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What’s a Seco? Seco de Pollo, Carne, Chivo in Ecuador

One of the cultural dishes you’ll find on most menus in Ecuador is the seco. Have you tried it? I’ve tried a few different kinds, and I like them all.


What’s a Seco? Seco de Pollo, Carne, Chivo…

A seco is a stewed meat dish, usually served with rice, a few pieces of avocado, some fried plantain, maybe some beans, and a small salad. It’s delicious!

There are a number of different kinds of seco: chicken, beef, lamb and cow stomach. A restaurant will usually serve a few different kinds on the same day.

The only kind I haven’t tried is cow stomach. I’m not a fan of cow stomach. And I’m not really sure if it is a true seco, but we’ve been offered it as one.


  • Chicken = Seco de pollo
  • Beef = Seco de carne
  • Goat = Seco de chivo
  • Cow Stomach = Seco de guatita
  • Lamb = Seco de borrego or seco de cordero

Seco is usually an inexpensive and filling option. It’s very flavorful and the meat is tender because it’s been stewed.

We find it funny that this dish is called a seco because in Spanish seco means dry, but the meat is served with the stew sauce. We asked a friend why they are called secos, and she said it’s because they are made with a mix of dry seasonings.

As with most Ecuador food secos are not spicy, which I like because I don’t like spicy hot food. It usually comes with a side of hot sauce, and sometimes some popcorn.

My favorite seco is the lamb meat seco. Where I had it, it was called seco do chivo (which actually means goat) but we were told they made it with lamb. It has a unique flavor, slightly different than the beef.

Hungry for even more? Check out our huge guide to the best food in Ecuador.

Here is a wonderful-looking recipe (I haven’t tried it yet) for the lamb seco. There are lots of other great Ecuador food recipes on that site as well, enjoy!

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Your Turn

Have you tried this traditional dish? What did you think? Please share by commenting on this post.

John Birkett

Monday 23rd of January 2017

Sounds unbelievable but seco although is dry in Spanish comes from the time that the English where in the Ecuadorian coast drilling oil with Angloecuadorian Oilfields in the early 1900, as people in the coast eat as first plate a soup ( not the best thing in over 40 degrees climate) the newcomers use to ask for the SECOND plate usually meat of some sort, so that's why in time got distorted to SECO de something meaty. Is the same with bistec (normal plate of meat throughout Ecuador) guess what? got its name from beef steak. Plenty of very local distortion of English words are common in Ecuador.


Sunday 25th of January 2015

Im from ecuador and for future references its only called "guatita" not "seco de guatita' and it is not a 'seco" (: i personally not like it but who knows you might enjoy it!

Judith Moy

Friday 2nd of January 2015

Is it easy to be vegetarian in Ecuador? The seco recipes look divine but I'd prefer the dish without the "meat" component. I could easily live on avocado, rice, beans and plantains! Thank you.

Bryan Haines

Friday 2nd of January 2015

Easy in Ecuador but not that easy if you want to eat out. There are some vegetarian options in the cities but they are almost non-existent in the small towns. There is abundant fresh produce options - all inexpensive.


Friday 2nd of January 2015

Good stories; wonderful recipe, too

maurice pittet

Thursday 1st of January 2015

Nice to hear, in this age of denatured, GMO and pesticide/fungicide/chemical fertilizer "foods' that some parts of the globe still have food as Nature intended.Hope it will last in this upside down world where 'natural' has to be legislated/protected from the predatory likes of Monsanto and industrial agri-commerce.

Bryan Haines

Friday 2nd of January 2015

While that would be nice, Ecuador isn't much different than Canada or the US. Pesticides are used almost everywhere. A few months ago, we wrote about the organic food myth that some expats perpetuate in Ecuador.