Doral, FL — Just like most Americans stir fry in their woks without giving a thought to “cooking Asian”, the Hispanic influence in the mainstream American kitchen is on the rise.  In virtually every supermarket category, shoppers can find offerings with a Hispanic flair, including Hispanic cookware, a relatively new and growing non-food category for supermarkets.

With 41 million Latinos living in the US, and Latin food and beverage sales projected to increase from $5.7 billion in 2006 to nearly $8.4 billion in 2011, Manuel Gaunaurd, president of IMUSA, a leading brand of Hispanic cookware, is not surprised in the dramatic increase in sales of cookware and tools to cook Latin fare.

“Suddenly a comal (a griddle pan), a caldero (a Dutch oven) and a tamalera (a stock pot and steamer primarily used for making tamales) are becoming mainstream,” says Gaunaurd.

Latin cooks tend to have an extensive collection of cookware, including pieces that might not be found in the typical American kitchen. As this trend in Hispanic foods and tradition expands, mainstream cooks who want to make authentic Hispanic cuisine part of their everyday cooking will be interested in a recent study of Hispanic cooking and cookware.

What’s for Dinner?
While the typical Latin cook’s hand stirs arroz con pollo on the stove, her feet are firmly planted, one in each culture, according to Inteligencia Research.

Her meals are most likely made from scratch and are a traditional dish from her country of origin, according to the Florida-based research firm that talked to Latin women who were the main meal preparers across the country.  Here’s what they found:

• Most Latin women are cooking full meals five days a week, some several times a day, which is more often than their general market counterparts (83% of those surveyed also work outside the home).
• Nearly two-thirds of Latinas favor the idea of buying cookware in sets
• They’re cooking for four or more people as more than one generation could be living under one roof.
• They believe preparing home made meals play a major role in being a good wife and mother and they get an emotional boost from doing so.
• Good nutrition is a critical motivator for preparing home cooked meals.  Mom can be sure of her meal because she knows what goes into it.
• Latina cooks make mostly traditional dishes from their home country and rice is a centerpiece or staple in the majority of these dishes. There is an effort to vary the menu with preparation of beans, tortillas, soups, chili peppers, marinated meats, chaquiles and other dishes.

What Are They Cooking It In?
Latin cooks tend to have an extensive collection of cookware, including many pieces that might not be found in a typical American kitchen and prefer cookware that is especially designed for Hispanic fare.  Latin cooks typically have four regular pots and pans, four calderos (or stock pots) of varying sizes, two tamaleras (or ollas) of varying sizes, a tortilla maker and an electric rice maker.

“You can do it all. You can make stew cook rice, roast and even fry an egg and it will not stick,” one study participant explained.

If you’re pursuing Latin authenticity in your kitchen, you might want to consider the following cookware pieces.

calderoCALDERO: Similar to a Dutch oven in its versatility, they are used primarily as a rice and beans maker.   Hispanic cooks will have as many as four calderos in varying sizes and prefer those made of cast aluminum. Most Hispanic women in the study wouldn’t think of making rice and beans in anything else, but it’s also used to make everything from soups, spaghetti and roasts, to fried recipes and for browning.

Cast aluminum is the preferred material because it gets seasoned with use.  A seasoned caldero is as personal to a Hispanic cook as a baseball mitt is to a ball player. Nearly two in five (43%) surveyed said they use one “nearly every day.”

tamaleraOLLA TAMALERA: This is used as a stock pot or sauce pot, but unlike a caldero, it is not used for fried recipes. Women of Mexican descent mainly use an olla for aking tamales and call it a “tamalera.” Typically two tamaleras in different sizes are kept on hand.   A Tamalera can be very large (12-21 qt.)

The olla is also a stock pot to  make sancocho, a stew-like dish that is usually made in quite large batches.


COMAL: The comal is rounded griddle that is quite versatile for frying. It is commonly used by Mexican American women to warm tortillas, cook pancakes and to sauté meats and other foods. It is typically made of cast iron, cast aluminum or carbon steel for even heating.

ELECTRIC RICE MAKER: Some Hispanic women use electric rice makers to make large quantities of rice or to keep the rice warm for a period of time.  But most women in the study said that rice is not as tasty when made in an electric rice maker as opposed to a sauce pan or caldero.

Hispanic cooks also utilize these items found in many American kitchens as well:

Frying pan/sarten: In addition to fried dishes, the “sarten” as it is called in Spanish may be used as a griddle and women in the study preferred a non-stick surface for quick clean-up. Women of Mexican descent may make rice or noodles in a frying pan as this is their cooking custom.

Pressure cookers: The women in the study who use pressure cookers consider them to be versatile and convenient. They are thought to cook beans to perfection and meat is said to come out juicy and tender.

Offering a full range of cookware, gadgets and accessories and serving items to make Latin cuisine at home, IMUSA housewares products are available nationwide at supermarkets nationally including Ralphs, Frys, Kroger, Winn Dixie,  Food Lion, Food Depot, Shop Rite, Petes Supermarkets, Sedanos Supermarkets in Florida, and Compare Supermarkets on the East Coast, specialty, and mass merchant retailers including Target and Wal-Mart.