This Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe is the BEST quintessential and authentic Caribbean side with perfectly fluffed rice and delicious red beans with a hint of coconut flavor and spices galore. It is the perfect accompaniment to Curry Chicken, Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken, Jamaican Oxtails, Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Fried Plantains.
I grew up eating rice on a regular basis because it was made as an accompaniment to my mama’s Smothered Chicken and Smothered Pork Chops or whatever my mother’s choice of protein was for the day.
I never truly appreciated the balance rice provided our meals until I became an adult and realized how essential it was.
Nowadays, I still love to make rice and enjoy it with whatever saucy concoction is cooking up in the crock pot or dutch oven.
It’s hard to pick a favorite with recipes like Dirty Rice, Mexican Rice, and Jollof rice! They each have a special place in my heart and truly represent how rice spans so many different cultures!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Great flavor!
- Easy to make using dry beans and canned coconut.
- A family-favorite recipe that makes a great side dish or main dish.
What are Jamaican Peas and Rice?
Today, I’m sharing a recipe for one of the best rice dishes known to man: Jamaican Peas and Rice. All Caribbean cooks, as well as those who just love Caribbean food, know that having a solid recipe for peas and rice is non-negotiable.
Rice and peas, or peas and rice, is a dish commonly seen in the West Indian Caribbean islands. It’s often made with pigeon peas but can also be made with kidney beans.
The recipes differ among the islands and also the time of year they are served. The dish is commonly served with stewed meat or seafood for a classic Sunday meal.
Making this Caribbean rice and beans dish requires only a handful of simple ingredients. Let’s take a look.
- Kidney beans: We are using dried kidney beans which take time to soak and cook but in the long run the beans are full of flavor making the cooking time totally worth it!
- Chicken stock: Use a low-sodium version for more control over the flavor. You can also make this vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead.
- Rice: Use uncooked parboiled rice.
- Coconut: I highly recommend using Grace Pure Creamed Coconut which is a condensed coconut milk product that is creamier and more flavorful than regular coconut milk.
- Thyme: Use fresh sprigs for the best flavor.
- Habanero pepper: Adds the signature heat in the dish. You can swap it for a less spicy pepper if desired though it won’t have the same fruity flavor of the habanero.
- Allspice: This classic spice with its flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves infuses the dish with its unique flavor.
How to Make Jamaican Rice and Peas
While the cooking time may seem long, most of it is actually hands-off so don’t despair! Making coconut rice with peas is easier than you think!
- Place your beans and four cups of stock in a medium-sized Dutch oven or sauce pot and soak them overnight. Soaking your beans makes for a quicker cooking time the next day so don’t skip this step.
- Bring the beans to a boil for about fifteen minutes then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about an hour. Once your beans are nice and tender add the remaining stock and bring to a boil again.
- Stir in the rice, grated creamed coconut, thyme, habanero, salt and allspice with a fork. All that flavor is gonna be absorbed right into that rice. Slightly spicy, tropically sweet and generously spiced, this rice dances on the tongue and truly gives a full range of Caribbean flavors.
- Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to low and cook until the rice is tender.
PRO TIP: I know that it’s beyond tempting to open the lid and sneak a peek. I mean, you wanna know what magical things are happening under there right? But you must avoid the temptation! Do not open the lid! Doing so will allow your steam to escape and your rice won’t cook perfectly without it. Not worth it.
- After about twenty minutes your rice should be ready so go ahead and turn off that heat. Let your rice stand for about five minutes so that opening the lid doesn’t give you A searing hot steam facial that you did not ask for.
- Be sure to remove the thyme and habanero (unless you wanna play a cruel game of pepper roulette).
- Fluff up the rice with a fork and then serve it up as you want!
How to Serve
Not sure how to serve Caribbean Rice with Peas? Here are a few ideas for inspiration.
- I love to serve this dish with my recipe for Brown Chicken Stew.
- It’s also great with your favorite Jerk Chicken Recipe!
- Serve them up in a bowl just itself. There’s no way you can go wrong here.
- What else would you eat with my Mango Jerk Wings or my Honey Garlic Jerk Chicken Wings.
- Soak the beans. They cook more quickly and better when soaked prior to cooking. If you forget, you can use the quick soak method. Bring the water and beans to a full boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid, and let the beans stand for 1 hour. Then continue cooking as directed.
- Make sure to discard the habanero and thyme after cooking.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for up to four days or in the freezer for up to three months. Reheat leftovers in a saucepan over medium heat.
- You must used parboiled rice for this recipe. Other rice grains just won’t work.
Jamaican pigeon Peas and rice is also a very popular dish. Also known as “Gungo Peas and Rice”, it is made with coconut milk just like this recipe. If you want to try this recipe with pigeon peas instead of red beans, you can simply replace them. You can also add scotch bonnet peppers for another authentic touch.
Yes, of course. However, the coconut adds a very authentic Caribbean flavor to the recipe, if you aren’t fan, you can simply omit. No need to replace with anything. Simply continue cooking the recipe as you would before and enjoy!
More Comfort Food Recipes
- Dirty Rice
- Red Beans and Rice Recipe
- Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
- Shrimp Etouffee
- Southern Collard Greens
*Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating and leave comments below!* Post a photo of how your version of the recipe came out on Instagram (using #grandbabycakes)!!
Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe
- 1 cup dried red kidney beans rinsed and drained
- 6 ½ cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 2 cups uncooked parboiled rice, rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup grated Grace Pure Creamed Coconut
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 habanero pepper
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- Put the beans and 4 cups of the stock in a medium dutch oven or saucepan and soak, covered, overnight.
- Bring the beans and stock to a full boil and boil for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the beans until tender, about 1 hr.
- Add the remaining 2 ½ cups sock and bring to a boil. Using a fork, stir in the rice, grated creamed coconut, thyme, habanero, salt and allspice and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the thyme and habanero. Fluff the rice, separate the grains with a fork and serve.
This recipe was originally published July 2019. It has been updated with new images and content.
Are you supposed to cut up the habanero before putting it in the pot? And is parboiled rice something I find in the store or is it something I do to the rice before cooking? Thanks!
T Kay says
You add the habenero pepper whole. Also, parboiled rice is some you buy at the store. Look for Uncle Ben’s. The Walmart brand also has a parboiled variety.
I’ve always made this recipe, and it’s a hit with my family. However, I was wondering if I can used some leftover rice this time. Please advise. Thanks
Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) says
I actually have never tried this honestly but I think it is worth a shot for sure.
I made this yesterday to serve with the Brown Stew Chicken. I prepared the recipe as written with one exception. I omitted the habanero pepper because my husband is averse to “hot” flavors. As a compromise, I added 4 slices of jarred “tamed” jalapeño pepper (- I know, I know…) and removed them before serving. This added a little kick without causing any complaints. The coconut, thyme and allspice add a wonderful dimension of flavor to an ordinary combination. I almost made a huge mistake but caught it just in time. I was about to empty the entire package of creamed coconut into the rice and beans as noticed the measurement of ¼ cup and stopped myself just in time.
On another note, I recommend using Dark Red Kidney beans, although the recipe does not specify the type. I used Light Red Kidney beans because that was what I had in the pantry. The rice was delicious, but the esthetic was not great. The lighter kidney beans looked rather anemic in the rice. Jocelyn’s attractive photo must depict the darker variety.
Just wondering…..Why is this called rice and peas rather than rice and beans?
Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) says
It is historically called that by Jamaicans and so we are honoring that.
Lady Santana says
Amazing…. made this recipe 3 times counting today and shared it a few times to my peoples in the south who is missing the traditional Caribbean taste in NY.
Thank you. I have been looking for this flavor for years. The brown stew was also amazing. Both better than restaurants.
Jayla Vee says
I followed the directions to the T and it came out sooooo good. My family absolutely loved it. I also made oxtail, cabbage and plantains.
Sophie Holiday says
I made your rice and peas recipe a week or so ago. Didn’t have parboiled rice, so I used the medium grain that was in the pantry. That most likely affected the texture, but it was okay. That being said, it was AMAZING!!!!! I served it with grilled jerk chicken and mango salsa. The kids (& I) liked the rice & peas the best! So yum!!
Sarah Bush says
Do you chop the habanero or throw it in whole? I couldn’t find the creamed coconut, how much coconut milk should I substitute??? Thanks!!
The recipe is titled rice and peas…but no peas are listed among the ingredients. Is it supposed to be rice and beans?
A Jamaican says
Jamaicans refer to kidney beans as peas or you can make it with pigeon peas