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.


  • 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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Dax Phillips

Thank you for visiting my website. Truly, I do appreciate it. My free time and stress reliever is cooking for my family, friends, and everyone in between. The recipes you find on this site are those that I have either created, been part of, or those that I simply enjoy and have made my own in some shape, form, or other. My focus has always been on comfort food, because at the end of a long work day, you want something comforting. I currently am the father of three children, and married to a wonderful wife of thirteen years. There is nothing fancy with these recipes, just simple, and I will admit, not so simple ingredients, and a simple kitchen corner I can call my own. I learned early on that cooking and bringing family together was very important. After all, this notion of being together at dinner time was instilled early on by my parents. There are many memories of being in the kitchen with my parents, watching them cook, or preparing meals, or those home cooked smells while waiting for dinner. My parents who worked full-time, always had home cooked meals during the week, with the exception of Friday nights where we would enjoy a Wisconsin fish fry, and often on late afternoons on Sunday, where we would order Ann's pizza. I tend to cook by making things up. As a home cook, I think you have to take chances, and add or subtract ingredients that make up a dish, and make them your own. Remember to taste, and taste often. If a dish has potential, try it again, and make it your own. You should also note that I do not count calories, or break down recipes into grams of anything. To me, that's a bit boring. My philosophy is that if the food is good, eat it, and eat it in moderation. Life is just too short not to enjoy good food. Commonly Asked Questions: Can I use your photography/content on my website/blog? Please do not redistribute my photography or recipes without my permission. All of the recipes and photography on this website are my own unless noted, and is subjected to copyright  If you’d like to use a photograph or a recipe, please contact me for permission. Will you review my product/book/site? I am available for recipe development, food photography and/or styling, travel/press events, product reviews, brand promotion/ambassador, and sponsored posts. If you are interested in working with me, or if you have a question/comment regarding a recipe or about my blog, please send me an email.

11 thoughts to “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!

    1. Maribel Rivera is correct her rice to water portions are what I have use for years. I only cook my rice for 15 minutes , everyone thinks I am crazy, but perfect rice every time ,I also use jasmine rice . I also freeze my sofito in plastic ice cube trays then store in a zip lock bag after they freeze. I use a cube or two in many recipe I am making. Black beans, picadillo, meat for my empanadas, etc.

  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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