Jamaican Rice and Peas – An extraordinary rice dish packed with protein and fibers, with exploding savory flavors from scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, and thyme. Serve with Curry Goat or Jerk Chicken and you’ll have a wonderful Caribbean Feast in the comfort of your home.
If you love rice, then you’re gonna love my Jamaican Rice and Beans even more. It is a different take on cooking rice instead of having it plain or the famous Chinese Fried Rice. So, if you’re new to Caribbean cuisine, get ready to get hooked once you tried this rice and peas recipe.
My Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe is by far the most authentic version I have tried. From the creaminess of the coconut milk to boatloads of flavors from thyme, allspice, and scotch bonnet peppers, undeniably takes you to the Caribbean sea. Not to be confused with Jamaican Pigeon Peas and Rice, although they are almost the same, this one has corn and Creole seasoning. Both are equally amazing and scrumptious. Yum!
This Caribbean Rice and Peas is one of the best comfort foods my family loves eating almost every day. So, I always make a big batch and store them in the freezer and they are gone in less than 2 weeks. And yet, we don’t get tired of eating them. Why? Because it’s really addictingly D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! So don’t miss out and give this recipe a go!
What are Jamaican Rice and Peas?
It is a dish derived from Akan’s rice dish called Waakye. Although it has almost the same preparation as the Jamaican version, they actually have different ingredients. Waakye uses baking soda and sorghum leaves, while the Jamaican version seasons it with thyme and pepper.
The authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas actually uses beans and not “peas.” It is because the Island dwellers referred to beans as peas. Although, it may be because traditionally they also use pigeon peas but often substituted with kidney beans.
This dish even has the title of “Most Eaten Jamaican Food“, because it has always been their staple food. It is regularly being served every Sunday and in most of their special events like Weddings and Festivals.
- Dried Kidney Beans – you can also use canned kidney beans if you want to skip on the soaking part.
- Water – you’ll be needing a lot of water to cook the beans and make them soft. Also, to make sure you won’t burn the beans while cooking since you’ll be cooking the beans for almost an hour.
- Yellow Onion – I prefer to use yellow onion since it’s sweeter and has a nice astringency taste. You can also check how I cut my onions here.
- Green Onion – A pungent staw-like veggie that’s often used as a garnish makes this dish flavorful. This is how I prepare my green onion.
- Garlic – besides its inviting garlicky aroma, it also makes any dish more savory. Learn how to mince garlic click here.
- Bay Leaves – the tea-like aroma adds another layer of flavor to this dish with a hint of minty flavor.
- Sprigs Thyme – I used fresh thyme and chopped them to fully release its flavor. You can also use dried thyme if you don’t have fresh ones.
- Salt – any dish will taste bland without this ever-reliable seasoning.
- Allspice Seeds (aka. Pimento Seeds) – is a very aromatic and savory spice with a hint of peppery overtones. It has a flavor profile similar to cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger combined.
- Unsweetened Coconut Milk – the locals make their own coconut milk by grating the coconut meat and soaking them in water then squeezing them, the squeezed liquid is the fresh coconut milk. Don’t skip on the coconut milk to achieve authentic Jamaican rice and peas taste.
- Long-Grain White Rice – I prefer white rice because they are tastier, but the calories are also higher. Oops! Anyway, you can also use brown rice for a healthier version. 😉
- Scotch Bonnet Pepper – this pepper is literally HOT, so most of the time I put it whole instead of chopping it. This way, I can still get the flavors from its skin and not the spiciness from the seeds. If you want your Jamaican rice to be extra spicy, you know what to do. 😉
- Black Eyed Peas or Pigeon Peas (aka. Gungo Peas) – using the same ratio, you can replace kidney beans with either of these two. All of them are rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals.
- Broth (Chicken or Vegetable) – use this if you’re not a fan of coconut milk. It will make the dish extremely flavorful and savory without the after-taste of the coconut milk.
- Milk – also works well to achieve the same creaminess without the taste of coconut milk. Or if you want the taste of coconut milk but you don’t have any, just add 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil.
- Serrano Pepper – is easier to find than scotch bonnet pepper, and has a good amount of heat as well.
- Brown Rice – is a healthier alternative since it is more nutritious than white rice. It takes longer to cook so you need to adjust the cooking time.
- Homemade Allspice – just mix equal parts of ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and cloves and then store them in an air-tight container.
- Jamaican Pigeon Peas and Rice – easier to prepare since you don’t have to soak the peas overnight. Plus, my version has corn for added texture and sweetness. Click here for the recipe.
- Slow Cooker Coconut Rice and Beans – pre-cook your dried beans by boiling them with water for 15 minutes before adding them to the slow cooker along with rice and other ingredients to ensure even cooking of rice and beans. Cover and cook on low for about 6-8 hours.
- Instant Pot Jamaican Rice and Peas – same taste with less cooking time and effort, plus you can do other things while waiting. Perfect for busy moms like me! You may also want to try my Instant Pot Black Beans Recipe here.
Making Ahead and Storage Instructions
- Follow the instructions. Cook the beans according to instructions, without the coconut milk and rice.
- Cool down. Let it cool before transferring it into an air-tight container.
- Refrigerate for up to 3-5 days.
- Freeze for up to 6 months.
Note: leftover canned kidney beans can last in the freezer for about a month.
- Refrigerate. Since it has coconut milk, I suggest storing it in the fridge for not more than 2 days.
- Freeze. It can stay fresh for about a month.
Note: Pack them in portion for easy thawing and reheating.
- Microwave. Transfer to a microwaveable dish and heat for 4-7 minutes, loosely covered. If frozen, allow defrosting before heating in the microwave.
- Stovetop. Add 1 tablespoon of water for every cup of rice and peas and give it a mix. Cook it for 3-5 minutes over low heat, covered. Stir it occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan.
What To Serve Them With?
Although this Caribbean Rice and Peas is already filling and satisfying as it is, it is still best to serve them with meat like these recipes:
More Caribbean Recipes to Love
- Jamaican Curry Goat
- Jerk Chicken
- Caribbean Rice and Beans
- Effortless One-Pan Cajun Rice
- Nigerian Fried Rice
How to Make Jamaican Rice and Peas
Prepping the Beans
- Soak the beans overnight. Add bean to a medium pot or bowl and let it soak overnight for even cooking and to save time. (Photo 1)
- Rinse and drain. When ready to cook, rinse and drain beans making sure it is free of any objects. (Photo 2)
Cooking the Beans
- Add the beans and seasonings. Add soaked beans to a large pot together with onions & green onions, minced garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt, allspice, and then followed by water. (Photo 3 without water, Photo 4 with water)
- Start cooking. Cook covered on medium-high heat until beans are tender – about 50-60 minutes or more. Do a taste test before proceeding with the rest of the ingredients.
Cooking with Coconut Milk and Rice
- Add the coconut milk and rice. Pour in coconut milk, rice, and scotch bonnet pepper (I used habanero pepper). (Photo 5)
- Boil and simmer. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 18 minutes or more. If rice is drying up add about a little bit of water, as needed. (Photo 6)
- Fluff with a fork. Remove pot from the stove. Add butter or coconut oil, if desired, discard bay leaves. Fluff thoroughly with a fork.
- Serve. Garnish with green onions and serve.
Watch How to Make it
Jamaican Rice and Peas
- 1 cup or 180g dried kidney beans, can be substituted with canned kidney beans.
- ½ medium yellow onion, sliced
- 2-3 green onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon or 8.62g garlic, minced (about 3-4 cloves)
- 2 bay leaves
- 3-4 sprigs thyme, minced
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 7 whole allspice berries (AKA pimento seeds)
- 3 cups or 24 fl oz water
- 1 can or 13.5oz unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 cups or 500g long-grain white rice, can be replaced with brown rice
- 1 whole scotch bonnet pepper
- Add bean to a medium pot or bowl and let it soak overnight for even cooking and to save time.
- When ready to cook, rinse and drain beans making sure it is free of any objects.
- Add soaked beans to a large pot together with onions & green onions, minced garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt, allspice, and then followed by water.
- Cook covered on medium-high heat until beans are tender, about 50-60 minutes or more. Do a taste test before proceeding with the rest of the ingredients.
- Pour in coconut milk, rice, and scotch bonnet pepper (I used habanero pepper).
- Bring the pot to a boil, reduce to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 18 minutes or more. If rice is drying up add about a little bit of water, as needed.
- Remove pot from the oven add butter or coconut oil, if desired, discard bay leaves. Fluff thoroughly with a fork.
- Garnish with green onions and serve.
Tips & Notes:
- Make sure to wash the beans with water to remove all the dirt that usually comes with the beans.
- If you’re short on time, you may use canned kidney beans instead.
- Chop your scotch bonnet pepper if you really want your dish to be extra hot. Be sure to wear gloves to avoid burning your hands, eyes, or lips because it is extremely spicy.
- Add the coconut milk after the beans are cooked to prevent curdling.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only. Please keep in mind that it is a rough estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary greatly based on the products used.