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Jamaican rice and peas recipe

The most authentic Jamaican rice and peas recipe. Rice, red kidney beans (peas), homemade coconut milk, and seasoned to perfection. Quick and easy rice and peas use canned coconut milk and kidney peas!

Rice and peas

The heart of Jamaican Sunday dinner

On Sundays, there is a 99.99% chance that most Jamaicans cook rice and pea for dinner. I am still determining how it came about, but rice and peas for Sunday is just a Jamaican thing. But rice and peas isn’t eaten only on Sundays. It is also the most common side of a Jamaican lunch meal. Rice and peas is so popular many will think it’s Jamaica’s national dish, but it isn’t.

In the days of old (and still to this day for some), a typical Sunday in Jamaica involved hand-grating coconut, cooking dry kidney beans that were soaked overnight and going down to the local farmer to purchase the chicken that would become the main dish.

As precooked canned kidney beans and ready-made coconut milk become available, the cooking time for rice and peas has lessened for a quick and easy recipe-but I can’t say it stayed true to the authentic rice and peas taste.

Below you’ll find the quick and easy way and the traditional method of cooking rice and peas.

Why do Jamaicans call beans peas

It can be confusing to none Jamaicans when they learn that rice and peas is rice with red kidney beans, not peas. I have gotten a mob of internet scholars who insist on correcting all of Jamaica via me.

Jamaicans don’t call all beans peas, only red kidney beans. The reason for this and its origin is unknown, but Jamaicans continue to call red kidney beans peas and will for many generations to come.

The plus side is you can differentiate between an authentic Jamaican rice and peas recipe and one that isn’t. If you ever see the phrase “Jamaican rice and beans”, know that there is nothing Jamaican about that dish.

Easy Jamaican rice and peas recipe

What kind of rice is used for rice and peas

Traditionally, Jamaicans use long-grain rice for their rice and peas recipe. Even though other types of rice are readily available, long-grain rice continues to be the most popular rice for rice and peas. If you know how to cook rice, you can use other types than long-grain rice. Every rice type takes a different amount of water and time to cook, so you must adjust the coconut milk and water accordingly. The recipe below shows you how to cook Jamaican rice and peas with long-grain and basmati rice.

Rice and peas ingredients

Rice and peas ingredients
  • Red kidney beans (peas): I used dry kidney beans to give you a deeper understanding of traditional Jamaica. However, you can use canned beans, and in the recipe card below, I have made adjustments for cooking with canned beans.
  • Coconut milk: The Jamaican country girl in me won’t allow me to use anything but homemade coconut milk when cooking rice and peas. The taste of homemade coconut milk and canned ones is incomparable, so I only use homemade coconut milk. But see the recipe card below for cooking with canned coconut milk.
  • Rice: As mentioned above, Jamaicans mainly use long-grain rice for their rice and peas. The recipe below shows you how to use either long-grain or basmati rice.
  • Scotch Bonnet Pepper: Add a whole scotch bonnet pepper to the pot without cutting or bursting it.
  • Essentials: Rice and peas isn’t rice and peas without scallion, pimento (allspice), garlic, ginger and thyme.
  • Salt: To taste.

Homemade coconut milk and dry kidney beans will take longer to cook, but they will give you that authentic Jamaican rice and peas flavour. See recipe card below for measurements.

How to cook Jamaican rice and peas

  1. Prep the beans: If you are using canned beans, go to step three. Wash the dry beans to remove dirt and leave to soak in clear water for at least two hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Pressure cook : I suggest pressure cooking the dry beans because it reduces the time it takes to cook the beans. Add the pimento berries, ginger, garlic, salt and beans to the pressure cooker and pressure for 15 to 20 minutes to soften the beans. If you don’t have a pressure cooker but still wish to use dry beans, it will take 45 to 50 minutes before the beans cook. 
How to cook rice and peas
  1. Add flavour: Add the scallion, onion, thyme, scotch bonnet pepper, and coconut milk to the pot with the cooked beans. If you are using canned beans, remember to also as the pimento berries (allspice), ginger, garlic and salt..
  2. The Rice: Wash the rice to get rid of the starch. Add it to the pot, cover and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and let it steam until all the water evaporates.

Using canned coconut milk and beans

Using canned coconut milk and canned beans to make rice and peas will reduce the cooking time. You won’t need to soak and precook the beans or make your own coconut milk, which can be tedious for many.

All you need to do when using canned beans and coconut milk is add the ingredients to the pot all at once and leave it to cook on low heat. But be mindful of the amount of canned coconut milk you add to the rice, especially if creamy can. Adding too much coconut cream to the rice will make it soggy.

When you use canned coconut milk and kidney beans to make rice and peas, the rice won’t have the vibrant red colour you get with using dry beans. The flavour is different too. Homemade coconut milk makes everything taste better, including rice and peas.

If you wish to use canned beans and coconut milk, I have shared the recipe for making the perfect rice and peas with canned coconut milk and beans below in the recipe card.

Easy Jamaican rice and peas with canned beans

Jamaican rice and peas recipe without coconut milk

Yes, you can cook Jamaican rice and peas without coconut milk. Back when coconut cream and canned coconut milk weren’t common, Jamaicans would use butter instead of coconut milk to cook rice and peas if coconuts weren’t available.

What to serve with rice and peas

Nearly all popular Jamaican main dishes go with rice and peas. Most people like eating brown stew chicken, curry goat or oxtail stew with rice and peas. You can also serve rice and peas with brown stew fish, pepper steak or escovitch fish.

rice and peas dinner
Jamaican rice and peas recipe

Jamaican rice and peas recipe

Make your next Sunday dinner a treat with this Jamaican rice and peas recipe.
4.23 from 133 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Jamaican
Keyword: Jamaican rice and peas, Rice dish
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 3 Servings
Calories: 264kcal
Author: Lesa

Ingredients 

  • 100 g (½ cup) Dry red kidney beans (peas)
  • 231 ml (1 cup) Homemade coconut milk
  • 263 g ( cup) Long grain rice 317g (1½) Basmati rice
  • ½ Red onion Chopped
  • 2 Garlic cloves Crushed
  • 1 Stalk scallions Chopped
  • 4 Sprig of thyme
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper
  • Ginger very small piece
  • 5 Pimento barries (allspice)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1.12 l (4.73 cups) Water

Using Canned Beans & Coconut Milk

  • 1 Canned kidney beans
  • ½ Canned coconut milk
  • 319 ml ( cup) Water

Instructions

  • Wash the dry kidney beans. In freshwater, leave to soak for at least two hours, preferably overnight.
  • In a pressure cooker, add the soaked beans, garlic, pimento berries (allspice), ginger and salt with about 4 ½ to 5 cups of water to pressure cook for 20 minutes. If you don't have a pressure cooker and still wish to use dry kidney beans, cook for 45-50 minutes.
  • Once the beans are cooked, add the coconut milk, thyme, scallion, onion, and a whole scotch bonnet pepper. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. At this point, taste to see if it seasoned to your liken.
  • Wash and add the rice. Return the lid to the pot and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and let the rice steam until all the water evaporates. Turn the feat off and let the rice sit for another 3 minutes.
  • Remove the thyme stems, scotch bonnet pepper and ginger. Serve!

Cooking With Canned Beans & Coconut Milk

  • Wash and drain the kidney beans.
  • Pour the beans into a pot with 1 cup of water, half-canned coconut milk, garlic, pimento berries (allspice), ginger, thyme, scallion, onion, scotch bonnet pepper and salt. At medium heat, cover and bring to a boil.
  • Wash and add the rice. Return the lid to the pot and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and let the rice steam until all the water evaporates. Turn the feat off and let the rice sit for another 3 minutes.

Notes

  • If you use the water from the canned kidney beans, the finished rice will have the rice vibrate colour. I have never used water from the canned beans, so I can’t say if it is a good idea or not.
  • I use pink himalayan salt.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Jamaican rice and peas recipe
Serving Size
 
350 g
Amount per Serving
Calories
264
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
1
g
2
%
Saturated Fat
 
0.1
g
1
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
0.1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
0.1
g
Sodium
 
1183
mg
51
%
Potassium
 
129
mg
4
%
Carbohydrates
 
58
g
19
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
1
g
1
%
Protein
 
5
g
10
%
Vitamin A
 
74
IU
1
%
Vitamin C
 
6
mg
7
%
Calcium
 
39
mg
4
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Rice Recipes:

Kidney Peas Recipes:

More Recipes Using Coconut Milk


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57 Comments

  1. Who is that girl

    5 stars
    I am cooking this for dinner today 😋😋. Can’t wait to try it.

  2. 5 stars
    Love it, cooked it yesterday for dinner and had it will salmon steak. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    Delicious! Mines came out perfect! My family loved it! Thank you for sharing Lesa!! I have tried a few of your recipes! Trying the curry chicken tonight!

  4. Hi Lesa, if by chance you get this mesg today, I need to know can I cook your rice and peas recipe in a pot as my pressure cooker is broken..

    • Hello Lilly, you can, the pressure cooker helps to cook the peas (beans) faster. I would suggest using tin peas (beans) if you don’t have a pressure cooker because it will take more time and water to cook it with a pressure cooker.

  5. 5 stars
    Hi Lesa
    Thank you so much for this lovely rice and peas recipe. It’s so awesome!
    Pat

  6. Hey Lesa,
    I was just reading the way you cook the peas without a pressure cooker. So you said buy a can of peas instead and if so how long do you cook them so that they aren’t too soft and mush up

  7. Hello,one question after the beans are done in the pressure cooker..should i continue to cook in the pressure cook or place everything in a pot and cook on top of stove?

  8. STEPHANIE

    Hi, I’m making this tonight along with the curry chicken! Can’t wait for dinner!

  9. Hi, thank you for the recipe.
    How should I cook the rice with a can of red kidney beans and a regular pot, I don’t have a pressure cooker?
    Also, do you use Uncle Ben’s Rice?
    Thank you

  10. Elly Lishman

    Hi, what can I use as a substitute for pimento(whole allspice)? I can’t get hold of it where I live.

  11. Do you drain the peas after pressure cooking them? My pressure cooker does not loose much liquid so I have more than enough liquid left after cooking the peas to cook the rice.

  12. Hey Lesa
    Loved your recipe for the rice and peas I think the kicker was the ginger. Thanks joan

  13. MixedBeanSacha

    5 stars
    I’d love to try to make this but I don’t have a pressure cooker, how would I cook the kidney beans otherwise?

  14. 5 stars
    My Mom, may she rest in pace….use to cook this meal all the time and for the first time i’m doing the rice and peas with bag beans instead of canned. curry chicken has always been my fav. So thanks for your recipes…reminds me of my mom.

  15. Stephen Hodges

    Haven’t finished, but looking good, my only suggestion is that you put in that you check the peas are cooked, mine I did for 30 minutes and they are very crunchy still

  16. 5 stars
    Excellent

  17. Hi Im gonna try this soon, is allspice powder ok instead of the seeds/berries? Thanks a lot

  18. This recipe is deceptive and cannot be taken seriously. Not sure how it can call for “FRESH coconut milk” and not explain how to make the milk from a real coconut. Canned coconut milk is a very different beast to fresh coconut milk, which is more watery.

  19. 5 stars
    Thanks soo much for this .. I haven’t made rice and peas in a while .. and I hate bothering my mom for her recipe because she is stingy with them lol growing up in a westindian household I love different ppls take on traditional dishes .. making this with jerk pork carrot cabbage stew and fried plantain.. it smells so heavenly in here lol ..

  20. Hi Lesa, I think you forgot to put how to cook with can beans and can milk don’t see it. Can you provide it. Also how can I make The beef patties, I tried but my crust wasnt flaky enough, But I want to do vegan because I don’t eat beef.
    Thak you

  21. 5 stars
    Love this recipe, authentic rice and peas. just like we have it in Jamaica. Thanks for sharing

  22. 5 stars
    I Prepared This Dish On Sunday, And It Came Out Delicious

  23. I can’t seem to find any scotch bonnet locally. I do have scotch bonnet pepper sauce, can I use that, and if so how much do you recommend? Also, what kind of all purpose/chicken season do you recommend? I have Lawrey’s seasoned salt? I can’t wait to cook this! Thank you!!!!😊

    • The reason for using scotch bonnet pepper when cooking rice and peas is not to make the rice chilli, this is why it said not to cut or burst the pepper. I find that the pepper sauces are more chilli and usually don’t have the “fruitiness” that the actual pepper has. So I wouldn’t suggest using it.

      It doesn’t matter which all-purpose/chicken seasoning you use really. I use anything that as product of Jamaican on it.

  24. 5 stars
    Cooked over the weekend, I didn’t have fresh thyme but the dried thyme did the same job, it was fabulous.
    Forgot to to say I did your curry goat 5*****

  25. I just bought a pressure cooker but ha e no understanding of how to use it
    How do I cook brown steak chicken in it?
    How different is it to the usual stove top cooking?

  26. Hi,

    So you don’t cook the rice in the pressure cooker? Just the beans at the start?

  27. 5 stars
    Hi Lesa, loved this but I cooked it in my rice cooker, 2 cups light coconut milk to 3 cups Aged basmati rice, Tinned kidney beans and all the seasonings with a little all-purpose seasoning for extra flavour.

    I made it 2 days in a row as I’d also cooked up a big pot of Curry Goat from your recipe (Always better the next day right?). Fantastic recipes. I can’t wait to try your Oxtail or Curry Chicken too. 🙂

    • Hi Jamie, thanks for stopping by and trying the recipe, glad it helped you to make it your own way, that’s what cooking is all but. I will have to try the rice cooker soon.

  28. This was a hit!!! My Husband is from Jamaica and he said my first try was almost perfect 🤣🤣🤣 -I’ll take that!!! Looking forward to trying new recipes.

  29. Patricia White

    5 stars
    I have made serveral of your recipe’s and I have loved each one. Thanks for sharing

    • 5 stars
      Made this last week, to accompany jerk chicken, it was delicious.
      I did not have pimento berries at the time, so, I used whole cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper, crushed in a pestle & mortar, which turned out well.
      I only had canned kidney beans too, but, added towards the end of cooking, they were fine, altgough the dried beans would have a better texture.
      I am making this again today, this time I have the berries.
      Love the aroma from the herbs & spices.
      Thanks for the recipe.

  30. Patricia Agent

    What about pigeons peas from
    And pink peas do you have a recipe

  31. 5 stars
    The peas and rice recipe was amazing.

  32. 5 stars
    Amazing. Made these to go with your curry chicken. Everything was spot on. Will definitely be making again and again. Thank you!

  33. 4 stars
    Flavors are perfectly on point but beans needed more pressure cooker time because after putting to stove and cooking w rice there was still too much liquid yet my rice was very done and beans were not. I will try again lengthening the pressure cook time and cutting down the added water.

  34. Melanie Lindsay

    Haven’t made recipe yet but intend to do so tomorrow! Particularly appreciated the short cut tips such as canned beans and coconut milk and using chilli powder if no scotch bonnet to hand! I live in the depths of the Herefordshire countryside so village shop some what restricted. Keep your fingers crossed for my culinary efforts.

  35. 5 stars
    Great recipe, thank you. Made this as an accompaniment with your Curried Goat receipe – delicious. Our guests loved it all. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  36. 5 stars
    Hello Lesa,
    Do you have a recipe for making the Homemade Coconut Milk?
    Please share. Thanks

  37. 5 stars
    Hey Lesa,
    Thanks for great recipes, going to try curried goat this weekend.
    I am using cheap supermarket long-grain rice and it definitely does not work the best, not great at absorbing the water etc. Is there a brand you swear by? I have been told to look out for “old rice” by a colleague. I am in the UK so any other suggestions from the community on the brand of rice to use would be appreciated

  38. 3 stars
    Hmmn was ok. No food can touch my Granny’s so was very sceptical with good cause. Needed to be way more heavy handed with the seasoning. Needed loads more salt, spice and ketchup. But I did make your rice and peas recipe and that was decent. Thanks

  39. 5 stars
    I’m so glad I stumbled upon your recipe. My daughter and I love Jamaican food but always had to find someone to make it for us. Not anymore!!! OMG Lesa! These Rice and Peas are so delicious! We made it along with your curry chicken recipe. We are hooked. Thanks for sharing.

  40. 5 stars
    I didn’t soak the red peas, I just pressure cooked them for 20 minutes, and it still turned out perfect! Thanks for sharing!

  41. 5 stars
    threw everything (canned beans and canned coconut milk) except the scotch bonnett into the Instant pot and hit the ‘rice’ button.
    came out perfect.
    kids rated this a ‘definitely make again’ which is high praise from a gang that considers Papa John’s a food group.

    Thank you for helping bring a Trini kid’s staple dish to a new, very southern, generation.

  42. 4 stars
    Missing the salt pork to be authentic. And to your question about beans vs peas, peas is correct because rice and peas was originally made with gungo peas (pigeon peas). That’s how I make them at home and prefer the taste far more than using kidney beans.

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