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Arroz con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)

Paula M Naranjo/Parent Editor



arroz con gandules traditional puerto rican rice with pigeon peas inside a caldero recipe


Arroz con Gandules is a traditional Puerto Rican dish that is served usually around Christmas season or special occasions. One of the main reasons why this is served for special occasions is because it serves A LOT of people. It is referred as “Puerto Rican Rice” and includes the Puerto Rican Cuisine seasoning sofrito to give it the unique mouthwatering taste.

Gandules, which is pigeon peas in English; is essential to the rice dish and is packed with nutrients. You’ll be surprised how flavorful the little pigeon peas are in combination with the seasoning. You can find these canned at your local market under the brand Goya or if you’re fortunate enough to get them fresh depending on your location.

This rice dish recipe requires a medium sized caldero (cast aluminum cooking pot) to be cooked in which is similar to a dutch oven. It is used throughout the Caribbean Islands for cooking rice, beans, stews, and soups. It is very versatile and durable for kitchenware and helps create pegao! You can purchase a caldero online if you cannot find one at a nearby store.

arroz con gandules traditional puerto rican rice with pigeon peas inside a caldero recipe


This Puerto Rican rice recipe absolutely requires its signature seasoning – SofritoSofrito; also sometimes called Recaíto, is a green seasoning base that is used in Arroz con Gandules and many other Puerto Rican dish recipes.

Being a Caribbean Island seasoning staple, tomatoes are rarely used in sofrito in Puerto Rico. Homemade sofrito is always the best kind to use and we have a delicious sofrito recipe for you!

arroz con gandules traditional puerto rican rice with pigeon peas with sofrito on the side recipe


Pegao, the tasty rice at the bottom of the caldero. It is regular for Puerto Ricans to eat the crusty rice leftovers and it takes practice to get it to the right crispiness.

A tip to making pegao is using coating the inside of the caldero with vegetable oil and making sure you do not cook the rice with high heat. It is a little difficult your first attempt but in due time you will be a pegao pro!

arroz con gandules traditional puerto rican rice with pigeon peas recipe

Perfecting water and rice ratio is key to this Arroz con Gandules recipe. Since the ingredients like the sofrito, tomato sauce, and vegetable oil add liquid to the dish; it is difficult to know how much water is enough. A perfect rule of thumb is to use a 1 cup – 1 cup ratio and the liquid should be about 1 inch above the rice before you cook it.

The cured salted pork is optional and can be swapped out with ham or chorizo. However, the cured salted pork grease really complements the rice flavor.

Also, make sure you do NOT open the tightly secured lid during the 30 minute cooking time and also avoid stirring the rice. Let the caldero work its magic!



Arroz con Gandules is the best Puerto Rican rice dish that is filled with FLAVOR. Print


  • 3 cups medium grain rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 can gandules (pigeon peas) drained
  • 1/2 cup cured salted pork chopped
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sofrito
  • 6 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 packet sazon culantro y achiote
  • 10 whole spanish olives
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt for taste


  1. Start by adding the vegetable oil to the caldero or large pot and set the stove heat to medium. Toss in your chopped cured salted pork into the pot and cook until it is fried. Remove the cured salted pork and set aside but keep the grease in the caldero. 
  2. Next, add your sofrito, tomato sauce, sazon culantro y achiote, cumin, spanish olives, and gandules to the caldero. Cook and stir the mixture for about 3 to 4 minutes. In addition, add your water and bring to boil. Rinse your medium grain rice to remove starch. 
  3. Lastly, add your medium grain rice and the fried cured salted pork and stir everything gently. Place a sheet of foil covering the top opening of the caldero and cover with lid. Cook the Puerto Rican rice for 30 minutes over medium heat without opening the lid at all. Fluff rice and add salt for personal taste. 


 1. For perfect water amount, make sure the rice is below liquid amount by 1 inch before placing the foil and caldero lid. 

2. Do not wash the starch off of the rice if you prefer your rice sticky. 

We would love to hear from you, have a story, tip or recipe you would like to share with our readers? Feel free to email it to throughlovewelearn@gmail.com. 

Nos encantaría saber de usted, tener una historia, un consejo o una receta que le gustaría compartir con nuestros lectores. No dude en enviarlo por correo electrónico a través delovewelearn@gmail.com.

Paula M Naranjo

IG: Paulamarienaranjo

FB: MarieNaranjo


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