilla Cooking School, and if you can add on the market visit I think that would make the experience even more complete.
If you have any questions about visiting Antigua, or traveling with celiac disease, just leave me a comment below!
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Note: La Tortilla Cooking School hosted us in exchange for this review. I approached them about working together after doing our research on the best cooking classes in Antigua Guatemala! As always, all opinions are my own.