Bistec Encebollado (Puerto Rican Steak and Onions)

Bisctec encebollado is a traditional Puerto Rican beef stew that’s pure comfort food. This steak and onion recipe is sure to delight your family.

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Bistec encebollado is a traditional Puerto Rican recipe featuring cube steak marinated in a flavor-packed combo of onions, sofrito and vinegar, before being stewed in a savory tomato based sauce. It’s pure Puerto Rican comfort food.

Bistec Encebollado (Puerto Rican Steak and Onions)

Bistec encebollado is the one recipe that I insist my mom makes whenever I’m visiting home. She’s in New Jersey, and I’m in Florida, so when I head up North to see her and the rest of the family, this dish is a must. It always reminds me of home, and definitely brings me back to my childhood with each bite. My sister and I would dip white bread into the delicious guiso (stew), it was our favorite part of this dish, so much so, that we’d end up eating a half a loaf of bread in one sitting!

Bistec Encebollado (Puerto Rican Steak and Onions)

What’s the best cut of beef to use for Bistec Encebollado?

Some people like using whole beef fillets, but I like cutting it into strips, because that’s how my mom makes it. The best cut of beef to use for this recipe is cube steak. Cube steak or cubed steak is a cut of beef, usually top round or top sirloin, tenderized and flattened by pounding with a meat tenderizer, or by using an electric tenderizer. The name refers to the shape of the indentations left by that process. This is the same kind of steak that’s used for chicken fried steak. Cube steak is also typically very economical, so it’s a great way to serve a delicious family dinner on a budget!

Puerto Rican Steak and Onions

How Do You Make Bistec Encebollado?

Bistec encebollado translated to steak and onions, so those are the main components of this dish. Other key ingredients are sofrito, adobo and sazon, which are Puerto Rican staples in the kitchen. One element that gives this recipe its distinct flavor is vinegar. Once the cube steak is sliced into strips, I simply marinate it with olive oil, vinegar and the spices. After the beef marinates for a few hours, I add a bit of oil and sofrito to a Dutch oven, or caldero. Next comes the marinated beef, sliced onion, tomato sauce, water and powdered chicken bouillon. After all the ingredients are in the pot, I simply bring the whole mixture to a boil, then lower and simmer for 45 minutes, until the beef is tender and the onions practically melt into the sauce. You’ll end up with a delicious beef stew that gets even better after sitting in the fridge overnight! My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

What Should I Serve with Bistec Encebollado?

The delicious gravy from the bistec needs to be sopped up with rice, so that’s definitely a must! You can serve it with white rice, yellow rice or Arroz Con Gandules, which is one of the national dishes of the island! I would also serve some crusty bread on the side, so you can dip into the sauce, like my sister and I do! To round out the dish, I love serving fried sweet plantains or tostones (fried green plantains). Some sliced avocado, or a simple watercress salad would be a great addition as well.

Bistec Encebollado (Puerto Rican Steak and Onions)
5 from 23 votes

Bistec Encebollado (Puerto Rican Steak and Onions)

Bistec encebollado is a traditional Puerto Rican recipe featuring cube steak marinated in a flavor-packed combo of onions, sofrito and vinegar, before being stewed in a savory tomato based sauce. It's pure Puerto Rican comfort food.

Course Entree, Main Course
Cuisine Puerto Rican
Keyword bistec encebollado
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Author Delish D’Lites


  • 3 lbs cube steak, cut into strips
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp Sazon seasoning (with culantro y achiote) 1 packet
  • 1 tsp Adobo all purpose seasoning
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 tbsp vinegar whatever type you have is fine
  • 1/4 cup sofrito
  • 1 large Spanish onion, peeled and sliced into rings
  • 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • cups water
  • 1 tsp powdered chicken bouillon or 1 cube


  1. Cut the cube steaks into strips and place them into a bowl or ziplock bag. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil, the vinegar, sazon, adobo and oregano. Toss to coat, and marinate for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator.

  2. Heat a Dutch oven or caldero over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil, the sofrito, and the marinated beef. Stir for 3-4 minutes to begin browning the meat.

  3. Add the onions, tomato sauce, water and chicken bouillon. Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a boil.

  4. Reduce the bistec encebollado to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 40-45 minutes, or until the beef is tender.

  5. Serve with white rice and fried plantains.

Recipe Video

Bistec Encebollado (Puerto Rican Steak and Onions)


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68 Responses

  1. Hi Janessa,
    I had a question. I purchased round bottom steak round since a friend recommended using that one. I cooked the meat for about 30 min and the longer it cooked the tougher and chewier the meat became. Is it because I didn’t pound it? Or is it better to buy the cube steak instead? Is it a more tender meat?

    1. I use bottom round a lot, and it gets very tender, but it needs very low heat and much longer cooking time, 1.5 to 3 hours. Think crock pot! You might need to add a bit extra liquid, but it will get tender with the long cooking time

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe took my family back to Puerto Rico. My husband is from Comerío and he had 2 plates of your recipe. Even my son who hates onions ate all his food. I am bookmarking this recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    Love it!! Everyone loved it! I followed the recipe and it came out delicious! I’ve been wanting to learn how to cook this for a while and every time I felt like it didn’t taste right. This recipe is perfect though. Can’t wait to try your pollo guisado recipe next! Thank you so much!

  4. Let me tell you as a Puerto Rican women I just started making this as I type and it smells like I’ve been in the kitchen ALL DAY. I will be coming back with a review of the food but the smell is making my tummy very hungry.

  5. ¡Hola Janesse!
    I haven’t had this in years! Really looking forward to making it. Just curious as to the reason behind adding the onions in two separate batches? Does the first batch break down more, but the second stays more intact?
    Judy en Texas

      1. No Not 2 parts Ray if you read the recipe throughly it’s added in the second step after the meat has marinaded.

  6. 5 stars
    My Tia passed away a couple of years ago and her bistec encebollado was so delicious. I’ve tried several recipes and nothing came close to hers. I found this recipe and this one is it! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe ❤

  7. 5 stars
    Great recipe. I keep seeing comments where people say they do not like cilantro, and ask if they can leave it out. Am I missing something? I do not see cilantro in the recipe. The CULANTRO in the sazon is NOT the same as CILANTRO. CULANTRO is Coriander. Culantro and Cilantro, are similar but not the same.

    1. The only difference between Coriander and Cilantro is that Cilantro is the leaves of the Coriandrum sativum plant, while Coriander are the dried seeds. Same plant, different parts. Some people don’t like any part of the plant. The names only exist so people know leaf from seed, but both parts are the same plant and some people will still refer to coriander as cilantro, such as people from the UK and other European countries. In the UK and other European countries it’s referred to as cilantro no matter what part of the plant is used, and that includes the seeds. Cilantro isn’t even the original name of that very native to Asia plant either, it’s dhania. Also, Cilantro is literally Spanish for Coriander.

    2. Culantro is also known as recao. They are two different plants. One increases in flavor when cooked and one decreases in flavor.

  8. Hi Jannese, I love garlic and cilantro, can I add? Also I notice recipe does not call for salt, is it because adobo is being used.

  9. 5 stars
    I never made this before but yesterday my pregnant sister was asking for this meal. So glad I came across your recipe!! I used pepper steak strips cause that’s all I had, added peppers and cilantro stems it came out soooo delicious. The meat was tender and the sauce was fantastic, can’t wait to eat the leftovers lol

      1. 5 stars
        I am so happy I came across this authentic recipe for a much loved dish. This is the first time I get results that are equal to my moms bistec! I did not add additional salt as the bit of adobo and chicken buillon suffice. The result was a tender and super tasty dish. Thank you for sharing — this will be my go to from now on.

  10. 5 stars
    Intenté preparar bistec encebollado con tres recetas diferentes, anteriormente, pero ninguna alcanzaba la calidad y sabor que logré con la suya. La receta me quedó como siempre los había recordado y saboreado. La seguiré porque me demostró que conoce muy bien la cocina puertorriqueña, y la manera en que condimentamos nuestros platos. Éxito en su carrera.

  11. 5 stars
    Made this tonight and it was perfect! Already shared recipe with my sister and friends lol — oh and I also made sofrito and tomorrow we’re making pollo guisado! So glad I found you Jannese ❤️

  12. 5 stars
    From another Puerto Rican- this was freaking delicious. Five stars and will absolutely make it again. Thank you for the recipe

  13. What tomato sauce do you use ? I notice you said sauce and not tomato paste . Also can you pls make a video making this ?

  14. 5 stars
    Thank you! Have made this 3 times since I found your recipe. I love it, my family loves it and it is now one of my go to recipes. Gracias ❤️

  15. 5 stars
    I missread your instructions and started my marinade with the onions included, it’s marinating as we speak, We’ll see if it turns out. Lol

      1. Im about to cook it and i seasoned the meat with sofrito before i found the i still put in sofrito with the oil or is being on the meat enough.?

  16. 5 stars
    Jannese you are a genius! Made it tonight and it was sooo delicious! Got tons of compliments but they should all go to you.

    Thank you

  17. 5 stars
    If there were 10 stars I would give your recipe a 10! I have made Bistec Encebollado many times in the past from different recipes. This is the best and most authentic. I made it with white rice and maduros. So delicious! This will always be my go to recipe now. Thank you for another delicious meal!

      1. 5 stars
        Omg! I made this today going by your recipe and all I can say it taste amazing! This will be my way of making bistec encebollado from now on. Thank you so much for sharing!

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I’m Jannese, Founder of Delish D’lites

I’m a Puerto Rican girl living in paradise (Florida), and the creative mind behind Delish D’Lites. I love sharing my family recipes and travel inspired cuisine! My favorite things include collecting passport stamps, twerking to Latin music, and kissing puppies. Follow along on social.