Panamanian sancocho originated in the Azuero region of the country, and Panamanians swear by eating a bowl of the hot soup for lunch on the hottest days, to help cool off. It is often accompanied by the much-loved patacones, fried plantains, which are another staple in the Panamanian diet.

Sancocho is Panama’s national dish.

There are versions of sancocho throughout Latin America, but it is particularly beloved in Panama.

At heart, Sancocho is a delicious stew that you could have at breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Sancocho Recipe

Cook time: ~1.5 hours

  1. 1 chicken, cut into pieces

  2. 1 Tbsp. oil (your choice)

  3. 3 garlic cloves, pressed

  4. 2 Tbsp oregano

  5. 1 tsp black pepper

  6. 1 tablespoon oregano

  7. 4 Tbsp culantro*, chopped (plus some leaves for the rub)

  8. 1 large onion, chopped into bite-size pieces

  9. 3 pounds of starchy vegetables.  I’d recommend using both ñame and yuca.  Other options are otoe and green plantains.**

  10. Small calabasa (squash) – chopped***

  11. 1 carrot, chopped

  12. 2 ears corn, broken into 1″ pieces (note, the corn is Panama is not sweet and much tougher than found in North America)

  13. 3 tsp salt (to taste)



  1. Start by killing the chicken. Okay, you don’t have to do that. But many locals go out in the yard grab a gallina de patio (chicken of the yard), kill and pluck it.  You can buy a chicken from the store. But in Panama you can also purchase one from any house with a “vende gallina de patio” (or just, gallina de patio) sign out front.  They will kill and pluck it for you. Keep in mind that these free range birds are tougher than you may be used to eating.  They need to cook longer.

  2. Cut up the chicken – keep the bone in during the cooking process.  Often the soup is served with the bones. It is common for people to eat the bone marrow once they are done with their soup.

  3. Rub the chicken with culantro leaves

  4. In a big pot, add water and chicken pieces. Make sure the water covers the chicken – and a bit more. Bring to a boil.

  5. Peel the root vegetables and cut into bite-size pieces.

  6. Add all the veggies and spices. Bring to boil again.

  7. Once it boils, remove the foam that is floating over the top.  Lower the temperature to a medium simmer. Cover it loosely with the lid. Let it to simmer for about 45 minutes. At this point the ñame will be done and breaking apart, this will help thicken the broth.

  8. Cook until everything softens. Keep adding water so the veggies stay about an inch under water.

  9. Stir in salt to taste.

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