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Spanish Tomato Sauce Recipe - Sofrito

User Rating 2.5 Star Rating (3 Reviews)


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Sofrito is a basic tomato sauce that is made all over Spain. Tomatoes, onions, garlic, green peppers and olive oil are sautéed in a frying pan, so that the acid in the tomatoes mellows and mixes with the flavors of the onion, pepper and garlic. It can be eaten with rice or eggs, but often it is used as an ingredient in other dishes, such as the filling for empanadas.

As with all traditional recipes, there are hundreds of different versions of sofrito. So, the amount of garlic, pepper and spices can be adjusted according to the chef's taste.

The recipe below is from my mother, who is from Avila, Spain.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 3-4 cups tomato sauce


  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28-29 oz)
  • 1 long green pepper (Anaheim or other sweet pepper, not “hot”)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • virgin Spanish olive oil
  • 1 tsp Spanish sweet paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste


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


If using as an ingredient in another recipe, allow to cool for a few minutes before using. If serving as a sauce with fried eggs or rice, serve warm. Because tomato sauce mellows and becomes sweeter overnight, many Spanish cooks like to make a double recipe and use it throughout the week. It will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days.

<-- Read about Tomatoes - Essential Ingredient in Spanish Cuisine and view a list of recipes that include tomatoes.

Guide's Response to User Reviews
"Sofrito is made all over Spain and Latin America. As is so typical with traditional recipes, there are many different versions. In some regions of Latin America, the sofrito contains much less tomato and much more pepper and garlic, as well as spices like cilantro. In Spain, the basic sofrito is primarily tomato-based, and is often used as an ingredient in other dishes. If the sofrito will be used to make another dish, it is important to be aware of the amount of garlic in the sofrito, in case more garlic will be added later." - Tony & Lisa Sierra, Guides to Spanish Food

More Sofrito Recipes

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 3 out of 5
mas garlic!, Member serafino31

I come from neighboring Italy. You need more garlic for a sofrito. Having worked in a Spanish restaurant -- we always use a mix of fresh garlic cloves as well as granulated garlic. Also sometimes a couple squeezes of fresh lemon juice adds a nice touch.

13 out of 15 people found this helpful.

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