Savory Arroz Con Gandules Recipe for Dinner Tonight!

My dear friends and esteemed guests, I have discovered a marvelous and delectable dish that I cannot wait to share with you. This recipe is a delightful blend of flavors that beckons the senses to indulge in a culinary experience unlike any other. The dish comes to us from the beautiful island of Puerto Rico where it has been a staple for generations.

This dish of distinction is none other than the famed Arroz con Gandules or Rice and Pigeon Peas. It is hailed as the national dish of Puerto Rico and for good reason – the combination of long-grain white rice, fresh vegetables, and savory spices elevates this rice dish into a league of its own.

I challenge you to try this vibrant and savory dish for yourself and see just how remarkable it truly is. I promise you will love it so much that it will become a regular feature in your recipe book! So what are you waiting for? Let’s journey together to uncover the secrets of this beloved Puerto Rican classic!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Arroz Con Gandules (Rice and Pigeon Peas)
Arroz Con Gandules (Rice and Pigeon Peas)

Dearest readers,

Allow me to introduce you to the exquisite flavor of Arroz Con Gandules, the national dish of Puerto Rico. This dish is a true feast for the senses, with an intoxicating aroma, a vibrant array of colors and flavors that come together in perfect harmony.

What makes this recipe truly special is the use of pigeon peas, also known as “gandules.” It is these flavorful peas that bring depth and complexity to this otherwise simple rice dish. At first bite, you will be transported to the tropical island of Puerto Rico, where this dish is loved by all.

The combination of long-grain white rice, tomatoes, green bell peppers, onions, ham, and bacon creates a savory and satisfying base which is elevated by the addition of pigeon peas. The tomato sauce adds a tangy note that balances out the richness of the meat and compliments the sweetness of the peas.

The finishing touch of capers and fresh cilantro stems brings a burst of freshness that completes this culinary masterpiece. Trust me when I say that one taste of this dish will leave you completely enamored.

But don’t just take my word for it; try it for yourself! With just a few simple steps and ingredients readily available in most local grocery stores, you too can experience the magic of Arroz Con Gandules.

So go ahead and give it a try. I assure you, your taste buds will thank you for it.

Ingredient List

 A vibrant plate of Arroz Con Gandules that will transport you to the tropics
A vibrant plate of Arroz Con Gandules that will transport you to the tropics

Let’s dive into the ingredients you will need to make this flavorful Puerto Rican arroz con gandules. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of these ingredients on hand, as I will provide substitutions and variations later in the article. Here’s what you’ll need:

Rice and Pigeon Peas

  • 1 ½ cups long grain white rice, rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) pigeon peas (also known as gandules), drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Meat and Flavorings

  • 3 slices of ham or bacon, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons capers
  • Fresh cilantro stems
  • Salt, to taste

Aromatic Base

  • ⅓ cup sofrito
    • If you are not familiar with sofrito, it is a blend of sautéed onions, garlic, tomatoes, green peppers, cilantro and sometimes other herbs. You can purchase it pre-made or make your own.

Optional Garnish

  • Fresh cilantro leaves

Make sure you have all these ingredients before starting the cooking process.

The Recipe How-To

 The perfect balance of fluffy rice and tender pigeon peas
The perfect balance of fluffy rice and tender pigeon peas

Follow these simple steps to create an exquisite arroz con gandules dish:

Step 1: Prepare the sofrito

In a blender or food processor, blend together 2 chopped fresh cilantro stems, 1 chopped green bell pepper, 1 diced medium onion, 3 diced garlic cloves until it forms a rough puree.

Step 2: Cook the meats and add the sofrito

Preheat a pan over medium heat with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add ½ cup diced ham and 4 slices of diced bacon and cook them for 3-4 minutes until they start getting crispy. Add the sofrito into the pan and stir for another 3-4 minutes.

Step 3: Add tomato sauce

Pour 1/2 cup of tomato sauce into the pan with sofrito mix. Stir all ingredients together.

Step 4: Add water and peas

Add 3 cups of water, 1 can (15 oz) pigeon peas, and 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce into the pan.

Step 5: Add seasonings and rice

Add 2 teaspoons kosher salt and rice (3 cups long-grain white rice rinsed). Prior to adding rice, the water should look red each time you stir it together with the seasoning ingredients.

Step 6: Bring to boil, reduce heat

Stir all ingredients well (a lot in the beggining then less as rice starts cooking) then raise heat to medium-high until it boils. Boil for a few minutes until much of the water has evaporated from the pot.

Cover the pot tightly with a lid and reduce heat to low. Cook on low simmer for about about 30 minutes until all water has been absorbed. Do not remove cover during this time!

Step 7: Stir and serve

Once the rice is completely cooked, stir it again and let rest for a few minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!

Substitutions and Variations

 A burst of flavor in every bite with just the right amount of seasoning
A burst of flavor in every bite with just the right amount of seasoning

My dear readers, do not fear if you have difficulty procuring some of the ingredients for this inventive recipe. With a little creativity and flexibility, substitutions can be made to ensure your Arroz con Gandules is just as flavorful and delicious as the original.

Firstly, if you cannot find pigeon peas, fear not – green peas or even black beans will suffice as suitable substitutes. Additionally, bacon can be swapped out for Spanish chorizo sausage or omit entirely for a vegetarian alternative. Instead of ham, try adding in some diced chicken breast or shredded pork shoulder for a change in texture and taste.

For those who prefer their dishes with a spicy kick to it, add in a dash of hot sauce or chili flakes to your Arroz con Gandules. Also, be mindful of the type of rice you use. While medium-grain white rice is traditionally used, brown rice or even fried rice can be used as an alternative. Another common variation is using “de guandules” (pigeon peas) flavored Goya Rice to make the cooking process even easier.

If you are feeling particularly adventurous, try experimenting with different types of vegetables like red bell pepper or zucchini. Don’t be afraid to add in slices of plantain chips on top for an extra crispy crunch! You may also opt for the Dominican style version with green pigeon peas or substituting sofrito sauce for tomato sauce.

A versatile dish that can easily be adjusted to fit one’s individualized palate and preferences, Arroz con Gandules has become a beloved national dish in Puerto Rico and beyond. Happy cooking and savoring every bite!

Serving and Pairing

 The ultimate comfort food that warms up your soul
The ultimate comfort food that warms up your soul

Now that your arroz con gandules is ready, it’s time to serve and pair it with the right accompaniments. This classic Puerto Rican dish is versatile and hearty, making it a great meal on its own or as part of a larger spread for special occasions.

When serving arroz con gandules, garnish the dish with fresh cilantro stems and capers. Not only will they add color to the plate, but they will also elevate the flavors of the rice and pigeon peas. To make your meal even more delightful, consider pairing it with ripe tomatoes and grilled or sautéed green bell peppers.

If you’re looking for a full Puerto Rican experience, serve this rice dish alongside some tostones (fried plantains) or maduros (ripe fried plantains). The sweet and savory notes of these dishes complement arroz con gandules perfectly!

For a healthier alternative, pair this dish with a simple salad of mixed greens and sliced tomatoes dressed with olive oil and vinegar. If you want to indulge a little bit more, add some ham or bacon to your salad.

Pair arroz con gandules with a bold red wine like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. If you prefer beer, try an amber ale or pilsner. And for a non-alcoholic option, serve this dish with iced tea or lemonade.

No matter how you choose to serve it, arroz con gandules is always a crowd-pleaser that will bring warmth and comfort to your table!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 The perfect addition to any family dinner or potluck gathering
The perfect addition to any family dinner or potluck gathering

Once your arroz con gandules is ready, it’s important to store it carefully so that it stays fresh and delicious. Luckily, this dish can be successfully stored in the refrigerator for several days without losing its flavor or texture.

If you’re planning to make ahead, you can store the cooked rice in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Prior to reheating, stir in some water to loosen the rice grains and balance out the moisture. Then, transfer the rice to a microwave-safe dish and heat on high for 2-3 minutes until hot. For best results, cover the dish with a damp paper towel to prevent the rice from drying out.

If you prefer reheating your arroz con gandules on the stovetop, add a little bit of olive oil or vegetable broth to a non-stick skillet and heat over medium-low heat. Once warm, add the leftover rice, cover with a pot lid, and cook for 10-15 minutes until heated through.

Be mindful that continuously reheating leftovers can result in overcooked and mushy rice. So it’s better to portion your leftovers ahead of time before storing it in an airtight container or zip-lock bags that are freezer-friendly which will allow you to enjoy this savory dish anytime!

Tips for Perfect Results

 A classic Puerto Rican dish that never fails to impress
A classic Puerto Rican dish that never fails to impress

To ensure the perfect results and achieve the most exquisite taste and texture, I have compiled a few tips for cooking Arroz Con Gandules recipe like a pro.

1. Soak the rice: Before cooking, it is recommended to wash and rinse the long grain white rice thoroughly 2-3 times, then soak it for 15-20 minutes in cold water. This will help to ensure evenly cooked and fluffy rice.

2. Use quality ingredients: This recipe combines a variety of flavorful ingredients such as capers, tomato sauce, fresh cilantro stems, green bell pepper, onion, ham, bacon, and kosher salt. It’s important to opt for premium ingredients to elevate the taste of your Arroz Con Gandules dish.

3. Don’t skip the sofrito: Sofrito is a signature Puerto Rican seasoning blend used in this recipe that adds depth and complexity of flavors. It can be made ahead or purchased from the store. Ensure that you add enough sofrito to cover all of your rice.

4. Perfect your rice-to-water ratio: For every cup of rice, use 1-3/4 cups of water. Make sure you measure it properly and adjust as needed depending on altitude or other variables that may impact cooking time.

5. Cook under low heat: Once you begin cooking the dish, keep the heat on medium-low throughout the process to avoid sticking or uneven cooking. Cover tightly with the pot lid and resist lifting it too often during cooking to maintain steam pressure.

6. Allow enough resting time: After removing from heat, let your Arroz Con Gandules stand for at least 5-10 minutes before serving. This allows for any extra liquid to be absorbed fully while also ensuring peak flavor development.

Follow these crucial tips when preparing Arroz Con Gandules at home for maximum perfection results!


As we come closer to the end of this delightful arroz con gandules recipe, some questions might arise. Hence, in this section, I will be answering frequently asked questions and concerns about the recipe to ensure an excellent outcome.

Why does my arroz and gandules keep coming out soggy?

When rice is overcooked and absorbs too much water, it becomes mushy or soggy. The excess water splits open the rice grains and creates a starchy, gummy texture that ruins the dish.

Are pigeon peas the same as gandules?

For those unaccustomed to Caribbean cuisine, the use of gandules, also known as pigeon peas, in dishes may be perceived as unusual. These small, oval beans are prevalent throughout the Caribbean and boast a distinct nutty taste. They can be obtained in a variety of forms, including fresh, frozen, canned, or dried.

Why does my arroz con gandules come out sticky?

Have you ever wondered why your rice turns out sticky sometimes? It could be due to an excess of liquid. For perfectly fluffy rice every time, I recommend using equal amounts of medium grain rice and water.

What are Puerto Rican arroz con gandules made of?

One of Puerto Rico’s most beloved dishes is arroz con gandules, which features a delicious mix of rice, pigeon peas, and pork all cooked together in a single pot with sofrito. It’s often enjoyed alongside the island’s classic roasted pork.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, arroz con gandules is a dish that holds a special place in my heart and I hope that this recipe has given you a glimpse into the world of Puerto Rican cuisine. The combination of the long grain white rice and pigeon peas creates a perfect texture and the addition of capers, tomato sauce, fresh cilantro stems, and other ingredients make this dish full of flavor.

Whether you are cooking for friends or family, this dish is sure to impress with its vibrant color and taste. So why not step out of your comfort zone and try something new? Prepare arroz con gandules, a dish that is truly remarkable and enjoyed by many. Don’t forget to experiment with the various substitutions and variations mentioned above to create your own unique take on this delectable national dish.

So what are you waiting for? Whip up some authentic Puerto Rican food with this delicious recipe today!

Arroz Con Gandules (Rice and Pigeon Peas)

Arroz Con Gandules (Rice and Pigeon Peas) Recipe

This recipe starts with fresh pigeon peas and I am translating it from Spanish. It comes from an old cookbook, originally published in 1954 called "Cocina Criolla" by Carmen Aboy Valldejuli who was born in 1912. So I suppose she would know Puerto Rican cooking if anyone does!
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Puerto Rican
Calories 548.3 kcal


Pigeon Peas

  • 1 lb pigeon peas, picked over and rinsed clean (fresh gandules)
  • 10 cups water, divided
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt


  • 1/2 ounce bacon, minced
  • 1 ounce ham, minced
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 aji bell peppers, seeded and minced (small sweet pepper that resembles an habanero)
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 medium tomatoes, minced
  • 3 stems culantro, minced
  • 3 fresh cilantro stems, minced

Additional ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons achiote oil ($notetemplate1$)
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 3 pimento stuffed olives
  • 1/2 teaspoon capers


  • 2 1/4 cups long grain white rice


  • Soak pigeon peas overnight in 6 cups of water; drain and discard water.
  • In a large, covered pot, combine peas with 4 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat; cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook 30 minutes.
  • Season with salt and cook 15 minutes more; drain, reserving 3 cups of the cooking liquid (you may need to add more water to end up with the 3 cups).
  • Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, lightly brown the bacon and ham; add in the remaining sofrito ingredients and saute, over low heat until all the ingredients are tender and the tomatoes break down.
  • Stir in the additional ingredients and combine well; stir in the peas and rice.
  • Add the 3 cups of reserved cooking liquid and let cook, uncovered, until almost dry (it will look like little volcanos are erupting); stir up the rice from the bottom.
  • Cover and turn the heat down to the lowest setting and let cook 30 minutes, turning the rice, from the bottom, once halfway through cooking.
  • NOTE: This is how the dish is supposed to be cooked. I prefer to add the olives after the last turning of the rice for a "cleaner" flavor.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 465gCalories: 548.3kcalCarbohydrates: 107gProtein: 23.4gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0.8gCholesterol: 4.1mgSodium: 1345.7mgFiber: 13.3gSugar: 2.3g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Caribbean, Christmas, From Scratch, Puerto Rican, Rice
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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.