Puerto Rican Rice With Pigeon Peas (Arroz con Gandules)

Arroz con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice With Pigeon Peas) in a white bowl

The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 42 mins
Total: 52 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
467 Calories
7g Fat
83g Carbs
18g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 467
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 264mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 83g 30%
Dietary Fiber 10g 34%
Protein 18g
Calcium 91mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Any special occasion meal in Puerto Rico would not be complete without arroz con gandules, or rice with pigeon peas. After all, rice with pigeon peas is one of Puerto Rico's national dishes. The recipe is seasoned with sofrito, a blend of herbs and spices popular in Latin Caribbean (and some Latin American) cuisine, and is studded with diced ham and pigeon peas. Pigeon peas are legumes that have a nutty flavor and are frequently paired with rice and other grains. They are sold dried, canned, or ground into a flour.

This Puerto Rican rice recipe calls for canned pigeon peas, and those can be found in most large grocery stores, specialty groceries, or online. Arroz con gandules can be served alone or with a variety of sides such as pollo guisado (chicken stew), tostones, and a light salad.

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sofrito
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped ham (or cooked pork pieces)
  • 2 cups raw white rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 packet sazón (such as Goya brand)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pigeon peas/gandules (drained and rinsed)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Arroz con Gandules recipe ingredients

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  2. Heat the olive oil in a 6-quart pot on medium heat until it shimmers. Add the sofrito and chopped ham and sauté for 1 minute.

    Sofrito and chopped ham in a pot for arroz con gandules
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  3. Add the rice, water, sazón, and pigeon peas.

    Water, rice, and pigeon peas added to pot

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  4. Bring to a boil. Let boil for 2 to 3 minutes.

    Arroz con gandules ingredients boiling in a pot
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  5. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. Do not use a lid with a vent that allows the steam to escape and never lift the lid while cooking.

  6. When finished cooking, stir the rice before serving. It should be light and fluffy.

    Rice with pigeon peas recipe during cooking process
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  7. Serve hot and enjoy.

    Finished dish of arroz con gandules in a large white bowl with a fork

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What Is Sofrito?

sofrito is a blend of herbs and spices used to season countless dishes, such as stews, beans, rice, and occasionally meat. Sofrito exists in Latin Caribbean and other Latin American countries, and comes from the Spanish word which means "to fry something." It can be added at the start of the recipe, toward the end of the cooking, or used to top grilled meats and fish. The ingredients will differ depending on the origin of the sofrito.


  • Spanish sofrito uses tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, paprika, and olive oil.
  • In the Dominican Republic, sofrito is called sazón and is made with vinegar and annatto for color.
  • In Puerto Rico, sofrito is called recaito and includes the herb culantro and ajies dulces (sweet chile peppers).
  • In Cuba, sofrito is made with tomatoes, red bell peppers, and ham.
  • In the Yucatán area of Mexico, sofrito is extra spicy with the addition of habaneros.