Arroz con Gandules – Puerto Rican Rice

You have heard it been called Puerto Rican rice, but the real name is arroz con gandules. I had friends talk about this dish for years as being probably one of the best rice dishes out there, and they could possibly be right about that. After our most recent vacation to the Jersey shore, we met the nanny of our cousins, Mary. Mary was everything and more. Watching four, energetic kids throughout a long work day, Mary had a way about her. Strong, funny, and a voice that you could hear across the room. Her New York accent exposed a bit of the Latino tongue as well, and so I said one morning, ‘You Puerto Rican?’.  She looked a bit surprised by that fact that I knew, however I worked with plenty of Puerto Ricans at one of my previous employers, Homeboyz Interactive.

Puerto Rican Rice Recipe

My first question after that, was of course, ‘you got any good recipes?’, ‘you know how to make Puerto Rican rice?’. Mary kind of giggled, and said, ‘Oh sure, I do’. I got excited. On our last day in Spring Lake, New Jersey, Mary handed me a piece of paper, and on it containing her version of arroz con gandules. I kept that paper close by in my bag, and shortly after returning home, studied it, and twisted it a bit to make it my own.  This is truly a wonderful dish, and comforting in more ways than one. It makes a family style portion, and was eaten for several days, back-to-back, as it was really that great.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of sofrito (recipe below)
  • slow cooked pork, chopped (optional), or use chopped ham
  • 1 packet of Sazon (con culantro y achiote (coriander and annatto))
  • 15 oz can of Gandules (Pigeon Peas), with liquid
  • 2 cups uncooked rice
  • 4 cups of chicken stock, or water
  • salt to taste
  • Roasted red pepper for garnish (optional)

SofritoIn a large pot, heat the oil on medium heat. Once heated, add the sofrito, and cook for about a minute or two. Add in your sazon packet, water, rice, and gandules, and mix well. Bring this mixture to a boil, then cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let this cook for about 40 minutes, checking around 35 minutes. NEVER LIFT THE LID before 35 minutes. Before serving, stir the rice. It should not be burned on the bottom, and it should be nice and fluffy.  Serve with chopped roasted red bell peppers on the top.

Sofrito Ingredients:

  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled
  • handful of flat leaf parsley
  • handful of cilantro
  • 2 onions, chopped

Toss everything into a food processor and chop down into a nice sauce. You can use sofrito in most anything, trust me, this is a real winner!

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10 thoughts on “Arroz con Gandules – Puerto Rican Rice

  1. Thanks a lot for this post! I think Mary is such a manna from heaven. She is generous enough to hand you the copy of her recipe. I am surely going to try this one at home as I am a big fan of most rice recipes. You said this could be one of the best rice recipes out there. Hmm.. i’m gonna find out myself! Thanks in advance!

  2. You should not add this much liquid to the recipe, because the rice becomes sort of mushy and sticky. I’m a home economics teacher in Puerto Rico, and the perfect rice is cooked in these proportions: 2 cups uncooked rice/1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons oil (olive, canola, amount to your taste)/2 1/4 cups TOTAL liquid (that includes the pigeon peas, or gandules, liquid). The condiments and other solid additions are sauteed in the oil with the Washed Uncooked rice, for a short time before adding the liquid. The Sazon should be added with the liquids, you can also put a couple sprigs cilantro and powdered oregano in the liquids to add an extra punch of flavor. Stir and let it boil uncovered at High; when liquids are completely absorbed stir everything forming sort of a mound in the pot, lower your stove to Lowest heat possible and THEN cover. Stir in about 15 min later, re-cover, then let it cook until soft but not mushy… try this method and believe me, you’ll get the MOST AMAZING EVER arroz con gandules.

  3. I forgot to add, you can do this with long grain or medium grain rice, but if you want an authentic rice, try the medium grain, which is preferred in all kitchens here in Puerto Rico :)

  4. And to Mary, I think your recipe is great! It is a lot like mine. I hope you don’t mind my tweaking… is just a different texture, which Puertoricans usually prefer. Thanks for sharing. I love this site!

  5. Maybe it depends on the stove and not uncovering it? I make a vegetarian version with 4 cups veg broth n its a perfect amount of liquid..rice is NEVER soggy. I cover it for about 40min on digital stove setting of 2.5/3 and dont touch it the whole time cooking and it has a perfect texture not soggy at ALL.:)

  6. What would be the best way to make this without cilantro? Omitting it from the sofrito is easy enough but what should I use in place of the packet of Sazon? I’m one of those people to whom cilantro tastes like dish soap but I really want to try this recipe.

  7. I just finished trying this recipe, Sofrito came out perfect even without having a food processor. I used my blender, it is a huge recipe! Also the rice I used was Calrose…Way too much water, next time I am going put less water, and less rice. Thank you very much for this recipe, I liked it, it was just mushy thats all.

  8. Made it today and followed the exact instructions it tastes good but it’s way too much water in this recipe, it ended up being very soggy.

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