Jollof Rice – This easy, flavorful, and flawlessly cooked African classic dish Jollof rice is simple whether you choose to make it on the stovetop or take the easy way out by putting it all in the oven. With its well-seasoned goodness, including onion, garlic, and tomatoes with some nutritious veggies thrown in, it’s perfect for regular nights or special occasions! The soul-satisfying flavors from thyme, paprika, and a Scotch bonnet round out this dish to perfection.
Jollof rice is a legendary one-pot dish that’s ubiquitous in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Togo, and Sierra Leone. In fact, this is the most popular party food in West Africa and has been gaining momentum elsewhere in East Africa.
Because of its popularity, there have been several debates about its origin. What I know for sure is that it is an amazing one-pot dish, and there is no argument when everyone is shoving it down their throat.
What is Jollof Rice?
Jollof Rice, sometimes called jellof rice, is a classic rice dish cooked in a flavorful tomato-infused broth. With its several regional variations in name and ingredients, there is no absolute right or wrong way to cook this popular African rice recipe.
Jollof Rice Ingredients
I just want to say that jollof rice is great for entertaining, especially if you have picky kids. They always gobble it down.
It is fair to say that this delicious rice dish is pretty easy to make anywhere in the world because the ingredients are easy to find.
Despite its many variations, the most common ingredients in a jollof rice recipe are as follows:
- Rice – The starchy base for our dish, this filling ingredient is generally fragrant and soaks a lot of water. I prefer basmati, but you can use any long-grain rice.
- Onions – This veggie is excellent served fresh with its tangy flavor. However, I personally love it slightly caramelized for a bit of sweetness. Get the perfect cut for this ingredient with this easy-to-follow guide.
- Thyme – A deliciously aromatic herb from the incredible mint family is a delicious addition to just about any savory recipe. Fresh is good, but dried will work, and I have a list of the perfect substitutes if you don’t have thyme at all.
- Garlic – Ah, the wonderful garlic flavor makes this Jollof Rice recipe even better. And here’s my trick for mincing it.
- Paprika – This ingredient adds the fabulous pepper flavor without the heat.
- Tomato Puree or Sauce – The sweet, slightly acidic, and fresh flavors of tomato in a thick mixture is perfect for many starchy dishes.
- Chicken Broth (or water) – Basically, the flavorful water that chicken was simmered in. Not only is it full of flavor, but it’s also filled with healthy fats and collagen.
- Scotch Bonnet or Hot Pepper – My favorite hot pepper is a tear-jerker, but sometimes a good cry is good for ya. 🤣 Most of the time, I put it whole instead of chopping it to get the flavor from its skin and not the seed’s heat.
- Vegetables – Carrots, peas, green beans, and corn are all excellent choices to create a mix of colorful veggies to make it even more vibrant.
How to Cook Easy Jollof Rice
Traditionally, Jollof is cooked on the stovetop. However, that involves a lot of stirring, and sometimes the rice sticks to the pot, making the dish quite unappetizing.
In this blog post, I completely eliminated that problem by making it in the oven with just five minutes of prep time and no constant stirring involved.
But if you want to stick to the traditional method, I’ve also included the stovetop method. Here are the super-easy steps to make this simple dish.
- Rinse the rice – Make sure you clean it thoroughly with just water. Do not parboil!
- Put It All In! Add all the ingredients to the baking dish or pan.
- Cover and Cook – Lastly, cover it with aluminum foil and pop it in the oven.
Is that easy enough for you?
Now, if you are not vegan and want to throw in some meat or protein, by all means, do so.
Simply stir-fry shrimp, beef, or chicken and a medley of vegetables, mix with the rice and serve.
Serving, Storage & Make-Ahead
This dish is best steaming right out of the oven, but you may want to let it cool down for about five minutes before putting it on the table.
Store any leftover jollof rice in the fridge in an airtight container. It should last three or four days easily.
To have it ready ahead of time, make it, then let it cool. Store it the same way you would leftovers. Put it in a baking dish, add a splash of water or chicken broth, cover it, and bake it in a preheated 350℉/177℃ oven for around 20 minutes. Ready!
Tips & Tricks
- People say not to wash your rice because you remove the enriching vitamins. However, you really don’t lose that much, and washing your rice before cooking makes for fluffier rice.
- Use a heavy-bottomed pan for the stovetop version to reduce the chances of your rice burning.
- Let the rice sit covered for about ten minutes after removing it from the heat so that the rice evenly absorbs the remaining moisture. Then fluff your deliciousness with a fork for perfectly fluffy rice.
While I made cooking the rice easy-peasy by baking it, the real secret to amazing Jollof rice is taking your time on the sauce, especially caramelizing the onions.
You bet it is! Great food makes you happy, and happiness is healthy. Besides, rice is a healthy carb, and the tomatoes are fabulous.
It happens to the best of us. If there’s liquid still in the pan, just extend the cooking time. If your pan is dry and the rice is still hard, heat up some broth or water and stir it in. You want the liquid you’re adding to be hot so that it doesn’t cool your rice down and take even longer to cook.
What to Serve with Jollof Rice
This delicious rice dish can be served with just about any meat or non-meat recipe that you like. You can start with these few below and then explore other recipes to pair with this lovely dish:
- Chicken Stew (African-style)
- Suya Chicken
- Fried Plantains
- Asun (Spicy Roast Goat)
- Curried Goat Stew
- African Beef Stew
- Cucumber Tomato Salad
More Popular African Recipes You’ll Love
- Egusi Soup
- Moin Moin
- Puff Puff (Please also see my list of Puff Puff Recipes)
- Fish Pepper Soup
- Okra Soup
How to Make Jollof Rice
- Prepare the rice and the oven – Preheat oven to 350℉/177℃. Rinse the rice with water and drain.
- Combine and Stir – In a half-sheet pan (approx. 13″x18″x 2½”), combine all ingredients and stir so that everything is fully incorporated. (See photos 1-2)
- Cover and Cook – Cover tightly with aluminum foil paper. Double the foil if you can because it helps cook faster. Gently place in the oven and cook for about 70-80 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and check after 70 minutes. Since posting, I have retried the recipe several times, and it works best for my oven after 75 minutes. (See photo 3)
- Open and Serve – When cooked, remove carefully from the oven and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Then carefully remove the aluminum paper. Fluff rice with a fork, throw in your add-ins, and mix evenly. Serve hot, but you can let it cool a tad if you prefer. (See photo 4)
Watch How to Make It
Jollof Rice (Oven and Stovetop Method)
- 3-4 tablespoon (42ml-56ml) vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, diced (red or white onion)
- 2 teaspoon (1.6g) fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon (1g) dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon (8g) garlic, or 2½ teaspoon (9.7g) garlic powder
- 3 cup (591g) rice, long-grain, uncooked rice (I used basmati)
- 1 tablespoon (7g) paprika
- 2 teaspoon (4g) chicken bouillon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 14-ounce can tomato puree or sauce
- 4 cup (1,000ml) chicken broth or water, 5¼ cups for stovetop
- 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, or ¾ teaspoon hot pepper (omit if cooking for kids)
- 1 pound (453.59g) vegetables, peas, carrots, green beans, or corn (optional)
- Parsley, for garnishing
- Preheat oven to 350℉/177℃. Rinse the rice with water and drain.
- In a half-sheet pan (approx. 13"x18"x 2½"), combine all ingredients and stir so that everything is fully incorporated.
- Cover tightly with aluminum foil paper. Double the foil if you can because it helps cook faster.
- Gently place in the oven and cook for about 70-80 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and check after 70 minutes. Since posting, I have retried the recipe several times, and it works best for my oven after 75 minutes.
- When cooked, remove carefully from the oven and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Then carefully remove the aluminum paper. Fluff rice with a fork, throw in your add-ins, and mix evenly. Serve warm.
- Rinse rice and drain.
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Next, add onions, thyme, and garlic, cook for about 2 minutes or until the onion becomes soft and translucent.
- Add rice, season with paprika, bouillon, salt, and pepper.
- Cook, stirring often until fragrant, for about 30 seconds, and brown occasionally stirring, for about 2-3 minutes.
- Pour tomatoes sauce, chicken broth, and hot pepper, if any, into the saucepan.
- Bring to a boil, stirring once or twice. Reduce heat to low, cover saucepan, and simmer until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, for 15-18 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat, let it sit covered for 5 minutes, then fluff rice with a fork or serving spoon. Then throw in sauteed veggies and beef, chicken, and shrimp (if desired) and mix.
- Garnish with parsley and serve.
Tips & Notes:
- Any shallow baking dish would work here; a Dutch oven and an aluminum baking dish work, too.
- Make sure they have a tight-fitting lid or cover it tightly with aluminum foil, as shown in the video.
- Tightly cover the pot or pan with foil paper or its corresponding lid. Double foil paper to retain more heat.
- If you don’t have a can of tomato sauce in your pantry, you may replace it with a can of crushed tomatoes or tomato puree (thicker than tomato sauce). HOWEVER, the consistency will not be the same.
- If you can, I would recommend using the can of tomato sauce if you can get your hands on it because it’s a crucial ingredient to this dish.
- To double the recipe, double everything EXCEPT the cooking time. Depending on the baking dish, you might have to add just a few more minutes and start checking after 80 minutes.
- If you want to add other vegetables to this dish like green beans and corn, sauté first the vegetables and throw them in when it’s all done. It is vibrant and colorful this way; also, this would ensure that your vegetables are perfectly cooked.
- One of our readers threw in shredded cabbage, carrots, yellow pepper, and green onions into the mix.
- On the other hand, if you want to throw in shrimp, saute them first and add them as you fluff the rice. The residual heat will warm them enough, and they will not go rubbery.
- Ensure your beef or any other meat is cooked before throwing it in the mix.
- The rice was NOT PARBOILED before putting in the oven. All you need to do is RINSE the rice with water.
- I used Royal basmati rice for this recipe, available at Walmart and Costco. I have tried several varieties, and they work just as well.
- If you don’t have basmati rice, you may replace it with white long-grain rice with the same ratio of rice and water.
- As per some of our readers here, you can use brown rice, but that would need a bit more water (I cannot give you the exact measurements because I never tried it), and it will take you two hours since brown rice takes longer to cook.
- Swap habanero pepper for the Scotch bonnet or replace it with ¾ teaspoon hot pepper. Omit if serving it for the kids.
- You may swap bouillon cubes with 1-2 teaspoons of Creole seasoning, which should add more flavor to it.
- When using bouillon cubes instead of the powder, simply dissolve it completely in liquid before adding.
- You may leave out altogether the paprika or swap it with curry. It will slightly alter the taste, but that’s not a bad thing if you love curry.
- You can also cook this in a rice cooker.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on the products used in the recipe.