Flavored with garlicky sofrito and smokey adobo, every bite of this carne guisada recipe is a flavorful trip to Puerto Rico. Simmered until it’s fall-apart tender, it’s a hearty pork stew you’ll love for dinner.
Why You’ll Love This Carne Guisada Recipe
This tender Puerto Rican beef stew is great for prepping ahead, freezing, and bringing it to all your events.
- Flavorful. One thing I can tell you about this recipe, it is exploding with Puerto Rican flavor! From the culantro, sofrito, sazon and more, each bite is better than the last.
- Great for potlucks. Doubling the recipe makes it perfect for all your potluck dinners. Take it in the pot it’s cooked in so you don’t have to clean any more dishes.
- Easy. Season the meat, brown it, mix everything in the pot, and let it simmer. That’s it!
- Prep-friendly. Make it over the weekend and you’ll have dinner prepped for the week so all you have to do is reheat it after work.
- Freezer-friendly. Freezing the leftovers will save you on days when you don’t feel like cooking but want a homemade dinner.
What Is Carne Guisada?
Carne guisada is a popular Latin American dish that basically refers to “stewed meat.” This recipe is the Puerto Rican version, which is seasoned with sofrito, adobo, and a Sazon Goya packet for the same traditional flavor without standing over the stove for hours. It’s a stew-like lunch or dinner full of tender beef, carrots, potatoes, and olives that’s typically served over rice.
Puerto Rican Carne Guisada vs Mexican Carne Guisada
Unlike Puerto Rican carne guisada, the Mexican Carne Guisada version isn’t a stew. It’s thinly-sliced beef that’s simmered in a tomato-based sauce with oregano and cumin. To make it extra filling, cheese, carrots, and/or potatoes can be added too.
In terms of flavor, Puerto Rican and Mexican carne guisada are also quite different. Puerto Rican carne guisada is supposed to be mild, smokey, and slightly tangy. On the other hand, Mexican carne guisada is supposed to be spicy and tomatoey.
Take a trip to San Juan with the Sazon Goya packet and adobo seasoning for this yummy beef stew. Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact ingredient amounts.
For the Meat
- Stew Meat: Chuck roast works too. You want the meat cut into cubes.
- All-Purpose Flour: Optional, some people do not coat the meat in flour. It’s up to you if you use the flour. The flour helps to bind the seasonings to the meat and also helps to thicken the stew.
- Seasonings: Oregano, cumin and salt.
For the Stew
- Oil: Any neutral-flavored oil like vegetable, corn, and canola are great. Please no olive oil.
- Garlic: Don’t use garlic powder for this, you want fresh garlic for the best flavor.
- Sofrito: Homemade or store bought.
- Tomato Sauce: Use an unseasoned kind for best results.
- Carrots: Peeled and diced.
- Culantro: Chopped or left whole, everyone does it differently! We prefer it chopped.
- Olives: Use pitted Spanish olives or alcaparrado.
- Sazon Goya with Culantro and Achiote: Don’t skip this!
- Adobo Seasoning
- Beef Bouillon
- Bay Leaves
- Water: You can also use low-sodium beef broth for more flavor.
- Potatoes: You can use your favorite type diced. I like to use gold potatoes and I leave the skin on.
How to Make Carne Guisada
Carne guisada is all about browning the meat, adding the ingredients, and then letting it simmer. Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for more detailed instructions.
- Prepare the meat: Sprinkle the meat with flour, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper. Mix to combine.
- Brown the meat: Add the oil to a large pot. Add the seasoned meat and cook on all sides until browned. Remove it from the heat.
- Combine the stew: Add the garlic, sofrito, tomato sauce, and carrots to the pot. Sauté briefly and add the beef, cilantro, olives, Sazon Goya packet, adobo seasoning, and bay leaves. Add the water and stir well.
- Let it simmer: Simmer the stew for an hour. Add the potatoes and cook until they’re fork-tender.
- Serve: Remove the pot from the heat and serve the stew with a side of rice.
Tips for the Best Puerto Rican Beef Stew
Puerto Rican carne guisada can be heartier, spicier, saucier, and easier to make if you follow these tips:
- Make it spicy. Mixing in 1/2-1 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper or chili oil can add a bit of heat to this recipe. However, traditionally this is not a spicy dish!
- Make it broth-y. While we like ours to be more saucy, some I know like their Carne Guisada thinner and with a lot of broth. You can add an extra cup of water or broth to the pot so that the stew can have lots of extra sauce.
- Make even cuts. Cutting the meat and potatoes into cubes that are approximately the same size will help you make sure that the beef cooks evenly.
- Simmer. If you want, you can simmer this dish all afternoon to let the beef becomes fall apart tender. If it thins out, you can add a little more water or broth as it cooks.
- Olives. You can use spanish olives with the pimento, capers, or alcaparrado. Or how about a combination of all three! Just be sure to not add too much, all three pack a lot of salt and can quickly made your stew overly salty.
- Culantro: Culantro is different than cilantro! While both are herbs and members of the apiaceae family, they look different and have slightly different flavors. Many recipes I have seen online use cilantro, however in my Puerto Rican family, we only ever used Culantro in our Carne Guisada. Feel free to use whichever you prefer, but keep in mind that culantro has a much stronger flavor than cilantro.
Nothing beats a plate of Puerto Rican beef stew with a side of Arroz con Gandules or Arroz Blanco Puertorriqueño. To complete the meal, Tostones and Platanos Maduros are other amazing side ideas. If it’s the holidays, a glass of Coquito is also a welcome addition!
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
Once fully cooled, refrigerate the carne guisada in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Keep it away from heat and sunlight when on the counter for rehearing or serving. To reheat it, microwave it for up to a minute or until warm. You can also heat it in a small pot over medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
Can I Freeze This?
Absolutely! Place any leftovers in freezer-friendly containers or bags and freeze for up to 3 months. I recommend freezing the stew in serving-size portions so that you don’t have to worry about defrosting the entire thing later on.
More Authentic Puerto Rican Recipes
- Queso Flan
- Chuleta Frita
- Ensalada de Coditos con Jamon
- Puerto Rican Beef Sancocho
- Achiote Oil
- Pizza Empanadas
- Ensalada de Coditos
Carne Guisada (Puerto Rican Beef Stew)
For the Meat
- 2 pounds stew meat, cubed
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the Stew
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 6 tablespoons sofrito
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 cup diced carrots
- ½ small bunch culantro, chopped
- ¼ cup olives
- 1 packet Sazon Goya with Culantro and Achiote
- 1 tablespoon adobo seasoning
- 1 teaspoon powdered beef bouillon
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cups water
- 3 large potatoes, peeled and diced
- Place the meat in a large bowl and add the flour, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper and toss to coat.
- Heat the oil in a deep heavy bottomed pan. Brown the meat on all sides, then remove it from the pan. Set aside.
- Add the garlic, sofrito, tomato sauce, and carrots. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add the beef, culantro, olives, Sazon Goya seasoning, adobo seasoning, and bay leaves. Stir in the water, then bring to a low simmer.
- Cook for an hour. Then add the potatoes and continue cooking for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the beef is fork tender.
- Serve immediately with a side of rice, if desired.
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