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7 July 2021

This Jamaican rice and peas recipe is the perfect side dish, with fluffy rice simmered with coconut milk, fiery Scotch bonnet peppers and lots of seasonings. Easy to make!

Are you a fan of rice and beans? Rice and beans sound simple and rather boring, but many countries around the world serve their own versions, each varying wildly from place to place.

There are different types of beans you can use, different types of rice, many different seasonings and ingredients, and then there are all the extras. You can add lots of herbs, proteins, spices and more to make a unique dish of rice and peas, or beans, whichever you prefer.

Jamaica offers one of my favorite versions, simply called Jamaican Rice and Peas. It is made with local gungo peas, also called pigeon peas, though you can use kidney beans.

The peas are simmered with long grain rice in coconut milk along with fiery Scotch bonnet peppers and a blend of Caribbean seasonings that really makes this dish stand out amongst the world of rice and peas offerings.

I think you’ll love this one, my spicy food loving friends. You can really bring the heat with this recipe, should you choose. There are different ways to make it, and this is how I like to make mine.

Jamaican Rice and Peas, ready to serve

Let’s talk about how we make Jamaican rice and peas, shall we?

Jamaican Rice and Peas Ingredients

  • Dried Gungo Peas (Pigeon Peas). Or you can use light or dark red kidney beans.
  • Stock. Use chicken stock or vegetable stock. 
  • Water. 
  • Coconut Milk. 
  • Rice. Long grain rice is best for this recipe, though you can use medium grain.
  • Vegetables. Onion, scallion, garlic and Scotch bonnet peppers.
  • Seasonings. Fresh thyme, allspice (use fresh ground allspice berries), brown sugar, salt and pepper.

Jamaican Rice and Peas in a hot pan

How to Make Jamaican Rice and Peas – the Recipe Method

Soak the Dried Peas. Rinse the dried beans then add them to a large pot. Cover with water and soak overnight. Drain the peas and rinse.

Simmer the Peas. Add the soaked peas, chicken stock, water and coconut milk to a large pan (or use the same pot). Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium heat. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the peas become tender. 

Rice and the Second Simmer. Add the rice, onion, scallion, garlic, Scotch bonnet, thyme, allspice, brown sugar and salt to taste. Stir. 

Jamaican Rice and Peas simmering in a pan

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer 15 minutes to 20 minutes (up to 30 minutes), or until the liquid is absorbed, and the rice is tender and done to your liking. Remove from heat.

Time to Serve. Fluff with a fork and serve! I like mine nice and hot.

Boom! Done! Your Jamaican rice and peas are ready to serve. It looks so good, doesn’t it? Fluffy but creamy and a nice level of spiciness from the Scotch Bonnet peppers. I love this recipe!

Serving Jamaican Rice and Peas from the pan

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • The Peas. Gungo peas are the same as pigeon peas, which may be easier for you to find in the American kitchen, particularly in the southern U.S. Kidney beans are also regularly used, which you can easily obtain from the local grocery store.
  • Canned Beans. You can make rice and peas with canned beans or peas. Simply drain them, then simmer for 20-30 minutes in a large pan or pot along with the other ingredients, until the rice is fluffy and tender. However, use only the coconut milk, 1/2 cup chicken stock and skip the water. Add in water or broth as needed so the rice and peas to not dry out.
  • The Scotch Bonnet Peppers. Scotch bonnet peppers have a good level of heat, similar to the habanero pepper in both heat and flavor. They add zing and tropical flavors. You can skip them for a milder version of rice and peas, or include to your preference. I usually use a couple, without coring them.
  • The Seasonings. You can skip the seasonings I’ve used for this recipe and use your favorite Jamaican jerk seasonings. Other popular additions include soy sauce and Jamaican all-purpose seasoning (affiliate link, my friends!).
  • Make it a Meal. Make your rice and peas a meal by adding in chopped chicken, pork or seafood. I love it with either cooked and chopped chicken breast, grilled shrimp, or jerk salmon. So good!

Jerk Salmon Served over a bed of Jamaican Rice and Peas

That’s it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this Jamaican rice and peas recipe. Let me know if you make it. I’d love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy!

Cookbook Recommendations

If you’d like to learn more about Jamaican cooking, check out the following books, which I have found to be educational and informative:

Try Some of These Other Popular Jamaican Inspired Recipes

Try Some of These Other Popular Rice Recipes

Jamaican Rice and Peas on a spoon

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe

This Jamaican rice and peas recipe is the perfect side dish, with fluffy rice simmered with coconut milk, fiery Scotch bonnet peppers and lots of seasonings. Easy to make!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr 5 mins
Soaking8 hrs
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Jamaican
Keyword: caribbean, coconut milk, jerk seasoning, rice, scotch bonnet
Servings: 4
Calories: 520kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried gungo peas pigeon peas - or use red kidney beans
  • 1 cup chicken stock - vegetable stock is good too
  • 3/4 cup water - or more as needed
  • 13.5 ounce can coconut milk 1 can
  • 1 cup and 2 tablespoons long grain rice
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 scallion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper seeded and chopped (use 1/2 a pepper for less heat)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Rinse the dried peas then add them to a large pot. Cover with water and soak overnight. Drain the peas and rinse.
  • Add the soaked peas, chicken stock, water and coconut milk to a large pan (or use the same pot). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the peas become tender.
  • Add the rice, onion, scallion, garlic, Scotch bonnet, thyme, allspice, brown sugar and salt to taste. Stir.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer 20-30 minutes, or until the rice is tender and done to your liking.
  • Fluff with a fork and serve!

Notes

You may need more time to simmer the peas, as simmering time can vary wildly. It can take up to 90 minutes or longer, to your preference. You can also use canned or pre-softened peas or beans. If using canned, skip the first 2 steps and simmer the peas along with the remainder of the ingredients. However, use only the coconut milk, 1/2 cup chicken stock and skip the water. Add in water or broth as needed so the rice and peas to not dry out.

Nutrition

Calories: 520kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 112mg | Potassium: 804mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 123IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 4mg