This stew is amazing belly-warming comfort food, and it’s healthy too. Before 2023, I had never heard of Sazon. When I tried it the first time, it was love at first taste. My first batch of sazon spanish stew was on the salty side, but I later figured out how to easily control the sodium level to suit me. You can do the same. I also made my usual ingredient adjustments to reduce the calorie density. This recipe is similar to Puerto Rican Pollo Guisado. It has simply been tweaked a little to give it a Spanish flair.
This is a complete meal that follows the Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle 1-2-3 meal builder formula.
First, we have the protein. Pollo Guisado uses drumsticks or bone-in chicken thighs. As regular readers will probably guess, I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts. If you want to use a different part of the chicken, go right ahead. Just remember that the macros may change in the direction of a little more calories and fat and a little less protein.
I used 24 ounces of chicken (680g). The reason is, I wanted to make this a very high protein meal. There are 45 grams per serving if you break this entire batch of stew into four servings. Even if you break it into five slightly smaller servings, you still get 35 grams of protein.
Second, we have the vegetables. Our recipe includes green bell pepper (you could use red if you prefer), onion, and crushed tomatoes (part of the sauce).
Third, we have the starchy carbs – potatoes. For my version of this stew, I did something fun. In my local regular grocery store I found mini baby potatoes. As you know, baby potatoes are already small. Mini baby potatoes are even smaller. They are tiny round gold potatoes, about an inch across. I used the brand Nibbles by Tasteful Selections. The package says, “The world’s smallest gourmet potato.” Wal Mart usually carries a brand called Little Yellows by Little Potato Company.
Using mini baby potatoes, I didn’t have to cut them, I just tossed them right in the pot and they were done in the usual cooking time. The miniature potatoes make for a nice presentation. Plus, all but the largest of the small (is that an oxymoron?) potatoes are bite-sized.
If you can’t find these tiny little potatoes, then I would suggest using the smallest baby potatoes you can, and cut them in half. In the event you can’t find any small baby potatoes, don’t worry, you could use regular large potatoes and cut them into small cubes or pieces.
If you fail to use very small potatoes, or cut larger potatoes into very small pieces, the cooking time will be longer. On that note, the cooking time listed here is 25 to 30 minutes. But before you serve your stew, take a fork or sharp pointy knife and poke a few of the largest potatoes to be sure they are cooked through.
The worst thing is to take your stew off the burner, serve it into a bowl, and only then realize then that some of the potatoes are still raw. If ever in doubt, let it simmer a little longer (30 minutes minimum). Also, for best results, push the potatoes down so they are almost all submerged in the sauce.
The sauce consists of crushed tomatoes, chicken broth and tomato paste. Most of the original recipes I looked at used tomato sauce. I tried that and it was delicious, but it was more like soup than stew. So I switched to crushed tomatoes and haven’t turned back. Crushed tomatoes make the sauce more like stew.
The seasonings and aromatics include minced garlic, oregano, black pepper, and maybe some salt. Whether you add any salt depends on the other ingredients you use. If you follow a traditional recipe, it can get over the top salty.
The seasonings that steal the show are the sazon and smoked paprika. These two together are amazing. Regular paprika will work, but it is well worth making smoked paprika a staple in your spice drawer. It’s a level beyond regular paprika.
Sazon is a Spanish seasoning that you can find in most regular grocery stores. I found it in the Goya section. This comes in little orange foil packets that say on the front, “This unique seasoning will add color to your food” and on the back, “A little magic in little foil packets.”
Some people might object to using this seasoning because the first two ingredients listed on the label are MSG and salt. There are 170mg of sodium per 1/4 teaspoon. That’s 680mg per teaspoon. This recipe calls for one packet, or up to two teaspoons. I weighed the contents of one packet to 5g. The Goya labels says 1/4 tsp equals one serving equals 1 gram. So that means one packet contains 850mg sodium.
We split this batch into four servings, so using the Goya sazon would add 212mg sodium to a single serving. That’s actually not that much. If you used two teaspoons, that would be 1360mg sodium or 340mg per serving. Still not a huge amount. But that’s only counting the sazon seasoning. There is additional sodium from other ingredients, especially olives.
Regular olives are brined and that’s why they are so salty. Four manzanilla (Spanish) pimento stuffed olives contain 310mg of sodium, and you get a lot more than four olives in each serving if you use a cup or so in the whole batch. The solution here is easy. Use the reduced sodium olives, which may have almost 80% less sodium.
If you choose, you can also use reduced sodium or no sodium added crushed tomatoes. Same thing with the chicken stock/broth – you can use the reduced sodium or zero sodium type.
You can see on one hand, if you use the regular type of all the ingredients (not reduced sodium), this can come out super salty. But it’s not that difficult to keep the sodium controlled if you make the ingredient adjustments I mentioned above.
On the other hand, if you use no-sodium everything, believe it or not, this can actually taste a little bland and seem like it’s missing something. Which of course is salt. Additional salt is listed in the chicken seasoning in almost all traditional recipes, but whether you need any additional salt depends the type of ingredients you use, as well as how much sazon you use.
UPDATE: Home-Made Sazon Seasoning
If you want total control over the salt and other ingredients found in Sazon by companies like Goya, then you can make your own Sazon seasoning.
The Goya Sazon is popular, but some people don’t want to use it because of certain ingredients. In order, the first ingredient is MSG and the second is salt. Goya Sazon also contains artificial colors (red 40 and yellow 5) and an anti caking agent. (Note: If you search around, you can find MSG-free Sazon).
In addition to the salt, the ingredients in Goya’s Sazon include annatto, cumin, coriander, and garlic powder. So, if you wanted to duplicate the Goya blend, you could use those four ingredients in equal amounts. Then add the amount of salt you want (five ingredients total).
The red-colored annato (also known as achiote) is not an ingredient that’s in most people’s spice drawer, but it’s not Sazon without it – it’s the top ingredient used. You may not see annatto in the regular spice section of your local grocery store, but you might find it in the international or Spanish foods section. If not, it is widely available online including from Amazon. Badia is one popular brand.
You’ll notice that in our recipe, we included oregano and black pepper in addition to the Goya Sazon packet, so you can add those as the sixth and seventh ingredients. This is probably the most popular home-made blend.
A possible eighth ingredient is onion powder (I like it), but it’s not usually included in the traditional recipe. Some brands also include paprika, but that is also not typically in the traditional sazon recipe. (But we add it to our stew separately).
I plan to continue experimenting with different spice blends, but at the moment, this is our current winning home-made Sazon seasoning:
2 Tbsp annatto (achiote)
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp coriander
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp oregano
1 -2 tsp onion powder (optional)
1 tsp plack pepper
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
If you add this up, it’s 20 teaspoons, which is a little under a half a cup. That’s a pretty large batch of seasoning, so if you’re not sure you’ll like this recipe and you want to test it first, you might want to scale down these amounts by half just to test it before you go all in and fill up your spice jars.
Feel free to experiment with the ingredients and the amounts of each, but this is my favorite so far. And remember, the five main ingredients in the authentic seasoning are annatto, cumin, coriander, garlic powder, and salt. If you omit any of those, you’re moving away from the original recipe. The oregano, black pepper and onion powder are optional, but I definitely think you should include oregano and black pepper into the stew if you don’t include them in your own homemade sazon seasoning.
If you like this recipe exactly as printed above, let me know. But also, if you change this recipe and come up with something else you really like, let me know about that too. However you make your blend, it’s nice to know there are zero artificial ingredients in the home made seasoning and you’re in charge of the salt level.
Although I only started making Sazon Spanish chicken stew recently, I’ve whipped up at least a half a dozen batches already, not just because I’m testing in the Burn the Fat kitchen, but because I love this stew! Hope you enjoy it too.
Remember, you can customize this recipe or any other Burn the Fat recipe in the Burn the Fat Meal Planner software (members only login here)…
Enjoy this latest Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle meal!
-Tom Venuto, Author of, Burn The Fat Guide To Flexible Meal Planning For Fat Loss
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PS. Check out our #1 rated crockpot high protein beef stew recipe
- 680 g boneless skinless chicken breast (24oz)
- 164 g green bell pepper (5.8oz/1large)
- 160 g onion, chopped (5.6oz/1 cup)
- 397 g crushed tomatoes (or tomato sauce) (14oz)
- 85 g tomato paste (3oz/1/2can)
- 454 g small baby potatoes halved (or mini baby potatotes) (16oz)
- 163 g pimento stuffed olives, low sodium (1 jar or reduce amount to reduce calories)
- 480 ml chicken broth (2 cups)
- 60 g fresh chopped parsley (1 cup)
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 Tbsp fresh minced garlic (about 3 lg cloves)
- 1 packet Sazon seasoning (Goya, etc) or use homemade (2 tsp)
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4-1/2 tsp salt (optional because sazon is salty)
Mince garlic, chop onion, and dice bell pepper
Chop the chicken into small pieces. Pat dry. Get all other ingredients in place before you start to cook.
Add two teaspoons of olive oil to a Dutch oven or large wide skillet or stovetop casserole dish. Heat to medium high.
Add chicken to Dutch oven. Season the chicken with sazon, oregano, salt and pepper, stirring to make sure it is evenly coated. (Alternate method: season the chicken in a bowl before adding to Dutch oven).
Cook until lightly browned (about 5 minutes). Remove to bowl, leaving any juice in the Dutch oven.
If Dutch oven gets dry add another tsp of olive oil or a Tbsp of chicken stock, but there should be a little chicken juice and olive oil remaining. Add onions and bell pepper. Saute for about 2 or 3 minutes or until vegetables start to slightly soften. Stir regularly. Again, if the Dutch oven starts to dry out, you can add a Tbsp or two of chicken broth (as oil replacement to save calories)
Add garlic. Saute one more minute, stirring constantly.
Pour in the crushed tomatoes and then the tomato paste. Add the Smoked paprika an stir until evenly combined and tomato paste is dispersed.
Add the chicken broth, then add the cooked chicken, potatoes, and olives. Stir.
Chop parsley and add to Dutch oven (reserve a little parsley if you want it for garnish).
Turn the heat down to between medium and m medium low or where the stew is still going at a strong simmer (still slowly bubbling)
Cover with a lid and continue cooking for 25 to 30 minutes or until the potatoes are done. The larger the potatoes, the longer it will take. Pierce a few of the largest potatoes with a fork or sharp pointy knife to make they are cooked.
Turn off the heat and let the stew sit for 5 more minutes. Optional: Garnish with Parsley.
Calories: 443kcal | Carbohydrates: 32.7g | Protein: 44.8g | Fat: 13.5g
About Tom Venuto
Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilding and fat loss expert. He is also a recipe creator specializing in fat-burning, muscle-building cooking. Tom is a former competitive bodybuilder and today works as a full-time fitness coach, writer, blogger, and author. In his spare time, he is an avid outdoor enthusiast and backpacker. His book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle is an international bestseller, first as an ebook and now as a hardcover and audiobook. The Body Fat Solution, Tom’s book about emotional eating and long-term weight maintenance, was an Oprah Magazine and Men’s Fitness Magazine pick. Tom is also the founder of Burn The Fat Inner Circle – a fitness support community with over 52,000 members worldwide since 2006. Click here for membership details