Jamaican Rice and Peas

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 38 Comments

  • Alicia*

    Another lifetime ago, I had Jamaican rice’n peas made by a Jamaican expat. He insisted on using pigeon peas instead of kidney beans. At the time I could have cared less – it was very good! His brown stew chicken was to die for and his curry goat was tasty, though he would not say where he got the goat. (!?) Pigeon peas can be found dried or canned in the ethnic section of some supermarkets. Thanks Elise – I’m now inspired to make this with brown rice AND pigeon peas.

  • Dan

    I have a recipe for rice and beans from the Dominican Republic, but this is compeltely different. I thought they’d be far more similar both being caribbean dishes using basic ingredients. Shame on me for assuming.

    I must try this one out. The coconut milk and lime are tempting me already!

  • Dean

    This would be great with Black-Eyed Peas!

  • Taqah

    Hi Elise,

    Thanks for the recipe. I live in a west indian neighborhood in NY and love, love, love rice and peas BUT I’m moving this week. now i’ll still be able to eat it once I’m thousands of miles away!

    You can use pigeon peas but Ive seen it cooked with both kidney or pigeon peas both in my neighborhood and in Jamaica.

    One quibble though. I think the pepper, if you can find it, should be a scotch bonnet. (in ny they are easy to find) that is pretty much the only pepper I ever see in Jamaican food. It has a slightly different flavor. That said the difference between the two should be minimal.

    You’re absolutely right. I’ll adjust the recipe. We don’t get scotch bonnets out here in California, only habaneros. There is a slightly different flavor. ~Elise

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