Easy Arroz con Pollo made with chicken thighs, long-grain white rice, Mexican seasonings and green peas! This classic chicken and rice dish is a family favorite that you’ll make over and over for years to come.
Arroz con Pollo (or chicken and rice) is the ultimate one-pot dinner that’s perfect to make any night of the week. It’s one of those Latin American dishes that everyone and their mom has their own version of. And I can’t blame them!
Chicken and rice is just the perfect classic combo that once you learn how to make it, it’ll be in your family for generations.
This version is my own Mexican take on the dish. The rice is similar to my Mom’s Authentic Mexican Rice and the seasoning on the chicken includes some Mexican favorites likes chili powder, ground cumin and dried oregano.
How to Make Arroz con Pollo
To infuse as much flavor as possible into the chicken, start by marinating it for at least 30 minutes in a mixture of olive oil, white wine vinegar, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, ground coriander, salt, dried oregano and ground cumin.
Next, brown the chicken on both sides until the skin crisps up and is golden brown.
In the same pan with all the same oil used to cook the chicken, saute some diced onions and bell peppers until softened.
Then add some garlic, salt and rice and cook for 1 more minute to really infuse that garlic flavor into the veggies and rice. I use long-grain white rice, but you could also use basmati rice.
Next, add in some tomato paste, water and a touch more salt. Mix it all up until the tomato paste has completely dissolved. The water should have a red tint to it.
Last but not least, add in the browned chicken thighs (see substitutions below) and bring the water to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes.
To add a bit of color and veggies to the mix, I like to add in 1 cup of frozen peas and then fluff them into the rice using a fork. Not only does it look beautiful, but it provides a nice fresh contrast of veggie-liciousness to the savory chicken and rice.
If you (or your children) don’t like peas, feel free to leave them out.
That’s it! The juices and marinade from the chicken cook together with the rice and infuses the whole pot with so much flavor, it’s addicting.
To add a bit more color and some bright citrus notes, I like garnishing the final dish with some chopped cilantro and limes wedges.
Recipe Tips and Variations
- Don’t have white wine vinegar for the chicken marinade? You can use the juice of 1 lime instead.
- You can use any cut of chicken that you want – drumsticks, breasts, wings, thighs, whatever you have!
- I love the flavor of arroz con pollo when the skin is left on the chicken, but you can lighten it up by using boneless skinless thighs if you prefer.
- If you love spicy food, you can use serrano peppers or jalapenos peppers instead of green bell peppers.
I hope you love this recipe – be sure to give it a review below! To get more easy Mexican recipes delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for my email newsletter. You can also follow Isabel Eats on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest!
For the chicken
- 6 chicken thighs (either skin-on or skinless, whichever you prefer)
- 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (or lime juice)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (Mexican oregano preferred)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
For the rice
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
- 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice, rinsed and drained
- 3 1/4 cups water (or chicken broth)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- chopped cilantro and lime wedges, for garnish
- In a large freezer bag (or bowl), add chicken, 3 tablespoons olive oil, white wine vinegar, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, ground coriander, salt, oregano and cumin. Seal the bag and toss until everything is completely coated with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.
- Heat a large saute pan/deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken thighs to the pan skin-side down and cook for about 6 minutes per side, until skin is is crispy and golden.
- Transfer the chicken onto a plate and cook the remaining chicken the same way. The chicken won't be fully cooked yet – that's okay. It will continue cooking with the rice later.
- In the same pan using the oil that's already in there, add the diced onions and bell peppers. Cook for 5 minutes until onions have softened and are translucent.
- Add the garlic and rice. Saute for 1 minute until garlic is fragrant and rice begins to brown slightly.
- Add the water, tomato paste and salt, Stir together to combine until the tomato paste has fully dissolved.
- Add the browned chicken thighs to the pan skin-side up and bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes until the rice is fully cooked through and the chicken registers an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a clean plate. Add the frozen peas to the rice and fluff them in using a fork. The rice will be hot enough to thaw the peas out completely.
- Serve the arroz con pollo immediately with a garnish of chopped cilantro and lime wedges.