This simple Jamaican-style rice and peas is a must-have dish for any Sunday meal. This Jamaican rice and pigeon peas dish is hearty and tasty because it contains coconut milk and herbs and spices from the Caribbean. A traditional Jamaican delicacy!

No event is special without Jamaican Rice and Peas on the menu in Jamaica. The Gungo rice and peas recipe are vegan, gluten-free, and delicious. Rice and peas can be made with kidney beans or with pigeon peas, also known as Gungo peas or Gandules.

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Growing up in Jamaica, I watched my mother making rice and peas from scratch she didn’t use recipes in Jamaica, She made it every Sunday for dinner as was the custom.

We grew most of our own pigeon peas, In fact, my mom grew enough before Christmas that I would have to help her harvest them. The surplus she brought to the Montego Bay market for one of the ladies at the market to sell for her.

We would make Pigeon Peas Soup and Pigeon Peas and Rice with what remained.

Jamaican Rice And Pigeon Peas

Jamaican Pigeon Peas Vs Puerto Rican Arroz Con Gandules

Jamaican pigeon peas and rice are very different from Puerto Rican Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice and Pigeon Peas) with the seasonings used to make theirs.

Jamaican Pigeon Peas also called ‘Gungo peas and Rice’ is made using seasoned coconut milk with traditional culinary herbs including thyme, scallion, and Scotch Bonnet Peppers.

Puerto Rican Arroz Con Gandules is traditionally made using a tomato sauce base with an herb blend called sofrito, Sazon with achiote, green olives with pimiento, and bacon.

Ingredients For Jamaican Rice And Pigeon Peas

For this Jamaican recipe of pigeon peas and rice, you will need the following:

  • Rice: I love to use long grain brown rice for my rice and peas, I love Jasmine or Basmati brown rice.
  • Coconut Milk: Coconut milk is an essential component of this dish just like many other Jamaican dishes. Coconut milk gives a creamy texture to your rice.
  • Water
  • Pigeon Peas: This dish can be made with either fresh, canned, or dried pigeon peas. You can substitute cooked brown or green lentils or black-eyed peas as well in this recipe.
  • Onion: Feel free to substitute white, yellow, and red onions for the recipe, though I love yellow onions.
  • Green onions
  • Garlic: As for garlic, you simply can’t miss the garlicky flavor! I used 3 cloves for maximum flavor.
  • Ginger: It’s a more savory ingredient and delivers a ton of warm, peppery, pungent flavor that goes incredibly well with rice and peas.
  • Allspice: Allspice powder adds a delicious earthy flavor. I don’t like to use allspice berries, because it gives an element of surprise when eaten. The strong earthy and slightly bitter flavor can be a put-off for the unexpecting person.
  • Thyme: A must ingredient for this Jamaican rice and pigeon peas. Gives a lovely earthy flavor. If you do not have fresh thyme then substitute with ½ teaspoon dried thyme. You can also substitute it with Italian Seasoning for savory.
  • Salt: Season with salt to your liking. Salts such as Himalayan pink Himalayan salt, sea salt, and table salt can all be used in this dish.
  • Scotch Bonnet Pepper: If you having trouble obtaining scotch bonnet peppers for this recipe you can use scotch bonnet pepper powder. If you can find them, take advantage of it!


The majority of the ingredients in this recipe are commonplace. Let me concentrate on a few elements that may be unfamiliar to you.

Jamaican Rice And Pigeon Peas Ingredients

Pigeon Peas

Pigeon peas that originated in Africa are small, round beans but are now popular in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia. Toor dal, Gungo peas, Congo peas, gandules, and Caja pea are some of the other names for them.

These can be found in Indian supermarkets, on Amazon, or in well-stocked grocery stores in the Latin American area.

Pigeon peas are very nutritious and they have a lot of health benefits. They are high in protein, fiber, folate, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. They contain important amino acids namely methionine, lysine, and tryptophan.

  • Methionine – Important for cell function, fights free radicals in the body, improves wound healing, and protects the liver.
  • Lysine – Known to treat cold sores, reduce anxiety, and prevent herpes.
  • Tryptophan – Known for its beneficial relief of depression, anxiety, irritable bowel disease, and insomnia.

Coconut Milk

Here, we’re using coconut milk for cooking.

A white, creamy fluid known as coconut milk is obtained from the mature coconut’s flesh. It is rich in essential nutrients including copper and manganese. Antioxidants included in coconut milk may provide health benefits. Consuming it in moderation can improve your health in a number of ways, including promoting weight loss, decreasing cholesterol, improving the condition of your heart, and offering other benefits.

Before opening, give the can a thorough shake, since it typically separates slightly within the can.

For health reasons, I recommend using low-fat coconut milk instead of regular coconut milk. You can, however, use it if it’s all you can get and you’re fine with the extra fat content.

Don’t use coconut cream, which is the thickest and most fatty kind of coconut milk. This is reserved for significantly richer dishes, such as desserts.

Scotch Bonnet Pepper

This dish usually calls for a full scotch bonnet pepper.  This distinct pepper is shaped like a bonnet and gives a unique fruit and spicy flavor to dishes. It can make a bland dish pop and additionally it contains vitamins B-6, C, folate, and niacin as well as minerals like magnesium, iron, and phosphorus. This chile pepper variant is also a source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. The capsaicin contained within the peppers causes them to have an anti-inflammatory effect. The heat of the capsaicin is believed to have a positive effect on arthritis, and asthma and may help lower blood pressure levels.

While using be mindful that it should not be cut.  Simply place it, whole, in the pan with the peas and rice to cook for flavor without the heat. Then, before serving, toss it out so you don’t accidentally serve it to someone who might mistake it for grape tomato. It is super hot!

Because Scotch bonnets are extremely hot, take care not to shatter them when stirring. It will be extremely spicy if the seeds get into your food.

How To Make Jamaican Rice And Pigeon Peas?

The first thing to do is rinse your rice in cold water, I love to just put the rice in a large strainer with fine mesh to do this.

Add coconut milk, water, pigeon peas, onion, green onions, garlic, ginger, allspice, thyme, salt, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 5 minutes.

The liquid should be very flavorful and even a bit salty since you still have to add the rice that will absorb the flavor and reduce the salty taste.

Add rice and Scotch bonnet pepper, and bring to a boil. Cover pot and reduce heat to the lowest gauze and simmer for about 45 minutes or until rice is tender. If the rice is not tender, add about ¼ cup of warm water and allow it to cook for longer. I love to seal my pot by adding a sheet of parchment paper under the pot cover.

Some Jamaicans use foil paper if you try this method, be careful that none of the paper is hanging over the sides of the pot to prevent the parchment paper from catching on fire.

Once cooked fluff rice with a fork and serve with Jamaican Jerk Cauliflower, Baked Plantains, and Sorrel Drink.

Best Pigeon Peas And Rice Recipe


Storage Suggestions

In an airtight container, this dish can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Due to the rancidity of the coconut milk’s fast, it may spoil or sour if kept for an extended period.

This dish can be frozen for up to a month if kept in an airtight container.

How to Reheat?

To warm up rice and peas that have been in the fridge, put them in a heat-safe dish and microwave them for a few minutes.

To defrost, place it in the refrigerator or warm it in the microwave.

To rehydrate the rice, a sprinkle of water is helpful.

Serving Suggestions

To go with your Jamaican rice with pigeon peas, consider serving the following:

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are Pigeon Peas Beans?

Pigeon peas are beans, but people call them “peas” because they are small. When dried, they are typically a light grey hue and measure approximately 14 of an inch in width. They taste nutty and minty and turn out to be a medium brown color when cooked.

Which Ethnic Group Brought Rice And Peas To The Caribbean?

African slaves transported to the Caribbean by Europeans, were responsible for the introduction of rice and pigeon peas to the area. This meal, which is frequently served with fish or chicken, has become a favorite in many Caribbean families.

Where Did Rice And Peas Originate?

Rice with peas is a traditional African dish. Spices, peas, and rice are the main ingredients.

Why Are Rice And Peas So Popular In The Caribbean?

Rice and peas is a popular dish in the Caribbean since it’s a full and nutritious dish that goes well with a range of proteins. In addition, the meal has a lot of flavors and may be prepared in a number of ways.

Why Is My Rice And Peas Soggy?

There are several possible causes for soggy rice and peas. First, double-check that you’re using the correct rice-to-water ratio. Secondly, cook the rice at a low temperature so that it can absorb all of the liquid. Finally, before serving, set aside the dish for some time to let the flavors mingle.

Do Peas And Rice Make A Complete Protein?

Peas and rice are not complete proteins, but they are frequently consumed together in many regions of the world. They do give our bodies all of the necessary essential amino acids when combined.

Are Rice And Peas Healthy?

Yes, rice and beans are nutritious. They are rich in protein, fiber, and vitamins C and B6. Additionally, they have fewer calories and fat.

What Type Of Rice Should I Use?

Some individuals prefer long-grain rice, while others prefer short or medium grain.

To be honest, I’ve lost track of how many various kinds of beans and rice I’ve tried. I’m thrilled to share the recipe for this rice dish with you today because it is unquestionably one of my favorites.

I adore using Jasmine rice since it has a terrific flavor and, despite being a little sticky, is not annoyingly so.

Do You Cook The Rice Covered Or Uncovered?

This is a great question, indeed! The reply is “both”. I leave it uncovered while you cook your peas, add spices and coconut milk. I cover the pot after mixing the ingredients with the rice to ensure that it cooks like regular rice.

Typically, I prefer to cook my rice with the lid on, but this recipe requires frequent stirring to prevent burning or sticking.

Can I Make Jamaican Rice And Peas Without Coconut Milk?

Yes, you can make it without coconut milk, but this isn’t the traditional way to make it.

You can use chicken or vegetable stock in place of coconut milk. This is dependent on whether you want the dish to be vegetarian or vegan. Adding beef stock makes the meal more flavorful and umami-rich. To add a creamy component as well, you may then sprinkle some fresh avocados on top of the rice and peas.

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Jamaican Rice And Pigeon Peas in white bowl

Jamaican Rice And Pigeon Peas

Jamaican Pigeon Peas And Rice is very tasty and popular Jamaican one pot side, made with pigeon peas also known as Gungo peas in Jamaica and cooked in seasoned coconut milk.
4.95 from 19 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Jamaican
Keyword: Jamaican Rice And Pigeon Peas
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 7kcal


  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 15-ounce can pigeon peas
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet pepper


  • Wash rice in a large mesh strainer, drain and set aside. Add coconut milk, water, pigeon peas, onion, green onions, garlic, ginger, allspice, thyme, and salt to a large pot on medium-high heat.
  • Bring to boil, and allow to cook for 3 minutes. Add rice and Scotch bonnet pepper and bring to boil again, cover pot and reduce to simmer for 40-45 minutes or until rice is tender.
  • Fluffy rice with a fork and serve.


Calories: 7kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 0.03g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.002g | Sodium: 353mg | Potassium: 32mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 44IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 0.1mg