Arroz al Horno: Spanish Oven-Baked Meaty Rice (Valencia, Spain)

Arroz al horno is a hearty Valencian oven-baked rice dish that’s made with the famous bomba rice. As the name suggests (literally translates to ‘oven-baked rice’), this dish is cooked in the oven. It uses a few different cuts of pork, and it’s traditionally cooked in a large ceramic dish and cooked with morcilla sausage and garnished with a whole head of garlic and some sliced tomato. 

As with much of Spanish cooking, a rich sofrito sauce is used to help flavor the dish along with plenty of smoked paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper. While this recipe is typically not spicy, you can easily add some heat with a little cayenne pepper or chili to suit your taste. 

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Oven time: 30 minutes
  • Ready in: 1 hour
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Table of contents:

How to Make Arroz al Horno (Oven-Baked Meaty Rice)


(Serves 6-8 as a main)

  • 2 cups of paella rice (e.g. Bomba rice)
  • 2 morcilla (blood) sausages
  • 5-6 normal sausages (chorizo is also great)
  • 14 oz / 400g of pancetta (slices 1/8th inch, 3mm thick)
  • 7 oz / 200g of large bacon lardons (1 inch, 2.5cm cubes)
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes grated, skin removed
  • 1 tomato (sliced 1/8th inch, 3mm rounds)
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic diced
  • 1 whole head of garlic (tops trimmed)
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 33 fl oz / 1 liter of chicken stock
  • Salt and cracked black pepper for seasoning (to taste)
  • 1-2 lemons, cut into wedges (for serving)
  • Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (for serving)

Equipment Needed

You’ll need to use the stovetop and the oven for this recipe. If you don’t have a suitable pan for both, using two different pans/dishes will also work out fine. 

  • 1 large flat pan (stove top and oven-proof) or oven-proof dish (approx 12-15 inches/30-40cm)
  • 1 large non-stick frying pan (if using oven-proof dish)
  • Box grater


Step 1 – Brown meat

  • Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
  • Prepare your chicken stock on the side, and bring it to a simmer (for use later).
  • Start by browning the meat in batches. Cook the pancetta, sausages, and pork pieces. Once browned (around 5 minutes) set the meat aside on a plate for use later. 
  • Note: do not cook the morcilla sausage as it will break apart (you add it later in step 3). If using raw chorizo sausage, cut it into 1-inch/2.5cm slices before cooking. 

Step 2 – Prepare the sofrito sauce

  • In the same pan, give it 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.
  • Add the garlic and bell pepper and cook for 3 minutes or until the pepper begins to soften.
  • Add the grated tomato and smoked paprika. Add a splash of stock.
  • Mix well and cook on medium heat for another 5 minutes until everything softens. 

Step 3 – Add rice, meat, and stock

  • Add a ladle or two of stock and mix through. 
  • Add the rice and mix through with the sofrito sauce.
  • Add around half of the cooked meat and mix into the sauce. 
  • Next, bring up the heat to high and slowly add the remaining stock until everything is covered and bubbling away on top, once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer. Place the remaining meat around the top of the other ingredients and simmer 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 on the middle shelf. Cooking note: If you’re using an oven-proof dish for this step instead of a pan, transfer the contents from your frying pan into your dish and place the dish into the oven.

Step 4 – Serve

  • Garnish with lemon wedges to squeeze over everything.
  • Sprinkle chopped parsley over everything.

a large pan of arroz al horno sits beside some glasses of red wine.

Origin of Arroz al Horno

Arroz al Horno is a time-honored recipe that originates from the rice-growing region of Valencia, Spain. The Valencia region is the same region that is famous for other rice dishes such as paella which uses Bomba rice that is grown in the region. 

Arroz al horno is a deep flavorful recipe that was traditionally cooked in a large terracotta dish and builds layers of flavor by using various cuts of meat, morcilla sausage, a selection of vegetables, a sofrito sauce, and herbs and spices typically used in Spanish cooking: smoked paprika, oregano, and rosemary. 

What Cuts of Meat to Use?

Pork is favored for a good arroz al horno, and you’ll want to use a few different cuts of meat to really enhance the flavor. 

We use pancetta, on-bone pork pieces, and morcilla sausage (a type of sausage made with ground pork meat, pig blood, and spices, similar to a Scottish blood sausage). Other (non-typical) types of meat used could include chorizo sausage, or pork belly. 

Bomba Rice for Arroz al Horno

Use paella rice to make an authentic flavored and textured Arroz al Horno. Bomba rice is a short-grain type of rice that is grown in the Valencia region. It is prized for rice dishes such as paella as it soaks up a lot of the juices. 

Bomba rice is easy to find online or at any reputable Spanish food store. 

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

What is Sofrito?

Sofrito is a sauce that is popular in Spanish cuisine. It is made with onion, garlic, and grated tomato pulp that is simmered down and sauteed in oil to create a rich base sauce. You’ll find sofrito used in many popular Spanish recipes, including paella, fideua, and rice dishes like arroz al horno. 

While sofrito is not difficult to make, it does take at least 20 minutes to allow all the ingredients to simmer down and saute. As it is a labor of love to make a good sofrito, the longer you can leave it to saute, the better. You can blend the end result for a smooth sauce texture, or leave it chunky like we have in this recipe which is more typical in Spanish cuisine and for arroz al horno. 

Herbs and Spices Used

Spanish cooking often uses a selection of locally grown herbs and spices that help to enhance flavor in recipes. It’s very common to find oregano, rosemary, thyme, and parsley used extensively in Spanish recipes. Common spices used are paprika (smoked or sweet), cumin, white pepper, and salt. 

Arroz al Horno uses Spanish smoked paprika, oregano, and fresh sprigs of rosemary to flavor the dish. A small amount of salt and pepper is used to season the dish as a majority of the saltiness comes from the meat ingredients. 

Cookware for making the perfect Arroz al Horno 

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 has a 2-3 inch (5-8 cm) lip. They are easy to source in Spain, but can be a little more tricky to find in other places. 

The entire recipe was prepared and cooked in one dish with the Rossejadora placed onto an open flame or hot coals. The good news is nowadays it’s fine to use a skillet or frying pan first and then transfer it to an oven-proof dish if you don’t have a dish that’s safe for the stovetop and oven. 

If you don’t have a Rossejadora (let’s face it, who does?) use a casserole dish of similar size 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. It was the perfect size and the ingredients just fitted without spilling over.

a large pan of arroz al horno sits beside some glasses of red wine.

Nutrition Information

Servings: 8
Amount per serving 
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 29.1g37%
Saturated Fat 9.3g46%
Cholesterol 72mg24%
Sodium 648mg28%
Total Carbohydrate 25g9%
Dietary Fiber 1.9g7%
Total Sugars 1.9g 
Protein 15.7g 
Vitamin D 0mcg0%
Calcium 26mg2%
Iron 3mg16%
Potassium 203mg4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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