Arroz con Pollo is a traditional Spanish or Latin American dish made with bone-in chicken pieces cooked together with rice, vegetables and spices. It’s a hearty one pot meal that’s simple to prepare and comes together in about an hour.
This simple, rustic dish literally translates to “Chicken and Rice.” Bone-in chicken is seared in a pan for flavor and then simmered with rice and vegetables in a flavorful broth.
Arroz con Pollo is one of those dishes that’s always on rotation in our house. It’s total belly-warming comfort food and since it all cooks in one pot, it makes for easy clean up after dinner. It’s customizable based on what cuts of chicken you have on hand, and the veggies can also be swapped with what you’ve got or based on preference.
How to Make Arroz con Pollo
This simple dish may seem complicated because there are a lot of steps. But it really is a simple process or browning the chicken, cooking the veggies, then simmering together with the rice in a flavorful broth.
Prep the chicken. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Do not rinse the chicken as this can spread harmful bacteria around your kitchen. I prefer to leave the skin on because it has a ton of flavor, but you can remove it if you like. Combine seasonings for arroz con pollo – salt, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin and black pepper – and rub into the chicken.
Brown the chicken. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat to sear the chicken, skin side first. The fat from the skin will render (melt) into the pan and the skin should brown. Then flip each piece over and brown the other side and transfer the chicken to a clean plate. You’ll add it back to the pan later.
Cook the vegetables. Saute onions and bell pepper with some garlic until the veggies are soft, then add the rice.
Simmer. Combine water and tomato sauce with a tablespoon of Caldo de Tomate (tomato bouillon). Pour into the skillet with the rice and bring everything to a simmer. Nestle the chicken pieces in with the rice and add some peas to the pan. Cover the pan, reduce the heat, and let the rice and chicken cook for about 30 minutes. The rice should be tender and fluffy and the chicken cooked through to 165 degrees F.
Serve. I like to garnish everything I serve, so I add some fresh parsley. Let the arroz con pollo sit and rest for about 5-10 minutes before serving. This will give the rice a chance to absorb any remaining liquid and for the chicken to cool slightly.
Top Tips and Variations
The Caldo de Tomate is a granulated tomato bouillon. It’s usually found in the Hispanic aisle of the grocery store or at hispanic markets, but can be left out if you’re not able to find it. You can use chicken bouillon in its place, or simply use chicken broth instead of water in the recipe.
Use any cut of chicken, from bone-in thighs, drumsticks and breasts, to boneless thighs. I don’t recommend boneless chicken breasts for this Arroz con Pollo recipe because they tend to cook quickly and may dry out. If you want to use chicken breasts, I recommend our One Pot Mexican Chicken and Rice which is a similar recipe that used chunks of chicken instead of whole pieces.
If you don’t like peas, leave them out. Same with the bell pepper. You can also use a mixed frozen veggie blend if that’s what you have available. I like to toss in some corn if I have it; I like it for the slight sweetness it adds. Feel free to stir in steamed broccoli or carrots, or even some diced tomatoes or sliced olives at the end.
Store leftover Arroz con Pollo in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. Freeze for up to 6 months and thaw in the fridge overnight when ready to eat. Reheat in the microwave or oven.
What to Serve with Arroz con Pollo
Since it’s so rich and hearty, this dish is best served on it’s own, or with a simple veggie side like a copycat Olive Garden Salad or Creamy Cucumber Salad. You could also make some warm Flour Tortillas to serve on the side. Add a squeeze of lime for a bit of tart to cut through the richness of the dish.
Mix 2 teaspoons of salt, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin and black pepper in a small bowl.
Pat chicken dry and remove the skin if desired. Place chicken on a large plate or other flat surface and evenly coat chicken with the spice mixture.
Heat oil in a large, 12-inch skillet or saute pan with high sides over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin side first, and cook until browned on all sides; 5-6 minutes per side. Transfer to a clean plate.
Add onions and bell pepper to the skillet and season with a pinch or two of salt. Cook over medium heat until softened; 5-7 minutes. Add minced garlic and the rice and cook for an additional minute, until rice begins to turn a golden color and the garlic is fragrant.
Meanwhile, combine 1 ¼ cups of water, chicken broth, tomato sauce and a tablespoon of caldo de tomat* in a medium bowl. Pour into the skillet with the rice, stirring to make sure that all the rice is covered with the liquid.
Nestle the chicken pieces in with the rice and bring to a boil. Add the peas, then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook until chicken is cooked through (registers 165 on an instant read digital thermometer), rice is tender and fluffy and most of the liquid is absorbed; about 30-35 minutes.
Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes before serving.
*If you do not have Caldo de Tomat on hand, add a teaspoon of salt.
(Adapted from Food Network/Melissa D’Arabian)
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Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.