Flavorful Arroz Con Gandules Recipe: A Taste of Puerto Rico

Say “goodbye” to boring old rice and beans and “hello” to the vibrant flavors of Puerto Rican cuisine with my arroz con gandules recipe! As a chef specializing in Brazilian and American cuisine, I have always been drawn to the rich and diverse flavors of Latin America. This recipe is a personal favorite of mine and a national dish of Puerto Rico, where it is served on special occasions like Christmas dinner.

Arroz con gandules translates to “rice with pigeon peas” but it’s much more than that. The dish consists of fragrant medium-grain rice cooked with pigeon peas, sofrito, tomato sauce, and green olives for a savory taste that your taste buds won’t forget. This comforting and hearty dish can be enjoyed any time of year, but it’s especially perfect during cold winter months when you crave something warm, filling, and flavorful.

But don’t let the exotic ingredients intimidate you! This dish is incredibly easy to make even if you’re not a professional chef. Once you’ve tried my step-by-step instructions, you’ll see how simple and tasty arroz con gandules can be. Just grab your cooking pot and let’s get started on this culinary journey!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Arroz Con Gandules ( Rice and Beans)
Arroz Con Gandules ( Rice and Beans)

Arroz con gandules, or rice and beans, is a staple of Puerto Rican cuisine and considered the national dish. This hearty and flavorful dish is made with pigeon peas, medium grain rice, and a variety of seasonings to create a deliciously comforting meal that will transport you straight to the Caribbean.

Here are a few reasons why you’ll love this arroz con gandules recipe:

1. Bursting with Flavor: With ingredients like sofrito, tomato sauce, and green olives, this dish is packed with bold flavors that will tantalize your taste buds.

2. Versatile: Arroz con gandules can be served as a main entree or as a side dish alongside pork or chicken. It’s a great option for a family dinner or potluck.

3. Easy to Make: While it may seem daunting at first, this recipe is actually quite simple and can be made on the stovetop or in a rice cooker. It’s a meal that anyone can master.

4. Affordable: With affordable ingredients like pigeon peas, rice, and tomato sauce, this recipe won’t break the bank but will still deliver fantastic flavor.

5. Comforting: There’s something about the warm and cozy feeling of enjoying comfort foods like arroz con gandules that just feels good for the soul.

This arroz con gandules recipe is perfect for those looking to explore new cuisines, create comforting meals for their family, or just need to switch up their weeknight dinner routine. Give it a try and discover why it’s such a beloved national dish!

Ingredient List

 A delicious explosion of flavors in every bite!
A delicious explosion of flavors in every bite!

Let’s dive into the ingredients that will make your Arroz con Gandules stand out. This flavorful and nutritious Puerto Rican national dish requires 3 cups of medium-grain rice, which should be washed and rinsed. You will also need 1 can (15 ounces) of pigeon peas, or in Spanish, “gandules,” drained and rinsed. As for the sauce, you’ll use 1 can (8 ounces) of tomato sauce. For extra flavor, add ½ cup of chopped Spanish green olives with pimentos, drained (optional).

Other essential ingredients include sofrito – a mixture of various herbs and vegetables, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 3 cups of water. The sofrito can be homemade or store-bought. If you don’t have sofrito on hand, you can substitute it with sazon seasoning.

Here is a list of all the ingredients needed for this Arroz con Gandules recipe:

  • 3 cups medium-grain rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pigeon peas (gandules), drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • ½ cup chopped Spanish green olives with pimentos, drained (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup sofrito
  • Salt to taste

The Recipe How-To

 Arroz con Gandules, the ultimate comfort food!
Arroz con Gandules, the ultimate comfort food!

Getting Ready

Before you start, make sure you have all your ingredients ready to go. Rinse your rice under running water until the water becomes clear. This process is important because it helps wash off any excess starch that can make the rice sticky.

Next, heat up olive oil in a deep pot over medium heat. Once heated, add in sofrito and sauté for about 2-3 minutes until fragrant.

Cooking the Rice and Beans

  1. Add in drained Gandules and sauté for an additional minute.
  2. Next, stir in rinsed rice and mix well with the Gandules ingredients.
  3. Add in 1 ½ cups of water, tomato sauce, Sofrito and a pinch of salt into the pot with the rice mixture.
  4. Increase to high heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
  5. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover the pot tightly with a lid and let simmer for about 25 – 30 minutes or until all of the water has been absorbed by the rice.

Adding Finishing Touches

Once your rice is cooked and ready to serve, open up your lid and gently fluff rice with a fork. Garnish with chopped green olives if desired.

This delicious meal can be served on its own or as a side dish paired with juicy grilled meats like chicken or pork for a filling meal that can be enjoyed on any occasion. Enjoy!

Substitutions and Variations

 A classic Puerto Rican dish full of history and tradition.
A classic Puerto Rican dish full of history and tradition.

Arroz con gandules is a Puerto Rican national dish usually prepared with pigeon peas. However, with a little creativity, you can make some substitutions and variations to make it your own. Here are some ingredient swaps to consider:

Firstly, for a vegan version of this recipe, substitute the sofrito with another seasoning mixture, such as sazon. Also, use vegetable broth instead of chicken or pork broth.

Secondly, you can swap out medium grain rice for long grain brown rice or other types of rice. Just be mindful that cooking times and liquid ratios may vary depending on the type of rice.

Thirdly, if you don’t have pigeon peas on hand, you can use other types of beans – black beans, kidney beans, or navy beans would all work well in this recipe.

Finally, if you want to add more flavor to your arroz con gandules, try adding additional ingredients like green peppers or chorizo (or a vegetarian substitute) into the sofrito mix.

Keep in mind that these substitutions and variations may result in slight differences in the final taste and texture compared to the traditional pigeon pea-based arroz con gandules dish. However, experimentation is always welcome when it comes to cooking!

Serving and Pairing

 Perfectly seasoned rice with tasty pigeon peas.
Perfectly seasoned rice with tasty pigeon peas.

Arroz Con Gandules, the national dish of Puerto Rico, is a flavorful and hearty meal that can stand alone or pair well with other dishes. Traditionally, this dish is served as the main course and accompanied by pork cooked in the same pot. However, it can also be enjoyed with a variety of sides and drinks.

To add a fresh and bright contrast, serve Arroz Con Gandules with lightly dressed green salad or avocado salad. The acidity and freshness of the greens complement the rich and savory flavors of the dish. Fried plantains, or tostones, are another great side to serve alongside it for added texture and crunchiness.

As for drinks, a refreshing glass of tropical fruit juice such as mango or pineapple juice pairs perfectly with this dish. For an adult beverage option, try pairing it with a light beer or a fruity sangria.

Arroz Con Gandules can also be served as a vegetarian or vegan option. To keep the meatless theme going, pair it with small portions of vegan fried rice or Moro de Guandules (rice cooked with pigeon peas).

Overall, this wholesome and satisfying dish can hold its own as a star of any meal, but pairing it with complementary sides and drinks makes it an unforgettable culinary experience.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Bon appétit! Indulge yourself in this Rice and Beans goodness!
Bon appétit! Indulge yourself in this Rice and Beans goodness!

Arroz con gandules is a dish that can easily be made ahead of time, making it perfect for meal prep or a dinner party where you’d like to spend more time with your guests. Once cooked, this hearty recipe can last in the refrigerator for up to four days if stored properly in an airtight container.

To reheat the arroz con gandules, simply place your desired amount into a pot over medium heat with a tablespoon or two of water. Stir constantly to prevent any sticking and heat through until warm. If you prefer to microwave, add a little water to the dish before heating in 30-second increments until heated through.

Additionally, arroz con gandules can be frozen for longer storage. For best results, freeze the rice in portions using freezer-safe containers or bags. To thaw, take the rice out of the freezer and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat as directed above either on the stovetop or in the microwave.

While it can be tempting to make large batches of arroz con gandules at once, it’s important not to leave it at room temperature for too long as this can lead to bacterial growth and spoilage. If you’re preparing a larger batch of rice, store it in multiple smaller containers to properly cool and avoid dangerous bacteria growth. Properly stored and reheated arroz con gandules will taste just as delicious every time!

Tips for Perfect Results

 Mouth-watering recipe that will make you feel like you're in the Caribbean.
Mouth-watering recipe that will make you feel like you’re in the Caribbean.

To guarantee a perfect arroz con gandules dish every time, there are a few tips I’ve learned over the years that I would like to share with you. Here they are:

1. Use Medium Grain Rice

Using the recommended medium-grain rice will produce the best texture for arroz con gandules. This type of rice is able to absorb water and tomato sauce better than other types of grain rice usually used in different rice dishes.

2. Rinse Your Rice Properly

Before cooking your rice, make sure to rinse it 2-3 times until the water comes out clear. This will remove any dirt and excess starch from the rice and ultimately lead to a fluffier texture.

3. Develop Flavors with Sofrito

Sofrito is key in creating depth and building flavor for this dish. While Goya sells ready-made sofrito, if you don’t have it available you can make it at home by combining green bell peppers, onions, garlic cloves, and cilantro leaves and blending them into a smooth paste.

4. Don’t Skimp on the Gandules

Arroz con gandules wouldn’t be complete without its pigeon peas, so make sure you add enough of them along with their juice to give your dish its characteristic and natural flavor.

5. Monitor Water Levels

It’s important to closely monitor water levels as often as possible during cooking since different factors like elevation or type of stove can affect boiling times. For example, if you live on high altitude regions or like crispy “Pegao” style arroz con gandules, conserving water may be required.

6. Allow Time for Simmering

Simmering all ingredients together is key! Once you have mixed in all ingredients (rice, sofrito, tomato sauce, gandules), allow enough time for strong heat to cook out much of the liquid in this mixture before lowering the heat to low and covering the pot. Letting it simmer for about 25 minutes or more while being covered is recommended.

By following these tips, you will make an outstanding and unforgettable arroz con gandules dish to share with your family and friends.


As we wrap up this recipe, you may have some lingering questions about the preparation or variations of Arroz Con Gandules. Don’t worry, as a chef specializing in Brazilian and American cuisine, I’ve got you covered. Here are some frequently asked questions I’ve received about this dish.

Why does my arroz and gandules keep coming out soggy?

When rice is cooked for too long and absorbs an excess amount of water, it can become mushy or soggy. This over-absorption of water causes the rice grains to split open and leads to an unappealing texture, resulting in a starchy and glue-like consistency.

Why does my arroz con gandules come out sticky?

Are you tired of your rice turning out sticky and clumpy? The culprit might be too much liquid. For that flawless, fluffy rice, all you need is an equal amount of medium grain rice and water. Keep reading for my tips and tricks on perfecting this base to all your meals.

What are Puerto Rican arroz con gandules made of?

One of the most celebrated dishes in Puerto Rico is arroz con gandules, which is made by cooking rice, pigeon peas, and pork in a flavorful sofrito-based broth. This traditional meal is often enjoyed with mouth-watering roasted pork.

What ethnicity is arroz con gandules?

Arroz con gandules is a dish that holds a significant place in Puerto Rican cuisine and is often referred to as a part of our national dish, along with Pernil.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, arroz con gandules is a delectable dish that will impress any guest at your dinner table. With its rich flavors and versatile ingredients, this Puerto Rican national dish has become a beloved staple across the world. Whether you’re vegan, looking for a gluten-free option, or simply exploring new recipes to spice up your meal plan, arroz con gandules is the perfect choice.

With the right combination of pigeon peas, tomato sauce, and green olives, this recipe transforms your rice into a flavorful and nutritionally rich meal that everyone will love. Plus, it’s super easy to make and doesn’t require any fancy cooking techniques or expensive ingredients to create. So why not add this delicious dish to your repertoire? Give it a try and taste for yourself why so many people from all over the world have fallen in love with this Puerto Rican classic.

Arroz Con Gandules ( Rice and Beans)

Arroz Con Gandules ( Rice and Beans) Recipe

This savory dish has many variations through out all the spanish speaking countries, this is the Puerto Rican version.
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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Puerto Rican
Calories 581.3 kcal


  • 1 tablespoon sofrito sauce (check out recipe # from my recipes)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pigeon peas (any canned bean will do)
  • 0.5 (4 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (4 ounce) can Spam (don't ask a lot of people use it, substitute a ham steak)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 (1/4 ounce) package sazon goya
  • 6 -10 pitted green olives
  • 2 cups rice (rinsed)
  • 4 cups water


  • Rinse starch off the rice, this IS important.
  • Dice ham steak or Spam.
  • Pour oil into 4-5 quart cooking pot ( make sure its a large wide pot, not a thin deep one).
  • Add sofrito and fry on medium heat for 1 minute.
  • Add ham and fry for 1 more minute.
  • Add tomato sauce and heat through for 30 seconds.
  • Add sazon, salt and water and bring to a boil.
  • Add pigeon peas and olives and boil 5 minutes.
  • Add rice and mix around with spoon once.
  • Bring to boil on HIGH heat until water has evaporated to the rice line.
  • Lower temperature to low/medium low and cover TIGHT with lid ( add foil or banana leaf if need be to make it a tight seal).
  • Cook for 25-30 minutes.
  • Uncover, serve and enjoy!

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 330gCalories: 581.3kcalCarbohydrates: 97.2gProtein: 22.3gFat: 11.5gSaturated Fat: 2.8gCholesterol: 13.1mgSodium: 752.5mgFiber: 11.8gSugar: 0.4g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Beans, Caribbean, Easy, Inexpensive, Puerto Rican, Rice, Savory, Stove Top
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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.