Sancocho: A Colombian Stew

Usually involving a big gathering of friends and family, sancocho is one of the most popular Colombian dishes. It’s a stew with a mishmash of meat and vegetable ingredients, so much so that the people cooking it sometimes forget every single ingredient that went into making it.

As mentioned above, sancocho is more than a simple meal – it’s an event. A huge quantity is usually prepared and several friends and family members are invited to partake. There doesn’t have to be a special occasion or holiday to make sancocho but it’s definitely a great way to get people together. Many also consider it a comfort food.



There are many different varieties using chicken (sancocho de gallina), beef (sancocho de res), cooked on a wood fire, (sancocho en leña), thin and watery, thick and creamy, and others. Many factors can change the makeup of the stew, including who makes it, the region of Colombia you are in, and what ingredients are available at the market. From my time in Colombia, it’s easy to say that no two sancochos are alike.


Our Sancocho Party

Our sancocho party took place on New Year’s Day in the town of Anserma, Caldas. Marisol and her sisters started preparing the meal in the morning. They went to the market and bought all kinds of vegetables and meats. Among the ingredients were yucca, a few different kinds of potatoes, carrot, cilantro, spinach, squash, corn on the cob, arracacha (a root), pork, and chicken.

Preparing sancocho in Anserma, Caldas, Colombia

Preparing sancocho

They started a fire outside the house with a couple pieces of wood wedged between bricks. We placed a huge stainless steel pot on top of the bricks. Little by little, as the water boiled, we added the ingredients after the women finished chopping them up.

Sancocho en leña in Anserma, Caldas, Colombia

Sancocho en leña

When it was finished, everyone at the party was given a bowl of the delicious creation. We enjoyed the feast with music, good conversation, and lots of laughter.

Serving the sancocho in Anserma, Caldas, Colombia

Serving the sancocho

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