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Sancocho- Ajiaco Recipe

Instant Pot: Sancocho / Ajiaco 

This Instant Pot Sancocho / Ajiaco Recipe is absolutely delicious. In a very magical way, this stew has managed to cut through almost all Latin American cultures. As you speak to people from different countries, or look around for different recipes, you will see how many interpretations there are.

Sancocho, a word often used as slang by Puerto Ricans to mean a big old mix of things, is a rustic stew eaten across the Caribbean and made with every imaginable combination of proteins and vegetables. In a way it demonstrates the resilience of the Puerto Rican people, as they commonly make this stew to feed many in times of need and it is made with whatever they have on hand.

This is probably another reason you will find so many variations for Ajiaco or Sancocho Recipes. They are less based on getting everything exact, and more based on making due with what you have.

You will find Sancocho recipes that are made with just chicken, some with pork, and different cuts of meat. There are also many Vegetarian Versions out there, which you can achieve by just cutting out the protein all together.

Our Instant Pot Sancocho/Ajiaco Recipe is somewhere between Puerto Rico’s Sancocho and Cuba’s Ajiaco. We use meat and chicken as our base and throw in all sorts of spices and herbs to get that signature taste no other stew has. There is an array of vegetables being called for. But as with tradition, do it with what you have on hand. Whether it is more or less.

Sancocho, like most great stews, usually has to simmer for hours, as it is anchored by a combination of rich bone-in meats. But our version is simplified by using our Instant Pot. By using the pressure cooker setting we will intensify the flavor very quickly. Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list. It is long but not difficult. 

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Instant Pot: Sancocho / Ajiaco 

Recipe by Abuelas Cuban CounterCourse: Entree, SoupsCuisine: Puerto Rican, CubanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 3 to 4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs

  • 1 pound of beef for stew cut in 2-inch pieces

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 1 cubanelle pepper, finely chopped 

  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut in thirds

  • 4 large pieces of frozen yuca

  • 2 corns, cut in half 

  • 1 green plantain, cut in 4 large pieces

  • 3 cups of calabaza pumpkin or butternut squash, in very large dice

  • 4 teaspoons of tomato paste

  • 4 cups of chicken or beef bone broth

  • 6 culantro leaves

  • 2 cups of swiss chard greens shredded (you can also use spinach)

  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, rinse and remove most of the stems

  • 2 packets of sazon with culantro and achiote

  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder

  • ½ teaspoon of cumin

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

  • Garnish: freshly chopped cilantro, avocado and lime. 


  • Set the Instant Pot to the Saute setting on high.
  • Add the olive oil, onion, cubanelle pepper, salt and pepper. Let that cook for 3 to 5 minutes until it starts to soften then add the cilantro, oregano, culantro, cumin, turmeric and the dried oregano. Give everything a stir and cook for another 3 minutes. 
  • Mix the beef into the pot. Cook for 5 minutes or until some pieces start to brown.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Careful it doesn’t burn. 
  • Add the chicken. Mix it around and then you are going to add in the culantro and achiote sazon packets, tomato paste and mix everything in. Continue to cook on sauté mode for 10 minutes. 
  • Add the corn, yuca, pumpkin, carrots, plantain. Add some salt and pepper over all the vegetables and mix so everything is properly coated with seasoning. Add the chicken broth and more water to cover the ingredients. Be sure not to pass the maximum fill line. 
  • Set the pot to pressure cook on high for 40 minutes. You can let it naturally release or quick release once the time is up. 
  • Once it is ready, remove the chicken pieces. Discard the fat and the bone of the chicken and shred it slightly before adding it back into the stew. Add the greens and mix again. Taste the stew and adjust the seasoning as needed. We always find the vegetables in part a lot of their natural sweetness so don’t be afraid to add more salt and pepper.  
  • Serve in a bowl with an array of the ingredients and garnish as you wish.