Sancocho (Puerto Rican Beef Stew)


Sancocho (Puerto Rican Beef Stew) | A hearty beef stew filled with starch vegetables like yucca and plantains. | - @TheNoshery

It’s crazy cold outside right now. I never thought that when I moved to Texas the temperatures would dip below 25 degrees!   Cold weather like this calls for a warm hearty stew.  Something to warm the soul and fill the belly. Without a doubt my favorite stew is Sancocho, which translates as stew.   In Puerto Rico when a person has spent all day under the hot sun, it is said that they are “sancochao”,  which means stewing in the heat.

Sancocho (Puerto Rican Beef Stew) | A hearty beef stew filled with starch vegetables like yucca and plantains. | - @TheNoshery

This stew goes back at least 400 hundred years to when the Spaniards brought African slaves over to the island.  They would make a huge pot and let it stew all day and have a hearty meal ready after a long day of labor.  Over time, sancocho became a popular dish to be enjoyed by everyone. Variations of sancocho can be found throughout the Spanish Caribbean.

Sancocho (Puerto Rican Beef Stew) | A hearty beef stew filled with starch vegetables like yucca and plantains. | - @TheNoshery

Sancocho is made up of beef tips, beef stock and a variety of starches that are both native to the island and to Africa.  Although plantains are associated with Puerto Rican cuisine, the plantain is originally from Africa.  My favorite starch in this stew is the yucca root, which is native to Puerto Rico and was use by the native Taino Indians.   I was lucky enough to find frozen yucca at my local Asian market.  You can switch starches in and out if needed.  If you are missing something, add a little more of something else, but do not leave out the corn.  The corn is one of the best parts.  I always save my corn for the very end; it is almost like a savory dessert.  I remember when my sister and I were young we use to fight over the last piece of corn in the pot.  She is a scrappy one, but I didn’t go down without a fight.

Sancocho (Puerto Rican Beef Stew) | A hearty beef stew filled with starch vegetables like yucca and plantains. | - @TheNoshery

This stew is just heaven and reminds me so much of home.  Obed was very excited to come home to a huge pot of sancocho.  It is very filling and bursting with flavor.  If you have any left, refrigerate it and save it for later.  This stew is even better the next day after it has been marinating overnight.  I think Obed, and I ate from this pot for three days.  You can also freeze it and have it on hand for a cold rainy day.

To me, it’s a little piece of home in a bowl.

Sancocho (Puerto Rican Beef Stew) | A hearty beef stew filled with starch vegetables like yucca and plantains. | - @TheNoshery

Sancocho (Puerto Rican Beef Stew)
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ lbs top round beef, cubed into 1inch pieces
  • ⅓ cup yellow onions, chopped
  • ⅓ cup green pepper, chopped
  • 5 sprigs of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 quarts beef stock
  • 1 green plantain, peeled and slice into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 yellow plantain, peeled and sliced into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 medium sweet potato, diced into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 medium yucca, diced into 1 inch pieces
  • ½ lb butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 medium new potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 ears of yellow corn, cleaned and sliced into 6 parts each
  1. In a preheated dutch oven or heavy pot over low-to-medium heat, combine olive oil, garlic, beef cubes, and onions, stir until beef is brown on all sides and onions begin to caramelize. Add in chopped pepper, cilantro, salt, pepper, and 1 quart of beef stock. Cook down until stock is reduced by half about 20 minutes.
  2. Stir beef, then add in all the remaining vegetables and beef stock. Continue to cook until meat is tender and the vegetables are soft.


  1. Sharon says

    Hi I was wondering if this could be made in a crockpot. If so how would you do it? I feel that the crockpot would make the meat more tender but would the veggies over cook if put in all at the same time?

  2. Domingo Hernandez says

    The dish has many versions depending on the various countries who enjoy it. I’m Puerto Rican and know our history very well. The Taino indians had their own version of a one pot stew made of root vegs. and fish or guanajo which means turkey. The name of this stew is Ajiaco and Cubans still call their Sancocho by this name. When the Spaniards arrived they formed the first European Fortress on the island of Hispanola known today as the Dominican Republic. They did not built any towns in Puerto Rico until 15 years later. In any case the cuisine of the Tainos and the Spaniards began to mix just as the people did. by 1511 Africans arrive in large numbers under slavery and the cuisine and people mixed further. Again each island has their own version. The Puerto Rican version uses tomato sauce and olives. The Cuban version used lime juice at the end with a little aji or hot pepper. The Dominican use various types of meat all together. They are all great and reflect the differences and common origins of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

  3. Eliza says

    This is about the 4th time I’m making a variation of this recipe and I just noticed that you have tomatoes in the instructions part but not in the ingredients list. Is that a typo or should I be adding a certain amount of tomatoes?

    It’s been amazing every other time. Thank you for sharing it!

  4. lMarie says

    I enjoyed your beautiful description of how this recipe evolved. I am American-born of Puerto Rican parents, and only recently became interested in cooking this dish. I love soups and stews and this one has become one of my favorites. Your recipe is the best I have seen and I thank you for it.

  5. Michelle P. Pellegrino says

    In the directions it says to add the tomatoes, but there’s no tomatoes listed in the ingredients….can someone please clarify?

  6. Lizzette R says

    Great recipe! I have everything ready to do my sancocho tomorrow. Since we are watching calories and fat, I am using chicken. For the starches, I am using what I was able to find in the local stores (corn, potatoes, carrots, celery, ñame, sweet potato, and some pieves of green bananas). i will cook white rice and I bought some ripe avocado to serce with it. Traditionally, my grandmother used to cook it with beef or ham (w bone); this last one was my favorite.

    • Ricardo says

      You do realize that the Spaniards came to PR first, right? You have to read history to know that. It’s traditionally a Spanish dish, but all of the islands claim it to be theirs. Fine with me, but I swear Dominicans and Puerto Ricans are always bickering over nonsense, and should enjoy the fact that our culture is the richest of all.

    • Michael says

      I hate to burst your bubble buddy however, the Sancocho, is made in several latin American country. It may fill some with pride, saying that Sancocho, is Dominican, in its origin however, that is not the case.

      -Sancocho (from the Spanish verb sancochar, “to parboil”) is a traditional soup (often considered a stew) in several Latin American cuisines derived from the Spanish dish known as Cocido. Variations represent popular national dishes in the Honduras, Canary Islands, Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Peru, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. It usually consists of large pieces of meat and vegetables served in a broth. There are similar dishes in other countries, such as Bouillon in Haiti.

    • Lorena says

      Yes you are correct ….the problem is that there is more than 20 Dominican Quisqueyano restaurants in Puerto rico …so this a big problem now they want to claim our dishes ..this is a fact ..I met a lot of puertoricans and did not know what was sancocho you meet one Dominican and dont matter where we at it can be in Alaska,Europe ,Asia ,Arabia,and is our tradition to do sancocho you ask a 3 year old with any Dominican heritage whether you are born in New York or India and the child knows, I experienced this I lived my whole life in New York where there is all cultures ,people travel and you will see …!

      • Nena says

        Sorry but it is not a dominican dish it came from spain….and alot of dishes are similar in dominican and puerto rican culture so save me that crap that we want to claim anything….we cook what we were taught , brought down from generations, and no there are not several dominican restaurants in PR…sorry

    • Silvina Mendel Arroyo says

      Estas muy equivocada.. de costumbre por falta de educación, respeto, y por baja auto estima de una gran parte del pueblo dominicano, adueñandosen de la gastronomía puertorriqueña. La gastronomía de Pto. Rico ésta bien documentada, no solo en Puerto Rico y en España, pero también en el archivo de Holanda.

    • valentina says

      It is Puerto Rican. I am sure there are different variations of the recipe, but it us a traditional Puerto Rican stew.

    • Abby says

      Every Caribbean island has a version of Sancocho. My husband is West Indian and he grew up with a similar style , except they also put dumplings and other meats such as chicken and they call it soup.

  7. La Sirena says

    It snowed all day in New York yesterday and what better than a flavory sancocho! I followed your recipe but also added tripe and bolitas de platanos. All I can say is Oh my God! It was amazing. Hosting a traditional friends and children holiday sleep over, this dish could not have come at a better time. After losing my mom this year and not being able to reach out to her for her sancocho recipe, yours was very close to mom’s. Thank you

  8. says

    God Bless You and your Blog/Website. I have finally found heaven, I’ve been in many websites trying to find real Puerto Rican cooking and I finally found it. Thanks your recipes are the greatest.

  9. Kelly says

    I noticed other websites & recipes call for water but this one doesnt. Are you supposed to add water or not? Also how much yuca should I add?

  10. Roger says

    I discovered this stuff during a recent trip to Puerto Rico. Delicious.
    However, I have a few questions. Top round can be a little tough and dry when cooked, even in a stew. Has anyone ever tried chuck instead? Also, it takes about two hours to cook the meat. Even though the recipe calls for cooking the meat 20 minutes extra. It seems like the potatoes, and maybe other starches, would be falling apart by the time the meat is done. Thoughts? Experience?
    Finally, I assume green and yellow plantains are simply the same fruit in different stages of ripeness, correct?

  11. EJ says

    Just a random question, but you talk about yucca and that is mentioned in your pic, but the recipe you posted didn’t have it as an ingredient… Where does it come in?

  12. JoAnn says

    My beloved “mami” passed away this past July and I never got to write down her sancocho recipe when we made it together. So thank you for this!! When “mami” made it though she always made it with a piping hot pot of white rice..then the way it was served was your bowl of sancocho in front of you and a bowl of white rice’d scoop a spoonful of rice into the sancocho and lather it…Ay.. Yai.. Yai QUE RICO!!..sweet memories of Mami….

  13. Kwon JiWon says


    I’m glad to find this blog for Puerto Rican dish.
    I’m a Korean mom and my son has some Puerto Rican friends here in South Korea.
    Actually, They are U.S soldiers.
    I want to make this stew for them but some starch ingredients are not available here.
    Is it O.K. to make it only with potatoes, sweet potatoes and pumpkins?

    Do you think they will like it?

    • says

      Greetings, kwon Jwon! That is great, that you are going to make a stew, for your son’s friends. I have not eaten this dish, for quite a while. I sure miss it.
      I was surprised to read about a Korean mother, cooking for her son’s Puerto Rican friends. Here I am in Los Angeles, California, that has a large Korean community. I am also Puerto Rican and just love Korean food (Love Bulgogi)! I love the culture, the food, movies, dramas series, etc. I hope to visit, next year. I am not a professional cook, or a great cook, for that matter however, if you need Puerto Rican recipes, please feel free to contact me. ?????

  14. Carmen says

    Sancocho is a Puerto Rican dish as well as a typical dish in many Latin American countries, it comes from the Spanish “cocido” (from the Canary Islands). Before we had any Dominicans move to our Island, we had Sancocho in Puerto Rico…every country has its own recipe for this dish, so it is proper to call it Puerto Rican Beef Stew, because if reflects our version of sancocho. Dominicans have many different types, but that does not make this dish theirs to own up to, I guess the Canary Islands can claim to have the original sancocho…

    • margaret says

      Stop all your hate. PUERTO RICO WAS FIRST. All of a sudden they invented everything come on. It was first brought to us by the spaniards we made it our own, DR, later copy just as everyone else.

      • Kristina A says

        Margaret is right. I did an extensive search a few years back. It was the spaniards and when they arrived in puerto rico it was passed on. D.R has copied many other dishes of ours. Or rather “learned”. The Dominicans do envy and want to hold credit for so much. Just remembered who paved the way all latinos in this country. Give credit where credit is due;)

        • Maci says

          Yet another Dominican going up against PRs…wow….I thought we’d left all that bickering behind. I guess not. anyways, The Spaniards came to PR first as PR was the first island to be discovered before the country of DR was. No need to hate, it’s Geography. Obviously Columbus came to PR first, then Hispaniola(Haiti/Dominican Republic) or was it Cuba?

        • Bre says

          If you do your research you cannot even find these “carribbean” ingredients in Spain. So how could the Spaniards have brought it to anyone!!!!

      • Bre says

        Did you not read meiseidy’s breakdown in the top of the blog it was the Africans that made it happen and they served it to the Spaniards . The Spaniards did not do the cooking that’s what they had the slaves for.

      • Silvette says

        Actually the sancocho is an adaptation of the slaves of the “cocido” from Spain mix with the cassava (yuca) from the Taino Indians from the island. The Dominican sancocho was another variation of the dish and as we became closer as neighbors so did our recipes but still have a different seasoning for each one. We are neighbors and very similar in our cultures and our race but the beauty in all this is that each of us have always something that makes us stand out from one an other! Like our mofongo and your mangu….and from our brothers/sister neighbors of Cuba the fúfú. Very proud of been caribeños!

  15. says

    Making sancocho today for my lovely Puerto Rican wife of 30 years. Whenever I travel to PR before la playa and El Yunque is the market. The vegetables, the atmosphere are all wonderful for a country boy like me. I’m using short ribs, some cilantro from my greenhouse, yucca and plantains from the store. Ay que rico! gracias.

  16. Paul says

    Wow! Incredible recipe!!! I just made it and it made me remember my grandma’s.
    My girlfriend was impressed, hehe… And the hardest part? Looking for the ingredients at the local supermarket, specially identifying the “viandas”. I even threw some ~ame at it. Thanks for memories. thememories memor

  17. Jackie says

    Hey Meseidy, I am 22yrs old with 2 children & I grew up with comfort food like this & would love to share that with my children. I truly am grateful to have your website where I can look for my PR recipes since my grandmother has been ill & is unable to teach me. My mom cooks wonderfully hispanic for a %100 irish woman lol but nothing beats abuela’s cooking! I was just wondering if in this recipe chicken breast can be used instead of beef, because my fiancee isn’t a fan of beef? Thanks for all the wonderful recipes that bring great memories to me!

      • Nina says

        Meseidy is right, my family has almost always made it with chicken. I think it really depends on which region of puerto rico you’re also from. In our case, my uncle Demo has a farm and raised a lot of chickens there, so there was always plenty of chicken around to be had, whereas, killing a cow every time we wanted sancocho just wasn’t as feasible (where would we get our milk, right? haha). Anyway it makes me happy to see that this recipe was featured in tastespotting, because it’s always nice to see a piece of home recognized by more cultures. Living in Canada, I’ve encountered people who don’t even know that Puerto Rico exists, or that it’s even as close as it is. Thanks Meseidy!

  18. Ricardo says

    Hi Meseidy, my wife, mother, and me where wondering where is the Asian market you referred to in your “Sancocho”, as we also live in Tulsa and don’t know of any place where to get Yuca, platano, etc. I am also from Puerto Rico and got the itch to do your recipe. Love your blog.

  19. Mai says

    I made this stew over the weekend. I loved the contrast of flavors; sweet potato with new potatoes, tostones and plantains. It was delicious. I’ll definately make it again.

  20. Naomi G. says

    Me diste donde me duele Meseidy. QUE delicia! [: It has been raining over here too (Lares, PR). I think I will be making this Sancocho tomorrow.

  21. says

    Hearty as it is, makes me think of the way “Cocido” is made in Spain… I definitile love it more as I get older… seems that soups and stews are easier to eat with a spoon! And also they are comfort food when the weather gets chillier! Love how you introduce us you Puertorican food traditions!
    Muchos besos desde España


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