Arroz al Horno: A Traditional Spanish Dish 

Recipes, Variations, and Cooking Tips

a large pan of arroz al horno sits waiting to be served

Arroz al Horno is a hearty rice and meat dish that comes from Valencia, Spain. The traditional recipe called ‘Arrós al forn’ in Valenciano uses cuts of pork, morcilla sausage, and rice to create a delicious oven-baked rice dish that rivals the famous paella! 

This recipe can be easily made in under an hour and requires only a large pan or oven-safe dish of around 12-15 inches (30-40cm). 

In the Valencia region, this recipe is often served as a warming and filling meal during the winter months. The classic Arroz al Horno recipe calls for the use of large white beans, however, we’ve found this recipe to be pretty filling without the beans. Plenty of traditional recipes also opt for a whole head of garlic garnished in the center, except we’ll dice some garlic instead.

Meat & Poultry Recipe | One-Pot Recipe | Easy to Make | Oven-Baked | Made in Under 1 Hour | Rice Recipe | Valencian Recipe | Makes 6-8 Servings

Serving:

6-8 servings

Ready in:

Under 1 Hour

Skill level:

Easy

Serve with:

Lemon wedges

ingredients for making arroz al horno are laid out on a kitchen table

How to make arroz al horno

Ingredients you’ll need 

  • 2 cups of paella rice (Bomba rice)
  • 2 morcilla sausages
  • 14oz (400g) of pancetta (slices 1/8th inch / 3mm thick)
  • 7oz (200g) of large bacon lardons (1 inch / 2.5cm cubes)
  • 3.5oz (100g) of fine (smoked) bacon or lardon, diced
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes, grated, skin removed
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into ½ inch (1cm) thick strips
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • Salt and cracked black pepper (for seasoning)
  • Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 liter (33 fl oz.) of homemade chicken stock

Equipment needed

  • 1 large flat pan or terracotta oven dish or oven-proof dish (approx 12-15 inches/30-40cm)
  • 1 large non-stick frying pan (if using a terracotta oven dish or another oven-proof dish)

 Watch step-by-step recipe video

If you’re looking for this recipe’s video and many other great recipe ideas, why not check out our Spanish Radish YouTube Channel? We’ve got everything from quick and easy tapas recipes, delicious main meals, and incredible Spanish dessert options too.

Origin of Arroz al Horno

Arroz al Horno’s origins trace back to the Valencia region of Spain, a testament to the area’s rich culinary tradition and rice cultivation history. This dish, deeply rooted in the agricultural communities, emerged as a practical way to utilize leftovers in a flavorful and filling manner. 

Historically, it was prepared in a clay pot, which is key to achieving its distinctive crust and depth of flavor. The combination of locally available ingredients, such as rice, tomatoes, and meats, reflects the Valencian landscape and its culinary heritage. 

Over time, Arroz al Horno has evolved, incorporating various regional influences while maintaining its core identity as a comforting and communal meal. It represents a blend of Spain’s diverse cultures and cuisines, showcasing the adaptability and creativity of Spanish cooking techniques.

Cultural Significance of Arroz al Horno

The cultural significance of Arroz al Horno extends beyond its ingredients and preparation methods; it is a dish that embodies the spirit of Spanish communal dining. Often served during gatherings and festivities, it fosters a sense of community and shared experience. 

The ritual of preparing and enjoying Arroz al Horno together has been passed down through generations, becoming an integral part of family and regional celebrations.

This dish not only nourishes the body but also strengthens bonds among family and friends.

Modern Interpretations of Arroz al Horno

In contemporary cuisine, Arroz al Horno has seen a variety of reinterpretations, blending tradition with modern culinary trends. Chefs and home cooks alike experiment with new ingredients and techniques while honoring the dish’s origins. 

These modern versions can include vegetarian and vegan adaptations, showcasing a broader array of vegetables, or fusion variations that incorporate flavors from other cuisines (check out our Vegan Arroz al Horno Recipe here). 

Such creativity ensures that Arroz al Horno remains a relevant and beloved dish in modern kitchens, illustrating the dynamic nature of culinary traditions and their ability to evolve and adapt over time.

Why you’ll love this recipe?

  • Easy to make
  • Made in under an hour
  • Rich and very filling
  • Serves 8, perfect for large gatherings
  • Ideal winter comfort food

What is Arroz al Horno?

Arroz al Horno is a traditional Spanish rice dish that uses cuts of pork and a sofrito base sauce, bell pepper, and white beans. The recipe is typically made in a large terracotta dish and is baked in the oven

This recipe hails from the Valencia region where it is called ‘Arrós al Forn’, however, you’ll find it served throughout the Iberian Peninsular, especially during the cooler winter months.

Variations of Arroz al Horno

Exploring the variations of Arroz al Horno offers a glimpse into the culinary diversity of Spanish cuisine. While the traditional Valencian recipe includes specific ingredients like morcilla and pancetta, regional variations across Spain incorporate local flavors and preferences. 

In some areas, seafood or rabbit replaces the typical meats, reflecting local dietary habits and ingredient availability. Vegetarian and vegan versions of Arroz al Horno have also gained popularity, substituting meats with rich assortments of vegetables and legumes, providing ample flavor while catering to different dietary needs. 

These variations not only showcase the versatility of Arroz al Horno but also its adaptability to various dietary preferences and nutritional requirements.

Cooking Techniques for Arroz al Horno

The cooking techniques for Arroz al Horno play a crucial role in achieving its distinctive texture and depth of flavor. A key step in the process is the sofrito, a sautéed mixture of onions, garlic, and tomatoes, which forms the flavor base. Properly caramelizing the sofrito without rushing ensures a rich foundation. 

Another essential technique is the strategic layering of ingredients in the baking dish, which allows for even cooking and distribution of flavors. Additionally, mastering the oven’s temperature settings is vital; a consistent, moderate heat ensures the rice cooks perfectly without drying out.

Do I need a paella pan to make this recipe?

Nope, in fact, traditionally this recipe is made in a large terracotta dish called a ‘Rossejadora’ in Valenciano. The dish is usually around 12-15 inches (30-40 cm) wide and with a 2-3 inch (5-8 cm) lip. 

The entire recipe can be prepared and cooked in one dish, although it’s fine to use a frying pan first and then transfer it if you don’t have a dish that’s safe for the stovetop and oven.

A casserole dish of similar size would be perfect, or any pan or large skillet that is deep enough and oven safe. It’s important that the dish has a flat bottom and that the heat source is evenly distributed. That way you’ll avoid under or overcooked rice. 

For this recipe, we used an enamel-coated paella pan that’s 12 inches / 30cm in diameter and has a 2-inch / 5cm deep lip. 

Cooking tip with a terracotta dish (Rossejadora)

If you’re using a traditional terracotta pan, it’s best to also use a non-stick frying pan to prepare the meat and sofrito base sauce. 

Then once these ingredients are prepared, transfer everything into the terracotta dish when ready for the oven. Many terracotta dishes aren’t made for use on the stovetop so it’s best to be safe. Trust us, it saves a lot of scrubbing and cleaning later anyway!

4 terracaotta bbowls of different sizes sit on a wooden counter.

What’s the best rice to use for Arroz al Horno?

Use paella rice whenever possible. We used Bomba rice from the Valencia region as it soaks up a lot of the juices and is perfect for this type of dish and cooking technique. 

If you can’t source good quality paella rice, then use short-grain arborio rice that is readily available in most grocery stores. 

How much rice to use

Allow around ½ cup per serving. 

For every cup of rice used, you’ll need 1.5-2 cups of stock.

Best cuts of meat to use

Traditional Arroz al Horno recipes from Valencia favor the use of pork, so sliced unseasoned pancetta is a natural choice. Pancetta is used in Spain and Italy to flavor soups, stocks, and broths, and is perfect where you use a stock that evaporates while cooking.

Pancetta has a high fat content which releases a lot of the juice into the other ingredients. 

Bacon and lardon

Lardon and bacon are also favorites due to their rich flavor and high-fat content that simmers down and adds plenty of delicious flavor to the rice. 

Try to find smoked bacon as it’ll add another layer of smoky flavor and complement the smoked paprika. When frying the bacon in step 1, don’t overcook it (crispy is too much) as it’ll continue to cook in the oven with the rest of the ingredients. 

Pork belly

Another fantastic cut that works great is pork belly. Request from your local butcher a thick cut of around 1 inch / 2.5 cm sized cubes and cook them for 3-4 minutes until golden.  

Poultry and game

While typically reserved for the classic Paella Valenciana, chicken, rabbit, and other game are great meat options to use in an Arroz al Horno recipe. Diced chunks of rabbit (boneless) work exceptionally well, as do chicken thighs or drumsticks.

Can Arroz al Horno be made vegetarian?

It sure can. While this recipe traditionally is made using meat, we’ve also made a vegan arroz al horno. Substitute the meat for a selection of hearty veg such as asparagus, or artichoke. Garnish with some cherry tomatoes and you’ve got a fantastic vegetarian recipe that won’t disappoint.

Serving and Pairing Suggestions for Arroz al Horno

Serving and pairing suggestions can significantly enhance the dining experience of Arroz al Horno. Traditionally served in the same dish it was cooked in, this rustic presentation underscores the dish’s homely charm. 

Pairing it with a side of aioli and a simple salad of mixed greens can balance its richness. When it comes to wine pairings, a medium-bodied Spanish red wine, such as a Tempranillo, complements the dish’s robust flavors. 

Discover more Spanih wines in our complete guide: Guide to Spanish Wine: Types, Tasting Notes, Food Pairings

For a lighter option, a crisp white wine or even a sparkling Cava adds a refreshing contrast.

a large pan of oven baked rice is topped with lots of pancetta chunks and morcilla sausage.

Health Benefits of Arroz al Horno

Arroz al Horno, a traditional Spanish dish, is not only renowned for its rich flavors but also for its nutritional benefits. This oven-baked rice dish is a wholesome meal that incorporates a variety of ingredients including rice, tomatoes, and a selection of meats like chorizo and chicken. 

The rice serves as an excellent source of carbohydrates, offering the energy needed for daily activities, while the tomatoes provide vital vitamins and antioxidants. The inclusion of lean meats like chicken adds a good source of protein, essential for muscle repair and growth. 

For a healthier twist, consider using leaner cuts of meat and increasing the proportion of vegetables to enhance the dish’s fiber content and reduce its calorie count. Emphasizing these healthful components can make Arroz al Horno a more nutritious option that doesn’t sacrifice flavor for well-being.

Nutrition facts

Serving size: 150g
Servings: 8
Amount per serving  
Calories 441
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 27.9g 36%
Saturated Fat 8.8g 44%
Cholesterol 62mg 21%
Sodium 1753mg 76%
Total Carbohydrate 26.4g 10%
Dietary Fiber 1.8g 6%
Total Sugars 3.3g  
Protein 20.7g  
Vitamin D 0mcg 0%
Calcium 30mg 2%
Iron 2mg 14%
Potassium 243mg 5%

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a large pan of arroz al horno sits waiting to be served

Arroz al Horno (Spanish-Style Oven-baked Rice)

Byron
Arroz al Horno is a hearty rice and meat dish that comes from Valencia, Spain. The traditional recipe called ‘Arrós al forn’ in Valenciano uses cuts of pork, morcilla sausage, and rice to create a delicious oven-baked rice dish that rivals the famous paella!
This recipe can be easily made in under an hour and requires only a large pan or oven-safe dish of around 12-15 inches (30-40cm).
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course lunch, Main Course, party food
Cuisine Authentic Spanish recipe, Spain, Valencia
Servings 8 servings
Calories 441 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 large flat pan or terracotta oven dish or oven-proof dish (approx 12-15 inches/30-40cm)
  • 1 large non-stick frying pan (if using a terracotta oven dish or another oven-proof dish)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of paella rice Bomba rice
  • 2 morcilla sausages
  • 14 oz 400g of pancetta (slices 1/8th inch / 3mm thick)
  • 7 oz 200g of large bacon lardons (1 inch / 2.5cm cubes)
  • 3.5 oz 100g of fine (smoked) bacon or lardon, diced
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes grated, skin removed
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic diced
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into ½ inch (1cm) thick strips
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • Salt and cracked black pepper for seasoning
  • Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 liter 33 fl oz. of chicken stock

Instructions
 

Step 1 - Prepare meat

  • Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
    An oven dial turned up to 180C
  • Start by adding half the olive oil to a non-stick pan or large flat pan on medium-high heat. Add the pancetta pieces and fry until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside. Once cooled, cut into ½ inch (1.25 cm) pieces.
    14 oz 400g of pancetta (slices 1/8th inch / 3mm thick), 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
    some strips of pancetta cook in a pan
  • Next fry the large lardon pieces and bacon bits for 3-4 minutes. Set aside with the cooked pancetta.
    7 oz 200g of large bacon lardons (1 inch / 2.5cm cubes), 3.5 oz 100g of fine (smoked) bacon or lardon, diced
    some strips of pancetta cook in a pan
  • In the same oil in the pan add the morcilla sausages. They can either be cooked whole or cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces. Cook for around 3-4 minutes and set aside with the other cooked meat to use later.
    2 morcilla sausages
    some slices of morcilla sausage cook in some oil in a pan.

Step 2 - Prepare the sofrito base

  • Give the pan a good scrape to bring up the flavor, and reduce heat to medium. Add the remaining olive oil and the diced onion, and fry for 4 minutes until the onion begins to golden.
    1 large onion
    some diced onion cooks in a pan
  • Add the garlic and bell pepper and cook for 3 minutes.
    6 cloves of garlic, 1 red bell pepper
    strips of pepper cook with some diced onion
  • Add the grated tomato and smoked paprika and season to taste. Mix well and cook on medium heat for another 5 minutes until everything softens.
    2 tomatoes, 2 heaped teaspoons of smoked paprika, Salt and cracked black pepper
    a rich tomato onion and pepper sofrito sauce cooks on a stove

Step 3 - Add rice, meat, and stock

  • Add the rice and mix through with the sofrito base.
    2 cups of paella rice
    A large canvas sack of Spanish bomba rice sits on a white background
  • Add around half of the cooked meat and mix through with around half of the stock and a squeeze of juice from half a lemon. Aim to have an even layer of rice in the dish.
    1 liter 33 fl oz. of chicken stock
  • Next, bring up the heat to high and slowly add the remaining stock until everything is covered and bubbling away on top. Place the remaining meat around the top of the other ingredients and cook for 5-6 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, add a few sprigs of rosemary and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 350°F/180°C. If you’re using a terracotta oven dish or oven-proof dish, transfer the contents from your frying pan into your dish and place the dish into the oven.
    2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
    a large pan of arroz al horno sits waiting to be served

Step 4 - Serve

  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with some fresh chopped parsley and a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
    Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, 2 lemons
    a large pan of arroz al horno sits waiting to be served

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 150gCalories: 441kcalCarbohydrates: 26.4gProtein: 20.7gFat: 27.9gSaturated Fat: 8.8gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 1753mgPotassium: 243mgFiber: 1.8gSugar: 3.3gCalcium: 30mgIron: 2mg
Keyword arroz al horno, Easy Dinner ideas, easy recipe, easy to make, one-pot recipe, Oven-baked, rice

Cooking Tips and FAQs

How long does this recipe take to make?

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 45 minutes
  • Ready in: 55 minutes

Where does Arroz al Horno originate?

Valencia, Spain. The traditional recipe is called ‘Arrós al Forn’ in Valenciano. 

What does Arroz al Horno mean in English?

Baked rice. Arroz translates to ‘rice’ and al Horno translates to ‘baked’. 

What meat is used when making Arroz al Horno?

Pancetta, bacon, and 1-inch-sized (2.5 cm) pieces of lardon work well. Pork ribs or pork belly cuts could also be used. Boneless chicken thighs and rabbit pieces also work well. 

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