Arroz con Gandules (Rice and Pigeon Peas)

Arroz con Gandules (Rice & Pigeon Peas) | - @thenoshery

Yesterday I had this incredible urge for rice, but not just any rice, I wanted the rice that brings back memories of my childhood, the one that makes me reminisce about holidays and family gatherings back home in Puerto Rico.  This particular rice is a staple of any festive gathering, especially Christmas.   It is typically served hand-in-hand with pernil or pasteles.

Arroz con Gandules (Rice & Pigeon Peas) | - @thenoshery

If there is anything we Puerto Ricans know it’s rice.  Growing up I think I ate it with almost every meal.  It wasn’t always the same rice, sometimes it was white, yellow or orange.  Sometimes it had chicken, beef, pork or sausage.  Sometimes it had beans over it and an over-medium egg with some fried sweet plantains on the side.  Mmmmmm, I am makeing myself hungry again.  In PR there are countless ways to make rice but this is my favorite hands down.

Arroz con Gandules (Rice & Pigeon Peas) | - @thenoshery

Hubby was very excited that I was making it.  Although, I was about to beat him with my wooden spoon because he kept stealing the bacon that I was using to make the rice.  Then he would complain that he was hungry.  Like it is my job to feed him or something. ;) Punk!  I eventually had to banish him from the kitchen. I told Buster to keep guard but, that was useless.  He was focus on the possibility of me dropping some bacon on the floor.

Arroz con Gandules (Rice & Pigeon Peas) | - @thenoshery

Regardless, the rice turned out fan-freaking-tastic!  I had myself a plate and went back for seconds and I rarely go back for seconds.  Obed I think went back for thirds and picked most of the meat out of it.  He denys it, but he had a whole lot more bacon on his plate then I did.

Arroz con Gandules (Rice & Pigeon Peas) | - @thenoshery

The rice comes out very tender and full of flavor and I love the pigeon peas because they kind of pop in your mouth.  This is really great and believe it or not it makes great leftovers.  It doesn’t get hard and brittle like most left over rice. It stays soft and re-heats very well.  Make a big pot because your going to want more later.  I promise.

Arroz con Gandules (Rice and Pigeon Peas)
Serves: 6 - 8
  • 4 cups long grain rice, rinsed
  • 4 strips pork belly or uncured thick cut bacon
  • 4 tbs Sofrito
  • 1 15 oz can Gandules (Pigeon Peas), drained
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 8 Spanish olives, halved
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 banana leaf (optional)*
  1. Heat a large pot or caldero on medium heat, slowly cook the pork belly until crispy, remove bacon from pot and set aside leaving the drippings.
  2. Add sofrito to the drippings, cook about 3-5 minutes. Add rice to the pot to toast the rice, about 5 minutes. Stirring occasionally. Add tomato sauce, capers, olive and pigeon peas. Gently stir until well combined.
  3. Add enough water to cover the rice by ½ inch. Bring it to a boil on high until water begins to evaporate, place banana leaf or foil over the rice, cover and simmer on low for 35 minutes.
  4. Add crispy bacon and fluff with a fork. Serve
*It is important not to stir rice more then once otherwise it will come out very sticky.

*The banana leaf it optional, it give the rice a nice flavor. I purchase my banana leaves at my local Asian market.




  1. jada says

    I always burn my rice , I think its because I dont know how much water should evaporate out when cooking on high . Could you please tell me how much water should evaporate ?? Thank you :)

  2. Tammy T. says

    I made this last night for my Víspera de Reyes in NC and it is absolutely delicious. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!! *I put less water in the rice because I like my rice a bit more loose, just 3 cups instead of 4, but still, delicious.

  3. Arin says

    Did your family ever make this rice, but with chicken pieces? My PR in-laws make the rice with cut up pieces of chicken and then have a separate pot of beans which they ladle over top. They use wax paper instead of banana leaves. I’ve tried countless times to make this so I can continue the tradition, but my rice never turns out. Any thoughts?

  4. Tanya says

    Thank you so much for your amazing recipes , I have always been a pretty good cook but your recipes always makes my husband and his family feel like they are back home in PR which makes me feel like i’m truly a part of his wonderful latin culture.

  5. Pia says

    Could this work with a long grain brown rice?

    I Love making my own condiments too! Count me IN for a “Sofrito Power” tee :)

  6. Angela Crespo says

    I can’t wait to make this. This year I am having family and friends over for a Pre-Christmas dinner and I’ve been asked to make Arroz this year. The caveat is that my mother (Native PR) used to be the one that makes the rice but she moved to South Carolina and won’t be here this holiday. I’ve been trying to devise a way to have her ship me some cooked rice, but she’s not buying into that idea. Why not I say?!? Anyway, it’s up to me to keep the tradition. So, I hope this recipe makes me look good!
    P.S. I do have some of her homeade sofrito left in my freezer! That’s a plus! MMMM. Que rico!

  7. Bill says

    @Jari: Yes I know a lot of Puerto Ricans that use green plantains in their Arroz con Gandules. I don’t know if this is a custom from southern Puerto Rico (Salinas/Ponce area). You have to use a fine mesh grater (un guayo) and grate a green plantain until it is mushy. Season the grated plaintain with salt, adobo, or sazon, and then spoon it into the water with the rice. This gives it a great flavor, almost like pasteles.

  8. Jari says

    I *will* make this. I think I remember my mom adding some green plantain shreds to it. Have you tried it this way? I kind of remember it makes it mushy, but I wonder how much.

  9. Jessica says

    Can you make this in a rice cooker? If so, would I need to make some adjustments? Time, ingredients, etc…I am known as a “rice-burner”.


  1. […] I was generally happy with the results but I wasn’t doing back flips.  I did think that the rice came out a little on the wet side and I made the mistake of adding some canned oysters that I had, BIG mistake.  I was able to pick them out afterwards so it wasn’t so bad but I wouldn’t do it again.   Now don’t get me wrong it tasted good (after I picked out the oysters) and I would make it again, I just wasn’t doing somersaults over it.   I think my issue was that I had never had a paella before and I was expecting it to be really different, I don’t know why, but it turned out to taste like something I had before, no “wow” factor.  I like my Arroz con Gandules better.  […]

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