Delicious Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe (2024)

This Delicious AuthenticJamaican Rice andPeas Recipe is made with fresh coconut milk, allspice, scallions and more! This rice and peas is the best hands down and will make you feel like you are in the Caribbean!

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Rice and Peas is a STAPLE in my home and it has been for since I could chew food. Growing up in a Jamaican home rice and peas was made every single day. My mom, my aunts, and my grandmother would make it for me and I enjoyed every bite.

Last year when I attended my cousin’s wedding in Poughkeepsie, I realized that my generation of kids have been spoiled tremendously by our big family and army of talented cooks that came before us.

My cousins and I (all 5200 of us) got together and realized that we will NEED to continue this amazing authentic Jamaican family cooking for our own children, or the culture will die with us.

Being the first generation to be American born, we are so used to being spoiled by our parents and aunts and uncles that were taught to cook by their parents in the islands.

It is so interesting having to marry the two cultures together, but cooking authentic caribbean recipes is a fantastic way to keep the culture alive in our own families going forward. We all made a vow to learn our culture’s recipes and learn them WELL so that we can pass them on to our own children.

Which ingredients are needed for these Jamaican Rice and Beans?

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Jamaican Rice and Peas Ingredients List

Dark red kidney beans (dry) – Getting the dark red kidney beans help with the color of the rice.
Coconut milk – I like the Grace or Goya brand the best. Be sure to shake the can as the coconut can settle and separate in the can.
Scotch bonnet pepper – If you can’t find this in your area, you can substitute with a jalapeno pepper, but the scotch bonnet is the best! Do not cut the pepper or poke any holes into the pepper. Watch closely and stir gently because if the pepper breaks, the rice will be very spicy.
Onion – You will dice this onion.
Garlic cloves – Fresh garlic is best, don’t use minced garlic.
Salt
Thyme – Sometimes I add a little more.
Jasmine rice – I like the Goya brand.
Ground allspice – Very important ingredient to add the amazing flavor.
Scallions – I use the entire scallion, only chopping off the stubs.
Water

How Do You Make Jamaican Rice and Peas?

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Step One: Soak the peas in a bowl with the water for 24 hours, if you don’t have that kind of time soak for at least 2 hours.

Step Two: Chop the Scallion, Garlic, & Onion.

Step Three: Once the peas are properly soaked (they will likely plump and absorb a lot of the water) place the peas and the water in a saucepan.

Step Four: Fill the pot with additional water if needed–the water should be about 2 inches over the peas. Bring to a boil. Add the onions, garlic, scallions, & thyme. Add the salt & allspice. Add a full scotch bonnet pepper. (do NOT slice, put it in WHOLE).

Delicious Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe (4)

Step Five: Cook on high for 20 minutes. (Peas may cook quicker depending on how long you soaked them) Continually add cool water as needed to make sure that the peas don’t burn. Watch closely! You know that the peas are cooked when you can break the peas in half easily with a fork. Remove and discard the scotch bonnet pepper.

Step Six: Add the coconut milk and the uncooked rice. Stir throughly. Important: There should only be about a half an inch of liquid above the peas and rice.

Step Seven: Turn stove down to medium/low and stir (I use a wooden spoon to make sure no rice sticks to the bottom) every 5-7 minutes until cooked.

Step Eight: In about 30 minutes you will have fluffy and yummy rice and peas!

One of the great things about Rice and Peas is that it can be cooked a million different ways. You can cook it with different beans, different peas, different rice sizes and so much more. I’ve even heard of someone doing a quinoa version of rice and peas.

Living in the most caribbean area of Brooklyn I am lucky enough to have access to many Caribbean restaurants, there is one on almost every block of my neighborhood. I’ve tried them all and I tend to go back to the ones with the BEST rice and peas recipe.

Delicious Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe (5)

There are a few things I look for before I try the rice. Does it have a gorgeous pink color? Do they use short grain or long grain rice? Does it look seasoned? Is there thyme?

For a while now I’ve been trying different recipes from all over the internet. I’ve even tried Youtube! I love Pinterest but there are SO MANY “authentic” Jamaican and caribbean rice recipes out there that it’s hard to decipher which ones are awesome and which ones…are not so good. But don’t worry this one has become my absolute favorite go to recipe that I make AT LEAST once a week.

(I even got approval from my Jamaican born mother, and THAT makes it a worth recipe all by itself — because she makes THE BEST rice and peas ever!)

What is Jamaican rice and peas made of?

Jamaican rice and peas is made of rice, red beans, coconut milk, onions, garlic, thyme, and Scotch bonnet peppers. Scotch bonnet peppers are a type of chili pepper that is very spicy.

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You will notice that a lot of Jamaican food recipes require the baseline of scotch bonnet pepper, fresh thyme, onion, garlic cloves and scallions (green onions). There could be more or less but those spices are a really great place to start when it comes to main dishes. Don’t forget the salt and pepper!

Why is my rice and peas soggy?

There are a few reasons why your rice and peas might be soggy. First, make sure you are using the correct ratio of rice to water. Second, cook the rice on low heat so that it has a chance to absorb all of the water. Finally, let the dish sit for a few minutes before serving so that the flavors can meld together.

What if I can’t find Scotch Bonnet peppers?

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Some people may not be able to locate hot peppers so they have been using habanero pepper instead. I don’t use any black pepper in this recipe, but you can add a little if you want your rice to have a little heat. The scotch bonnet whole pepper is added for flavor only.

Some people use brown rice or basmati rice but I am a big fan of using jasmine rice in my red beans and rice recipes. I’ve also seen some recipes use chicken stock instead of cups of water for more flavor. For this recipe you need to make sure that you use enough water, because it won’t cook properly without the right amount.

The thyme sprigs are super important for flavor as well. The first time you make this rice and beans recipe it will become one of your favorite dishes! Most people serve with Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken or Jamaican Jerk Chicken.

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Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe

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I’ve done all the leg work for you and have finally perfected one of the foundational pieces of any Jamaican dish.

If you ask me, Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas is an awesome and flavorful side dish that goes with pretty much any main dish such as curry goat, curry chicken, Jamaican Jerk Chicken, oxtail–you name it!It’s the perfect side dish. You could even serve with additional side dishes like this Easy Jamaican Steamed Cabbage, Easy Jamaican Rasta Pasta or these Air Fryer Sweet Fried Plantains.

It’s even good on it’s own. With so many different ways to cook rice and peas, I am happy that I finally hit the jackpot with the right ingredients and the right type of rice.

Caribbean food is not easy but once you nail it, it’s so worth it! You will never stop making this recipe, since I posted this in 2015 I have received so many comments and DMs about how this is a GO TO recipe!

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What type of rice should I use?

Some people like to use long grain rice, and some folks like pigeon peas or gungo peas in their rice and peas. (This recipe uses dry peas — dark red kidney beans) Some people even use full allspice berries instead of the allspice seasoning that I love.

To be honest, I’ve tasted so many different versions of rice and beans that I have lost count. This rice dish is definitely my favorite and I’m so excited to share this recipe with you today.

Types of Rice Used In Jamaican Rice and Peas

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Before I found this money recipe I tried a bunch and they were epic fails. This recipe is my new go to, but it took me a smooth 5-6 recipes before I finally found a winner with this one.

My favorite type of rice in general is Carolina long-grain white rice. My mom and most of my family are fans of using basmati rice for their rice and peas which has a richer flavor. It can be debated though what people think the “traditional rice” is for Jamaican rice and peas.

I absolutely love to use Jasmine rice though because it has a fantastic flavor and although it is a bit sticky it’s not annoyingly so.

How Long Should The Peas Be Soaked?

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A lot of you have asked whether or not you can used canned peas for this recipe. I DO NOT recommend it unless you like your rice really wet. Take the time to soak the peas.

The extra water content from the can throws off the recipe. Between the water and the coconut milk addition, the extra water content can make the rice really soupy.

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I highly recommend dry peas. I usually soak it in the same pot that I plan on cooking the rice in. If not available you can easily soak the peas in a bowl at room temperature.

I usually soak my peas for 5-6 hours with a MAX of 20 hours. Overnight is a great sweet spot. The more you soak the less longer you have to wait to make the peas cook down to where it’s soft enough.

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Generally soak the peas for a minimum of 2 hours and a maximum of 20 hours. Anything over a day will mess with the integrity of the peas.

Keep in mind the longer you soak the peas the less time it takes to cook, and the more “red” color gets added to your rice and peas. I don’t know about anyone else but I generally judge the authenticity of Jamaican rice and peas by the color of the rice!

The color of the peas colors the water and you use the same water to cook the peas in and eventually, the rice.

Do you cook the rice covered or uncovered?

This is a really good question! The answer is both. While you are cooking your peas, adding spices, and coconut milk, I leave it uncovered. When I add the rice and mix everything in, I cover the pot so it can cook like regular rice.

I generally like to leave my rice covered and cooking but this particular recipe calls for constant stirring to make sure nothing burns on the bottom of the pot.

How To Store Jamaican Rice and Peas

Once I got the hang of this rice and peas recipe it was super easy to make it for my family. The rice stores in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and it freezes perfectly.

If you do freeze, I recommend to let the rice thaw out naturally and slowly in the refrigerator, but if you don’t have the time, you can thaw in the microwave too, it might be a bit soggy though.

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Expert Tip: Be Careful With The Scotch Bonnet Pepper

The scotch bonnet pepper is not to be played with at all! For this recipe you need to use the whole scotch bonnet–do not slice it, poke it, nothing.

You will be adding the hot pepper to the uncooked rice to give a ton of flavor to the rice. Don’t worry, you remove the entire whole scotch bonnet pepper half way through the process.

The scotch bonnet pepper adds a fantastic flavor to the rice as a whole without any of the heat. Trust me, you don’t want any of the inside–it’s a super powerful pepper!

What are some other amazing authentic Jamaican Recipes to Try?

Delicious Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe (17)

Easy Jamaican Steamed Cabbage Recipe

Delicious Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe (18)

Easy Jamaican Festival Sweet Dumplings Recipe

Delicious Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe (19)

Easy Authentic Jamaican Stew Chicken

Delicious Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe (20)

Easy Authentic Jamaican Curry Chicken Recipe

Enjoy! Be sure to let me know in the comments how it turned out!

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Delicious Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe (22)

Yield: 6 servings

Delicious Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

This amazing and authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas recipe uses allspice, coconut milk, thyme and more fresh ingredients for a wonderful experience that will make you feel like you are in Jamaica.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup red kidney beans (dry)
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 cups Jasmine rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3 scallions
  • 2 cups water

Instructions

  1. Soak the peas in a bowl with the water for 24 hours, if you don't have that kind of time soak for at least 2 hours.
  2. Chop the Scallion, Garlic, & Onion.Delicious Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe (23)
  3. Once the peas are properly soaked (they will likely plump and absorb a lot of the water) place the peas and the water in a saucepan. Delicious Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe (24)
  4. Fill the pot with additional water if needed--the water should be about 2 inches over the peas. Bring to a boil.
  5. Add the onions, garlic, scallions, & thyme. Add the salt & allspice. Add a full scotch bonnet pepper (do NOT slice, put it in WHOLE). Delicious Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe (25)
  6. Cook for 20 minutes. (Peas may cook quicker depending on how long you soaked them) Delicious Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe (26)
  7. Continually add cool water as needed to make sure that the peas don't burn. Watch closely! You know that the peas are cooked when you can break the peas in half easily with a fork.
  8. Remove and discard the scotch bonnet pepper. Add the coconut milk and the uncooked rice. Stir throughly.
  9. Important: There should only be about a half an inch of liquid above the peas and rice. Turn stove down to medium/low and stir (I use a wooden spoon to make sure no rice sticks to the bottom) every 5-7 minutes until cooked.
  10. In about 30 minutes you will have fluffy and yummy rice and peas! Delicious Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe (27)

Notes

A lot of folks ask if they can do this recipe with canned beans, I wouldn't recommend this as it increases the water content substantially.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Stay tuned, I’ve got some more authentic Jamaican recipes that I’m going to be sharing with you guys over the next few weeks!

Delicious Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe (28)

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Have you ever had Jamaican rice and peas? What classic recipes have you learned from your parents?

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Delicious Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe (2024)

FAQs

What is Jamaican rice and peas called? ›

It also has its roots in African culture, and slaves brought their recipes to Jamaica before passing them down through the generations. To adjust to their new environment, slaves cooked familiar foods such as rice and peas. This dish has a nickname: Coat of Arms.

Why do Jamaicans love rice and peas? ›

Made with red kidney beans, coconut milk, and a fusion of island spices, Jamaicans can't seem to get enough of it. And Jamaicans love rice and peas, not only for its flavor but also for its significance as a connection to their heritage and a culinary tradition passed down through generations.

Why is it called rice and peas and not rice and beans? ›

Rice and peas is a staple side dish in Jamaica and much of the Caribbean. Though called rice and peas, it's actually made with beans! The reason this name came to be is because Jamaicans call red kidney beans peas – though funnily enough, other varieties of beans are called beans.

How long do rice and peas last in the fridge? ›

There are two ways you can make this recipe ahead. Follow the recipe all the way to the end, and let it cool completely. Then, store your peas and rice in an airtight container for up to four days in the fridge or up to three months in the freezer.

Why is my rice and peas soggy? ›

Why did the rice turn out soft and/or mushy? Two reasons why this might have occurred: You over stirred the rice during cooking. You used too much water or added too much water to the pot.

How to store rice and peas? ›

If you allow any leftovers to cool, make sure to refrigerate in a container with a lid and chill. You can keep leftovers of Spicy Rice and Peas in the fridge for a day.

What do Jamaicans call the burnt rice? ›

Scorched rice is known as cucayo, pegao, cocolón (Ecuador), concolón, raspa, raspado, graten (Haiti), bunbun (Jamaica) and concón (Dominican Republic) in the Caribbean.

What's the difference between rice and peas and Waakye? ›

In the Caribbean version of rice and peas, thyme, scotch bonnet pepper, onions, and coconut milk are incorporated into the dish. These two dishes appear almost exactly the same except for the distinctively deep reddish-brown hue which is characteristic of waakye.

Why is Jamaican food so healthy? ›

Authentic Jamaican cuisine is full of jerked lean meats, beans and vegetables. The jerk style of cooking introduces smoked and/or grilled meats rubbed in mouth tingling spices – the perfect healthy meal addition as the spices add flavor without the pesky calories.

Why does Jamaican food taste so good? ›

One reason why Jamaican food is so loved is because of its focus on fresh and natural ingredients. Jamaican food often features fresh tropical fruits and vegetables, fresh herbs, and locally-sourced meat and seafood. This focus on fresh ingredients can result in a healthier and more flavorful cuisine.

Are rice and peas healthy? ›

Colorful beans—such as black, red kidney, pinto, or black-eyed peas (the types most commonly cooked with rice)—are also packed with antioxidants. These compounds protect against the kind of cell damage that may lead to heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases.

What type of rice is used in Jamaica? ›

“In Jamaica, we use long grain rice but I found that jasmine rice has an extra flavor and it definitely enhances the flavor of the rice and peas,” Fowles says. Even though it's a more fragrant rice, you still want to make sure you wash it three to four times to remove the excess starch.

What popular legume used in the Caribbean side dish rice and peas? ›

The 'peas' used in this dish by some countries are traditionally pigeon peas otherwise called 'Gungo peas' in the Caribbean. Either kidney beans (red peas) or pigeon peas are generally used for this dish.

Why is coconut milk added to rice? ›

Coconut milk lends rice both fat and sweetness, making it a richer, more mellow side than plain rice. To make it, simply replace half of the cooking water with coconut milk. It becomes a meal if you serve it with a fried egg, finely sliced pickled chiles with a little of their pickling liquid and some crushed peanuts.

Can you reheat Jamaican rice and peas? ›

The rice and peas dish is best eaten straight away. Follow these instructions to re-use rice safely. Cool any leftovers quickly (within 1 hour), refrigerate and use within 24 hours. Reheat until piping hot or serve cold.

Can I freeze rice and peas? ›

Allow the dish to cool completely, then transfer it to airtight containers or freezer bags and remember to label them with the date. To reheat, thaw the rice and peas in the fridge overnight and gently warm it in a pan on the stovetop or microwave it until heated through.

Can I eat week old rice and beans? ›

Rice is best when eaten a few days from when it's cooked. Any more than that and it's safest to just toss it. Maximize the shelf life of cooked rice by storing it in an airtight container.

What is a substitute for coconut milk in rice? ›

If you want to replace coconut milk in your cooking, try other plant milks like soy or almond milk. You can also use tofu or heavy cream if you're not sensitive to dairy.

How do you get moisture out of rice and peas? ›

If the rice grains are cooked to your liking, but there's still water in the pot, don't try to cook the water off. Instead, pour the rice into a fine-mesh strainer and, just as you would with pasta, drain the excess water and then continue with your recipe.

Why is my jambalaya gummy? ›

One of the biggest complaints when making jambalaya is that the rice ends up mushy. And there's two main culprits of this – choosing the wrong type of rice and over-stirring. For this recipe, you want long-grain white rice, like basmati or jasmine. Don't use short-grain rice.

Should you let rice cool before putting it in the fridge? ›

Cooked rice is very moist, which can be a breeding ground for bacteria growth if it is left at room temperature for more than two hours. Play it safe and cool down any leftover rice quickly—either by spreading it out on a baking sheet, or placing it immediately in the refrigerator.

Why do Jamaicans call beans peas? ›

Jamaicans don't call all beans peas, only red kidney beans. The reason for this and its origin is unknown, but Jamaicans continue to call red kidney beans peas and will for many generations to come. The plus side is you can differentiate between an authentic Jamaican rice and peas recipe and one that isn't.

How long can cooked rice and peas last in the fridge? ›

According to the FoodSafety.gov FoodKeeper App, leftover rice can be stored in the refrigerator for three to four days, and in the freezer for one to two months.

What is another name for Gungo peas? ›

The pigeon pea, Cajanus cajan, is a perennial member of the family Fabaceae. The pigeon pea is also known as toor dal (India), Congo pea, Gungo pea (in Jamaica), Gandule (in Puerto Rico), Gunga pea, or no-eye pea.

What is the southern name for black eyed peas? ›

The southern pea, Vigna unguiculata, has its own lexicon of names. Yankees call it the cowpea, a name never heard south of the lilac–crape myrtle line. Southerners also know it as the black-eyed-pea, the pink eye pea, the purple hull pea, the cream pea or the crowder.

What is red beans and rice called? ›

Red beans and rice is also a dietary staple in Central America, where it is known as arroz con habichuelas. The dish is popular in Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Haitian and Jamaican cuisine as well.

What are dried and peeled peas called? ›

Split peas are an agricultural or culinary preparation consisting of the dried, peeled and split seeds of Pisum sativum, the pea. Split peas, raw (dried) Yellow split peas.

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