Chicken & Yellow Rice “Arroz con Pollo”

This is a classic Spanish comfort food and a family favorite.

If you asked my family what my signature dish is, this would be it.  I make it whenever they come over for dinner!

I most often use chicken thighs, but you can also use a whole cut-up chicken (more authentic) and double the rice recipe. This recipe will give you a stickier rice (versus some recipes where “dry” yellow rice is the result).

Here’s my yellow rice recipe.  If you don’t want to make your own rice, use the kind you can buy in the yellow bag.  I make my own to avoid the MSG!  Everything else is the same.

This comes out best in a dutch (french) oven or other heavy cooking pot with a tight lid. But you can bake it; see the directions below.

Peas are a common addition; add them after the rice is mixed in, before you add the chicken back.  Then you’ll have a true one-pot meal!


Arroz con pollo with all the fixin’s for tacos.

Chicken & Yellow Rice Arroz Amarillo

Note: Reduce the water called for in the rice recipe by  1/4 to 1/2 cup.  The juices in the chicken will make up the difference.  Check your pan drippings before adding the water & broth and adjust accordingly.

  • 1 whole cut up chicken, or 6-8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin on
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

and either:

  • one pound (16oz., 8 servings) prepackaged yellow rice

If making the rice from scratch, add the pinch of saffron to a few tablespoons of near-boiling water.  Set aside.

In a large (at least 6qt.) dutch oven (or skillet with a tight lid), saute the garlic and onion over medium-high in oil until soft, about 10 minutes.  Empty to a bowl and set aside.

Salt and pepper the chicken.  In the same skillet, brown chicken on both sides over medium heat, about 7 minutes per side.  Remove chicken to a plate.  Do not drain the pan juices.

Add the water and chicken broth to the pan and bring to a boil.

Crush the saffron strands with the back of a spoon.  Add the saffron and water, spice mix, and rice to the boil and stir to combine (or add your bagged rice here).

(Add frozen peas here if desired.)

Boil 1 more minute and add the chicken back.  Cover tightly and simmer 20-25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

You can put the finished pot in the oven on warm if not ready to serve immediately.

Garnish with cilantro, if desired.  Enjoy!

To bake instead: If you don’t have a heavy covered pot that can go on the stove, saute the garlic and onion in a pan, then remove to a bowl. Season the chicken and brown all over in the same pan. While chicken cooks, combine the rice, seasonings and water/chicken broth (use full amount of water, and maybe a little extra) in an oven-safe baker, then nestle the chicken down under the rice. This recipe will fit in a 3.5qt baker. If your cooking vessel is very deep, you might need to add another 1/2 cup of rice and 1 cup of liquid (and a bit more spice mix, if desired). Cover and bake at 350°F for 1-2 hours (cooking time will depend on your baker, just check it every 30 minutes after it’s been cooking for an hour) or until chicken is falling off the bone.




Homemade Yellow Rice “Arroz Amarillo”

It’s pretty obvious that Spanish food is a family favorite.  Black beans and yellow rice is one of my daughter’s favorite foods!

Yellow rice.  You’ve probably eaten it many times before.  How many times did you make it at home using one of the various brands in the yellow bags?

Ever looked at the ingredients?  In the Vigo brand – our favorite – MSG is prominent.

This means my sister with Celiac disease can’t eat it.  Which means she can’t eat my chicken and yellow rice!

There must be a better way.  I set out to find a solution.

Here it is.  My from-scratch arroz amarillo.  Yes, there are a lot of spices.  But if you want it to taste like the bagged kind, you need them!

You also need the saffron.  It’s not the same without it.

Make this once.  If you love it, premix the spices (minus the salt and saffron) in bulk in a jar.  Then you can just scoop the needed amount out pronto (2 1/2 teaspoons mixed spices, plus saffron and desired salt per 2 cups of uncooked rice).

You can use any kind of white rice; but if you have it, use a short grained (pearl) variety like Calasparra. The texture is noticeably different. Some grocery stores carry short grained rice, or I’ve used La Tienda to purchase authentic products before.  La Tienda also sells a very high quality saffron that’s amazing.

This will work with brown rice too, if that’s your fancy – just be sure to use the amount of water called for on the rice’s package.  Don’t use instant rice!

I promise you won’t find this recipe anywhere else, because I looked long and hard for one!

Oh, the color!  And it tastes as good as it looks!

2013-09-28 16.55.35

Homemade Yellow Rice Arroz Amarillo

Yield 4 cups.

  • 2 cups white long grain rice
  • 2 cups gluten free low sodium chicken broth, such as College Inn brand
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 a large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

the spice mix:

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • touch of cinnamon (very very little!)
  • 1 pinch saffron (about 20 strands)
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons salt, to taste

Add a pinch of saffron to a few tablespoons of hot water (this will help the saffron “bloom”), and set aside.

In a deep skillet with a tight fitting lid, saute garlic and onion in the canola oil until soft, about 10 minutes.  Don’t let the garlic burn!

Measure out the spices and set aside.

Using the back of a spoon, crush the saffron strands.

Add the saffron with its water to the onion and garlic mixture.  Then add the water, chicken broth, and spice mix and stir to combine.

Add the rice and stir constantly until a boil is achieved.  Cover with lid and reduce heat to low.  Simmer on low for 20 minutes or until water is absorbed.  If using brown rice, cook per package directions.  Enjoy!