Mouthwatering Rice and Pigeon Peas Dish – Arroz Con Gandules

Hungry for a taste of Puerto Rico? Look no further than this mouth-watering arroz con gandules recipe. As a chef specializing in both Brazilian and American cuisine, I can attest that this dish is not only authentic but also incredibly flavorful.

Arroz con gandules, also known as rice with pigeon peas, is the national dish of Puerto Rico. It’s a classic staple found in any Puerto Rican household during family gatherings and holidays. Combining seasoned sofrito, rice and pigeon peas, this flavorful rice dish is simply irresistible.

While some may believe that arroz con gandules is just “rice and beans,” it’s so much more than that. Every ingredient from the garlic cloves to the cilantro leaves adds an extra layer of flavor making each bite an explosion of deliciousness.

Trust me when I say that this dish will have your taste buds dancing to the rhythm of salsa music. So, come along on this culinary journey with me and make your very own Puerto Rican arroz con gandules!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Arroz Con Gandules
Arroz Con Gandules

Picture yourself sitting down to a steaming plate of authentic Puerto Rican arroz con gandules. The flavorful rice is studded with tender pigeon peas, onions, and peppers, and perfectly seasoned with garlic, tomato sauce, and a hint of vinegar. Can you feel your mouth watering already? Trust me, this rice dish is one you won’t want to miss.

You’ll love this recipe for its unique blend of flavors and textures that come together in perfect harmony. Aromatic cilantro brings a fresh, herbaceous note to the dish, while the tender rice and hearty pigeon peas add satisfying richness. The tangy tomato sauce and vinegar balance out the sweetness of the onion and green pepper, making every bite an explosion of deliciousness.

Furthermore, this recipe offers plenty of versatility: serve it as a side dish or as a main course with some tender pernil (pork) cooked pot-style alongside it for a more filling meal. Additionally, it’s also (mostly) gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly! You can easily swap out any animal-based ingredients for plant-based ones or vice versa.

Whether you’re Dominican, Spanish or Puerto Rican – or even if you’ve never experienced Caribbean cuisine before – there’s no question that you’ll fall head over heels in love with this authentic recipe. It’s as comforting as it is flavorful; flavorful as it is simple; simple but fulfilling. So why not give it a try? You never know – it might just become your new favorite rice dish for years to come!

Ingredient List

 A vibrant plate of Arroz Con Gandules with a side of lime wedges, ready to be enjoyed.
A vibrant plate of Arroz Con Gandules with a side of lime wedges, ready to be enjoyed.

Before we dive into cooking up this savory Arroz Con Gandules recipe, let’s take a look at the essential ingredients you will need:


  • 3 cups of long-grain rice
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 can (15 oz) of pigeon peas or gandules
  • 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar
  • 1 can (8 oz) of tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of sofrito (seasoned mixture of onion, garlic, and sweet peppers)
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons of salt

By making sure you have all these crucial components before starting the recipe, you’ll be saving yourself from any last-minute trips to the grocery store. Also, don’t forget that a well-stocked pantry always comes in clutch for making authentic Puerto Rican dishes like this one.

The Recipe How-To

 A colorful and flavorful dish, perfect for bringing some Latin flair to your dinner table.
A colorful and flavorful dish, perfect for bringing some Latin flair to your dinner table.

After gathering all the ingredients, we are now ready to dive into the How-To portion of this classic Puerto Rican dish. In case you haven’t cooked with pigeon peas before, you’re in for a treat. Similar to beans, pigeon peas (or in Spanish called “gandules”) are small green seeds packed with a delicious flavor that makes them a staple ingredient in many Latin dishes.

Step 1: Cooking the Sofrito

The flavor of this dish mainly comes from the seasoned sofrito. In a separate pan, heat up olive oil in medium heat and stir fry chopped onions, green bell peppers, and sweet peppers until soft. Add minced garlic (about 2-3 cloves) and continue cooking for another minute or so, but do not let it burn. To this mix of sauteed vegetables, include tomato sauce and stir until everything is combined. This seasoned sofrito will give your rice that rich taste and aroma from which Puerto Rican arroz con gandules is well-known for.

Step 2: Prepping the Rice

In a separate large pot, pour enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot and let it heat up for 1-2 minutes until hot. Add rinsed long-grain rice and cook over medium heat while stirring constantly until the rice sticks to the bottom of the pot but isn’t burnt. Pour in seasoned sofrito, stirring until every grain is coated with the mix. Add rinsed pigeon peas, along with about 3 cups of water and salt to taste.

Step 3: Simmering

Bring to boil over high heat then reduce flame to low, cover the pot tightly with a lid and cook undisturbed for at least an hour – usually takes 65-70 minutes – or until rice and pigeon peas are fully cooked. If rice sticks to the bottom, add ¼ cup of hot water and stir gently but to loosen the stuck grains.

Step 4: Garnishing

Once fully cooked, remove the pot from heat and let sit undisturbed for at least 5-10 minutes. During this time, uncover the lid, garnish with chopped cilantro then fluff the rice with a fork. This technique also helps removed any excess moisture as well as improves the texture of the grains.

And that, my friend, is how you make authentic Puerto Rican arroz con gandules. Serve as a side or with pulled pork for that perfect Caribbean dinner. Enjoy!

Substitutions and Variations

 Ditch the boring plain rice and spice up your meal with this Puerto Rican classic.
Ditch the boring plain rice and spice up your meal with this Puerto Rican classic.

Alright, so maybe you don’t have all the exact ingredients in your pantry for this Arroz Con Gandules recipe. That’s okay; let’s get creative and see what we can substitute.

First off, if you don’t have con gandules (pigeon peas) readily available, you can substitute with another type of bean like black beans, red kidney beans, or even chickpeas. Just remember to rinse and drain the beans before using them.

For the long-grain rice, you can use other varieties like basmati, jasmine, or brown rice. However, keep in mind that each type of rice has a different cooking time and liquid ratio so make sure to adjust accordingly.

If you’re looking to add more flavor, try adding some chorizo or bacon when sautéing the onion and pepper for a smoky taste. You can also switch up the sofrito seasoning by adding different herbs like thyme or rosemary instead of cilantro.

For a vegan version of the recipe, simply omit the meat-based bouillon cube and substitute with vegetable stock. If you don’t have tomato sauce on hand, use tomato paste diluted in water or even salsa.

If you want to make the dish spicier, add some diced jalapeño or serrano peppers before cooking the rice. And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, try adding some drained corn kernels for a sweet addition.

Finally, if you want to switch things up completely but still want to enjoy a traditional Puerto Rican dish, try making Arroz Con Pollo (rice with chicken) by substituting chicken thighs for pork and adding diced boneless chicken breast along with your preferred seasoning blend.

Remember amigos: there’s always room for improvisation when it comes to cooking!

Serving and Pairing

 A plant-based protein-packed meal that will keep you satisfied and energized.
A plant-based protein-packed meal that will keep you satisfied and energized.

When it comes to serving and pairing this authentic Puerto Rican dish, the possibilities are plenty. You can enjoy this flavorful rice dish on its own as a satisfying meal or serve it as a side dish to complement your favorite protein.

Being a traditional Puerto Rican recipe, arroz con gandules is often enjoyed with pernil (roast pork), which is a staple dish for many family celebrations in Puerto Rico. The savory spices of the pork marry perfectly with the seasoned sofrito and pigeon peas in the rice, creating a balance of flavors that will tickle your taste buds.

If you want to branch out from the classic pairing, you can serve arroz con gandules with other types of meat such as chicken, beef, or even seafood. It also pairs well with beans or salad for a vegetarian option.

Adding some additional flavor elements like chopped cilantro on top of the rice can give your dish an extra kick. You can also add some acidity by serving it with salsa or alongside sliced sweet peppers and onions to add a fresh crunch to the plate.

To complete your Puerto Rican feast, why not enjoy some yellow rice, beans, and pernil alongside your arroz con gandules? This tropical feast is sure to transport you to Puerto Rico as you savor each bite of seasoned goodness.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 The perfect combination of rice and pigeon peas, with delicious seasonings and spices in every bite.
The perfect combination of rice and pigeon peas, with delicious seasonings and spices in every bite.

As with most rice dishes, the Arroz Con Gandules Recipe can be made ahead of time and stored for later. In fact, many Puerto Rican households choose to make a large batch of this dish on the weekends to eat throughout the week as it stores well and can be reheated easily.

To store the Arroz Con Gandules, allow it to cool completely and then transfer it to an airtight container. You can store the dish in the fridge for up to four days or in the freezer for up to six months. When reheating, you can use either the stovetop method by adding a small amount of water or broth to prevent sticking or the microwave.

However, be careful not to overheat the Arroz Con Gandules as it will become dry and lose flavor. To prevent this from happening, add a small amount of liquid when reheating and stir frequently.

Additionally, I recommend garnishing with fresh cilantro before serving to add an extra layer of flavor and aroma. Overall, this dish is perfect for meal prep and making ahead of time so that you can enjoy its savory taste whenever you need a quick and satisfying meal.

Tips for Perfect Results

 This dish is not only delicious but also a traditional staple for many Caribbean natives.
This dish is not only delicious but also a traditional staple for many Caribbean natives.

Cooking rice can be tricky, and getting the perfect texture can be a daunting task. But don’t worry, amigos! As a seasoned chef, I have some tips to help you achieve that perfectly cooked Arroz con Gandules.

Firstly, make sure to use long-grain rice for this recipe as it holds up the best and doesn’t turn mushy. Rinse your rice thoroughly before cooking to remove excess starch and prevent clumping.

To boost the flavor of your Arroz con Gandules, substitute some of the water with chicken broth, or vegetable broth if you want to keep it vegetarian. This will add more depth to the dish and create a more flavorful rice base.

Also, experiment with adding different herbs like thyme or oregano to enhance the aroma and give it an extra layer of flavor. A small amount of saffron can also add natural yellow coloring and a unique taste to your rice.

When cooking your sofrito (the mixture of onions, bell peppers, cilantro, garlic, and tomato sauce), make sure to cook it until fragrant but not browned. This will help retain its natural sweetness while also imparting maximum flavor.

Lastly, let the Arroz con Gandules sit for 10-15 minutes after removing from heat before fluffing it to ensure even cooking throughout. Serve alongside Pernil or any protein of your choice for a delicious meal that’s packed with authentic Puerto Rican flavors.

Try these tips out and impress your loved ones with your expertly cooked Arroz con Gandules – they’ll be asking for seconds in no time!


Now that you know everything about making a mouthwatering Arroz Con Gandules, it’s time to answer some common questions you might have. Here are some frequently asked questions about this Puerto Rican dish and some helpful answers to ensure your culinary experience is perfect.

Why is my arroz con gandules mushy?

When making arroz con gandules, the key is to avoid creating too much starch and gluten, which can result in a sticky and mushy texture. To achieve a fluffy and tender rice, it is recommended to stir the rice as little as possible. This will not only reduce starch production but also create a crispy layer of PEGAO at the bottom of the pan, which is considered a delicacy in some cultures.

What are Puerto Rican arroz con gandules made of?

Arroz con gandules is a traditional Puerto Rican meal that involves cooking rice, pigeon peas, and pork together in a single pot with sofrito. It’s a beloved dish in Puerto Rico, often served alongside roasted pork.

What ethnicity is arroz con gandules?

Arroz con gandules is an iconic dish in Puerto Rican cuisine, often considered a crucial component of our national meal alongside Pernil.

What is the Puerto Rican rice that sticks to the pan?

In Puerto Rican cuisine, the term “pegao” is used to describe the crispy and thin layer of rice that sticks to the bottom of the pot while preparing traditional rice dishes like arroz con gandules. The word itself is derived from the Spanish term “pegado,” meaning “stuck.”

Bottom Line

In conclusion, arroz con gandules is a staple in Puerto Rican cuisine and a dish that will transport your taste buds to the beautiful Caribbean island. This flavorful rice dish highlights the richness of Puerto Rican culture and can be easily customized to your liking.

By following the steps in this recipe, you too can create an authentic and delicious dish that will impress even the most discerning palates. Whether you are looking for a hearty side dish to accompany your pernil or simply want to savor the rich flavor of pigeon peas, arroz con gandules is the perfect recipe for you.

So what are you waiting for? Gather all the ingredients from your grocery store or online delivery service, and let’s start cooking! With just a little bit of effort, you can bring the flavors of Puerto Rico right into your own home. And who knows, maybe this beloved national dish will become a family favorite in your household too!

Thank you for following along with me today. Don’t forget to share this recipe with your loved ones so they too can enjoy the vibrant flavors of arroz con gandules. Happy cooking!

Arroz Con Gandules

Arroz Con Gandules Recipe

This recipe is MSG free (No Sazon or Bouillon) and it is delicious. Serve with any meat, avocado and salad. I got this recipe from my Dominican Mama, Tata. The ultimate secret to good rice is the pot. Use an heavy aluminum caldero. Sold in most discount stores in the pot section.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Puerto Rican
Calories 504.3 kcal


  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup red pepper, diced
  • 1/3 cup green pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup sweet pepper (ajicito)
  • 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 (15 1/2 ounce) can pigeon peas, Goya Dry Pigeon Peas
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce, Del Monte
  • 3 cups long-grain rice
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
  • 8 stalks cilantro


  • Heat oil on medium heat.
  • Add in onion, red pepper, green pepper, garlic and ajicito (aji) and 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Saute for 10 minutes on medium heat stirring every minute or so. (Do not cover until last step).
  • Drain dry pigeon peas and reserve liquid. Add in dry pigeon peas and cook for another 5 minutes on medium heat.
  • Add in tomato sauce and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Bring to a boil.
  • Add in rice, reserved dry pigeon pea liquid, water and salt. Boil on high heat until water cooks down and bubbles are popping on the surface of the rice.
  • Break cilantro stalks in half and mix into wet rice. Cover and cook on low heat for 15 minutes or until fully cooked.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 326gCalories: 504.3kcalCarbohydrates: 93.6gProtein: 17.6gFat: 6.5gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 749.1mgFiber: 10.1gSugar: 2.3g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Beans, Beginner Cook, Caribbean, Easy, Inexpensive, Long-Grain Rice, Rice, Stove Top, White Rice
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Recommended Recipes Just For You



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.