Arroz con Pollo

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Arroz con Pollo is classic Cuban and Puerto Rican comfort food. Made in one pan with rice, chicken and veggies, this easy chicken and rice dish is a family-approved staple.

Arroz con Pollo is classic Cuban and Puerto Rican comfort food. Made in one pan with rice, chicken and veggies, this easy chicken and rice dish is a family-approved staple.

Not only do I live in South Florida, but I grew up here throughout my adolescence. Everywhere and everyone, from my mother to my friends' abuelas, from the hole in the wall eateries to the fancier Cuban restaurants to my elementary school all serve arroz con pollo.

Arroz con Pollo originated in Spain (or Puerto Rico, depending on who you're talking to) but it's made all over South America, Central America, and the Caribbean in different variations and it's kinda like a paella sans seafood. Some places even use saffron in their arroz con pollo.

Arroz con pollo translates to 'rice with chicken' and it is one of the most quintessential comfort foods of Cuban and Puerto Rican eating. It's a weeknight meal made in one pan, using easy to find and affordable ingredients.

arroz con pollo plated family style on a platter with lime wedges

And obviously, while it's simple it's also packed full of flavor: bell peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro, sazon. Which are all jam-packed into my sofrito recipe, so if you've already stocked your freezer with cubes of frozen sofrito, the prep for this recipe is a breeze.

Making sofrito is easy (and much more kid-friendly) because all the herbs, seasonings, and spices are blended up to a puree. Rather than giving them a rough chop and taking more time to prep, making homemade sofrito --with extra to spare for your next Latin dish-- is my go-to way to make this.

The grocery list for this dish is short and simple: rice, chicken parts (preferably dark meat, bone-in and skin on), tomato paste, sofrito, spices, chicken stock or water, and frozen peas or canned beans or gandules, which are pigeon peas. We prefer black beans in our house, which can cause the arroz con pollo to be a darker color. No less delicious, however.

close up of lime, chicken, rice,, and beans in a cast iron pan

To season your chicken and rice you'll need to grab your sazon. Use sazon con achiote y culantro or sazon completa, this mixture is why most arroz con pollo is bright orange or yellow, because of the turmeric or annatto in the seasoning mix.

Can't find sazon? That's okay, here's how you make your own:

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon annatto or turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon MSG (totally optional but it does enhance flavor!)

How to Make Arroz con Pollo

Let's talk about rice. Rinse it. I know some people do and some people don't, but here you want to give the rice a little rinse under some cool water to get that excess starch off. Otherwise you will end up with really gummy rice and it's just not something you want.

Next, let's talk about marinating. I do a very simple marinade for the chicken: sazon, lime juice, and oil. Let that sit in the fridge anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight.

I love doing this as part of a meal plan because the flavors really seep into the skin and meat well. But if you don't have time, fifteen to thirty minutes is great or even skip it altogether.

ingredients for arroz con pollo marinade

In a caldera, cast iron skillet, or whatever larger pan you have that has a lid (very important because we want to cook the rice through, but use foil if you don't have a lid!) we're searing the chicken first, once they got a beautiful color on them you add in the sofrito, the tomato paste, and the rice.

FYI, y'all really should make your own sofrito. Big batch it and keep in the freezer as ice cubs so you have portioned out sofrito at your disposal!

Toast up the rice with the sofrito and tomato paste, it gives the rice a gorgeous flavor, then add in the sazon, beans or gandules, and chicken stock. Lay the chicken parts over top so the juices flavor the rice as the dish cooks, and put the lid on for about an hour, or until the rice is completely cooked through.

Super simple, easy peasy, and it's a dish that the kids will enjoy since it is not spicy but is full of great flavor.

What to Serve with it

Arroz con Pollo is basically an entire one pot meal in itself, so you don't really need to serve it with anything else. A great drink, some extra limons (that's just limes or lemons), and a dessert are all you need to round this out.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • For the family, a pitcher of easy Brazilian Limeade goes great. Lemonade or Sweet Tea never hurt anybody's tastebuds, either.
  • If you're making this for a group of adults, Hard Brazilian Limeade is even better with some white rum or cachaca, like in a Caipirinha.
  • For dessert, a tres leches cake. Everyone loves a tres leches cake, they're great for gatherings.
over head shot of arroz con pollo in a cast iron pan

Can I freeze Arroz con Pollo?

Arroz con pollo can be made ahead or even frozen for an easy freezer meal. Simply put your leftovers or make the batch to freeze in a freezer-safe zip-top bag once cooled.

Thaw overnight and put into an oven-safe dish to bake covered at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes to an hour. Easy!

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📖 Recipe

Arroz con Pollo

Eden Westbrook
Arroz con Pollo is classic Cuban and Puerto Rican comfort food. Made in one pan with rice, chicken and veggies, this easy chicken and rice dish is a family-approved staple.
4.64 from 11 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Chicken
Cuisine Hispanic
Servings 4 servings
Calories 677 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 tablespoon vegetable oil divided
  • 4 chicken thighs bone-in and skin on
  • 2 packets Goya Sazon y achiote con culantro or completa*
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup sofrito*
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken stock or water
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 15 oz can green pigeon peas (often called gandules), swap for petite peas or canned beans if preferred
  • Fresh lime wedges to serve

Instructions
 

  • Place chicken thighs in a large bowl, then drizzle in about 2 tablespoon of vegetable oil, 1 packet of sazon, and a generous teaspoon of both kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Use clean hands to thoroughly cover the chicken thighs with the oil and seasoning mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate the chicken for 30 minutes to overnight. Or you can skip marinating and immediately being cooking.
  • Add the remaining vegetable oil to a deep 10 inch cast iron skillet and place over medium-high heat. (If you do not have a skillet, a large pot or small Dutch oven will also work well!) Once the oil is shimmering hot, place the chicken in skin side down and cook until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. then flip and cook an additional 4-5 minutes. Remove from pan and transfer to a plate.
  • In the same skillet, add in your sofrito and tomato paste. Saute for 2-3 minutes, then add in another packet of sazon.
  • Stir in the chicken broth, bring to a simmer then fold in the rice and peas/beans, making sure everything is evenly distributed. Lay the browned chicken on top.
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet with your lid or foil and cook for 45 minutes to one hour.
  • After 45 minutes, check the rice for doneness. Once the rice is cooked through and the liquid is absorbed, serve immediately with wedges of lime.
  • Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days.

Notes

Homemade Sazon

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon annatto or turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon MSG (totally optional but it does enhance flavor!)
Click here for my homemade sofrito recipe!

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 677kcalCarbohydrates: 60gProtein: 46gFat: 31gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 169mgSodium: 1366mgFiber: 10gSugar: 18g
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