Jamaican Rice And Pigeon Peas

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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.

Jamaican Rice And Pigeon Peas

No event is special without  Jamaican Rice and Peas on the menu in Jamaica. Gungo rice and peas recipe is  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.


Jamaican Rice And Pigeon Peas

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 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 herb blend called sofrito, Sazon with achiote, green olives with pimiento and bacon. 

Jamaican Rice And Pigeon Peas Ingredients

How To Make Jamaican Rice And Pigeon Peas

I love to use long grain brown rice for my rice and peas, I love Jasmine or Basmati brown rice. 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, 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 1/4 cup warm water and allow 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.

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(Per portion)
  • Energy: 300 kcal / 1254 kJ
  • Fat: 9 g
  • Protein: 6 g
  • Carbs: 49 g

Cooking Time

  • Preparation: 15 min
  • Cooking: 50 min
  • Ready in: 1 h 5 min
For: 10 Servings



  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Fluffy rice with a fork and serve.
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.

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Rate this recipe

  1. A.D
    July 19, 2020

    delicious, kids loved it, making again

  2. J Hull
    June 22, 2020

    I made this as a side for jerk chick with mango salsa. I used white Jasmine rice and cut the cook time down to 20 minutes instead of 40. It was delicious! I’ll definitely be making this again. Thanks!

  3. Laura
    November 3, 2019

    Can I use a rice cooker instead of cooking on top of the stove?

    • Michelle Blackwood
      November 3, 2019

      Laura, I don’t see why not, I don’t own a rice cooker so I can’t give you instructions.

  4. Karen
    September 24, 2019

    I can not find pigeon peas what other peas /beans can I use? Maybe black beans or blackeyed peas?

  5. Jariyatou
    August 24, 2019

    First time cooking rice and peas with coconut milk. It’s so GOOD! Thanks!

  6. Lynn
    August 16, 2019

    Goya has both canned green and canned dried pigeon peas. I’m making Jamaica peas and rice. Which one should I use?

  7. millie
    July 31, 2019

    Hi Michelle,
    Should I drain the can of pigeon peas first before adding them to the pot.

    • Michelle Blackwood
      July 31, 2019

      Millie, it is actually optional, your choice to drain or leave the liquid in the can. It is really not that much so it won’t adversely affect the outcome.

  8. Rhonda
    April 8, 2019

    What pepper can I substitute for the Scotch Bonnet? I can’t handle that much heat.

    • Michelle Blackwood
      April 8, 2019

      Rhonda, if you leave the pepper whole you should only get the flavor and not the heat. I would say leave it out altogether and your dish will still be flavorful or add a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper.

  9. Karla
    January 17, 2019

    This was so delicious!

    • Michelle Blackwood
      January 17, 2019

      Thank you Karla for your feedback, I’m so happy you enjoyed it.

      • Grace Stanley
        April 5, 2019

        Question not a comment can you use regular Jasmine rice in place of brown rice?

        • Michelle Blackwood
          April 5, 2019

          Grace you can, just make sure the amount of liquid is 1 inch above all your other ingredients in to a large pot. Bring to a full boil, reduce heat to the lowest on your stove. cover the pot, make sure you use one with a secure lid so that the steam is not escaping, you will need to cook it for about 20 minutes, using a fork you can test the rice to make sure it’s swollen and fluffy. If it is not, I add a small amount of water and cook for 5 more minutes. Hope this helps.