Crispy chicken thighs nestled in rice, seasoned with a bright and lively Mexican sofrito and chopped ham. Garnished with cilantro, and green olives, Arroz con Pollo is an easy one pan Mexican chicken and rice recipe that you’ll fall in love with.
About This Recipe
Braised chicken thigh recipes are most certainly a favorite around our house. Chicken Thighs with Potatoes and Olives, Chicken Thighs in Tomatillo Wine Sauce, and Chicken Marengo rank as top picks for one pot chicken dinners.
We can now add this Mexican chicken with rice recipe to the ranks of the most popular. A mix between spanish rice and paella, we found this to be delightful and bright in flavor.
Arroz con Pollo is a popular Latin American chicken recipe, one-pot chicken dinner that is so addicting in flavor, you’ll find yourself wanting to make it over and over again.
There are many versions of Arroz con Pollo, and I favor this Mexican version because of the addition of chopped ham and green olives. Ham adds a delicious smoky flavor and the briny olives add some zippy zing, and color.
Let’s take a look.
Here’s the line-up of ingredients that make Mexican Arroz Con Pollo such a special treat.
- Red bell pepper and orange bell pepper. Chopped. This is the beginning of what we call a sofrito. Sofrito is a fragrant and savory blend of spices and herbs commonly combined with bell peppers and onions. It’s the beginning to countless dishes, most well known for paella.
- Chopped Onion Look for sweet onions for this recipe. Texas Sweets or Vidalia onions are perfect for this recipe. If you can’t find them, just use a yellow onion.
- Chopped Ham. Simply purchase a ham steak at the grocery store. It not only ads a smoky salty flavor to this Mexican chicken and rice dish but also a nice texture.
- Chopped garlic always a welcome addition to any savory dish. Please don’t use a garlic press. Pressing garlic squeezes out the oil and makes for a more bitter flavor. Practice those knife skills and fine chop the garlic for a sweeter experience.
- Spanish Olives bring a salty briny colorful garnish to the overall appearance and flavor of this dish. Just coarse chop them.
- Cilantro Chopped, for garnish.
- Lime Wedges Serve this Mexican Chicken with Rice with lime wedges. A squeeze of lime adds a bit of citrus but most importantly brightens the flavors of the meal.
- Chicken Thighs. Bone in, skin on please. That’s where the flavor lies. Use 6 – 8 chicken thighs, depending on the size.
How to Make Mexican Chicken and Rice
Once the chopping is complete, Arroz con Pollo comes together easily and all that’s left is to sit back and take in the aroma of this wonderful Spanish Meal. Let’s take a look:
- Mise en place. Organizing and preparing ingredients in advance is always a recipe for success. Chop all vegetables, slice lime wedges, measure out rice, etc.
- Heat a heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat, cast iron works good here. Then add oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chicken thighs, skin side down and cook about five minutes. Turn and brown on the other side for another five minutes.
- Remove the chicken thighs to a sheet pan. Why? I like to broil them, skin side up to get them extra crispy. Why? Once they return to the liquid to braise, that skin won’t be tempted to turn flabby.
- Drain most of the oil from the skillet and add the onion and bell peppers. Cook until tender.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Add the smoked ham, stirring to mix well.
- Add canned tomatoes, tomato paste and chicken broth and stir well.
- Add rice.
- Nestle the chicken thighs into the rice mixture, skin side up.
- Simmer, partially covered for 25 – 50 minutes.
Recipe Tips and Variations
- Don’t care for Cilantro? Substitute chopped flat leaf parsley.
- Use different cuts of chicken. I’ve made Arroz con Pollo using both chicken thighs and drumsticks. I like to stick with dark meat for texture and flavor, but you can also use chicken breasts here. Again, I suggest bone-in, skin on for ultimate flavor.
- Want to spice things up? Add a medium chopped jalapeno to the sofrito mixture.
- Not a fan of olives? Omit the olives and sprinkle on some frozen (thawed) green peas. You’ll lose the briny flavor but you’ll gain a splash of bright green color.
- Make sure that skin is crispy. Whenever making any braised chicken recipe, it’s important to make sure that skin is crispy before it simmers in the braising liquid. This is why I like to take the extra time to broil the chicken for a short time to insure the skin is nice and crispy. Watch it close, so it doesn’t burn.
Recipe for Arroz Con Pollo
I hope you give this Mexican Arroz con Pollo recipe a try, and if you do, please come back and give the recipe a star rating. And leave a comment about your experience with the recipe.
And if you have a favorite Mexican Chicken and Rice Recipe, let me know, I’d love to give it a try.
More Mexican Chicken Recipes
- Chicken Zarape, Spicy Mexican Chicken Breast. Drenched in a sweet and spicy Chipotle Cream Sauce and topped with a zesty tomato salsa.
- Chicken Burrito Bowl, Made with taco seasoned ground chicken breast and surrounded by bright colors and savory ingredients. This is a beautiful and healthy fiesta of a meal.
- Chorizo Stuffed Chicken Breast, Chicken breasts are stuffed with browned chorizo, diced Hatch chile peppers and Mexican melting cheese, then rolled and coated in a Panko bread crumb and chili powder mixture.
- Casa Grande Mexican Chicken Salad, Features a very special sweet spicy dressing and a great line-up of ingredients that will have you asking for seconds.
- Braised Chicken Thighs with Tequila Sauce: Chicken Thighs braised with tomato, onion and chipotle meets a spicy creamy tequila sauce for a very special dinner entree.
- Pollo Asado: Citrus juice and Mexican spices join forces to create bright and complex flavors for this easy Pollo Asado recipe. A juicy Mexican grilled chicken dinner with sheer pizzaz.
And if you love Mexican food as much as we do, don’t miss my Mexican Food Category. You’ll find tons of ideas to spice up your life, including the most popular Mexican food recipe on my site for Green Chili with Pork.
And if you’re a braising fan like us, don’t miss my post which features a great line up of Braised Chicken Recipes. I’m positive you’ll find something you’ll fall in love with.
Arroz Con Pollo, Mexican Chicken and Rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 chicken thighs 6-8 thighs, depending on size
- salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1 cup smoked ham steak cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 cup sweet onion chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 1 orange bell pepper chopped
- 15 1/2 ounce canned tomatoes undrained
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup rice preferably long-grain
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup chopped green olives
- In a large, deep frying pan, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken, turning, until well browned, about 10 minutes in all.
- Remove chicken to a sheet pan and heat oven to broil.
- Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the frying pan.
- Reduce the heat to moderately low. Add onion and bell peppers to the pan and cook stirring occasionally until tender. About 5 minutes. Add garlic to the pan and cook until fragrant. Add ham and cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally.
- In the meantime, broil the chicken thighs, skin side up for about 1 – 1 1/2 minutes to further crisp the skin.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and broth, and bring to a simmer. Stir in the rice and add the chicken thighs, snuggling them into the rice mixture.
- Simmer, partially covered, over moderately low heat until the chicken and rice are just done, 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and green olives.
- Serve with lime wedges.
Why Trust These Recipes? Lea Ann Brown has lived, worked and played in Colorado for 45 years. She has immersed herself in the Colorado Culinary space, is a Culinary School Graduate and publishes her Colorado food Blog, Cooking On The Ranch.