Pastelón is a traditional Puerto Rican dish made with layers of fried sweet plantains, picadillo, and cheese. Often called 'Puerto Rican lasagna', this baked dish has the perfect combination of crispy, creamy, sweet & salty.
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If you've ever had the chance to try any popular Puerto Rican recipes, chances are you know how important fried plantains are to the cuisine.
Whether they're baked, fried, or mashed, they're sure to make an appearance on most tables.
This recipe combines fried sweet brown plantains (also known as maduros) that are cut into long strips with layers of this classic picadillo ground beef filling and lots of shredded cheese for an incredibly satisfying end result.
Here is everything you will need to make pastelón from scratch:
- Olive oil
- Yellow onion, diced
- Red bell pepper, diced
- Lean ground beef
- Sazon seasoning
- Adobo seasoning
- Bay leaves
- Tomato sauce
- Pimento olives, sliced in half
- Salt to taste
- Brown plantains
- Canola oil
- Mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Nonstick spray
See recipe card for quantities.
Step by Step Instructions
Additional directions: Check out this detailed version of my picadillo recipe.
Easy Additions & Substitutions
Similar to lasagna, it's easy to make additions to this 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.
What to Eat it With
Here are a few of my favorite Puerto Rican sauces & sides to serve with pastelón:
- 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.
Picking the Right Plantains
Picking the right plantains is a very important step in getting this recipe 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.
You will need an 11x7 inch baking dish (a 8x8 inch square baking dish will work too) to bake this recipe.
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 5 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!