Arroz de Polvo Recipe from Portugal with Octopus, Rice, and Vegetables

Arroz de Polvo

Arroz de Polvo Recipe from Portugal with Octopus, Rice, and Vegetables
Region / culture: Portugal | Preparation time: 30 minutes | Cooking time: 1 hour | Servings: 6


Arroz de Polvo
Arroz de Polvo

Arroz de Polvo is a traditional Portuguese dish that combines the rich flavors of octopus with the comforting texture of rice. This dish is a celebration of the sea, bringing together a medley of spices, vegetables, and the unmistakable taste of octopus, all simmered to perfection. It's a recipe that tells a story of cultural heritage, culinary innovation, and the simple joy of sharing a hearty meal with loved ones.


The origins of Arroz de Polvo can be traced back to the coastal regions of Portugal, where seafood plays a pivotal role in the local cuisine. This dish is a testament to the ingenuity of Portuguese cooks who have mastered the art of transforming simple ingredients into exquisite meals. Over the years, Arroz de Polvo has evolved, with each generation adding their own touch, yet the essence of the dish remains unchanged - a celebration of the ocean's bounty.


How to prepare

  1. Precook the octopus in red wine with a small amount of water and add the whole onion (without peeling it). The octopus will release liquid, resulting in more cooking liquid. Keep this liquid and add water to make it up to 2.5 cups.
  2. Cut the drained octopus into small pieces.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add a chopped onion and cook gently, stirring, for 2 or 3 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, tomatoes, and pepper. Season with salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste.
  5. Cook for a few more minutes.
  6. Add the cooking liquid from the octopus and bring it to a boil.
  7. Add rice and bring it back to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to low and cover the saucepan with a lid.
  8. After 15 minutes, stir to ensure the rice is not sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.
  9. After an additional 5 minutes, taste a grain or two to check if it is soft. The rice should still be slightly moist.
  10. Serve.


  • 1. Seafood Mix: Add a mix of seafood such as shrimp and mussels for a more varied flavor profile.
  • 2. Spicy Version: Increase the amount of chili powder for a spicier kick.
  • 3. Vegetarian Option: Replace the octopus with a hearty vegetable like eggplant or mushrooms for a vegetarian adaptation.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

1. Tenderizing the Octopus: Precooking the octopus in red wine not only tenderizes it but also infuses it with a rich flavor.

2. Rice Selection: Using Arborio rice or a similar short-grain variety ensures the dish has the desired creamy texture.

3. Balancing Flavors: Adjust the amount of chili powder and pepper according to your taste preference for a perfect balance of spice.

4. Cooking Liquid: Reserve the liquid from precooking the octopus. It's packed with flavor and will enhance the overall taste of the dish.

Serving Suggestions

Arroz de Polvo is best served hot, garnished with fresh herbs like coriander, parsley, and mint for an added burst of flavor. A side of crusty bread or a simple green salad complements the dish well, making for a well-rounded meal.

Cooking Techniques

The key to a successful Arroz de Polvo lies in the cooking techniques used. Slowly simmering the octopus ensures it becomes tender, while gently sautéing the vegetables helps to release their flavors. The rice should be cooked until it's just tender, absorbing all the rich flavors of the cooking liquid.

Ingredient Substitutions

1. Octopus: If octopus is not available, squid makes a good substitute.

2. Arborio Rice: Can be replaced with another short-grain rice like Carnaroli or even a long-grain variety in a pinch, though the texture will differ.

3. Red Wine: White wine or even vegetable broth can be used as a substitute for a different flavor profile.

Make Ahead Tips

The octopus can be precooked and stored in the refrigerator a day in advance, making the final preparation quicker and more convenient.

Presentation Ideas

Serve the Arroz de Polvo in a large, shallow dish to showcase the vibrant colors of the peppers and the octopus. Garnish with fresh herbs and a lemon wedge for a touch of elegance.

Pairing Recommendations

A light, crisp white wine such as Vinho Verde or a dry Rosé complements the flavors of Arroz de Polvo beautifully, balancing the richness of the dish.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat gently on the stove, adding a little water or broth if necessary to prevent the rice from drying out.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A typical serving of Arroz de Polvo contains approximately 400-500 calories, making it a hearty and fulfilling meal option. The exact calorie count can vary based on the specific ingredients used and portion sizes.


A serving of Arroz de Polvo is a good source of carbohydrates, primarily from the rice, providing the necessary energy for your daily activities. Arborio rice, in particular, contributes to the dish's creamy texture while offering a steady source of energy.


The olive oil used in this recipe contributes healthy monounsaturated fats, known for their heart-healthy benefits. While the dish is relatively low in saturated fats, it's important to consume it in moderation as part of a balanced diet.


Octopus is an excellent source of lean protein, making Arroz de Polvo a nutritious choice for maintaining muscle health. The high-quality protein found in octopus supports various bodily functions and contributes to the dish's satiating properties.

Vitamins and minerals

This dish is rich in vitamins and minerals, thanks to the variety of vegetables and the octopus. It provides vitamin C from the bell peppers, iron from the octopus, and a range of other nutrients that support overall health.


The primary allergen present in this dish is seafood (octopus), which can be a concern for individuals with shellfish allergies. Additionally, the recipe contains garlic and onions, which some people may be sensitive to.


Arroz de Polvo is a balanced meal offering a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. It's rich in vitamins and minerals, making it a nutritious option for a main course. However, individuals with specific dietary restrictions or allergies should take note of the ingredients.


Arroz de Polvo is a classic Portuguese dish that offers a delightful combination of flavors and textures. With its rich history and nutritional benefits, it's a meal that not only satisfies the palate but also nourishes the body. Whether you're a seasoned cook or a novice in the kitchen, this recipe is sure to impress.

How did I get this recipe?

I remember the sense of wonder I felt when I first saw this recipe for Arroz de Polvo. It was many years ago, when I was just a young girl living in a small coastal village in Portugal. My grandmother, Maria, was known throughout the village for her delicious seafood dishes, and she had a special talent for creating mouth-watering meals using the freshest ingredients from the sea.

One day, I was helping my grandmother in the kitchen as she prepared a feast for a family gathering. I watched in awe as she expertly cleaned and cooked the octopus, transforming it into a tender and flavorful dish that would soon be the star of our meal. As she added the rice, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spices to the pot, the aroma that filled the kitchen was intoxicating.

"Grandmother, how did you learn to make such amazing dishes?" I asked, unable to contain my curiosity.

She smiled at me, her eyes twinkling with mischief. "Ah, my dear, I have learned these recipes from many places and people over the years. Each dish tells a story, and each ingredient has a special role to play in creating a masterpiece."

I was intrigued by her words, and I begged her to tell me more about the origins of the Arroz de Polvo recipe. She laughed and patted my head, saying, "Well, my child, this recipe was passed down to me by my own grandmother. She learned it from a fisherman who lived in a neighboring village many years ago. It has been a family favorite ever since."

As she stirred the pot, the rich flavors of the dish began to meld together, creating a symphony of tastes that danced on my tongue. I could hardly wait to taste the finished product, and when my grandmother finally served it up in a large, steaming bowl, I knew that I was about to experience something truly magical.

The Arroz de Polvo was everything I had hoped for and more. The tender octopus was perfectly cooked, the rice was fluffy and flavorful, and the spices added just the right amount of kick to the dish. I savored each bite, letting the flavors wash over me like a wave crashing against the shore.

From that moment on, I was determined to learn the secrets of my grandmother's recipes and carry on the tradition of creating delicious meals for my own family. I spent countless hours in the kitchen with her, watching and learning as she worked her culinary magic. She taught me the importance of using fresh, local ingredients, of taking the time to properly prepare and cook each dish, and of allowing the flavors to develop and meld together to create a truly unforgettable dining experience.

As the years passed, I honed my skills in the kitchen and experimented with new ingredients and techniques, always keeping my grandmother's words of wisdom close to my heart. I traveled far and wide, sampling different cuisines and learning from the best chefs in the world, but no matter where I went, I always came back to the simple, comforting dishes of my childhood.

Today, as I stand in my own kitchen, preparing the Arroz de Polvo for my own family, I can't help but feel a sense of gratitude for the culinary journey that brought me to this moment. I am proud to carry on the tradition of my grandmother, passing down her recipes and stories to future generations. And as I sit down to enjoy the fruits of my labor with my loved ones, I know that the magic of a well-cooked meal will always have the power to bring people together and create lasting memories.


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