Jamaican Rice And Peas Recipe, is one of my all-time favorite dishes to make. I have been making this dish since I was a child, except that I used white rice instead of brown. If you would like to know how to cook Jamaican Rice And Peas, you have come to the right place.

I have now included an Instant Pot Jamaican Rice And Peas version and also check out my favorite Jamaican Seasoned Rice and  Vegan Rice Recipes.

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Jamaican Rice And Peas Recipe

I grew up in Jamaica where I would help my mother in preparing coconut milk. I would pick the coconut, remove the husk using a machete and crack the shell open.

Then remove the coconut flesh with a knife and grate it using a fine grater. I would then squeeze the milk with added water and strain. This was all done by hand, and it was quite a task, but it was worth it because nothing beats the flavor of fresh coconut milk.

In Jamaica, we use pigeon peas or kidney beans interchangeably. You can use either or, and as a matter of fact, I have used almost any kind of beans I have on hand. I have used lentils, black beans, and pinto beans with yummy results. So go ahead and be creative and break some traditions!

Why Do Jamaicans Say Rice And Peas?

Somehow in Jamaica, we refer to kidney beans like peas, it is part of the culture and it is an accepted term used by Jamaicans. It is unique and that’s why we don’t say, ‘rice and beans.’

Rice And Peas Ingredients With Dried Kidney Beans Brown Rice

Rice And Peas Ingredients With Dried Kidney Beans

Rice – It is best to use long-grain brown or white rice for best results. I love to use Jasmine or Basmati rice. You don’t need to soak your rice before preparing your rice and peas. 

Coconut Milk – the sweet creamy flavor of coconut milk, makes a rich flavor. I prefer to make fresh coconut milk but depending on the season, most times I end up using coconut milk from the can or tetra pack carton. Buy the ones that don’t have preservatives or the ones that have coconut milk and water as the main ingredients. 

For an authentic flavor go for full-fat coconut milk.

Kidney Beans – beans range from light red to dark red, they are shaped like the kidney. You can substitute with red beans or pigeon peas. I have personally used many other beans with success like black beans, pinto beans. 

Onion – I’m adding both onion and green onion or escallion in the recipe. The reason is I want the maximum flavor I can achieve without using freshly pick and processed coconut milk. I’m using canned coconut milk and it can never come close to fresh coconut milk. 

Green Onion/Scallion – gives a distinct flavor to your rice and peas but you can substitute with chives.

Garlic – will definitely boost the flavor of the rice, I added 3 cloves for maximum flavor.

Ginger – you will be amazed how delicious this recipe is with the ginger, it is so tasty you will enjoy eating it alone. Adds a little spicy flavor as well.

Thyme – a must ingredient for your rice and peas. Gives a lovely earthy flavor. If you don’t have fresh thyme then substitute with 1 teaspoon dried thyme.  However, I have substituted it with Italian Seasoning, and savory.

Allspice – add allspice powder for 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. 

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. Use whole for flavor without the heat and remember to remove and discard so you don’t accidentally serve it to someone who might mistake it for grape tomato. It is super hot!

rice and peas with brown rice and canned kidney beans

How To Make Jamaican Rice And Peas Recipe?

Back home in Jamaica, we refer to kidney beans like peas, hence the name. So typically we wouldn’t say ‘Jamaican Rice And Beans’. back home in Jamaica.

I have heard the term Jamaican Rice And Beans mentioned here in the USA and right away I knew that the person is not fully aware of the correct terminology.

Traditionally Jamaican rice and peas recipe is eaten every Sunday for dinner, using dried kidney beans that are soaked the night before with freshly squeezed coconut milk.

Rice And Peas Jamaican

How To Cook Jamaican Rice And Peas?

A pot of soaked kidney beans is cooked until tender in water, coconut milk, thyme, scallion, Scotch bonnet pepper, and seasonings are added along with rice.

Then the Jamaican rice and peas are allowed to cook until the rice is tender and all the liquid has evaporated. Now my favorite rice to use is Lundberg Organic Jasmine Rice

Thyme, the herb of choice, and scotch bonnet pepper are added to the pot whole for flavor. If you are fortunate to find Scotch Bonnet Pepper in the supermarket, be careful not to open the pepper because it is extremely hot. (I’m talking from experience).

Normally, most Jamaicans in Jamaican cook Jamaican food without recipes. So I grew up making  Jamaican Rice And Peas without a recipe. 

I just make sure the ri­­­ce has enough water and that I have all the ingredients listed. If the water dries out I add a little extra water and I’m good to go. For the purpose of sharing with my readers, I create recipes.

Fresh beans and coconut milk are the preferred ingredients but living here in the USA is difficult for me to find a fresh coconut. My favorite coconut milk in a can that doesn’t have a preservative is: Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk

No formal gathering in Jamaica is complete without some Jamaican rice and peas recipe…I hope you enjoy this little taste of the tropics in the convenience of your home! I love to serve my rice and peas with Jamaican Jerk Tofu, Baked Plantainsand Jamaican Jerk Cauliflower

Why Is My Rice And Peas Soggy?

  1. You have added too much liquid to the recipe, whether it be too much coconut milk or water. I prefer to add only a finger joint or inch of liquid above my rice at first. then after it is cooked, if the rice is not tender, I add 2 tablespoons – 1/4 cup extra of liquid, then cook for another 10 minutes. 
  2. Also, I never keep stirring the rice over and over again. This will cause the rice to go soggy as the starches are being released in the liquid. Instead, add ingredients, give a quick stir, cover and leave it. It is also better to fluff with a fork.

How To Fix ‘Sorry’ Soggy Rice

Sometimes if you see the rice going soggy early, you can drain the extra liquid and discard, remove the cover and let the liquid dry out while cooking. 

Can I Use White Rice To Make Jamaican Rice And Peas Recipe?

rice and peas with white rice

Yes,  you can use white rice, however, some of the things to bear in mind are:

  • The rice will cook faster.
  • You will need to cook the rice and peas for about 30-40 minutes
  • Use my method for How To Cook Jasmine Brown Rice to make sure the steam cooks the rice so you don’t require extra water for tender rice that’s not sticky.

Jamaican Rice And Peas Without Coconut Milk

There are some people who don’t like the taste of coconut milk, you can prepare Jamaican rice and peas without coconut milk, you can substitute it for water or vegetable broth.

If you don’t mind the flavor of coconut milk but you don’t have any, add a tablespoon of cold-pressed unrefined coconut oil.

What To Serve With Rice And Peas?

  1. Tofu Curry
  2. Smothered Tofu Chicken
  3. Grape Jelly And Barbecue Meatballs
Jamaican rice and peas overlay

 

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Nutrition

(Per portion)
  • Energy: 308 kcal / 1287 kJ
  • Fat: 10 g
  • Protein: 7 g
  • Carbs: 46 g

Cook Time

  • Preparation: 15 min
  • Cooking: 1 h
  • Ready in: 1 h 15 min
  • For: 12 servings

Ingredients

If Using Dried Kidney Beans

If Using Canned Kidney Beans with White Rice

Instructions

Instructions For Dried Kidney Beans

  1. If using dried kidney beans, rinse and sort beans and place them into a large pot. Cover with approximately three inches of water and soak overnight to for 8 hours.
  2. The following day, drain and rinse beans and place them into a large pot. Add 21/2 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender for about 45 minutes.
  3. Add coconut milk, onion, spring onion, garlic, ginger, thyme, scotch bonnet pepper, and allspice. and salt.
  4. Cover pot, bring to boil again for a couple of minutes for the flavors to meld. Add the rice, bring to a boil, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for about 50 minutes- 1 hour.
  5. Depending on the variety of rice, it may take less time. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Instructions Using Canned Kidney Beans With Brown Rice

  1. Add canned kidney beans, coconut milk, 2 1/2 cups water, onion, spring onion, garlic, ginger, thyme, scotch bonnet pepper, allspice, and salt in a large pot.
  2. Add rice and stir with a fork to combine.
  3. Cover pot, bring to boil again. Reduce heat and cook for about 50 minutes- 1 hour.
  4. Depending on the variety of rice, it may take less time. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Instructions If Using White Rice

  1. Add water to a large pot over medium-high heat, Stir in kidney beans, onion, green onion, garlic, ginger, thyme, coconut milk, allspice, and salt.
  2. Bring to a boil, for about 2 minutes. Add rice, and Scotch Bonnet pepper. Cover the pot with a lid with a tight-fitting seal. Cook for 30 minutes
Recipe author's Gravatar image

Michelle Blackwood, RN

Hi, I’m Michelle, I’m the voice, content creator and photographer behind Healthier Steps. I share vegan and gluten-free recipes because of past health issues. My goal is to help you make healthier choices and show you how healthy eating is easy and delicious.