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Arroz con pollo or chicken rice

Arroz con pollo recipe

Arroz con pollo –literally rice with chicken – is another one of those meals that I crave when I want a good home cooked meal. Each person’s version of that home cooked meal varies based on their personal experiences. I’m sure that you can remember the smell and the taste of the dish you crave, and of course the pleasure that you feel when you take the first bite is similar for everyone.

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Why is it that those cravings usually show up right when you’re surrounded by every possible choice -food wise- except for the food you really crave? I could go on forever about my theories on food cravings, but back to arroz con pollo, which again like so many other Latin / South American / Ecuadorian dishes has many variations from one country, region, city, or home to another.  The ingredients, besides the rice and chicken, will differ from one family’s recipe to another or simply based on what one has available in their refrigerator or pantry.

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There are also different preparation methods for arroz con pollo or chicken rice, one of the typical ways to make chicken rice is to first poach or boil the chicken until tender, then remove the meat, while separately cooking the rice in the broth where the chicken was cooked, and later combining all the parts together.

The other method – which I used for this recipe – is to sauté the chicken pieces with the vegetables and then add the rice and broth or beer/wine and cook everything together until the chicken and rice are cooked. I prefer to prepare the arroz con pollo this way because I like the way all the flavors concentrate together, also the first method – cooking the rice and chicken separately – is more of what I consider a chaulafan de pollo than arroz con pollo. Chaulafan de pollo is an Ecuadorian version of chicken fried rice and it is also a great dish.

This chicken rice is a great dish for satisfying hungry people – including a hungry husband’s need for carbs after a long run. I like to serve it with the typical side dishes that accompany many other South American meals: curtido de cebollas or pickled onions, fried ripe plantains, avocado slices and a good hot sauce or aji.

Chicken rice {Arroz con pollo}

Arroz con pollo, or chicken rice, is a delicious Latin American dish of chicken and rice cooked with onions, tomatoes, peppers, celery, garlic, achiote, cumin, cilantro, among other ingredients.
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Course: Main dish
Cuisine: Ecuadorian, Latin, Latin fusion, South American
Keyword: Arroz con pollo, Chicken, Chicken rice, Rice, Rice with chicken
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 3 lbs chicken assorted pieces
  • 1 tbs achiote powder
  • 1 tbs ground cumin
  • ½ tbs ground coriander
  • 10 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2-3 tbs oil or butter
  • 1 white onion diced, about 2 cups
  • 2 celery stalks finely diced
  • 4 roma tomatoes peeled and diced
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 1 cup beer or white wine
  • 1 ½-2 cups water or broth adjust as needed (in altitude or with a larger grain rice you will need more liquid)
  • 2 cups rice
  • 2 medium carrots diced
  • 1 cup peas fresh or frozen
  • 3 tbs finely chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper


  • Mix the crushed garlic, achiote, cumin, coriander and salt together.
  • Rub the garlic seasoning on the chicken pieces.
  • Heat the oil or butter on medium high heat in large sauté pan, add the chicken pieces (skin side down) and cook until browned on each side.
  • Add the diced onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, and celery, mix well and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add 1 cup of beer or white wine, cook for about 20-25 minutes over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half, stir frequently.
  • Add the broth or water, rice, peas and carrots, mix well.
  • Cover and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to very low and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  • Stir in the chopped cilantro.
  • Serve with maduros fritos, a small salad or lime pickled onions, avocado slices, and hot sauce on the side.
How to make arroz con pollo

Step by step preparation photos for arroz con pollo or chicken rice

Mix the crushed garlic, achiote, cumin, coriander and salt
Rub the seasoning mix on the chicken
Cook the chicken until browned on each side
Browning chicken for arroz con pollo
Add the diced veggies
Add the beer or wine
Add the broth, rice, peas and carrots
Preparing arroz con pollo or chicken rice
Homemade arroz con pollo
Easy and delicious arroz con pollo
Arroz con pollo with side dishes
Arroz con pollo or Latin style rice with chicken
Arroz con pollo or chicken rice
Arroz con pollo or chicken rice
Arroz con pollo or rice with chicken recipe

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  1. This is FABULOUS!!!!! I’ve made this 3 times already and making it for dinner tonight again! I like to stir in sliced pimento at the end as well. Delicious! Thanks, Laylita! Your recipes are wonderful!

  2. Laylita , thanks so much for this website . Being an Ecuadorian -American I have grown up with a lot of these wonderful recipes en casa with my mom. However when I ask her for recipes directions all she says is” oh mi hija , use a little bit of this and that ” and never gives me measurements which has ended up in bland or way tooo salty food . But ever since I found your recipes I finally cook food the real ecuadorian way! My husband has never been happier , thank you so much for all these wonderful recipes !

  3. Hi Laylita, do you marinate the chicken first, or you brown it right away? Great recipies by the way. My husband loves your bean stew recipe. Thanks so much!!

  4. Wow!! What a great dish, it was fantastic. Just got back from my first trip to Ecuador a few weeks ago. I looking forward to trying many more of your recipes.

  5. This was d-i-v-i-n-e! I served it with plantains, avocado, your aji crillo recommendation. I also made plain white rice (Ecuadorian style) which I actually preferred over that cooked with the pollo. Next time, and there will certainly be many next times, I will make the rice separately.

    I’m looking forward to trying many more of your recipes!

    Thanks so much for sharing!!!

  6. I made this a few days ago and it was a success!! I make arroz con pollo in a different way, but your recipe is easier, faster, and has almost the same taste! I dont use cumin in my personal recipe, but I found it is good.

  7. Where do you buy achiote powder? I’ve looked for it at several grocery stores in the ethnic food aisle and in the spice aisle but can’t find it.

    I usually find it in the Latin grocery stores, you might also be able to find it online.

  8. Hi,

    I’m going to cook your Arroz con pollo on Saturday for friends coming here for the Ireland v England rugby match. Can’t get achiote here, just wondering what I can use as a substitute. Your help would be much appreciated. FYI, it’s St Patrick’s day here. Lots of parades going on all over the country and it’s not raining, for a change !

    Slan (Irish for goodbye)

    You use paprika instead, it will add the same color, but the taste will be slightly different.

    1. If you can’t find achiote you can substitute annatto. I usually use sazon in a pinch which most grocery store carry. My recipe came out great.
      Thanks Laylita

      Achiote and annatto are the same thing – you can find it ground or the whole seeds (which you can simmer in oil/butter/lard to get the essence and color infused into the oil).

  9. Ohhhh Laylita… All I can say is you are one talented chica!

    I just prepared this and it is sooo awsome! I think it is a new favorite for me.


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