Peruvian Chicken and Rice

Peruvian Chicken and Rice (aka arroz con pollo Peruvian) brings a little Peruvian soul to your table. This flavor-packed one pot meal features ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow chile), and gets its signature green tint from an entire bunch of cilantro. With boneless, skinless chicken thighs and a healthy quantity of veggies, it’s a fantastic one pot meal!

Peruvian Chicken and Rice in a cast iron skillet with a bowl of salsa criolla.

Something I learned when I was very young: With cooking, it doesn’t matter where you are; you can always cook. You can end up in a small village in Peru where somebody’s cooking, take a spoon and taste it, and you might not be too sure what you’re eating, but you can taste the soul in the food. That’s what’s beautiful with food.

~~ Daniel Boulud

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – About Peruvian Chicken and Rice

Peruvian cuisine is taking the global food scene by storm. Peruvian haute cuisine is showing up all over the U.S., Spain, London… just to name a few.

Far more exciting, though, is the fact that traditional Peruvian food is becoming  more available in neighborhood restaurants, and home cooks are able to find many of the pantry staples required for cooking these wonderful dishes at home. This is a cuisine “whose time has come.”

This arroz con pollo Peruvian style is a great introduction to Peruvian cooking. Most non-Peruvian cooks are already familiar with cilantro (right?). The ají amarillo chile paste is likely to be the only unfamiliar ingredient, and it’s widely available (at least in the US).

Please keep in mind that it is not my aim to re-create “authentic” Peruvian recipes. I’ve spent extensive time Peru, I love the cuisine, and I want to bring approachable Peruvian-inspired recipes to non-native home cooks!

🌶 What is Ají Amarillo Chile?

What (if anything) do you know about Peruvian cuisine? I am still learning, but I would like to share my journey with you. I cannot begin to cover it with this post. Today, I’d like to focus on the ají amarillo chile. I once heard a Peruvian say “it tastes like sunshine.” The bright yellow-orange chile tastes quite different from a poblano or Hatch green chile.

While the chile can be quite hot, heat is secondary to a warm, fruity, comforting flavor. It’s ubiquitous in Peruvian cuisine, and chances are that if you’ve had Peruvian food, you’ve tasted ají amarillo.

I love the simplicity of this dish. I keep a jar of ají amarillo paste in my refrigerator, and it’s on my well-stocked pantry checklist. Cilantro (important in so many cuisines) is widely available, as is cumin.

Other than the ají amarillo, this dish comes together with ingredients you are probably quite comfortable with and accustomed to using. Well, you may not be accustomed to cooking with beer. (I am 😉 ). If you prefer to keep it that way, feel free to substitute additional chicken broth. A traditional Peruvian arroz con pollo typically includes beer, and I like to use a black lager like Xingu.

📋 Ingredients Notes

Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.

Ingredients for Peruvian arroz con pollo: Chicken, rice, vegetables, aromatics, broth, and beer.
  • cilantro
  • olive or coconut oil
  • chicken – I use chicken thighs for this one pot dish because they stay moist. Chicken breast tends to be dry. Either bone in or boneless chicken thighs are fine.
  • onion
  • garlic
  • ground cumin
  • ají amarillo paste – I have looked at a lot of Peruvian style arroz con pollo recipes that leave out ají amarillo paste. No es bueno! Latin foods markets, and even some grocery stores carry it. You can also order ají amarillo paste online.
  • dark beer – Xingu (dark lager) is my preference, but it can be hard to find. Any dark lager is an excellent substitute. If all else fails, Mexican Corona is fine. You want a lager that won’t mess with the flavor. You can also omit and replace the liquid with additional broth or stock.
  • broth – Chicken broth is my preference, but vegetable broth, or water will be fine.
  • carrots – I often substitute diced sweet potato.
  • red bell pepper
  • peas – I love fresh English peas in this dish, but frozen are just fine. If using fresh, add them with the rice.
  • long grain rice – I use basmati for any recipes that require long grain rice, but you can use regular long grain rice, jasmine, etc.

🔪 Instructions

Cilantro and water are puréed before being added to the liquid in the skillet.
  • Make the cilantro slurry – A slurry of cilantro and broth gives the rice its wonderful flavor! Chop the ends of the cilantro off where the leaves start. Wash well, and pat dry. In a small processor or blender, pulse the cilantro with a bit of water. NOTE: This will take 1-2 tablespoons depending on how much cilantro you have. Combine with enough chicken broth to bring the total to the required ratio of rice to liquid. Mine is 1:2, so I use 2 cups of cilantro and broth.
Chicken thighs are browned for arroz con pollo in a cast iron skillet.
  • Sear the chicken – Sear the chicken in enough oil to coat the skillet. Cook in very hot oil until golden brown on each side; set it aside.
Ají amarillo and cumin are added to the cast iron skillet with the aromatics.
  • Sauté the aromatics – Sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic, cumin, and ají amarillo paste. Sauté an additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant, then de-glaze with beer to your (still) very hot skillet , scraping to loosen the browned bits. Reduce beer by about half.
The cast iron skillet with the beer added to the aromatics.
  • Simmer the chicken – Add the chicken back into the pan, along with the broth/cilantro mixture, and simmer 10 minutes covered. NOTE: This step gives the chicken thighs extra time to become tender without making the veggies mushy. If time is an issue, you can skip this step but the chicken will be less tender.
Give it a good stir to combine all of the arroz con pollo Peruano ingredients.
  • Add the rice and vegetables. Stir to work the rice down into the liquid. Cover, and reduce heat to a very low simmer. Cook until the rice is tender (about 20 minutes) and the liquid is absorbed. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with additional cilantro.
Arroz con pollo Peruvian in a black cast iron skillet with a small bowl of aji amarillo paste and cilantro.

❓ FAQ

Is there a substitute for ají amarillo paste?

No. You can leave it out, and you will still have a delicious one-pot meal, but it won’t be Peruvian IMHO.

Can I make this recipe for more people?

YES! This recipe can be increased with very good results. I’ve multiplied by 4. My recipe card will only do 3X. I’ve made it for 30 successfully.

💭 Tips

The ají amarillo varies a bit in heat level, so you may wish to taste it before you get started. We love spicy food at Andersen casa, so we use the full 2 tablespoons of chile paste. You may want to start with less.

Traditionally, this dish will be served with Salsa CriollaIt really is a stand alone dish as well.

This dish pairs really well with Brazilian Xingu, or other dark lagered beer such as a doppelbock. It also pairs well with a full-bodied white wine such as a Rhône blend or Chardonnay.

My favorite long grain white rice is basmati. It is not a Peruvian rice. The ratio of rice to liquid for basmati is 1:2. Liquid ratio is important! Make adjustment if you are using a rice that has a different ratio.

I use this food chopper on small dice to prep my vegetables. Twenty minutes is sufficient to get them tender. If your hard vegetables (carrots or sweet potato) are a large dice, you may want to add them with the chicken and ahead of the rice.

Peruvian arroz con pollo in green rice served in a square plate with fork and cast iron skillet behind.

🧂 Useful Stuff

Note: As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. This helps to offset the costs of maintaining my blog and creating awesome content! 😊

Having made this arroz con pollo Peruano for 2 or as many as 30, I can truly say it’s a crowd-pleaser. In July, I made this fabulous dish for 30 as part of a Peruvian menu that included ají verde, fried yuca, and salsa criolla. We had 4 nights with outstanding meals from outstanding area cooks at our church St. John’s Episcopal. Some of our parishioners said my arroz con pollo ruined them for “regular arroz con pollo.”

I would love to hear your thoughts on this dish… Is it approachable, appealing, a dish you’ve had before, etc.!

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes.

Peruvian Chicken and Rice in a cast iron skillet with a bowl of aji amarillo.

Arroz con Pollo Peruvian Style

Peruvian Chicken and Rice or Arroz Con Pollo brings a little Peruvian soul to your table. This flavor-packed one pot meal features ají amarillo, and gets its signature green tint from an entire bunch of cilantro. 
4.84 from 36 votes

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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Peruvian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 420 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive or coconut oil
  • 4 boneless chicken thighs - 16-24 ounces, skinless chicken thighs (see notes)
  • 1 small onion - chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic - about 3 cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1-2 tablespoons aji amarillo - (see notes)
  • 1 cup dark beer - (see notes) Xingu is perfect!
  • 1 cup chicken broth or water
  • 2 small carrots - small dice or grated
  • 1 small red bell pepper - small dice
  • 1 cup petite peas - frozen are fine
  • 1 cup long grain rice - basmati, jasmine, etc.
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper - (see notes)

Instructions

  • Chop the ends of the cilantro off where the leaves start. Wash well, and pat dry. In a small processor or blender, pulse the cilantro with a bit of water. Add enough chicken broth to the slurry to bring the total liquid to the required amount in your rice instructions (2 cups for basmati). Set aside.
  • Sear the chicken in a bit of hot oil until golden brown; set it aside.
  • Sauté the onion until translucent, then add the garlic, cumin, and ají amarillo paste. Sauté an additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Add the beer to the very hot pan, scraping to loosen the browned bits. Reduce by about half.
  • Add the chicken back into the pan, along with the broth-cilantro mixture. Simmer 10-15 minutes covered.
  • Add the rice, vegetables, and salt and pepper. Stir to work the rice down into the liquid. Replace the cover, and cook on low heat until rice is done (20 minutes for basmati). Adjust seasoning, and garnish with additional cilantro. Fluff with a fork.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

I like boneless skinless thighs in this recipe. Bone-in are even more flavorful. Substitute your favorite. Chicken breasts might be dry.
You don’t want a stout or porter in this. Really, a dark lager is ideal. A doppelbock is awesome. A lager, whether light or dark, is perfect.
Seasoning is so important but very subjective! Start with about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Taste and adjust.

Nutrition

Calories: 420kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 20g

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

🥘 More Peruvian Chicken Recipes

A black plate with pollo saltado, french fries, and Peruvian rice with black flatware and garnishes.
A white ceramic bowl with Peruvian chicken and cilantro soup garnished with hard cooked egg and avocado.
An oval cast iron plate with 3 Peruvian chicken anticuchos alongside roasted purple potatoes, choclo (giant corn), and 2 sauces - aji verde and rocoto aioli.

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51 Comments

  1. Peruvian and a foodie adding her two cents. I wouldn’t suggest basmati rice. This is a creole dish therefore basmati rice is not a good choice imho

    1. Thank you for your feedback. I do not pretend to write authentic Peruvian recipes. My goal is to bring Peruvian flavors to the American home cook. We may or may not have the type of rice used in Peru. I recommend what I like and can find locally. My sister in law, and a close family friend are Peruvian. They have had, and really enjoyed the dish.

  2. Is there a side dish I can make with this? I want to make this for my sister in law and family but I was wondering if there was something else I can make to serve as a side dish with this. Thanks for your help.

  3. I used a dutch oven but I think the heat was not at the lowest. Maybe at a 2. I will try to do that next time. Thank you for the quick response. I overate dinner last night. I couldn’t just eat a single serving.

  4. Let me just say, I was not expecting that kind of flavor. I am indian and I cook with a lot of spices so I am used to flavor but this was so tasty. Only thing is I have a layer of burnt rice stuck to the bottom of the pan. Do you have any tips on how to avoid that next time?

  5. Let me just say, I was not expecting that kind of flavor. I am indian and I cook with a lot of spices so I am used to flavor but this was so tasty. Only thing is I have a layer of burnt rice stuck to the bottom of the pan. Do you have any tips on how to avoid that next time?

    1. Hi there! Thanks for stopping by, and your feedback! I use a very heavy cast iron skillet, and lower the heat to a very low simmer after the liquid boils. The heavy pan and low heat is key, and if you do that, you shouldn’t get a burnt layer… I hope you’ll try it again! And yes, Peruvian flavors are intense, much like Indian flavors. That’s why I love them so much! Merry Christmas!

      1. I used a dutch oven but I think the heat was not at the lowest. Maybe at a 2. I will try to do that next time. Thank you for the quick response. I overate dinner last night. I couldn’t just eat a single serving.

          1. I’m from Peru and I actually really love that bottom burnt layer. I add a little bit of oil before simmering so it’s tasty. We call it `concolón`

          2. Yay Diego! Your comment makes me happy! Concolon… I will mention this to my Peruvian sister-in-law 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to write. Merry Christmas!

      2. Is there a side dish I can make with this? I want to make this for my sister in law and family but I was wondering if there was something else I can make to serve as a side dish with this. Thanks for your help.

  6. Delicious! Thank you for sharing this recipe! I made it in my pressure cooker with just a few tweaks suggested by my pressure cooker fb group and my husband loved it! He wants it added to the recurring menu roster. 😉

    Changes made:
    – follow directions but add veggies to saute after onions done. Then add liquids and rice and cilantro and place chicken on top. I used Instant Pot manual setting, High Pressure, for 22 mins. Followed by 10 min natural pressure release.

    I reduced liquids to 3/4 c beer and 3/4 c broth for 1 c brown basmati rice but I still had a little excess liquid. Will reduce to 3/4 c beer and 1/2 c broth next time. Yummy!

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment Samy! I’m so glad you you enjoyed the dish 🙂 I contribute to Pressure Cooking Today, and love my pressure cooker, so it’s great to know this dish worked well in yours!

  7. I’ve made this twice now and it was a hit! Once for 8-10 during our vacation in the Texas Hill country with Tamara helping me. The crowd loved it! There were a couple of portions left over and those were eaten for breakfast. To each his own. I also made this for my picky family when I got home but with one modification. My daughter hates cilantro and will pick it out. And since this recipe calls for blended cilantro… Well you get my drift. So I used flat leaf parsley. It was good! I’m still partial to the original version but still, it worked.

    I have a reason I’m going to use up my jar of Peruvian chili quickly!

    1. Nothing is more fun than cooking with my family! I will always remember this dish because we got to make it together sissy <3 I’m really glad it worked out okay with parsley, as I was a little skeptical! Thanks for taking the time to leave feedback; it’s always appreciated!

  8. What a great looking dish!!! Last year, another Sissi @withaglass.com turned me on to aji panca, another Peruvian chile. The aji amarillo kept coming up so it’s been on my list of chiles to try. Definitely need to find it now so I can try this dish!

    1. I love Peruvian chiles, and keep aji panca on hand as well! Aji amarillo is my favorite, though. I hope you find it and try it… It’s good in so many dishes!

  9. This chicken looks so amazing! Cilantro is the favorite herb of our family so I need to make this soon! Just pinned it to my chicken recipe board and look forward to trying!

  10. Peruvian Chicken is so delicious, and this recipe looks just as delicious! Howdy, from your neighbor here in San Antonio!

    1. Hi Karly! Our son is a student at the Culinary Institute of American San Antonio 🙂 We have family there, and love the area… Maybe we’ll meet up as Texas food bloggers one of these days!

  11. I have to admit, Peruvian food isn’t something I’m familiar with apart from Pisco Sours and ceviche so I’m interested to give this a go – I love a one pan meal and always have chicken thighs in the freezer.

    1. Well, Pisco Sours and ceviche are spectacular, and that’s more than many I’m guessing. 😉 I hope you do give it a go! Thanks Nancy!

    1. Yay for you Elizabeth! We’re hoping to go to Peru next year… One of my husband’s colleagues at UTRGV takes a group of students to Peru every year, and my husband may get to teach a class on the ecosystems of the Andes. It’s definitely at the top of our bucket list! I hope you give this arroz con pollo a try…

  12. We love trying different cuisines but we could not remember if we’ve ever tried Peruvian. So we’re very excited to try this! Your photos are amazing. The dishes are just jumping out of the screen (and making us very hungry lol). We really cannot wait to try this! We’ll tell you how it goes when we do 🙂

    1. I always appreciate hearing how you liked the recipe, so I’d be grateful to hear back! Thanks Jolina. Peruvian food really is amazing, and this simple dish is a great way to try it out at home!

    1. Oh, I hope you can find a jar of aji amarillo paste! The flavor really is indescribable. The most common brand that I’ve seen in the U.S. is Goya. Good luck!

  13. “It tastes like sunshine” ! such a descriptive phrase. I love arroz con pollo and will be trying this recipe soon. It seems so simple … the trick for me will be getting aji amarillo in Ohio.

    1. I hear you Noel! I spent 22 years in Las Cruces, NM. If it wasn’t Hatch chile, we couldn’t get it… You can always order a jar from Amazon if you really do want to try it. I have a link on the post. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!