What is Puerto Rican Sofrito Made Of? (Sofrito Recipe)

Puerto Rican Sofrito is a classic staple of the island's cuisine. Puerto Rican sofrito is a traditional sauce made with a combination of aromatic ingredients and spices. It typically includes garlic, recao, onions, bell peppers, cilantro, and culantro as the base ingredients.

The final product should be a flavorful condiment that can be added to dishes like rice and beans, soups, meat, and stews, for an extra flavor boost.

The ingredients are finely chopped until they form a paste-like consistency which can then be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for later use. Sofrito is so important to Puerto Rican culture that it's often said that it’s impossible to make traditional Puerto Rican dishes without it.

photo of sofrito close up

Do you love the flavors of Puerto Rican cuisine? Have you ever wondered what goes into making traditional sofrito?

Look no further! As a Boricua, together, we’ll explore the ingredients that make up Puerto Rican sofrito and how to use it to add flavor to your favorite dishes.

What is Puerto Rican Sofrito

Puerto Rican sofrito is a staple in many Puerto Rican dishes and essential to achieving authentic Puerto Rican flavor. It is a base of peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro, or culantro blended together to create a puree.

This puree is then used as the flavor base for many dishes, from stews and soups to rice and beans. It is also used to marinate meats such as pork and chicken for the famous dish lechon asado.

The essential ingredients for making sofrito are onions, garlic, sweet peppers, chiles, culantro (or recao), salt, pepper, and vinegar or lemon juice.

While these are the traditional ingredients used in making sofrito, variations may include additional ingredients like green bell peppers and red onion.

Ingredients for Authentic Sofrito

Puerto Rican sofrito is a traditional blend of peppers, onions, garlic, and cilantro that creates a puree. The most important ingredient in authentic sofrito is culantro, which is critical for the signature flavor.

The backup ingredients are onions, garlic, and ajies dulces (or sweet peppers). To make the perfect sofrito, you need three large green bell peppers and one large red bell pepper.

In addition to these vegetables, you’ll need 10-15 Aji Dulce peppers or cachucha. These are not to be confused with Scotch bonnet peppers – they are sweet and not spicy.

Once all the ingredients have been prepped and chopped, you can begin making your sofrito!

What is Culantro?

Culantro is an essential ingredient for an authentic Puerto Rican sofrito. It is a type of herb that is related to cilantro, but has a stronger flavor. Culantro has long, serrated leaves that have a unique flavor and aroma.

It is often used as a seasoning or garnish in many Caribbean dishes. Culantro is also known by other names such as long coriander, bandhania, and recao.

When using culantro in Puerto Rican sofrito, it should be blended with onions, garlic, and ajies dulces (or sweet peppers). This combination creates the perfect base for many popular dishes in Puerto Rico.

Back-Up Ingredients

In the event that you cannot find culantro or sweet chili peppers to make authentic Puerto Rican Sofrito, there are still plenty of backup ingredients available. An additional handful of cilantro can be added to the dish, along with a chopped green bell pepper.

Combining traditional ingredients such as onions, garlic, and cilantro to create a puree is still the same and will still result in a flavorful and delicious sofrito. The green pepper adds an extra punch of flavor that complements the rest of the ingredients nicely.

With these ingredients, it's easy to make a delicious Puerto Rican sofrito that can be used in a variety of dishes.

How to Make Sofrito

Making sofrito is easy and fast, and it all starts with the right mix of ingredients! To make Puerto Rican sofrito, you'll need one medium Spanish onion, five cubanelle peppers that have been seeded, 15 garlic cloves peeled, one bunch of cilantro, 8 ajiles dulces (sweet chili peppers), 5 leaves of culantro and one large red bell pepper which should be seeded.

Blending all these flavorful ingredients together using a blender or food processor. Once all the ingredients are combined, it's ready to be used as a base for your favorite recipes like stews, roasts, pork, bistec, and beans. Use fresh ingredients to get the most flavor out of your sofrito for the best results.

The Difference Between Sofrito and Recaito

Sofrito and Recaito are closely associated, but they are not the same thing. Sofrito is a staple in many Puerto Rican and Latino kitchens and a flavorful ingredient for many home cooks—from island to mainland.

It is a red sauce made from tomatoes, garlic, onions, peppers, cilantro, and ajíes dulces (small sweet peppers).

On the other hand, Recaito is a green aromatic puree of onions, culantro (recao) leaves, garlic, green peppers, and ajíes dulces. If you are buying pre-made from the store, you will notice that recaito is a green puree and sofrito is a red puree.

Both words mean the same thing when referring to this dish: Puerto Rican meal. So while they may be closely associated with each other, they are two distinct ingredients with subtle differences in flavor and texture that should be kept in mind when cooking.

Learn what Puerto Rican sofrito is and what makes it different from the rest. Learn how to find culantro anywhere in the US and make this recipe at home.

Cooking with Sofrito

Once you have made your Puerto Rican sofrito, you can start cooking with it. It is a versatile ingredient and can be used in many dishes. It is the base for stews, roast pork, bistec, and beans. It also adds flavor to salads, omelets, soups, and many other dishes.

To use sofrito in a dish, sauté the ingredients over low heat in a little oil or butter until the onions are transparent and the peppers are soft. You can adjust the quantity of ingredients to suit your taste.

Sofrito can also be frozen in a freezer-safe container and used when needed. For example, you can pre-make sofrito and freeze it for later use when making a stew or roasting pork.

Storing and Freezing Sofrito

Storing and freezing sofrito is a great way to keep the flavor of this traditional Puerto Rican recipe alive. Once you have prepared the sofrito, it can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. If you want to store it for longer, it can be frozen for up to six months.

When freezing, place the sofrito in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag and press as much air as possible. When using frozen sofrito, allow it to thaw before adding it to your dish, or you can also add it directly to the dish while still frozen and let it defrost while cooking. This way, you can enjoy freshly made sofrito anytime!

photo of sofrito in white dish

Substitutions for Ingredients

When making Puerto Rican sofrito, it is important to use the ingredients listed above for the most authentic flavor. However, some substitutions can be made if an ingredient is unavailable.

For example, if culantro is not available, cilantro can be used as a substitute. Additionally, ajies dulces or sweet peppers can be substituted with any bell pepper (such as the three large green bell peppers mentioned in the introduction).

Finally, garlic can also be substituted with garlic powder or garlic paste. While these substitutions may not give you the same flavor as the original recipe, they will still provide a tasty and flavorful result.

Puerto Rican sofrito is a flavorful and versatile blend of aromatic ingredients that can be used to add a punch of flavor to any dish. It's made with onions, garlic, red and green bell peppers, cubanelle peppers, cilantro, ajies dulces, and sometimes culantro.

It's a great base for many recipes and can also be used as a marinade or even as an ingredient in sauces and dips. If you're looking for an easy way to add some extra flavor to your cooking, then sofrito is definitely worth trying out. With its unique combination of ingredients, it's sure to make your dishes stand out!

close up photo of sofrito to show texture

Where can I find culantro to make sofrito?

Culantro is available in Spanish stores, or you can buy the plant here or the seed here. In our nearest ethnic market is about $3 for a pack.


Puerto Rican Sofrito Recipe

One important key I want to add is that you are welcome to add one medium tomato and add salt to this recipe. I sometimes add olive oil too.

What are the ingredients to make sofrito?


  • Medium Spanish onion
  • 5 cubanelle peppers, seeded
  • 15 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Bunch of cilantro
  • 8 ajiles dulces (sweet chili peppers)
  • 5 leaves of culantro
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded


Add ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

Puerto Rican Sofrito

Puerto Rican Sofrito

Yield: 5 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Learn what Puerto Rican sofrito is and what makes it different from the rest. Then, learn how to find culantro anywhere in the US and make this recipe at home.


  • Medium Spanish onion
  • 5 cubanelle peppers, seeded
  • 15 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Bunch of cilantro
  • 8 ajiles dulces (sweet chili peppers)
  • 5 leaves of culantro
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded


  1. Add ingredients to the blender and blend well.


You can add one medium tomato and salt to this recipe. You can also freeze for later.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 15 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 58Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 134mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 3g

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© Joyce Zahariadis
Cuisine: Puerto Rican / Category: Recipes

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