Pabellón Criollo

National Dish for any Occasion

There is literally no family or community event without Pabellón Criollo. The juicy meat is really easy to prepare, just takes a bit of patience.

You can get creative with the combinations of sides and toppings. If you can find plantain, don’t miss to add a side of this fried sweet goodness.

Pabellón Criollo Spice Blend
Annatto, cumin, lime and orange peel, paprika, oregano
Venezuelan Pabellón Criollo


Short Recipes & Tips for Sides & Sauces



  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic or more to taste
Venezuelan Guasacaca


  • Roughly cut all Guasacaca ingredients.
  • Blend them in a FOOD PROCESSOR with 1 tbsp oil and 2-4 tbsp water into a smooth sauce.
  • Alternatively, skip the bell pepper. Chop all other ingredients finely, and stir them together with 1 tbsp oil and a bit of water until it’s a smooth sauce
  • Season to taste with salt & pepper and 1 tbsp vinegar or more.


For a most authentic Venezuelan dinner experience, arepas are a key side dish. These fried corn breads are very popular filled with potato or chicken salad, and just anything that you would put on a sandwich. 

Arepas are made from a special type of corn flour. The most popular brand is P.A.N. If you found the right one, it will have the instructions on the back. You mix the corn flour with water and a dash of salt. Then, form the arepas in the size of a burger patty. 

Arepas are fried or grilled and then filled with the complete dish or added as a type of bread on the plate.


Venezuelan Arepas on grill

Tip: Make sure that the patties are smooth on the outside. If they are dry a crack, add a bit more water to the flour.

Fried Plantains

Ripe Plantain

It’s important to select a ripe plantain at the grocery store. Otherwise, it is hard to peel and you have to cut off most of the fruit. Here are some tips:

  • See: The darker the skin, the riper the plantain. It’s normal for a ripe plantain to have some black spots.

  • Feel: Press your finger into the skin. It should feel soft without much resistance.

  • Smell: A ripe plantain should have a sweet, fruity aroma, not sour or musty.

Cut the plantain into large slices. Fry them in hot oil. Drain them on a paper towel. Finally, sprinkle them with salt to taste.

Venezuelan Pabellón Criollo

Venezuelan Pabellón Criollo

Pabellón Criollo is considered to be the national dish of Venezuela with a long history and cultural significance. It's indispensable at family and community festivities. The juicy meat is first slow cooked, shredded, and then added to fried onions, garlic, and bell pepper. Pabellón Criollo is a hearty and flavorful dish that is traditionally served with a side of rice, black beans, fried sweet plantains, and a variety of optional accompaniments.
hands-on time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Venezuelan
Servings 3



  • 1.5 lbs beef flank or skirt steak *

Fresh Produce

  • 2 onions 1 quartered, 1 finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic grated or pressed
  • 1 red bell pepper finely chopped

Packaged Goods/Staples

  • 1/2 cup tomato puree unseasoned **
  • oil
  • salt & pepper

Pabellón Criollo Culinary Spice Kit

  • Annatto, cumin, lime and orange peel, paprika, oregano

Suggested Sides & Toppings

  • black beans see recipe link in notes
  • white rice see recipe link in notes
  • fried plantains see recipe link in notes
  • sunny side up eggs
  • avocado slices
  • any mild crumbled or shredded cheese
  • chopped cilantro


Cook the meat

  • In a POT, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.
  • Add meat, 1 onion (quartered), and salt & pepper to taste.
  • Return to a boil. Cook over medium-low heat until the meat is tender.
  • Take the meat out and let it cool. Reserve the broth.
  • Pull the meat apart with a fork or by hand.

Fry & Finish the dish

  • In a large PAN, heat 2 tbsp oil.
  • Fry 1 onion (finely chopped) until translucent.
  • Add garlic and bell pepper.
  • Fry for about 5 minutes.
  • Add Pabellón Criollo spices. Mix well.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Add tomato puree and 2 cups of the reserved broth.
  • Mix well. Add pulled meat. Mix well.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.
  • Occasionally, check the liquid and add broth if necessary.


  • Serve with rice, beans, and fried plantains, or your preferred sides and toppings.
  • Enjoy!


* Substitute beef with pork butt or shoulder or with chicken breasts or thighs.
** Tomato puree can be substituted with 1-2 finely chopped tomatoes and 1-2 tsp tomato paste.
*** Recipes for side dishes & sauces
Caribbean rice and beans
Fried plantains (see above this recipe)
Caribbean green seasoning
Guasacaca sauce (see above this recipe)
Arepas (see above this recipe)