Arroz con Pollo

published Oct 25, 2023
Arroz con Pollo Recipe

Bone-in chicken and flavorful aromatics make this chicken dinner the best reason to eat in.

Serves6 to 8

Prep1 hour 10 minutes

Cook1 hour 15 minutes

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Close up view of arroz con pollo in a yellow baking dish.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

No combination feels quite as familiar as chicken and rice — which likely explains why there are endless versions of the duo in different cuisines and cultures. Perhaps it’s the fact that rice itself is so varied, and chicken is the perfect canvas for building flavor. Whatever the case may be, there’s never a bad time to make chicken and rice — like this traditional arroz con pollo, for instance.

Growing up, arroz con pollo was, like a Cuban roast pork, always synonymous with celebration in my family. It was that type of dish someone would always request my uncle make on their birthday or graduation. When I went away to college, however, I had to learn how to make classic Cuban dishes like arroz con pollo myself.

Even if you don’t cook large dinners often, everyone should have an easy arroz con pollo recipe to keep coming back to time and time again.

What Is Arroz con Pollo?

Arroz con pollo, which is Spanish for “rice with chicken,” is a traditional dinner that’s common throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Arroz con pollo usually consists of bone-in chicken that is first seared and then cooked together with rice, vegetables, aromatics, and liquids such as chicken stock, wine, beer, and water. The dish shares similarities with the Spanish dish paella, which sometimes, although not always, includes chicken. 

What Ingredients Are in Arroz Con Pollo?

There are many different variations of arroz con pollo across Latin American and the Caribbean (some of which go by a different name), but they all almost always include bone-in chicken cooked together with rice and various aromatics like onions, garlic, bell peppers, tomato sauce, bay leaves, beer, and white wine. Many versions of arroz con pollo also traditionally include the use of sazón (an all-purpose Latin seasoning), ground annatto seeds, and/or saffron, which commonly gives the dish a vibrant yellow or orange color. This version in particular, however, is based off of the Cuban style I grew up with.

I’m not a huge fan of peas in most recipes, but since the addition of peas (like white wine) is one aspect of the dish that’s quintessentially Cuban, I’ve left it in. Also, I’ve learned to love peas, even if it’s solely in this dish! That said, you can customize this dish to your liking and swap in other ingredients you like, too.

How to Make Arroz con Pollo

  • Season and cook the chicken. Although it comes down to preference, arroz con pollo is traditionally made with bone-in chicken. Use thighs or drumsticks (or a mix of both) for the most tender and flavorful results. Season the chicken with sazón or a mix of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin. You can also use citrus juice, such as sour orange juice, if desired. Let the chicken marinate at least one hour or up to overnight.
  • Sear the chicken: Sear the seasoned chicken in a large pot with oil over medium- high heat. You just want to sear the chicken, not fully cook it, to help build flavor in the dish. If you’re working with a lot of chicken, do this in batches until all the chicken is browned on all sides.
  • Cook the aromatics: Remove the chicken from the pot and add in the onions and bell peppers and allow them to soften slightly. Next, add the garlic and stir for a couple of minutes. Then add the white wine or beer, tomato purée, oregano, and cumin. Add the rice, chicken broth, sazón or saffron, and bay leaves to the pot and stir occasionally for a few minutes. Increase the heat, bring to a gentle boil. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and let cook for about 20 minutes.
  • Stir the rice and chicken: After 20 minutes, remove the lid and stir the rice and chicken to incorporate the excess liquid. Cover the pot again and let cook for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the lid, add peas, if desired, cover the pot for just a few minutes. Remove from the heat, stir the mixture, and serve. 

What to Serve with Arroz con Pollo

While arroz con pollo itself is considered a complete meal, there are other dishes that would go well with the dish. Tostones, flan, and an avocado salad, would all be great served with arroz con pollo. Additionally, you can serve arroz con pollo with a fun drink such as your favorite beer or a fall sangria.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

Arroz con Pollo Recipe

Bone-in chicken and flavorful aromatics make this chicken dinner the best reason to eat in.

Prep time 1 hour 10 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


  • 1 cup

    fresh or bottled sour orange juice

  • 1 tablespoon

    plus 1 teaspoon dried oregano, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2

    plus 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 4

    chicken drumsticks

  • 4

    bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

  • 1/4

    large white onion

  • 1

    small red bell pepper

  • 4

    garlic cloves

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 2 cups

    Valencia (also known as bomba) rice

  • 1 cup

    dry white wine

  • 1/4 cup

    tomato purée

  • 3 1/2 cups

    low-sodium chicken broth

  • 1

    (.17-ounce) packet sazón with saffron

  • 2

    bay leaves

  • 1/2 cup

    frozen peas

  • Thinly sliced, jarred pimento peppers, for garnish (optional)


  1. Place 1 cup sour orange juice, 1 tablespoon of the dried oregano, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the ground cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add 4 chicken drumsticks and 4 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs and toss until even coated. Let the chicken marinate for at least 1 hour at room temperature, or cover and marinate in the refrigerator up to overnight.

  2. Mince 1/4 large white onion (about 3/4 cup). Trim and mince 1 small red bell pepper (2/3 cup) and 4 garlic cloves.

  3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot on medium-high heat until shimmering. Meanwhile, remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels; discard the marinade.

  4. Add the chicken thighs skin-side down to the pot and sear until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a large plate and repeat searing the chicken drumsticks.

  5. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and bell pepper to the now-empty pot and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, place 2 cups Valencia rice in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cool running water until the water runs mostly clear. Set aside in the strainer to continue to drain.

  6. Add the garlic to the pot and sauté, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup dry white wine, 1/4 cup tomato purée, the remaining 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin. Stir until combined.

  7. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices on the plate to the pot. Add 3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth and 1 (.17-ounce) sazón with saffron packet, and stir until dissolved. Add the rice and 2 bay leaves and stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes.

  8. Uncover and use a wooden spoon to gently stir the rice and chicken, going all the way to the bottom. The liquid should be partially absorbed. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Uncover and stir again. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup frozen peas but do not stir. Cover and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes more. Remove the pot from the heat. Uncover and gently stir the peas into the rice. Let cool for 5 minutes before garnishing with thinly sliced pimento peppers if desired.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: 1/4 cup lemon juice plus 3/4 freshly squeezed orange juice can be substituted for the sour orange juice.

Make ahead: The chicken can be marinated in the refrigerator up to 1 day ahead.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.