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Arroz Con Pollo

4 from 1 vote
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Arroz con pollo is a classic Latin American dish that’s simple enough to make for a weeknight dinner! It’s packed with flavor thanks to saffron, tomatoes, red bell pepper, and sliced green olives. 

Overhead view of arroz con pollo in skillet

I appreciate how every culture seems to have a chicken and rice dish. It’s classic and it’s pure comfort food! I guess it makes sense because rice and chicken are two versatile ingredients and with a little bit of seasoning and spice, you’re bound to have a delicious creation! It makes for great leftovers too, as everything reheats so well.

I first had arroz con pollo at a Spanish restaurant with some friends. I remember thinking, okay, chicken and rice—that seems like it can’t be hard to mess up. I’ve also just heard about it a lot in Latin American cuisine that I was dying to try it for myself.

Let’s just say it did not disappoint! I gobbled it all up and I finally knew how great arroz con pollo was and why it is a traditional staple dish of Latin America.

What Is Arroz Con Pollo?

Arroz con pollo means rice with chicken and it is a one-pot dish originating from Latin America and Spain. It is most often compared to paella because it resembles it, but it’s slightly different.

Many Latin American countries have different ways of making it. Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans, all have their own spin on arroz con pollo.

Overhead view of arroz con pollo in bowl with fork

What You’ll Need

Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

  • Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs – Other cuts can be used, but chicken thighs are preferred because of their higher fat content and flavor.
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Yellow onion
  • Red bell peppers – Yellow or orange can be used instead, or you can use a combination of colors.
  • Canned diced tomatoes
  • Saffron
  • Short-grain rice – Short-grain rice is starchier than long-grain rice, which is exactly what you want for arroz con pollo.
  • Chicken stock – You can use store-bought or homemade chicken stock.
  • Spanish green olives
  • Frozen peas

Is There a Cheaper Substitute for Saffron?

Saffron is quite expensive, and if you don’t cook with it often, it’s understandable that you might not want to buy it for this recipe. The most readily-available substitute is ground turmeric, but note that the taste is different, so you won’t really get that authentic arroz con pollo experience.

Overhead view of arroz con pollo in bowl with forkful of chicken

How to Make Arroz Con Pollo

Here’s what you’ll need to do to make arroz con pollo at home!

Prepare the chicken. Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels, then season both sides with salt and pepper.

Cook the chicken. Set a large, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat and add the olive oil. Place the chicken thighs into the skillet with the skin side down and sear until crispy and browned, about 7 minutes. Cook the other side for another 7 minutes, then transfer the chicken to a plate.

Start the rice. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and bell peppers. Sauté until the vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the diced tomatoes, saffron, rice, and chicken stock. Cover the pot and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, stirring frequently.

Finish. Stir the olives and frozen peas into the pot; cook until the peas are warmed through, then add the chicken back to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Overhead view of arroz con pollo in skillet

Tips for Success

These hints and tips will help you make perfect arroz con pollo.

  • Adding the chicken. If the chicken is still raw near the bone, you might want to add it just before the rice is done so it has time to finish cooking through.
  • Stir frequently. Skip the stirring and the rice will stick to the bottom of the pot!
  • Make it your own. You can omit the olives or peas if you don’t like them, use fresh tomatoes from your garden, add smoked paprika—don’t be afraid to experiment with different add-ins, herbs, and spices!

Serving Suggestions

Arroz con pollo is really a one-dish meal, but you can stretch it out by pairing it with:

Overhead view of arroz con pollo in bowls

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

You can store leftover arroz con pollo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat it in the microwave or in a covered skillet with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking.

Can I Freeze This Recipe?

Yes, you can freeze arroz con pollo for up to 2 months. Place it in a freezer bag or airtight container and let it thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.

Overhead view of arroz con pollo in bowl with fork

Arroz Con Pollo

A quick and easy weeknight dish that will be a winner on your dinner table! This arroz con pollo skillet dish has incredible amounts of flavor.
4 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Julie Chiou
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  • 4 large chicken bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 15 ounce (425 g) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 cups (370 g) short-grain rice
  • 3 cups (710 ml) chicken stock
  • ½ cup (68 g) sliced and pitted Spanish green olives
  • cup (97 g) frozen peas
  • Additional salt and pepper, to taste

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.


  • Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels then season both sides with salt and pepper.
  • In a large, heavy-bottom pot, heat up olive oil over high heat. Place chicken thighs into skillet, skin side down and sear until skin is crispy and browned, about 7 minutes. Then flip and cook the other side, another 7 minutes. Remove chicken and let rest on a plate.
  • Reduce heat to medium then add onion and bell peppers. Sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, saffron threads, rice, and chicken stock. Stir to incorporate then cover pot and reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently so rice doesn't stick to bottom of pot.
  • Continue to cook until all liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked through. About 25-30 minutes, depending on the type of rice you have. Add the olives and frozen peas and stir to incorporate and cook until peas are warmed through.
  • Add the chicken back in to the pot when rice is just about done to heat through the chicken and finish cooking, if it is still slightly raw near the bone.
  • Season rice with salt and pepper then serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

You can store leftover arroz con pollo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat it in the microwave or in a covered skillet with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking.


Serving: 0.25 of recipe | Calories: 726 kcal | Carbohydrates: 91 g | Protein: 32 g | Fat: 31 g | Fiber: 10 g | Sugar: 10 g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: chicken dinner, easy chicken recipe, easy weeknight dinners
Recipe Rating


Tuesday 19th of February 2019

Way more than 4 servings haha. We used all the chicken (2 dinners and 2 lunches) and will be able to get 2 more dinners out of the leftover rice mixture. I think it'll go well with some chorizo! Had to leave out the saffron because it's so expensive and it was definitely missing *something* as a result, but still delicious!

Laura K

Tuesday 6th of June 2017

This looks great but with my kids I hate using anything on the bone bc if they find a piece they won't eat the rest again, ever. I don't even know if the store has boneless skin-on thighs but if they don't how should this be adjusted for boneless skinless ones? Could we do breasts with this instead too? Thanks.


Wednesday 7th of June 2017

Yes, you can definitely do breasts, too. It just might be slightly more dry. For boneless, skinless thighs, you can do same amount of cooking time (and they definitely have them at the store; at least mine always does!)


Wednesday 22nd of March 2017

I have it cooking now - almost done. I've already "sampled" the rice several times - its really good! I added some diced jalapeno for just a little bit of heat, but otherwise made as directed. Thanks!


Tuesday 15th of November 2016

Why can't I copy this recipe


Tuesday 15th of November 2016

I am not quite sure what you are talking about. I was able to do it just now. Could you please elaborate what exactly you are trying to do and are you on a mobile phone or desktop computer?

Kevin @ Closet Cooking

Thursday 10th of November 2016

What a tasty looking one-pan meal!