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Island Bites: Puerto Rican Pollo Guisado (Chicken Stew)

Island Bites is a Puerto Rican cook with decades of experience in the kitchen. She's an expert in Latin American cuisine.

A delicious bowl of Puerto Rican pollo guisado

A delicious bowl of Puerto Rican pollo guisado

What Is Pollo Guisado?

Pollo guisado is a traditional Puerto Rican chicken stew. Most Latin American countries have a version of this dish. The base for the Puerto Rican version is sofrito. It is made with potatoes and olives, and it is typically served over white rice.

Pollo guisado is traditionally served over white rice

Pollo guisado is traditionally served over white rice

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  • 2 to 3 lbs chicken, chopped into pieces
  • 1/2 cup sofrito
  • 1 cup Spanish-style tomato sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup white wine or beer (optional)
  • 2 ounces smoked ham, diced small
  • 2 to 3 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried cumin
  • 1 roasted red pepper
  • 1/4 cup olives, sliced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons oil

Ingredient Notes

  • Remove the skin of the chicken for a healthier version of this dish.
  • You can use skinless boneless chicken thighs or breasts.
  • For the full Puerto Rican experience, add tostones (fried plantains) and a slice of avocado as sides.


  1. Cut the chicken into smaller pieces. You can use a whole chicken or any part of the chicken you prefer (e.g., thighs or breasts). Season with oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. After seasoning the meat, allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Add the oil to a skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear on both sides.
  3. After the chicken is seared, add the ham, sofrito and tomato sauce. Let it fry for 1-2 minutes.
  4. If you're using the optional wine of beer, add it at this point. If not, add 1/4 cup of water. Let it start to boil. Add potatoes, bay leaves, red pepper and olives. Add salt to taste. Turn down the temperature.
  5. Let it simmer, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes.
  6. Serve over rice. Enjoy and buen provecho!

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