If you're looking for a delicious and hearty Jamaican side dish, look no further than rice and peas!
Made with rice, red kidney beans, coconut milk, and various seasonings, it's sure to satisfy your hunger.
We'll also give you some ideas of what to serve with rice and peas.
How to make Jamacian Rice and Peas
Take a look at the video below to see how simple it is to prepare this Jamaican rice dish at home.
Continue reading for history and serving suggestions, or use the jump button below to make rice and peas now!
History of rice and peas
Rice is a popular staple in Jamaica since its introduction to the island.
Many rice dishes are enjoyed on the Caribbean island, rice and peas have become a popular dish throughout the world!
Rice and peas are served as a side dish in Jamaican homes, restaurants, and even at significant events like weddings and parties.
Rice and peas are made with long-grain white rice, red kidney beans, coconut milk, onions, garlic, spring onions, thyme, scotch bonnet pepper, Jamaican seasoning, salt and pepper.
For the best results, use full-fat coconut milk instead of a low-fat version. We have already added water to this recipe, so using low-fat coconut milk will water down the coconut flavour.
We used Dunn's river coconut milk and jerk seasoning which is a brand available in the UK supermarkets.
If you are making this Jamaican recipe in the US the brand is available as Grace.
Scotch Bonnet Pepper
Scotch bonnet peppers are used in many Jamaican recipes; you can find these at greengrocers in the UK, but harder to find in a supermarket.
Good alternatives are habanero chilli pepper which has a similar fruity heat.
Alternatively, the most readily available in the UK are jalapeño or serrano peppers; they won't give as much fruitiness but will still provide a little heat. You may need to use more than one!
Add the scotch bonnet whole to the rice and peas, not chopped since it will give off too much heat; after cooking, remove the chilli and chop it for extra spice if you like more heat.
Jamaican jerk seasoning is a popular spice mix used in Jamaican cuisine.
It typically contains allspice, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper and paprika. You can make your own or alternatively you can buy it from most supermarkets or online.
We also add fresh thyme leaves.
What rice to use?
There are many different rice varieties; the best rice to use in rice and peas is long-grain white rice.
You can use other types of white long-grain rice, such as basmati or jasmine rice, instead if needed.
Long grain brown rice works just as well if you're looking for a healthier option. However, you will need to adjust the cooking time and add more liquid.
It is important to wash the rice thoroughly in a sieve under cold water to remove excess starch before adding it into the pot.
What peas are used in rice and peas?
The peas in Jamaican rice and peas are traditionally Gunga peas; otherwise known as pigeon peas. They are beans but because of their small size called peas.
However, in the UK we more commonly use red kidney beans in rice and peas as they are easier to find.
So maybe we should call this a rice and bean recipe! You can also use black-eyed peas for a similar result.
If using dried beans, they will need to be prepared a day ahead, soaked overnight, boiled for 10 minutes and simmered for 30 minutes.
This is why I prefer to use a tin of kidney beans instead. Ready to add into the rice, I recommend rinsing them to remove the salted water.
Cooking rice and peas
As with most of our rice recipes, we make Jamaican rice and peas, using the rice absorption method.
First gently fry the onion and garlic over medium heat.
Add the long grain rice and all other ingredients with carefully measured amounts of liquid (coconut milk and water).
Bring to the boil over high heat, reduce the heat to simmer.
Cover and cook with the lid on for 10 minutes, do not peek or lift the lid during this time!
Turn heat off still keeping the lid on and allow an additional 10 minutes for the rice to finish cooking.
The remaining liquid is absorbed into the rice during this time. Cooked in this way the rice is tender and fluffy with no need to drain and waste any of the coconut flavourings.
Remove the spring onion, thyme and scotch bonnet pepper. You can chop the chilli pepper up and add some to the rice if you like to make it spicier.
Use a fork to fluff up the rice and separate the grains before serving.
What to serve with rice and peas?
Jamaican rice and peas, traditionally served with jerk chicken or pork. Or as a side dish to other meat or fish mains.
📖 Step by Step Recipe
Jamaican Rice and Peas
- 1 tablespoon Coconut / Vegetable / Sunflower Oil
- 1 small Onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic finely sliced
- 2 teaspoon Jerk Seasoning or All purpose seasoning
- 225 ml Water
- 400 ml Coconut Milk
- 400 g Red Kidney Beans Canned - 240 grams drained - see blog post about using dried beans
- 2 Spring Onions halved lengthways
- 2 sprigs Thyme
- 1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper Add more/less to taste - see blog post for substitutes
- 400 grams White Rice Long grain rice or basmati rice
- 1 Spring Onion finely sliced
- 1 Lime To serve
- Over medium heat, fry garlic and onions together in oil for 5 mins.1 tablespoon Coconut / Vegetable / Sunflower Oil, 1 small Onion, 2 cloves Garlic
- Meanwhile, wash the rice in cold running water until the water is clear.400 grams White Rice
- Add the water, coconut milk, kidney beans, spring onions, thyme and scotch bonnet and washed rice all to the pan at the same time, turn to high heat.225 ml Water, 400 ml Coconut Milk, 400 g Red Kidney Beans, 2 Spring Onions, 2 sprigs Thyme, 1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper
- Add jerk seasoning, stir and bring to a boil.2 teaspoon Jerk Seasoning or All purpose seasoning
- Stir together one last time, turn the heat down to low.
- Place lid on, and simmer for 10 minutes.KEEP LID ON DO NOT STIR OR PEEK!
- Turn heat off but KEEP LID ON for 10 more minutes, whilst any remaining liquid is absorbed into the rice.
- You can now take off the lid, remove the spring onions, thyme and scotch bonnet.
- Use a fork to fluff up the rice.
- Serve with a sprinkle of raw spring onions and a wedge of lime.1 Spring Onion, 1 Lime
Rice and peas recipe was originally posted on 10/02/2022, and updated on 08/03/2022 with storage and reheating information.
What does rice and peas taste like?
Rice and peas, has a sweet nutty taste from the coconut milk combined with the rice, beans and spices.
The scotch bonnet pepper gives rice and pea a mild sweet heat kept whole! Like spicy food?
Cut it in half to allow more heat to absorb the rice from the inner flesh and seeds.
Or cut after cooking and add more to whoever likes it hot!
We hope you enjoy this Jamaican rice and peas recipe, please leave your feedback in the comments below.
If you have any rice leftover make sure to place in an air tight container and store it in the fridge within an hour of cooking.
Rice may only be reheated once and make sure it is steaming hot throughout.
I suggest using a microwave and stirring every minute during heating until hot through.
More rice recipes
Or if you want to go back to the basics our simple guide on how to cook basmati rice where you will find all the measurements you need to cook white rice perfectly every time.