This Cuban sofrito recipe is the start of all your favorite Cuban classics–black beans, picadillo, arroz con pollo, and more.
Like Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, Cuba has its own spin on sofrito that gives its cuisine its signature flavor. To make your food truly taste Cuban, you’ll want to master this recipe.
In addition to making Cuban food taste, well, Cuban … adding sofrito to your dishes actually adds some great health benefits. Read more about different types of sofrito and their health benefits here.
So if you’re looking to add some signature Cuban flavor to your food–as well as the health benefits–keep reading for my classic Cuban sofrito recipe!
What is Cuban sofrito made of?
There are three main ingredients that make up a classic Cuban sofrito. These are also called the trinity of Cuban cooking:
- Green bell pepper
And of course, olive oil is a necessary ingredient even if it’s not considered part of the trinity.
Of course, every cook has their own spin on things, so there are endless variations. Some other common ingredients are:
- Red pepper
- Bay leaves
- Other spices like cumin, oregano, annatto, or sazón
I’ll be sharing the recipe I learned from my parents, which includes tomato, cumin, and oregano in addition to the trinity.
What do you eat sofrito with?
Sofrito may look like a salsa but you actually cook with it, instead of eating it as is. Use sofrito as the base for making rice, beans, stews, and more.
There are some parts of the recipe I want to make sure you don’t miss, so I’ve highlighted them here! These are tips for success, but won’t completely make or break the recipe.
- Chop ingredients, don’t blend. I don’t know why, but I swear it doesn’t taste the same when you blend all the ingredients together.
While the Puerto Rican and Dominican versions may be blended, I really recommend chopping the ingredients to get the best tasting Cuban sofrito.
If you need to save time, you can use a food processor to chop each ingredient separately. I do this to strike a happy balance between saving time and getting the flavor I want.
- Layer the ingredients. This tip goes hand in hand with the previous one. But I find each ingredient needs time to saute and develop its own flavor before you move on to the next step.
Meaning first add the onion, wait a few minutes, then add the garlic, wait a minute, and so on for the entire recipe.
- Add salt between each step. Again this kind of requires following the previous two steps to work. After you add each vegetable, you should add a sprinkle of salt.
This helps break down and soften the vegetables. Common cooking wisdom suggests you actually use less salt this way than if you added all the salt at the end, but I couldn’t find any studies backing that up.
Cuban Sofrito Recipe
- 1 Sauté Pan with lid
- 1 Wooden spoon
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 white onion large, finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 1 green bell pepper finely chopped
- 2 roma tomatoes finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
- 1/2 tsp black pepper or to taste
- Heat the sauté pan over medium-high heat
- Place the olive oil in the pan and heat until shimmering
- Add the onion to the pan, and sprinkle with a small pinch of salt. Saute for 3-5 minutes, until translucent
- Add the garlic to the pan along with a small sprinkle of salt. Saute for 1-2 minutes, careful not to burn the garlic.
- Add the bell pepper to the pan along with a small sprinkle of salt. Saute for 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes to the pan along with a small sprinkle of salt. Saute for 5 minutes.
- Add the cumin, oregano, and black pepper. Stir to combine.
- Reduce the heat to low. Cover and let simmer for 20-30 minutes until the color has deepened and the flavor has fully developed.
- Taste and add salt or extra seasonings as needed.
- Use as base for rice, beans, stews, and more.