Delicious Arroz Con Gandules Recipe for Your Next Dinner

Welcome to my traditional Arroz Con Gandules recipe article! This beloved Puerto Rican dish is a staple in many homes and a national treasure. Made with pigeon peas, flavorful sofrito, and seasoned with Sazón Goya con Culantro y Achiote, this dish is a true feast for the senses.

As a chef specializing in both Brazilian and American cuisine, I have fallen in love with Arroz Con Gandules for its versatility and incredible taste. Whether you’re looking for a vegetarian option or want to pair it with your favorite meat, this dish has something for everyone.

My recipe is simple, easy to follow, and guarantees to bring the flavors of Puerto Rico to your kitchen. The combination of rice and pigeon peas creates a complex flavor profile that will transport you to the island with every bite.

So if you’re ready to take your taste buds on an adventure, let’s get cooking!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Traditional Arroz Con Gandules
Traditional Arroz Con Gandules

Are you looking for a rice dish that is packed with flavor and easy to make? Look no further than this Traditional Arroz Con Gandules recipe. Not only is it the national dish of Puerto Rico, but it also has a rich cultural history that adds to its appeal.

Picture yourself sitting down to a plate of aromatic and flavorful rice seasoned with sofrito, sazon seasoning, cilantro, and oregano. The delicious combination of these ingredients will transport your taste buds straight to the Caribbean.

This dish is also versatile – perfect as a side or a main course. You can add in chicken or pork for protein or make it vegan by using vegetable broth instead of water. It’s even possible to substitute the standard white rice with brown rice for added health benefits.

Plus, it’s easy to make – all you need are simple ingredients such as rice, pigeon peas, tomato sauce, and water. The preparation is straightforward – on medium heat you saute onions, garlic and bell peppers before adding seasoned sofrito and sazon seasoning. Next, add rice and let it simmer in liquid until it’s light and fluffy. Voila! You have a delicious meal the whole family will enjoy.

In summary, this Traditional Arroz Con Gandules recipe is more than just a dish, it’s an experience. You’ll love its rich history and cultural significance, its versatility as both a main course or a side dish, its incredible flavor profile with aromatic sofrito and sazon seasoning ,and its simplicity in preparation with minimal ingredients needed.

Ingredient List

 A spoonful of tradition in every bite
A spoonful of tradition in every bite

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this traditional Puerto Rican Arroz Con Gandules recipe:

  • 3 cups medium-grain rice (“Arroz” in Spanish)
  • 1 can of pigeon peas (“Gandules” in Spanish)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons sofrito
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 packet of sazon seasoning with culantro and achiote (“Sazon Goya con Culantro y Achiote” in Spanish)
  • 3 cups water or vegetable broth (for vegan option)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and/or sliced olives for garnishing

Note that you may also find these ingredients under different names such as “Gandule Rice”, “Rice with Pigeon Peas”, or “Arroz con Guandules” at your local Hispanic grocery stores.

The Recipe How-To

 The perfect dish to warm both your heart and your tummy
The perfect dish to warm both your heart and your tummy

Now the real fun begins – let’s make some Traditional Arroz con Gandules! This flavorful rice dish is a staple in Puerto Rican cuisine and something that can be enjoyed any day of the week. Here’s how to make this delicious dish:


  • 3 cups of medium-grain rice (preferably Goya)
  • 15 oz. can of pigeon peas (gandules) drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup of seasoned Sofrito
  • 1 packet of Sazón seasoning with culantro and achiote
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/3 cup of water


  1. Start by rinsing the rice at least three times until the water runs clear, then set it aside.
  2. In a large pot or caldero, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Add the onions and garlic to the pot and cook for about two minutes until they soften.
  4. Now add your seasoned Sofrito to the pan and stir till it’s fully combined with onions and garlic. Cook the sofrito for around two minutes until it becomes fragrant.
  5. Next, add in your drained pigeon peas (gandules) along with a packet of Sazón seasoning sauce, tomato paste, cilantro, oregano, and salt into your saucepan with all these other ingredients. Mix them well and cook for a minute or two.
  6. Then add in your rice to the same pan slowly while mixing the rice with all these ingredients so everything blends together.
  7. Now pour in water into the same pan and make sure everything is well incorporated.
  8. Bring the pot to a boiling point, then add the lid and let it simmer for around 20-25 minutes. Note that after this point you should not remove the lid until the cooking has completed.
  9. After 20 minutes, turn off the heat and let the rice sit for 10 minutes which ensures that it absorbs all the flavors before fluffing up with a fork.
  10. Serve up your delicious and flavorful Traditional Arroz con Gandules!

Making this tasty recipe takes a bit of effort, but it’s well worth it in the end! Remember to give yourself plenty of time so you can enjoy every step of the process as you cook up this classic Puerto Rican dish!

Substitutions and Variations

 A true taste of Puerto Rico
A true taste of Puerto Rico

If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, there are plenty of substitutions and variations you can use to make this traditional recipe your own. Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks:

– Vegetarian/Vegan: If you want to make this dish vegan, you can simply leave out the ham or bacon from the recipe. Some substitutes for meat include mushrooms, tofu or plant-based meats. You might also like to add some extra vegetables like peppers, carrots and zucchini for an extra boost of nutrition.

– Brown Rice: For a healthier twist, use brown rice instead of white rice. It will take longer to cook but it’s definitely worth it.

– Fried Rice: Turn this classic rice and pigeon peas recipe into a quick fried rice meal by adding your favorite protein (or veggies) to sautéed rice and veggies in a pan.

– Sazon Seasoning Mix: Sazon Goya with Coriander and Annatto is the seasoning I recommend using in this recipe, but if you can’t find it at your local grocery store, feel free to use any other all-purpose Latin seasoning mix. You can even make your own using cumin, paprika, salt and garlic powder!

– De Guandules y Arroz con Pollo: Arroz con pollo translates to chicken and rice. Adding both seasoned elements makes for a hearty meal that is typically found in many Latin households. Simply swap out the pigeon peas with chicken breast cubes that have been seasoned with oregano, cilantro, salt & pepper.

– Yellow Rice with Pigeon Peas: A simple variation of this dish includes using just yellow rice with saffron for an equally flavorful side dish that perfectly complements meaty main courses.

Experimenting with these substitutions and variations will keep this classic Puerto Rican staple fresh and interesting whenever you’re craving something new.

Serving and Pairing

 A family recipe passed down for generations
A family recipe passed down for generations

This flavorful rice dish is a traditional Puerto Rican recipe that makes for a satisfying and tasty meal. You can serve it as a main course or a side dish, depending on your preference. I love pairing this rice with some grilled chicken or pork for a hearty and protein-packed meal. The aromatic and spicy flavors of the rice are perfect with the juicy meat!

If you’re looking for a vegetarian or vegan option, you can pair this rice with grilled vegetables or a simple salad dressed with lime juice and olive oil. The combination will provide a beautiful balance of flavors without being overly filling.

This dish is typically served with fried plantains, which add a lovely sweetness to the savory nature of the rice. If you can’t find plantains or prefer not to eat them, you could opt for some sliced avocado or even a side of black beans.

No matter how you choose to serve it, this dish is perfect for any occasion! It’s an ideal complement to any lunch or dinner party and will surely impress your guests!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 The vibrant colors of our culture on your plate
The vibrant colors of our culture on your plate

One of the best things about this traditional arroz con gandules recipe is that it can be easily prepared ahead of time. If you’re planning a big meal, you can make the rice dish 1-2 days before and refrigerate it until needed. The flavors of the sofrito and seasoning sauce will continue to meld, giving you an even more flavorful rice in the end.

When reheating, a little bit of moisture may be needed to prevent the rice from drying out. You can add a few tablespoons of water or olive oil to help bring back its moistness then cover it with aluminum foil or vented lid. To reheat, microwave for 2-3 minutes (stirring occasionally) or heat up in the oven at 350°F for around 10-15 minutes.

If you have leftovers of this delicious Puerto Rican dish, storing it properly is key to keeping its freshness longer. Store your arroz con gandules in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze up to 3 months. When ready to eat again, simply thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and proceed with reheating instructions.

Overall, this dish is quite versatile for make-ahead meals and convenient for leftovers as well. The flavors only enhance over time and reheating won’t make it soak up all the moisture and nutrients that make it such a tasty rice dish.

Tips for Perfect Results

 A symphony of flavors in every mouthful
A symphony of flavors in every mouthful

Cooking the perfect arroz con gandules requires some knowledge, patience and a bit of love. As an experienced chef, I would like to share with you some tips that can help you achieve the best results possible.

First and foremost, it’s essential to season the sofrito well. To get a more flavorful rice, add olives and sazon seasoning to the sofrito. This step will make your dish stand out in any gathering.

To have perfectly cooked rice, ensure that you rinse thoroughly and drain off the excess water. Use the right proportion of water and rice which is three cups of water for every cup of rice. Also, add 1/3 cup of tomato sauce or tomato paste for enhanced flavor.

The secret to achieving an authentic Puerto Rican arroz con gandules flavor is by using pigeon peas ingredients. The gandules and pigeon peas can be canned or freshly frozen. When using dried/uncanned, be sure to pre-soak them overnight for optimal results.

While cooking, make sure that you stir arroz con gandules two times max, period! Over-stirring or stirring too much can make your rice mushy.

It’s important not to overcook your rice con gandules as it can destroy its texture and nutrients. Once the water has been absorbed by the rice, you’ll need to let it cook on low heat for about 20 minutes.

If you prefer brown rice option for this recipe, cook it separately from the pigeon pea mixture since they require different cooking times.

Lastly, keep in mind that practice makes perfect; don’t be discouraged if your first attempt is less than ideal. Keep trying until your arroz con gandules becomes your signature dish!

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this Traditional Arroz Con Gandules Recipe is one of the most flavorful and nutritious rice dishes you will ever have. With its combination of spices and ingredients, this Puerto Rican national dish offers a burst of flavor with every bite.

Whether you are a seasoned cook or a newbie in the kitchen, this recipe is perfect for all levels of experience. The ingredients can be found in most grocery stores, making it easy to prepare, and with the right techniques involved in cooking, the perfect results can be achieved.

This dish can be served as a side dish or as a main dish with some meat or vegan alternatives; it’s versatile! It’s affordable and easy to make ahead of time, store and reheat. Furthermore, the recipe offers its enthusiasts the ability to play around with various substitutions and variations.

In conclusion, this arroz con gandules recipe has everything you need for a delicious and fulfilling meal. So go ahead and give it a try; you won’t regret it!

Traditional Arroz Con Gandules

Traditional Arroz Con Gandules Recipe

After so much trial and error I gave up trying to make this recipe just like Gma's. This is the one I use. I try to keep it as "low-fat" possible by not adding bacon or sausage like other recipes call for.
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Puerto Rican
Calories 286.8 kcal


  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons sofrito sauce
  • 1 (15 ounce) can green pigeon peas, undrained
  • sazon goya con culantro y achiote (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro
  • salt (to taste)


  • In a large pot, saute oil, paste and sofrito.
  • Add water, oregano,cilantro, sazon and salt.
  • After washing rice (if desired), add rice.
  • After bringing to a boil (on medium-high heat). Cover and cook on low heat until ready.
  • Garnish with roasted red bell peppers if desired.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 112gCalories: 286.8kcalCarbohydrates: 53.1gProtein: 13.2gFat: 2.6gSaturated Fat: 0.5gSodium: 26.4mgFiber: 8.4gSugar: 0.2g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Easy, Long-Grain Rice, 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.