Easy Recipes: Puerto Rican Rice (An Authentic Recipe)

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I get emails all the time asking- what is the rice recipe in this picture and that picture. It’s Puerto Rican Rice, baby!

This is a family recipe from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. They taught me how to make it when the twins were little and now it is a regular item on our meal plan. We love it! My husband and kids beg for it.

In the Puerto Rican culture it is called Gandules and Rice. Gandules Verdes are Green Pigeon Peas when translated- they are the shining star of this rice recipe.   You can buy these beans canned. I get them at Target and Kroger all the time. They are on the Latin aisle and made by a brand called Goya.

Here is step by step how we make this recipe. I never measure when I made it, so I am relying on measurements I took long ago with intentions of sharing this with you guys.

There are ingredients listed below that may be new to you, but they are ingredients I use over and over again when I cook Puerto Rican food. I am also providing a link in the ingredient list to each of these items so you know what you are looking for the next time you go to the store. (These ingredients are cheaper at the grocery store then listed on Amazon.) Also at the end of this recipe I will share other dinner ideas to use some of the unique items.

how to make puerto rican rice

Baked Puerto Rican Chicken and Authentic Puerto Rican Rice

This is so easy to make and very inexpensive. Your family will love it.


  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed (or a big heaping spoonful of the minced jarred stuff)
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 1 pkt of Sazon
  • 1 T Adobo
  • 2 T Sofrito (you can buy this frozen, jarred or make it yourself from scratch)
  • 5-6 green olives and a couple of splashes of the olive juice
  • 1 (15 oz)  can Gandules beans, undrained
  • 3/4 of a 2 lb bag of white rice (NOT MINUTE RICE)
  • 4 c water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Get a large pot like what you would cook soup in.

Put the heat at medium.

Pour in the olive oil.

olive oil

Add in the garlic, Sazon, Adobo and salt and pepper.

use sazon garlic pepper for puerto rican rice

Add in the Sofrito.

add safrito

Pour in some green olive juice. I like a good 3 tablespoons or so. Excellent flavor.

Let 5-6 olives fall into your pot.


add a couple of green olives and olive juice

Pour in the small can of tomato sauce.

add tomato sauce

Dump in the can of beans, juices and all.


Bring it to a boil.

add a can of gandules beans

Kick up the heat to high and bring it to a boil.

Stir occasionally, you do not want it to stick or burn.

(Pardon the steam.)

bring the mixture to a boil over high heat

Add in the white rice.


Get that rice coated in the tomato mixture.

homemade puerto rican rice

Add the water.

(When I was taught to make this I was not told measurements. I was told to add about this much of the bag of rice and about this much water until the rice flows at this consistency when stirring it.)

Stir well.

Bring to a final boil still on high, stirring occasionally. You do not want this to burn.

Once the mixture is at a final boil, pop the lid on it and reduce to simmer.

Leave it alone for 25-30 minutes.

add water to the rice

When you take the lid off this is what it will look like.

The water is gone and all of the beans and olives have surfaced to the top.

Stir it up.

There is a hard crust of rice at the bottom of the pot. It is not burned. My husband loves this crust.

(Excuse the steam again.)

puerto rican rice

Plate it up.

We love this with Baked Puerto Rican Chicken, which also uses the Adobo and Sazon.

Look at that!

how to make authentic puerto rican rice

We use leftovers on nachos inside burritos, along side our tacos, etc.


Another recipe that uses the Sofrito, Sazon and Adobo is Puerto Rican Stew– again an authentic recipe.

More Recipes:

Easy Recipes: Puerto Rican Rice (An Authentic Recipe)

Easy Recipes: Puerto Rican Rice (An Authentic Recipe)

This recipe is so flavorful and super easy to make too!


  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed (or a big heaping spoonful of the minced jarred stuff)
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 1 pkt of Sazon
  • 1 T Adobo
  • 2 T Sofrito (you can buy this frozen, jarred or make it yourself from scratch)
  • 5-6 green olives and a couple of splashes of the olive juice
  • 1 (15 oz) can Gandules beans, undrained
  • 3/4 of a 2 lb bag of white rice (NOT MINUTE RICE)
  • 4 c water
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large pot on the stove top, heat the oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the garlic, Sazon, Adobo, and salt and pepper.
  3. Add in the olive juice and Sofrito. A few olives are ok to go in the pot as well.
  4. Pour in the small can f tomato sauce and the can of beans and bring everything to a boil.
  5. Add in the rice and rest of the water give things a good stir to combine.
  6. Once rapidly boiling, cover and reduce the heat to simmer things for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not open the lid.
  7. Once time is up uncover and stir. There will be a crust at the bottom of the pan that is so good too!
  8. Serve it up!


  1. Not that I would know but… I had no idea that your husband was Puerto Rican! I love Puerto Rican food. I used to visit a lot when I lived in the Caribbean. Just looking at the picture brings back memories. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Lisa- you’re funny.

      Yes ma’am my husband is Puerto Rican. His father and mother are both Puerto Rican and his mother has some Italian as well.

      My husband and his mom are olive complected. One of our twins looks a lot like them with the dark hair and the olive skin. The rest of us (including my father-in-law) are pale with lighter hair.

      I guess we are a real melting pot. 🙂

  2. Pegao, that’s what the crust is called. That’s the best part. 🙂 My recipe is similar but I add more to it like capers, oregano, diced onion and meat. MMMM, wonder if I have gandules in the pantry

    1. Melinda- my mother -in-law ans sister-in-law have been know to add pork chops or chicken to theirs while it is cooking. I have actually never done that, but should.

      I have served it with shredded cooked chicken on top though….. delish!

  3. My mouth is watering…

    My parents were stationed in San Juan for a time when I was young. Some of my favorite memories are from Puerto Rico. Such a beautiful place with the best food!

    Thank you for sharing your family recipe. xo

  4. My hubby is Puerto Rican too. Love this rice! We went to Puerto Rico for our honeymoon and can’t wait to take the kids.

  5. Your recipe is fabulous and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday. Have a great weekend and come back soon!
    Miz Helen

  6. What ounce can do you mean by a “small can of tomato sauce”? I’m just trying to avoid a disaster lol

  7. Just made this for my husband who is from PR and he was pretty impressed! He actually said it rivaled his moms. I’ve had a hard time making rice before cause no one has an actual recipe (it’s all by feeling or an inch of this and that until the color changes etc.). So happy I found this, thank you!

  8. Im puerto rican and dont know how to make rice hopefully i wont be a fail im going to try this but put viana sausages into it. Hopefully my husband and his family loves it. We are all puerto rican in this house

  9. Catherine says:

    Thank you for all the tips. I made a batch of Sofrito, smells so good! I made the Sazon. And bought some Adobo. Followed your method to a Tee. You can tell it’s a heritage recipe. I am serving on the side with grilled pork. Now I have Sofrito for a crowd!.

  10. Excellent authentic recipe! Everyone who’s tried my rice is begging for the recipe. Do you happen to have an authentic Puerto Rican pasteles recipe. If so, I’d love to give it a try.

  11. Carmen Molina says:

    Crystal you have a beautiful family. I was born in New York City, and I’m the grandaughter of a WWI U.S army veteran from Puerto Rico. I too enjoy cooking. My mom taught me how to cook puertorican food. As to your recipe, you forgot the ham flavor. Also, you might want to add “alcaparrado.” This is known as the olive’s cousin. Also, if you use sazon with culantro and achiote, you do not have to pour a whole can of tomato sauce. Another thing that I do to make my rice tastier is that instead of water to cook the rice I use chicken stock that comes in a container. I get it from Walmart. If done this way, the arroz con gandules tastes “delicioso.” By the way I too have spanish and Italian ancestry as well as your husband. Happy cooking!!!

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