Costa Rican Arroz con Pollo

coverOne of my favorite things to order in restaurants here in Costa Rica, is Arroz con Pollo (in English means “rice with chicken”). So, if you know me at all, you’ll know that I’ve been dreaming of making this from scratch for some time now. When we go out to eat here, we will order Costa Rican food, but when we are home I tend to make our USA favorites (which you know if you’ve read my Costa Rica Chica Cookbook; if not, please check it out – it’s my favorite US recipes, but also how to make them here in Costa Rica with some differences in ingredients). I think this Arroz con Pollo might actually be my first authentic Costa Rican dish I’ve made at home! 

So, with the help of Google and mi amigo Dennis Salazar (who patiently told me how to make this in detail, over lunch one day), I was finally able to come up with a recipe that worked for me and was still authentic to Costa Rica. This is the specific type of rice Dennis recommended, along with the Achiote that I chose to use:


After cooking for half a day and doing dishes like 5 different times (my current dishwasher – Greg – is MIA), I am proud to announce… my version of Arroz con Pollo (and don’t let the “half day” thing scare you, you can totally do this in different stages ahead of time)!

I used my multi-use 6-Quart Lodge Dutch Oven (which I LOVE LOVE LOVE, by the way!):


And this is how it turned out!  You’re supposed to serve it with a salad, French fries or tortilla chips, but frankly I was just too tired to make any of those things from scratch just to get a pretty picture, so this is how I ate it, au naturel:


It can also be served this way in restaurants (look how beautiful this turned out, my first attempt! Also, I just remembered I had fresh cilantro in my garden):


Here’s my video for a quick review:

Costa Rican Arroz con Pollo
A typical Costa Rican dish made with shredded chicken, rice and vegetables.
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  1. 2 liters (8 cups) water
  2. 2 boneless chicken breasts (I used 4, as they were frozen together. And make no bones about it, I really used skinless, boneless chicken breasts – YES you can do this and still make a good chicken broth!)
  3. 1 tomato (cut in ¼’s)
  4. 1 onion (cut in ¼’s)
  5. 1/2 red bell pepper
  6. 1 celery rib
  7. 1 carrot, peeled and cut in 1/2
  8. 6 garlic cloves, smashed (I used 8!)
  9. 8 -10 peppercorns
  10. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  11. 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  12. 1 bay leaf
  1. 3 cups chicken stock
  2. 2 cups uncooked rice
  3. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  4. 1/2 teaspoon achiote paste
  5. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. 2 cups chicken stock (or water)
  2. 1 large carrot, chopped fine
  3. 1 cup sweet corn
  1. 1 tablespoon butter
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  4. 1/2 onion, chopped fine
  5. 1 garlic clove, minced (I used 2!)
  6. 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  7. 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  8. 1/4 teaspoon curry
  9. 1 tablespoon Lizano sauce (or Worcestershire)
  1. In a large Dutch oven (or similar) pot, add the ingredients for the chicken stock, bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 ½ hours. When ready, take the chicken out and shred with the help of 2 forks, cover and set aside.
  2. Strain stock through a fine mesh strainer into another large container discarding the solids and keep the broth - we will use it to make our rice.
  3. For the rice, in a medium pot, add all of the rice ingredients, bring to boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 min’s or so. Then open the lid and fluff the rice.
  4. For the carrots, in a small pan, add the chicken stock/water and chopped carrot. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 10 minutes or until the carrots are soft. Add the corn, stir and then drain. Set aside.
  5. In the same Dutch oven you used for the chicken stock, add the butter and olive oil until sizzling, then add the red pepper, onion and garlic cloves, sauté for 3 minutes.
  6. Add the softened vegetables (carrots/corn) and the shredded chicken. Then add the curry, cumin, paprika, and Lizano sauce. Then add the rice, little by little, gently mixing ingredients with rice with a big spoon, taste and add salt or seasoning as necessary.
  7. Serve with a green salad, tortilla chips, or French fries. Enjoy!
  1. This makes a lot and serves a lot!
Adapted from Multiple recipes online and my friend Dennis S.
Adapted from Multiple recipes online and my friend Dennis S.
Costa Rica Chica

Hope y’all have a great day, I’m off to chow down on this fabulous Arroz con Pollo!

Man I hope Greg likes this, as this is what will be for dinner for the next week or so… lol

If you eat this for dinner, a glass of cold Clos vino blanco goes with it very nicely, just in case you were wondering…

Cheers & Pura Vida! — Jen


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18 Responses to Costa Rican Arroz con Pollo

      • Your recipe is delicious. My 16 year old son ate all the extra helpings. I did try to make achiote with what I had on hand-only thing missing was annatto seeds which I think would be important–but all in all the flavor was wonderful. I can’t wait for our vacation. I think that 8 days will be far from enough time to get a real feel for tico life.

        • SO proud of you! The Arroz con Pollo is my absolute favorite dish in Costa Rica, and not the easiest or fastest thing to make! 8 days will be amazing, I hope you have an awesome time!

  1. I ate arroz con pollo every single day that I was in Costa Rica so I know what good arroz con pollo tastes like. This recipe tastes just like the delicious ones I had. I loved it.
    MY only criticisms that I think it takes too long to make but it is a great recipe none the less.

    • Thank you so much, what a nice compliment! I ate arroz con pollo a lot too – whenever we went out, in fact! I know this takes sooooo long to make. 🙁

  2. This is a simple way to make it at least for me. I keep chicken stock and shredded chicken in the freezer so that takes care of step one. I add the carrots to the stock and rice and while it’s cooking I do the remaining veggies And seasonings. I also use jasmine rice so it only takes 15 minutes to cook. Once everything is mixed I set it aside to blend the flavors. Oh by the way I lived in Costa Rica for five years and I love the food!

  3. I lived in Puerto Viejo de Limon where rice is made with pipa water so when I make arroz con camarones I use coconut water. So so good!

    • It makes a LOT, my whole dutch oven (pictured in post). Sorry I don’t know exactly how many it would feed. I know my husband and I ate on it for a DAYS!

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