This authentic arroz con pollo recipe features spicy, juicy chicken thighs and fluffy, tender yellow rice that is packed with veggies. With each bite bursting with fresh flavor, this Mexican chicken and rice will become a new family favorite!
Why You’ll Love This Arroz con Pollo Recipe
This arroz con pollo recipe will be the star of all your Mexican-themed meals!
- Authentic: Although this recipe is a step up from regular Mexican rice or arroz con gandules, it’s just as traditional with authentic fresh Mexican flavors and earthy seasonings.
- Juicy: The chicken comes out perfectly seasoned from a dry spice rub, with crispy skin and tender, juicy meat all served over tender rice and vegetables.
- Prep-friendly: Blend the sauce, cook the chicken, and soak the rice in advance so that you just need to combine everything in the pan throughout the week.
- Simple: The flavors might be Mexican, but this recipe is no different to making any rice and chicken dish. Just steam the rice, brown the chicken, and combine them!
- Hearty: Loaded with veggies for nutrients, rice for carbs, and chicken for protein, this rice dish is super well-balanced, healthy, and will keep you full for the rest of the day.
What Is Arroz con Pollo?
Arroz con pollo is a traditional Latin American dish that slightly resembles paella or Jambalaya because it’s a mix of ingredients, mostly “chicken and rice” which is what the name of the dish means. There are different variations of it, but this recipe is for the Mexican version.
It consists of regular Mexican rice loaded with veggies like carrots, peas, and sweet corn. Once it’s halfway through the cooking time, it’s topped with chicken seasoned with a smokey, spicy rub. The lid is then placed on the pan and the rice is left to finish cooking together with the chicken. This Mexican chicken and rice is traditionally served for lunch or dinner.
Time to hit the spice cabinet! For full ingredient amounts and directions, scroll to the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Roma Tomatoes: Roma tomatoes are meaty tomatoes and make a great tomato sauce. You can use heirloom tomatoes if you remove most of the seeds.
- Garlic Cloves: Fresh is best, but you can swap it for 2 teaspoons garlic powder.
- Jalapeño: Feel free to leave it out.
- Oregano: I like to use Mexican oregano, but regular oregano will work in a pinch.
For the Chicken
- Vegetable Oil: Corn and canola oil are great swaps. No olive oil please.
- Chicken Thighs: Or chicken breasts, I like to use bone-in chicken to ensure it’s extra juicy.
- Onion Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Paprika: Use your favorite kind, smoked or regular.
- Ground Cumin
- Cayenne Pepper: Skip this if you’re not a fan of heat.
- Black Pepper
For the Rice
- White Rice: I use long grain white rice.
- Water: Feel free to use chicken broth or veggie stock for more flavor.
- Vegetable Oil
- Onion: Use white or yellow onion.
- Sweet Corn
- Bay Leaf
How to Make Arroz con Pollo
Arroz con pollo is just like making your favorite rice but adding juicy seasoned chicken on top and letting it steam together so the flavors of both combine. Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for more detailed instructions.
- Sauce: Add all of the sauce ingredients to the blender. Process it until smooth. Set it aside.
- Season: Mix the oil and chicken in a large bowl. Sprinkle in all of the spices, salt, and pepper. Rub them into the chicken. Set it aside.
- Sear: Cook the chicken thighs for a couple minutes on each side, until you get a good sear. You should not fully cook them at this point. Remove them from the heat and set them aside.
- Rinse & Soak: Wash the rice and strain it until the water is almost clear. This is an important step, don’t skip it! Place the rice in a bowl, cover it with hot water, and let it soak.
- Veggies: Place the veggies in the pan and cook them until softened. Stir. Add the bay leaf and reduce the heat.
- Add The Rice: Strain the rice and add it to the pan. Mix it with the veggies and spread it out. Let it cook for a couple minutes. Stir and repeat this step until the rice is golden brown.
- Simmer: Pour in some of the blended sauce. Stir to combine and let simmer, uncovered for a bit.
- Cover: Place the chicken on top of the rice and cover the pan with the lid. Reduce the heat and let the rice cook is tender. Remove it from the heat.
- Serve: Remove the chicken thighs from the pan. Use a fork to fluff up the rice. Return the chicken. Serve immediately and enjoy.
Tips & Variations
Make your life easier, and more flavorful, with these easy tips to help guarantee success with this arroz con pollo recipe!
- Shred The Chicken: In case you’ve got picky eaters at home, shred the chicken and mix it into the rice before serving. You can also use the leftover chicken to make tacos!
- Don’t Overcook Chicken: Make sure you do not overcook and dry out your chicken. I highly recommend using an instant read meat thermometer and cooking your chicken thighs just until the reach 170°F to 175°F. If you are using chicken breasts instead, they are done once they reach 165°F.
- Use Frozen Veggies: In case you haven’t gone grocery shopping in a while, you can use frozen or canned veggies for the fresh vegetables. A bag of frozen carrots, peas and corn will work great!
- Heavy Bottomed Pot: For a good sear and even cooking throughout, I highly recommend using a heavy bottomed pot like a cast iron enameled dutch oven.
What to Serve With Mexican Chicken and Rice
Once fully cooled, refrigerate the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. To reheat it, microwave in 30 second bursts, until warmed through. You can also heat it in a pot on the stove top, with the lid on, over medium heat for 7 to 8 minutes, until warmed through.
More Latin Chicken Recipes
- Chicken Taquitos (Taquitos de Pollo)
- Ensalada de Pollo (Mexican Chicken Salad)
- Chicken Tinga (Tinga de Pollo)
- Achiote Chicken
- Mexican Chicken Adobo
- Homemade Chicken Empanadas
Arroz con Pollo
For the sauce:
- 2 medium Roma tomatoes
- 3 large garlic cloves
- ¼ small jalapeño, seeded and stemmed
- ⅔ cup water
- ½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the chicken:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 pounds bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the rice:
- 1 ⅓ cups long grain white rice
- 3 cups hot water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ medium onion, diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- ¼ cup peas
- ¼ cup sweet corn
- 1 bay leaf
- Add all of the sauce ingredients to a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Set aside.
- Add the oil and chicken thighs to a large bowl. Mix well to combine. Sprinkle in the onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, ground cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Use your hands to rub the spices into the chicken. Set it aside.
- Heat a large heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs. Let them cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until you get a good sear. Remove them from the heat and set them aside.
- Wash the rice and strain it through a fine mesh sieve 3 to 4 times, until the water is almost clear. Place the rice in a medium-sized bowl. Pour in the hot water and let it soak for 15 minutes.
- Add the vegetable oil to the same pan you cooked the chicken in. Add the onions and cook them over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until softened. Add the carrots and stir the veggies together. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the peas and corn. Stir well and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the bay leaf and then reduce the heat to medium.
- Strain the rice and add it to pan. Mix it gently with the veggies and spread it out. Let it cook for 2 minutes. Stir and spread it out again. Let it cook for another 2 minutes. Repeat a third time or until the rice turns golden.
- Pour in 2 1/3 cups of the blended tomato sauce. If it didn't make enough sauce, you can complete it with a little water or chicken stock. Stir gently to combine and let the rice simmer uncovered for 6 to 8 minutes.
- Place the seared chicken on top of the rice and cover the pan with the lid. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the rice cook for another 13 to 18 minutes, until tender. Remove pot from the heat.
- Remove the chicken thighs from the pan. Use a fork to fluff up the rice. Return the chicken to the pan. Serve immediately and enjoy!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.