Allow me to introduce you to my mom’s classic Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo; a flavorful one pot dish made with rice, veggies, and chicken. This flavorful one-pot dish is made with rice, veggies, and chicken.

a plate of arroz con pollo

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It’s an authentic Puerto Rican arroz con pollo recipe with simple, easy-to-follow instructions and mouthwatering, traditional Puerto Rican flavor.

Keep reading for tips on how to season the dish and achieve perfectly crispy Pagao rice at the bottom of the pot.

a pot of arroz con pollo

The OG of Puerto Rican Cuisine

If you’ve ever ate at a Puerto Rican restaurant or household, you probably tried some version of this Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo.

It’s a classic chicken and rice dish with olives, veggies and lots of spices. Cooking the rice with the chicken and veggies and broth creates some of the most flavorful rice I’ve ever had and makes this the ultimate comfort food.

Similar to many of the Puerto Rican recipes on my site, this dish is one of those that every family has their own version of. Some families may use white rice, while others use brown.

My mom likes to cook the rice and chicken together, other Puerto Ricans like to cook the chicken first, remove it, cook the rice, then add the chicken back in.

In my opinion, there’s no right or wrong way to make Arroz con Pollo. As long as the flavor is there, I think all of these methods have their time and place.

That said, my mom’s technique is definitely the best (I’m not biased at all.)

chicken with spices on a counter

No Adobo & Sazon?

If you don’t have adobo seasoning and/or sazon, you can substitute these spice blends with individual spices.

Here’s my mom’s recommendation:

  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp onion powder or flakes
  • 2 tsp garlic powder or flakes
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp cayenne

And make sure to include the salt, pepper, and optional chili lime seasoning, if desired.

bowls of onion, garlic, sofrito, and more

Ingredients

Grab this list, head to the store and get cooking! Here’s what you’ll need for this Puerto Rican arroz con pollo recipe…

For the Chicken:

For the Rice:

  • achiote (annatto) oil – see note for directions (optional, can be subbed for olive oil) 
  • sofrito 
  • yellow onion 
  • bell pepper 
  • cloves of garlic
  • green olives stuffed with pimento and sliced in half 
  • tomato sauce 
  • minced cilantro 
  • frozen peas 
  • rice 
  • chicken broth
  • water

How to Make Arroz con Pollo

a pot of chicken with spices
This Puerto Rican chicken and rice dish starts with with a simple spice rub that goes on the chicken and marinates for a half hour. From there, the chicken gets a good sear in achiote oil to help ensure perfectly cooked chicken skin and maximum flavor.
chicken in a pot with onions, garlic, and sofrito
Next goes in our classic Puerto Rican flavor base (also known as sofrito – this can be homemade or store bought). It’s sautéed for about 10 minutes or until fragrant. Then we add in the minced peppers, herbs, and onions and garlic to sweat and caramelize along with the tomato sauce, olives and peas.
a pot of chicken, rice, and veggies
Next, the rice joins the party, getting toasted and coated with all of the other ingredients, along with another tablespoon of oil if you’re hoping to get that perfectly crispy rice at the bottom of your pan.
a pot of chicken with broth and veggies
Finally it’s time to add all of the broth and a splash of water to the rice before bringing to a rolling boil. Then we will lower everything to a simmer and cook covered for 30 minutes until the chicken & rice are cooked through.
a pot of arroz con pollo
Once the rice is cooked through, you can continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes to achieve the pegao! Fluff and top with toppings of your choice and enjoy. I like a splash of pique and some fresh cilantro.

Tips from my Boriqua Mom

But seriously, how adorable is my mom? Here are some of her top tips when making Puerto Rican chicken and rice:

  • Season in layers. Adding flavor in this recipe starts with the spice rub for the chicken and doesn’t stop until the very last step. Seasoning in layers means a super flavorful end result.
  • Use a good quality pot. Using a good quality heavy bottomed dutch oven or caldero helps the rice to cook evenly and absorb all the liquid evenly.
  • If you’ve ever had the crispy, almost but not quite burnt, rice at the bottom of a pot of Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo (also known as Pagao), you know how good it is. That said, it’s easy to burn if you’re not paying attention so keep reading for more tips on how to make Pegao.
My mom holding a pot of arroz con pollo.

Achiote Oil

Achiote oil, similar to sofrito, is an ingredient used commonly in Puerto Rican cuisine to develop flavor.

My Puerto Rican family likes to make their own achiote oil using annatto seeds.

To make your own achiote oil place a few tablespoons of annatto seeds in 1/2 cup oil.

Heat on medium for about 4-5 minutes. Do not overheat or boil, they will become bitter. Also be careful as the oil stains. Immediately drain the oil from the seeds and discard seeds. 

This oil can be used to add flavor when cooking all kinds of Puerto Rican dishes like Arroz con Gandules, these Steak Stuffed Avocados and Empanadillas.

achiote oil in a pot

Tasty toppings for flavor & presentation

Not only do garnishes add a great deal of eye appeal, they can really amp up the flavor and enhance the other ingredients in the dish.

Here are some of my favorite toppings for Puerto Rican arroz con pollo:

Pegao (crispy rice)

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to try Pegao, the crispy and delicious rice at the bottom of some versions of Puerto Rican chicken and rice, you know how special the texture is.

While it’s a magical element of this dish, it’s not always the easiest thing to achieve, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it on the first try.

Here are my top tips for developing a tasty layer of Pegao under your arroz con pollo:

  • add a tablespoon of extra oil (you could use the achiote oil or olive oil) to your rice while toasting with the veggies to help the rice crisp up and prevent burning.
  • cook until the rice is done, then cook for another 5-10 minutes, checking to make sure the rice doesn’t burn, but gets nice and crispy.
  • it’s important to be patient when trying to achieve the perfect pegao as it’s a challenge for even seasoned Puerto Rican cooks!
a plate of arroz con pollo

More Puerto Rican Rice Dishes

If you find yourself making this dish and loving it, chances are you will also love this Puerto Rican Rice & Beans with Sofrito as well as this sweet spin on rice, Arroz con Leche.

Buen Provecho!

Salima

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a plate of arroz con pollo

Authentic Puerto Rican Arroz Con Pollo

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 14 reviews
  • Author: Salima Benkhalti
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: Rice, Dinner, Chicken with Rice
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Puerto Rican
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

My mom’s classic Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo! This flavorful one-pot dish is made with rice, veggies, and chicken. An authentic Puerto Rican arroz con pollo recipe with simple, easy-to-follow instructions and mouthwatering, traditional Puerto Rican flavor. Tips included for how to season the dish and achieve perfectly crispy Pagao rice at the bottom of the pot.


Ingredients

Scale

For the Chicken:

For the Rice:

  • 2 tbsp achiote (annatto) oil or olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sofrito 
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, minced
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce 
  • 1 cup green olives stuffed with pimento and sliced in half 
  • 2 cups frozen peas 
  • 2 1/2 cups rice 
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

  1. In a large ziplock bag, combine all seasonings and chicken drumsticks. Seal the bag and shake to coat the chicken with seasoning. Marinate for at least 30 minutes to an hour. chicken drumsticks in a bag with spices
  2. In a heavy bottomed soup pot, sauté the chicken in the achiote oil, turning the chicken to brown on all sides. Add sofrito, diced onion, and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes then add bell peppers, cilantro and a pinch of salt and pepper. a pot of chicken with spices
  3. Add tomato sauce, olives, and peas and cook 5 more minutes. Add rice, stirring to ensure each grain is coated with seasoning and veggies. a pot of chicken, rice, and veggies
  4. Add broth and water and bring to a boil. Stir and lower to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes on low, checking towards the end for flavor and to see if the chicken & rice are cooked through. If dry, add another 1/2 cup broth, cover and continue to cook for 5 minutes.a pot of chicken with broth and veggies
  5. If you want the rice at the bottom of your pot to be crispy, add a tbsp more of oil, turn the heat up to medium and cook for another 5-10 minutes (watching closely to make sure it doesn’t burn).a pot of arroz con pollo
  6. Serve with a squeeze of lime juice, sprinkle of chopped cilantro and hot sauce. Enjoy!a plate of arroz con pollo

Notes