This arroz con pollo from Costa Rica combines traditional Costa Rican white rice, shredded chicken and traditional Costa Rican spices to make what is arguably one of Costa Rica’s most popular dishes.
Table of contents
About This Recipe
This chicken and rice dish on every menu and can be found at almost any celebration. In fact, arroz con pollo is such a common dish that ticos have dubbed it arroz con siempre (rice with always). Because we literally have it at every party!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve arrived at a party to see a huge cooler lined with tin foil and stuffed to the brim with Costa Rican chicken and rice. Whoever made the dish gets bragging rights, and all the women crowd around with styrofoam plates and plastic utensils and start to serve guests.
The colorful rice is served with ensalada verde– a fresh salad with lettuce, tomato, and lime juice, and everything is topped with potato chips. No party is complete without the Coca-Cola, Imperial, or some fresh juice.
My arroz con pollo a la tica combines rice prepared with chicken stock instead of water plus a rich sautée of vegetables and spices.
It’s common to prepare arroz con pollo ahead of time and reheat, or serve immediately after preparing. This recipe only takes 30 minutes- and I promise that after you follow this recipe you’ll have an authentic dish that everyone loves!
I’ll give you a quick overview of the dish, talk a bit about which rice to use, and tell you which tools you have ot have in your kitchen. Then- the best Costa Rican recipe ever!
Related post: Big List Of Delicious Recipes Served With White Rice
Recipe Costa Rican Chicken and Rice
(Printable recipe below)
Yield- About 6 servings
- 4 C long-grain white rice
32 oz chicken stock/broth or water
3 TB achiote (see notes)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 TB vegetable oil
1 rotisserie chicken, deboned and shredded
1 can of mixed vegetables drained
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped with stems
1/2 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
1 stalk of celery chopped finely (optional)
1 small white or yellow onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
3 TB ketchup
3 TB soy sauce
3 TB Salsa Lizano (see notes)
Start by preparing the rice in the rice cooker. You will prepare the rice using our prepare the rice using our Costa Rican white rice recipe– but use chicken broth instead of water.
Before covering the rice to cook, add your 3 TB achiote. (See notes)While the rice is cooking, make your sofrito. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil on medium-high heat.
Once heated, add the cilantro, red bell pepper, onion, and garlic and cook until soft and translucent. This is your sofrito.
Add the chicken to the pan and stir until the chicken is coated in the sofrito.
By this time, the rice should be cooked. Add all of the rice to the skillet and begin to mix everything together.
This is where you will add your ketchup, soy sauce, and Salsa Lizano to the arroz con pollo. I add them one at a time in a circle on the pan, stirring after each addition until the sauces are evenly mixed in.
I do find that using the rice paddle from the cooker is the best way to do this.
After the sauces have been added, mix in the mixed vegetables.
Taste everything to make sure that the arroz con pollo has the right amount to salt.
You can adjust the flavor by adding salt, the sauces, or a little water if the flavor is too strong.
Heat thoroughly, and serve with ensalada verde and potato chips or French fries.
What is arroz con pollo?
Ok so for you non-Spanish speakers out there arroz con pollo is Spanish for chicken with rice. You might be picturing some white rice with chicken pieces next to it- and that is definitely not what chicken and rice is in Latin America.
Traditional Latin America arroz con pollo is a gorgeously colored dish that looks similar to Asian fried rice- except with chicken too! We color the rice with either saffron or achiote and add cooked shredded chicken.
Then, we flavor everything with spices- salt and pepper (black pepper), garlic cloves (or garlic powder), onion, cilantro, red or green bell pepper. Finally, we add mixed vegetables for a fun pop of color.
I love to make sure my chicken is cooked in homemade chicken broth (with my secret ingredient) and cook my rice in it. And of course in Costa Rica, we use Salsa Lizano as the main flavoring ingredient in our chicken and rice.
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Is arroz con pollo healthy?
Um- no? HAHA. Seriously though, I would say not really. A lot of people (like me!) don’t actually process white rice very well, and it just makes us gain weight. So at least I definitely have to be careful with arroz con pollo.
That said- it isn’t fried. There’s no added sugar, and you don’t use canned or processed food. So on the scale of unhealthy foods, it’s probably not actually that high either.
You can lighten it up though. Some people make arroz con pollo with brown rice instead of white, and use only white meat. If you really wanted to make your arroz con pollo healthier, what I would do is cut in half the amount of rice and then double or triple the number of vegetables. And be prepared for any Latino worth his salt to fully turn up their nose at your dish. (Just sayin’!)
If you want me to publish a healthy arroz con pollo recipe, let me know in the comments below!
Kitchen Tools For This Chicken and Rice Recipe
People, you have to have the right tools for making arroz con pollo! There are so many ways to make it, but honestly, you have to have the basics- here’s a list of what I use in my kitchen.
- A good rice cooker (I keep a small rice cooker for every day, and if I need to make more rice I just use the Instant Pot)
- Salsa Lizano
- Long grain white rice (I use this one most often)
- A good non-stick frying pan
- Instant Pot (I love to cook my chicken in this!)
We serve arroz con pollo with a traditional green salad (ensalada verde) and papas.
This papas thing gets confusing though. Because some people in Costa Rica refer to papas as French fries, and others refer to them as potato chips. I love French fries and hate potato chips so here’s what to expect.
If you are going to a party or to eat at someone’s house, you will eat Costa Rican chicken and rice with potato chips. If you are in a restaurant, you will usually get French fries, but not always. So make sure to ask.
**Achiote is a colorant commonly used in Latin cooking. It does not affect the flavor of the dish, only the presentation, and for this reason it is optional. It can be found in most supermarkets in the Latin aisle, or you can find it below in our related products list. As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please double-check this information with your favorite nutrition calculator.
Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 280Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 1220mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 17g
**Achiote is a colorant commonly used in Latin cooking. It does not affect the flavor of the dish, only the presentation, and for this reason it is optional. It can be found in most supermarkets in the Latin aisle, or you can find it below in our related products list.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Please double-check this information with your favorite nutrition calculator.