I’ve always been captivated by the vibrant flavors of Latin American cuisine, especially sofrito, the heart and soul of many Puerto Rican dishes. It’s this rich base that inspired me to take a little culinary detour and craft this Smoky Sofrito Vinaigrette. Imagine blending the deep, aromatic notes of sofrito with a hint of smokiness from chili powder and paprika. This isn’t just a dressing; it’s a journey, elevating simple dishes to extraordinary feasts. Grab a Mason jar, mix these simple ingredients, and let’s share in the delight of this beautiful fusion of flavors.

Smoky Sofrito Vinaigrette in mason jar and wooden background

Smoky Sofrito Vinaigrette in mason jar and wooden lid in hand

Why This Smoky Sofrito Vinaigrette Works

  • Sofrito Synergy: At the heart of this vinaigrette is sofrito – a beloved base in Latin American cuisine. Its robust combination of tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and garlic provides an authentic foundation that elevates this dressing to star status.
  • Smoky Undertones: The introduction of chili powder and smoked paprika doesn’t just add heat; it infuses the vinaigrette with a smoky depth that adds complexity to its profile.
  • Acidic Balance: The red wine vinegar and freshly squeezed lime juice bring an acidic zing that cuts through the richness of the sofrito and oil, creating a balanced flavor profile perfect for drizzling on almost anything.
  • Customizable Heat: The beauty of this recipe is its flexibility. Love a fiery kick? Add more chili powder. Prefer a milder taste? Dial it back. It’s all about making it perfect for your palate.


The Soulful Journey of Sofrito

Sofrito, a word derived from the Spanish verb “sofritar” meaning “to sauté” or “to fry gently,” has long-standing roots that anchor deep into the culinary history of Spain, Puerto Rico, and other Latin American and Caribbean countries. However, each region has embraced and adapted it, giving rise to unique iterations of this aromatic blend.

Spain’s Beginning: Sofrito’s origin traces back to Spain. Traditional Spanish sofrito blends onions, garlic, and tomatoes cooked in olive oil. This base is often found in many Spanish dishes and was transported to the New World during the age of exploration.

Puerto Rico’s Pride: In Puerto Rico, sofrito is more than just a sauce; it’s the cornerstone of many culinary masterpieces. Their version typically comprises a blend of bell peppers, garlic, onions, and culantro (or recao), all finely chopped and sautéed. Often, aji dulce, a sweet variety of chili pepper, is added for an extra layer of flavor.

Cuban & Dominican Twists: While Puerto Rico has its blend, Cuban sofrito usually introduces bell peppers to the mix and sometimes includes bacon for a richer flavor. The Dominican Republic, on the other hand, loves to add cilantro, giving their sofrito a fresh, herbal edge.

Venezuela & Colombia: In these regions, sofrito is often referred to as “hogao” or “guiso”. It’s a rich concoction of scallions, tomatoes, garlic, and spices, primarily used to flavor beans, rice, and meats.

Italy’s Soffritto: Not to be confused with its Spanish namesake, Italy’s version, known as “soffritto”, typically blends onions, celery, and carrots sautéed in olive oil. It’s a foundation for many Italian soups, sauces, and stews.

Throughout its history, sofrito has served as a testament to the idea that some of the most exquisite flavors can arise from the simplest combinations. It’s a unifying base that, despite regional variations, tells a tale of shared heritage, love for food, and the age-old tradition of gathering around a table to share a meal.

Smoky Sofrito Vinaigrette in mason jar and wooden lid in hand

Reverse Meal Plan: Unleashing the Sofrito Magic

Ever felt like a culinary detective? Reverse Meal Planning with our Smoky Sofrito Vinaigrette is about to give you a taste of that fun, experimental side of cooking. Here’s how to reinvent your leftovers and create an entirely new dish:

  • Leftover Grilled Veggies: Drizzle them with our vinaigrette and toss. Suddenly, yesterday’s barbecue veggies become today’s zesty salad, brimming with Latin flavors.
  • Week-old Rice: Sauté it with some vegetables, maybe a protein if you fancy, and use the vinaigrette as a stir-in sauce. You’ll end up with a smoky, Puerto Rican-inspired fried rice.
  • Bland Beans: Maybe you boiled a batch earlier in the week? Mix them with our vinaigrette, and you’ve got yourself a tangy bean salad or a side dish that pairs perfectly with grilled meats.
  • Plain Pasta: Combine al dente pasta with the Smoky Sofrito Vinaigrette, add in some roasted veggies, perhaps some diced chicken or shrimp, and you’ve upgraded to a flavorful pasta salad.
  • Stale Bread: Transform it into a Latin-inspired panzanella! Tear the bread into pieces, mix with tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions. Drizzle with our vinaigrette, toss well, and let it sit for a few minutes to soak up the goodness.
  • Simple Fish or Chicken: Grilled, roasted, or pan-fried, a generous spoonful of this vinaigrette can elevate your proteins, giving them a rich, smoky depth they might have been missing.

This vinaigrette is all about breathing new life into the mundane, the overlooked, or the nearly-forgotten items in your kitchen. And remember, the best recipes often stem from a little improvisation. So, don’t hesitate to get creative.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I make my own sofrito instead of using the ready-made sauce?
    • Absolutely! Homemade sofrito often tastes fresher and allows you to tweak the flavors to your liking. Typically, it’s a blend of bell peppers, onions, garlic, and tomatoes, all finely chopped and sautéed in oil until soft and aromatic.
  • How long can I store this vinaigrette in the fridge?
    • The Smoky Sofrito Vinaigrette should be good for up to a week when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Just give it a good shake or stir before using it again.
  • Is there a substitute for red wine vinegar?
    • Yes, apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar can be a good alternative. The taste may vary slightly, but they’ll both bring a tangy touch to the vinaigrette.
  • Can I use a different oil instead of the cooking oil mentioned?
    • Certainly! Olive oil or avocado oil can be great replacements. They might impart a slightly different flavor profile, but both work harmoniously with the sofrito blend.
  • The vinaigrette seems too thick/thin for my liking. What can I do?
    • Adjusting the consistency is simple. If it’s too thick, you can add a little more water or lime juice. If it’s too thin, consider reducing the water or adding a touch more sofrito sauce.

Remember, recipes serve as guides. Feel free to make adjustments based on your preferences.


More Vibrant Vinaigrettes to Try:

Smoky Sofrito Vinaigrette in mason jar and wooden background

Smoky Sofrito Vinaigrette

Sofrito is a tomato-based sauce commonly used by the spoonful in Latin American cooking. It’s a particularly popular base from which all kinds of Puerto Rican dishes begin. Here we shake it up with spices to make a smoky, full-bodied vinaigrette.
Prep Time 3 minutes
Total Time 3 minutes
Course condiment, sauce
Cuisine Latin American
Servings 4 people
Calories 112 kcal


  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 lime halved and juiced
  • 3 tablespoon cooking oil
  • ½ cup sofrito ready made sauce
  • ¼ cup water
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • Add all ingredients into mason jar.
  • Cover tightly with a lid and shake, shake, shake!


Makes about 1 cup.


Calories: 112kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 1gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.04gSodium: 220mgPotassium: 119mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 362IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 18mgIron: 0.4mg
Keyword easy dressing, sofrito, vinaigrette
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