This Cuban Arroz con Pollo Recipe is made with arborio rice, drumsticks, adobo, sofrito, saffron, peppers, broth and white wine.
Arroz con pollo is the ultimate one-pot dinner and everyone who knows me knows how much I love one pot dinners. What is better than being able to make a meal that feeds four to six people, the clean-up is easy AND it only takes 45 minutes to make? Every mom has their own version of Arroz con Pollo. There are so many varieties but this is mine.
I am not a huge fan of peas and I omitted them, although I know that most arroz con pollo recipes have them. Chicken and rice is one of my favorite combinations and I guarantee that when you learn how to make this, you won’t ever make it any other way. It is VERY important to use Arborio rice – if you make this with long grain rice it will come out mushy.
What is Arroz con Pollo?
Arroz con Pollo is a traditional Latin American dish that translates to "rice with chicken." It is a flavorful and comforting one-pot meal made with chicken, rice, and a variety of vegetables and spices. The dish is popular in many countries, including Spain, Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Colombia, among others, with slight variations in ingredients and preparation methods.
Arroz con Pollo is often served as a main course and can be enjoyed on its own or accompanied by side dishes such as beans, plantains, or a fresh salad. It is a versatile dish that can be adapted to personal tastes by adding additional vegetables, herbs, or spices. The flavors of Arroz con Pollo vary depending on the region, but the dish is loved for its simplicity, comforting qualities, and the way it brings together the flavors of chicken and rice in a delicious and satisfying meal.
Why you will love this recipe
Versatile: Chicken is so versatile and most flavors will go with it.
Full of flavor: The sazon gives the chicken so much flavor. The chicken cooks inside the rice which gives the rice an abundance of flavor.
Hearty: This dish is so hearty because of the chicken and rice combination. It is so comforting too.
Kid Friendly: I grew up eating this when I was younger. Your children will love this.
Great for cold weather: I love making this during the fall and winter time because it is so hearty and comforting.
Serves a crowd: This recipe is so easy to make and it is great for dinner parties.
Arroz con Pollo Recipe Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this Arroz con Pollo Recipe. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Olive oil
- Bell peppers
- White wine
- Chicken broth
- Bay leaves
- Arborio rice
- Green olives
See recipe card for Arroz con Pollo Recipe quantities.
How to make Arroz con Pollo
In a bowl, add the white wine and add the saffron threads and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
Season the chicken with salt and adobo
Add olive oil in a large dutch oven and start by browning the chicken thighs and legs on medium high heat, about 8 minutes total, turning often. Remove the chicken and place on a plate.
In the same oil, add the peppers and onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the sofrito for another 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes.
Pour in the white wine with the saffron, chicken broth and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and add the rice, olives and return the chicken.
Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes. You might need to use more liquid but check the chicken often.
What to serve with Arroz con Pollo
- Black Beans: A classic accompaniment to many Latin American dishes, black beans add protein, fiber, and a rich flavor. Serve them as a side dish or spooned over the rice for extra texture and flavor. Check out my Instant Pot Black Beans Recipe.
- Avocado Salad: A refreshing avocado tomato salad adds a creamy and cooling element to the meal. Toss diced avocado with tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, lime juice, and a drizzle of olive oil for a simple and flavorful side.
- Tostones: Crispy and savory, tostones are twice-fried plantain slices. They make a delightful side dish to Arroz con Pollo, adding a crispy texture and unique flavor. Check out my Tostones Recipe.
- Cilantro Lime Rice: If you want an extra dose of rice, prepare a side of cilantro lime rice. The bright flavors of cilantro and lime add a refreshing twist to the meal. Check out my Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Rice.
Chicken: I love using chicken drumsticks for this recipe. You could use a whole chicken and cut it up into pieces. This works so well and great if you want a variation of cuts of chicken.
Adobo: Adobo is a big latin ingredients that is widely used. It is basically an all purpose seasoning and you can use it for chicken, meats, or vegetables. You can make your own adobo by combining garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, cumin, chili powder and salt.
Bell pepper: You can use any colors you want for the bell peppers.
Onion: You can use red, white or yellow onion.
Broth: I like sticking to chicken broth since we are cooking with chicken, but if you would like to use vegetable broth that works too.
Saffron: Saffron can be pretty expensive but if you buy on amazon you can get a bunch for a great price.
Arroz con Pollo Recipe Variations
- Mexican Arroz con Pollo: In Mexican cuisine, Arroz con Pollo may include ingredients such as diced green chilies, corn kernels, and black beans. This variation incorporates the vibrant flavors of Mexican cuisine and adds a hint of spiciness.
- Peruvian Arroz con Pollo: Peruvian-style Arroz con Pollo often includes aji amarillo, a yellow chili pepper paste that imparts a distinct and mild heat. It may also feature ingredients like beer, cilantro, and peas. The use of aji amarillo gives the dish a vibrant yellow color.
- Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo: Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo, known as "Asopao de Pollo," is a heartier version that combines the flavors of Arroz con Pollo with a soup-like consistency. It includes additional broth, tomato sauce, and sometimes green peas and diced ham. The resulting dish is a comforting and flavorful rice soup.
- Spanish Arroz con Pollo: The Spanish version of Arroz con Pollo often incorporates saffron threads, which give the dish a rich golden color and a unique aroma. It may also include chorizo or other cured meats for added depth of flavor.
- Large Pot or Dutch Oven: A large pot or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid is essential for cooking the rice and chicken together. It should be able to hold all the ingredients and allow for even heat distribution.
- Chef's Knife: A sharp chef's knife is necessary for chopping and preparing the vegetables and chicken. It will help you achieve uniform cuts and make the cooking process smoother.
- Cutting Board: A sturdy cutting board provides a stable surface for chopping and prepping ingredients. Choose one that is large enough to accommodate all the vegetables and chicken.
- Wooden Spoon or Spatula: A wooden spoon or spatula is handy for stirring the ingredients as they cook and ensuring they don't stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons: Accurate measurements are important when cooking the rice and adding spices and seasonings. Use measuring cups and spoons to ensure proper proportions.
- Fine-Mesh Sieve (Optional): If you prefer to rinse the rice before cooking, a fine-mesh sieve will come in handy for straining the rice under running water.
- Grater (Optional): If you decide to include ingredients like garlic or ginger in grated form, a grater can be used to achieve the desired texture.
- Serving Spoon or Spatula: Once the Arroz con Pollo is cooked, you'll need a serving spoon or spatula to transfer it from the pot to the serving dish or individual plates.
How to store Arroz con Pollo
To store Arroz con Pollo properly, follow these guidelines:
- Cool the Arroz con Pollo: Allow the Arroz con Pollo to cool down to room temperature before storing. This helps prevent the growth of bacteria and keeps the dish fresh.
- Divide into Portions: If you have a large batch of Arroz con Pollo, consider dividing it into individual or family-sized portions. This makes it easier to store and reheat only the amount you need.
- Use Airtight Containers: Transfer the Arroz con Pollo to airtight containers or resealable plastic bags. Make sure the containers are clean and have tight-fitting lids to prevent air and moisture from entering.
- Refrigeration: Place the containers of Arroz con Pollo in the refrigerator. It can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days. Keep in mind that the rice may lose some moisture over time, so it may become slightly drier upon reheating.
- Freezing (Optional): If you want to store Arroz con Pollo for a longer period, you can freeze it. Freezing helps to maintain the quality and flavor of the dish. Ensure the containers are freezer-safe and leave some space at the top to allow for expansion during freezing. Arroz con Pollo can be frozen for up to 3 months.
- Thawing and Reheating: When ready to eat, thaw frozen Arroz con Pollo in the refrigerator overnight. To reheat, you can use the stovetop or microwave. If using the stovetop, place the Arroz con Pollo in a pot with a splash of water or broth to prevent sticking, and heat over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally until thoroughly heated. In the microwave, transfer a portion to a microwave-safe dish, cover, and heat in intervals, stirring occasionally, until heated throughout.
- Check for Freshness: Before consuming any stored Arroz con Pollo, always check for signs of spoilage such as an off smell, unusual texture, or mold growth. If in doubt, it's best to discard it to ensure food safety.
Arroz con Pollo Recipe Top tips
- Sear the Chicken: Before adding the chicken to the pot, sear it in hot oil or butter. This helps develop a delicious golden-brown crust, adds flavor, and keeps the chicken moist during the cooking process.
- Use Chicken Thighs: Chicken thighs are preferred for Arroz con Pollo as they are more flavorful and tender compared to chicken breasts. The thighs hold up well during cooking and contribute to a richer and more satisfying dish.
- Toast the Rice: Toasting the rice in a bit of oil or butter before adding the liquid can enhance the nutty flavor and improve the texture of the grains. Stir the rice constantly while toasting to avoid burning.
- Sauté the Aromatics: Sauté the onions, garlic, bell peppers, and any other aromatics in the recipe until they are softened and fragrant. This helps release their flavors and adds depth to the dish.
- Use Quality Broth: The broth you use in Arroz con Pollo greatly impacts the overall flavor. If possible, use homemade chicken broth or a high-quality store-bought broth to enhance the taste of the dish.
- Season Generously: Don't be shy with the seasonings. Arroz con Pollo benefits from generous amounts of spices and herbs. Taste and adjust the seasoning as you go, adding more if needed to achieve a well-balanced and flavorful dish.
- Let it Rest: Once the Arroz con Pollo is cooked, let it rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together and the rice to absorb any excess moisture, resulting in a more cohesive and flavorful dish.
- Garnish and Serve Fresh: Just before serving, garnish the Arroz con Pollo with freshly chopped cilantro, parsley, or green onions. This adds a pop of freshness and color to the dish. Serve the Arroz con Pollo hot and enjoy it at its best.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove