If you have ever eaten Puerto Rican cuisine, chances are, you’ve had Puerto Rican sofrito without even knowing it.
For a long time, I would ask my abuela to make a large batch of sofrito or recaíto for me, because I thought it was complicated to make. But she only had to show me once and I learned how easy it was to make it.
Whenever I used to visit my abuela’s home and saw cilantro, peppers, garlic, and onions laying out on the kitchen table, I knew she was in the middle of making homemade sofrito.
She will often freeze multiple batches while keeping some in the refrigerator for quick access.
Because not all of the ingredients were easily found, we made our sofrito a little bit different. Sometimes with the exclusion of common ingredients found in sofrito recipes: cubanelle peppers, ajies dulces, and culantro leaves.
This was is our way of making sofrito with the ingredients we can find regularly.
Note: this recipe is for those who do not have access to all of the traditional ingredients for Puerto Rican sofrito, but still want to make it with easy-to-find, accessible ingredients. There are other variations for this recipe – this is mine and my family’s due to limited access.
What Is Sofrito?
Sofrito, sometimes called recaíto, is a blend of fresh vegetables. Dropped into a pan of hot-popping oil, sofrito crackles at the start of the cooking process.
Different regions and even households will have their own versions of making sofrito. For example, in Spain, you can find sofrito made with garlic, onion, peppers, and tomatoes.
Sofrito is similar to the concept of mirepoix, which serves as a cooking base. The purpose of sofrito is to be used as an aromatic cooking base for dishes including sauces, stews, and soups.
Sofrito can be found at grocery stores, however, I highly recommend making it yourself. It hardly tastes the same and it’s not worth the disappointment.
I’ve tried both the shelved and frozen pre-made grocery sofrito and they should just be left there.
Learn more on the ins-and-outs of sofrito in my What Is Sofrito blog post.
How To Make Puerto Rican Sofrito
Puerto Rican-style sofrito does not require any cooking.
All you need to do is to chop them into large chunks, throw them into a blender, and blend until chunky (not a puree). You’ll typically use about 1-2 tablespoons of sofrito in a dish.
Ingredients Included In Sofrito:
- 1 yellow or red onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 garlic head
- 1 bunch cilantro (2 ounces/~56 grams)
Because I am not in close proximity to Latin grocery stores, or stores that have everything I need, I use what I can find, making some adjustments to the recipe. That means, unfortunately omitting ajies dulces.
Your sofrito will still be wonderful and delicious, even without ingredients like ajies dulces.
Always remember: every recipe, no matter how uniquely traditional to your household, will have its variations – even within the same region.
So, if you see a plethora of recipes with a slightly different ingredient list, that’s why.
How To Store & Preserve Sofrito
Sofrito can be stored and preserved in an air-tight container or reusable silicone bag in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for months.
To thaw sofrito from the freezer, simply move it from the freezer and into the refrigerator. It should be completely thawed in a day.
I recommend storing sofrito in the freezer if you do not intend on using it in a few days. After awhile, it will begin to lose its color and aroma. Any longer, you’ll know right away that is has gone bad.
Sofrito hack: I pour and store the sofrito into an ice tray so I can just pop a couple out and defrost when it’s time to cook.
Can You Eat Sofrito Raw?
Puerto Rican sofrito is used as a cooking base. Similar to how many dishes start with onions or garlic, many Puerto Rican dishes start with sofrito.
Some regions may have different ways to use this aromatic base, but in my household and in my family’s generations, we cook sofrito at the beginning of a recipe and we don’t serve it raw.
But that doesn’t mean a challenge can’t be made. I made an EPIC, creamy rigatoni pasta made with raw sofrito and ripe avocado.
Recipes Using Puerto Rican Sofrito
Drop a heaping spoonful of sofrito in these plant-based, Puerto Rican recipes:
- Rice With Beans (Arroz Con Habichuelas)
- Puerto Rican Rice With Pigeon Peas
- Bean Stew (Habchuelas Guisadas)
- Chipotle-Inspired Sofritas
- Mushroom “Beef” Stew (Carne Guisadas)
If you want to make your Puerto Rican dish complete, try out fried sweet plantains.
It’s time for that homemade sofrito to hit the oil!
Homemade Puerto Rican Sofrito Recipe
- 1 yellow or red onion roughly chopped
- 1 red bell pepper roughly chopped
- 1 green bell pepper roughly chopped
- 1 garlic head peeled
- 1 bunch cilantro (2 ounces/~56 grams) roughly chopped
- Add the onion, red bell peppers, green bell peppers, garlic, and cilantro into a food processor or blender. Blend everything together until you have a chunky sofrito sauce.
- If you’re using a high-powered blender like a Nutribullet, blend in short pulses until chunky.
- You can use regular yellow onion or red onion. It doesn’t matter. We’re using mild onions for this recipe. I’ve used both for a sofrito recipe.
- The bunch of cilantro was about 2 ounces.
- Blend the sofrito in parts. I did about 5-6 batches due to the size of my blender.
- Some sofrito recipes call for olive oil or salt. I don’t add those because I like to control those particular ingredients during the actual cook.
Did you try out this Homemade Puerto Rican Sofrito Recipe?
Please leave a comment below, share it, rate it, or tag a picture @plantbasedandbroke on Instagram and hashtag it #plantbasedandbroke. Show off that creation with us
This Sofrita screamed Puerto Rico. Every bite sent me back to San Juan. So delicious.
I miss San Juan – such a beautiful place! I am glad you loved it. 🙂
Thank you for the ice tray hack! MY family loved this!
I’m glad! You’re very welcome. 🙂
This recipe is amazing! I have all these ingredients growing in my garden, which means I’ll be making your sofrito all summer long.
Ah! That’s the ultimate goal – a full garden to make sofrito with fresh, homegrown ingredients. That’s awesome!
This sofrito was so easy!! I had to pulse it like you mentioned in the recipe because I was using a Nutribullet, but it came out great!
Nutribullet works! I am glad you loved it. 🙂
We had never had before but wanted to try. Thank you for making such an easy to follow and tasty recipe.
The smell ALONE had me in a daze! Amazing recipe!
I love the smell too! Fresh and when it hits the oil – the best smell ever.
Learnt something new today!! Thank you for putting me onto Sofrita! This looks so delicious!
I made this sofrito the other day for a pot of beans, it was amazing! I’m definitely making a bigger batch next time.
I call mine recaíto too!! I get funny looks because everyone else calls theirs sofrito, but whatever. I loved the way this sofrito smells when I sauté it. It’s such an easy way to add flavor to my recipes.
Ha! In my household, the two are almost interchangeable. With grocery shopping being less frequent, sofrito has been a recipe lifesaver!
this was such an easy sofrito recipe to put together. I love this version that is so simple – did not require me to go crazy looking around for specialty ingredients. Everything here was at my local grocery store.
Glad you loved it! I have a hard time finding some ingredients – especially since we’re not going to multiple grocery stores anymore, so we just keep it simple.
I learned something new with this recipe!! It was full of flavor!
Awesome!!! Glad you loved it 🙂
This recipe made making Sofritos so easy! And my, how delicious!! I enjoyed every bit!
I had always been afraid to make my own Sofrito. I love that your recipe made it approachable. I’m excited to have a jar of this around all the time!
Yes! Have to make do with the ingredients we have. 🙂 Enjoy the recipe!
I also thought sofrito was really difficult to make until I found your recipe. Thank you for breaking it down so I could replicate it in my own kitchen!
Yay!! I am happy you found it easy. Enjoy 🙂
So true about everyone having their own recipes! Great beginners recipe ,then you find your own tweaks that work best for your kitchen. Recipe is close to base of one I’ve been making for years and most dishes would be incomplete without it. Since moving to different state, I also have trouble finding ajies dulces; I have found substituting red bell peppers for roasted red peppers helps make up for some of the flavor. Just FYI- Also I feel the need to mention that recaito is different than sofrito. While both recipes call for cilantro, Recaito’s main ingredient is Oja de Recao hence the name. In english: Culantro leaves – (Long flat leaf) similar name, but different from cilantro. We used to grow them, looks almost like a weed, but very flavorful. Try adding a whole leaf when stewing your beans, you wont be sorry.
Hey Jazzy! I was definitely spoiled by the abundance of traditional ingredients for Puerto Rican sofrito, but now, not so much! But, the beauty of cooking is just making it work for your household, tastebuds, and food accessibility. Those are great tips – thanks!
I love sofrito! It’s a must in our house, food just doesn’t taste as good without it. Over the years I add or leave out depending on what I have available but it’s always good no matter what ingredients it has. It’s the heart of our food in Puerto Rico. ♥️
Yes, it’s so good! It also makes cooking so much easier since you don’t have to chop down base vegetables since sofrito has all of them already blended up.