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Spanish Arroz con Pollo Recipe (Spanish Chicken and Rice Recipe)

Check out our basic recipe for Arroz con Pollo (Spanish Chicken and Rice Recipe). The great thing about this dish is that you can easily substitute or add ingredients based on your preferences.

Written by Donna Emperador

I love traveling and learning about different cultures. I find that you can learn a lot about a culture from their food. During the times I am not traveling, I enjoy recreating various foods from around the world at home.

Then I like adding a modern twist to the recipes. Often, classic recipes have been passed down from a time when several family members spent a majority of their day cooking. Sadly, now we are often rushed and need to cut corners.

I also like varying recipes to make them healthier for today’s sedentary lifestyle. This recipe for arroz con pollo is part of South Florida cuisine due to the influence of the Spanish. It is in its basic form allowing you to add your nuances to fit your family’s tastes.

how to make arroz con pollo

History of Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con pollo is a traditional food from Spain which has migrated to Spanish cultures in central and south America. Most Latin American cooking is a combination of traditional Spanish cuisine and the cuisine of the native cultures.

However, looking further into the history of this dish, you will find influences from the Middle East and Asia. Some say chicken first came to Spain from trade with India. Traders brought rice from Asia.

The Phoenicians introduced the Spanish to Saffron, which gives the rice its yellow color. The Moors invaded southern Spain and brought spices such as cumin.

Arroz con pollo is cooked in one pot and is served family-style. This means the dish is passed around the table and shared. The Moors invaded Spain during the 700s which is around the time this dish first came about.

The seasonings such as cumin, saffron, and the use of white rice are typical of Moorish cuisine. The Moors also brought irrigation to Spain leading to the possibility of cooking rice.

Due to the ability to get water easily for cooking, rice became a staple of Spanish food. With the exploration of the new world, this dish migrated along with its ingredients to the Americas. This led to each Latin American country developing its variations over the years.

A similar dish is a paella. This uses much of those same Moorish seasonings but traditionally adds rabbit or duck, peas, and/or artichoke hearts. Seafood paella omits the meats and peas but adds a variety of seafood and beans instead.

Recipe for Arroz con Pollo

Here is a basic recipe for arroz con pollo. The great thing about this dish is that you can easily substitute or add ingredients based on your family’s preferences.

For a quick weeknight meal, I skip the first two steps by using shredded rotisserie chicken. For a healthier version, I use brown rice. It takes longer than white rice, but brown rice has higher fiber content and is better for the digestive system.

Also, saffron can be hard to find in a local grocery store. It is also expensive. Instead, you can substitute turmeric which will still give the rice the yellow color. My family likes spicy food so I use a can of Rotel instead of regular diced tomatoes.

Ingredients for basic Arroz con Pollo

spanish arroz con pollo recipe
  • 1 1/2-3 pounds of frying chicken pieces
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 30 ounces chicken broth
  • 1 chopped bell pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 cups uncooked rice
  • 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 large diced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • green olives with pimentos
  • salt and pepper

Step-by-step instructions to prepare Spanish Chicken and Rice Recipe

recipe arroz con pollo
  1. Begin by sprinkling chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Then brown them in a large skillet in the oil.
  2. Once chicken pieces are browned, remove them from the skillet and place them on paper towels to drain.
  3. Meanwhile, cook onions, peppers, garlic,and rice in the oil until oil is absorbed and the rice is coated.
  4. After that, stir in the broth, cumin, saffron, and tomatoes.
  5. Arrange chicken pieces on top of the rice and bring to a boil.
  6. When liquids are boiling, lower the heat, and cover the pan.
  7. Simmer for about 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked and rice is tender.
  8. Garnish with olives to serve.

Latin Variations

easy arroz con pollo

Over the years the original Spanish recipe has evolved into different variations in Latin America. Latin Americans season the chicken and rice with sofrito which is a mixture of herbs, spices, and vegetables.

Typically, Latin Americans make sofrito with onions, garlic, cumin, peppers, and tomatoes as in the Spanish recipe above. However, they add regional seasonings such as cilantro, oregano, achiote, and cilantro, and sometimes vinegar. They sometimes add pork as well.

Glossary of terms

spanish chicken and rice

Achiote– like saffron, this gives a yellow color to the rice. It comes from the seeds of the annatto tree, a shrub found in tropical areas of Mexico, Central, and South America.

Sofrito– a sauce made from vegetables and seasonings cooked in oil. Usually, sofrito includes onions, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, achiote, cumin, oregano, cilantro, and vinegar. South Americans sometimes add pork for additional flavoring.

Cilantro– the leaves and stems of the coriander plant used for flavoring Asian and South American dishes. Coriander is the seeds from the plant. Culantro is a relative of cilantro but it has long leaves and is a biennial rather than an annual plant. The leaves of cilantro look more like flat-leaf parsley.

Adobo seasoning– like many seasonings, this is a combination of herbs and spices which makes cooking more convenient since you won’t have to measure each separately. Adobo seasoning usually includes salt, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, dried oregano, cumin, garlic powder, and chili powder. You can make this at home by mixing 2 tablespoons of salt, 1 tablespoon of paprika, and then experimenting with 1-1 1/2 teaspoons of the other seasonings.

Poblano and jalapeno peppers– A poblano pepper is larger and milder than a jalapeno pepper but hotter than a banana pepper which is longer and lighter in color than a jalapeno. Depending on your threshold for the heat you can choose which peppers and how much to use in a recipe. If you don’t like heat at all, you can use bell peppers for a sweeter taste

Chorizo– Spanish sausage made with pork and hot paprika. Usually the Spanish cure this sausage so you don’t need to cook it before eating. The Spanish use chorizo to flavor many dishes in Latin American cooking.

Yield: 4

Spanish Arroz con Pollo Recipe (Spanish Chicken and Rice Recipe)

how to make arroz con pollo

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2-3 pounds of frying chicken pieces
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 30 ounces chicken broth
  • 1 chopped bell pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 cups uncooked rice
  • 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 large diced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • green olives with pimentos
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Begin by sprinkling chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Then brown them in a large skillet in the oil.
  2. Once chicken pieces are browned, remove them from the skillet and place them on paper towels to drain.
  3. Meanwhile, cook onions, peppers, garlic, and rice in the oil until oil is absorbed and the rice is coated.
  4. After that, stir in the broth, cumin, saffron, and tomatoes.
  5. Arrange chicken pieces on top of the rice and bring to a boil.
  6. When liquids are boiling, lower the heat, and cover the pan.
  7. Simmer for about 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked and rice is tender.
  8. Garnish with olives to serve.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1204Total Fat: 47gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 33gCholesterol: 402mgSodium: 1379mgCarbohydrates: 90gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 99g

The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors, so is not guaranteed to be accurate.

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