Arroz Con Gandules: A Seasonal Dish With a Twist


Michele holding a plate of homemade arroz con gandulesHearty, flavorful, and colorful—arroz con gandules is a classic Puerto Rican dish and a known dish to the Miami native. However, this arroz con gandules has a “Coco twist” and I just know your family will enjoy it 😉 Seasonally, I change up recipes and during the spring/summer I crave comforting and colorful dishes.

A bowl of colorful arroz con gandules

This take on gandules is bursting with flavor and creaminess— thanks to lots of spices, coconut milk, and veggies.

This dish has a few key steps, but each one serves an important purpose in adding loads of flavor. First, we’ll make the sofrito, of course! However, I don’t blend mine because I just love the colors and texture this adds to the moro. It’s a combination of sautéed peppers (all 3-4 colors), onions, garlic, cilantro, tomato sauce, and capers (yes… capers!). Once that’s simmering, I love adding in some spices and organic full-fat coconut milk (hello, creaminess!). Bring that to a simmer, add in a capful of soy sauce or sub for liquid aminos (trust me, this is my secret weapon!), add your rice, and bam!

Well… kinda 😉 This dish requires lots of TLC… “taste as you go” if you will and the more spices you add, the better! Another secret of mine is adding cilantro multiple times while cooking for maximum flavor. This arroz con gandules can be served as a side dish, but it’s definitely the main attraction and it’s so hearty on its own. During the summer, we love this moro for meal prep with a salad and chicken.

I always use a wooden spoon to cook this dish because metal affects the final flavor of the dish! Also, don’t forget to rinse your rice just before adding it to the pot. Just don’t do it too early because it can break apart and become mushy.

I know this arroz con gandules recipe has a lot of ingredients/spices, but each one serves a purpose! And I promise it’s so worth it 🥰

A wooden cutting board containing all of the ingredients for this arroz con gandules recipe


2 tbsp avocado oil (sub with olive oil)
½ yellow onion, diced
¼ each red, yellow, and green peppers (Have an orange pepper? Add that one too!)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp capers
2 bay leaves
1 tsp 21 Seasoning Salute (Trader Joe’s)
1 tsp cumin
½ tbsp Badia’s Sazon Tropical
1 tsp Goya’s Sazon con Azafran
2 tbsp soy sauce (sub with liquid aminos)
1 15.5 oz can gandules with liquid (brown ones, NOT green!)
1 13.5 oz can full-fat coconut milk
2 cups white rice
1 bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped
Black pepper to taste
Oregano to taste

Michele's twist on this traditional dish, ready to eat!


  1. Start by adding the avocado oil to a medium pot and raise it to medium-high heat. Add the sofrito (onion, diced bell peppers, ½ of the bunch of chopped cilantro, bay leaves, capers, and garlic) to the pot. Sauté until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Again, use a wooden spoon.
  2. Add the spices and tomato paste to the pot and use the spoon to mix everything. Sauté for an additional 2 minutes.
  3. Then, add the entire can of gandules, soy sauce, cumin, 21 Seasoning Salute, and Sazon con Azafran. Sauté until the spices are fragrant and evenly distributed.
  4. Add the remaining cilantro during this process as well. Then pour the can of coconut milk and remaining spices, and bring everything to a simmer over medium heat.
  5. Taste the broth before pouring in the rice; it should so flavorful, that you’d enjoy eating it just like that. Add salt, pepper, or oregano if you need to.
  6. Once you’re pleased with the taste, rinse the rice, then immediately add it to the borderline boiling mixture. Once the rice starts to float to the top of the mixture, and there are bubbles of liquid surrounding it, add the rest of the cilantro.
  7. Mix it all up and cover it, reduce the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Set an alarm for 20 minutes.
  8. Fluff up the rice with a fork, serve, and thank me later 😉! (Leftovers will keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days.)

Looking for more ways to spice up your family’s menu? Give one of these recipes a try!

Updated July 2023


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