Mom’s Spanish Chicken and Rice

Chicken and rice, otherwise known as arroz con pollo is a delicious one pot meal the whole family will love. Arroz con pollo can be made so many different ways and also varies from country to country. In fact, I don’t use a recipe when I make this, I just use whatever I have on hand so it may never turn out the same twice. This is my Mom’s version, which I’ve lightened up and recently altered slightly. This recipe first appeared here in 2008 but was in desperate need of a new photo so I hope you enjoy it!

Mom makes her arroz con pollo with beer, green olives along with some of the brine for more flavor and she adds frozen mixed vegetables to it. She typically uses whole chicken pieces on the bone (skin and all) which gives it great flavor, but for this recipe I used boneless, skinless thighs.

Some of my Latin recipes you’ll see “sazon” listed in the ingredients. I buy Badia’s sazon because it has no msg but you can make it yourself if it’s not available near you. Sazon basically means seasoning in Spanish; it typically includes salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, dried ground coriander seed, cumin, ground oregano and ground achiote (annatto) seeds. The achiote (annatto) is what gives the sazon the reddish color and makes the rice yellow. You could sub paprika for the achiote, if this isn’t available to you. Some varieties contain azafrán (saffron), a pinch is all you’ll need if you want to add it. When you make your own, a good ratio is one tbsp of each spice. Mix well and store it someplace dry. When a recipe calls for a packet, simply use 1 1/2 tsp in place of the sazon. Best part, no msg.

It’s perfectly fine to use the chicken on the bone, and yes, you can use white meat if you prefer however, I personally find white meat too dry in this dish for my taste. I love this served with a little hot sauce on top and a simple salad on the side. If you would like to try my version which is made slightly different, and has no beer, click on Arroz Con Pollo, Lightened Up or make them both and let me know which you like best!

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Mom's Spanish Chicken and Rice


  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 medium bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 3/4 cups water
  • 3/4 cups light beer
  • 2 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 packet Badia sazon (or make your own, see above)
  • 6 oz frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 tbsp (30 g) alcaparrado (or pitted green olives, capers and pimentos)
  • 2 1/4 cups uncooked long grain white rice
  • 2 tsp kosher salt


  1. Place onion, bell pepper, garlic, and cilantro in a chopper or food processor to chop fine.
  2. In a large heavy pot with a good fitting lid such as a Dutch oven; heat 1 tsp of oil over medium heat.
  3. Season chicken pieces with salt and sauté until browned, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Remove chicken and set aside.
  5. Heat remaining oil in skillet, then add onions, peppers, garlic and cilantro.
  6. Sauté, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add water, beer, tomato sauce, chicken bouillon, sazon, chicken and salt.
  8. Cook 10-12 minutes on medium heat.
  9. Add frozen mixed vegetables, alcaparrado (or pimientos) with a little of the brine (liquid) from the olive jar, and rice.
  10. Stir and bring to a boil.
  11. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until water boils down and barely skims the top.
  12. Once the water level reaches the top of the rice, cover with a tight fitting lid so no steam escapes and cook 25-30 minutes. (Tip: if your lid doesn’t have a good tight fit, place a paper towel over the pot then cover as pictured below)
  13. Shut heat off and let the pot sit wit the cover on an additional 10 minutes.
  14. Remove lid and fluff with a fork.

Makes about 12 1/2 cups.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 8 servings , Serving Size: about 1 1/2 cups

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Freestyle Points: 8
  • Points +: 9
  • Calories: 319 calories
  • Total Fat: 5.2g
  • Saturated Fat: g
  • Cholesterol: mg
  • Sodium: 844mg
  • Carbohydrates: 46.3g
  • Fiber: 1.7g
  • Sugar: 0.4g
  • Protein: 18.3g
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