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 hundreds 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 those special moments with your family.

This Puerto Rican chicken and rice recipe is just one of those comforting, nostalgic ones that I come back to time and time again. 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 skillet 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 pot with a wonderful blend of spices and a homemade sofrito.

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

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

  • Chicken: I like to use boneless, 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 spices (including salt & pepper).
  • Homemade sofrito: We’re making the holy 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 spices and tomato sauce and say hello to DELICIOUSNESS.
  • Homemade sazon: sazon is a really popular Puerto Rican spice and I love making it from scratch with this recipe! It flavors the rice SO much and pulls the whole 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 how 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 though — 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. Start by tossing your chicken in a bowl with olive oil and the adobo spices. Cover and let the chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Brown the chicken. Next, brown the chicken in a large skillet 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 skillet add the garlic, jalapeño, green pepper, onion and cilantro and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the sazon spices 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 skillet, 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 how 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 skillet

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 homemade adobo seasoned chicken sofrito and savory rice. This comforting dish is easy to make and the perfect nourishing weeknight meal. You’ll make this recipe again and again!


  • For the chicken:
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • For the adobo seasoning:
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon 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 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon 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 tablespoon olive oil and your adobo seasoning: cumin, 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 tablespoon olive oil to a large deep 10 inch skillet and place over medium high heat. (If you do not have a skillet a large pot will also work very well!) Once oil is hot, 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 skillet (it should 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 spices (also known as homemade sazon spices): cumin, 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 skillet immediately and cook for 20-25 minutes.

  • After 20-25 minutes, most of the liquid should be absorbed and rice should 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.


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