Arroz Con Pollo (Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice)

$12.30 recipe / $2.46 serving
by Monti - Budget Bytes
4.80 from 20 votes
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Arroz con Pollo (Spanish for chicken and rice) is a mouth-watering, budget-friendly, one-pot dish that only has about ten minutes of hands-on cooking time and is ready to go in a little over a half hour. Win, win, win, win, win!! It’s a staple on many Latin American tables, though the ingredients and techniques used to make the dish vary depending on the country. This arroz con pollo recipe is the Puerto Rican version and the one I grew up eating at my Abuela’s (grandmother’s) table.

Arroz con pollo on a white dish with a black fork in it.

What is arroz con pollo?

At its most basic, arroz con pollo is a one-pot chicken and rice dish. In the Puerto Rican version, the rice is rendered a bright yellow by annatto, the same spice that gives cheddar cheese its signature golden hue. It gets earthy herbal notes from the recaito (aka sofrito), a fragrant puree of cilantro, yellow onions, green bell peppers, and garlic. And there are delightful pops of acidity from the Spanish olives. Traditionally, pigeon peas are used, but they can be hard to find on the mainland, so frozen peas make for an easy substitute. As with all Puerto Rican rice dishes, the bottom of the pot will develop crispy, golden brown bits of rice known as “pegao.”

What cuts of chicken should I use?

You can use any cut of chicken, though you should be mindful that darker meat, like thighs and drumsticks, is more forgiving of a longer cooking time because of their higher fat content. Chicken breasts can dry out fairly quickly, so keep an eye on them. You can also keep the chicken pieces whole or on the bone. For pickier eaters, feel free to slice the chicken into bite-size pieces before cooking. If you use cuts with skin on, try removing the skin after cooking and placing it on a cookie sheet or sheet pan. Bake the skin in a 350ºF oven until crispy, and then use it as a garnish.

Can I substitute the rice?

If you want to substitute the white rice for brown, you’ll need to add more chicken stock. For 2 cups of brown rice, use 4 cups of chicken stock. You will also need to increase the cooking time by ten to fifteen minutes. You can also use cauliflower rice, but you won’t need to cook it as long, as it will turn to mush. Decrease the amount of chicken stock to 1 cup and cook the chicken in the liquid until it has reached 160 to 165ºFs. Remove the chicken from the pan and then stir in the cauliflower rice and the peas. Cook for just a few minutes until tender; add the chicken back to the pot and garnish.

Over head view of arroz con pollo in a red Dutch oven.

Do I have to use chicken stock?

While chicken stock is traditional, you can substitute it with veggie stock or even salted water if you prefer. If you’re trying to waste less food, you can also use bean water. For creamier results with heavy tropical vibes, use a mixture of half chicken stock and half coconut milk.

What can I serve it with?

Arroz con Pollo is a full meal, but it is traditionally served with a few slices of ripe avocado. You can make a vibrant and simple side salad as well. I also love it with a few hearty slices of garlic bread.

Does arroz con pollo freeze well??

Arroz con Pollo is perfect for meal prep and freezer meals. It will last up to three days in your refrigerator. Sprinkle it with a little water before reheating to loosen it up. If freezing, make sure that everything has cooled before portioning it into a freezer-safe container. You can prevent frost from forming on your rice by filling the container to the tippy top or by placing a piece of wax paper on top of the rice so it isn’t exposed to air.

close up side view of Arroz con Pollo in the pot.
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Arroz Con Pollo (Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice)

4.80 from 20 votes
This scrumptious Puerto Rican chicken and rice dish is a weekly staple at my house. Arroz con Pollo is an easy one-pot meal, that's ready in no time and is perfect for meal prep and freezer meals.
Over head view of arroz con pollo in a red Dutch oven.
Servings 5
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 40 minutes
Total 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp adobo seasoning ($0.20)
  • 1.5 lbs boneless chicken thighs ($6.49)
  • 2 2/3 Tbsp cooking oil, divided ($0.11)
  • 1/4 cup sofrito ($0.36)
  • 1 red bell pepper, small dice, divided ($0.98)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, small dice ($0.19)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced ($0.24)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato sauce ($0.06)
  • 1/2 cup pimiento stuffed Spanish olives ($1.16)
  • 2 cups rice ($0.74)
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock ($1.12)
  • 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sazón seasoning ($0.19)
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas ($0.33)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (optional garnish) ($0.11)

Instructions 

  • Place chicken thighs in a shallow bowl and rub down with 2 teaspoons of cooking oil and adobo seasoning. Place uncovered in your refrigerator and allow to marinate for thirty minutes.
  • Set a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed large pot over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to the pot. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chicken thighs to the pot, arranged in an even layer. Sear each side of the thighs until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the thighs from the pot and set them aside.
  • Add the sofrito, diced onion, and half of the diced red pepper to the chicken fat in the pot. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato sauce, and olives. Sauté the mixture until it's fragrant and most of the liquid has cooked out. A spoon run down the middle of the pan should leave a dry trail.
  • Add the rice, sazón, and salt and gently mix them into all of the ingredients, so that every grain is covered in the sauce. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Allow mixture to boil undisturbed until some of the stock has evaporated and the rice is visible on the surface of the pot, about 5 to 8 minutes. There should be multiple round steam vents on the surface of the rice.
  • Place the reserved chicken thighs on top of the rice. Lower the heat to low and cover the pot with a tight-fitting heavy lid. Cook for 20 minutes, until all of the stock has evaporated and rice has cooked through.
  • Remove the chicken from the pot and set it aside. Stir in frozen peas and fluff the rice. Add the chicken thighs back to the pot. Garnish with the remainder of the diced red pepper and cilantro leaves.

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Equipment

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 591kcalCarbohydrates: 70gProtein: 36gFat: 17gSodium: 763mgFiber: 3g
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How to Make Arroz con Pollo – Step by Step Photos

Raw chicken marinating in a white dish.

Place chicken thighs in a shallow bowl and rub down with 2 teaspoons of cooking oil and 2 teaspoons of adobo seasoning. Place uncovered in your refrigerator and allow to marinate for thirty minutes.

Raw chicken browning in a Dutch oven.

Set a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed large pot over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to the pot. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chicken thighs to the pot, arranged in an even layer. Sear each side of the thighs until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the thighs from the pot and set them aside.

Sofrito, onions, and red peppers browning in a red Dutch oven.

Add the sofrito, diced onion, and half of the diced red pepper to the chicken fat in the pot. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.

Olives, tomato sauce, and other ingredients browning in a Dutch oven.

Add the garlic, tomato sauce, and olives.

Spatula cutting through ingredients in a red Dutch oven.

Sauté the mixture until it’s fragrant and most of the liquid has cooked out. A spoon run down the middle of the pan should leave a dry trail.

Adding sazon to ingredients in a Dutch oven.

Add the rice, sazón, and salt and gently mix it into all of the ingredients so that every grain is covered in the sauce.

Adding chicken stock to ingredients in a red Dutch oven.

Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Rice in a red Dutch oven that has had chicken stock cooked out of it.

Allow mixture to boil without a lid, undisturbed, until some of the stock has evaporated and the rice is visible on the surface of the pot, about 5 to 8 minutes. There should be multiple round steam vents on the surface of the rice.

Rice topped with chicken in a red Dutch oven.

Place the reserved chicken thighs on top of the rice. Lower the heat to low and cover the pot with a tight-fitting heavy lid. Cook for about 20 minutes until all of the stock has evaporated and rice has cooked through.

Green peas being stirred into rice in a red Dutch oven.

Remove the chicken from the pot and set it aside. Stir in frozen peas and fluff the rice.

Finished arroz con pollo in a red Dutch oven.

Add the chicken thighs back to the pot. Garnish with the remainder of the diced red pepper and cilantro leaves.

Arroz con Pollo on a plate with a fork.

Try These Other One Pot Chicken Recipes:

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  1. I love this dish and have made it several times over (minus the peas because I just hate them outside of stews), but I realized we ran out of rice. Would this dish work with quinoa? Trying to stay within my grocery budget but don’t want to end up with a pot of mush.

    1. We haven’t tried it with quinoa , Christine! If you do give it a go let us know how it goes! In my experience you need 2 cups of liquid to 1 cup of quinoa, so just keep that in mind as you may need to adjust a bit.

  2. Buenísimo! I did add about a quarter cup of water at the end and gave it about seven extra minutes. It was just a tad undercooked . Came out perfect!