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Arroz Con Gandules Recipe



In Puerto Rico, we LOVE the holiday season (we are said to have one of the longest ones!) and it’s the perfect excuse for us to indulge in delectable dishes. For those looking for a new recipe to try for the holidays, here is one of our favorites that you can try this year.

In Puerto Rico, rice has been an integral part of our diet for centuries. White rice was an everyday dish but by the 19th century, rice casseroles became the most common way of preparing rice for parties or gatherings. To a casserole, you can add chicken, pork, beef and legumes but perhaps the most ‘festive’ casserole is our traditional Arroz con Gandules (Rice with *Pigeon Peas).

We often serve it with pernil (slow roasted pork) and sides like guineitos en escabeche, pasteles and morcilla (blood sausage). The origin of this tradition, however, might be surprising to many. Well into the 20th century, some of these casseroles were served during a particular time of the year due to the availability of certain produce. Pigeon peas, for example, used to be harvested right on time for the beginning of the holiday festivities. Therefore, it became very popular to prepare a rice casserole with them… and the rest is history!

It’s not Christmas in Puerto Rico without arroz con gandules.

*Don’t worry, no pigeons were harmed in the making of this recipe. Pigeon peas (Cajanus cajan) are a perennial legume from the Fabaceae family.

Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas)

Servings: 5-6


  • 1 tbsp. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 oz. Ham for cooking, diced
  • ¼ cup  Onions, diced
  • ¼ cup Peppers, diced
  • 1 tbsp. Garlic, minced
  • 2 cups White Rice Medium Grain
  • 1 (16oz.) can Pigeon Peas
  • 2 cups Chicken Stock
  • 4 oz. Tomato Sauce
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp. Cilantro, chopped


  1. In a pot, heat the oil and cook the ham for 5 minutes; add the onions and garlic and sauté until translucent.
  2. Add the rice, pigeon peas, water and tomato sauce; season with salt and pepper and let it reach boiling point. Cover the pot and reduce to low heat, letting it cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Once the rice is completely cooked, mix in the chopped cilantro and serve!


Recipe By Chef Daniela Sofía Rivera

Edited by Paulina Salach

Pictures by Gustavo Antonetti