This Sofrito Recipe is made with cilantro, parsley, onion, pepper, garlic, and tomato.
Sofrito is a beloved culinary tradition that has its roots in Latin America and the Caribbean, but its influence extends far beyond those regions. This flavorful base is a harmonious blend of aromatics, herbs, and spices that forms the foundation of countless dishes. From stews and rice dishes to soups and sauces, sofrito adds depth, complexity, and a touch of vibrant color to a wide range of recipes.
While you can find pre-packaged sofrito in many grocery stores, there's something special about crafting your own homemade version. Making sofrito from scratch allows you to customize the flavors and adapt the recipe to your personal taste preferences. Plus, the process of creating sofrito from fresh ingredients fills your kitchen with enticing aromas that are simply irresistible.
What is Sofrito?
Sofrito is a flavorful base used in various cuisines, including Latin American, Caribbean, and Spanish cooking. It is typically a sautéed mixture of aromatic ingredients that forms the foundation of many dishes, adding depth, complexity, and a burst of flavor. While variations exist across different cultures and households, the essence of sofrito remains the same: a blend of aromatic vegetables, herbs, and spices that infuses a dish with its distinctive taste.
The exact ingredients used in sofrito can vary, but common components include onions, garlic, bell peppers, tomatoes, and herbs like cilantro or culantro. These ingredients are finely chopped or minced and then sautéed in oil or fat until they become tender and release their flavors. The result is a fragrant, colorful, and versatile base that adds depth and richness to a wide range of recipes.
- Flavor Enhancer: Sofrito is renowned for its ability to enhance the flavor profile of dishes. The combination of aromatic vegetables, herbs, and spices creates a complex and rich flavor base that adds depth and character to various recipes. Whether used in stews, rice dishes, sauces, or soups, sofrito elevates the overall taste, making dishes more delicious and satisfying.
- Versatility: Sofrito is incredibly versatile and can be used in a wide range of dishes. It serves as a foundation for various cuisines, including Latin American, Caribbean, and Spanish. Whether you're preparing a classic paella, a hearty bean stew, or a flavorful sauce, sofrito can be adapted and incorporated to add authentic and robust flavors.
- Nutritional Value: Sofrito is typically made from fresh, wholesome ingredients like onions, garlic, bell peppers, and tomatoes, which are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. By incorporating sofrito into your dishes, you not only enhance the taste but also add a nutritional boost to your meals.
Sofrito Recipe Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Yellow onion
- Green bell pepper
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make Sofrito
Place onion and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped.
Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth.
Season with salt. Transfer to a container with tight fitting lid. Use this Puerto Rican Sofrito Goya Recipe for future recipes as a base.
What to make with Sofrito
- Rice Dishes: Sofrito is a key component in flavorful rice dishes such as Arroz con Pollo, Paella, or Jambalaya. The sofrito infuses the rice with its aromatic flavors, creating a vibrant and tasty base for the dish.
- Stews and Soups: Add sofrito to your favorite stews and soups to enhance their flavor. Whether you're making a hearty bean stew, a comforting chicken soup, or a seafood gumbo, sofrito can bring a robust and savory element to the dish.
- Beans and Legumes: Sofrito pairs beautifully with beans and legumes, adding depth and complexity to their natural flavors. Add it to black beans, lentils, chickpeas, or pinto beans for a delicious and satisfying meal.
- Meat and Seafood Dishes: Sofrito can be used as a flavorful seasoning for meat and seafood. Sauté your protein of choice with sofrito before adding other ingredients or use it as a marinade to impart delicious flavors. It works well with chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, and fish. Check out my Dominican Chicken with Sofrito.
How is Sofrito Used?
- Sautéing: Sofrito is typically sautéed in oil or fat at the beginning of a recipe. The aromatics, such as onions, garlic, and bell peppers, are cooked until they become tender and release their flavors. This step allows the sofrito to develop its characteristic aroma and infuse the oil with its rich flavors, which then permeate the entire dish.
- Base for Rice Dishes: Sofrito forms the foundation of many rice-based dishes, such as Arroz con Pollo, Paella, or Jambalaya. It is added to the pan before the rice and liquid, providing a flavorful base that infuses the grains with its aromatic qualities during the cooking process. This results in a deliciously seasoned rice dish.
- Flavor Enhancer in Stews and Soups: Sofrito is often added to stews, soups, and chili to enhance their taste. It contributes a depth of flavor and complexity to the broth, creating a more satisfying and aromatic dish. Whether it's a hearty bean stew, a meat-based soup, or a seafood chowder, sofrito can elevate the overall flavor profile.
Parsley: For best quality, use fresh parsley. I used flat leaf parsley although curly leaf works as well.
Cilantro: For best quality, use fresh cilantro. This should be found right next to the parsley in your grocery store.
Onion: I used yellow onion for this sofrito, but feel free to use white onion.
Bell pepper: You can use red, yellow or green bell peppers, but I like using green to maintain the green sofrito color.
Tomato: I used a tomato from the vine although campari or roma tomatoes work too.
Sofrito Recipe Variations
- Cuban Sofrito: Cuban sofrito often includes additional ingredients like green peppers, oregano, and cumin. The green peppers add a slightly different flavor profile and a touch of sweetness, while the herbs provide a distinct Cuban twist.
- Puerto Rican Sofrito: Puerto Rican sofrito may feature a combination of bell peppers, cilantro, culantro (a herb with a strong flavor similar to cilantro), and ají dulce (sweet chili peppers). The inclusion of ají dulce gives Puerto Rican sofrito a unique and mildly spicy kick.
- Dominican Sofrito: Dominican sofrito commonly includes a mix of onions, garlic, bell peppers, cilantro, and sometimes a hint of bitter orange juice or vinegar for added tanginess. This variation adds brightness and acidity to the sofrito.
- Mexican Sofrito: Mexican sofrito, also known as sofrito rojo, typically includes tomatoes, onions, garlic, and chili peppers. The addition of chili peppers adds a spicy kick to the sofrito, reflecting the bold flavors found in Mexican cuisine.
- Cutting Board: A sturdy cutting board will provide a surface for chopping and preparing the ingredients.
- Knife: A sharp knife will be essential for finely chopping or mincing the vegetables and herbs used in sofrito.
- Skillet or Saucepan: You'll need a skillet or saucepan to sauté the sofrito ingredients. Choose a size that accommodates the amount of sofrito you plan to make.
- Wooden Spoon or Spatula: A wooden spoon or spatula is handy for stirring and sautéing the ingredients in the skillet or saucepan.
- Blender or Food Processor (optional): While not essential, a blender or food processor can be useful if you prefer a smoother texture for your sofrito. It allows you to blend the ingredients together after sautéing for a more uniform consistency. I use my small Kitchenaid food processor for this.
- Airtight Containers: Once your sofrito is prepared, you'll need airtight containers for storing any leftover sofrito or for freezing portions for future use. Glass or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids work well.
How to store Sofrito
Storing sofrito properly is essential to maintain its freshness and flavor for future use. Here are some guidelines on how to store sofrito:
- Refrigeration: If you plan to use sofrito within a week or so, you can store it in the refrigerator. Transfer the sofrito to an airtight container or a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Make sure the container is clean and dry before adding the sofrito. Seal the container tightly to prevent air and moisture from entering.
- Freezing: For longer-term storage, freezing sofrito is an excellent option. Freezing helps preserve its flavors and extends its shelf life. To freeze sofrito, divide it into portions that you're likely to use in one go. You can use ice cube trays, small freezer-safe containers, or even zip-top freezer bags for portioning. Fill each compartment or container with sofrito, leaving some headspace for expansion during freezing. Label the containers with the date and freeze.
- Freezer Bags: Another method for freezing sofrito is to spoon it into freezer-safe bags. Flatten the sofrito in the bag to create a thin, even layer. Squeeze out any excess air, seal the bag tightly, and lay it flat in the freezer. This method allows for easy stacking and saves space.
- Vacuum Sealing: If you have a vacuum sealer, consider using it to remove air from the containers or bags before freezing. Vacuum sealing helps prevent freezer burn and maintains the quality of the sofrito for an extended period.
- Storage Duration: Properly stored sofrito can be refrigerated for up to one week. In the freezer, sofrito can be kept for several months, up to six months or longer, while still retaining good flavor. However, it's best to consume it within three to four months for optimal taste.
- Thawing: When you're ready to use frozen sofrito, transfer the desired portion to the refrigerator and allow it to thaw overnight. If you're in a hurry, you can thaw it using the defrost setting on your microwave or by placing the container in a bowl of cold water. Avoid thawing at room temperature for an extended period to minimize the risk of bacterial growth.
Sofrito Recipe Top tips
- Fresh Ingredients: Start with fresh, high-quality ingredients for the best flavor. Use ripe tomatoes, firm bell peppers, aromatic herbs, and vibrant onions and garlic. The quality of the ingredients will greatly impact the taste of your sofrito.
- Proper Chopping: Take the time to finely chop or mince the ingredients for sofrito. A consistent size helps distribute the flavors evenly and ensures that each bite is flavorful. Finely chopped sofrito also blends well into dishes without overpowering them.
- Sautéing Technique: When sautéing the sofrito ingredients, be patient and cook them over medium heat. Allow them to soften and release their flavors without browning too quickly. This gentle cooking process helps develop the aromatic profile of sofrito.
- Seasoning: Season sofrito appropriately to enhance its flavors. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste during the sautéing process. You can also incorporate additional spices or herbs like oregano, cumin, paprika, or bay leaves, depending on your personal preference and the dishes you plan to use the sofrito in.
- Customize to Taste: Sofrito is a versatile base, so feel free to adjust the ingredient proportions to suit your taste preferences. If you prefer a milder sofrito, reduce the amount of garlic or omit spicy peppers. Likewise, if you enjoy more heat and intensity, increase the amount of chili peppers or spices.
- Batch Cooking and Portioning: Consider making a larger batch of sofrito and portioning it for future use. This allows you to have sofrito readily available whenever you need it, saving time and effort in the kitchen. Use ice cube trays, small containers, or freezer bags to portion and freeze sofrito in convenient amounts.
- Labeling and Dating: Whether refrigerating or freezing sofrito, label the containers with the date of preparation. This helps you keep track of its freshness and ensures that you use the oldest sofrito first when retrieving it from the freezer.
- Recipe Adaptation: Sofrito can be adjusted and tailored to suit different recipes. Experiment with varying the ratios of ingredients or incorporating additional herbs and spices to create unique flavor profiles that complement specific dishes.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove