Jollof rice is a common staple dish loved by many different cultures in Western/Sub-Saharan Africa. It is most commonly considered a Nigerian or Ghanaian recipe but is also common in Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Liberia, and many other countries in the region.

Each country and tribe has its own variations, as with any dish that spreads over a large area, but the basic idea is very similar.

Traditionally, it is rice cooked in tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, and sometimes tomato paste. Various types of meat are also usually added.

Rice is the central food for so many cultures. I’m sure that all of us can think of a rice-based dish that reminds us of home, family, and good times.

No special occasion in Jamaica is complete without rice and peas, and I’m sure many of us have had Indian biryani or various Asian fried rice dishes.

With rice being so versatile, I love trying different recipes, such as Dirty Rice, Turmeric Coconut Rice, Red Beans and Rice, and Jamaican Seasoned Rice.

What is Jollof Rice?

Jollof rice is a tasty and well-seasoned rice cooked in a spicy tomato broth. Jollof’s making is a point of national pride, with the rivalry between Nigeria and Ghana becoming quite fierce, and now including other countries.

There are actually now judged cooking competitions for jollof rice, that garner attention from the worldwide African diaspora.

I enjoyed Nigerian jollof rice when I lived in England 25 years ago. I first learned to make it from my Nigerian friends, but I didn’t make this popular Nigerian dish for years until I moved to Ohio about 5 years ago.

In Ohio, I started going to a Ghanaian church, and every week they would serve delicious vegetarian Ghanaian jollof rice. My love for this rice was reignited and I grew very close to the members of the church until I had to leave.

jollof rice in white bowls on a white background

What Does Jollof Rice Taste Like?

It tastes like heaven. No kidding. It’s hearty and robust. It’s made with spicy and sweet spices, and it has a smooth texture with a mellow flavor.

It’s difficult to answer this question.

Jollof rice is cooked in a stew. The stew has a sweet taste from the onion and tomato puree and a spicy kick from the chili and garlic.

In addition, ginger imparts a spicy, sweet, and savory flavor to the rice, while curry powder imparts a spicy, sweet, and savory touch to the rice.

The taste is so lovely and tasty that I find it very difficult to describe. I don’t think anyone in this world will be able to describe the taste.

I love jollof rice! Maybe that’s the closest answer to describing its taste.

What’s The Secret To Great Jollof Rice?

The Wolof tribe of Senegal is said to be the originator of Jollof rice. However, other countries across Africa are now creating this supreme dish in their own unique ways.

Jollof is a mood, a cultural phenomenon, and knowing how to make perfect, delicious jollof rice is the ultimate glory of any cook.

After all, this is the root of Nigeria’s and Ghana’s never-ending conflict. A war in which everyone knows who won, hands down.

Here, I’ll share some tips for making the best jollof rice in the world with you, and I hope this will lead to world peace.

1. Type of Rice

Soggy Jollof rice is one of the worst things that spoil your meal. This is why it’s crucial to use the right rice.

Any long-grain rice, such as Basmati, would usually do, or long-grain parboiled rice. You’re good to go if you wash the rice properly and drain it well.

2. Liquids

Jollof rice can be cooked with either stock or water, depending on your preference (along with the appropriate spices).

Starting with equal parts rice and liquid is a good rule of thumb. For instance, use around 2 ½ cups of stock/water to make three cups of jollof rice.

3. Peppers and Tomatoes

Peppers are a key component of jollof rice, ranking second mostly to rice in terms of importance. Is it jollof rice if it isn’t red and thick?

It’s good to use more pepper than raw tomatoes when making this recipe. Adding extra raw tomatoes can make your Jollof rice look lighter in color.

The unique red Jollof color is achieved through the use of tomato purée or tomato paste. Substitute tomato purée for the rest of the tomatoes.

4. Steam and Heat

Steam properly cooks jollof rice. Let the sauce completely cover your Jollof rice while it is cooking.

After it has dried out, toss your Jollof rice to ensure that the liquid and rice are properly incorporated, then cover the pan with aluminum foil and then the lid.

This will enable it to cook in steam until done, rather than adding water over and.

The quantity of heat utilized for steaming is quite important. Using very low heat can result in soggy rice, but using excessive heat will cause the liquid to evaporate quicker than the rice can soften.

Therefore, it is critical to strike a balance. Temperatures should be kept moderate, i.e., on a medium-low heat setting.

5. Seasonings and Spices

The key to jollof rice is using the correct spices. If the jollof rice isn’t well-spiced, it won’t be very colorful or tasty.

A variety of herbs and spices can be used to flavor jollof rice; some common ones are thyme, curry powder, scotch bonnet pepper, ginger, garlic, salt, and bay leaves.

The flavor of Jollof rice is heavily reliant on curry powder.

6. Onions

Don’t skip on the onions in your jollof rice; they add a deep, distinct flavor. In fact, onions are one of the essential ingredients in making jollof rice.

In fact, without onions, there is no jollof rice. Onions give your Jollof rice a pleasant flavor and are very nutritious.

When making jollof rice, you can put as many onions as you want to get the desired flavor and smell in jollof rice.

There are different types of onions, and the type you use when cooking depends on your taste and preference, but most people prefer to use red onions for cooking and yellow ones for eating raw.

7. Oil/Butter

Everyone has their own jollof rice recipe. But do you know the importance of oil or vegan butter in your rice?

Oil is important to add to your jollof rice. This is because it helps in the process of bringing out the flavor of spices.

This is the process where a substance changes color and then tastes sweet. Oil is also important as it helps prevent your rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

If you are using a non-stick pot, you don’t need to worry about sticking, but if you have used a normal pan, adding oil/butter will help prevent the food from sticking on. In addition, the oil helps give that brownish look to your rice.

Go forth and create the best Jollof rice with these tips!

Jollof Rice Recipe

Is Jollof Rice Healthy?

In Nigeria, people eat Jollof rice every day, and it is believed to be the food that keeps Nigerians healthy and strong. In fact, it is believed that it has medicinal properties that keep people away from diseases.

Jollof rice is made from a variety of ingredients, and this makes it healthy. Let’s look at the ingredients that make up this rice and see how they will benefit you.

Let’s begin with the rice itself.

1. Rice

Jollof rice can be made from many varieties of rice. I used brown rice, but you can also use white rice.

A mix of vegetables, spices, and herbs is used to prepare this dish. The ingredients include tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, scotch bonnet pepper, ginger, thyme, curry powder, and garlic.

All of these ingredients are incredibly healthy and provide various health benefits.

2. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are high in antioxidants, which aid in the fight against free radicals in the body, which cause cell damage.

Free radicals are produced when our bodies burn food for energy and can accelerate aging as well as cause cancer.

Tomatoes also contain lycopene which may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower blood pressure levels by relaxing blood vessels.

They also contain vitamin C, which is good for healthy skin and improves iron absorption from plant-based foods like spinach.

Tomatoes contain vitamin A, which helps improve eyesight; they also promote healthy skin, hair, and nails and maintain good vision.

Additionally, they contain vitamin B6, which supports cell development and growth and helps keep a healthy immune system.

3. Onion

Onions are also an ingredient used to prepare jollof rice. They are high in Vitamin C, which boosts immunity and helps prevent infections.

They also contain antioxidants that help protect cells against damage triggered by harmful free radicals.

Research studies show that onions can help prevent tumors by lowering blood sugar levels. They can also help keep cancer at bay by killing cancer cells and preventing them from spreading throughout the body.

Onions are also rich in flavonoids, which support heart health by preventing cholesterol from building up in arteries and veins.

4. Bell Pepper

Bell pepper is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. It also contains vitamin A, folate, vitamin B6, potassium, calcium, and manganese. It also contains small amounts of other minerals and vitamins.

Vitamin C is necessary because it aids in the absorption of iron from plant-based diets. Vitamin A helps improve vision and the growth of bones and tissues.

Fiber helps keep your digestive system healthy by preventing constipation and other gastrointestinal problems.

Folate is essential for fetal development and women’s health during pregnancy.

The anticancer effects of bell peppers have been attributed to their high content of antioxidant compounds called carotenoids.

5. Scotch Bonnet Pepper

The scotch bonnet pepper 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. In addition, the capsaicin contained within the peppers causes them to have an anti-inflammatory effect.

The heat of capsaicin is believed to have a positive effect on arthritis and asthma and may help lower blood pressure levels.

6. Ginger and Garlic

Ginger and garlic contain several essential nutrients.

Their use has been found to prevent diabetes, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, ease nausea and vomiting, improve digestion, improve circulation, enhance immunity, reduce menstrual pain, and may be used to treat cancer.

7. Thyme

The benefits of thyme are well-documented. It’s been shown to help reduce inflammation and fight off bacterial infections.

In addition, it has antifungal properties and can reduce bloating, flatulence, and cramping associated with intestinal gas. It also reduces nausea and has anti-diarrheal properties that can help ease stomach upset.

8. Curry powder

Curry powder is one of the most popular spice blends in the world, used in a variety of cuisines, such as Indian, Caribbean, Central, and South American.

It is a blend of spices and herbs that are commonly combined with various foods to impart their distinctive flavors. The blend 

Curry powder is made with a lot of spices (typically contains turmeric, cumin seeds, fennel seeds or aniseed (fennel or caraway), cardamom pods, peppercorns, coriander seeds, etc.) that are all beneficial for your health.

When mixed together, you get a tasty seasoning that also helps with digestion, heart health, cancer, and more.


How To Make Jollof Rice?

To make jollof rice, I prefer to use long-grain brown rice because it is healthier than white rice.

Most traditional recipes call for Maggi bouillon cubes, but there are vegan bouillon cubes that you can use as a substitute. Otherwise, you can substitute the water for vegetable broth and add salt to taste.

  • Wash the brown rice and set it aside. Puree the tomato, bell pepper, onion, garlic, ginger, and Scotch bonnet pepper in a blender until smooth.
  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add pureed sauce from the blender, and cook while stirring for about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in curry powder, thyme, tomato paste, and vegetable bouillon, and cook for another 2 minutes while stirring. Add rice and stir to coat it with the sauce.
  • Add water or vegetable broth to the pot, and salt to taste. Bring to a full boil, then cover and reduce to low heat. Allow the rice to cook until tender and fluffy, usually about 50 minutes.
    Note that brown rice will need about 45 to 50 minutes to be properly cooked.
Jollof Rice Steps

Health Benefits of Rice

Rice is a staple food for nearly every culture. Everyone can usually think of a particular rice dish that was commonly made by their families to accompany meals or for special occasions, and as I mentioned for many African cultures it is jollof rice.

The reason why it is a great staple food is that it is high in carbohydrates. Carbs are demonized in our society now, but our ancestors found them to be an essential source of energy.

Our bodies need carbohydrates to function, and they are usually the easiest and cheapest food sources. Entire civilizations would go through famine and many would die because the staple crop failed, and they could not survive off of other foods.

Brown rice is the original grain when it has not been processed by having the bran and germ removed.

These parts, combined with the endosperm, are what make brown rice a good energy source. This is because not only does it contain carbohydrates, it also has fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Is Jollof Rice A Nigerian Food?

Jollof rice is a common dish in the West African country of Nigeria. 

According to many sources, Jollof rice was originally known as Benachin, which means “one-pot” in Wolof. The information on Wikipedia states that Jollof has Senegal roots. The word Jollof comes from the Wolof language spoken in Senegal and Gambia.

Because of the name, I am confident that it originated in Senegal/Gambia. However, it would be really helpful if you Nigerians or Ghanaians could explain it in detail.

How Long Can Jollof Rice Stay In The Fridge?

If you have any leftovers, they’ll last 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Allow cooling before transferring to an airtight container. It can be reheated on the stovetop before serving. 

Can You Freeze Jollof Rice?

Yes, jollof rice freezes nicely and can be stored for up to three months. If you’re not using protein, you may reheat it in the microwave straight from the freezer.

Otherwise, let it defrost overnight in the refrigerator before reheating it on the stovetop.

Is Jollof Rice Vegan?

Jollof rice is traditionally made with meat and spices. However, you can make it vegan.

This recipe is vegan because the ingredients used to make it does not contain any kind of animal or dairy items.

As long as you stay away from anything with dairy or meat in it, you probably won’t have any problems calling yours vegan.

Does Jollof Rice Make You Fat?

No! Jollof rice does not make you fat.

Overeating, however, can lead to weight gain. No matter how healthy a diet is, you will gain weight if you eat too much of it.

While it is easier to overeat rice than a salad, it contributes differently to overall cardiovascular health.

Because rice is abundant in carbohydrates, most people believe it “causes” weight gain. This is false; carbohydrates do not cause weight gain on their own.

It is the consumption of an excessive amount of the wrong sort of carbohydrate that causes weight gain.

Can Dogs Eat Jollof Rice?

No, dogs cannot consume jollof rice.

Although rice is safe for dogs to consume, it contains some ingredients, such as garlic, onion, ginger, vegetable oil, pepper, tomatoes, and curry powder, that can be baneful for them and can cause major health problems.

Ghanaian vs. Nigerian Jollof Rice

Like many other regional dishes, Jollof rice has a distinct cooking method. Both countries have granted us the copyright to flavored rice, which can be found on menus all over the world.

It’s hard to say which one tastes better. Regardless, the flavor war continues. I adore Ghanaian jollof rice. It has a firm texture, but it’s still soft and fluffy.

Try My Other Flavorful Rice Recipes:

Landscape view of jollof rice in white bowls on white background

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(Per portion)
  • Energy: 209 kcal / 874 kJ
  • Fat: 10 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Carbs: 26 g

Cook Time

  • Preparation: 10 min
  • Cooking: 1 h
  • Ready in: 1 h 10 min
  • For: 6 Servings



  1. Wash the brown rice and set aside. Puree tomato, bell pepper, onion, garlic, ginger, and Scotch Bonnet pepper in a blender until smooth.
  2. Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add pureed sauce from blender, and cook while stirring for about 3 minutes. Add curry powder, thyme, tomato paste, and vegetable bouillon, and cook for another 2 minutes while stirring. Add rice and stir to coat it with the sauce.
  3. Add water or vegetable broth to the pot, and salt to taste. Bring to a full boil, then cover and reduce to low heat. Allow the rice to cook until tender and fluffy, usually about 50 minutes. Note that brown rice will need about 45 to 50 minutes to be properly cooked.
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.