Rice And Peas - Learn How To Cook This Authentic Jamaican Side Dish Recipe (2024)

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Jamaican rice and peas are a classic and authentic Caribbean side dish eaten in many Jamaican households. You definitely want to try and replicate this authentic Jamaican rice and peas recipe for several reasons. Firstly, it makes for one very nutritious dish and secondly, it is a very easy recipe to prepare that will take you no time at all. All you need to do is let the rice and peas cook while you prepare your Caribbean main course. I hope you enjoy the exotic flavours of Jamaica as much as I do by making your own version of this classic rice and peas dish!

Rice And Peas - Learn How To Cook This Authentic Jamaican Side Dish Recipe (1)

an authentic Jamaican rice and peas recipe

Don't let the term rice and peas fool. Looking at these photos you will realise the Jamaicans actually refer to red kidney beans as "peas". That said, any types of beans are commonly referred to as "peas" in Jamaica. So, take a note of that the next time you try a Jamaican rice and peas recipe or if you happen to travel to Jamaica. Don't expect the usual green peas you buy in the frozen aisle at the supermarket.

Rice and peas are also very common on the African continent, especially when it comes from Ghana. There, rice and peas are known as moros de guandules con coco, or Moorish pigeon peas with coconut.

Rice And Peas - Learn How To Cook This Authentic Jamaican Side Dish Recipe (2)

6 things you didn't know about easy rice and peas

As you know, Jamaican cuisine originated from many types of cuisines in the world. The indigenous population have British, African, Indian, Spanish, Irish and Chinese ancestors! So it comes as no surprise that Jamaican cuisines dates back centuries to the days of Atlantic trade routes.

  1. Rice and peas were indeed adopted from Ghana from the Akan tribe. The dish still exists today. You might know it as Waakye or rice and beans.
  2. The rice was introduced by the slaves from Africa who cooked this rice dish in the same way as they did back home.
  3. Jamaican rice and peas is also referred to as Jamaican Coat of Arms.
  4. This Jamaican side dish should always be served on Sundays. Back in the 1700s, slaves were given only Sunday off, so that's when they would cook this recipe.
  5. You can also cook it without coconut milk. There are hundreds of versions of this dish.
  6. This recipe carries the title of the most eaten Jamaican food!

To learn more about Jamaican cuisine, click here.

What is Jamaican rice and peas?

Traditionally, Jamaican rice and peas consist of boiled rice, kidney beans along with the addition of coconut milk and spices. Nonetheless, you can make this dish with any type of legume you have available to you. So, if you don't have kidney beans at home, you won't jeopardise the integrity of this authentic rice and peas recipe. You can easily substitute kidney beans with pigeon peas (gungo beans) or you can go for cow peas. Pigeon peas are more popular during the Christmas holidays, so save these for a Christmas version of rice and peas. Otherwise, you can opt for pink beans which are quite similar to kidney beans, but tnot as buttery. Avoid using green beans, mung beans or white beans because they lack the desirable texture that complete this dish. To learn more about this Jamaican dish click here.

Rice And Peas - Learn How To Cook This Authentic Jamaican Side Dish Recipe (3)

a classic Jamaican rice and peas recipe

The Jamaican version of the rice and peas calls for adding coconut milk into the rice. This is where the rice absorbs the creamy texture of the coconut cream and adopts a hint of nuttiness that pairs well with Caribbean spice. You will generally find it served on Sundays with meat stews such as chicken, pork, beef or seafood. In fact, locals include heavier and saltier versions of meat to flavour the rice instead of adding excessive amounts of salt. So, the meatier and saltier the produce, the better.

Also, the classic Jamaican version of this dish calls for the use of thyme and pepper. In contrast, the Ghanaian version needs baking soda and sorghum leaves.

Jamaican rice and peas without coconut milk

Instead of using the coconut milk, you can always opt for vegetable or chicken stock. This depends whether you want to keep the dish vegetarian and vegan. For a more intense and umami version of the dish, I recommend adding beef stock. You can then top the rice and peas with some fresh avocados to get a creamy element in there as well.

how to cook Jamaican rice

If you cook any type of Jamaican rice, you'll know that you need to top the dish with some fresh herbs. First, the most common rice topping is fresh parsley or coriander, which will lighten up this exotic dish. Next, don't forget to sprinkle some fresh lime juice for some acidity. For those of you who are brave, you can also top the dish with fresh red chilli!

Rice And Peas - Learn How To Cook This Authentic Jamaican Side Dish Recipe (4)

what to serve with rice and peas

Traditionally, you would pair a rice and peas recipe with a Jamaican curry goat. The latter is a popular Jamaican recipe which is usually served during festivals and national celebrations. If you are wondering about the literal meaning of curry goat, then you guessed it! Curry goat actually does use goat meat, so this might not be so easy to find in the UK. However, goat is a very popular meat on the island and is often stewed with spices to make a wonderful main course with a side of rice.

cook like a Jamaican

Now that you've mastered these Jamaican rice and peas, you can cook like a true Jamaican chef! Are ready to try other rice dishes? If so, check out the following:

  • Ghanaian jollof rice - a tangy spicy African rice dish. Not for the faint hearted but you can tweak the amount of chilli used.
  • Thai pineapple fried rice - an exotic blend of Thai flavours that go well with a Thai curry. Get the recipe here.
  • Christmas rice - a festive rice side dish that's perfect for eating healthy during the holidays.
  • Spiced chickpea, carrot, raisin and cashew rice pilaf - a flavourful rice dish you can eat alone. Get the recipe here.
  • Beetroot rice - a modern and more sophisticated vegetarian rice dish, which pairs well with wine.


📖 Recipe

Rice And Peas - Learn How To Cook This Authentic Jamaican Side Dish Recipe (5)

Rice and Peas

★★★★★4.9 from 7 reviews
  • Author: Michelle Minnaar
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
Print Recipe


If you love a certain wow factor about your food, then this authentic Jamaican rice and peas recipe is definitely for you! Super easy and nutritious!



  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 45ml (3 tbsp) vegetable oil
  • 1.25ml (¼ tsp) ground allspice
  • 400g (1lb) long grain rice, rinsed in cold water
  • 400g (1 tin) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli
  • 400ml (1 tin) coconut milk
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Fry the onion and garlic gently in the oil in a large pot until translucent.
  2. Add the allspice and stir thoroughly.
  3. Add the rice, kidney beans, thyme, chilli, coconut milk and 400ml (⅔ pt) water and stir.
  4. Bring the contents to a slow simmer, cover and cook for around 30 minutes until the rice is cooked.
  5. Remove the thyme, garlic and chilli then fluff the rice with a fork.
  6. Season with freshly ground salt and pepper.


  • Serve with your favourite jerk dish and a salsa.
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Cuisine: Caribbean


  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 693
  • Sugar: 4.5 g
  • Sodium: 22 mg
  • Fat: 24.2 g
  • Saturated Fat: 15.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 99.9 g
  • Fiber: 12.9 g
  • Protein: 21.6 g

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A special thanks toKelly Reevefor assisting with the recipe shoot.

Rice And Peas - Learn How To Cook This Authentic Jamaican Side Dish Recipe (2024)


What is Jamaican rice and peas made of? ›

Rice and peas is a Jamaican side dish of coconut rice mixed with red beans, perfumed with spices, and a whisper of warmth from fresh chilli. Traditionally cooked on the stove but I find it much safer to cook in the oven as coconut milk has a tendency to catch on the base.

What type of rice is used in Jamaica? ›

“In Jamaica, we use long grain rice but I found that jasmine rice has an extra flavor and it definitely enhances the flavor of the rice and peas,” Fowles says. Even though it's a more fragrant rice, you still want to make sure you wash it three to four times to remove the excess starch.

What popular legume used in the Caribbean side dish rice and peas? ›

Rice and peas or peas and rice are traditional rice dishes within some Caribbean countries. The 'peas' used in this dish by some countries are traditionally pigeon peas otherwise called 'Gungo peas' in the Caribbean. Either kidney beans (red peas) or pigeon peas are generally used for this dish.

Why do Jamaicans love rice and peas? ›

Made with red kidney beans, coconut milk, and a fusion of island spices, Jamaicans can't seem to get enough of it. And Jamaicans love rice and peas, not only for its flavor but also for its significance as a connection to their heritage and a culinary tradition passed down through generations.

Why do Jamaicans eat rice and peas on Sundays? ›

Rice and Peas was derived from a dish called Waakye a dish from the Akan tribe from Ghana and the Ivory Coast in West Africa. The most popular day for eating rice and peas was Sunday and this practice hails from the 17th century slave trade where Sundays were the only days that slaves were given off.

What are the best beans for rice and beans? ›

Though red beans and rice is the best-known version of this dish, it is frequently made with other types of beans, and you can do the same if you'd like. Pink beans, white cannellini beans, even black beans will all taste great with the same basic technique.

What is the #1 Jamaican dish? ›

Jerk chicken is one of the most well-known dishes to come from Jamaica. The meat is marinated in spices with scotch bonnet pepper, pimento and scallion before being cooked over coals and pimento wood. It's often served with side dishes such as plantains, rice and beans, and sweet potatos.

What is Jamaica signature dish? ›

Ackee and saltfish

Considered to be the national dish of Jamaica, ackee and saltfish is popular with both locals and tourists alike. Ackee is a fruit grown on the island which pairs perfectly with the salted cod. Often found on a breakfast menu, it can also be served with dumplings, vegetables or fried breadfruit.

What is Jamaica national dish? ›

Ackee and Saltfish: Jamaica's national dish is a must-try dish on any visit to the island. Ackee, Jamaica's national fruit, is sautéed with salt fish (cod) fish, onions, tomato, sweet pepper, and other seasonings after being boiled.

What is Jamaican rice and peas called? ›

It also has its roots in African culture, and slaves brought their recipes to Jamaica before passing them down through the generations. To adjust to their new environment, slaves cooked familiar foods such as rice and peas. This dish has a nickname: Coat of Arms.

How to boil rice and beans together? ›

Use another pot to boil rice for 15min, wash rice and beans together and drain. Put water in pot place on heat add the rice and beans together and allow to boil until the water dries for 20min. Food is ready serve rice and beans with Stew so so yummy.

Is Caribbean rice and beans healthy? ›

Rice and beans are a nutritious meal. So you can serve it as a complete meal or add meat and sides, such as ripe fried plantains.

What food do Jamaicans love? ›

The majority of Jamaicans are of African descent. Popular cuisines include jerk chicken, jerk pork, steam fish, roast fish etc and these are served with vegetables of one choice, roast yam or roast breadfruit, rice and peas. The National Dish is ackee and Saltfish.

Why does Jamaican food taste so good? ›

Jamaican cuisine is unique because of its isolated roots and the way that it has preserved its core flavorings throughout centuries of outside influences. If you're reaching for a glass of water in Jamaica, chances are you are just getting started with the local Scotch Bonnet peppers.

Why is Jamaican food so healthy? ›

Jamaican-grown fruits and vegetables are not only delicious but also incredibly nutritious. Ackee, a fruit commonly used in Jamaican cuisine, is high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Callaloo, a leafy green vegetable, is packed with vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium.

What is Jamaican food made out of? ›

Its a mixture of diverse cultures, spices, and foods from across the Indian Ocean and Caribbean Sea regions. Jamaican meals are popular for their use of sauces, coconut, rice, beans, and plantains as ingredients while using fish, chicken, and beef as a protein source.

Do Jamaicans say rice and peas or peas and rice? ›

“Jamaicans call it rice and peas because traditionally it was made with gungo peas. I'm not sure when we started using red beans though, but I remember growing up on gungo peas,” one woman tweeted.


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