Sofito and an Impromtu Chemical Peel

If you visit regularly or have been reading this blog for awhile you probably have seen the ingredient “sofrito” mentioned a few times in my Puerto Rican recipes.   This is a must have condiment to keep on hand for any Puerto Rican dish.  It is the entire island’s secret ingredient.  Don’t tell them I told you.

Although you can buy it at most grocery stores I figured I could also tell you how to make it at home.  Just in case you are a reader from the middle of nowhere’s land North Dakota or something.  😀

Besides it is incredibly easy and it’s always better when it is homemade.

All you need are the following vegetables.  The one thing that will probably be hardest to find is the culantro.  It is a long flat leaf that is kind of spiny on the edges.  I was excited to find it at my local Asian market and grabbed a bunch of it, probably more then I needed.  Another hard to find ingredient are “aji dulces” which are sweet chili peppers.  They actually look like really small habanero peppers or hot Jamaican peppers, so be careful not to confuse them.


What you need: Green Bell Pepper, Cilantro, Culantro, Roasted Red Pepper, Garlic, Stuffed Olives, Oregano, Onion, Salt, Pepper and Food Processor.

I made that mistake once and I will never forget it.  I was living in DC and it was my first Thanksgiving away from home. I was cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner all by myself for some friends and decided that I wanted to make some rice.  While I was at the grocery store I pick up a package of peppers that I thought were “aji dulces” which I saw my grandmother use all the time.
I went home to make the rice and while I was dicing the peppers I brushed a hair off my cheek.  After a few seconds my face was on fire and so were my hands.  I could not figure out what the heck was going on!  I kept touching my face tiring to figure it out.  (Real smart right) Then I rinsed my face with water and it just got worse.  It was HOT and it started to hurt like a….well you fill in the blank.  I started freaking out and now it was getting into my eye.  My roommate was looking at me like I was insane.  Then she says, “OMG YOUR RED!”  I ran up stairs and looked in the mirror and half my face was beet red.  I grabbed a huge container of cold cream that was sitting on the counter and just smeared it all over my face and hand.  I laid it on THICK! I probably would have put my whole head in it, if it fit through the opening.  (Where is a witchdoctor when you need one?)
Once I started to feel relief from the cold cream, I was still wondering what the heck happened.  I went back down stairs and looked at the package.  I said in big bold letters HOT JAMAICAN PEPPERS.  How I missed it I have no idea but, I spent the next hour walking around and making Thanksgiving dinner with that cold cream on my face.   To top it off we had ourselves some spicy rice that Thanksgiving.

Put everything in a food processor and puree.

Lessons of the story?  Read the packaging before you buy it, wear gloves when working with peppers and DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE!  Unless you want to melt it off or are in the mood for an impromptu chemical peel.
Ah… the joys and stories of a rookie cook.

Spoon puree into ice tray & freeze. Store cubes in zip-loc bag, they measure out to 1 tbs each.

There are many variations of sofrito, feel free to make any adjustments.

Print Recipe


  • 1 bunch Cilantro
  • 8 leaves of culantro (if you can’t find add some extra cilantro)
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 large onion
  • 1/2 lb. sweet chili peppers
  • 2 large green bell peppers
  • ½ cup olives with pimientos
  • 1 sm jar roasted red peppers
  • 1 tbsp. capers
  • 2 tbsp. crushed oregano
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

Rinse, peel and chopp vegetables. Combine in food processor and puree.

Spoon into ice tray and freeze. Store cubes in zip-loc bag. Each cube measures 1 tbs.

If purchasing sofito at a store a few things to know.

You can typically find it in the Latin food aisle. It is Goya brand, but Goya makes 2 different kinds a red and a green.  You want the green which is labled “Recaito” even though the red says “Sofrito”.  Traditionally Puerto Rican “sofrito” does not have tomato in it.  Just think GREEN.

If you are in the Tulsa area. The supermarket’s jars tend to be very small.  You can find larger jars and all other kinds of interesting foods at the Asian Market Nam Hai at 21st and Garnett.  They keep them on a shelf above the refrigeration bins, towards the produce.  You can also find Goya Adobo and Sazon there, I think that maybe on a rack between the fishmarket and produce. When you walk in go right.  The market is disorganized and has a funny smell because of the seafood market in the back, but you can find some really interesting ingrediants there.


  1. Molly says

    Anxious to try your Spanish Garbanzo Soup! Trying to figure out how to do that without making a trip to Cleveland’s (OH) West Side where all the Goya aisles are:) I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your website. I wish it had been there 37 yrs ago when I was a young bride. My Puerto Rican husband’s mother was THE BEST cook! I learned a lot from her but, of course, no recipes and little English. Puerto Rican cuisine was unknown territory to me back then but now, after more than 40 yrs, I consider myself not too bad…but still not as good as Doña Cielo! Keep up the excellent work, Meseidy!

  2. Chicky says

    About the Habaneros. Well, I live in Dallas, TX and when I saw what I thought were round sweet peppers from P.R, I was so glad to find them. I bought a bunch and decided to prepare sofrito. Then I decided to prepare red beans. After been in the kitchen a couple of hours, I was serving my husband his dinner and we were sitting and there it was a scream of desesperation….

  3. says

    I saw your recipe over on Tasty Kitchen…and I just had to come see what the ingredients were. Living in the mountains of NC I was not likely to find sofrito….so I will try and make some from your recipe. Thanks.

  4. GrandmaGwen says

    Hi, I just found your website via your “Pollo Sofrito” recipe at Tasty Kitchen. I’m looking forward to making this, but I don’t know what “cappers” are. Do you mean “capers”?

  5. Kandyce says

    I’m so glad I found your blog! Thanks Tasty Kitchen! I am planning on making your chicken curry tomorrow and then I clicked on your blog and found out you were Puerto Rican. My husband is Puerto Rican also, so my last three years have been a crazy foray into learning some Puerto Rican cuisine. I have learned about all things Goya, especially Adobo, and sofrito. I make my own, though I have never been able to find culantro (I actually just get weird looks at every Latin American market I go to) or aji dulces so I just use extra cilantro and red bell peppers. I don’t use olives either, though I might include them next time. Now I’m off to explore more of your blog!

  6. Lisa says

    I am so happy to find your site! I’m making your slow cooked pork today and the house smells so good… I found you thru Tasty Kitchen. I’m trying to learn to make as many puerto rican dishes that my fiance loves while he is working overseas. He loves to cook as do I. Most of my dishes are Asian (I’m Vietnamese) and I just want to impress him when he comes home for Christmas… so I’m working on my skills! Thank you!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *