Jamaican Rice and Peas

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

When doing research for our recent Jamaican goat curry recipe, what came up most often as an accompaniment was something those from Jamaica call “rice and peas”. (Several commenters suggested this dish too.) Traditionally the “peas” are pigeon peas, often substituted with kidney beans (which is what we are using). The rice is cooked in coconut milk.

Oh my gosh. This is one of those I-can’t-wait-to-make-it-again dishes. Think of it as a Caribbean version of a Cajun red beans and rice. Our version is a little different from the traditional rice and peas in that we sauté onion and garlic to start the recipe, then add a little fresh grated ginger for added zing. Serve it with curry, roasted meats, jerk chicken or all by itself. The rice is especially good with a little lime juice sprinkled on to serve.

Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 6-8.

The chile is cooked whole with the rice and is there just for a bit of flavor. It doesn't make the rice hot at all, as it stays whole and you discard it at the end.


  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 whole Scotch bonnet chile (can substitute a whole habanero)
  • Lime (optional)


1 Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until they begin to brown on the edges.

2 Add the garlic and rice, stir well and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often.

3 Add the grated ginger, salt, water, stock and coconut milk and stir well. Add the kidney beans and sprinkle the thyme over everything. Add the whole Scotch bonnet chile (or habanero); it will season the rice much like a bay leaf would. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to low and cover.

4 The rice should be done in about 15-20 minutes, depending on the type of rice you are using (some long grained rice takes longer to cook). Check after 15 minutes. Once done, remove from heat and cover for 10 minutes. To serve, fluff with a fork. Sprinkle with a little lime juice if you want. Discard the habanero (or eat it, if you dare!)

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Showing 4 of 35 Comments

  • Anthony Harrison

    This is not how Jamaican rice and peas is cooked..Please read Stacy’s comments above..that’s how it is done in Jamaica. .I was born there and i’ve never seen it done like this lady Elise says..and im 52 years old…Jamaicans do not use canned kidney beans or pigeon peas in our rice and peas recipe..We use the dry version and cook them until they are tender as per Stacy’s instructions above..

  • Joanie

    This recipe is awesome. Hubby made it last night with jerk chicken and WOW. yummy! Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Ellie

    Just got back from a week in the Caribbean and am desperate to recreate as many recipes as possible. This is spot on to what we had and tastes delicious. Thank you!

  • cheyrl

    this recipe is so good. the ginger brought it out. i substituted 2 cans of coconut milk for 1 can of chicken broth. lessened the amount of rice.

  • Jessica

    I have used this recipe for two weeks straight!!! My fiancé and I just love it! The first time around I used half of the recommended thyme and found it a bit too much for my tastes. Today when I made it, I used just a pinch and it turned out great. I used bay leaf instead of the pepper because my grocery store did not have it.

    Thanks for sharing this simple and delicious recipe!

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