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Island Bites: Arroz Con Gandules, Puerto Rican Pigeon Peas Rice

Updated on November 24, 2017
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Island Bites is a Puerto Rican cook with decades of experience in the kitchen. She's an expert in Latin American cuisine.

Arroz con gandules
Arroz con gandules

Arroz con gandules

Pigeon peas rice is a staple in Puerto Rico. During the Holidays, it is the official dish, alongside lechón asado or pernil (roasted pork). The main ingredients to make this rice are sofrito, pigeon peas and pork cubes or smoked ham. When is done the traditional way, it is covered with banana leaves.


  • 1/2 lb pork (seasoned with salt and pepper), cubed (can be substitute for 1/4 lb smoked ham)
  • 3 cups uncooked rice, medium grain
  • 1/4 cup sofrito + 1/4 extra cup to make broth
  • 4 cups reserved broth
  • 1 can pigeon peas
  • 10 pimiento olives, sliced (optional)
  • 4 oz tomato sauce
  • annatto oil
  • salt
  • banana leaves, (optional)


  • If you're using long grain rice, add 2 cups of liquid for every cup of rice.


  1. To make annatto oil: Simmer annatto seeds in medium-low temperature oil, until oil turns orange-red. (10-15 seeds for every 1/2 cup oil). Remove the seeds. If you can't find annatto seeds, just use regular oil. Sazon or even saffron could work too.
  2. Add 2 tbs annatto oil to a large pot. Saute 1/4 cup sofrito over medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes. Add pork (or ham) and 4 cups of water. Cover. Let it simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Reserve.
  3. In a pot, add 1/4 cup annatto oil and saute 1/4 cup sofrito for 3 minutes. Add tomato sauce and let it cook for a couple minutes.
  4. Turn heat up. Add meat and 4 cups broth (cooking liquid) and olives. (If broth is not enough, you could complete with water.) Bring to a boil. Add salt to taste.
  5. Add rice and a can of pigeon peas (including the liquid). Let the liquid reduce for 2 or 3 minutes at high temperature. Turn down the heat, stir and cover. (If you have the banana leaves, first cover the pot with the leaves, then put the lid on. Let it cook at low temperature for 25 minutes. Stir before serving.
4.2 stars from 5 ratings of Island Bites Arroz con gandules

What is sofrito?

Learn how to make authentic Puerto Rican Sofrito:

Sofrito Recipe

Other versions

  • To make vegan pigeon peas rice, omit the meat and use vegetable broth.
  • Some people, specially in Puerto Rican coasts, use a mix of coconut milk and broth to make pigeon peas rice.
  • Also common in Puerto Rico, is arroz con gandules apastelado, pigeon peas rice with grated green plantain.


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    • profile image

      Pharmc621 4 years ago

      Hello! beaacad interesting beaacad site! I'm really like it! Very, very beaacad good!

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Hope you like it, titi66! Thanks!

    • titi6601 profile image

      titi6601 4 years ago

      I want to try this. Thank you for sharing. Pinned!

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Thanks for the comment, Vacation Trip!

    • Vacation Trip profile image

      Susan 4 years ago from India

      Looks delicious. Thank you for sharing.

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      I agree, Thief! Haha

      Thanks, thumbi7!

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 4 years ago from India

      Excellent and simple recipe!

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      This was really good, but the side dish was the killer :-D