Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas)

We first learned of this Puerto Rican mainstay from Chef Daisy Martinez in her PBS program, Daisy Cooks!. Her description, and the unknown to me ingredient of achiote oil, led us to give it a try. The result has kept it in our cooking repertoire.

The original recipe called for a nice piece of pork or smoke turkey wings to help flavor the dish. My version is vegetarian and doesn’t seem to be missing a thing.

Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas)
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes


  • ½ cup Achiote Oil (see notes)
  • 1 cup Sofrito
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3 cups long grain rice
  • 1 14-ounce bag frozen pigeon peas or a 15-ounce can pigeon peas, drained and rinsed
  • 6 cups vegetable broth


  1. Heat the achiote oil in a heavy Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering. Stir in the sofrito, olives, salt, pepper and cumin. Cook the sofrito until the liquid evaporates and the mixture starts to sizzle, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the rice and mix to combine with the sofrito mixture. Cook for 2 minutes, stir, cook for two more minutes.
  3. Add the pigeon peas and broth. Stir once and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and cook until the water is aborsed, about 20 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and remove the pot from the burner. Place a clean dish towel between the lid and the top of the pot; this will absorb excess moisture that would otherwise drip back onto your rice.
  5. When ready to serve fluff the rice then give it a taste; adjust salt and pepper as desired.

Achiote oil is made from annatto seeds and olive or vegetable oil. Place 1 Tbsp. annato seeds in a small skillet along with 1/2 cup olive oil. Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes until the oil is stained red. Drain the seeds before using. You can store achiote oil in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Sofrito is a cooking base used in Latin American, Spanish and Portugese cuisine. I have a recipe for my version somewhere here.

We’ve used both the frozen and canned pigeon peas. The canned ones are salted so rinse well and reduce the kosher salt to 2 Tbsp. You can always add more salt at the end however it’s rather difficult to take it away from the finished product.

1 thought on “Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas)

  1. Pingback: Saturday night – 02/24/2018 | Afterlife Cafe

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