Please note that I no longer eat meat or dairy and my site has completely transitioned to vegan-nutritarian living and recipes.  This recipe has been very popular on Pinterest so I have decided to keep it up here for you. 

I am half Cuban, and very proud–especially of our culinary heritage!  We got the best flavors from Spain, from the Caribbean, and from Africa all in one culture!  It is truly delicious and if you’ve never enjoyed a Cuban dish, this is a FANTASTIC starter recipe!

My sister and her in-laws were just in town for my wedding and they treated my family to a true Cuban feast!  The funny thing is I have never even had this dish before and, by-the-way…it’s not even really Cuban!  It’s actually a traditional Central American dish that was enjoyed by the upper class in the colonial times.  However, this dish has become very popular by Miami-based-Cubans who typically eat it for special occasions like bridal or baby showers, luncheons or other celebrations.  My sister and her in-laws have had it many times and I was so happy that I would be eating it for the first time with them.

When I heard what was in it (namely cheese and mayonnaise) I was very skeptical that is was going to taste like the typical, flavorful Cuban dishes I’ve known, but I was pleasantly surprised!  I would best describe it as a richer version of Arroz Con Pollo (chicken and yellow rice).  It takes a bit of prep time but that is typical of most Cuban dishes; it takes time to develop those flavors!  I definitely suggest making this recipe for a family get-together because it feeds an army–but take my advise and make sure there are leftovers because (like all Cuban dishes) it tastes better a day later!

I have to give BIG props to my older sister who whipped this dish up surprisingly quickly and it tasted SOOOOO freaking good, we all had second and third helpings!  She served it with a typical Cuban side salad (I will post that soon), fresh bread, and fried plantains!  QUE RICO!

Boiling the chicken with onion and garlic imparts flavor to the chicken while preparing it for shredding.




  • 3 lbs. chicken breast
  • 2 medium onions, 1 coarsely chopped, 1 finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. cooking wine
  • 4 cups long grain rice
  • 7 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1 medium lime, juiced
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • about 3-4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • pimento peppers, for garnish
  • 3 packets “Sazon” seasoning packets or 3 tsp “Bijol” seasoning (or 3 tsp paprika and 1 cylinder saffron)
Incorporate the mayo to your cooked rice and make sure to mix well.


  1. Wash chicken and place in stock pot with enough water to cover the chicken.  Add 1 onion and 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered until the meat starts to fall apart.
  2. Remove the chicken and reserve the broth (you will use it when you add the rice).  After chicken has cooled, shred the chicken using a fork.  Set aside.
  3. Make the “Sofrito” (see black bean recipe for more info): Set on medium heat, pour in enough EVOO to cover the bottom of your saucepan and add the chopped green peppers first.  Saute for about 5 minutes and then add the onions.  Continue to saute for another 5 minutes then add salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, bay leaf and garlic.  Saute an additional 2-3 minutes, making sure not to burn the garlic.  Your onions should be transparent.  Raise your stove top temperature to high and immediately add your cooking wine. 
  4. Add the chicken and lime juice to the Sofrito mixture and cook on high until all the alcohol in the wine burns off.  Add the tomato sauce and reduce to medium heat.  Set aside the chicken mixture.
  5. Cook the rice (you can set the rice to cook before you begin preparing the chicken mixture to reduce time): wash the rice and add 8 cups of the chicken broth water to the rice, stir.  Add your seasoning (this imparts the yellow hue to the rice), my sister used about 3 packets of Sazon seasoning (I will post more about this product soon).  Bring rice to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes, until the rice is cooked. 
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  7. Add the mayo to the rice a little bit at a time until all incorporated and mixed well. 
  8. Spread 1/3 of the rice mixture onto a 13x9x2 foil pan.  Add a layer of the chicken mixture over the rice (use all of the chicken mixture in this layer).  Add another layer of rice on top of chicken mixture and then top with 1/2 the mozzarella cheese.  Add the remaining rice and then the remaining cheese over the last layer of rice.  
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes.  The cheese should be melted and begin to brown.
  10. Garnish the completed dish with strips of pimento and sprigs of curly parsley. 

If you have older children, these recipes are a great way to teach your children about another country’s history through its cuisine.

xo, Kristen
Kristen Hong of Hello Nutritarian

Join The Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • Anonymous says:

    Yum-mo, I think I will try this recipe, being that I am also half Cuban and from Miami, LOL. I have never tried this before either. I LOVE cooking and always need new ideas, thanks my Cuban friend!

    • Kristen says:

      Mommas: this is the original chef for this recipe!  My sister Suzie!  Thank you sis it was SOOO delicious and enjoyed for several days afterwards, and yes it got better each day! 

  • hipchicka3 says:

    i have a friend who is part cubanita and her family has made this before very delish 🙂

  • Lopez18mari says:

    One can of tomato. .  8oz, 16 oz?  What size?

    • Kristen says:

       Hi!  Thanks for catching that!  If I remember correctly it was one 8 oz can of tomato sauce, but I will double-check with my sister before I edit the recipe.  Hope you enjoy it!

  • lourditah says:

    this recipe is super good thank you!

  • Lisa says:

    My husband is a very picky eater but he loves this recipe more than some local shops. Thank you 🙂

    • Kristen says:

      Hi Lisa! So happy to hear that your family is enjoying this dish! I am about to post some more of my favorite Cuban recipes!

  • Visforvanessa says:

    Can I know how many servings this provided? I am attempting this for the first. Time for my hubby’s birthday party tomorrow and I am nervous. About 30 people…do I double…triple the recipe?

    • Kristen says:

      Hi! So glad you found the recipe! So you can see in the pictures it made a large lasagna-sized pan, stacked high! We fed a group of 10 and had lots of leftovers! For 30 people I think I would double the recipe to be safe and allow your guests to take some home for later!

      Please let me know how it all goes and post pics if you get a chance! Happy birthday to your boyfriend!

  • Frank says:

    Tomorrow is my wifes baby shower. She wants Arroz Imperial – instead of buying at a Food by Pound place I have decided to cook for her and her guests. I sort of know how to make it but this seems to be the best recipe and I am using it as guidance. I’ll come back and comment.

    • Kristen says:

      I’m so excited you chose this recipe!! You’re going to love it! I’d love to know how it turns out and I hope your wife loves it on her special day!

      • Frank says:

        Thank you! It was great. All the Cuban Grandmothers and aunts loved it and most importantly so did my wife.

  • bessy says:

    hi! i was thinking of trying this recipe out for thanksgiving but the husband can’t do mayonnaise for the life of him. would it mess it up if i just left it out and maybe added more cheese and mixed it with the rice? thank you!

    • Kristen says:

      Hi Bessy!

      What about the mayo upsets his stomach? Or is it just his preference that there’s no mayo?

      You can always do a mayo alternative like “Just Mayo” that doesn’t have eggs.

      I think you’d need a bit of a binder, try doing a bit of olive oil instead!

      xo, Kristen

  • Kenia says:

    I have a question, how many people does this feed? I’m making for about 25 people how many dishes of arroz imperial should I make?

    • Kristen says:

      Hi Kenia!

      I would say to make two batches of this recipe. We were a party of 12 and we had tons of leftovers, but I always say it’s better to be safe and let guests take home some!

      xo, Kristen

  • Diana Delgado says:

    I made this ! It’s in the oven and I am literally waiting for the last 5min of the baking to be done now! (It looked like the most simplest, yet, closest to what I wanted recipe! )
    I skipped green peppers and added Frozen (defrosted) mixed veggies (peas, carrots, corn & green beans) to the chicken mixture before layering (To get my kids to eat their veggies). I also added a layer of mozzarella cheese on top of the chicken also. Since I ran out of shredded cheese layering I used fresh mozzarella on top.
    I wish I could upload a picture 😕: it looks yummy! We can’t wait to eat!! 😋
    I will be posting and sharing this recipe and pictures to my Fb so ensure you get the credit!👏

    • Kristen | Hello Nutritarian says:

      Yay!! So happy you liked the recipe and I would LOVE to see the finished product! Thank you so much for sharing–that is too kind!!

      xo, Kristen

  • Karem says:

    The rice is not being mixed with the mayo. You put a layer of rice, press firmly, then cover with mayo, then chicken.. and so own…

    • Kristen | Hello Nutritarian says:

      Hi Karem!

      I think everyone does it a little different, my sister has always mixed the mayo in the rice!

      xo, Kristen

  • Cathy says:

    What size can of tomatoe sauce?

  • Chef to the stars says:

    WELL DONE…… Not just the recipe, but how you celebrate your passion and the ingredients in your heritage.

    I’m making this for some of my “fun,gringo friends”….
    They think Imperial rice is ASIAN.
    I haven’t told them the Latin surprise.
    I’ve made this recipe before…. raves!

  • Lupe Santos says:

    Hi Kristen, I too am a fellow Cuban and want to make this recipe, it looks great. I’m making this for my daughters wedding anniversary. Originally I was only having 11 people coming, now it’s 15, if I add another chicken breast and another cup of rice to your recipe would that be enough for 15? I’m on a budget and can double the recipe for left overs. Thank you

    • Kristen Hong says:

      Hi Lupe!

      Always lovely to meet a fellow Cuban and congratulations to your daughter!

      I think you will be just fine with those additions, this recipe makes a very large batch!

      xo, Kristen

  • Iliana Pino says:

    If I make this the dau before, do I heat it first then add the cheese and put back in the oven? For how long in the oven if make it the dau before?
    Thank you!