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Learn all about gandules! What they taste like, how to prepare them, and how to use them in authentic Caribbean recipes like arroz con gandules.

What Are Gandules?

Gandules (also called pigeon peas or Congo peas) are a staple Caribbean ingredient native to India and Africa. The name “pigeon peas” comes from the fact that they were once used to feed pigeons in Barbados.

They’re small beans with a nutty flavor, used primarily in rice dishes or stews. Think of them as bean substitutes for your favorite recipes, but with a Caribbean twist. In fact, one of Puerto Rico’s national dishes, arroz con gandules, is full of them.

Thawed gandules in a bowl.

What Do They Taste Like?

Aside from their signature nuttiness, the taste of gandules can also be described as slightly ashy, smokey, or even a tiny bit tangy at the end. They’re similar to mung beans, with the same kind of mild earthiness. Texture-wise, they’re quite crisp, like nuts.

Thawed gandules in a bowl.

Are Pigeon Peas Healthy For You?

Absolutely! Like all legumes, pigeon peas are loaded with vitamins and minerals. They help prevent anemia, help maintain blood pressure, promote heart health, support the digestive system, and are a supplement for Type 2 diabetes. Gandules are also a good source of plant-based protein, vitamin A, vitamin B-6, calcium, potassium, etc. They’re an easy way to incorporate new sources of nutrients into your diet.

Where to Find Them

Gandules are usually found in the imported section or Caribbean/Latino aisle in most supermarkets. You can buy them fresh, canned, frozen, or dried. If you can’t get a hold of them, you can always order them online.

Thawed pigeon peas in a bowl.

Ways to Use Gandules

Pigeon peas are an amazing ingredient to incorporate into your Caribbean-style meals. If you’ve never tried them, I recommend trying Arroz con Gandules first. After all, it’s what this ingredient is most known for. For a heartier but equally healthy variation of arroz con gandules, you can add a bit of Pernil (slow-roasted pork shoulder) on top.

Adding them to casseroles or stews like my Puerto Rican Beef Sancocho is also a great idea! Always read the package instructions to know how long you should cook them before adding them to a dish or if the cooking time and liquid in your recipe need to be adjusted in order to cook everything together.

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For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.