Authentic Arroz con Pollo Recipe from Puerto Rico

Arroz con Pollo

Authentic Arroz con Pollo Recipe from Puerto Rico
Region / culture: Puerto Rico | Preparation time: 30 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes | Servings: 4


Arroz con Pollo
Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con Pollo, which translates to "Rice with Chicken" in English, is a classic dish beloved across Latin America and Spain. This one-pot meal marries the savory flavors of chicken, rice, and a medley of spices and vegetables, creating a comforting and satisfying dish. Perfect for family dinners or special occasions, Arroz con Pollo is versatile, allowing for various ingredients and techniques to suit personal tastes. This recipe offers a traditional approach with a few modern twists, aiming to delight your palate and introduce you to the rich cultural heritage behind the dish.


The origins of Arroz con Pollo can be traced back to Spain, where the Moors introduced rice cultivation around the 10th century. The dish is a close relative of paella, another iconic Spanish rice dish. With the Spanish colonization of the Americas, Arroz con Pollo spread across the New World, where it was adapted to include local ingredients and cooking methods. Today, nearly every Latin American country has its own version of Arroz con Pollo, making it a staple dish in Hispanic cuisine.


How to prepare

  1. Blend the ingredients in (B) and use the mixture to baste the chicken pieces. Allow them to marinate for at least thirty minutes.
  2. In a deep pan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the chicken pieces for about three minutes, turning them to ensure even cooking. While it is common to remove the chicken skins before cooking, I prefer to leave them on during this step to enhance the flavor, and then remove them later.
  3. Add the ingredients in (C) and sauté for another two minutes. Pour in three cups of water and bring it to a boil, adjusting the heat if necessary. Sprinkle a pinch of saffron.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the rice. Cook uncovered until most of the water has been absorbed or evaporated, which usually takes around ten minutes.
  5. Gently fold the rice with a ladle, ensuring that the rice from the bottom of the pan comes to the top and vice versa. This process typically requires about four ladlefuls to cover the entire pan. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot.
  6. Allow it to cook for approximately five minutes. Lift the lid and carefully place the ingredients in (E) on top of the rice. Cover and continue cooking for another five minutes.
  7. When serving, use the ingredients placed on top of the rice as garnish on individual plates.


  • 1. Vegetarian Arroz con Pollo: Substitute chicken with a mix of beans and vegetables for a vegetarian version.
  • 2. Seafood Arroz con Pollo: Add shrimp, mussels, and clams for a seafood twist.
  • 3. Spicy Arroz con Pollo: Incorporate hot peppers or a teaspoon of cayenne pepper for added heat.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

1. Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes to enhance its flavor.

2. Use a wide, heavy-bottomed pot to ensure even cooking of the rice.

3. Sautéing the rice before adding water helps to prevent it from becoming mushy.

4. Adding saffron not only gives the dish its characteristic yellow color but also infuses it with a unique aroma and flavor.

5. Arrange the vegetables on top of the rice without stirring them in to preserve their texture and color.

Serving Suggestions

Serve Arroz con Pollo with a side of avocado salad, fried plantains, or a simple green salad to add freshness and balance to the meal. A dollop of sour cream or a sprinkle of fresh cilantro can also enhance the flavors.

Cooking Techniques

The key techniques in making Arroz con Pollo include marinating, sautéing, and simmering. Marinating the chicken infuses it with flavor, sautéing helps to develop a rich base, and simmering ensures the rice is perfectly cooked.

Ingredient Substitutions

1. Brown rice instead of white rice for a whole grain option.

2. Turmeric can substitute saffron for color, though the flavor will differ.

3. Chicken thighs can be used for a juicier, more flavorful dish.

Make Ahead Tips

Marinate the chicken and prepare the vegetable mix a day ahead to save time. The dish can also be fully cooked and refrigerated, then gently reheated before serving.

Presentation Ideas

Serve Arroz con Pollo in a large, colorful dish to showcase the vibrant ingredients. Garnish with lemon wedges and fresh herbs for an extra touch of elegance.

Pairing Recommendations

A light, crisp white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or a citrusy, refreshing beer complements the flavors of Arroz con Pollo beautifully.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat on the stove over low heat, adding a little water or chicken broth to keep the rice moist.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A single serving of Arroz con Pollo contains approximately 350-450 calories, making it a fulfilling yet balanced meal option.


A serving of Arroz con Pollo is rich in carbohydrates, primarily from the white rice, providing the energy needed for daily activities. One serving contains approximately 45-55 grams of carbohydrates.


The fat content in Arroz con Pollo mainly comes from the olive oil and the chicken. Depending on the chicken parts used and whether the skin is left on, the fat content can vary. A typical serving contains about 10-15 grams of fat.


Chicken is an excellent source of lean protein, essential for muscle repair and growth. A serving of Arroz con Pollo provides roughly 25-35 grams of protein, making it a hearty and nutritious meal option.

Vitamins and minerals

This dish is a good source of vitamins A and C, thanks to the inclusion of vegetables like peppers and carrots. It also provides minerals such as iron and potassium, which are crucial for maintaining healthy bodily functions.


Common allergens in Arroz con Pollo include garlic and onions for those with sensitivities. However, the dish is free from dairy, nuts, and gluten, making it suitable for people with these common allergies.


Arroz con Pollo is a balanced meal offering a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, along with essential vitamins and minerals. It's a nutritious option that can be adjusted to meet dietary needs and preferences.


Arroz con Pollo is a timeless dish that brings together the rich flavors of chicken, rice, and vegetables in a comforting meal. With its deep cultural roots and versatility, it's a recipe that can be adapted to suit any taste or occasion. Whether you're cooking for a weeknight dinner or a festive gathering, Arroz con Pollo is sure to delight.

How did I get this recipe?

I vividly recall the moment I first laid eyes on this recipe for Arroz con Pollo. It was a warm summer day, and I had just finished helping my aunt with the dishes after a family gathering. As we sat down to enjoy a late lunch, she pulled out a worn, stained recipe card from her recipe box and handed it to me with a smile.

"Here, mi querida sobrina," she said, "this is a family recipe for Arroz con Pollo that has been passed down through generations. I want you to have it and continue the tradition."

I eagerly took the recipe card and studied it with fascination. The ingredients were simple yet full of flavor - chicken, rice, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and a variety of spices and herbs. The instructions were straightforward, but I could tell that the secret to making this dish exceptional lay in the slow simmering of the ingredients to create a rich, savory broth.

Over the years, I have made this recipe countless times, each time tweaking it slightly to suit my own taste. I have shared it with friends and family members who have all praised its deliciousness. But the true magic of this dish lies not just in its taste, but in the memories and stories that accompany it.

One of my fondest memories of making Arroz con Pollo was when my grandmother taught me how to make it for the first time. She was a formidable woman, with a no-nonsense attitude and a fierce love for her family. As she showed me how to season the chicken, sauté the vegetables, and simmer the rice until it was tender and fragrant, she shared stories of her own childhood and the women in our family who had passed down this recipe through the generations.

I remember the smell of the spices mingling in the air, the sound of the chicken sizzling in the pan, and the warmth of my grandmother's hands as she guided mine in stirring the pot. It was a moment of connection and tradition that I will always cherish.

As I grew older and began to experiment with different variations of the recipe, I discovered that the beauty of Arroz con Pollo lies in its versatility. I have added my own twists, such as substituting quinoa for rice, adding green olives and capers for a tangy kick, or using coconut milk for a creamy finish. Each version has its own unique flavor profile, but they all pay homage to the original recipe that my aunt gave me so many years ago.

I have also learned that the true joy of cooking lies not just in the act of creating a delicious meal, but in the act of sharing it with others. Whenever I make Arroz con Pollo, I always invite friends and family to join me at the table. We laugh, we talk, we pass around plates of steaming chicken and rice, and we create new memories together.

As I reflect on the journey that this recipe has taken me on, I am filled with gratitude for the women who have shared their knowledge and love with me. From my aunt to my grandmother to the countless others who have influenced my cooking over the years, I am reminded that food is more than just sustenance - it is a way to connect with our past, our present, and our future.

And so, as I sit down to enjoy a steaming bowl of Arroz con Pollo, I am filled with a sense of pride and contentment. This dish represents not just a meal, but a tradition, a legacy, and a love that transcends time and space. And for that, I am eternally grateful.


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