5 Unique Qualities of Arroz con Gandules

Many countries have a rich tradition of eating rice and beans, and there are about as many different versions of this versatile, healthful meal as there are people who cook them!

In New Orleans there are red beans and rice, mujadara reigns supreme in Lebanon, and Cuba loves its black beans with rice. In Puerto Rican cuisine, it’s arroz con gandules.

What Is Arroz con Gandules

Arroz means rice, and gandules refers to pigeon peas, which are small, round beans that pack a nutritional punch. When you combine these ingredients along with sofrito, the island’s most popular seasoning, you have yourself Puerto Rico’s loved national dish.

Whether you are a newcomer to this pairing or you’ve grown up eating arroz con gandules alongside your pernil, there are some unique benefits to this dish. Read on to learn all about them!

1. Arroz Con Gandules is Easy to Prepare

Ask any native Puerto Rican, and they will likely claim that their Abuela’s arroz con gandules is the best. And while recipes handed down through the generations will always have a special appeal, the truth is that even the most amateur attempt at arroz con gandules is going to taste great.

This is also a one-pot dish. The rice is cooked in broth with seasonings, and then the gandules are added and heated through. This makes cleanup a snap — so you can get started munching on your delicious meal ASAP!

2. Arroz Con Gandules Is Flavorful

One of the hallmarks of arroz con gandules is its seasoning. Many cooks use a product called Sazon, which consists of turmeric, coriander, annatto, garlic powder, and oregano. Some recipes call for bacon or another type of pork fat as seasoning.

It is also typical for arroz con gandules recipes to include sofrito, a staple of Puerto Rican cooking made from bell peppers, garlic, tomato, cilantro, and onion. As you can imagine, this provides tons of flavor!

3. An Inexpensive Way to Feed A Crowd

Feeding a big family? Want a tried-and-true potluck dish? Or do you like to cook large batches of food, then pack it for lunch every day? Arroz con gandules has got you covered.

Rice is one of the most inexpensive foods around, especially if you buy in bulk. A large bag of it will run you a couple of bucks, tops, and pigeon peas are pretty cheap, too. Making your own homemade sazon and sofrito will bring the cost down even further.

4. A Healthy Meal That Fills You Up

Gandules are loaded with fiber and protein. With the exception of a little oil used to cook the sofrito, it’s virtually fat-free. Arroz con gandules is naturally gluten-free as well as being fairly low in calories.

Leave out the pork fat, and arroz con gandules is vegan, too.

One way to make this dish even healthier is to substitute brown rice for the white. With all the other flavors, you probably won’t even notice the difference.

5. A Versatile Dish

Rice is often thought of as a side dish, and arroz con gandules pairs wonderfully with meat. Try it alongside grilled or roasted chicken, beef, or the slow-roasted pork shoulder known as pernil.

Yet arroz con gandules makes a satisfying main dish, too. If you like it hot, a liberal dose of hot sauce applied to your portion will amp up its impact on your taste buds even more.

How To Make Arroz con Gandules



  1. Heat a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook the bacon until crispy, remove bacon from pan and set aside leaving the drippings in the pan.
  2. Add sofrito, oregano and sazón to the drippings, cook about 4 minutes. Add rice to the pan to toast it until just beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Stirring frequently.
  3. Stir in pigeon peas, tomato sauce, olives, capers and water. Stir rice once to combine, do not stir more than once or the rice will become sticky. Bring rice mixture to a boil. Cook, uncovered, until water is evaporated, about 10 minutes. Gently stir rice from bottom up.
  4. Lower heat to low and cook, covered, until rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat. Add crispy bacon and fluff rice with fork. Cover pan and let stand for 5 minutes.
Plate of arroz con gandules on wooden table
Arroz con Gandules, Puerto Rico’s National Dish

Getting Hungry?

By now, your mouth is probably watering for some delicious arroz con gandules and as well as many other Puerto Rican dishes!

If so, visit our online store and shop for Puerto Rican foods and drinks today! Or check out our Puerto Rican recipe section for some other great dishes to try.

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