This Cuban-inspired one pot chicken and rice recipe is easy and low-maintenance, but most importantly, full of flavor. Chicken thighs flavored with lime, coriander and cumin are baked over turmeric-scented rice for a complete, delicious meal that that whole family will love.
This one pot chicken and rice recipe has been interpreted in so many ways at our house in the last few months. It's fast, it's easy, and it's oh-so-versatile. Just choose a flavor profile, and vary your seasonings and mix-ins accordingly.
The beauty of this is that the juices from the chicken permeate and flavor the rice as it cooks, so it makes for an ultra-flavorful dish.
It is perfect for weeknights when you're craving the comfort only chicken-and-rice can provide, but you don't quite have the time for a (totally worthwhile) project like my favorite chicken, shrimp and sausage jambalaya.
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The basic idea is to take bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, marinate them briefly (or overnight) and then sear them in a pan. Then, in this same pan, add some rice, seasonings, veggies, etc., put the chicken back in, and bake until everything is cooked through.
Chicken thighs are great for this because they take longer to cook and don't dry out, so the rice and chicken are perfectly done at the same time.
Can I use chicken breasts instead of thighs?
You sure can! Since chicken breasts cook faster and will dry out if cooked for too long, I prefer to use a stovetop method for cooking them instead of the oven.
So basically, follow the instructions below, but instead of popping the pan in the oven, just simmer - covered - on the stovetop for about 20-25 minutes. The chicken and rice will be perfectly cooked at the same time.
This time I went with a Cuban-inspired version of this basic chicken and rice recipe, and I was thrilled with how it turned out. The rice is flavored with turmeric so it's gorgeous bright yellow flecked with red bell pepper and onion.
The chicken is marinated with lime zest, coriander and cumin. I had planned to serve it with a mango salsa but got side-tracked, and just ended up serving it with chopped mango pieces, which was lovely.
What Kind of Pot or Pan should I use to make this one pot Cuban chicken and rice recipe?
This recipe would work well in a dutch oven, or any other oven-safe heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid. I used my trusty All-Clad sauté pan, which worked beautifully. A large skillet, providing it is oven-safe, could probably be used as well, but the sauté pan is deeper and has straight sides for keeping all the liquid in.
If your lid is not so tight-fitting, just put a piece of aluminum foil over the pan before putting the lid on to make a good seal. A good seal is essential for ensuring that the liquid does not evaporate before the rice has a chance to cook.
This was a winner with the whole family, including the toddler, which this is how I define success in the kitchen these days!
Sound good to you? If you make this recipe, I would love it if you would take a pic and tag me on Instagram @ourhappymess!
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One Pot Cuban Chicken and Rice Recipe
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- zest of one lime
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 slices bacon chopped
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 1 small red bell pepper chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup dry long grain white rice
- 2 ¼ cup chicken stock
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- In a medium bowl, combine the garlic powder, onion powder, coriander, cumin, lime zest and juice, salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and stir to form a paste. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat a dutch oven, saute pan, or any deep oven-safe pan with a lid over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook until browned. Remove bacon to a plate and drain all but one tablespoon of the fat from the pan.
- Return the pan to the heat and place the chicken thighs in the pan. Sear on both sides until golden brown, and remove to a plate. If any black bits have accumulated in the bottom of the pan, wipe them out with a paper towel. Brown bits are fine!
- Add one tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and return to medium heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook until tender, 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in the turmeric and salt. Add the rice and stir until coated with the spices.
- Slowly pour in the chicken stock, and stir. Add the chicken back to the pot, laying it on top of the rice, and sprinkle the surrounding rice with the bacon.
- Raise the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer. Place the lid on the pot or pan. If the lid does not fit tightly enough, cover the pot with a sheet of aluminum foil before placing the lid on and press down tightly.
- Transfer the pot to the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking for another 5-10 minutes, until the rice is fully cooked and has absorbed all the liquid, and the chicken is no longer pink.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro.