Puerto Rican Pastelón

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For anyone who’s ever tried Puerto Rican pastelón, you know how amazingly delicious this meal is. 

But for those who haven’t had the pleasure yet, I encourage you to try this recipe today because it’s so easy to make! 

This is because I swapped deep frying with Instant Pot sautéing for less fat and calories. And also because it’s quicker and easier to make almost any dish with Instant Pot! 

Hence my motto – “Ethnic food made easy!” 

 

Puerto Rican Pastelón

 

What is Puerto Rican pastelón?

Pastelón is is Puerto Rican plantain lasagna.

A ground beef dish with ripe plantains, seasonings, and cheese. It’s often described and compared to lasagna because it’s served as a layered casserole dish.

It may be layered like lasagna, but pastelón has its own Caribbean flair with plantains and Latin seasonings. Depending on the size of the slice you cut, pastelón can be eaten as your main course or an appetizer.

Pastelón ain’t yo mama’s lasagna tho – unless your mom is Puerto Rican or from the Caribbeans! 

 

 

Why is pastelón Puerto Rican?

Pastelón is a classic Caribbean island dish that originated in Puerto Rico.

But instead of layering with pasta like in Italian lasagna, pastelón is made with layers of sweet plantains, meat, onions, and savory seasonings bound together with cheese.

It’s also extremely popular in other Caribbean countries, including the Dominican Republic. 

Versions of the recipe may or may not include cheese, raisins, or even green beans!

 

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What do you need to make Puerto Rican pastelón?

First, you’ll need ripe plantains to make pastelón.

 

How do you choose the best plantains for pastelón? 

Pastelón requires sweet plantains. So first, you should know that plantains have more sugar content when they are ripe. 

Second, make sure that they are not overripe. Overripe plantains tend to be mushy and will affect the dish’s consistency.

Green plantains are unripe and have little to no sweetness. So you’ll want to choose black because plantains are fully ripe when they change colors from green to yellow to black, which again is when the plantain has the most sugars. 

How ripe should the plantains be?

The key to picking the right plantains for pastelón is choosing ones that are ripe and sweet.

If you purchase a green or under-ripe plantain, your pastelón may not be as flavorful because it lacks sweetness from sugar. 

The best plantains for pastelón are those that are ripened yellow with brown or black spots all over them, while the inside is still firm to the touch so you can make sweet fried plantains.

 

How can you tell if plantains are bad?

Plantains have more starch than other bananas, so when they get old, their skin starts turning brown or black spots start appearing on them. 

 

Puerto Rican Pastelón Plantain Lasagna

 

What seasonings are in Puerto Rican pastelón?

  • Adobo seasoning blend

Adobo is a popular seasoning blend in Latin American cooking that will make your dish pop with flavor! 

Adobo seasoning can be used to season anything from meats to vegetables to beans! 

It typically consists of granulated garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and turmeric. If you want to add a tangy taste to your dish, try Adobo Seasoning Blend. An ideal addition to your kitchen pantry and the perfect savory addition for pastelón ground beef. 

 

Puerto Rican Pastelón Plantain Layered Casserole
  • Sazón flavoring blend

Did you know that not all spices are created equal? 

Sazón is a great way to add flavor and depth to your cooking. It’s a unique blend of flavorful ingredients for all your cooking needs! 

By using Sazón, which contains salt, pepper, cumin, and granulated garlic, you can easily create dishes with unique flavors that will delight your family and friends.

Sazón is another specialty spice used when preparing pastelón ground beef.

 

Pastelón Puerto Rican

 

How do you make Puerto Rican pastelón?

It’s almost effortless to make this iconic Puerto Rican pastelón recipe when using Instant Pot appliances.

Start by sautéing the sweet plantains. Then season and brown the ground beef. Finally, layer this casserole dish and top it with shredded cheese.

Check out the detailed instructions below.

 

What size pan do you use? 

 

Pastelón recipe cooking equipment 

 

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Pastelón Sazon & Adobe Ground Beef

Ingredients for the ground beef

  • ½ cup of water 
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons of Adobo seasoning 
  • 1 tablespoon of Sazón seasoning salt (1 packet)
  • 1 cup of yellow onion, diced
  • ½ cup of pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste

 

Pastelón ground beef topping

  • 1 cup of mozzarella or Mexican cheese, shredded
  • ¼ cup of fresh cilantro, chopped

 

Ingredients for the sweet plantains

  • 1 cup of water 
  • 4 large ripe plantains (plantains are black in color when ripe)
  • ½ a cup of brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of cinnamon (or 2 cinnamon sticks)
  • ½ a tablespoon of butter
  • olive oil or coconut oil to grease the baking pan

 

Instant Pot ground beef instructions for Puerto Rican pastelón

  1. Remove the Instant Pot lid and turn on the sauté setting for 20 minutes. (Although you will not use all of this time. I like to have the extra minutes for the time it takes for the sauté to become active.)
  2. In the Instant Pot stainless steel inner pot, add ½ a cup of water and then the ground beef.
  3. Add the sazón and adobo seasonings on top of the ground beef.
  4. As the meat begins to cook, fold in the seasonings and add the onion, olives and tomato paste to the inner pot.
  5. Sauté in the Instant Pot (with the lid off) until the ground beef is browned.
  6. As the meat browns, continue to fold and stir in all the added ingredients.
  7. Turn off the Instant Pot and drain the ground beef using a colander.
  8. Set aside the cooked ground beef mixture.

 

Puerto Rican Pastelón Sweet Plantains Casserole

 

Instant Pot sweet plantains instructions for Puerto Rican pastelón

  1. Grease a 9×13″ baking dish with olive oil or coconut oil.
  2. How do you peel plantains? Cut the ends off each plantain, then score them lengthwise across each plantain to remove the thick outer peel. (Be careful not to slice beyond the peel and into the plantain.)
  3. How do you get the plantains so thin? After removing the peel, cut each plantain lengthwise into 1″ strips, yielding about 3-4 strips per plantain.
  4. Remove the Instant Pot lid and turn on the sauté setting for 20 minutes. (Although you will not use all of this time. I like to have the extra minutes for the time it takes for the sauté to become active.)
  5. Add the water to the stainless steel inner pot.
  6. Then add the sliced plantains, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon or cinnamon sticks.
  7. Sauté (with the instant Pot lid off) for about 5-8 minutes until the plantain slices are softened and golden in color.
  8. Flipping each plantain slice during the sautéing is optional. Both sides typically cook evenly since they’re almost submerged in the bubbling hot water.
  9. Turn off the Instant Pot and remove the plantain strips by placing a layer of them in the greased 9×13″ dish.
  10. Spread an even layer of ground beef over the layer of plantains. 
  11. Top the ground beef with a layer of shredded cheese.
  12. Bake at 350 degrees F in the Instant Pot Omni Plus oven for 3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. (Bake for 5-7 minutes in a conventional oven, or until the cheese is melted.)
  13. Remove the baked pastelón from the oven and top with the cilantro.
  14. Slice while warm, serve and enjoy!
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Instant Pot Sweet Plantains For Pastelón

 

How long should you cook plantains?

The answer to this question varies depending on the number of plantains cooking and the cooking method. 

Usually, it takes 15-20 minutes to fry 4 plantains in a saucepan on the stove. 

It’s much quicker to sauté plantains in an Instant Pot. This innovative cooking method takes only 5-8 minutes for up to 4 plantains.

 

Do you have to fry the plantains before baking them?

Yes, plantains for pastelón have to be cooked before baking them in the layered casserole dish. 

This is because ripened plantains turn golden and soften when cooked – not to mention yummy when sautéed in brown sugar and cinnamon!

 

How To Make Puerto Rican Pastelón

 

How do you season the beef for pastelón?

To properly season the ground beef, brown it in a saucepan or the Instant Pot. 

Season the meat with Latin spices Adobo and Sazón before browning. Add green pimento olives and onions for the final seal of the unique flavors in this dish!

 

How do you bake Puerto Rican pastelón?

Follow these steps to bake this Puerto Rican pastelón recipe:

  • First, fry the plantains and make sure not to overlap too many of them, or else they won’t cook evenly enough.
  • Layer an even layer of ground beef over the plantains and top with cheese. 
  • Bake in a conventional oven for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  • I recommended baking in the Instant Pot Omni Plus oven at 350 degrees for 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted. 
  • Slice and serve right away!

 

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How many servings is this recipe?

This pastelón recipe serves about 12 slices when the casserole is cut into proportionately even squares.

Need to make more or less of this dish?

You can use the dynamic recipe card below to adjust the serving size for the proportionate amount of spices and ingredients!

 

What Is Puerto Rican Pastelón?

 

What do you serve with Puerto Rican pastelón?

 

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Can you make pastelón in advance or freeze it to bake at another time?

It’s recommended to prepare pastelón on the serving day since plantains are a fruit that will spoil over time. 

However, you can pre-cook the beef filling. The ground beef can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen and brought back out to bake with freshly cooked plantain slices.

 

How do you store leftovers?

Similarly, leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.

Store pastelón in an airtight container. 

It’s best if the leftover casserole is pre-sliced before storing so servings can be quickly reheated in the microwave. The beef filling will taste just as good when it’s heated back up on the serving day. 

 

Pastelón

 

What kind of cheese do you recommend for Puerto Rican pastelón?

Some people top their pastelón with white cheese like mozzarella or provolone. In contrast, others use a yellow cheese variety to finish their recipe. 

I recommend shredded Mexican cheese (queso fresco) for this recipe because of its flavorful cheese blend.

With yellow or white cheese, it’s still pastelón – and you’ll still enjoy this delicious and tempting meal either way!

 

You may also like this delicious Black folks baked mac and cheese recipe!

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Can you make pastelón without cheese?

Puerto Rican pastelón is served best with cheese on top.

But who would have thought that the answer to this question could be so controversial?

But depending on family traditions, Caribbean location, or recipes handed down generations, you may or may not be used to pastelón with cheese. (Shut your mouth!)

I know it sounds crazy, but a many arguments have been ensued over whether or not to serve pastelón with cheese!

There are also people you may know that can’t eat cheese for dietary reasons, so they take cheese off of their pastelón. Or those people that don’t love cheese. (My daughter is “one of those” people!)

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What swaps can you make to this pastelón recipe?

Many people have tried creative variations of this dish, including substituting ground beef for ground turkey or shredded chicken. And adding vegetables like carrots, zucchini, spinach, or cauliflower to make vegan pastelón. 

The results are delicious twists on this cultural favorite!

Using the Instant Pot to sauté the ground beef in this dish also reduces the fat and calories. Don’t forget to strain the cooked ground beef!

 

Pastelón Instant Pot Ground Beef Recipe

 

Can you make this recipe with bananas instead?

Of course, this dish can be made with bananas instead – but it will not taste as good!

Plantains are starchy like potatoes. And the texture of bananas is entirely different, so the taste will not be the same.

Both plantains and bananas start off yellow, are similar in shape, and sweeten as they ripen. But their taste is not similar at all!

 

What do you think of this recipe?

Puerto Rican pastelón is a great meal when you want to enjoy savory and flavorful island cuisine!

How do you make your pastelón? Leave your feedback in a comment below!

 

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Pastelón Recipe

Puerto Rican Pastelón

Puerto Rican pastelón is a Caribbean dish of ground beef, ripe plantains, yummy Latin seasonings, and cheese. It’s often described as lasagna because it’s served as a layered plantain casserole dish.
But pastelón ain't yo mama's lasagna!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Bake Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 36 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Caribbean, Dominican, Puerto Rican
Keyword: Caribbean food, casserole, Instant Pot Duo, Instant Pot ground beef recipes, Instant Pot Omni Plus, Instant Pot recipe, Pastelón, Pastelón recipe, Puerto Rican food
Servings: 12
Calories: 265kcal
Author: Shaunda Necole

Ingredients

Ingredients for the ground beef

  • ½ cup water
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons Adobo seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon seasoning Sazón (1 packet)
  • 1 cup yellow onion diced
  • ½ cup pimento green olives sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

Pastelón ground beef topping

  • 1 cup Mexican cheese shredded (or mozzarella)
  • ¼ cup cilantro chopped

Ingredients for the sweet plantains

  • 1 cup water
  • 4 plantains large & ripe (plantains are black in color when ripe)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil spray or coconut oil spray to grease the baking pan

Instructions

Instant Pot ground beef instructions

  • Remove the Instant Pot lid and turn on the sauté setting for 20 minutes. (Although you will not use all of this time. I like to have the extra minutes for the time it takes for the sauté to become active.)
  • In the Instant Pot stainless steel inner pot, add ½ a cup of water and then the ground beef.
  • Add the sazón and adobo seasonings on top of the ground beef.
  • As the meat begins to cook, fold in the seasonings and add the onion, olives and tomato paste to the inner pot.
  • Sauté in the Instant Pot (with the lid off) until the ground beef is browned.
  • As the meat browns, continue to fold and stir in all the added ingredients.
  • Turn off the Instant Pot and drain the ground beef using a colander.
  • Set aside the cooked ground beef mixture.

Instant Pot sweet plantains instructions

  • Grease a 9×13" baking dish with olive oil or coconut oil.
  • How do you peel plantains? Cut the ends off each plantain, then score them lengthwise across each plantain to remove the thick outer peel. (Be careful not to slice beyond the peel and into the plantain.)
  • How do you get the plantains so thin? After removing the peel, cut each plantain lengthwise into 1″ strips, yielding about 3-4 strips per plantain.
  • Remove the Instant Pot lid and turn on the sauté setting for 20 minutes. (Although you will not use all of this time. I like to have the extra minutes for the time it takes for the sauté to become active.)
  • Add the water to the stainless steel inner pot.
  • Then add the sliced plantains, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon or cinnamon sticks.
  • Sauté (with the instant Pot lid off) for about 5-8 minutes until the plantain slices are softened and golden in color.
  • Flipping each plantain slice during the sautéing is optional. Both sides typically cook evenly since they’re almost submerged in the bubbling hot water.
  • Turn off the Instant Pot and remove the plantain strips by placing a layer of them in the greased 9×13" dish.
  • Spread an even layer of ground beef over the layer of plantains.
  • Top the ground beef with a layer of shredded cheese.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F in the Instant Pot Omni Plus oven for 3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. (Bake for 5-7 minutes in a conventional oven, or until the cheese is melted.)
  • Remove the baked pastelón from the oven and top with the cilantro.
  • Slice while warm, serve and enjoy!

Video

Notes

Pastelon Recipe Card
 

Nutrition

Calories: 265kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 208mg | Potassium: 499mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 845IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 120mg | Iron: 2mg
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Nutrition Facts
Puerto Rican Pastelón
Amount per Serving
Calories
265
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
12
g
18
%
Saturated Fat
 
5
g
31
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
5
g
Cholesterol
 
36
mg
12
%
Sodium
 
208
mg
9
%
Potassium
 
499
mg
14
%
Carbohydrates
 
33
g
11
%
Fiber
 
3
g
13
%
Sugar
 
19
g
21
%
Protein
 
10
g
20
%
Vitamin A
 
845
IU
17
%
Vitamin C
 
13
mg
16
%
Calcium
 
120
mg
12
%
Iron
 
2
mg
11
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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2 Comments

  1. Cyrene
    September 1, 2021 / 11:47 am

    5 stars
    Yumm! I want this!

    • September 1, 2021 / 6:54 pm

      This recipe is indeed super yum!! (and easy!)

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