Bistec Encebollado

published Jun 18, 2022
Bistec Encebollado Recipe

While cube steak is most traditional for this flavor-packed dish, sirloin steak can also be used.

Serves6 to 8

Prep10 minutes

Cook1 hour

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a photo of Bistec Encebollado (Puerto Rican steak and onions) on a plate with a lime wedge garnish.
Credit: Laura Manzano

Bistec encebollado is one classic Puerto Rican recipe enrobed in another: Cube steaks are marinated and cooked in recaíto (a kind of


What Cut of Steak Do I Use to Make Bistec Encebollado?

The most traditional cut of meat for bistec encebollado is cube steak. Sometimes called cubed steaks or minute steaks, cube steaks are usually top sirloin steaks that have been tenderized and flattened using a meat tenderizer. They are often used for chicken fried steak because they cook quickly and are easy to cut with a knife, and they are excellent when stewed, especially after marinating overnight. 

Credit: Laura Manzano

What Is Recaíto?

Recaíto is a kind of sofrito that is a staple in Puerto Rican cooking, and the base of many stews and meat dishes. Its main ingredient is an herb called culantro. Not to be confused with cilantro (they are related, however), culantro stands up better to being stewed, as in this recipe, without becoming bitter or losing its delicate flavor. 

Bistec Encebollado Recipe

While cube steak is most traditional for this flavor-packed dish, sirloin steak can also be used.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 1 hour

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


  • 2 pounds

    cube steak (6 to 8)

  • 1 tablespoon

    sazón seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1

    small green bell pepper

  • 4

    large yellow onions, divided

  • 4 cloves


  • 1 small bunch

    culantro (about 3 ounces)

  • 1/3 cup

    distilled white vinegar

  • Lime wedges (optional)


  1. Place 2 pounds cube steak in a large bowl. Season with 1 tablespoon sazón and 1 tablespoon of the kosher salt. Toss to coat.

  2. Trim and coarsely chop 1 small bell pepper and 1 of the large yellow onions. Smash and peel 4 garlic cloves. Add the pepper, onion, garlic, 1 small bunch culantro, and 1/3 cup distilled white vinegar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides of the food processor as needed, about 15 (1-second) pulses. Pour over the steaks and tossing to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 and up to 24 hours.

  3. Thinly slice the remaining 3 large yellow onions into 1/4-inch slices. Heat a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Add enough of the onion to cover the bottom in a single layer. Cook until charred and slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat cooking the remaining onions.

  4. Add the steaks and marinade to the pot. Continue to cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the steaks are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add 2/3 of the onions. Reduce the heat to medium low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and steaks are tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Garnish with remaining onions and serve with lime wedges if desired.

Recipe Notes

Cube steak substitute: Sirloin steaks, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness, can be substituted for the cube steaks.

Make ahead: The recaíto can be made up to 1 week ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.