Mouthwatering Spanish Rice and Pigeon Peas Recipe

Are you in the mood for some Puerto Rican cuisine tonight? Look no further than this essential rice dish packed with nutrients and full of flavor – Spanish Rice and Pigeon Peas, or Arroz con Gandules.

This national dish of Puerto Rico is a staple in many Latinx households, and for good reason. The combination of rice and pigeon peas, or “gandules” in Spanish, along with pork cooked in a pot of “sofrito” creates a uniquely satisfying and hearty meal.

But don’t worry, even if you’re not a meat-eater, this dish can still work for you. It’s easy to adjust the recipe and leave out the pork while still getting all the delicious flavors that make arroz con gandules so popular.

Plus, not only is it delicious, but it’s also a filling and healthy option that can be easily made in large quantities to feed your whole family or to have leftovers for lunch throughout the week. Give this recipe a try and see why it’s one of my favorite Puerto Rican recipes.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Spanish Rice and Pigeon Peas ( Arroz con Gandules)
Spanish Rice and Pigeon Peas ( Arroz con Gandules)

My friend, let me tell you about this Arroz con Gandules recipe, also known as Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas. It’s a national dish in Puerto Rico, and for countless reasons, it’s the one rice dish that every Puerto Rican can make without referring to a cookbook.

But what makes this dish so essential? First and foremost, it’s packed with nutrients! The pigeon peas in this recipe are full of protein and fiber, making it a healthy and filling meal. And the combination of rice and pigeon peas is simply delicious!

Another reason you’ll love this recipe is how easy it is to make. You don’t even need a rice cooker or fancy equipment. Just a pot, some basic ingredients from your kitchen (like butter, salt, and water), and of course, the essential “sofrito” (a savory blend of onions, garlic, bell peppers, and other seasonings). Trust me when I say that the sofrito is key to making a flavorful rice dish that you’ll want to come back for seconds (or thirds).

Furthermore, the variations for this dish are endless! You can add some green olives, diced ham or pork for extra flavor. You can also substitute long-grain white rice with brown rice or even make it into fried rice! The possibilities are endless.

Lastly but not least, the taste of Arroz con Gandules is out of this world! The tomato sauce adds a slightly tangy flavor that complements the other ingredients perfectly. When everything comes together in one pot, creating this side or main dish becomes pure magic. Trust me, it will leave you craving for more.

So if you haven’t tried Arroz con Gandules yet, what are you waiting for? It’s easy to make (even for beginners), nutritious and flavorful – it’s simply an essential addition to your recipe box.

Ingredient List

 Arroz con Gandules: a bright and flavorful dish that celebrates the best of Latin cuisine.
Arroz con Gandules: a bright and flavorful dish that celebrates the best of Latin cuisine.

Let’s take a look at the ingredients you’ll need to make this delicious Puerto Rican national dish. This recipe combines long grain rice with pigeon peas (con gandules), creating an essential rice dish packed with nutrients.

  • 3 cups of white rice
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 1 can of pigeon peas (15 ounces)
  • 1 can of tomato sauce (7 ounces)
  • ½ cup of green olives (with pimentos)
  • 1 cup of sofrito
  • (Sofrito is a pureed mixture made from onions, peppers, garlic, and cilantro. If you are unable to find it in your local grocery store, there are many recipes available online to make your own.)

Substitutions and Variations: If you prefer brown rice, you can use that instead of white rice. You can also add some pork cooked in pot sofrito to the dish along with the pigeon peas (gandules).

The Recipe How-To

Now, let’s dive into the exciting part – cooking this incredible Spanish Rice and Pigeon Peas (Arroz con Gandules) recipe. This dish is a staple in Puerto Rican cuisine and often considered the national dish. It’s no wonder because this dish is packed with essential nutrients, making it a popular meal for many people. This flavorful rice dish is made with long-grain rice, pigeon peas (con gandules), and various flavorsome ingredients like sofrito, tomato sauce, green olives, and more.

The Ingredients

Before we start cooking, here’s a quick rundown of what you need to make this delicious recipe:

  • 1/2 lb. of pigeon peas
  • 3 cups of long grain rice
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. of butter
  • 1 small can of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup of green olives stuffed with pimentos
  • Sofrito (see note below)
  • salt to taste

Note: You can either buy sofrito from the store or make it fresh by blending onions, garlic, green peppers, cilantro, and culantro together.

The Steps

Here’s how to make the Spanish Rice and Pigeon Peas (Arroz con Gandules) recipe:

  1. Rinse the pigeon peas and set them aside.
  2. Heat a large saucepan on medium heat and add olive oil.
  3. Add sofrito to the saucepan once the oil is hot.
  4. Cook the sofrito for about a minute or until fragrant.
  5. Add in tomato sauce, green olives (drained), salt, and cook for another minute.
  6. Next, add in the pigeon peas along with 1/2 cup of water and let them cook for about 10-12 minutes or until they are soft.
  7. Add rice to the pot and mix it well with all the ingredients.
  8. Pour in 4 cups of water along with the butter and more salt if necessary.
  9. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan, and let everything simmer for about 30-40 minutes, till the rice is fully cooked.

Serve and Enjoy!

Once your Spanish Rice and Pigeon Peas (Arroz con Gandules) recipe is prepared, serve it hot along with some pork chops. You can also pair it with another protein, such as chicken breast or steak. For those opting for a vegetarian alternative, you could serve it up with sweet plantains or avocados.

With this recipe guide, you should be able to whip up this delicious Puerto Rican-inspired dish in no time. Go ahead and try it out!

Substitutions and Variations

 The spices and ingredients in this dish come together to create a symphony of flavor that will leave you wanting more.
The spices and ingredients in this dish come together to create a symphony of flavor that will leave you wanting more.

If you’re looking to mix things up and give this classic dish a unique twist, there are a few substitutions and variations you can consider.

Firstly, instead of using long-grain rice, you can opt for brown rice or even white rice for a slightly different texture. I recommend adjusting the liquid amounts accordingly if choosing to use a different type of rice.

If you’re vegetarian or simply prefer to avoid animal products, you can easily omit the pork from this recipe without sacrificing any flavor. However, if you still want that savory taste in your dish, consider adding in some chopped mushrooms or using meat alternatives like tofu or seitan.

For those who enjoy a bit more spice in their dishes, try adding in some diced jalapeno peppers or hot sauce to the sofrito mixture. This will give your arroz con gandules a little extra kick while still staying true to its traditional flavors.

If you don’t have pigeon peas on hand or simply prefer another type of legume, try substituting them with black beans, kidney beans, or chickpeas. These options will still give you a protein-packed dish that is sure to satisfy.

Lastly, consider adding in some additional veggies like diced carrots or bell peppers for an added nutritional boost. You could even top your dish with some fresh avocado slices or cilantro before serving for an extra burst of flavor and texture.

No matter which substitutions and variations you choose to make, this essential rice dish packed with nutrients and Puerto Rican flavor is sure to become a go-to recipe in your kitchen!

Serving and Pairing

This Arroz con Gandules recipe is a timeless classic and the Puerto Rican national dish. It’s almost impossible for one not to fall in love with the rich flavors and the aroma of pigeon peas combined with the nutty taste of long-grain rice that gives this Puerto Rican rice dish a distinct flavor.

This essential rice dish is packed with nutrients and can be served as a complete meal, or as a side dish, meant to complement any protein of your choice. The combination of rice and pigeon peas is highly nutritious, making it suitable for vegetarians or vegans.

To take the dining experience up a notch, serve this classic Rican recipe with delicious side dishes, such as ripe plantains, sweet cornbread, and salad to balance out the richness and enhance its flavor.

Many people who want to spice things up often serve this flavorful rice recipe with pork pernil cooked in the oven or on the barbecue for big family get-togethers. You can also serve Arroz con Gandules with a delicious beef stew or even some fried chicken.

No matter what you decide to pair it with, this Arroz con Gandules recipe will have you going back for seconds and feeling inspired to cook up variations of classic Puerto Rican dishes like Moro de Guandules.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Bring a taste of the Caribbean to your kitchen with this delicious rice dish.
Bring a taste of the Caribbean to your kitchen with this delicious rice dish.

This dish is perfect for making ahead of time, as it only gets better as the flavors meld together. If you have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

To reheat, add a splash of water or broth to the rice mixture and heat covered in a saucepan over medium heat until heated through, stirring occasionally. Alternatively, you can reheat it in the microwave by adding a moist paper towel on top of the container before heating. This will help keep the rice moist and prevent it from drying out.

If you’re planning on making this dish for a larger group or meal prep, you can easily double or triple the recipe. Just keep in mind that you’ll need a larger pot and more time to cook it all.

And if you’re short on time but still want to enjoy this delicious dish, let your rice cooker do the work! Simply add all of the ingredients including water and tomato sauce to your rice cooker and let it cook until done. You’ll have a flavorful rice dish packed with nutrients without any hassle.

Tips for Perfect Results

Here are some tips to ensure your arroz con gandules comes out perfect every time:

1. Use Quality Ingredients – The taste of your final dish will only be as good as the quality of your ingredients. Use fresh, high-quality, and locally sourced ingredients when possible.

2. Rinse Rice – Rinsing rice helps remove excess starch and prevents clumping. Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear.

3. Properly Measure Water – The ratio of water to rice is critical for creating perfect fluffy rice. For 1 cup of long-grain rice, use 2 cups of water. For 2 cups of long-grain rice, use 3 cups of water.

4. Simmer on Low Heat – Turn the heat down to low once you add your rice to the pot with the pigeon peas and tomato sauce. Cover and simmer for approximately 20-25 minutes until all the water has been absorbed.

5. Don’t Stir Too Often – Resist the urge to stir the rice too often during cooking as this may cause it to become sticky and clumpy.

6. Fluff with a Fork – Once your rice is cooked, it’s important to fluff it with a fork before serving. This helps separate any clumps and makes it light and fluffy.

7. Let It Rest Before Serving – Allow your arroz con gandules to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving to allow for any residual steam to be absorbed by the grains.

8. Experiment with Substitutions – While traditional arroz con gandules contains certain ingredients like pigeon peas, tomato sauce, and green olives, feel free to experiment with substitutions like brown rice or other beans if you’re feeling adventurous!

By following these simple tips, you’ll be able to create a flavorful rice dish packed with essential nutrients that’s perfect for any occasion!


Now that you have learned everything you need to know about the Spanish Rice and Pigeon Peas recipe, it’s time to address some frequently asked questions to help ensure your cooking experience goes smoothly. Here are some common queries answered for you.

Why does my arroz and gandules keep coming out soggy?

Overcooked rice that has taken on too much water can result in a mushy or soggy texture. The excessive water absorption causes the rice grains to burst open, leading to a gummy and starchy consistency.

Are pigeon peas the same as gandules?

To many people who are not familiar with Caribbean cuisine, gandules, or pigeon peas, may seem like a foreign ingredient. These small, oval-shaped legumes are a staple across the West Indies and have a distinct nutty taste. They are readily available in fresh, frozen, canned or dried forms.

What are Puerto Rican arroz con gandules made of?

The national dish of Puerto Rico and a beloved traditional cuisine is Arroz con Gandules. It is a delicious blend of rice, pigeon peas, and pork, all cooked together in a single pot with a flavorful sofrito. The dish is often enjoyed alongside juicy and savory roasted pork.

What is gandules in English?

The rice dish is incomplete without the addition of pigeon peas, also known as Gandules. These little legumes are highly nutritious and add a unique flavor to the dish.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this Arroz con Gandules recipe is a must-try for any fan of Puerto Rican cuisine or for those looking to expand their recipe repertoire. With its perfect combination of flavorful rice, tender pigeon peas, and savory sofrito, this essential rice dish is packed with nutrients and is a true national dish along with Moro de Guandules.

Plus, the option to make it in a rice cooker or on the stove top makes it easily accessible for anyone to make. And don’t forget the added touch of green olives and tomato sauce – they really pull together all the flavors.

Whether you’re looking for a new addition to your Puerto Rican recipe collection or just cravine for an irresistibly delicious rice dish, Arroz con Gandules is truly exceptional. So grab your ingredients and start cooking! Trust me, your taste buds will thank you.

Spanish Rice and Pigeon Peas ( Arroz con Gandules)

Spanish Rice and Pigeon Peas ( Arroz con Gandules) Recipe

This recipe I also found online, it goes very well with the Roast Pork, Pernil. I love it.
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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Puerto Rican
Calories 664.1 kcal


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 lb butter
  • 8 teaspoons sofrito sauce (found in the ethnic aisle)
  • 16 stuffed olives
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 lb pigeon peas, fresh or canned
  • 4 cups long grain rice
  • 8 cups water


  • In a big pot heat up 2 tbsps oil on a low flame and put in the Sofrito and all the other ingredients except rice and water.
  • Stir fry for 3 minutes.
  • Then put the rice in and stir well.
  • Next add the water, leave the pot uncovered, cook over medium heat and let the rice dry out.
  • As soon as the rice is dry, turn the rice over,in the pot, put the cover back on and put on low flame for 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes turn rice over again and serve.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 324gCalories: 664.1kcalCarbohydrates: 109.6gProtein: 19gFat: 16.4gSaturated Fat: 8.1gCholesterol: 30.5mgSodium: 682.1mgFiber: 9.7gSugar: 0.1g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Beans, Long-Grain Rice, Rice, Stove Top, Weeknight
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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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.