New Year Resolution Picks
top of page
  • Viv

Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas)

Arroz con Gandules is a quintessential Puerto Rican dish. We love our Gandules! You can find a unique version of this stable in just about every Puerto Rican household.

The gandul or pigeon pea as it is known in English, is originally from Africa. It was brought over to Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands by our African ancestors.

The pigeon pea packs a punch in terms of nutrition. It is high in iron, magnesium and B6. It's a great legume for those living a more plant based lifestyle. These gandules came from my mom's garden in Puerto Rico. She sent them in their pods and I shucked them before making my rice. Fresh is best but canned or frozen are a great alternative, although not as beautiful as the ones I got from my Mami's garden.

Arroz con gandules dates back to 16th century Puerto Rico (source Virtual History Cookbook) and the earliest mention of this recipe in a cookbook is from El Cocinero Puerto-Riqueño, first published in 1859. Most Puerto Rican cookbooks have a version of the recipe. If you are interested in looking for a good Puerto Rican recipe book, consider, Puerto Rican Cookery (Cocina Criollo) by Carmen Valldejuli or A Taste of Puerto Rico by Yvonne Ortiz.

You will find the links below.

Some recipes include lard as a resource. This could be substituted with your favorite vegetable oil. Lard was utilized in the early ages of Puerto Rico, as olives could not be cultivated on the island. Below you will find my mother's recipe for Arroz con Gandules.


Puerto Rican Arroz con Gandules is a delicious and flavorful dish that is sure to be a hit with your family and friends! Here's what you need to make it: Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable cooking oil. We use Mazola at our home.

2 cups long-grain white rice (washed and rinsed), I prefer Canilla, but any long grain rice will do.

1 15 oz can of gandules (pigeon peas) rinsed and drained.

1/3 cup of Sofrito/Recaito

1 tsp. of salt

1 tsp. of pepper

1 tsp. oregano

1/2 a package or 1 1/2 tsp of Sazón with culantro y achiote (cumin and

2 tbsp of tomato paste or 1/3 cup of Spanish style tomato sauce

1/4 cup of Manzanilla Olives, or Spanish style olives in slices.

3 cups of chicken broth or water (if you want to keep it vegan)

1/3 cup of cubed jamón (ham) (not deli ham), you can substitute with country ham or bacon (optional, omit to keep it vegetarian/vegan).

These measurements are all approximate, as well typically cook by eyeballing everything. It's the Puerto Rican way. I'm not as natural at this as my sister and mom, so I rely on measurements.


  • Heat the olive oil at medium heat in a large Dutch Oven or Olla/Caldero (in the north of the island it's called Coldero, in the south it is called Olla)

  • Add the sofrito so that the flavors bloom a bit. You may also add the ham if using it in your recipe. Stir until fragrant but don't let it burn. Add the rice to toast...don't let it burn

  • Next, add the sazón, tomato paste, chicken broth and stir to combine

  • Add the drained gandules, salt, pepper, oregano and olives.

  • Add the tomato sauce and chicken broth. Stir everything well to combine. Check the seasoning for salt, add more as needed.

  • Bring the mixture to a boil and allow the liquid to evaporate.

  • Once the liquid is evaporated reduce the heat to low and cook covered, for 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked through.

  • Serve hot and enjoy!

I hope you try making this dish. It is so good.



This page contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase after clicking a link, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Puerto Rican Olla/Caldero

A Taste of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican Cookery

El Cocinero Puerto-Riqueño


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page