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Arroz Con Gandules

Arroz Con Gandules

This is one of my favorite Puerto Rican dishes! I am proud to say that my Grandmother has officially passed on the arroz con gandules duties to me.. and that is saying A LOT! We always eat this dish on Christmas Eve with pasteles and carne frita or pernil, with some avocado on the side (my mouth is watering just thinking about this). 

Gandules are Pigeon Peas. They can be found fresh, frozen, canned or dried.  My favorites are the smaller, brown ones.. if you find the El Jibarito brand, that is the best!  For a little twist, you can also use the gandules in coconut milk.  Another amazing addition is to put banana leaves on top of the rice as it steams... this gives it such a unique taste, a really delicious depth of flavor. 

The key to the delicious flavor of this arroz and many Puerto Rican recipes is  sofrito, which is a blend of green peppers, onion, garlic, sweet Caribbean peppers known as ajis dulces, and recao (or culantro). Sofrito is the most essential ingredient in Puerto Rican cooking.

An essential piece of equipment in a Latin Kitchen is the Caldero- it's an aluminum pot.. and I'm sure if you or your family are like me... I have a *specific* pot that I make my rice in! Here's my recommendation if you don't have a caldero at home. 


  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 cup ham steak, pork belly, or bacon, diced or marinated pork chunks (from my Carne Frita Recipe)
  • 1/3 cup sofrito
  • 3 cups water 
  • 2 T sazón
  • 2 T adobo
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste or 1/3 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup  pimento stuffed olives 
  • 15 ounce can Pigeon Peas (Gandules), drained and rinsed or 2 cups of fresh or frozen
  • 2 cups rice (medium grain or long grain)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat your caldero to medium heat, and add your oil, meat (if using) and sofrito. Stir constantly until cooked, but not browned.
  2. Next add in the Sazon, Adobo, tomato sauce or paste. Stir to combine.
  3. Add in the drained pigeon peas, bay leaves, chopped cilantro and half the water.  Add olives, if using. Allow the liquid to come up to a boil, and taste it for salt. Add more if needed. (Note: You want this liquid to be highly seasoned and on the salty side, as the rice will soak it up.)
  4. Once the mixture is boiling, add the rice. Stir the rice to get it coated and distribute the gandules throughout. Add the remaining water.
  5. Allow the rice to absorb all the visible liquid. Once most of the visible surface liquid is absorbed, stir the rice, and cover. Lower the flame to low, and allow it to steam for 25-30 minutes. (Note: If you are doubling the recipe, you’ll need more time) It's done with all the liquid is absorbed and the grains are fluffy and fully cooked.   (Can garnish with more fresh cilantro)

If you tried the recipe, or just love Puerto Rican food, show us some love in the comments!

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