Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas)


After years of frustrating, obsessive experimentation, this recipe has reached perfection. It’s not just the ingredients, but also the tools used that make it all come together.  My favorite Latin side dish. Add chicken or ham bits to make it a meal!  Take the extra time to make the sofrito and freeze it in ice cube trays – it’s worth it. (Instant Pot method included!)



Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20-30 minutes
Serves: 4 – 6

Stovetop Method

⅛ cup of Canola Oil (enough to coat the bottom)
1 heaping tablespoon of Sofrito (use Goya frozen sofrito or make your own – recipe below)
1 heaping tablespoon of tomato sauce
1 Sazon packet
2 tsp cumin powder
½ tablespoon salt or to taste
2 cups of medium grain rice RINSED (River brand is great)
2 ¼ cups water
Handful Spanish olives with pimentos (If large – slice them up. If small, leave them whole)
1 can of Goya green pigeon peas
Rinse your rice in a metal strainer until water runs clear and set aside to drain. This gets out all the extra starch to make your rice less sticky.
In a cast aluminum pot over medium low heat (ours is an Imusa 3.7 quart), coat the bottom with oil. When oil heats up, add the sofrito, tomato sauce, cumin, and Sazon. Stir to combine and let saute a minute or so.  Add water and salt to taste, and bring it up to a hot simmer. When hot, add rice, pigeon peas and olives. Stir and bring to a boil. When boiling, lower the heat all the way to LOW and cover. Set timer for 11 minutes. No peeking or stirring.
See that dark stripe? That’s pegao!
When time is up, remove the lid. All the gandules have floated to the top. Stirring up from the bottom, mix everything together with a heavy metal spoon – being careful to leave that crunchy bottom layer – that is called the “pegao” and it’s usually fought over at dinner tables across Latin America. Cover the rice again, and let cook for approx 10-12 more minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.





2 big bunches of cilantro (chop off the thick stems)
2 green bell peppers (seeded and cut into large chunks)
2 heads of garlic (peeled into cloves)
1 medium onion (chopped into large chunks)
Olive oil
With a small amount of oil in a blender or processor, grab a little bit of each ingredient and start blending until complete. Sofrito! Freeze into an ice cube tray for the perfect size you’ll need for each batch of rice.

Method for Instant Pot:

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes
Serves: 4 – 6

Update: I tested this recipe in the Instant Pot, and made these adjustments for the perfect pot of rice! You do not need all the oil for a pressured environment, so either use a very small amount, or eliminate it altogether. The water is reduced to 2 cups in this method.

On “Saute” setting, add 1 tsp oil, plus the sofrito, Sazon, tomato Sauce, and cumin. Saute until combined – this will go quickly.

Add the rest of the ingredients, adjusting only the water measurement: 2 cups water, rinsed rice, salt, olives, pigeon peas (plus any meat if you like).

Click the rice setting.

That’s it! Once the timer is done, do a Quick Release.

The extras will float to the top.
After a good mix, your rice is ready.



12 Comments Add yours

  1. Kristy says:

    Do you drain the can of beans?


  2. Yes! Drain the beans. Thanks for that catch.


  3. geekywon says:

    I made this in my Instant Pot tonight and really enjoyed it. I was a little worried since I usually use 2:1 water to rice, and I only had long-grain brown rice, but I increased the time to 22 minutes, and it came out great! Next time I’ll probably make it on the stovetop so we get the pegao (I only got a tiny bit of sticking, and no crunchy brown bits).


  4. Renee says:

    If I don’t have the time to make Sofrito, can I just use a jar of it from
    The grocery store? Is that even the same thing? The stuff from the store seems to be more tomato based.


    1. Hi you’re right it is more tomato based but you can use that. Even better though, is the frozen sofrito from Goya. If you can find that, make that your first substitute.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Rachel says:

    Is it tomato sauce or tomato paste (heaping tablespoon)?


  6. Su Miller says:

    I grew up on this from our neighbors! But ours also had beans and sausage in it. I think we used goya pink beans, so I’ll try adding that along with some sausage meat.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Katie says:

    Hi, For your stovetop recipe – I was thinking of adding chicken thighs to this recipe. How and when would you do that please?


    1. Personally, I’d make them separate and add in at the end. Not sure if you meant bone-in, but that would take longer than the rice would. Just make separately and add at the end. If they were boneless small pieces, you might add them the same time you add the water. ThAt way you know they will cook through.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Princess says:

    Am I assuming correctly that this recipe is for a 6 qt instant pot? I just purchased an instant pot and this recipe will be my first try


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s