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Classic Jamaican rice and peas recipe

Classic Jamaican rice and peas recipe


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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Side dish

This Jamaican rice and peas one pot dish is a great side dish to a larger Caribbean meal. In Jamaica the beans used for this dish are called 'peas' hence the title. Serve with meat, fish or just by itself.

34 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 350g long grain rice
  • 350ml water
  • 1 (400ml) tin coconut milk
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (400g) kidney beans, drained

MethodPrep:10min ›Cook:40min ›Ready in:50min

  1. Combine all of the ingredients into a large casserole dish and simmer gently over a medium heat. Cook covered for 30 to 40 minutes until the rice is soft and fluffy.

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Delicious Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe

This Delicious Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe is made with fresh coconut milk, allspice, scallions and more! This rice and peas is the best hands down and will make you feel like you are in the Caribbean!

Last year when I attended my cousin’s wedding in Poughkeepsie, I realized that my generation of kids have been spoiled tremendously by our big family and army of talented cooks that came before us.

My cousins and I (all 5200 of us) got together and realized that we will NEED to continue this amazing authentic Jamaican family cooking for our own children, or the culture will die with us.

Being the first generation to be American born, we are so used to being spoiled by our parents and aunts and uncles that were taught to cook by their parents in the islands.

It is so interesting having to marry the two cultures together, but cooking authentic caribbean recipes is a fantastic way to keep the culture alive in our own families going forward.


Recipe Summary

  • 2 cups uncooked jasmine rice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 (28 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, stemmed
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Rinse rice in a fine strainer.

Heat oil in a large 5-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, green onions, and thyme cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the rice, kidney beans, stock, coconut milk, Scotch bonnet pepper, salt, sugar, black pepper, red pepper flakes, allspice, and cayenne pepper.

Bring to a boil, uncovered. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer until rice is tender and liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes.


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Remove from stove and strain fish broth into another pot.

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Excellent when served with Curried chicken thighs!

Solid side-dish, though nothing super exciting--made a good foil to jerk chicken. I used canned coconut milk to save the trouble of dealing with a whole coconut. I would suggest reducing the salt to 3 tsp. as the dish is slightly too salty, but otherwise, the recipe is good as it stands.

This is a very good start to a recipe. I took already mixed jamaican spice and mixed it into melted butter then chilled it. I put a small slice into each bowl at serving time. Gave it a much dmore istinctive "Jamaican" flavor.

I'm giving four forks for authenticity's sake. Married to a Jamaican and living in Jamaica, I can say that this dish is definitely authentic. However, we often use canned coconut milk at home. Also, my husband's aunt cooks the rice with hamhock or pigstails (I'm not a big fan of any sort of tail, but I hear it adds flavor). The hamhock is wonderful. I agree with the other cooks that using pigeon peas ("gungo peas") is well worth it.

This recipe is just missing a few key ingredients to kick it up a notch. Use pidgeon peas reather than kidney beans for more traditional Caribbean flavor, they are a very rich and meaty small bean. My Grandma, who is from Kingston Jamaica used the onion, but in addition you boil in smoked turkey parts (2), a sliced tomato, and some shredded carrot (1). The smoked meat with the coconut milk is an awesome blend of flavor. I do add some garlic to the pot as well. Cheers!

I wonder exactly what "jbscanlan" expected of this recipe, perhaps they did not realise that rice & peas is normally served *with* something that has a kick. The rice & peas is supposed to be a foil to the rich spicy flavours it is served with, much as most rice dishes are. I used less salt than suggested (which seems an awful lot to me!) and chopped the scallion into the dish rather than fishing it out at the end. I also used tinned coconut milk & an ordinary green chilli as that was what I had to hand. Turned out pretty nice, very similar to other rice & peas recipes I've used before. I served it with ackee & callaloo, with hot pepper sauce for the grown ups!

Very disappointed in this - bland, bland, bland. I used the canned milk as many recommended, but I had hoped for more spice and richness.

This is a great idea for an exotic variation on rice and beans. However, it's too complicated. Most of the recipe is for making coconut milk, which folks can now find in cans at the supermarket.

I have been making this dish since I was a young girl. Its traditionally made on Sundays in Jamaica and normally served with Stewed Chicken. The receipe is pretty good with the .Very Tasty I will keep making this. Its also good if you make a large batch and then freeze the leftovers. Add about two tbsps of water when reheating approx two cups.I also prefer the org way it taste so much better

I really didnt care for the kidney beans in this recipe. Will stick to my more traditional version made with Pidgeon peas and coconut milk!

This dish was very tasty but I would ease up on the salt a bit. I also used 4 cans of kidney beans lightly drained and heated them up in a pot and added 2-3 crushed cloves of garlic and simmered for about 10 minutes. I also substituted the whole coconut with a can of light coconut milk and added enough water to make 2 cups. Serve it with West Indian Chicken Curry and it's awesome!

nice side dish. If you want to make it spicier, puncture the walls of your pepper so more oil can get out. Be careful though as that'll make it MUCH spicier. (I've done it on accident a few times and woohoo. spicy)

I loved this recipe--the fresh coconut thing was ARDUOUS, but definitely worth it. The flavors in this dish are subtle yet interesting. The recipe makes a TON, and I look forward to the leftovers!

I made this to recipe and found it too oily. a little too mushy. I think I'll try it next time with dried unsweetend coconut flakes instead of coconut milk and try serving it topped with fresh cut tomatoes,fresh cut green onions istead of cooking the scallions, parsley instead of cilantro and fresh cut lime wedges.

Tasty side dish - goes nice with fish or a Carribbean entree. It reminded me of risotto with beans since the rice is creamy. Couldn't really taste the habanero chile, scallion or thyme. I wanted to follow the other reviewer's suggestions to use canned kidney beans and canned coconut milk - but was unsure of what quantities to use (I also wanted to reduce the number of side-dish servings made). Ultimately, I used 1-15.5 oz can red kidney beans, 2-14 oz cans coconut milk, 2+ cups water, 1 scallion, 2 thyme sprigs, 1 chile and 2 cups rice. These quantities seemed to work out - although next time I might (1) increase the amount of red kidney beans, and (2) chop up the chile to make it spicier. Does anyone know if the leftovers reheat well after being frozen?

This recipes is a pretty good one, however, I would add a few strips of bacon or salted "Pigs Tail" if you want more of a "kick"

I've made this recipe twice now. The first time I did the laborious, ho-hum coconut method. I also left in some of the pulp, followed the recipe precisely and the results were delicious. However, because the kitchen smelled so great my family ran in with bowls and spoons the moment I said it was ready. However, the taste is soooo greatly improved when you let the rice 'sit' in the bowl with the beans and sauce. I didn't realize this was a given - probably the only person who didn't. Also, the canned coconut milk version was also good but not as much as the labor-intensive way.

With the substitutions recommended below (can of (lite) coconut milk, canned kidney beans), this is an incredibly EASY and quick dish - perfect for a mid-week dinner! We served this alongside grilled blackened tuna and grilled pineapple rings and it was perfect. I will definitely make this again.

Definatly, agree with the other reviewers - coconut cream or milk is an adequete subsitute. That's how my Mom makes it, and I can remember as a boy having to squeeze the cocunut - never again! Having said that it's a great dish.

Just a suggestion for those who don't like making their own coconut milk-I can actually extract up to six cups of milk from one coconut. So do two or three coconuts at once, and put the milk in the freezer in one or two cup containers, so that when you're ready, you can just take some out. The canned milk is fine, however the homemade milk lends more flavor since it hasn't been pasteurized. This dish is so tasty we make it once a week at least.

It is a great tasting dish but asa a Jamaican I know that many things can be substituted. Firstly I prefer to use Maggi coconut milk instead of going through the whole extraction process.Instead of cooking the beans which is again another long process, a cook may use two options: 1. Put the beans in a pressure cooker with pimento (allspice seeds), a little salt, a sprig of thyme, 2 cloves of garlic and a bit of scoth bonnet, pressure for half the time, make sure you use the stock from the beans as it is flavorful and has a rich red color or 2. In 15 minutes you may use the canned dark red kidney beans, utilise the juice again for the dark red color. This recipe can be done in 35-45 mins. using these alternative. As we say in Jamaica- Eat good, eat yu belly full.

Simple & delicious. For simplicities sake, I used canned coconut milk. No need to worry about adding a whole chili. I prefer more flavour & normally add several whole chilies/jalapenos in most of the dishes I prepare. Depending on how long you simmer, the chili mostly stays intact & adds quite a flare to the dish.


How to make Jamaican Rice and Peas

(Full measurements in the recipe card at the end)

Prepare the dried beans:

1. Presoak for 8 hours or overnight in double the amount of water.

2. Drain, rinse and add to a pot or pressure cooker.

3. Fill the pot with enough fresh water to ensure the level is 1 inch above the beans. Cover with a lid.

4. Cook at high heat for one hour in a pot (adding more water if needed to maintain the level) or 20 minutes in a pressure cooker. The beans should be tender but not crunchy or mushy.

Make fresh coconut milk:

1. Add the shredded unsweetened coconut flakes to a blender with warm water.

2. Blend for 2 minutes. I used an immersion blender for easier cleanup.

3. Strain the mixture, extracting as much liquid as possible. I used a nut milk bag which is super fine and much easier to use.

4. Set the coconut milk aside.

Make the cooking broth for the rice:

1. Once the beans are cooked, allow the pressure cooker to release before opening.

If you&rsquore using a standard pressure cooker. Place the pot in the sink and run some cool water over it until the pressure fully releases.

2. Add the pre-cooked beans with liquid or undrained canned beans to a pot more suitable for cooking rice.

If you cooked the beans in the rice pot then no need to remove them.

3. Add the homemade coconut milk (or canned coconut milk) to the pot.

4. Stir in the jerk seasoning, scallion, garlic cloves, thyme, allspice, scotch bonnet pepper, salt and black pepper.

5. Cover the pot and bring to a boil at high heat for 5 minutes.

Decrease the heat to low and continue cooking for 15 minutes or until the liquid is reduced and has a deep reddish-brown colour.

Key tip: If your pot doesn&rsquot already have a vent, slightly ventilate the lid to prevent any boiling over.

Wash the rice:

1. Add the rice to a large bowl and fill with water.

2. Stir to release the starches that could make the rice stick together while cooking. Drain.

3. Repeat the rinsing and draining steps until the water is clear (about 4 to 5 times total).

Cook the rice:

1. Once the broth is ready, add the drained rice to the pot.

2. Add more water if needed to ensure the level is 1 inch above the rice.

3. Cover with a sheet of aluminum foil, then the lid.

4. Allow the rice to cook and steam for 12 to 15 minutes or until it&rsquos tender and all the liquid is absorbed.

5. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes after cooking. Remove the strands of scallion, thyme branches and scotch bonnet pepper before gently stirring with a fork.


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About Jamaican Rice and Peas

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Frequently asked questions:

A traditional food hailing from the African continent, rice and peas first became popular in Ghana. Despite the name, there are no garden peas in the recipe. Instead, there are beans that are referred to as ‘peas’ in the Caribbean.

Dark red kidney beans are more common but I used light red because that’s what I had on hand. Either work! The secret is to start with dried and let them soak in water 8 hours or overnight.

The secret is full fat coconut milk such as the Thai style that you can find in a can. While you can use low fat, I highly recommend full fat for added creaminess. This dish is naturally vegan with no butter so the coconut milk adds a ton of plant-based richness.

Of course, traditional dishes like Jerk Chicken, Jerk Pork or Curry Goat all taste delicious with rice and peas but truthfully this side dish is extremely versatile and tastes great with any sort of roasted meat, fish or curry.

It will stay good for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. If it’s a little dry when reheating, add a little coconut milk.

Yes! They are 100% gluten-free and vegan as they are made with coconut milk instead of butter. They’re also protein-packed due to the peas (beans) offering 5 grams of protein per ½ cup.


Tips for making the best Rice and Peas

  • If you suffer bloating from eating beans you can benefit from soaking the beans first or you can parboil the beans before adding fresh water to finish cooking.
  • Precook the kidney beans or use canned beans to cut down the cooking time.
  • You can use canned beans rather than cooking the beans from scratch. If you drain the canned beans the color of the rice and peas will be subtle.
  • Cook the peas in a pressure cooker to cut down the cooking time.
  • To cook without coconut milk, substitute with broth or water for the same quantity.

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