Arroz con Pollo Cubano Recipe - Authentic Cuban Dish

Arroz con Pollo Cubano

Arroz con Pollo Cubano Recipe - Authentic Cuban Dish
Region / culture: Cuba | Preparation time: 30 minutes | Cooking time: 1 hour | Servings: 6


Arroz con Pollo Cubano
Arroz con Pollo Cubano

Arroz con Pollo Cubano, a classic Cuban dish, combines the savory flavors of chicken, rice, and spices in a one-pot meal that is both comforting and vibrant. This dish is a staple in Cuban cuisine, known for its rich flavors and colorful presentation. It's a versatile recipe that can be adapted to suit different tastes and occasions, making it a favorite among families and a must-try for anyone looking to explore Cuban culinary traditions.


The origins of Arroz con Pollo can be traced back to Spain, but it has been embraced and adapted by various Latin American countries, each adding their unique twist. In Cuba, the recipe has evolved to include ingredients like saffron and pimentos, reflecting the island's diverse culinary influences. This dish is a testament to Cuba's rich cultural heritage, blending Spanish, African, and Caribbean flavors.


How to prepare

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
  2. In a pan, fry the chicken with onion and garlic in oil until browned.
  3. Add tomatoes and water to the pan; bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in bay leaf, salt, rice, saffron, and green pepper.
  5. Transfer the mixture to an 8" x 10" casserole dish and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring at least twice.
  6. Once the water has been absorbed and the chicken is fork tender, garnish with peas and pimientos.


  • For a spicier version, add chopped jalapeños or a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. You can also substitute the chicken with shrimp or mixed seafood for a coastal twist. Vegetarians can replace the chicken with large chunks of portobello mushrooms or tofu.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure the best flavor and texture, brown the chicken pieces well before adding the other ingredients. This step adds depth to the dish. Use high-quality saffron for its distinct aroma and color. For a more authentic taste, consider using homemade chicken broth instead of water. Lastly, be sure to stir the rice occasionally while baking to prevent it from sticking and to ensure even cooking.

Serving Suggestions

Serve Arroz con Pollo Cubano with slices of avocado and lime wedges on the side. A fresh salad or fried plantains can complement the dish, adding freshness and texture.

Cooking Techniques

Browning the chicken and sautéing the onions and garlic before baking enhances the flavors. Baking the dish allows the rice to absorb the flavors and cook evenly, resulting in a tender and aromatic meal.

Ingredient Substitutions

If saffron is not available, turmeric can be used as a substitute to achieve a similar color, though the flavor will be slightly different. Chicken thighs can be used instead of a whole chicken for a juicier result.

Make Ahead Tips

You can prepare the chicken, onion, and garlic mixture ahead of time and refrigerate it. When ready to cook, simply add the remaining ingredients and bake. This can save time and make meal preparation more convenient.

Presentation Ideas

Garnish the finished dish with fresh cilantro or parsley for a pop of color and freshness. Serve it in a large, colorful dish to highlight the vibrant ingredients and make it the centerpiece of your table.

Pairing Recommendations

A light, crisp white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or a citrusy Mojito can complement the flavors of Arroz con Pollo Cubano. For a non-alcoholic option, a sparkling limeade or iced tea pairs well.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, sprinkle a little water over the rice to prevent it from drying out, and warm it in the microwave or on the stove over low heat.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A single serving of Arroz con Pollo Cubano contains approximately 500-600 calories, making it a hearty meal option. The calories are well balanced between carbs, proteins, and fats, providing a satisfying and nutritious meal.


A serving of Arroz con Pollo Cubano contains approximately 45-55 grams of carbohydrates. The primary source of carbs in this dish comes from the rice, which provides energy and helps make this meal satisfying and filling.


This dish contains about 20-30 grams of fat per serving, mainly from the olive oil and chicken. Using skinless chicken pieces can help reduce the fat content, making it a healthier option without compromising the flavor.


Arroz con Pollo Cubano is a good source of protein, with each serving providing approximately 25-35 grams. The protein comes from the chicken, making this dish a great option for maintaining muscle health and overall body function.

Vitamins and minerals

This dish is rich in various vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A from the tomatoes and pimentos, Vitamin C from the green peppers, and iron and zinc from the chicken. These nutrients support immune function, vision, and overall health.


Common allergens in this recipe include garlic and onions for those with sensitivities. However, it is free from dairy, nuts, and gluten, making it suitable for individuals with these common allergies.


Overall, Arroz con Pollo Cubano 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 part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation.


Arroz con Pollo Cubano is a flavorful, nutritious dish that embodies the essence of Cuban cuisine. With its rich history, versatile recipe, and balanced nutrition, it's a delightful meal that brings people together and celebrates the vibrant culture of Cuba. Whether you're a seasoned cook or a beginner, this dish is sure to impress and satisfy.

How did I get this recipe?

I can still remember the exact moment I discovered this recipe for Arroz con Pollo Cubano. It was a warm summer day in Havana, Cuba, and I was just a young girl eager to learn the art of cooking from my grandmother. She was a master in the kitchen, always whipping up delicious meals that filled our home with comforting aromas.

One particular day, she decided to teach me how to make this traditional Cuban dish. As we gathered all the ingredients on the kitchen counter, she began to share the story of how she learned to make Arroz con Pollo Cubano herself many years ago.

"It all started when I was a young bride, just like you are now," she began, a nostalgic smile on her face. "I had just married your grandfather, and I was determined to impress him with my cooking skills. So, I asked my neighbor, Mrs. Rodriguez, for her famous recipe for Arroz con Pollo Cubano."

Mrs. Rodriguez was known throughout the neighborhood for her culinary prowess, and my grandmother was eager to learn from her. She watched intently as Mrs. Rodriguez demonstrated each step of the recipe, from marinating the chicken in a fragrant blend of spices to cooking the rice in a rich broth infused with saffron.

As my grandmother recounted the details of that day, I could see the passion in her eyes and hear the excitement in her voice. She had a natural talent for cooking, and she soaked up every piece of wisdom Mrs. Rodriguez shared with her.

After learning the recipe, my grandmother went home and made Arroz con Pollo Cubano for my grandfather. He took one bite and declared it the best meal he had ever eaten. From that day on, my grandmother's reputation as a fantastic cook was solidified, and she continued to hone her skills in the kitchen, passing down her knowledge to me and my siblings.

As we began to prepare the dish together, my grandmother guided me through each step with patience and precision. She showed me how to season the chicken just right, how to sauté the vegetables until they were tender, and how to simmer the rice until it was fluffy and fragrant.

As the aroma of garlic, onions, and peppers filled the kitchen, I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment wash over me. I was learning a valuable skill from someone I loved dearly, and I knew that this recipe would become a cherished part of my own culinary repertoire.

Finally, after hours of cooking and simmering, the Arroz con Pollo Cubano was ready to be served. We gathered around the table, my grandmother, my grandfather, and I, and dug into the steaming dish with gusto. The flavors were bold and comforting, a true taste of Cuba that brought back memories of lazy afternoons spent in the sun.

As we savored each bite, my grandmother shared more stories of her early days in the kitchen, of the different recipes she had learned and the people who had taught her. I listened intently, eager to soak up every ounce of wisdom she had to offer.

That day, as I sat at the table with my family, enjoying a meal that had been passed down through generations, I realized the power of food to connect us to our past and to each other. The recipe for Arroz con Pollo Cubano was more than just a list of ingredients and instructions – it was a piece of our family history, a reminder of the love and care that went into every meal we shared.

And as I took my last bite of the delicious dish, I knew that I would carry on my grandmother's legacy, sharing this recipe and the stories that went along with it with future generations. Cooking was more than just a skill – it was a way to honor the traditions and memories that had shaped us, a way to keep our family history alive for years to come.


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