Arroz con Pollo from Colombia

Arroz con pollo can be translated as “rice with chicken”. This is a one-pot meal popular in all of Latin America. Each country has their secret ingredient, each one swears their version is the best. Below version is popular in Colombia aka is the recipe from my mom-in-law. Yes, it contains the three main components, rice, chicken, and vegetables. But my mother-in-law likes to spice it up using some sausages in addition. She also swears by preparing each component separately to keep the rice moist. It is only at the end that she combines all the three. So this is not the traditional way of preparing this meal, but I have to say, I like her version a lot.  Otherwise you may end up with a pretty dry dish.

I hadn’t tried to make arroz con pollo until recently. Reason for this being that my hubby was never too excited about it. Each time this dish was mentioned, he would go on about that fact that it always turns out dry and that usually at any kind of gathering this would be served and was simply not good. So I never dared to make it. But then, we were on holiday visiting my parents-in-law. My mother-in-law offered to make this dish. Much to my surprise hubby agreed to it. So I took my notes and watched Dora making this dish. She immediately told me that she never made this in one pot, but prepared all components separately. Once all done and dusted, she would mix everything together. I watched carefully when my hubby was served his plate. He devoured it and asked for seconds. Alright, that was unexpected. Once we returned back to Munich, he requested arroz con pollo. So here I was trying to remember how my mother-in-law had made it and checked my notes. I had to tweak a little bit here and there, but my hubby declared that he definitely liked this version of arroz con pollo. I would say that is a huge win!

Colombian Arroz con Pollo

Serves: 6-8 persons
Prep Time: 20min Cooking Time: 45min Total Time: 1hr 5min

Colombian arroz con pollo contains shredded chicken, vegetables and rice. For this dish to be moist, we will prepare the three components separately.


  • Chicken
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bunch of spring onions (we will need one for the chicken)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 3 chicken breasts

  • Rice
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 large cup of dry rice

  • Vegetables
  • 1 onion
  • Remaining spring onions
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2-3 salchicha sausages (I had Bavarian ones, you may replace with chorizo)
  • 50-100 grams frozen peas
  • 50 grams snow peas
  • 1 can (about 400 grams) of crushed tomatoes
  • Salt, pepper, cumin, "color" or achiote powder, fresh cilantro



For the chicken peel and cut onions, garlic, and carrots into large pieces. Boil in a large pot with about 2-3 liters of water seasoned with bay leaves together with the chicken breasts. Boil for about 25 minutes or until chicken is soft, then shred the chicken with two forks. Set aside. Strain the chicken broth, we will need it later on. Leftover chicken broth can be frozen.


For the rice wash it thoroughly. Then peel the onion and cut into small cubes. Fry in a pot with a bit of oil or butter for a few minutes until translucent. Add the rice and garlic clove and fill up with the same amount of chicken broth, season with salt. Wait until it boils, then reduce heat to low and let simmer for about ten minutes with the lid on. Turn stove off and let sit for at least ten minutes more, lid still on. Discard the garlic clove.


For the vegetables or "sofrito" peel and cut the (spring) onions. Fry with a pit of oil in a large frying pan. Peel the carrots and cut into cubes, also cut bell pepper into cubes, cut garlic thinnly. Add .prepared carrots and bell pepper to the onions and let fry for a few minutes. Cut sausages to cubes and add with the garlic, fry for a minutes. Lastly add the peas and cut snow peas and fry briefly. Then pour in the crushed tomatoes, the chicken and rice. Season with the suggested herbs. Mix and simmer only for a few minutes on lower temperature. If very dry, add a bit of the chicken broth. Serve with fresh cilantro and/or avocado slices. Traditionally arroz con pollo is served with homemade fries. I served it as a main course just like that. If you want to eat leftovers the next few days, I would recommend adding more chicken broth or water, you want to be sure it does not get too dry. Arroz con pollo cannot be frozen easily, at least I haven't had success.

P.S:: If you are interested in other Colombian dishes, how about Colombian red beans (left) or Colombian empanadas (right):

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