Let me teach you how to make Pastelón, a traditional Puerto Rican lasagna-style dish made with layers of fried sweet plantains, sofrito, ground beef picadillo, pimento olives, and mozzarella cheese. Often called ‘a sweet plantain lasagna’, this baked dish is the perfect combination of crispy, creamy, sweet and salty.

a baking dish of pastelón on a counter

If you’ve ever had the chance to try any popular Puerto Rican recipes, chances are you know how important plantains are to the cuisine.

Whether they’re baked, fried, or mashed, plantain recipes are sure to make an appearance on most tables.

This Puerto Rican pastelón combines fried sweet brown plantains (also known as maduros) that are cut in long strips with layers of this classic picadillo ground beef filling and lots of shredded cheese for an incredibly satisfying end result.

It’s a cozy, hearty dish that’s often referred to as ‘Puerto Rican lasagna’ due to it’s baked layers of meat and cheese. It comes out of the oven piping hot, so be sure to give it some time to set and cool properly before diving in.

I love serving this recipe as a meal during the colder months of the year, with a bowl of ensalada verde on the side.

bowls of cheese, sofrito, bay leaves, and more

Ingredients

Here is everything you will need to make this Puerto Rican lasagna with plantains from scratch:

  • Olive oil
  • Yellow onion, diced
  • Red bell pepper, diced
  • Sofrito
  • Lean ground beef 
  • Sazon seasoning
  • Adobo seasoning
  • Bay leaves 
  • Tomato sauce
  • Pimento olives, sliced in half
  • Salt to taste 
  • Brown plantains 
  • Canola oil 
  • Eggs 
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded 
  • Nonstick spray 

See recipe card for quantities.

Step by Step Instructions

peppers and onions in a pan on a stovetop
Make the picadillo. Sauté onions and red pepper in olive oil over medium heat until the onions become translucent. Add sofrito and ground beef and cook until the beef has browned.
picadillo in a pan on a stovetop
Finish the picadillo. Add seasonings, bay leaves, tomato sauce, olives, and water and bring to a heavy simmer. Lower, cover, and cook for 10 minutes or until beef is fully cooked. Add salt to taste.

Additional directions: Check out this detailed version of my picadillo recipe.

brown plantains frying in oil
Slice & fry the plantains. Start by peeling the plantains and slicing thinly lengthwise to create long strips. Fry the strips in batches in hot oil until they are all deep golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
a dish of pastelón before being baked
Layer & bake the pastelón. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a loaf pan with non stick cooking spray. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Layer a bit of picadillo at the bottom of the pan, top with strips of fried plantain, a bit of the eggs, more picadillo and shredded mozzarella. Continue to repeat these layers until ingredients run out. Finish with a generous layer of cheese and bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.
pastelón cut into 6 slices
Serve. Let the pastelón cool for at least 10 minutes so that everything settles before slicing. Serve with ensalada verde or pique. Buen provecho!

Easy Additions & Substitutions

Similar to lasagna, it’s easy to make additions to this sweet plantain recipe.

Here are some ideas that will help add some extra veggies, switch up the cheese, or make this dish even more kid friendly:

  • Add Veggies – feel free to add your favorite veggies in their own layer or directly into the sauce, just under the cheese. I’ve tried sautéed green beans, mushrooms, a few handfuls of spinach, and/or shredded carrots.
  • Switch up the Cheese – while I’m sticking to mozzarella cheese in this recipe, you can have fun with a variety of different cheese blends here. I’ve had success with a four cheese blend, straight cheddar, and more! Some traditional Puerto Rican pastelón recipes include no cheese at all, so you can also skip it if you’re not into all the cheese.
  • Kid friendly – sometimes kids aren’t crazy about the olives in this recipe, so feel free to skip them in order to make this dish appeal to the whole family.
a slice of pastelón being lifted by a spatula

Sides & Toppings

Here are a few of my favorite Puerto Rican sauces & sides to serve with Puerto Rican dinner recipe:

  • Pique – this Puerto Rican hot sauce can really add some fun acidity and spice to this cheesy baked dish.
  • Ensalada verde – a fresh green salad can help to break up the rich heavy flavors in pastelón perfectly.
  • Mojo de ajo – this garlic sauce pulls out the garlic infused sofrito in the picadillo and adds a ton of flavor to just about any savory dish.
  • Mayoketchup – mayoketchup is a classic Puerto Rican sauce we use on just about anything (especially plantains), so it’s no surprise how well it goes with this dish.
  • Pan de agua – pan de agua has that crusty baguette feel to it that when paired with pastelón feels like a pairing as perfect as lasagna and garlic bread.
brown, yellow and green plantains on a counter

Picking the Right Plantains

Picking the right plantains is a very important step in getting pastelón right. Make sure the plantains you are using are mostly brown, or at the very least a combination of deep yellow and brown.

This will ensure they provide that signature sweet plantain flavor & texture we want, as opposed to green plantains which (when fried) will result in a very different texture and taste.

If all you can find are green plantains (this happens to me often), buy them and let them sit on your counter for a few days or sometimes even weeks to let them ripen and brown.

a plate of pastelón and ensalada verde

Equipment

You will need an 11×7 inch baking dish (a 8×8 inch square baking dish will work too) to bake this sweet plantain recipe.

Storage

Pastelón makes delicious leftovers!

Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze in an air tight container for up to 2 months.

Make Ahead Tip

You can make the picadillo filling up to 3 days in advance, which makes the process of assembling this dish much faster. If planning to make for a crowd feel free to do so to make things less stressful the day of!

Buen provecho,

Salima written in cursive
Print
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a baking dish of pastelón on a counter

Baked Pastelón (Sweet Plantain Lasagna)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Salima Benkhalti
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Entree, Dinner, Lunch, Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Puerto Rican
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Let me teach you how to make Pastelón, a traditional Puerto Rican lasagna-style dish made with layers of fried sweet plantains, sofrito, ground beef picadillo, pimento olives, and mozzarella cheese. Often called ‘a sweet plantain lasagna’, this baked dish is the perfect combination of crispy, creamy, sweet and salty.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 cup sofrito
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp sazon seasoning
  • 1 tsp adobo seasoning
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup pimento olives, sliced in half
  • salt to taste
  • 46 brown plantains
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Nonstick spray


Instructions

  1. Make the picadillo. Sauté onions and red pepper in olive oil over medium heat until the onions become translucent. Add sofrito and ground beef and cook until the beef has browned.
  2. Finish the picadillo. Add seasonings, bay leaves, tomato sauce, and olives, stir and bring to a heavy simmer. Lower, cover, and cook for 10 minutes or until beef is fully cooked. Add salt to taste.
  3. Slice & fry the plantains. Start by peeling the plantains and slicing thinly lengthwise to create long strips. Fry the strips in batches in hot oil until they are all deep golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
  4. Layer & bake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a loaf pan with non stick cooking spray. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Layer a bit of picadillo at the bottom of the pan, top with strips of plantain, a bit of egg, more picadillo and shredded mozzarella. Repeat these layers until ingredients run out. Finish with a generous layer of cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.
  5. Serve. Let the pastelón cool for at least 10 minutes so that everything settles before slicing. Serve with ensalada verde or pique. Buen provecho!