We’re big-time rice lovers in my Cuban family and arroz amarillo is no exception.
What is Arroz Amarillo?
Arroz amarillo [pronounced a·rros ah·mah·ree·yoh] simply translates to yellow rice. It’s made of long-grain white rice and it gets its yellow color from Bijol. This traditional Latin seasoning, also known as “achiote” or “annotto” powder, is an inexpensive substitute for saffron.
This Spanish yellow rice recipe is a popular side dish not only among Cubans but also throughout Spain, the Caribbean, and Latin America. It’s not spicy but it is flavorful.
Let me show you how to make it!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Onion, green bell pepper, garlic, jarred sliced pimientos, tomato sauce. The sofrito! This is the base of most Cuban recipes. Pimientos are sweet, roasted red peppers. We, often, use these ingredients in rice recipes to add color and flavor.
- Long-grain white rice. I prefer long-grain white rice because it doesn’t get clumpy.
- Chicken bouillon cube + water. Instead of chicken stock, we’re using a chicken bouillion cube which elevates flavor without the need to add too many spices.
- Bijol. I recommend using Bijol instead of saffron, which can be very expensive, to color the rice. You can also use annatto or turmeric powder. All you need is a 1/8 teaspoon. A little bit goes a long way! If you add more, you run the risk of the rice looking more orange than yellow.
- Bay leaf, salt, and pepper.
Recommended For This Recipe
Step By Step Instructions
- Cook the sofrito. Add onion, green pepper, and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients. Add sliced pimentos and tomato sauce. Sauté for 1 minute. Add rice, water, bouillon cube, Bijol, bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/4 teaspoon and adjust later). Bring to a boil.
- Cook the rice. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender about 15 minutes.
- Fluff the yellow rice! Remove from heat. Keep the lid on for another 5-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. The rice should be moist and delicious.
How do I get fluffy yellow rice?
- Keep the lid on! While the rice is cooking, don’t peek! For those 15 minutes, make sure the lid is on tight on the pot. The steam is what cooks the rice and keeps it fluffy.
- Use a fork to fluff the rice. When you use a spoon, you run the risk of the rice getting mushy. Using a fork releases the rest of the moisture and steam which is how yellow rice retains its fluffiness.
Looking for more Cuban recipes? Read about the 10 Traditional Cuban Side Dishes!
You can serve arroz amarillo with just about anything! Sometimes my mom would buy diced ham (instead of peas) and fold it into the rice. SO GOOD.
- Cuban Pollo a la Plancha (Easy Griddled Chicken Breast)
- Pinchos De Pollo (Easy Cuban-Style Chicken Skewers)
- Cuban Pollo Asado (Grilled or Roasted Chicken)
- Baked Ham with Brown Sugar Glaze
- Tostones (Twice-Fried Green Plantains)
- Sweet Plantains (Platanos Maduros)
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container and chill in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can also transfer it to a freezer-safe plastic bag and freeze it for up to 2 months. I would recommend you thaw it to room temperature before reheating it on the stove.
Hope you make it and LOVE it!
Easy Arroz Amarillo (Spanish Yellow Rice)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup onion diced
- 1/3 cup green bell pepper diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 4 ounces jarred pimentos drained and sliced
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 2 cups uncooked long-grain rice washed and rinsed
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- 1/8 teaspoon Bijol (you can also use annatto or turmeric powder to color the rice)
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt + pepper to taste
- In a Dutch oven or saucepan with a lid, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, green pepper, and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add sliced pimentos and tomato sauce. Sauté for 1 minute. Add rice, water, bouillon cube, Bijol, bay leaf, salt, and pepper to taste (start with 1/4 teaspoon then taste and adjust later). Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 15 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE LID. The steam is what cooks the rice.
- Remove from heat. Keep the lid on for another 5-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, never a spoon. The rice should be moist and delicious. Enjoy!