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Cuban Imperial Rice recipe - Receta de Arroz Imperial


Cuban imperial rice

Arroz Imperial is not served in Cuban homes as often as arroz con pollo, yet it's still a popular meal. It's not clear exactly when and where this casserole originated in Cuba, but it's unique in that cooks typically add a layer of mayo on top after removing it from the oven.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes

  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

  • Total Time: 1 hours 45 minutes



2 large skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 cup rice
1 can (4 ounces) tomato paste
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1/2 cup diced white onion
1/4 cup green peas
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
Dash of salt
Dash of red pepper



Add enough water to a large pot so that the chicken breasts will be covered. Bring water to a boil over medium high heat. Wash the chicken breasts and cut them in half before the water boils. Reduce the heat the low, then add chicken and garlic and cover. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked.

Remove chicken, and save the broth in the pot. Shred the chicken into large chunks using two forks, then set aside.

Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a saucepan over low heat. Add the diced bell pepper and onion, saute until the onion is translucent. Add the tomato paste and chicken, bringing mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Add peas, and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Mix in a dash of salt and red pepper, remove from heat and set aside.

Add a cup of rice to the chicken broth mixture, and one teaspoon of ground annatto seed or achiote paste for color. Cover pot and cook for 15-20 minutes until the rice absorbs most of the broth. Remove from heat and stir the mayonnaise into the cooked rice until it is mixed well.

Preheat oven to 350F. Spread half of your rice mixture on the bottom of a glass baking dish. Add a layer of shredded chicken on top of the rice. Add the remaining rice mixture to the top of the chicken, pressing down with a spatula to make everything firm and level. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top of the last layer. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes, remove before cheese starts to brown.

Optional: Add a thin layer of mayo to the top layer of rice after removing from oven. It may sound unusual, but it's a very popular way for Cubans to enjoy this dish. This recipe serves 8-10.

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Directions on how to make authentic Cuban Imperial rice with cheese and mayo.

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