Pastelón (Puerto Rican Plantain “Lasagna”)

Pastelón is a classic Puerto Rican dish made with layers of thinly-sliced plantains, ground beef, and cheese! Think of it as a Puerto Rican version of lasagna. It's the perfect casserole to make for a potluck or family gathering.

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 ripe plantains, about 3 to 3 1/4 pounds
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pound ground beef (preferably ground round) or ground turkey
  • 1 teaspoon adobo seasoning blend
  • 1 package sazón flavoring blend, optional
  • 1 small white onion, minced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 green bell pepper, minced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon recaito flavoring base, or 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 6 pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 cups Monterey jack, cheddar, or mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 10x10 casserole dish (for a thicker pastelón) or 9x13 casserole dish (for a thinner pastelón) with nonstick cooking spray or butter.

2 Prepare the plantains: Cut off both ends from the plantain, then use the tip of your knife to cut a slit down the back. Using your two thumbs, remove the peel from the plantain and discard the peel.

Once you’ve peeled all the plantains, slice each one in half down the length. Separate the two halves and flip them onto their flat sides to create a stable base. Place your palm flat on top of the plantain, and use a sharp knife to slice parallel to the cutting board and cut the plantains into very thin slices (about 1/4-inch thick). Set aside.

(Alternatively, you can use a mandoline to slice the plantains thinly, but be careful because the plantains are soft and the mandoline is sharp!)

How to Make Pastelon cut the tips of the plantain Puerto Rican Lasagna slice the plantain lengthwisePlantain Lasagna with Beef and Cheese peel the plantains How to Make Pasteolon slice the peeled plantain

3 Fry the plantains: In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil to 300°F over medium heat (check the temperature with a candy thermometer or instant-read thermometer). Line a plate with paper towels to drain the plantains after frying, and set next to the stove.

Place four or five slices of plantains into the oil and fry for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side, or until the plantains have a browned slightly. Remove from the skillet to the paper-lined plate to drain. Continue frying the remaining plantains.

Puerto Rican Lasagna fry the plantains

4 Cook the beef: Drain all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan you used to fry the plantains. Return the pan to the stove and heat over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and season with the adobo and sazón.

Continue to cook the meat, breaking it up into crumbles, for 6 minutes or until browned. Drain the meat by pouring it into a colander, but leave a bit of the grease in the pan to cook the vegetables.

How to Make Pastelon cook the beef

5 Cook the vegetables: Return the empty pan to the heat and cook the onions, bell pepper, and recaito for 3 minutes or until glossy. Add the olives, capers, and dried oregano, and cook for 2 more minutes.

Plantain Lasagna with Beef and Cheese cook the vegetables

6 Finish the filling: Return the ground beef to the pan with the vegetables, along with the tomato sauce, and then stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then remove the pan from the heat.

How to Make Pastelon add the tomato sauce

7 Assemble the pastelón: Cover the bottom of the casserole dish with a single layer of the fried plantain strips. Spoon a 1-inch layer of the ground beef mixture onto the plantains. Top with 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Repeat with another layer of plantains, meat, and cheese (reserve the remaining 1 cup of cheese). Top with a final layer of plantains.

How to Make Pastelon layer the plantains How to Make Pastelon layer the beef Puerto Rican Lasagna layer the cheese

8 Add the egg layer: In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and baking soda until frothy. Pour this mixture over the plantains.

How to Make Puerto Rican Lasagna add the egg

9 Bake the pastelón, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the remaining cup of cheese. Return the dish to the oven and cook for an additional five minutes, until the cheese has melted.

Plantain Lasagna with Beef and Cheese bake the pastelon and add cheese

10 Cool and serve: Remove the pastelón from the oven. Allow it to cool for at least fifteen minutes before slicing and serving, which helps it maintain its shape when sliced.

Leftovers can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to three days. To reheat, cut a portion and place either in the microwave or the oven until warmed through.

How to Make Puerto Rican Lasagna

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Comments

  • Ellie Gu

    NO CHEESE! NO GREEN BEANS! ABSOLUTELY NO. RAISINS. EVER!!!! Corn…yes… maybe! Pimento pieces…yes! Sliced green Olives with pimento… sometimes! Raisins are a South American influence and cheese is an American influence. Keep it simple and authentic for the best recipe flavor!

    • Summer Miller

      Hi, Ellie! It’s Summer, I’m an editor here at Simply Recipes. It looks like you have strong opinions on this dish, which is great! That’s the beauty of food! We all have our favorite versions. Marta, the woman who developed this recipe, delves into all of the regional variations of this dish (including the division in her own family) in the paragraphs leading up to the recipe. I’m sure whatever the variation Pastelón is delicious!

  • lynn

    Thank you so much for keeping our recipes and traditions alive. Kids these days don’t cook like back in the day. Dios te bendiga

    xxxxxyyyyy

    • Marta Rivera

      I can’t begin to tell you how much this comment means to me, Lynn. It’s so important to me to honor one’s culture through food. Que Dios te bendiga también!

  • Ruthie

    Super easy and very tasty!! I loved it and so did my family. I did use ground turkey instead of beef but non the less still came out great.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Dustin

    A couple of ladies at my church made this today. I volunteer in the kitchen and we do a fair amount of PR recipes like Pollo Guisado and Sancocho. But not gonna lie, I thought at first this “plantain lasagna” thing was a terrible idea. I could not be more wrong in my life! Pastelón is incredibly delicious! I loved it! And so did everyone else. They must be NuyoRicans because they did not skimp on the cheese (used shredded cheddar) and no green beans! I am bookmarking this page because this is going in my Latin Recipe file. Mmm thank you!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Grissell

    So perfectly explained I could cry!

  • Pamela

    Hi , how many slices are you suppose to have per plantain?

  • TC

    It looks great but it is not the traditional version made with eggs like a frittata. This still looks really good.

  • Marilyn

    I love this recipe!! YES to the cheese. I like adding Monterey to it verses mozzarella because the Monterey melts nicely and is not overpowering in taste. I love it. Thank you!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • @spicetomeetya

    If you’re gonna call it “lasagna” than YES to the mozzarella cheese. It is not a casserole, so NO to the green beans!! I like mine with thin layers of eggplant as well. Almost like a moussaka. Puerto Rico meets Greece. I also use ground beef and chorizo; with tomato sauce, garlic, and sauteed onions. NO green peppers! Just the green olives with pimientos and capers.

  • Felisa

    Awesome! Thank you so much!

  • Anani

    Hi Marta
    I am 13 and a Boricua. I just made this for my family and they LOVED it. Thank you for this recipe.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Aurora

    Made this tonight for dinner…havent had it yet, but it looks yummy. It’s currently cooling. I dont remember cheese on it, but I placed some mozzarella on it. I love cheese so it cant go wrong. Thanks for sharing the recipe :)

  • Irving

    There is no cheese in Puerto Rican pastelon. After browning the beef add 2 or 3 tablespoons of sofrito and 2 tablespoons of recaito. Both can be found in the Goya section Again: no cheese!!!!

  • Sara

    Can this dish be assembled 2 days before serving?

    • Marta Rivera

      Hi Sara,
      I would wait to fry the plantains just before assembling, but the picadillo (meat filling) can be prepared in advanced. For some reason, the plantains don’t turn out the same if they’re not baked shortly after assembling.

  • Mayra

    I have made the Plantain Lasagna before without the eggs and I do not call it piñón because it has cheese. I prefer not to add green beens to any of my dishes and I use raisins only when stuffing the turkey. Now I’m going to try it following this recipee and add the eggs. Thank you

  • John.O

    María, you are right. The one your husband is talking about is piñón, which is like a plantains shepherds pie

  • Marie

    Ha ha! No cheese here, and definitely yes raisins! I usually make chubby little piononos; mostly the same, but I’ll have to do a pastelón for a change

    • Marta Rivera

      I haven’t had piononos in the longest, Marie! I think I need to change that. I’ll definitely tell my husband you agree with him. But the raisins, chica?!? No puedo!!! Ja ja ja!!

  • Dave the Foodie

    Hi, thanks for the neat idea.
    I’m not a fan of sweet foods but when I was living in the south Philippines I enjoyed a type of small banana that had a very interesting flavour when green but sweet when ripened. A somewhat unexplainable starchy pasta type taste, I’m wondering if using sliced uncooked green plantains would have a similar flavour? Using your recipe above with these I think would be a different alternative to the sweet taste I try to avoid. I’m guessing more liquid in the meat sauce would be necessary. What do you think of this idea? Perhaps there is already something like this I’ve overlooked.
    Dave the Foodie.

    • Marta Rivera

      It really won’t, Dave. But, the great thing about our cuisine is that you can make it what you want. Truth be told, I cannot stand sweet plantains on their own (not a huge fan of sweet and savory together). In this dish, however, the sweetness is not cloying, so it only gives the slightest hint of sweet.
      I have to assume that the banana you tasted in the Philippines is the same as our plantains. If you do opt for using the green, the method to peel and slice will be the same. You will definitely need more sauce as the plantains will fry up to a crispy chip-like) texture instead of a soft one like the sweet. I would double the amount of tomato sauce and the powdered seasonings as well.
      Let me know how it turns out!

  • Ruby Soria

    Hello Marta,
    I agree with your honey, no cheese!
    Also, no green beans nor raisins. The plantains are already sweet. The green beans if one must add be sure to cut them bite size. Thanks for bringing my beloved PR dish to the limelight.

    • Marta Rivera

      NOOOOOOO Ruby!! Say it ain’t sooo!!! I’m glad my man has someone on his side, though. He was starting to feel lonely! I’ll let him know he has support. Abrazos!

  • Jan

    Aye bendito!! I spent eight wonderful years in Puerto Rico and this was one of my favorites. I haven’t made it yet but I sure will. Thank you!!!

    • Marta Rivera

      De nada!!! I miss that beautiful island so much, don’t you?

  • Sharon

    Is it possible to make this without frying the plantains? Perhaps oven-roasting the slices first?

    • Marta Rivera

      Hi Sharon!
      GREAT question! You most certainly can roast the plantain slices in the oven prior to assembling the pastelón. Preheat your oven to 425°F. You want a high-heat to get the slices caramelized. Grease a sheet pan lightly to prevent the slices from sticking once they start to release those sugars. Roast for 6-8 minutes (keep an eye on them to make sure they’re not browning too fast), then flip and roast about 3-4 minutes more.
      Again, keep an eye on your slices as everyone’s oven is different. The goal is to get them caramelized as we do when frying. Hope you enjoy this method!

      • Lourdes

        Yes. The way I do it is not frying the plantains. I boil them and then mashed them!

  • Riddhima Nair

    Looks great, thanks.

  • Taisha

    Looks great, will make. I’ve made before but not entirely the traditional way.

    Lorri Glennon, if you visit Sweets and Beyond on YouTube she has a video for the dishes that you are looking for. Check her out.

  • Alty

    As a true blue Puertorican, married to a true blue Nuyorican, I can attest to the fact that cheese has never been part of this recipe. The rest of it is pretty accurate. It seems chefs in this country are not happy unless there’s cheese added to just about every recipe. However, I thank you for bringing attention to our cuisine so more people can enjoy it.

    • Marta Rivera

      The great thing about our culture is the diversity. My mother was also a true blue Puerto Rican, and I’m a true blue Nuyorican. She and I both add cheese, so I don’t believe it’s just an U.S. thing.

    • Irving

      I agree. I am from PR. No cheese in pastelon.

  • Lorri Glennon

    My mother in law from Mayaguez PR taught me to make this but we call it Piñon. And has the green beans. Still one of my favorites. What I would like to see recipes for is Pasteles. And Boitos ? Banana ? Dumplings she used to make them and serve them on top of beans. So yum but it has been 30 years since I have had any

    • Marta Rivera

      Yes, Lorri, both pastelón and piñon are the names for this dish. I guess it’s a regional thing as me and my husband’s families are from the eastern and northeastern side of the island, respectively. No matter what you call, the dish tastes amazing, am I right?
      Bollitos de guineos are a classic dish, indeed! Great country cooking. Pasteles are so closely guarded among families, I find, but they certainly are a staple of our beautiful cuisine.
      Thank you for taking me down memory lane!

  • Rhonda @ Change In Seconds

    Wow lasagna with plantain!

    • Marta Rivera

      If you’ve never tried, you must, Rhonda! Something about the sweet and savory that takes it to a different level.