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Puerto Rican Sofrito

Puerto Rican sofrito is easy to make at home! Vegetables and herbs are blended together to form the base for many Puerto Rican dishes. This is why Puerto Rican cuisine is so flavorful!

How to make Puerto Rican sofrito at home! Vegetables and herbs are blended together to form the flavor base for many Puerto Rican dishes.

Puerto Rican Sofrito

In this post I’m going to show you how to make sofrito.

This is the foundation for many recipes like the popular Puerto Rican habichuelas, mom’s famous Puerto Rican rice, ground beef picadillo (which is used as an empanada filling) and many more.

I like to think of it as a Puerto-Rican style pesto. Except I wouldn’t eat this raw! It’s always cooked.

So I guess it is more similar to the French mirepoix, which consists of onions, carrots and celery, or the Cajun “holy trinity” of onions, celery and bell pepper.

How to make Puerto Rican sofrito at home! Vegetables and herbs are blended together to form the flavor base for many Puerto Rican dishes.

What does sofrito have in it?

Traditionally you need bell peppers, onion, aji dulce peppers, garlic, cilantro and recao.

This Puerto Rican sofrito recipe consists of (mostly) easy-to-find ingredients.

However, I’ll talk about what to do when you can’t find a certain ingredient.

Bell peppers, onion, garlic and cilantro are all common ingredients for me to find.

It has become increasingly difficult to find recao and nearly impossible to get aji dulce peppers.

I will be ordering some seeds to grow my own, but I know this isn’t a possibility for everyone.

How to make Puerto Rican sofrito at home! Vegetables and herbs are blended together to form the flavor base for many Puerto Rican dishes.

Recao also goes by the name culantro, long coriander and a variety of other titles.

It can be found in Hispanic and Asian markets. Asian stores may call it sawtooth coriander.

It is extremely fragrant and smells similar to cilantro, but deeper.

If you cannot find recao, increase the cilantro to two bunches.

Aji dulce are a small Caribbean pepper about the size of a habanero.

They are not spicy at all, but slightly sweet.

If you can’t find them, make the sofrito without them or substitute one red bell pepper or cubanelle pepper.

Just note that using a red pepper may change the color of the sofrito, but that’s ok.

How to make Puerto Rican sofrito at home! Vegetables and herbs are blended together to form the flavor base for many Puerto Rican dishes.

Can I use recaito instead of sofrito?

Yes, recaito can be used instead of sofrito.

If you are buying pre-made from the store you will notice that recaito is a green, cilantro based puree and sofrito is a red puree due to the addition of tomato sauce. 

Puerto Rican sofrito is typically green and we add the tomato sauce later when using the sofrito in a recipe.

How to make Puerto Rican sofrito at home! Vegetables and herbs are blended together to form the flavor base for many Puerto Rican dishes.

This recipe will make approximately 4-6 cups of sofrito.

Usually you only need about 2 tablespoons of sofrito per recipe.

You can certainly par this recipe down, but I like to make a big batch while I have the ingredients and freeze it in ice cube trays for later use.

Each cube is about 1 tablespoon, and there’s no need to thaw before using.

Just throw it in the recipe when it calls for sofrito.

Store the sofrito cubes in a freezer bag to prevent freezer burn and they should stay fresh for some time.

If you’ve never tried cooking with sofrito before, I highly recommend starting with my Puerto Rican Rice and Beans.

It is the most popular recipe on the blog…BY FAR. One bite and you’ll know why!

Watch the video below to see how sofrito is used in a recipe.

 

How to make Puerto Rican sofrito at home! Vegetables and herbs are blended together to form the flavor base for many Puerto Rican dishes.

Puerto Rican Sofrito

Yield: 4-6 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Recipe for how to make Puerto Rican sofrito which is used as the flavor base in Puerto Rican cuisine.

Ingredients

  • 3 large green bell peppers
  • 3 large Spanish onions
  • 2 bags of aji dulce (about 10 peppers)) OR 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled
  • 1 large bunch of cilantro
  • 1/2 bunch of recao (about 15 leaves)

Instructions

  1. Remove stems and seeds from bell peppers. Cut into quarters.
  2. Peel the onion and cut into quarters.
  3. Remove stems and seeds from aji dulce.
  4. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor or blender until finely minced.
  5. Store in airtight container in refrigerator if using within a few weeks.
  6. Or, freeze in small portions (about 1-2 heaping tablespoons) for later use. Ice cube trays work well for this. After frozen, store sofrito cubes in an airtight freezer bag and use as needed. No need to thaw before cooking.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 32 Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 11Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a comment below! Or tag @kitchengidget on Instagram with the hashtag #kitchengidget

Thierry

Wednesday 21st of July 2021

The trick to finding recao for me has been that it's called Ngo Gai in Vietnamese. Southeast Asian cuisine seems to use a lot of it, and Asian stores with customers from that region usually carry it.

Lisa Paez

Thursday 1st of July 2021

Hi Rebekah. Can you give me guidance on how you canned your sofrito successfully. This is what I would like to try but not finding much instruction on how to. Thank you!!!

Lisa Santoni Cromar

Friday 24th of September 2021

@Lisa Paez, My godmother makes hers in big batches then freezes it/them (?) in ice cube trays. Once thoroughly frozen, she pops them into ziplocks & uses as needed.

Rebekah

Friday 2nd of July 2021

I'm not a canning expert but I did the water bath method for about 10-15 minutes. If you look up instructions for how to can salsa that should give you more detail. Hope that helps!

Linda

Thursday 22nd of April 2021

How do I make my sofrito less spicy if I added too much garlic or recao. HELP please

Rebekah

Monday 26th of April 2021

More onions and green pepper.

Daisy

Saturday 9th of January 2021

Is recao and cilantro the same thing? You have it twice on there....maybe it isn’t the same thing though.

Rebekah

Saturday 9th of January 2021

No they are different. Cilantro has the short leaves and recao is long strips of leaves. Recao is also called culantro (with a U), sawtooth parsley or various other names in Asian countries. Confusing! If you can't find it you can use extra cilantro.

Jennifer M. Toro

Wednesday 30th of December 2020

Hi, I just made my first Sofrito, and Mojo too. No doubt, both are flavorful, but way too spicy for my taste. I'm afraid they would overpower dishes, like Pernil or Arroz con Gandules. Any suggestions on how to bring down the heat? Thanks ahead of time, happy holidays!

Jennifer M. Toro

Wednesday 30th of December 2020

@Rebekah, Thanks for your swift response! I found your recipe too late, and I made my attempt after watching a lot of YouTube videos. Guess I found out the hard way, that just because they're green, they're not always interchangeable; the cilantro wasn't looking too good, so I doubled with parsley. Oops! As much as I love garlic, I may have gone a little overboard on that too. At least my husband loves heat, as long as he can enjoy the flavor. I'm thinking of using very little in the arroz, marinade the pork in something else. Anyways, thanks for taking the time to answer me! May you and yours have a blessed year ahead.

Rebekah

Wednesday 30th of December 2020

They should not be spicy. Is it the garlic or did you add pepper? Just using a little bit should not overpower the dish. With arroz you can start with a little and add more if you feel it's not enough.

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