Spanish Chicken and Rice

Spanish Chicken and Rice is made with fresh veggies, seasoned chicken, and flavorful rice. Also known as Arroz Con Pollo, this easy chicken dinner can be made right at home from scratch and is perfect for weeknights and makes great leftovers for lunch!

spanish chicken and rice in a skillet

Any meal that uses chicken and rice earns a spot in my recipe rotation. The beauty of these two ingredients is that they can be flavored in so many different ways. I love any excuse to cook with saffron and this Spanish Chicken and Rice combines one of my favorite spices with chicken and fresh veggies. Saffron is one of the most beautiful and intriguing spices. It comes from a flower and a small amount goes a long way. 

There are many different ways to make Arroz con Pollo, no matter how you make it, the combination of spices and vegetables yields a flavorful meal that you will want to make over and over. This recipe is my approachable twist on the popular recipe from Williams Sonoma. I made this recipe many times before first sharing on this site in 2015.

All you’ll need to get started is your favorite pieces of chicken with the skin on, some rice, and simple seasonings to cook up this meal all in one pot! 

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • You’ll get to cook with saffron which gives the dish a beautiful color and is a great aromatic. 
  • Customize this dish by using any cut of chicken you prefer. 
  • This entire recipe is made all in one pot making clean up simple and easy. 
  • You’ll want to make a double or triple batch because it makes great healthy leftovers for lunches. 
  • Use white or brown rice to make this dish your own. 
ingredients for spanish chicken and rice on a countertop

Ingredients You Need

Chicken Marinade

  • Minced Garlic – Freshly minced garlic infuses an aromatic garlic flavor into the chicken.
  • Red Pepper Flakes – Adds a kick of heat to the chicken pairing well with the rice. 
  • Lime Juice – Tenderizes the chicken while adding a fresh citrus taste. 
  • Salt & Pepper – Balances the flavors in the marinade and flavors the chicken. 


  • Chicken Pieces – You can use a whole chicken or your favorite pieces as long as it’s skin on and bone-in.
  • Olive Oil – Used to sear the chicken in a pan to get a nice crust on the outside. 
  • Chicken Broth – This flavorful stock is what the chicken and rice get cooked in. 
  • Saffron Threads – Adds a red tint to the dish as well as a unique bold flavor. 
  • Bell Peppers & Onions – These two vegetables are classic diced in Spanish Rice. 
  • Canned Diced Tomatoes – Cooks into the rice giving it a light tomato flavor and red color. 
  • Spices – You’ll need ground cumin and bay leaves to infuse flavor throughout the chicken and rice. 
  • Long Grain Brown Rice – The main grain component of the dish that gets cooked with the chicken. 
  • Green Olives – Add a salty and tangy bite to the dish. 
  • (Optional) Cilantro – Used as a garnish, gives the dish color and flavor. 
cooking the chicken in a skillet

How to Make Spanish Chicken and Rice

Step 1

Marinate your chicken. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, lime juice, salt, and pepper into a bag or bowl with the chicken to marinate for at least one hour or overnight. 

Step 2. 

Sear the chicken & prepare the pot. Marinated chicken is seared in a hot pan with olive oil until a crust is formed then set aside. Meanwhile, warm the chicken stock and crumble the saffron. 

Step 3. 

Assemble the chicken & rice for cooking. Cook the peppers and onions in a bit of rendered chicken fat until they become soft. Add the tomatoes, spices, and rice to the dish and stir until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Pour the saffron broth in, stir then add the chicken on top. 

Step 4.

Cook & Serve. Bring mixture to a boil then turn down low to simmer for 35 minutes or until chicken and rice are cooked through. Remove lid, stir and cook for more time if needed. Let stand for 5 minutes before garnishing and serving hot. 

making spanish chicken and rice in a skillet

Recipe Tips

  • To get a good sear on the chicken, pat it dry with paper towels before searing in a pan with olive oil. 
  • Check chicken for doneness: Since there may be different size pieces of chicken, use a kitchen thermometer to check if each piece is cooked through at an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Using White Rice: If you are using white rice, it may take a shorter time to cook, so make sure you are stirring to prevent the rice from burning at the bottom of the pan.
  • Crispy Chicken: If you’d like to make your chicken extra crispy, put it under the broiler for a few minutes after it’s finished cooking through.

What goes well with Arroz Con Pollo?

Since the main dish takes care of protein and carbs, this dish is best served with a vegetable side like charred spring vegetables, or roasted cauliflower and broccoli.  You can even serve it alongside a fresh garden salad.  

complete dish of spanish chicken and rice in a skillet with fresh olives on top


What can I use as a substitute for saffron?

If you can’t find saffron or don’t have any on hand, a pinch of turmeric will also do the trick though it may give the dish a slightly different flavor. 

What does arroz con pollo mean?

Arroz con pollo translates to chicken with rice and is a popular dish in Latin America that can be made in many different ways. 

Do I need to use bone-in, skin-on chicken?

You don’t have to, but it does offer a much deeper and rich flavor. Feel free to use boneless, skinless chicken for a lighter version of Spanish chicken and rice. 

More Hearty Chicken Dinner Recipes

Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken

Slow Cooker Chicken Marsala

One-Pot Chicken Enchilada Pasta

Instant Pot Chicken Stew

Thai Chicken Salad

Indian Butter Chicken

spanish chicken and rice in a skillet

Spanish Chicken and Rice

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Marinating Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Spanish Chicken and Rice is made with fresh veggies and spices! Also known as Arroz Con Pollo, this meal is one that the entire family with love!
5 from 6 votes


  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 pounds chicken pieces, skin on and bone in
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3 small bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups long-grain brown rice
  • 1 cup green olives, halved
  • cilantro, for garnish


  • In a large bowl, stir together garlic, red pepper flakes, lime juice, salt and pepper. Add the chicken, toss to coat, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  • In a large frying pan with a lid, heat olive oil over medium heat. Arrange chicken in the pan, skin side down, and cook without turning, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Turn the chicken, cover the pan, and cook until golden brown on other side, about 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a saucepan, warm broth over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and crumble in saffron; set aside.
  • Transfer chicken to a plate and pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from the pan. Add the onion and bell peppers and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, cumin, bay leaves, and rice and cook, stirring constantly, until the rice has absorbed the juices, about 5 minutes.
  • Pour the saffron broth into pan and stir. Place the chicken on top. Raise heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 35 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through, the rice is starting to get tender and about half of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove lid and cook until the rice is tender, and the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 to 15 additional minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Let stand for 5 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Top with olives and cilantro, as desired. Serve immediately.


Storing & Freezing

Storing: Cooked and cooled arroz con pollo can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days before reheating and serving. 
Freezing: This dish is best frozen in individual portions in airtight containers or freezer-safe bags for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating and serving.
Source: adapted from Williams Sonoma


Serving: 0g, Calories: 489kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 28g, Fat: 31g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 96mg, Sodium: 1326mg, Potassium: 696mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 770IU, Vitamin C: 71mg, Calcium: 83mg, Iron: 3.2mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: Ashley C.
If you try this recipe, don’t forget to leave a review below or share a photo and tag @spoonfulofflavor on Instagram.

This recipe was originally published in 2015. It was updated with new photos and tips in April 2021. This recipe was inspired by and originally adapted from Williams Sonoma.

11 comments on “Spanish Chicken and Rice”

  1. Have you made this in an instant pot?

  2. Nice Recipe. The combination of chicken and rice. Great Information . Keep posting like this. Thanks!!

  3. so tasty rice recipe so keep posting.

  4. I used two frozen chicken breasts, boiled them so I could shred them. 
    Had left over Chinese rice. Threw that in the water to warm it up.  
    Shredded chicken, drained rice. Put back in pot. 
    Added a can of green chilies and diced tomatoes, some black beans, some frozen peppers and onions, cumin, pepper, cilantro, parsley, garlic powder.  
    Quick and easy chicken and rice on a budget! 
    (And because I really really need to go food shopping) 

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