Sazón Is The Puerto Rican Staple That You Need For Spiced-Up Rice

You have lots of different options for spice blends to keep in your kitchen, but there's a strong case that sazón should be at the top of that list. Latin American cuisines, from Mexico all the way down to Argentina, encompass an incredibly diverse collection of regional specialties. One of the most overlooked of these in the U.S. is Puerto Rican, which is surprising considering its status as an American territory. Puerto Rican food encompasses a truly astonishing array of local dishes from a multitude of Caribbean, Spanish, and African influences, but one thing a lot of them share in common with other LatAm dishes is rice. And when you want to flavor rice in Puerto Rico, sazón is one of the best ways to go.

Sazón is popular across the Latin world, but what is in it varies by region, and the spice mix is most associated with Puerto Rico, where it's a staple used not just for rice but meats, braises, and veggies as well. Sazón Goya is the go-to supermarket brand, which combines the flavors of spices like coriander, garlic, cumin, and achiote, a uniquely flavored bitter, earthy seed that's also known as annatto. The savory mix of ingredients in sazón gives whatever it's added to a warm, herbal, and lightly tangy flavor, and it's one of the easiest ways to take a simple pot of rice to the next level.

Sazón is a spice mixture that will make deeply flavorful rice

Using sazón with rice is simple, and it can be incorporated into almost any dish. Just add it to your pot right before the liquid, and let it season the rice as it cooks. It can help to fry your spices in oil along with your rice for a minute to help bring out deeper flavors as well. Keep in mind that packaged sazón will have salt and usually MSG in it already, so you should cut back or eliminate the additional salt you would normally put in the water or stock.

One of the best rice dishes to give sazón a try with is a classic chicken and rice, where the blend can be used to season both the grains and the meat. Rice with sazón will be flavorful enough that it's great with just some roasted vegetables too, or as the base for a helping of stewed carne.

While you can probably grab Sazón Goya from the store, it's also worth it to make your own fresh. The basic mix is an equal amount of ground cumin, coriander, achiote, garlic, and onion powder, usually with black pepper, salt, and Mexican oregano as well. The most common addition beyond this is turmeric, which will add to the earthy warm flavor and combine with the achiote to give dishes a golden color. Keep it in your pantry, and it's more than just rice that will get an upgrade.