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

Updated on October 27, 2020
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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 while it cooks.


  • 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
  • 3/4 cup sofrito + 1/4 extra cup to make broth
  • 4 cups reserved broth
  • 1 can pigeon peas
  • 10 pimiento olives, sliced (optional)
  • 8 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. (10-20 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), salt and 4 cups of water. Cover. Let it simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Reserve.
  3. In a pot, add 1/2 cup annatto oil and sauté 1/2 cup sofrito for 3-4 minutes at medium-high temperature. Add tomato sauce and sauté for a couple more minutes.
  4. Turn heat up. Add 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. Add meat. 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 15 minutes. Give it a quick stir and cover it again. Let it cook for 10-15 more minutes. Stir again 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.

© 2013 IslandBites


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