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Arroz con Gandules (Pigeon Peas and Rice) in a white bowl.
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5 from 18 votes

Arroz con Gandules (Pigeon Peas and Rice)

Arroz con Gandules (Pigeon Peas and Rice) is the quintessential rice of Puerto Rico. Always served for the holidays and never absent from the table. Excellent side dish with any meat especially pork, turkey and beef.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Dinner, Side Dishes
Cuisine: Puerto Rican
Keyword: Pigeon Peas
Servings: 4 (to 6 servings)
Calories: 454kcal
Author: Mexican Appetizers and More


  • 2 ½ cups medium grain white rice rinsed (I use Goya brand)
  • 1 15.5 oz can of gandules (pigeon peas) reserve water beans are in
  • 3 tbsp sofrito
  • 4 oz ham steak, salted pork fat (tocino) or 1 smoked ham hock

    cut into small cubes
  • 1 heaping teaspoon tomato paste or 4 ounces of tomato sauce

  • tbsp powdered chicken bouillon or 1 (15 oz) can of chicken broth

  • 1 packet Sazon with Annatto

    found in Latin food section (I use Goya brand)
  • 1 packet ham bouillon

  • 1 dried bay leaf

  • 1 teaspoon oregano

  • 2 tbsp green olives stuffed with pimientos

  • handful of fresh cilantro (optional)

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

  • salt to taste


  • Over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a caldero or dutch oven.
    Add ham steak cubes and saute for 3 minutes.

  • Add the sofrito, sazon, ham bouillon, chicken bouillon, oregano, bay leaf, olives and tomato paste if using (only if using paste if using tomato sauce, we will add later) and stir. 
    Saute for 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the full can of gandules including the water they came in to the pot. 
    Now add tomato sauce if using instead of the tomato paste.
  • Fill the same can the beans came in with water (15.5 ounces of water) and add to pot.  Stir all ingredients together.
    Please Note: If using chicken broth instead of chicken bouillon, there is no need to add additional water to cook rice.
  • While the cooking base and gandules are sauteing, rinse the white rice in water until water runs pretty clear, about 3 rinses.
    *(This removes the talc coating (peril) that helps preserve the rice)
  • Add the rinsed rice to the pot and stir.
    Add salt to taste.  (I usually add a little less than a teaspoon just to give you an idea)

  • Test to see if you have enough water in pot to cook rice.
    *TIP:  You know you have added enough water to rice when a large spoon is almost fully covered by the liquid in pot.
    Raise heat to medium high and allow liquid to almost completely dry out.  About 5 minutes.
    Note:  Watch rice that it doesn't dry out so much that the bottom will burn.  This will drastically carry the burnt flavor into rice and it will taste awful!
  • Stir rice with a large spoon, cover immediately with a lid and lower heat to medium low.  (Do not worry about the "pegao" that has built on the bottom of the pan, avoid stirring so hard as to remove pegao from bottom, we do not want the pegao to be distributed into the rice) 
    Cook for 15 minutes on medium low.
    (Note:  Once you have stirred and covered rice DO NOT REMOVE lid to check on rice until it is time to check on it again or rice will stun and remain hard grain and pretty much never cook the right way!)
  • After 15 minutes, remove lid and stir again (rice will be even drier now, which is good!), cover pot and cook for another 15 minutes.
  • Remove lid and stir again.  Rice is done and should be dry and fluffy... not wet and sticky.


Note:  Key to making any Puerto Rican rice is to use a "caldero" or a cooking cauldron.  A caldero is made of cast iron and allows the rice to cook uniform and also creates a crispy bottom layer to caldero known as "pegao."  Do not use a non stick saucepan to make Puerto Rican rice as it will not cook the same at all.  If you do not have a caldero, use a dutch oven instead.
If using chicken broth instead of chicken bouillon, there is no need to add additional water to cook rice.
You Can Purchase Pigeon Peas 
Local supermarket in Latin Section
Walmart in Latin section
Specialty store
or online


Serving: 6g | Calories: 454kcal | Carbohydrates: 93g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 30mg | Potassium: 133mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 1mg