Traditional Puerto Rican Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules Recipe

My dear readers, today I come to share with you a very special recipe that has been passed down through generations in Puerto Rico. This dish is none other than the famous Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules, traditionally known as the national dish of Puerto Rico.

This dish is more than just rice and peas, it is a representation of our culture, our history, and our people. The combination of fluffy, long-grain white or basmati rice with tender pigeon peas, fragrant annatto oil, and various savory meats like smoked ham, bacon or Canadian bacon creates one of the most flavorful dishes you will ever taste.

The beauty of this recipe is that it can be made on any occasion- from quick weeknight dinners to special family gatherings. It’s perfect for feeding a crowd or for meal prepping for the week ahead. And trust me when I say that your kitchen will be filled with the most enticing aroma while making this dish.

So join me on this gastronomic adventure to Puerto Rico as we explore the secrets behind Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules. Trust me, once you try this recipe, you’ll fall in love with it just like we have.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules
Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules

Dear readers,

Are you looking for a special dish to surprise your friends or family at your next gathering? Look no further than Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules – Puerto Rico’s national dish and my personal favorite!

First and foremost, it’s delicious. The combination of the yellow rice, pigeon peas, smoked ham, and bacon creates a mouth-watering flavor profile that will leave your tastebuds dancing with joy. I also love the addition of capers and cilantro to add some extra depth to the dish.

But that’s not all – this recipe is also incredibly versatile. You can switch out the meats for Canadian bacon or even omit them altogether for a vegetarian option. Additionally, you can play with the ratios of water and rice to make it more suitable for your taste.

Not only is Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules tasty and versatile, but it’s also a dish made for sharing. It’s perfect for special occasions or potluck dinners. Your guests will be impressed by your ability to cook an authentic Puerto Rican dish.

Lastly, this recipe is simple to make. All you need is a few ingredients and a bit of effort in the kitchen. And if you have trouble cooking rice, don’t worry – I have tips for perfect results later on in this article.

So trust me when I say that you won’t regret making Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules. Give this recipe a try and thank me later when your taste buds are singing!

Ingredient List

 The vibrant colors of this dish make it a feast for the eyes!
The vibrant colors of this dish make it a feast for the eyes!

Get ready to Cook with These Ingredients!

To make this Puerto Rican dish of Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules, also known as yellow rice with pigeon peas, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Long-grain white rice or basmati rice: 3 cups
  • Annatto oil: 1 tablespoon
  • Smoked ham or bacon, or Canadian bacon: 1 cup (diced)
  • Plum tomato: 1 (diced)
  • Cilantro: 1 handful (minced)
  • Garlic cloves: 2 (minced)
  • Onion: 1/2 (diced)
  • Sweet peppers or cubanelle pepper: 1/2 cup (diced)
  • Con gandules (pigeon peas): 15 oz can
  • Tomato sauce: 8 oz can
  • Water: 2 cups
  • Olive oil: 1/2 cup
  • Capers: 2 teaspoons

Most of these ingredients like annatto oil and con gandules are typical elements of Puerto Rican kitchens, but are easy to find in online stores such as

The Recipe How-To

 A classic Puerto Rican dish, Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules is a flavor explosion!
A classic Puerto Rican dish, Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules is a flavor explosion!

Step 1: Preparing the Rice

Before cooking the Gandules Rice, rinse and soak 3 cups of long-grain white rice or basmati rice in water for 30 minutes. Then, drain off the water and keep the rice aside.

Step 2: Sautéing the Aromatics

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat up 1 tablespoon of annatto oil over medium heat. Add ½ cup of chopped smoked ham, bacon, or Canadian bacon, and stir until it gets brown goodness to it.

Next, toss in a diced plum tomato, half an onion, minced garlic cloves, and sliced sweet peppers, including one cubanelle pepper, into the pot with the meat mixture. Stir together over medium heat for a minute before adding a cup of sofrito.

Step 3: Cooking the Rice

After, add drained rice to the pot with a cup of water or chicken broth and a cup of tomato sauce. Mix everything together with 1 tablespoon of sazon goya as well as capers and cilantro if preferred.

Bring to boil at high heat and cook uncovered for about five minutes or until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed. Then, lower the heat to low, cover the pot tightly with a lid, and let it simmer for about 25 minutes.

Pro Tip: Avoid opening the lid too often; it will allow steam to escape from the pot, which could affect how well your arroz con gandules cooks.

Step 4: Adding Pigeon Peas

After letting it simmer for 25 minutes take off stove and stir in two cups of pigeon peas. Turn on stove again on low heat and cook for an additional five minutes while using a fork and gently fluff together arroz and pigeon peas.

Step 5: Garnish and Serve

Your Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules is ready to be served! Traditionally, this Puerto Rican rice dish is served with a slice of avocado or green salad. It’s a dish made for special occasions and enjoyed by everyone.

Substitutions and Variations

 The nutty aroma of saffron and the earthy flavors of gandules combine in this dish.
The nutty aroma of saffron and the earthy flavors of gandules combine in this dish.

Dearest readers,

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to experiment with the flavors of this traditional Puerto Rican dish, then this is the section for you! While the recipe may call for specific ingredients, there are many ways that they can be swapped out or added to enhance your unique twist on the dish.

For those who prefer a different type of rice than long-grain white or basmati, feel free to try other types of rice. Arborio, Jasmine, or brown rice can bring a distinct flavor and texture to the dish. Instead of capers, you can use olives or green beans for an added kick of brine.

For those who prefer a vegetarian version, you can skip the smoked ham, Canadian bacon, or bacon altogether. Instead, add vegetables such as squash, carrots, or mushrooms to bring more depth and chewiness to the dish.

Additionally, adding grilled chicken or shredded pork can also add a boost of protein and heartiness. At special occasions in Puerto Rico, some even add seafood such as shrimp or crab meat for a decadent treat.

Lastly, if you want an entirely different spin on the recipe, substitute half of the water with coconut milk for a creamy take on arroz con gandules. Or add sofrito sauce (made from cilantro, garlic cloves, onion, and sweet peppers) to the mixture for a more layered taste.

Remember that it’s always fun to experiment with food and make it your own. Happy cooking!

Yours truly,

The Chef

Serving and Pairing

 This aromatic rice dish is perfect for busy week-nights, as it's simple to prepare but big on flavor!
This aromatic rice dish is perfect for busy week-nights, as it’s simple to prepare but big on flavor!

Now that the bright and flavorful Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules is ready to be served, I suggest that you add a touch of cilantro on top for a fragrant aroma and fresh taste. This dish pairs perfectly with various foods such as grilled chicken, barbecued ribs or steak, and seasoned shrimp. The Arroz can also be paired perfectly with your favorite refreshing salads or slaws for a well-balanced meal.

However, I must insist on serving this dish with care because it is hot and steamy. The fragrant aroma of the pigeon peas combined with the freshly cooked long-grain white rice will entice your senses as soon as you bring it to the table.

For an authentic Puerto Rican experience, I suggest pairing this dish with other traditional Puerto Rican dishes like pollo con maz (chicken stewed with corn) or Spanish rice. You could enjoy the arroz con gandules as a side dish or make it a featured item at any social event or special occasions.

To elevate this classic rican rice pigeon peas recipe further, try serving it alongside a cold beverage such as fresh lemonade or iced tea. These drinks will complement the spices in the dish acting as a palate cleanser after each bite.

One way to make this entrée more interesting is by adding capers to increase acidity in the dish’s flavor profile or simply add some crispy bacon bits over your plate for extra crunch and flavor.

Overall, there are many creative ways to pair this traditional Puerto Rican arroz amarillo con gandules recipe so feel free to experiment on what suits you!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 I love how versatile this recipe is - it's perfect as a side or main course.
I love how versatile this recipe is – it’s perfect as a side or main course.

If you want to prepare this dish in advance, you can cook the rice and gandules mixture separately and store them in individual containers. When you are ready to serve, reheat them on the stovetop, stirring occasionally. You can also reheat the dish in the microwave by placing it in a microwave-safe container and heating it for about two minutes.

If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. To reheat, add a tablespoon of water or chicken broth to the rice before microwaving it, as the rice can become dry when refrigerated. You can also add some fresh cilantro or lime juice to refresh the flavors.

Alternatively, you can freeze any leftover arroz amarillo con gandules for later use. Simply transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag and label with the date. It can be stored in the freezer for up to three months. To reheat from frozen, let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator or reheat it from frozen on low heat while stirring frequently.

Remember that having pre-cooked rice and gandules at hand makes it easy and quick to make a meal anytime you want or need it. So go ahead and do it!

Tips for Perfect Results

 Whether you're craving something hearty or looking for a vegan option, this recipe has got you covered.
Whether you’re craving something hearty or looking for a vegan option, this recipe has got you covered.

To ensure that your Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules turns out perfectly every time, here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Use Long-Grain White Rice or Basmati Rice

While other types of rice can be used for this dish, long-grain white rice or basmati rice will give you the best result. They are less starchy than other types of rice and absorb just the right amount of water while cooking.

2. Don’t Skip the Annatto Oil

Annatto oil is the secret ingredient that gives Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules its distinctive yellow color. Be sure to include it in your recipe. You can buy annatto seeds and make your own oil by heating them up in olive oil, or you can buy pre-made annatto oil from Latin grocery stores or online.

3. Consider Substituting Smoked Ham or Canadian Bacon for Bacon

While bacon is commonly used in this recipe, you can substitute it with smoked ham or Canadian bacon for a milder flavor. Keep in mind that these substitutions may take longer to cook.

4. Use Cilantro Sparingly

Cilantro is a flavorful herb that complements this dish nicely, but be careful not to use too much. A little bit goes a long way, and you don’t want to overpower the other flavors in the dish.

5. Prep Your Ingredients Before Cooking

Before you start cooking, make sure all your ingredients are prepped and ready to go. This includes chopping vegetables, measuring out rice and water, and opening cans of pigeon peas and tomato sauce. By doing this ahead of time, you’ll save precious minutes during the actual cooking process.

6. Experiment with Different Brands of Sofrito

Sofrito is a mixture of onions, garlic, peppers, cilantro, and other aromatics used as a base for many Puerto Rican dishes. There are many different brands of sofrito available at Latin grocery stores and online. Experiment with different brands until you find one that you like best.

With these tips, your Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules is sure to impress your friends and family at your next get-together. Enjoy!


Now, let’s take a look at some commonly asked questions that may arise while preparing this Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules Recipe. These FAQs will help you clarify any doubts and make sure that you prepare this dish like a pro. So, keep reading to learn more about the recipe and get your questions answered!

Why does my arroz and gandules keep coming out soggy?

When rice is overcooked, it becomes mushy and soggy due to excessive water absorption. This causes the rice grains to split open and results in a starchy, gummy texture.

Why does my arroz con gandules come out sticky?

Do you find yourself struggling with sticky rice every time you cook it? This may be caused by an excess of liquid. Perfectly fluffy rice can be achieved by using equal parts of medium grain rice and water. Here are some tips and recommendations to help you master the art of cooking rice.

What are Puerto Rican arroz con gandules made of?

One of Puerto Rico’s most beloved dishes is arroz con gandules, which is a popular rice dish made with pigeon peas and pork cooked together with sofrito in the same pot. It is often served alongside roasted pork.

Why do Puerto Ricans eat arroz con gandules?

Arroz con gandules is a traditional dish commonly prepared during festive events and family reunions. It is said to have uncertain origins, but it is believed to have been introduced to Puerto Rico by African slaves.

Bottom Line

My dear readers, I hope this recipe for Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules has inspired you to try something new and exciting in the kitchen. Whether you are cooking for a special occasion or simply need a comforting meal, this dish will not disappoint.

With sweet peppers, cubanelle pepper, smoked ham, bacon, and capers adding depth of flavor to the rice, this recipe is an explosion of taste in every bite. What’s more, by using sofrito and a special sazon goya mixture called con maz, this dish is elevated to another level of deliciousness that you simply won’t find in any other rice recipe.

So why not surprise your friends and family with a colorful plateful of authentic Puerto Rican flavors? Trust me; they will love you for it! This national dish is best enjoyed when served with cilantro on top of it. I hope my tips and recommendations have given you the confidence to make this dish your own.

As always, don’t be afraid to experiment with substitutions or make alterations that fit your taste preferences. Cooking should be enjoyable, and this dish can certainly bring some fun to the kitchen. So what are you waiting for? Put on some Puerto Rican music, gather your ingredients, and let the magic begin!

Remember, cooking is an art form that allows us to express our passion for food. And this recipe is undoubtedly one that showcases the rich cultural heritage of Puerto Rico while ensuring our taste buds dance with delight. From me to you- Bon Appetit!

Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules

Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules Recipe

Yellow Rice with Pigeon Peas - translated. You won't believe how much flavor can be packed into such an understated dish. This is a pull-out-the-stops version of the dish. The secret is a well-seasoned sofrito. Make enough sofrito to double the recipe & it would be a waste of good ingredients. You can freeze the sofrito for about a month. Gourmet Magazine.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Puerto Rican
Calories 402.5 kcal



  • 1 cubanelle pepper, seeded and chopped (Italian frying pepper)
  • 5 small fresh sweet peppers, halved and seeded
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 -1 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1 plum tomato, chopped


  • 1/4 1/4 lb Canadian bacon or 1/4 lb bacon
  • 1/4 cup annatto oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped pimento stuffed olive
  • 1 tablespoon drained bottled capers
  • 2 2 cups valencia rice or 2 cups basmati rice
  • 15 ounces pigeon peas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 1/2 cups water


  • Purée all sofrito ingredients in a food processor.
  • Cut out a round of parchment or wax paper slightly larger than diameter of a wide 4- to 5-quart pot.
  • Pat ham dry and cook in annatto oil in pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until starting to crisp, about 4 minutes.
  • Add sofrito, olives, and capers and cook, stirring, until liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  • Add rice and cook, stirring, until it sizzles, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in peas, water, and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and bring to a simmer.
  • Simmer, uncovered, over medium-high heat until almost all of liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes, reducing heat to medium once water is below level of rice.
  • Gently stir from bottom to top, then smooth top of rice.
  • Place parchment round directly over rice and cover pot with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Reduce heat to low and cook, undisturbed, 30 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, then discard parchment and gently fluff rice with a fork.
  • Cover with lid and let stand 10 minutes.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 303gCalories: 402.5kcalCarbohydrates: 75.7gProtein: 19gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0.8gCholesterol: 9.8mgSodium: 293.5mgFiber: 10.1gSugar: 3g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Beans, Caribbean, Easy, Ham, Long-Grain Rice, Meat, Pork, Puerto Rican, Rice, Spicy
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Dora is a chef well-versed in Brazilian and American cuisine. After a hard day's work in the kitchen of her restaurant, she finds the time to jot down recipes for her food blog. Her recipes are sure to delight foodies everywhere, as she strives to make each one unique and enjoyable to read.