My Go-To Sofrito Recipe for Hispanic Recipes
I once declared that Sofrito is the secret to Hispanic cooking. Years later, after writing my first blog post for my website, Chef Zee Cooks, this statement is still true! The beauty about sofrito is that you can truly customize it to your liking. To be honest, this might even ruffle some feathers.
Sofrito is VERY personal and every household has their way of doing it. In fact, some take their sofrito recipe so seriously that they’ve become guarded family secrets! I love the tradition surrounding sofrito. I also love cooking with sofrito, although I am known to make a deconstructed version time and time again.
Deconstructed version? What do you mean?
The anatomy of a good sofrito is fairly simple. All you need are: onions, peppers, garlic, and cilantro or culantro (recao). Once you have those core ingredients, you can add others. There’s also no rule on how much of one ingredient a sofrito needs to have. This is where you’ll start to see variations in people’s sofrito.
I’d even argue that no two sofritos are alike. In fact, everytime I make sofrito, they come out different each time. They are unique in their own ways. Sometimes I want a super smooth sofrito, and other times I want it a little chunky. It really depends on my mood. The same can go for you and your personal preferences.
However, a few things are inherently true about the way that I like to make my sofrito. Since sharing my first recipe On How to Make Sofrito, I have since evolved my recipe. To start, I love a ton of garlic in my sofrito. I’m not bashful about my love for garlic especially when making sofrito! I also like to use ajicitos aka ajices dulces (mini sweet peppers). My sofrito these days also isn’t complete without some scallions, white onions, Dominican orégano, and just a tiny bit of cilantro.
Now this is where I may catch some heat for my updated sofrito recipe. I actually prefer not to overwhelm my sofrito with cilantro or culantro. While I love the flavor of these vibrant herbs, sometimes they can overpower a dish. Since I use my sofrito to cook a variety of dishes like my Sofrito Stuffed Chicken – Pollo Al Horno, meat, fish, and veggies; I’d prefer to add the fresh cilantro to the dish directly if it calls for it. This is why I keep the cilantro and culantro in my sofrito to a minimum.
Now there’s a bunch of Do’s and Don’ts whenever you’re making sofrito. I’m not a huge stickler for how it must be done. I like that you can change it up as you go and as you feel. For example, I don’t care to remove the seeds from the peppers. My aunts on the hand would chastise me to no end for doing this! I remember being young and my aunts would make me remove all of the seeds from the ajicitos and bell peppers before blending them for the sofrito. As an adult, the seeds don’t bother me so much. However, feel free to remove them.
As I mentioned earlier, you can make your sofrito on the smoother or chunkier side. This time around, I made it on the chunkier side. I used my Ninja Food Processor to get the consistency that I wanted. However, if you want it silky smooth — almost like a puree you can even use the Ninja Bullet attachment, which will give you the texture that you’d like. If you’re making a huge batch, then the regular Ninja Blender attachment works just well. I have had this blender for YEARS, and it’s helped me make plenty of delicious sofritos.
Now you’re probably wondering, what’s the best way to store sofrito? I store my sofrito two different ways. The first way is in a glass mason jar. I find that the sofrito keeps best in a glass container. Although, I do have fond memories of sofrito being kept in every type of container. Sometimes, you’d be in for a surprise when you’d go grab a tub of butter only to find my grandmother amazing sazón instead. She was the queen of recycling and reusing! Nothing went to waste.
Another way that I like to store my sofrito is in ice cube trays. In fact, there’s a pretty cool ice cube tray that I found on Amazon. The bottom of each ice cube is silicon so you can pop each one out perfectly without much fuss or mess. Storing your sofrito using the ice-cube method helps you portion out the sofrito. It also allows you to freeze them in small sizes. This truly extends the life of your sofrito.
Lastly, there’s a ton of debate as to whether you should season your sofrito or keep it purely as blended veggies and herbs. I am team — season your sofrito to an extent. Here’s what I mean… I like to season my sofrito with Dominican orégano, kosher salt, and acid whether it’s sour oranges, limes, or even fresh oranges. I find that the salt and acid in particular extends the life of my sofrito. This is great, because who wants their sofrito to go bad?
Overall, homemade sofrito is characterized by its vibrant green color. It’s used in a variety of different dishes like Puerto Rican recipes, Dominican Recipes, and even other Caribbean West Indian recipes! One of the ingredients that sets a Dominican sofrito/sazon apart from the rest is the use of celery and celery leaves.
I have truly come to love cooking with celery and celery leaves. In fact, it angers me that here in the states, mant discard the celery leaves when in fact, the leaves hold so much flavor! I actually prefer the taste of celery leaves to cilantro. It’s a great alternative for those who feel like cilantro tastes like soap!
Aside from celery leaves, I’ve seen others add tomatoes and even diced olives to their sofrito. I’m anxious to try all of the different variations that make this seasoning base something truly special. In the meantime, if you’d like to see How I Make My Updated Sofrito, visit my YouTube Channel – Chef Zee Cooks!
And now for the recipe!
- 1 Onion
- 1 Cubanelle Pepper
- 1 cup Ajicitos
- 2 Heads of Garlic
- 2 Scallions
- 1 Cup Celery Leaves *optional
- 3 Tbsp Dominican Orégano
- ½ cup Cilantro
- 1 Sour Orange or 1 Lime & 1 Orange
- Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
- Roughly chop all of your fresh ingredients such as onions, peppers, garlic, celery, celery leaves, cilantro, scallions and ajicitos. Feel free to remove seeds from peppers
- Blend all of the ingredients using either a blender or food processor. Add kosher salt and oregano to help veggies blend. Depending on the size of the blender or food processor, you may have to blend in batches
- Once sofrito is blended to your desired consistency (chunky or smooth), add to a large mixing bowl and add limes or sour oranges. Add kosher salt to taste and olive oil. Then store sofrito in either glass mason jars or ice cube tray. Store in the refrigerator and use within 2 weeks. You can also freeze sofrito and use as needed
You can season sofrito as you wish. You can also use a variety of different color onions and peppers, which may change the final color of your sofrito. Be sure to store sofrito in the refrigerator. You can also freeze sofrito and use as needed