My obsession with Pan Sobao recipes is about as rabid as the one I have with Coquito. This traditional Puerto Rican bread is mildly sweet, soft as clouds, and extremely versatile. If you’re looking to introduce homemade bread into your baking repertoire, pan sobao and these recipes are a great start.
Be sure to check back in with this post from time to time. I’m always adding to it and updating the must-try list.
What is Pan Sobao? Where is it from?
Pan sobao- pronounced pahn-sew-bow- is a soft, slightly sweet traditional bread from Puerto Rico. It’s most often served alongside a mug of café con leche as a quick breakfast. I have yet to meet someone who goes to the panaderia (bakery) and leaves with just one loaf. Many people can’t help but be enticed into eating half a loaf on the trip home, so two is standard order.
This post is going to show you that pan sobao isn’t just for breakfast, though.
What makes Pan Sobao so great?
What I love most about pan sobao is the way it tastes. Because it begins with a starter, it has a malty flavor which is more pronounced by the sweetness of the sugar in the dough. Even though it has a slightly sweet flavor, it’s still an amazing bread to serve with savory dishes. Pan sobao is one of those chameleon recipes that can go from breakfast to lunch and dinner. It even holds its own in dessert recipes.
Pan sobao is soft, sweet, and simple to make. In Puerto Rico, it’s not uncommon to go to the panaderia every morning to pick up your daily ration of pan sobao. Unfortunately for many people of the Puerto Rican diaspora (and for those who have fallen in love with the culture), getting that loaf from the bakery is impossible. With the following recipe, you can now make as many loaves as you want, whenever you want.
Let me prove it to you.
To get in on these pan sobao recipes, you need the pan sobao OG. Sure, there are other recipes on the internet, but I’ve seen them. No shade, but few are original and authentic. Trust me on this.
Begin your pan sobao a day ahead, so yours has that malty flavor that the starter provides. Part of the reason my recipe is so unique is that it takes the time to develop the flavors of the dough with that starter. Sure, you can make the bread without the starter, but it will taste flat and underwhelming.
I make mine in a 7-quart KitchenAid stand mixer, but you can make it a smaller mixer or by hand.
This pan sobao recipe is great because you can bake a full batch and freeze the loaves for 2 months after baking. I prefer to freeze mine post-bake because freezing them before results in bread that doesn’t rise as high. One recipe will make two 1-pound loaves. Each of the following recipes usually calls for 1-pound loaves, so I’m basically your pan sobao angel.
If you’re a visual learner, check out my YouTube tutorial on how to make Pan Sobao.
Bananas Foster French Toast
You can tell by the image that this is one of my earlier recipes. Not as gorgeous, but damn if it isn’t tasty.
In addition to the malty goodness of the pan sobao used in this bread, you have a rum glaze studded with pecans and bananas. This is another make-ahead-friendly dish that you can prep the evening before you plan to bake it.
If you’re not a fan of pecans, replace them with walnuts. You can also make this recipe with challah or french bread, but I think pan sobao is best. Yes, this also doubles as dessert. Topping it with my Vanilla Frozen Custard will never be a bad idea.
Grilled Cheese and Chocolate Sandwich
Yes. Grilled Cheese and Chocolate Sandwiches. You need to trust me more. This sandwich is a spin on a popular Latin childhood treat. Whenever our Abuelas or Mamis made hot chocolate, they’d drop a cube or two of queso de papa (longhorn cheddar cheese) into the mug. After pouring the cocoa over the cubes, the cheese would get all melty and gooey. A spoon to scoop the melted cheese out of the mug and onto a slice of buttered pan sobao was usually the way we’d end this snack affair.
I’ve made it simpler by putting all of those components into a sandwich. Sure it sounds kooky, but after one taste, you’ll realize kooky isn’t all that horrible.
If you can’t find queso de papa, try queso de bola (Edam cheese), or just use a mild cheddar or Colby cheese. We use chocolate Cortes for our chocolate, but mild milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate will work, too.
Tripletas (Steak, Pernil, and Ham Sandwiches)
Now, the grilled cheese and chocolate sandwich makes my daughter swoon every time I make it. This one here’s a favorite of our son’s. You can’t get more carnivorous than two types of pork and steak in one sandwich.
This tripleta is another traditional recipe from Puerto Rico. It’s also one that we’d pick up from the panaderia. Usually, they use their pan sobao to make this sandwich, so why not recreate it at home? The pan sobao is the balance that this savory, meaty wonderland needs to become the perfect meal-in-one lunch.
Bistec is cube steak, which you can find in the beef section near the flank steaks and ground beef. If you’re not a fan of cube steak, use thinly sliced sirloin or a ribeye for this. Those little potato matchsticks come in a canister that’s usually sold in the potato chips aisle.
Pinchos de Cerdo (Grilled Pork Kebabs)
These Grilled Pork Kebabs, AKA Pinchos de Cerdo, always come topped with a slice of soft, warm pan sobao. In fact, the ONE time I was handed a pincho without my slice of pan sobao, I almost threw it back at the person who gave it to me. If someone hands me a pincho with two slices of bread? I might propose marriage, bigamy be damned.
Grill these marinated chunks of pork over charcoal for the best flavor. As always, I recommend marinating them overnight, at least, to pack the most flavor into your meat. The pan sobao should be sliced thick and impaled on the top of the skewer. I always have more bread on the side to grab the meat as you eat your way down the skewer.
Don’t eat pork? No worries, making these pinchos with chicken will be just as tasty. Simply replace the pork in the recipe with boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts.
Raspberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Amaretto Cream Sauce
This one is a great way to wrap up my roundup of pan sobao recipes you must try.
Pan sobao is an amazing bread to use in bread pudding recipes like this Raspberry White Chocolate deal. Its fluffy texture is a great vessel for soaking up the rich almond custard. Top it off with a cream sauce made with amaretto liqueur, and dessert will never be tastier.
Cut the loaf of pan sobao into cubes and let it dry out, uncovered, for a day. Stale bread is always best when making bread pudding because it keeps it from breaking apart too much.
If you’re not into raspberries, replace them with blueberries, blackberries, or diced strawberries. Want a deeper chocolate flavor? Replace the white chocolate with your favorite semi-sweet or dark chocolate.
How do you come up with your Pan Sobao Recipes?
Most recipes that call for bread like challah, brioche, or French bread can be made with this pan sobao. Any bread pudding, french toast, stuffing, or sandwich usually works when you replace it with pan sobao, too.
For me, it’s all about being able to use a recipe in a variety of ways. I don’t like to get bored with my meals, so I’m always hunting for swaps and subs. But, when it’s all said and done, pan sobao is one of those recipes that is just fine eaten on its own. There really is nothing like slicing off a generous hunk while it’s still warm and eating it while drinking warm coffee.
What other recipes can I use Pan Sobao in?
Check out these other recipes from some of my dear friends. All of these are more great ways to use your next loaf of Pan Sobao.
French Toast Breakfast Sandwich by Dude That Cookz
This French Toast Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sandwich recreates the traditional breakfast sandwich by incorporating the flavors of French Toast. Use Pan Sobao to create the sweet French toast bread. That, combined with cheesy eggs and a little heat from the red peppers, makes this breakfast sandwich the perfect option to get your morning off on the right foot.
Jamaican Jerk Burger with Caramelized Pineapples by Britney Breaks Bread
Jamaican Jerk Burger with Caramelized Pineapples is the burger of your dreams. Sweet, spicy, and full of flavor. Form your Pan Sobao dough into 24 buns, then top them with a jerk seasoned burger patty. Pile on the caramelized red onions and pineapples, and you truly can’t go wrong!
Cuban Sandwich with Mojo Slow Roasted Pork by Hungry Traveling Mama
Toasted bread, slow-cooked Mojo seasoned pork shoulder, creamy mustard, crunchy dill pickled, and melted swiss cheese make this a delicious Cuban Sandwich with Mojo Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder. Of course, it will go great on freshly baked Pan Sobao!
Bread Pudding with Brown Butter Bourbon Sauce by Sweet Tea and Thyme
This rustic Bread Pudding with Brown Butter Bourbon Sauce can be made with Pan Sobao in place of the babka in the original recipe to make a dreamy, decadent dessert! The brown butter bourbon sauce is creamy, sumptuous, and works perfectly with day-old pan sobao.
Eggnog Bread Pudding with Brown Butter Rum Sauce by Chenée Today
Replace brioche in the original recipe with the Pan Sobao, and you’ll have a dessert perfect for the holiday nog. This eggnog bread pudding, with a rich, buttery custard, toasted pecans, and an incredible brown butter rum sauce, is so irresistible!!
I hope I’ve inspired you to put your next loaf of Pan Sobao to good use. Be sure to pin this post to your bread boards so you can find it easily. Share with your friends and family, too!
I love how versatile it is…looks and sounds absolutely delicious! I’ve never made my own but I’m feeling inspired now. Cannot wait to try pan sobao!
You’re going to love it.