Vegan Arroz con Guandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas)

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Creamy, hearty, and flavorful, this Vegan Arroz con Guandules is a classic Puerto Rican dish. Perfect as a side, but also delicious enough for a main!

If you’ve had Arroz con Guandules before, you know that it’s like, the best rice ever. And if you haven’t? Well, friend, you’re in for a yummy, hearty, and tasty treat 😉

arroz con guandules in white bowl topped with cilantro on tan placemat

Arroz con Guandules is a classic Puerto Rican or Dominican recipe. The “Arroz” refers to the fluffy, fragrant rice, while “Guandules” are Pigeon Peas, a common legume found in Latin American cuisine. 

This recipe is not just plain ol’ Rice and Beans, though. It’s bursting with flavor and creaminess, thanks to lots of Spices, Coconut Milk, Cilantro, and Veggies.

ingredients for arroz con guandules on wooden cutting board

This recipe actually comes from my dear friend, Coco. Arroz con Guandules was a classic childhood dish for her, and she was determined to veganize it after she made the switch to a plant-based lifestyle. This version has now become a staple in her diet, and all of her non-vegan friends and family rave about it as well 🙂 It’s that delicious!  (Seriously).

Coco also showed me how to make some Vegan Picadillo for my #FromYourBowl blog series. Be sure to check that out after you finish reading this post!

coco holding plate of arroz con guandules while sitting in her kitchen and laughing

This dish has a few key steps, but each serves an important purpose and adds a key layer of flavor. First, we’ll make the Sofrito – which is the Puerto Rican term for a combination of sautéed Peppers, Onions, Garlic, and Tomatoes. Once that’s simmering away, we’ll add in some Spices, Capers, and Coconut Milk. Bring that to a simmer, add in your Rice, and you’re good to go!

large white bowl of arroz con guandules with serving spoon on white countertop

Well…kind of 😉 This recipe is definitely one of those “taste as you go” ones, and the more Spices you add, the better! Coco also told me that it’s very important to add Cilantro at multiple points during the cooking process for maximum flavor. I’ve included a few other of her tips and tricks in the recipe notes for this blog post – be sure to read it thoroughly before you start.

This Arroz con Guandules can be served as a side dish, but it’s honestly tasty and hearty enough to serve as a main. This recipe makes a large batch too, so it’s great for large family dinners or Meal Prep!

white plate filled with vegan picadillo, rice, and a cabbage salad

A Few Final Thoughts:

  • Use a wooden spoon to cook everything; plastic and metal affect the final flavor of the dish!
  • It’s also important to rinse your Rice only just before adding it to the pot; if you do it too far in advance the grains have a tendency to break while simmering.
  • This recipe has a lot of ingredients and spices, but each serves a purpose! I promise it’s worth it in the end 😉 

arroz con guandules in white bowl topped with cilantro on tan placemat

Want something to serve alongside this Arroz con Guandules? I’d highly recommend this Vegan Picadillo. And if you’re looking for more hearty recipes using Rice, you’ll also love this Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole and this Instant Pot Rice & Beans!

Finally, if you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I love seeing your delicious recreations 🙂

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Vegan Arroz con Guandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas)

arroz con guandules in white bowl topped with cilantro on tan placemat

Creamy, hearty, and flavorful, this Vegan Arroz con Guandules is a classic Puerto Rican dish. Perfect as a side, but also delicious enough for a main!

  • Author: Caitlin Shoemaker
  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 Minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 Servings 1x
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Puerto Rican
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp Neutral Cooking Oil (can sub with Water or Veggie Broth)
  • ½ Yellow Onion, diced
  • ¼ each Red, Yellow, Green Peppers
  • 3 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1 cube of Vegan Chicken-Flavored Bouillon
  • 2 tsp Capers
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 tsp Salt-Free Seasoning Blend*
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • ½ tbsp Badia’s Sazon Tropical
  • 1 tsp Goya’s Sazon con Azafran
  • 2 tbsp Tamari
  • 1 15.5 oz can Guandules Secos, with liquid (“Dry Pigeon Peas,” NOT Green!)
  • 1 13.5 oz Can Full-Fat Coconut Milk
  • 2 cup White Rice
  • 1 bunch Cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • Black Pepper and Oregano, to taste (Optional)

Instructions

  1. First, add the cooking oil to a medium pot and raise to medium-high heat. Add the Onion, diced Bell Peppers, ½ of the bunch of chopped Cilantro, Bay Leaves, and Garlic to the pot. Sauté until the Onions are translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to cook everything; plastic and metal affect the final flavor of the dish!
  2. Add the Vegan Chicken-Flavored Bouillon and Tomato Paste to the pot and use the spoon to “mash” them into the Vegetables. Sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  3. Then, add the Capers, entire can of Guandules Secos, Tamari, Cumin, and Sazon con Azafran. Sauté until the spices are fragrant and evenly distributed, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add ½ of the remaining Cilantro to the pot along with the can of Coconut Milk and remaining spices, then bring everything to a simmer over high heat.
  5. Rinse the Rice under cold water, then immediately add it to the simmering mixture. Once a few grains of rice start to float to the top of the mixture, add the rest of the Cilantro, mix well, and cover. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork, serve, and enjoy! Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Notes

  • Coco uses and recommends the 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe’s
  • You should be able to find the Sazon Tropical and Sazon con Azafran in the Hispanic food section of most grocery stores, but you can also purchase them online.

Keywords: arroz con guandules, arroz con gandules, puerto rican rice, pigeon peas, pigeon peas with rice

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Creamy, hearty, and flavorful, this Vegan Arroz con Guandules is a classic Puerto Rican dish. Perfect as a side, but also delicious enough for a main! #vegan #glutenfree #plantbased #arrozconguandules #pigeonpeas | frommybowl.com

 

About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

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Comments

  1. After my illness, my life changed, I decided to switch to a vegetarian diet too, your recipes helped me a lot, thanks for the post!

    1. You can prep & pre cook the bagged pigeon peas in bulk and just portion it out into containers and freeze it in. When you ready to use it, just thaw it out and add it to your stew or rice cook up. Also, dry peas/beans is cheaper.

  2. Wow. Super impressed with this dish. The flavor is unique, and you can easily swap veggies in/out. Thank you!

  3. You can substitute Sazon Goya or any adobo goya. Most are loaded with salt and MSG. Use Tumeric, or an oil base of achiote. Easy to make you take oil and the annato seeds and cook to release the beautiful color do not burn. Also there is a wonderful Fresh no preservative Sofrito called Gourmet Sofrito Verde.

  4. Hey Caitlin, This sounds like a great vegan alternative to our traditional Puerto Rican Arroz con Gandules. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. Could I make a slight correction about Sofrito? It is not sautéed peppers and onions. It is actually a blend made in a food processor of cilantro, culantro (two main herbs in the recipe), peppers (green, red, yellow, and/ or Puerto Rican sweet peppers aka Aji Dulce), onions, and fresh garlic cloves (some people add Parsley and Olive oil). It is then stored in a jar, sometimes frozen into ice cubes and then used as a base for many of our dishes.

  5. Hi! I’m actually puertorriqueña, norm and raised. I have always lived there. Anyway I have never seen any arroz con gandules with cilantro in Puerto Rico, so if you don’t like cilantro, you don’t have to use it baches el arroz con gandules típico doesn’t have it.

    1. Hey, Andy! This is a recipe from our friend Coco and it was a childhood staple for her and that’s the way she had always made it. Some people don’t like cilantro and you could leave it out if you’re not a fan, but if you’re open to it, give it a try!

  6. Is there a substitute for Sazon con Azafron? In the item linked to your blog the first ingredient is MSG. :((
    Goya Foods Sazon Con Azafran Seasoning
    Ingredients
    ‘MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE, SALT, DEHYDRATED GARLIC, CUMIN, YELLOW 5, TRICALCIUM PHOSPHATE (ANTI-CAKING AGENT), ANNATO (COLOR), MEXICAN SAFFRON, TURMERIC (COLOR), RED 40.’

  7. Sazon con Azafran has MSG as it’s first ingredient 🙁 Do you know of any healthier subs for that spice mix? Thanks!

  8. @Jess, when the water starts to evaporate and it s at the same level as the rice (or slightly below) you cover it and put it on the lowest setting. Do not open the lid. The steam is what finishes the cooking. If you find it is still not done, leave the lid on another 5 minutes with the flame off. Glad you can please your Dominican MIL! My cousin who is a great cook and grew up in PR taught me how to make her arroz con gandules. Love it!

  9. Coco looks so lovely and happy with her arroz con guandales! I have never tried pigeon peas before. However, I most certainly would love to because if they complement rice, I know I’d enjoy them!

  10. This looks so yummy!! If I may, Pigeon Peas in spanish is spelled GANDULES.
    Going to try this recipe tomorrow. Thank you for posting it.

    1. Your recipe sounds great! I should poinjt out that Debbie’s is statement is correct; the only correct translation and hence spelling of pigeon peas in Spanish is GANDULES, no other variation. Thank=s for posting such a delicious recipe. I have made this many times; in its original version from Puerto Rico.