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Published September 28, 2022. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Learn how to make this delicious classic Chicago Puerto Rican jibarito sandwich with flank steak, tostones, aioli, and American cheese. You will never miss a cheeseburger again after you taste the amazing flavors in this.
I love researching and cooking classic Latin recipes from all over the world because of the rich history and incredible flavors in each dish. If you love Latin food and are looking to try out some new recipes, make my Refried Beans or Baja Fish Tacos.
Jibarito, pronounced hee-bah-ree-toe, is a classic Puerto Rican sandwich that was founded in the Humboldt Park neighborhood in Chicago in the 1990s at the famous Borinquen Restaurant. It consists of slow-cooked spice-rubbed beef that is thinly sliced and served up like a burger with lettuce, tomato, onions, and aioli, except plantains instead of bread, known as tostones. Tostones are flattened and fried plantains that are popular in Latin cuisine.
After living in Chicago for 12 years I can tell you that every jibarito I’ve tasted has been different than the next. Whether it’s the spice rub on the meat, the cut of meat, or some of the toppings, this is a recipe that can vary depending on the availability of ingredients. In fact, I like to add a little smoky adobo sauce to the flank steak marinade for a small spice addition. Regardless, it’s beyond delicious and honestly is my new favorite burger.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Steak – I like to use flank steak for this recipe, but skirt steak can be used.
- Spices and Seasonings – A combination of cumin, salt, pepper, and lime is used in the marinade. In addition, I add a little adobo sauce for some spice, although it is not a traditional ingredient.
- Plantains – You will need some ripe green plantains for this recipe.
- Cheese – American cheese is the classic cheese used.
- Tomatoes – I like to use vine-ripe or Roma tomatoes.
- Lettuce – Iceberg or green leaf lettuce will work.
- Onions – You can use red, white, yellow, or sweet onions for this.
- Sauce – I like to add garlic aioli as the sauce. See notes on the optional sauce.
How to Make a Jibarito
Combine the adobo sauce, oil, salt, lime juice, and sugar into a bowl and whisk together and transfer to a plastic bag along with the flank steak. Move the ingredients around, so the steak is covered and marinated while prepping the other ingredients or overnight.
Make the aioli in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Add some oil to a 10” cast iron skillet and heat until it reaches about 350°.
Gently peel the plantains.
Slice them into thirds and then in half longways.
Add in the plantain slices and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side in the hot oil. You may have to do this in batches.
Drain on paper towels and cool for a few seconds.
Mash the fried plantains with the back of a pan or a tortilla shell maker.
Place the flattened plantains back into the pan with oil and cook for 2 minutes or just until crispy on the outside and tender in the middle.
Set aside and repeat until all plantains are fried to make tostones.
Once everything is prepped up, add the flank steak to a very large sauté pan over medium-high heat and cook until a medium-rare internal temperature is achieved, about 6-7 minutes per side.
Set aside the beef to rest for 2 minutes and then slice very thin on a bias and against the grain. Keep warm.
Layer up a fried plantain with American cheese, aioli, sliced flank steak, tomatoes, onions, and more aioli, and then top off with another tostone.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: These are meant to be eaten as soon as they are done cooking. You can keep the steak warm separate from the other ingredients for up to 15 minutes in the oven on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper at 165°.
How to Store: Cover and keep the ingredients separate in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. You can freeze only the meat, covered for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day before reheating.
How to Reheat: Add the meat and tostones to a cookie sheet tray lined with parchment paper and heat in the oven at 350° for 4 to 6 minutes or until warm.
Chef Notes + Tips
- Another option I’ve seen is using garlic butter instead of garlic mayonnaise-like aioli.
- Brown plantains are also known as maduros and are sweet.
More Latin Inspired Recipes
Jibarito Sandwich Recipe with Flank Steak and Aioli
For the Flank Steak:
- ¼ cup of adobo sauce
- ½ cup of canola oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons of sea salt
- juice of ½ lime
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 ½ pound flank steak
For the sandwich:
- 1 cup of mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt
- juice of ½ lemon
- 1 large finely minced clove of garlic
- 4 peeled plantains, cut into thirds then sliced in half longways
- 12 slices of American cheese
- 3 thinly sliced vine ripe tomatoes
- 12 leaves of green leaf lettuce
- thinly sliced red onions
- Flank Steak: Combine the adobo sauce, oil, salt, lime juice and sugar into a bowl and whisk together and transfer to a plastic bag along with the flank steak. Move the ingredients around so the steak is covered and marinate while prepping the other ingredients or overnight.
- Aioli: In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, salt, lemon juice and garlic until combined and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Add some about 1 ½ cups of oil to a 10” cast iron skillet and heat until it reaches about 350° to 375° and add in ½ of the plantains and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Place them on a sheet tray lined with paper towels to let drain and cool for few seconds before mashing with the back of a pan or a tortilla shell maker.
- Place the smashed plantains back into the fryer and cook for 2 minutes or just until crispy. Set aside and repeat with the other ½ of the plantains.
- Once everything is prepped up add the flank steak to a very large sauté pan over medium-high heat and cook until a medium-rare internal temperature is achieved, about 7 minutes per side.
- Set aside to rest for 2 minutes and then slice very thin on a bias and against the grain. Keep warm.
- To Plate: Later up a fried plantain, American cheese, aioli, sliced flank steak, tomatoes, onions, aioli and fried plantain.