This Puerto Rican arroz con pollo recipe (chicken and rice) is made with a sofrito base for big flavor, perfect as a side dish or main course.
We're making chicken and rice, my friends! Today we're cooking up a one-pot meal that is total comfort food. Many countries have their version of "arroz con pollo", which is "chicken and rice". This version is straight from Puerto Rico, and it is outstanding.
We're talking Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo, and it just might become your new favorite. The Puerto Rican version is flavored with a base of sofrito, which is a mixture of peppers, onions, garlic and herbs, a staple in the area's cuisine.
What's not to love? It's done in under an hour, making it an easy weeknight meal for the entire family that even the kids will love.
Let's talk about how to make arroz con pollo, Puerto Rican style, shall we?
It's one of the best chicken and rice dishes around.
Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo Ingredients
- FOR THE ARROZ CON POLLO (chicken and rice)
- Chicken. Use 1 pound chicken breast, chopped (or use chicken thighs)
- Seasonings. I use 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon Sazón, and a bit of salt and pepper to taste.
- Oil for Cooking. Use 1 tablespoon olive oil, or use achiote oil.
- Vegetables. I use 1 medium onion and 1 green bell pepper. I often use a jalapeno, serrano, or scotch bonnet pepper for extra heat, though this is not traditional - for heat lovers only!
- Olives. Use 1 cup chopped green olives. Olives are super popular with Puerto Rican arroz con pollo. You can also add capers or use a good olive-caper mix.
- Sofrito. Use 1/2 cup to 1 cup sofrito (See my homemade sofrito recipe), or use a store bought brand. See below for my recipe.
- Rice. Use 2 cups white medium-grain or long grain rice, rinsed at least 3 times.
- Stock. Use 2 cups chicken broth. You can also use vegetable stock or broth.
- FOR THE SOFRITO
- 2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
- 2 cubanelle peppers, seeded and chopped
- 4-5 ahi dulce peppers, seeded and chopped
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 8 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro leaves (about 1 cup loosely packed)
- 2 culantro leaves, chopped (replace with extra cilantro if you can’t find it)
- Salt to taste
- ¼ cup olive oil
How to Make Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo - the Recipe Steps
Make the Sofrito. First, make the sofrito by adding the green peppers, cubanelle, aji peppers (if using), onion, garlic, cilantro, culantro, olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper to a food processor. Process the mixture until it is fairly smooth. You can leave it chunky if you'd like. This is your flavor base.
Store the remainder in the refrigerator and use as needed or freeze in small batches. Makes 3-4 cups. Keep 1/2 to 1 cup here for the recipe.
Season the Chicken. Next, season the chicken in a bowl with the paprika, coriander, cumin, turmeric, garlic powder, oregano and salt and pepper. Set aside.
Cook the Vegetables. Heat the oil in a large pan to medium high heat. Cook the onion and peppers down for 5 minutes to soften. Add the olives and sofrito and cook another minute, stirring.
Cook the Chicken. Add the chicken pieces and cook for 5 minutes, stirring.
Add the Rice. Add the rice and stir until it is evenly coated with oil. Cook for 3 minutes to lightly toast it.
Tomato and Stock. Add the tomato puree and chicken stock. Stir. Tomato paste or tomato sauce are good substitutes.
Simmer Until Done. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid and is cooked to your liking. Your cooking times can vary, depending on a number of factors. Just make sure the rice is fluffy and cooked through enough to your liking.
Garnish and serve it up! I like to toss in some extra olives at this stage.
The rice should be nice and fluffy, not overly sticky.
Crispy Rice, or "Pegao"
Sometimes you can make Puerto Rican arroz con pollo with the wonderful crispy rice that crunches up at the bottom of the pan, called "pegao". It is very similar to the socarrat achieved when making Spanish paella.
It is cherished by some. To achieve the crunchy rice, add in a bit more oil to the pan before adding in the chicken stock and tomato paste. Let the rice cook another 5-10 minutes in the oil. It will crisp up on the bottom of the pan, but be careful! You don't want it to burn.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- The Chicken. I usually make this version of the recipe with chopped boneless chicken breast or chicken thighs. It makes it easier to cook and the chicken can be stirred evenly though the entire dish. I prefer when I can have a bit of chicken and rice in every bite. However, you can make it with bone-in chicken. Use a whole chicken, separated, or choose chicken legs or bone-in chicken thighs. If you use bone-in chicken, season and sear the pieces first before finishing them off to cook in the simmering rice.
- The Rice. Medium or long grain rice is preferred for this recipe. You can make it with other rice, but short grain may break down too quickly, making the dish more gloopy and sticky.
- Recipe Variations. There are as many variations of this recipe as their are cooks. Other popular ingredients and seasonings include saffron, Sazon Seasoning, Adobo seasoning, cumin, coriander, turmeric, achiote, capers, frozen peas, cured or salt ham, chick peas, gandules (pigeon peas), pumpkin and white beans. Vary up to your desire!
About the Sofrito
Sofrito is a sauce used as a base for building flavor into numerous dishes ranging from soups to stews to pots of rice. It is common in Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Puerto Rico, Latin American and Caribbean cuisines, where it goes by different names, such as "sofregit", "estrugido" or "refogado".
It is comparable to the French mirepoix or Cajun Holy Trinity in terms of building and layering flavor into many dishes, including many Puerto Rican dishes.
As with any widely used recipe, you'll find variations from region to region, but the concept remains the same. Sofrito is a mixture of aromatic ingredients, either chopped or pureed, used to add flavor to different foods.
With the Puerto Rican recipe, sofrito is made with bell peppers, aji dulce peppers, onion, garlic and culantro. There, sofrito is called "recaito". Aji dulces (sweet peppers) may be difficult to find, so instead use Cubanelle peppers or some other sweeter pepper.
That's it, my friends! Puerto Rican chicken and rice. Quite easy to make, and as mentioned, quite HUGE on flavor. I hope you enjoy it!
I've been learning a lot about Puerto Rican cooking from several different cookbooks. Here are links to 2 Puerto Rican cookbooks I highly recommend. They are great. These are affiliate links, my friends!
- Puerto Rican Cuisine in America: Nuyorican and Bodega Recipes, by Oswald Rivera
- Puerto Rican True Flavors, by Wilo Benet
Try Some of My Other Popular Rice Dishes
- Arroz con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)
- Cajun Dirty Rice
- Mexican Rice
- Arroz Verde (Green Rice)
- Easy Arroz con Pollo
- Jamaican Rice and Peas
- Mexican Rice with Chorizo and Black Beans
- Chili Basil Rice
If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you'll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don't forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I'll be sure to share! Thanks! -- Mike H.
Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo Recipe (Chicken and Rice)
FOR THE ARROZ CON POLLO
- 1 pound chicken breast chopped (or use chicken thighs)
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon Sazón
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 green bell pepper chopped
- 1 cup chopped green olives
- 1 cup sofrito
- 2 cups white medium-grain or longe grain rice rinsed 3 times
- 2 cups chicken broth or water
- 2 ounces tomato paste (or use 1 cup tomato sauce, if desired)
- Salt and pepper to taste
FOR THE SOFRITO
- 2 green bell peppers seeded and chopped
- 2 cubanelle peppers seeded and chopped
- 4-5 aji dulce peppers seeded and chopped
- 1 large white onion chopped
- 8 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro leaves about 1 cup loosely packed
- 2 culantro leaves chopped (replace with extra cilantro if you can’t find it)
- Salt to taste
- ¼ cup olive oil
FOR THE SOFRITO
- Add all of the ingredients to a food processor. Process until you reach the consistency you prefer. Either chunky or very smooth. Taste and adjust for salt.
- Store the remainder in the refrigerator and use as needed or freeze in small batches. Makes 3-4 cups. You only need 1 cup for the recipe.
FOR THE PUERTO RICAN ARROZ CON POLLO
- Season the chicken in a bowl with the paprika, garlic powder, oregano, Sazon and salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large pan to medium high heat. Cook the onion and peppers down for 5 minutes to soften.
- Add the olives and sofrito and cook another minute, stirring.
- Add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes, stirring.
- Add the rice and stir until it is evenly coated with oil. Cook for 3 minutes to lightly toast it.
- Add the tomato puree and chicken stock. Stir.
- Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid and is cooked to your liking.
NOTE: This recipe was updated on 9/9/20 to include new photos and information. It was originally published on 4/17/19.