Sancocho (Latin American Stew)
This sancocho recipe is the ultimate Latin American stew with loads of root vegetables, different cuts of meat and more simmered until tender, so hearty and delicious.
We’re cooking up a big pot of Sancocho in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen today, my friends. Would you care for a bowl? If you love stew with big flavor, I think you’re going to love this recipe.
Sancocho is an iconic dish in Latin American cuisine of root vegetables, meats and other vegetables simmered in broth. The name somewhat gives it away, as “sancochar” means “to parboil” in Spanish.
It is a dish from the Northern Andes’ colonial times, brought from Spanish settlers and adapted by natives with local ingredients.
You’ll find versions all over Latin America, reaching into the Caribbean and South America, including places like Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela, Trinidad and many others. It’s growing popularity has even reached places like the United States and the Philippines.
Recipes vary from region to region and from cook to cook, but the overall feel of the dish remains the same. It can be a rustic dish, or as complex as you like, served as simple comfort food or as a holiday meal.
This particular recipe is more of a Puerto Rican sancocho, as I’ve adapted this from a couple different cookbooks, one from Puerto Rican cuisine, and another South American.
Let’s talk about how to make sancocho, shall we?
- Olive Oil. Or other vegetable oil, for cooking.
- Peppers. Use bell pepper and aji dulce, though you can use other sweet peppers as a substitute.
- Meats. I’m using boneless beef chuck, pork shoulder and chicken breast and chicken thighs for this recipe. Bone-in chicken is often used, cut into pieces. You can use other meats as well.
- Seasonings. Dried oregano, salt and pepper. Feel free to use others.
- Corn. Use whole corn on the cob, cut into segments.
- Root Vegetables. I’m using yuca, yams, and butternut squash for this recipe. You can use many others. See the Recipe Notes section for options on this.
- Plantains. I’m using green plantains, though some recipes use yellow plantains, or both.
- Tomato Sauce.
- Water or Stock. Use enough to cover the ingredients in the pot. Water is perfectly acceptable, but use chicken stock, beef stock or vegetable stock for more developed flavor.
- Extras. For serving, use white rice, pasta noodles, crusty bread, fresh herbs for topping, spicy chili flakes, lime juice for a pop of citrus.
How to Make Sancocho – the Recipe Method
Peppers and Onions. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven to medium heat and add the peppers and onions. Cook for 5 minutes to soften, stirring.
Garlic and Cilantro. Add the garlic and cilantro and stir. Cook for 1 minute.
The Meats. Add the beef, pork and chicken pieces with the oregano. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to brown the meats.
Root Vegetables. Add the corn, yuca, yam, squash and plantains (and any other root vegetables you’re using).
Simmer the Sancocho. Add tomato sauce and enough water or stock to cover. Adjust with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2.5 to 3 hours, or until the meats are very tender.
Plantains. Remove the plantains from the stew and mash them slightly in a separate bowl. Return to the pot and cook another 2 minutes.
Serve. Serve with white rice and crusty bread, or as desired. See the Recipe Notes.
Boom! Done! Your sancocho is ready to serve! Looks so good, doesn’t it? So hearty, a big stew of meat and veggies ready for you to dig in. This will fill you up for sure.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- The Root Vegetables. This is largely a root vegetable stew made with local ingredients. Typical root vegetables include yautia root, name root, taro, pumpkin, arracacha, yuca, yams, squash, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and others. You can easily swap them for others available to you. They are best when you peel and cut into 1-inch pieces, or bite sized to your preference.
- The Meats. Sancocho is often made with a variety of traditional stew meats, though you can focus on a single protein if you’d like. I have seen many recipes for chicken sancocho, beef sancocho, pork sancocho, or a mix. Try it with slices of pork sausage, chorizo, short ribs and others.
- The Chicken. Most recipes I see use whole bone-in chickens, cut up into pieces. This is great, of course, but when I am incorporating other meats, I prefer to use boneless chicken to keep the overall sancocho more consistent in texture.
- The Corn. This recipe calls for adding the corn in with the root vegetables for a long simmer. However, another option is to add the pieces of corn toward the end of the cook and simmer them for 30 minutes for somewhat firmer corn.
- Vegetables. As mentioned, recipes for sancocho vary quite a bit from region to region and can include other vegetables of choice. I’ve seen some recipes with chickpeas, cabbage, dried meats, rice, coconut milk and so much more. Feel free to really make this recipe your own with your favorite ingredients.
- Serving. Sancocho is traditionally served with white rice, though it is perfectly fine on its own. Serve some crusty bread on the side, or even try it over other grains or noodles.
That’s it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this sancocho recipe. Let me know if you make it and how you made it your own. I’d love to hear it. Soups and stews are the best comfort food.
I’ve been learning a lot about Puerto Rican and South American cooking from several different cookbooks. Here are links to some of the cookbooks I highly recommend. They are great. These are affiliate links, my friends!
- Puerto Rican Cuisine in America: Nuyorican and Bodega Recipes, by Oswald Rivera
- The South American Table, by Maria Baez Kijac
Try Some of My Other Popular Latin American Recipes
- Carne Guisada (Beef Stew)
- Pollo Guisado (Chicken Stew)
- Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo
- Pique (Puerto Rican Hot Sauce)
- Pernil (Puerto Rican Roast Pork)
- Arroz con Gandules
Try Some of My Other Hearty Stew Recipes
- Green Chili Pork Stew (So good!)
- Burgoo Recipe
- Brunswick Stew
- Caldo de Pollo (Mexican Chicken Soup)
- Cajun Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
- Beef Rendang
- Carne Adovada
- See all of my Spicy Stew Recipes
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Sancocho Recipe (Latin American Stew)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bell pepper chopped
- 1 large onion chopped
- 4 aji dulce peppers chopped (use other ajis to your preference, or use small sweet peppers as a substitute)
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 pound boneless beef chuck cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 pound boneless pork shoulder cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 pounds boneless chicken breast or thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 3 ears corn cut into thirds or quarters
- 1 large yuca about 8 ounces, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 large yam about 8 ounces, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 pound butternut squash or use pumpkin, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 green plantains peeled and quartered
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3-4 cups water or use chicken, beef or vegetable stock - or enough to cover the ingredients
- Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven to medium heat and add the peppers and onions. Cook for 5 minutes to soften, stirring.
- Add the garlic and cilantro and stir. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add the beef, pork and chicken pieces with the oregano. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to brown the meats.
- Add the corn, yuca, yam, squash and plantains (and any other root vegetables you're using).
- Add tomato sauce and enough water or stock to cover. Adjust with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 2.5 to 3 hours, or until the meats are very tender.
- Remove the plantains from the stew and mash them slightly in a separate bowl. Return to the pot and cook another 2 minutes.
- Serve with white rice and crusty bread.