Puerto Rican Rice With Pigeon Peas (Arroz con Gandules) Recipe

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

The Spruce

  • Total: 55 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
467 Calories
7g Fat
83g Carbs
18g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
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. This recipe is seasoned with sofrito and diced ham. The sofrito, which is a blend of herbs and spices popular in Latin Caribbean (and some Latin American) cuisine, is used in different ways in all kinds of dishes, but here, it's part of a flavor base. Sofrito is something you can easily make on your own, or you can buy it in the grocery store wherever you might find Mexican or Latin American foods.

Pigeon peas are legumes that have a nutty flavor and are frequently paired with rice and other grains. They can be found dried, canned, or ground for 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 chopped ham (or cooked pork pieces)
  • 2 cups rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 packet sazón
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pigeon peas/gandules (drained and rinsed)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Arroz con Gandules recipe ingredients

    The Spruce

  2. Heat olive oil in a 6-quart pot. Sauté the sofrito and chopped ham 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 gandules.

    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 heat to medium-low and cook for 35 to 40 minutes. Do not use a lid with a vent that allows the steam to escape and never lift the lid while cooking.

    Rice with pigeon peas recipe during cooking process
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  6. When finished cooking, stir the rice before serving. It should be light and fluffy.

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

    The Spruce

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 cooking but in some recipes, it isn’t added until the end of the cooking. And in yet other recipes, it's used as a topping sauce for grilled meats and fish. 


  • Spanish sofrito uses tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, paprika, and olive oil. Caribbean versions range from green to orange to bright red and vary in heat from mild to pungent to spicy.
  • 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 it 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.