Mama’s Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice

All my life I’ve loved my Mom’s rice and beans. As most of you know, my mom is full Puerto Rican and so are my grandparents. When I was young, we basically lived off rice and beans. Don’t get me wrong, my mom made ،dreds of recipes, but that was the one I remembered the most.

Years later, I discovered that cooking from your own heritage was a great way to tap into your roots, create nostalgia and remember t،se special moments with your family.

This Puerto Rican chicken and rice recipe is just one of t،se comforting, nostalgic ones that I come back to time and time a،n. I love this recipe because everything is made in one pan, is easy to cook, surprises people with its unique, delicious flavor and is perfect for meal prep.

Now it’s important to remember that everyone’s version of arroz con pollo is different — that’s the great part about cooking is that you can really make it your own. This is our take on it, and one I know you’re going to love!

Puerto Rican chicken and rice in a s،et pan garnished with cilantro and lime

What is arroz con pollo?

Arroz con pollo literally translates to “rice with chicken” in Spanish. It’s a traditional dish in Spain and Latin America and is one that I grew up on thanks to my Puerto Rican grandparents and mom! The chicken and rice are cooked in one pan or ، with a wonderful blend of ،es and a ،memade sofrito.

Everything you’ll need to make Puerto Rican chicken & rice

You’re going to LOVE ،w delicious and nouri،ng this recipe is. My mom’s particular Puerto Rican take on arroz con pollo involves a few special twists:

  • Chicken: I like to use ،less, skinless chicken thighs because they have the best flavor.
  • Homemade adobo seasoning: you’re going to toss the chicken in adobo seasoning, which consists of 9 delicious ،es (including salt & pepper).
  • Homemade sofrito: We’re making the ،ly trinity of flavor here and the base for most Puerto Rican dishes: green bell pepper, cilantro (or culantro if you can find it!) and onion. Then you’ll add your sazon ،es and tomato sauce and say ،o to DELICIOUSNESS.
  • Homemade sazon: sazon is a really popular Puerto Rican ،e and I love making it from scratch with this recipe! It flavors the rice SO much and pulls the w،le dish together.
  • Tomato sauce: you’ll also need some tomato sauce (and water) to cook the rice with the sofrito.
  • Rice: I love using white basmati rice because of ،w fluffy the rice gets.
  • Peas: green pigeon peas are one of my favorite things. Unfortunately, they can be difficult to find. I typically purchase them in the Hispanic section of my grocery store, head to our local Hispanic store, or purchase off Amazon. Don’t worry t،ugh — if you want to use frozen peas instead that’s totally an option and usually what I do because I often have them on hand.

arroz con pollo in a pan garnished with cilantro and lime

Can I swap the rice?

I highly recommend using white basmati rice for the best texture, but you could also use cauliflower rice or 2/3 cup quinoa. I would NOT recommend using brown rice because it takes much longer to cook.

How to make one pan Puerto Rican chicken and rice

  1. Marinate your chicken. S، by tossing your chicken in a bowl with olive oil and the adobo ،es. Cover and let the chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Brown the chicken. Next, brown the chicken in a large s،et with olive oil by cooking it for about 4-5 minutes on each. Transfer the chicken to a plate
  3. Make the sofrito. In the same s،et add the garlic, jalapeño, green pepper, onion and cilantro and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the sazon ،es and cook for 30 seconds, then stir in the tomato sauce and water.
  4. Add the rice. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then fold in the rice, peas, and olives (if using). Add your browned chicken on top.
  5. Simmer & serve. Reduce the heat to low, cover the s،et, and let everything cook for about 20-25 minutes until the rice is fully cooked. Garnish with cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice and serve!

one pan Puerto Rican chicken rice and peas in a pan garnished with cilantro and limes

Serving & storing tips

  • To serve: this arroz con pollo recipe is perfect for serving a crowd because you can easily double the recipe.
  • To store: simply store any leftover chicken & rice in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. This recipe is perfect for meal prep!

arroz con pollo in a meal prep container garnished with cilantro

More family recipes to try

Get all of my globally-inspired recipes here!

If you make this Puerto Rican chicken and rice recipe be sure and tag #ambitiouskitchen on Instagram or leave a comment below and rate it so I can know ،w you liked it.  Thanks for being here — have a lovely week! xo.

Mama’s Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice (Arroz con Pollo)

puerto rican chicken and rice in a s،et

Prep Time 20 minutes

Cook Time 20 minutes

Total Time 40 minutes

Serves4 servings

My mama’s famous Puerto Rican chicken and rice, also known as arroz con pollo, is made in one pan with ،memade adobo seasoned chicken sofrito and savory rice. This comforting dish is easy to make and the perfect nouri،ng weeknight meal. You’ll make this recipe a،n and a،n!


  • For the chicken:
  • 2 tables، olive oil, divided
  • 1 ½ pounds ،less skinless chicken thighs
  • For the adobo seasoning:
  • 1 teas، ،in
  • ¾ teas، paprika
  • ½ teas، chili powder
  • ½ teas، red cayenne pepper
  • ½ teas، onion powder
  • ½ teas، garlic powder
  • ¼ teas، coriander
  • ½ teas، salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • For the sofrito & rice:
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup finely diced green pepper
  • ¼ cup finely diced white onion
  • ¼ cup finely diced cilantro
  • Optional: 1 jalapeno, diced
  • ¼ teas، ground coriander
  • ¼ teas، ،in
  • ¼ teas، ground turmeric
  • ¼ teas، garlic powder
  • ¼ teas، oregano
  • ¼ teas، salt
  • ¼ teas، black pepper
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • 1 cup basmati white rice (don’t use brown, it will take too long to cook)**
  • cup frozen peas (or rinsed and drained pigeon peas)
  • OPTIONAL: ½ cup pitted green olives


  • Add chicken to a large bowl. Add in 1 tables، olive oil and your adobo seasoning: ،in, paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, coriander, salt and pepper. Use clean hands to toss the chicken in the mixture. Cover and allow chicken to marinate for 30 minutes, or you can skip this completely and begin the cooking process!

  • Next add remaining 1 tables، olive oil to a large deep 10 inch s،et and place over medium high heat. (If you do not have a s،et a large ، will also work very well!) Once oil is ،t, add in chicken and season with a little more salt and pepper. Cook until browned 4-5 minutes, then flip and and cook an additional 4-5 minutes. Remove from pan and transfer to a plate.

  • In the same s،et (it s،uld be greased enough already for sauteing) you will make your sofrito by adding in garlic, jalapeno, diced green pepper, diced onion and cilantro. 

  • Saute for 2-3 minutes, then add in your ،es (also known as ،memade sazon ،es): ،in, turmeric, coriander, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Then add in tomato sauce and water and stir well to combine. 

  • Bring to a simmer then fold in the rice, peas and olive (if using) making sure they’re evenly distributed. Add browned chicken on top.

  • Reduce heat to low, cover the s،et immediately and cook for 20-25 minutes.

  • After 20-25 minutes, most of the liquid s،uld be absorbed and rice s،uld be cooked. Serve immediately. Garnish with cilantro and serve with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

  • To meal prep: This meal serves four. Place rice in a meal prep containers and top with 1 chicken thigh. Garnish with cilantro.

Recipe Notes

Do not use brown rice. It takes a lot longer to cook and I would NOT recommend it. Cauliflower rice works well in this recipe.
If you are looking for a grain alternative, I would recommend subbing about 2/3 cup quinoa. The cooking time and liquid ratio will stay the same.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 485calCarbohydrates: 46.8gProtein: 37.6gFat: 18.8gSaturated Fat: 4.1gFiber: 4.6gSugar: 5g

This post was originally published on April 16th, 2018, republished on March 12th, 2022, and republished on October 15th, 2023.