Delicious Arroz Con Pollo Recipe: A Cuban Classic

Have you ever tasted the deliciousness of Cuban cuisine? If not, I highly recommend trying my favorite recipe: Arroz Con Pollo Cubano. This dish is the perfect representation of the colorful and savory flavors of Cuba, combining tender chicken with aromatic rice and a blend of spices that will make your palate dance with joy.

Arroz Con Pollo Cubano is a traditional dish in Cuban households, famous for its rich aroma and unique flavor. The recipe is a perfect blend of Spanish and African influences, making it an exciting fusion of cultures.

Preparing this popular Cuban comfort food can be intimidating for beginners but follow my easy-to-follow instructions, and soon you’ll be making this mouthwatering dish like a native. Trust me, with a little preparation, every bite will take you on a journey through the streets of Havana – filled with vibrant colors, lively music and robust flavors.

So grab your apron and let’s get started on preparing this traditional Cuban dish that’s sure to impress your friends and family!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

My Favorite Arroz Con Pollo Cubano
My Favorite Arroz Con Pollo Cubano

Are you looking for a filling, hearty and flavorful meal that will satisfy your cravings? Look no further than my favorite arroz con pollo cubano recipe! This dish is the perfect combination of tender chicken, aromatic rice, and bold spices that will transport your taste buds straight to Cuba.

The beauty of this recipe lies in its simplicity, as it only requires basic ingredients that you may already have in your pantry. Tender chicken breasts or thighs are cooked to perfection with onions, garlic, and green bell pepper for a savory flavor base. Then, rice is infused with saffron strands and tomato paste before being cooked alongside the chicken in a rich chicken broth and white wine mixture.

But it’s not just the simplicity of this recipe that makes it so irresistible. The flavors of arroz con pollo cubano are out-of-this-world delicious. The saffron-infused rice pairs perfectly with juicy chicken pieces, while the acidity from the lime juice and sweetness from the green bell pepper add a burst of complementary flavors to every bite. And if that’s not enough to convince you, the aroma alone will have your mouth watering as soon as you start cooking.

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or just starting out in the kitchen, arroz con pollo cubano is a crowd-pleasing dish that will leave everyone satisfied. It’s easy to make for a weeknight dinner or perfect for impressing guests at a dinner party. So why settle for another boring dinner when you can indulge in the deliciousness of my favorite arroz con pollo cubano recipe?

Ingredient List

 A colorful plate of traditional arroz con pollo - Cuban style
A colorful plate of traditional arroz con pollo – Cuban style

Let’s take a look at the ingredient list of my favorite Arroz Con Pollo Cubano recipe. To make this classic Cuban dish, you will need:

  • 2 lbs. chicken thighs and legs with skin, cut into pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups long-grain rice (Arroz), rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron strands (optional)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice

With these ingredients on hand, you’ll be well on your way to making this delicious dish that’s sure to become a new family favorite!

The Recipe How-To

 The perfect blend of chicken, rice, and seasonings
The perfect blend of chicken, rice, and seasonings

Now that you have the ingredients and tools you need to make this delicious arroz con pollo cubano recipe, let me take you through the easy process of creating this dish.

Step 1: Sauté the Chicken and Vegetables

Begin by heating up 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add 8 chicken thighs and/or legs with skin, and sauté until brown on both sides. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.

Next, in the same pot, add 1 large chopped onion and sauté for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Then add in one large red bell pepper chopped and sauté for an additional 3 minutes.

Finally, stir in 4 cloves of minced garlic, and sauté for another minute or until fragrant.

Step 2: Add the Dry Ingredients

Once the vegetables are sautéed, add 2 cups of uncooked long-grain rice, dry, to the pot with vegetables. Stir everything together so that the rice is well coated.

Add a pinch of saffron strands, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, a small can of tomato paste (6oz) and salt to taste. Continue stirring all of these dry ingredients together until they are evenly distributed throughout the rice.

Step 3: Add Liquid Ingredients

Pour in slowly about 3 cups of chicken broth into the mixture while stirring constantly to incorporate it with all other ingredients. Then add in 1/2 cup white wine followed by 1 can (14oz) of diced tomatoes with their juices. Mix everything together once again.

Step 4: Cook Slowly

Put back chicken pieces into the pot plus a freshly squeezed lime juice. Mix everything together once again.

Cover with a lid or foil paper and simmer on medium-low heat for 25 to 30 minutes.

This process will allow the rice to absorb all of the chicken and tomato flavors, while the chicken also slowly cooks at the same temperature.

Step 5: Test and Finish Cooking

After about 25 minutes, check if the rice is cooked through using a fork. If it’s still not quite done or has a hard center, add 1 cup more hot chicken broth into the pot and cover it again. Wait another 10-15 minutes, check again for doneness, and then turn off the heat once it’s cooked to your desired texture (soft or al dente).

Now that your arroz con pollo cubano is ready, garnish with fresh parsley, slices of lime or chopped green onions. Enjoy this wonderful dish with family or friends!

Substitutions and Variations

 A classic comfort food that reminds me of home
A classic comfort food that reminds me of home

When it comes to cooking, there’s no one right way to do it. Everyone has their own preferences and tastes, which is what makes cooking so fun and unique. With this in mind, let’s talk about some substitutions and variations you can make to this arroz con pollo recipe.

For the chicken: In this recipe, I call for chicken thighs and breasts. However, if you prefer dark meat, you could use all thighs. If you want to make it more lean, you could use only chicken breasts. Additionally, if you’re short on time, consider using pre-cooked rotisserie chicken instead.

For the rice: This recipe calls for Spanish rice or yellow rice. However, you could use any type of rice you have on hand – brown rice, jasmine rice or even arborio rice will work.

For the vegetables: While I use green bell pepper and onions in this recipe, you could also add other vegetables such as diced carrots, celery or peas. Just keep in mind that the more vegetables you add, the more water they’ll release during cooking and the longer the dish may take to cook.

For the liquid: I recommend using chicken broth in this recipe for extra flavor. However, you can substitute vegetable broth or even replace half of the broth with white wine.

For a vegan version: If you’d like to make this dish vegan-friendly, swap out the chicken for extra veggies such as zucchini or mushrooms. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and skip the saffron strands.

In conclusion, don’t be afraid to get creative with arroz con pollo! Make it your own by trying out these substitutions and variations based on your personal taste preferences.

Serving and Pairing

 The aroma of the sofrito sizzling in the pan is irresistible
The aroma of the sofrito sizzling in the pan is irresistible

Arroz con Pollo Cubano is a hearty and comforting dish that pairs well with a variety of sides and beverages. Here are some suggestions for how to serve and pair this classic Cuban chicken and rice recipe:


Scoop up the flavorful rice and chicken mixture using a big spoon, making sure to get plenty of saffron-infused rice in every bite. Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley for a refreshing burst of flavor. Arroz con Pollo Cubano is a one-dish meal that doesn’t need any accompaniments, but if you’re feeling extra hungry, consider serving it with some warm tortillas or Cuban bread.


Wine: A crisp white wine complements the citrusy flavors of this dish. A Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling would be perfect.

Beer: An amber ale is a great beer choice to pair with arroz con pollo cubano because it has enough body to stand up to the bold flavors in the dish.

Non-Alcoholic Beverages: Try serving this dish with sparkling water or lemonade to help cut through the richness of the chicken and rice.

Salad: A simple green salad dressed with olive oil and lime juice would make a great side that contrasts nicely with the meaty, heartiness of arroz con pollo cubano.

Plantains: For an authentic Cuban meal, add some fried plantains on the side. The sweetness from the plantains is a perfect addition to balance out the savory flavors from the chicken and rice.

Avocado: Slice open a ripe avocado, sprinkle it with salt and enjoy it on its own as another side dish, or mix diced avocado directly into the recipe for an extra rich and creamy texture.

However, no matter how you choose to serve and pair this classic Cuban favorite, you’re sure to enjoy every last bite!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Adding the rice to the sofrito mixture and getting ready for some serious cooking
Adding the rice to the sofrito mixture and getting ready for some serious cooking

Preparing a dish like Cuban Arroz Con Pollo requires some time and effort, so it’s always handy to know how to make it ahead of time, store, and reheat it properly. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

Make-ahead: You can make the Cuban arroz con pollo a day or two ahead of serving it. Cook the rice separately from the chicken, and then combine them just before serving. This will help maintain the texture and flavor of both the rice and chicken. You can store them separately in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Storing: To store leftover Cuban arroz con pollo, transfer it to an airtight container once it has cooled down to room temperature. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. If you intend to freeze it, divide the dish into portions before freezing. Freeze the arroz con pollo for up to 3 months.

Reheating: When reheating Arroz Con Pollo Cubano, ensure that you do not dry out the rice or overcook the vegetables, bell pepper or onions. You can reheat the food in one of two ways depending upon your preference. One option is using a microwave curtlery with thin base, which results in quick reheating process but may overheat certain areas of your dish like chicken parts or vegetables causing them to turn rubbery or dry out fast . The other option is reheating on stovetop in a skillet or wok with a dash of olive oil on medium heat. This way takes slightly longer than microwave-heated food but ensures that everything heats through evenly without losing its moisture.

By keeping these essential tips in mind, you will be able to enjoy delicious Cuban arroz con pollo anytime without worrying about reheating leftovers ruining its taste too much.

Tips for Perfect Results

 The rice is fluffy and the chicken is tender - what more could you ask for?
The rice is fluffy and the chicken is tender – what more could you ask for?

Cooking arroz con pollo cubano can be an intimidating task, but with these tips, you’ll be able to achieve perfect results every time. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when preparing this dish:

1. Use high-quality ingredients.

When cooking any dish, it’s important to use fresh, high-quality ingredients. For arroz con pollo cubano, this means using fresh chicken, aromatic vegetables like onions and peppers, and good quality rice.

2. Toast the Rice.

Before adding any liquid to the pan, it’s important to toast your rice in olive oil. This will give the dish a deep, nutty flavor that is unique to Cuban-style chicken and rice dishes.

3. Use Chicken Thighs or Legs.

Chicken thighs or legs work best for this recipe as they are more flavorful and will stay moist even after being cooked for a lengthy amount of time.

4. Simmer Slowly.

Once all the ingredients are combined, turn down the heat and simmer slowly for maximum flavor and tender chicken pieces.

5. Use Saffron Wisely.

Saffron strands can be very expensive, so use them wisely. Only use a few strands (between 4-6) to add a subtle kick that will elevate the flavors of your dish without overwhelming it.

6. Let the Dish Rest Before Serving.

Once the dish is done cooking on the stove, let it rest for about 10-15 minutes before serving. This will allow everything in the pan to settle into each other nicely and result in a more flavorful meal.

By keeping these tips in mind and carefully following the recipe steps provided, you’ll be able to impress your dinner guests with an authentic arroz con pollo cubano – just like they make it back in Cuba!

Bottom Line

this article by saying: “Whether you’re a fan of Cuban cuisine or just looking to try something new, this arroz con pollo cubano recipe is sure to be a hit. With its flavorful and aromatic combination of spices, vegetables, and tender chicken pieces, this dish is an ideal choice for any occasion. And if you don’t want to go through the hassle of cooking arborio rice, you can use yellow rice instead. So why not grab a bottle of white wine and give this delicious meal a try? Who knows – you may just discover your new favorite dish.”

My Favorite Arroz Con Pollo Cubano

My Favorite Arroz Con Pollo Cubano Recipe

I know there are already a number of recipes for this, but this one really is a little different and really is awfully good. Leaving the chicken on the bone makes it more flavorful and juicier. You can use jarred pimento, but it's not that hard to roast the sweet pepper yourself and it tastes much better. You can reduce the garlic and leave out the hot pepper, but I think a little zing is a good thing. The basic recipe is thanks to Maria Josepha Lluria de Higgins. Cooking time includes marinating time.
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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Cuban
Calories 711.5 kcal


  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon salt (sea or kosher)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, fresh ground
  • 1/3 cup orange juice, fresh squeezed
  • 1/3 cup lime juice, fresh squeezed
  • 4 lbs chicken breasts, bone-in, skin removed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, peeled, cored, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade without salt
  • 6 saffron strands, toasted over medium heat for 30 seconds
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 small hot red pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cups rice (Valencia, short grain)
  • 1/2-1 cup white wine, dry
  • 1 1/2 cups baby peas (frozen or fresh and steamed)
  • 1 large sweet red pepper, roasted over an open flame, skinned, cored, seeded and cut into strips


  • Chop the garlic on a cutting board.
  • Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the garlic and, with a fork, mash the garlic/salt/pepper into a paste.
  • Combine the garlic paste, orange juice and lemon juice.
  • Wash and pat dry the chicken breasts.
  • Place chicken and garlic/juice mixture in a large zip-lock bag or into a glass dish with a cover.
  • Refrigerate for at least one hour, turning the chicken pieces in the marinade midway through the hour.
  • Heat the oil over medium heat in a paellera or wide, shallow pan.
  • Remove chicken from marinade, reserving the marinade.
  • Blot the chicken dry with paper towels and brown the pieces in the hot oil.
  • If necessary, do this in batches--allow the individual pieces to brown on both sides.
  • Remove and set browned chicken aside.
  • In the same oil, saute the onion and green pepper about three minutes until onion is translucent.
  • Add the broth, saffron, tomato paste, hot pepper, reserved marinade and the chicken and simmer for about three minutes.
  • Add the rice and stir just enough to cover the rice with liquid.
  • If the rice is not covered, add enough wine to cover.
  • Simmer, uncovered, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked, about thirty minutes.
  • If necessary, add additional broth and/or wine.
  • When the chicken is almost done, warm the peas.
  • When the rice is cooked, remove from heat and garnish the dish with the peas and roasted red pepper strips.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 518gCalories: 711.5kcalCarbohydrates: 52.3gProtein: 55gFat: 28.9gSaturated Fat: 7.3gCholesterol: 145.3mgSodium: 1338.8mgFiber: 3.6gSugar: 6.3g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Chicken, Meat, Poultry, Rice, Short-Grain 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.