Arroz Con Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas) is a popular, delicious Puerto Rican side dish that’s high in fiber.
I can eat rice every day – it’s my favorite, and I love it prepared in Arroz con Gandules, a classic Puerto Rican rice and beans recipe. Like all Puerto Rican cuisine, this rice dish is bursting with flavor perfect served with pasteles, pernil, air fryer chicken thighs, steak, garlic lime pork chops and more.
I spent all my summers as a kid in Puerto Rico because I had family that lived there, and I always loved the food, especially the Puerto Rican rice dishes. I always remember fighting over the pegao (the crispy rice from the bottom of the pot). My cousin is a great cook and taught me how to make this rice. Her version has pork, but I make it without. You can add it if you wish, I included directions on how to add it below.
Arroz con Gandules Ingredients:
- Sofrito: Garlic, white onion, scallions, cilantro, green bell pepper.
- Tomato: Chop one medium tomato or use 1/2 cup tomato sauce.
- Gandules: Canned green pigeon peas, also called gandules, are actually legumes. I usually buy Goya’s, but any brand will work.
- Rice: You’ll need two cups of long-grain rice. My favorite brand is Carolina.
- Liquid: Combine three cups of water with one chicken bouillon.
- Sazón: You can buy packets of sazón at the supermarket or make homemade sazon. If you make it yourself, you’ll need about a tablespoon.
- Salt to taste.
- Optional: 1 pork chop or smoked pork chop, diced
Helpful Tips to Make Perfect Arroz con Gandules:
- Seasoning: The most important part of this dish is in the seasoning. Your liquid should have lots of flavor and taste slightly salty before adding the rice. Otherwise, it will taste a bit bland.
- Liquid to Rice Ratio: Throw away the instructions on the rice bag and use this ratio instead: two cups of rice with three cups of liquid, resulting in rice and gandules that won’t clump together.
- Don’t stir. Once you add the liquid, mix everything together once, but don’t stir again until the rice is done.
- Make sure you have a pot with a tightly fitting lid. Steam cooks the rice, so if any steam gets out, your rice may not cook properly.
- After the 20 minutes, turn off the stove and let the rice sit with the lid on for another five minutes. Then remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
How to Make Arroz con Gandules
- Sofrito: Chop all the sofrito ingredients in a food processor.
- Add all ingredients: Heat the oil in a large pot, and cook the sofrito for five minutes. Add the tomato and salt, sauté for a minute, and stir in the rice. Mix in gandules, water, bouillon, sazon, and salt.
- Boil on high heat: Reduce the heat to medium-low and boil the water until it’s completely absorbed.
- Simmer: Once the water barely skims the top, lower the heat to low and cover for 20 minutes without stirring or removing the lid.
- (Note) If you want to add pork, you can add 1 pork chop seasoned with 1/4 teaspoon adobo seasoning, or 1 smoked pork chop, diced small and saute before step one to brown. Then set aside and proceed adding the pork back in when you add the water.
What to Serve with Arroz con Gandules
I like to serve this authentic Puerto Rican rice with grilled steaks, air fryer steak, garlic-lime pork chops, slow cooker pernil, or pollo sabroso. A side salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, bell pepper, and red onion rounds out the meal.
How to Store Arroz con Gandules
Arroz con gandules refrigerated in an airtight container will last for up to 5 days and can be reheated in the microwave. You can also freeze it for about three months.
- Add Pork: Add diced pork chops, bacon or diced smoked pork chops for a smoky flavor.
- Bouillon: Use vegetable bouillon for vegan rice and peas.
- Sofrito adds a burst of flavor to many Puerto Rican meals. I like to make and freeze a batch in ice cube trays, so I always have some on hand. You can also buy it pre-made to save time.
- Spices: If you want more seasoning, you can add dried oregano and black pepper.
- Rice: Use medium-grain rice instead of long grain rice if you prefer.
- Legumes: If you can’t find gandules, substitute them with canned black or red beans.
More Rice Dishes You Will Love
Arroz Con Gandules (Rice and Pigeon Peas)
For the Sofrito:
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 cup onion, finely chopped
- 4 medium scallions, chopped
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1/2 cup green bell pepper
For the rice:
- Chop all sofrito items in a food processor or chopper.
- Heat oil in a medium caldero or heavy pot on medium heat.
- Stir in the sofrito (chopped onion, scallion, cilantro, bell pepper and garlic) and cook about 5 minutes, until soft.
- Add the tomato and 1/4 teaspoon salt, cook another minute until soft.
- Stir in rice and mix well.
- Add the gandules, water, bouillon, sazon, and salt and taste liquid for flavor (the liquid should be salty enough to give it flavor).
- Mix well. Add more salt as needed.
- Reduce flame to medium-low and let water boil down until it is completely absorbed.
- Once water barely skims the top, set flame to low and cover for 20 minutes without stirring or lifting the lid.
- Remove from heat and let it sit 5 minutes. The steam will cook the rice.