Panderetas resemble tambourines but without the cymbals. These are handheld drums with stretched animal skins covering a round wooden frame. These may also be called "panderos".

There is disagreement on whether the panderetas typically used in Puerto Rico today are adapted from instruments known in Spain from the time of the Moors known as an "adufe", or from similar African instruments.

They come in three different sizes and pitch and commonly used to play the plena. Typically, plena groups use three panderetas, each with a different role. The "seguidor" plays the basic rhythm, a role like the first buleador drum in the bomba genre. The role of the second pandereta is like the bomba's middle buleador. The third pandereta, know as the requinto, or solo pandereta, acts like the "subidor", or lead bomba drum.