This Spanish Chicken And Yellow Rice recipe (also known as Arroz Con Pollo) with peas is an easy one-pot meal that blends delicious lemon and garlic turmeric rice with flavorful spiced chicken thighs that are all cooked on the stovetop. It's a fast, flavorful chicken recipe that's perfect for busy weeknights.
Ok, this is one of those dishes. You know the type - the ones where the prep is easy, the cook time isn't too bad, and the taste is amazing? Yep, this Spanish chicken and rice recipe (also known as Arroz Con Pollo) is quickly becoming one of my favorite weeknight dinners.
A complete meal in one pot (it's all made in a large skillet), it's a go-to recipe for a busy weeknight and is a great recipe for just using whatever basics you have. If you're in need of a comforting easy meal the whole family will love, look no further. This one has you covered.
Why You’ll Love This Easy Meal
- One Pot! I love cooking, but I HATE cleaning up afterward. An easy one-pot meal is my favorite type of dish since it means way fewer dishes to wash - especially helpful at the end of a busy day. This chicken and yellow rice casserole fits the bill perfectly and all cooks in a large, deep skillet.
- Simple Ingredients. At a glance, the ingredient list looks long, but you’ll find that many of the ingredients are actually spices that you probably already have.
- Healthy. This dish is basically chicken, rice, spices, and peas. It’s a healthy dinner with easy, simple ingredients. And the turmeric (more on that below) adds a ton of health benefits.
- Versatile. I used chicken thighs and basmati rice, and peas here, but if you want to sub in chicken breasts or even leftover rotisserie chicken that works. And the you can use any type of rice or veggie you'd like - Jasmine or saffron rice would be great here and feel free to sub in carrots, bell pepper or even green beans or squash for the peas.
- Beautiful. This is a gorgeous dish - the vibrant, bright colors from the yellow chicken and rice mixed with the pop of green from the peas makes this company worthy.
This easy recipe uses simple ingredients. Here are the main things you'll need:
- Basmati rice. I love a long grain rice for this recipe. Basmati has a nice nutty flavor that pairs super well with the turmeric and spices of the dish. If you can’t find basmati rice, you could use jasmine rice or white rice, although they are slightly stickier than basmati rice.
- Chicken. I prefer to use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs in this recipe as the dark meat cuts are a bit moister than breasts. Drumsticks would also work well in this dish.
- Spices. This is a heavily spiced dish, but it’s not spicy. It contains all sorts of Middle Eastern spices - cumin, paprika, cardamom, and most notably, turmeric, which is what gives this dish its vibrant yellow color.
- Lemon. Lemon juice and lemon zest help brighten this chicken and rice dish.
- Peas. The peas add such a nice color contrast to this casserole and make it a gorgeous dish to serve for company.
How To Make This Spanish Chicken And Yellow Rice
This is an easy weeknight meal since there’s not much chopping, and you only need one pot to make it. Here’s how to make this easy chicken and yellow rice skillet.
- First, rinse your rice. Rinsing the rice helps to remove the extra starch from the rice, which helps to keep the grains separated when cooked and makes the rice nice and fluffy. It also removes any dirt, dust, or debris from the rice. Place the rice in a colander and rinse it with water until the water runs clear. Allow the water to drain from the rice while you’re preparing your everything else. (Read a step-by-step guide to rinsing rice here.)
- Next, prepare your chicken. Rinse your thighs with water and pat dry. Mix the spices for the chicken and liberally rub the thighs on all sides with the spice mixture.
- Cook the chicken. Place a large, deep skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat on the stovetop and add a bit of olive oil. Add the chicken and cook it for about 4-5 minutes, searing it on each side until the outside is a nice golden brown. Remove the tender chicken thighs from the pan and set aside while you cook the rice.
- Saute the veggies. In the same pan, add a touch more oil, then add your chopped onions. Saute the onion in the pan until it turns translucent, scraping up any residue from the chicken in the pan. Add garlic, lemon juice and zest, cardamom, turmeric, and thyme, and saute for 30 seconds more.
- Saute the rice. Add the rice to the pan and saute it in the oil for a few minutes before adding the broth. Frying the rice before adding the broth again helps to reduce some of the starch, making it less sticky. Frying the rice also adds additional flavor.
- Simmer. Add the chicken broth or chicken stock and the seared chicken to the pan, bring to a boil, then cover the pan and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook everything for 10 minutes on the stove before adding the frozen peas, then cook for an additional 10 minutes until the broth has been fully absorbed by the rice and the peas are tender.
- Serve. Remove the pan from heat, garnish with parsley, and serve.
Variations And Substitutions
- Substitute the chicken. You could easily use another cut of chicken, like chicken breasts, drumsticks, or even chicken wings. You could also use boneless chicken, although if you do use something like boneless skinless chicken thighs, I wouldn't cook them the entire time with the rice or else they may dry out a little bit. Add them about halfway through the cooking time, about 15 minutes in.
- Substitute the broth. Don't have chicken broth? A chicken bouillon cube with a few cups of water will also work.
- Use a yellow rice mix. There are admittedly a lot of spices in this recipe. If you don't have them all, and don't want to run out to purchase them, look for a yellow rice mix to use instead, which will contain the rice and likely most of the spices you'll need for this easy diner. Just be sure to check the liquid/rice ratios, as well as the cooking time on the back of the package if you go this route.
- Add some olives. Add some green olives for a classic Spanish flare.
- Substitute the peas. If peas aren't your favorite, you can use a number of other veggies for this dish, including carrots, squash, zucchini or bell peppers.
- Be careful with the turmeric. The bright yellow of the turmeric is what gives this yellow chicken and rice its bright color. However, it stains VERY easily, and will even stain your hands when applying the rub. Consider using gloves when rubbing the thighs with the spice mixture if you don’t want to walk around with yellow hands and nails for the rest of the day. And use an apron when cooking to avoid splatters onto your clothes. (I know from experience it’s hard to get out!)
- Use skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs. I love the turmeric-flavored crispy skin on the seared chicken. Keeping the skin on and using bone-in chicken also helps to keep it super moist.
- Double check your rice/liquid rations. While the cooking time and liquid work well for the basmati rice that I used here, make sure to also check the instructions on your package to make sure that the you're using the enough liquid for the rice to cook, and the cooking time is consistent. This is especially true if you use a different variety, like jasmine, or brown rice.
- Don't let the rice burn. Give the bottom of the pot a stir every now and then as it cooks to prevent the rice from burning and/or sticking.
Frequently Asked Questions
Turmeric is the special ingredient in this recipe that makes everything yellow. It’s a bright yellow powder that comes from turmeric root, and is often used in middle eastern, and Indian and Spanish recipes. Turmeric adds an earthy bitterness to many dishes, but it’s not spicy. It’s typically blended with other spices and is used often in turmeric rice and curry dishes.
Turmeric also has many health benefits. Curcumin, the main component in turmeric, has strong anti-inflammatory effects and is a strong antioxidant.
Research is still being done, but it’s also thought that turmeric may be helpful in preventing cancer, lowering your risk of heart disease, treating Alzheimer’s disease, and treating depression (among other things). Apart from it’s wonderful flavor in many dishes, turmeric is also often used as a dietary supplement and in turmeric tea.
Yes! If you can easily sear the chicken and veggies on saute mode in the instant pot or an electric pressure cooker, or rice cooker then add spices, the uncooked rice, and broth and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Quick release the remaining pressure.
Yes! This chicken and yellow rice recipe is freezer friendly! To freeze it, allow it to cool completely in the refrigerator. Then place everything in a freezer-friendly container and place it in the freezer. Chicken and rice will keep for 1 month in the freezer. When ready to eat, thaw the dish overnight, covered, in the refrigerator, and reheat for 30-40 minutes, covered in the oven at 380 degrees. Consume the reheated dish within 2 days.
You can store leftover chicken and rice in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
What To Serve With Yellow Rice, Chicken And Peas
This flavorful chicken recipe pairs really well with a light side dish, and goes great with greens! Here are some nice options to serve alongside the yellow basmati rice and chicken:
- A Simple Side Salad
- Chopped Zucchini Salad With Parmesan And Herbs
- Nectarine And Quinoa Salad With Feta
- Easy 20-Minute Yogurt Flatbread
- Homemade Pita Bread Recipe
More Delicious Weeknight Meals
- Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs With Sausage And Potatoes
- Easy Red Chicken Enchiladas
- Mediterranean Grilled Chicken
- One-Pot Chicken Minestrone Soup
- Sweet Potato Shephard's Pie
Did you make this Chicken And Yellow Rice? Let me know what you think in the comments below, and don't forget to tag me on Instagram @frontrangefed!
One-Pot Spanish Chicken And Yellow Rice Recipe
For The Chicken
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
- ½ tablespoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For The Rice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 ½ tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- zest from 1 lemon
- 1 tsp ground tumeric
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 ½ cups frozen peas
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- Place the rice in a colander or a fine mesh strainer and rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Allow the rice to drain while you prepare the chicken.
- Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Mix the spices for your chicken - turmeric, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Season the chicken thighs well on all sides (use gloves if you don’t want the spice mix to stain your hands!). Add 2 tablespoon of oil to a large pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and sear it on medium high heat for 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.
- Add the ¼ cup of oil to the pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 4-5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. The cooking onion should loosen some of the leftover bits of chicken and spice that may have stuck to the pan when cooking the chicken. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan and loosen these bits. Add garlic, lemon juice and zest, cardamom, turmeric and thyme and saute for 30 seconds more.
- Add the rinsed and drained rice to the pan. Allow the rice to cook in the oil for one minute, stirring frequently. Add the broth and the seared chicken to the pan and bring the mixture to a boil, then cover the pan, reduce the heat to a low simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the frozen peas to the rice mixture and cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the rice has fully absorbed the broth and the peas are soft.
- Garnish the dish with the chopped parsley and serve.
- Use gloves, and an apron when rubbing the chicken with spices to avoid staining your hands or clothes! Turmeric stains so easily and even a little splatter can ruin a shirt or outfit.
- Use skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs for the moistest, most flavorful chicken.
- Compare the broth amount and cooking times to what your rice packaging says and adjust as needed (especially if you are using something other than basmati rice).
- Freezer-friendly! To freeze, allow the dish to cool completely, cover it tightly in a freezer-friendly container, and place it in the freezer for up to 1 month. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in a 380 degrees oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees F. You may need to add a small amount of additional broth or water to add a bit more moisture to the rice and prevent the dish from becoming too dry when reheating.