Warm your bones and fill your belly with Pollo Guisado, a hearty Puerto Rican chicken stew that’s packed with flavor, easy to make, and ready to devour in about an hour. Granted, we eat this year-round on my little island, where it rarely dips below 70 degrees. But it’s especially delightful when the weather turns chilly and you’re looking for a hearty meal to make you feel all sorts of toasty.
A Note On Authenticity
This is not a historically authentic recipe. We strive to create recipes that are accessible to everyone, which means ingredients need to be available at a mainstream budget grocery store. We test recipes using the least amount of steps, tools, and ingredients while still honoring the spirit of the recipe. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and look forward to a time when our ingredients are available in mainstream markets. Until then, buen provecho!
What Is Pollo Guisado?
Pollo Guisado (pronounced puh-yuh gee-sah-duh) is a Puerto Rican stew made up of braised chicken, potatoes, carrots, and olives in a tomato-based broth. Like most savory dishes from the island, its deep flavor comes from sofrito, a blend of peppers, onions, garlic, and cilantro. The unctious chicken, briny olives, and subtle sweetness of the carrots make a truly perfect bite.
CAN I SUBSTITUTE THE CHicken?
Traditionally, this is a bone-in chicken stew. To create a quicker cooking time, and manageable bites, we have opted for chopped skinless, boneless chicken thighs. Feel free to use bone in chicken thighs, or butcher a whole chicken. You can also use any protein that benefits from a long braise. You can substitute chicken with chuck roast, top round, or even steak. Using these cuts will lengthen your cooking time by thirty or so minutes. If you are vegetarian or vegan, use a vegetable-based broth and substitute the chicken with mushrooms. Brown them, just as you would the chicken, which helps them release moisture and develop big flavors.
What To Do If Your Broth Won’t Thicken
If you find your broth to be entirely too watery at the end of the cook, here are a few tips to help you thicken it.
- Uncover the pot and turn the heat up to medium-high. Allowing the steam to escape will reduce the broth and thicken it.
- Break up some of the potatoes. The starches will naturally thicken the broth.
- If all else fails, use a cornstarch slurry. Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with two tablespoons of cold water. Add it to the stew, then bring the stew to a boil for 1 minute while continuously stirring.
What To Serve With POllO GuiSAdo
On the island, this stew is traditionally served over white rice. But feel free to break with tradition and serve it with:
Pollo Guisado (Puerto Rican Chicken Stew)
- 1.5 lb chicken thighs, boneless and skinless ($4.49)
- 2 tsp adobo, all-purpose seasoning* ($0.08)
- 2 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.08)
- 1 yellow onion, large dice ($0.42)
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped ($0.14)
- 1/2 cup sofrito ($0.72)
- 8 oz tomato sauce ($0.59)
- 1 packet sazón seasoning with annatto* ($0.17)
- 2 bay leaves ($0.20)
- 2 tsp dried oregano ($0.20)
- 1/4 cup manzanilla olives, pimiento-stuffed ($0.33)
- 1 large potato, 2-inch dice (about 1 cup) ($1.12)
- 2 large carrots, 1/4-inch rounds (about 1 cup ) ($0.32)
- 3 cups chicken stock ($0.51)
- Dry the chicken thighs thoroughly with paper towels. Cut into 2-inch cubes. Season with Adobo.
- Set a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil. Once it has warmed, add the chicken in one layer and brown.
- Once the chicken has browned, remove it from the pot and set it aside. Add the onion to the pot, and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the sofrito and tomato sauce. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until it is thick and bubbly.
- Add the sazón, bay leaves, oregano, olives, potatoes, carrots, and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Add the chicken back into the pot. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 40-50 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
- Take the stew off the heat, sample it, and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves before serving.
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
- 2 Tbsp salt
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground oregano
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/3 teaspoon ground annatto
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/8 teaspoon ground oregano
How to Make Pollo Guisado – Step by Step Photos
Dry the 1.5 pounds of chicken thighs thoroughly with paper towels. Then dice them into 2-inch cubes. Finally, season the chicken with 2 teaspoons of adobo. (Helpful hint: freeze the chicken thighs for about 15 minutes to make them easier to dice.)
Set a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the 2 tablespoons of oil to the pre-heated Dutch oven. Once it has warmed, add the diced chicken in one layer. Do not crowd the pot. Brown in batches if necessary. Remove the chicken from the pot and set it aside.
Next, add the diced yellow onion to the pot and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Then add the 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the 1/2 cup of sofrito and 8 ounces of tomato sauce to the pot.
Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until it is thick and bubbly. If you run a spoon through it, the sauce should remain divided.
Add the packet of sazón, 2 teaspoons of oregano, 2 bay leaves, 1 cup of diced potatoes, 1 cup of sliced carrots, 1/4 cup of manzanilla olives, and 3 cups of chicken stock into the pot.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then add the chicken back into the pot. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 40-50 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. If the stew hasn’t thickened, break a few of the potatoes apart with a fork, and keep the stew simmering with the lid off until it thickens.
When it is off the heat, sample the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves before serving. Garnish with cilantro (optional) and serve with white rice (optional). As we say in Puerto Rico, buen provecho!
Thank you for the recipe. It was a huge hit with my family. Can’t wait to make it again. Followed the recipe exactly
Thank you so much for making it, Anthony! XOXO -Monti
My mom is Puerto Rican and I have really hesitated to make PR food in adulthood fearing it won’t live up to my childhood memories. This recipe looked pretty friendly and I thought.. I can do this. I ended up prepping it on the stove (browned thighs, prepared the sofrito/sauce mixture) and then putting it in the crockpot (8hr, low). I used Goya recaito since that’s what my mom always used; I added peas…. It’s a forgiving recipe and tasted delicious. THANK YOU!
Easy and lots of flavor!, i use the seasoning subs for adobo and sazon that u include on the notes, thank u for that!
Hi! What kind of soffrito do you use? The kind at my store is red. Will it work?
Hi, Emily! Monti uses her own recipe for Sofrito (https://www.budgetbytes.com/how-to-make-sofrito/), which is her version of a Puerto Rican-style sofrito. Puerto Rican sofrito is green instead of red because they do not contain any tomatoes (like most Spanish sofrito). In this style of cooking, the tomatoes are usually added later when cooking a recipe (Like this one!) rather than included in the sofrito. A red sofrito can be used as a substitution but it will change the dish slightly. You may also want to decrease some of the added tomato sauce since red sofrito contains some already. You can also look out for a jar of Recaito (or “cilantro cooking base”), which is more akin to the Puerto Rican sofrito described above. ~ Marion :)
This was amazing! The development of the flavors was spot on. The briny taste of the olives really enhanced the stew. I’ll definitely add this to the rotation!
This was a huge hit! My whole family loved it and we will definitely be adding it to our rotation. Thanks Beth!
Lol this is Monti’s not Beth’s.
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I’ve been looking for a solid pollo guisado recipe that tastes close to my mom’s and this comes close. I didn’t have chicken stock so I used a bouillon cube. My mom uses bouillon more than liquid stock so maybe that was just meant to happen. Also I only had 4oz of tomato sauce so I added a 1 tbsp of tomato and about 3 tbsp of water to compensate. I served it w my version of my mom’s habichuela guisada con arroz blanco y maduros. My inner Dominican American child was very happy. I’m looking forward to your cookbook!
Every, mi gente. Hola from another Boricua desde Seattle. Looking forward to other Boricua recipes on the site.
Hola Edwin! Yo vivi en Seattle por muchos años! Bienvenido, Boricua! XOXO -Monti