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.

Best Pigeon Peas And Rice Recipe

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

Cook 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.