Arroz Con Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas) is a popular, delicious Puerto Rican side dish that’s high in fiber.
Arroz Con Gandules (Rice and Pigeon Peas)
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:
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 15 ounce can pigeon peas , (gandules), drained
- 2 cups long grain white rice, I like Carolina
- 3 cups water
- 1 large chicken bouillon cube, like Maggi, or vegetable bouillon for vegan
- 1 packet Sazon with achiote, (about 1/2 tablespoon)
- kosher salt, to taste
- 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.
62 comments on “Arroz Con Gandules (Rice and Pigeon Peas)”
This was delicious. I did modify it by adding one 8 oz can of tomato sauce in place of some of the water. I will definitely be making this again. My husband loved it said it had great flavor.
Could you use this recipe and prepare like the baked rice and peas ?
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Finally a receipt that reminds me of my childhood!!! I was in a Puerto Rican household in Jersey City NJ, from 9-14 when I was in foster care and I am always searching for receipts that are like how my foster mom used to cook. This is exactly they way she made her rice. Delicious and thank you for taking me back in time. Now to find her stewed chicken recipe…… Maybe you have one?
Hi…are the freestyle points correct here? My online calculator is showing 6 points? Thanks
Hi Rae, are you using the recipe builder? The only accurate way to determine any recipe’s SmartPoints® value is to plug the ingredients into the recipe builder on the Weight Watchers website (Click on “My Foods,” select “Recipe,” and click “Create a recipe.”) which does not count fruits and vegetables in recipes in the calculations as they are now 0 points.
The SmartPoints® calculator isn’t meant for recipes and will often give you the wrong points (usually higher) because it’s counting the fruits and vegetables. So if you see a recipe with a SmartPoints® value that’s different from what the calculator tells you, now you know why.
I’ve loved this recipe for nearly a decade. It’s delicious. It introduced me to pigeon peas and sazon. Two of my favorite things. I’ve used them ever since!
How do you make the cold salad
Do you happen to also have the steak recipe posted on this site?
Simple, salt and pepper! Cook on the grill or broiler high heat.
Hi- can you tell me what you subtract or do different from your cousin’s recipe to make this healthier?
She uses more oil and adds chopped pork chop or smoked pork chop.
This is one of my favorite dishes. I’ve successfully made it TWICE. Every other time I’ve tried, it’s either too mushy or I’m left with bits of uncooked rice, yuck! My Insta-Pot is arriving today!! Could this be made using it? If so, a how-to would be awesome!
Can you post a rice cooker version
bouillon* — "bullion" means something totally different.
Lol…was an oversight, I am sure! Putting gold, silver or any other precious metal in my food is too rich for me!😂😂😂😂
Hi Gina, I love your recipes!
Could you make this with brown rice? I need to lay off the white rice. Also can the Jamaican rice with kidney beans be made with brown rice?
Gina, I answered my own question. YES! This recipe can be made with quinoa instead of rice. And it was delicious! Even my brother-in-law, who does not have any sort of adventurous palate, liked it. I made this to accompany your Pernil (which has become such a go-to choice for me for dinner parties and even potlucks). Thanks so much for such yummy and healthful recipes!
Gina, do you think this recipe could be made with quinoa instead of rice?
what is included in the sofrito in the food processor?
HI Gina, I plan on making this tonight. I couldn't find a can of pigeon peas, so I purchased a 16 oz bag of pigeon peas. How do you suggest I prepare the raw beans with this recipe?
I could not find Sazon at the store, what can i use as substitute for this seasoning? thanks!
Gina, I am a Neworican but have been living in Ore. for last 27 yrs. Goya products rarely found, but when found bought in big quantities. Thanks for all the PR recipes, they bring me back to my heritage. Do you ever make Gandinga? It is delicious, but I haven't it in verry long time. Love to read your SK letters. My Godcousin from Mass., turned me on to your site. Keep up the good work/writing. Mercedes
I've never made Puerto Rican food before–can you please be specific about the sofrito foods that are to be included in the food processor? I'm making this tonight…. Thanks!
Any advice on making it ahead of time for about 30 people?
I would like to make this recipe with my own sofrito, so do I just heat the oil on medium, stir in the sofrito, and follow the rest of the instructions?
If you could tell me how to make this with my own sofrito that would be great. Thanks! 🙂
And thank you for all of your recipes.
Hi Gina, love your site, I've been making at least 3 recipes off your site a week lately! I have a question on this one… I bought frozen sofrito to skip a few steps since I don't have a food processor, can you recommend how much to use?
i added 2 traditional ingridients to this, diced ham(2 oz) and spanish olives(10 olives, chopped) and this only jumped the points up to 5, instead of 4.5. i honestly can not tell the difference, the flavor is phenomenal and its less greasy. i actually got 8 cups out of this instead of 7 which means it was less than 5 points, score! gonna try to make the jalapeno poppers and hot spinach dip this weekend, cant wait!
Made this tonight for my Dominican boyfriend and he loved it. he said it was the best rice and peas he had ever had. thanks for a great recipe
I'm a little confused. Is the sofrito everything above the oil?
I also always make my Arroz Con Gandules in the rice cooker. My husband is PR so very particular about his rice and I received a huge thumbs up from him and my MIL :0) I buy the Goya Sofrito already made (freezer section) unless I have time to make it from scratch. This also allows me to cut out a few more calories because I dont have to use any oil in the rice. To earlier post about the rice being mushy in the rice cooker, I have also had this problem in the beginning but each time I would adjust the liquid (less)until it was perfect consistency.
First of all, I LOVE all of your recipes that I have tried and looking forward to trying many, many more! I was wondering if you think this would work using the directions from your baked rice and peas recipe, if so do I need to adjust the amount of water. Thank you and my family thanks you, they appreciate the delicious meals!
Made this over the weekend with the Skinny Pernil. It was great! Thanks for the recipe!
I came up with 8 points+ for this.
Another excellent recipe, Gina 🙂 I took a gamble and tried this in my rice cooker (sauteed the veggies first and then just combined everything in the cooker). I wasn't sure if the amount of liquid would be right, but it worked out ok…though the rice at the bottom turned out kinda mushy. It was still very tasty though! Kinda reminds me of my mom's Spanish rice, which I love!
could you please add the points plus?? no hurry 🙂
DN- I make something similar, I love the combination of rice and beans cooked together. Glad you enjoyed it!
Pigeon peas were unattainable for me, so I used rinsed, canned black beans. I also ended up just hand chopping everything, so mine didn't look much like yours. I had lots of green, along with red specks of tomato. I loved the flavor, and ate it as the entree. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. I ordered a bottle of Sazon seasoning & used a rounded tablespoonful. Your recipe was delicious and satisfying, which is good—because it made a ton! Thanks again…love your site!
Hi there in Alaska! It sounds like it was still delicious. Like rice and beans with a healthier twist.
I just finished making this for dinner. I live in Alaska so ingredients can be scare! I had to substitute the sazo for some spices (cumin, oregano, corriander, salt, pepper) and could not find the pigeon peas, so I used kidney beans. I also used brown rice. It ended up like beans and rice with a latin flare. I was quite pleased and ate it with the carnitas recipe from this site. Thanks for a great recipe!
Cooking large quantities of rice can be challenging. Make sure you don't lift the lid for those 30 minutes. Also, you want to make sure you have a good seal with your lid so no steam escapes. My mom always finishes her rice in the oven when she's making a big pot to allow it to cook without burning the bottom. Hope that helps!
Gina, thanks for this recipe as I am making it ALL THE TIME! I am making it tonite for a crowd, and plan on doubling it as I did the first time I made it. I always find, though, the rice is undercooked. I leave the lid on for at least 30 minutes…any ideas as to what I might be doing wrong? Everyone still loves the rice, even though it's a little, ahem, crunchy in some spots.
Good question! 1 tbsp maybe? It doesn't say on the package.
How much Sazon is in a packet? I found a big container of it and don't know what amount to use. Thanks!
It's my personal preference and a lighter version of my cousin's arroz con gandules (no one makes it better than her!!) but feel free to add it if that is how you normally eat it, I'm sure it would be great. The points will increase slightly.
i had this last week with the peruvian chicken(awesome by the way) and it was really good, tasted just like the regular version. my question is, is there a reason you didnt add olives or ham? was it to keep the points down? i dont imagine it would increase the points by much. just curious if it was a calorie decision or you normally dont add those items to your PR rice? i know being puerto rican myself that every one has their own style or twist on how they make rice or what they put in it. 🙂
@Jess, when the water starts to evaporate and it's at the same level as the rice (or slightly below) you cover it and put it on the lowest setting. Do not open the lid. The steam is what finishes the cooking. If you find it is still not done, leave the lid on another 5 minutes with the flame off. Glad you can please your Dominican MIL! My cousin who is a great cook and grew up in PR taught me how to make her arroz con gandules. Love it!
Thanks for this fantastic recipe, Gina. I made it last night and it was fantastic! I will proudly serve it to my Dominican mother-in-law the next time she visits. Every latin dish I learn to make puts her a little more at ease with the idea that her son must survive on my cooking.
I do have one question. The rice was just slightly underdone and I think I got confused with the water skims the top/completely absorbed instructions. When should I put the lid on?
Water to rice should be 2:1. Open at 20 minutes to turn the rice. Cover it and do not open again until it's done, another 20 minutes. Low, low heat, as low as it will go. My mother and I are Pura Dominicanas and my mother swears I make a better moro than she does. I also use Uncle Ben's parboiled rice. No starchiness. Fabuloso!
It really doesn't matter, I don't think there is much of a difference in taste. The plain is fine, if you have the others with cilantro and garlic, that's fine too.
Which Sazon do you use? I have seen these packets with different ingredients in them, one has cilantro and garlic etc., do you use a plain variety?
@ Michelle – for the Cucumber tomato salad, if you use 1 cucumber, 1 pepper, 1 tomato, it would be under 1 point for 4 people.
Sazon is a little flavor packet in the Spanish foods aisle in most supermarkets made by Goya or Badia.
About how many points is your tomato and cucumber salad?
What is Sazon? Can I get it at a regular grocery store?
@Mouse – This is a perfect salad with any latin dish. I squeezed 1/2 lime and 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. I cut up some red onion and seasoned it with salt then added the dressing and let it sit a few minutes. Then I chopped the tomatoes, pepper, and cucumber and tossed it with the onions and adjusted salt and pepper to taste. This is really good!
This may be a ridiculous question, but I'm also interested in the cucumber/pepper/tomato salad on the side. May I ask how that's made? *sheepish* I'm a neophyte at making salad-type mixtures
This looks YUMMY!
I always find Gandules or Pigeon Peas in the spanish section. Goya carries it.
I have never heard of pigeon peas. Another interesting recipe!
Pigeon peas! Must look those up in the store.
they are also called "gandules"
this looks amazing!!! i'm going to have to try it this weekend!!!
mmm, looks good. I am going to have to make this recipe!