Simple Sofrito Recipe, A Common Spanish Tomato Sauce

Spanish Sofrito Sauce Recipe
Delicious Spanish sofrito sauce. Angelique Vaccaro/EyeEm/Getty Images
  • 25 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: 3–4 cups (24–32 servings)
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Sofrito is a basic tomato sauce that is made all over Spain. It's easy to make, with tomatoes, onions, garlic, green peppers, and olive oil simply sautéed in a frying pan. This mellows the acidity of the tomatoes and creates a perfect blend of flavor that is versatile and adaptable.

Sofrito can be eaten with rice or eggs. It is more common, however, for it to be used as an ingredient in other dishes, such as the filling for empanadas

As with all traditional recipes, there are hundreds of versions of sofrito sauce. The amount of garlic, pepper, and spices can be adjusted according to the chef's taste. This one is a family recipe from Avila, Spain.

What You'll Need

  • 1 medium onion (yellow, chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (large, chopped)
  • 1 long green pepper (Anaheim or other sweet pepper, not “hot”; chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (extra-virgin Spanish)
  • 1 (28 or 29-oz.) can tomatoes (crushed, or 5–6 large ripe tomatoes; diced)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (sweet Spanish pimentón)

How to Make It

  1. Start by finely chopping the onion and garlic. Chop the pepper into 1/4-inch (or smaller) pieces.
  2. Heat a large frying pan with a heavy bottom over medium heat. Pour in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
  3. Put the onions into the pan and sauté them until they are transparent, reducing the heat if necessary to avoid burning them.
  4. Add the green pepper and continue to cook for 5 minutes, adding olive oil if necessary. Be sure to stir often, so the vegetables do not burn.
  1. Add the minced garlic and sauté for 1 more minute.
  2. Pour the crushed tomatoes and paprika into the pan and mix well.
  3. Continue to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, reducing the liquid released from the tomatoes. 

Serving and Storing Sofrito

If you're using the sofrito as an ingredient in another recipe, allow it to cool for a few minutes before adding it to your dish. Warm sofrito is preferred if you're serving it as a sauce with fried eggs or rice.

Tomato sauce mellows and becomes sweeter overnight, so many Spanish cooks like to make a double recipe and use it throughout the week. It will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days in a well-sealed container or jar.

You can also store that double batch of sofrito in the freezer and save it for future uses. Be sure to let it cool completely, then divide it into plastic freezer bags.

Sofrito Is a Global Sauce

As with many Spanish dishes and sauces, sofrito has been incorporated into many other cuisines. Spain's global colonization throughout history took the sauce to Latin America, the Philippines, and many other places in the world. It is very common in Caribbean food and each island puts its own spin on sofrito. You can even ​see sofrito's influence in French and Italian sauces.