Jamaican Rice And Peas Recipe

Fans of Jamaican food may already know that the name of the dish, Jamaican rice and peas, can be a bit deceiving. As recipe creator Miriam Hahn explains about a common dish enjoyed in the country, "One might think the recipe involves green peas, but in Jamaica, they call red kidney beans peas." That's right — there is not a pea to be found in this spicy side, although what you will find is red kidney beans. And flavor, with Hahn's take on rice and peas involving an interesting technique. 

You will actually leave a whole pepper in the pot while cooking the beans and then remove the pepper, which Hahn explained to Mashed, "infuses the flavor versus saturating it by chopping up the pepper and leaving it in." Worried this rice is too hot to handle? Don't be, since Hahn's dish balances spice with sweetness. The end result is a tasty bite you will crave until you make it again.

Gather your ingredients

Your Jamaican rice and peas recipe requires some staples you may already have on hand and a few specialty ingredients. So, gather dry red kidney beans, canned coconut milk, an onion, scallions, garlic, jasmine rice, dried thyme, salt, and allspice. This recipe also calls for a scotch bonnet pepper. "In Jamaica, for this recipe, they most often use the scotch bonnet pepper, which can be hard to find in the States," Hahn noted. So, she advised, "A habanero is a good substitute but extremely hot. The other option is a fresno chili."

Meanwhile, you will want to use coconut milk to make the most authentic version of this dish. Hahn said, "It makes the rice and peas very creamy and slightly sweet to balance out the pepper." Finally, if you have not used allspice before, Hahn said, "Allspice is a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves — another sweet addition."

Soak the beans and prep your dish

Step one is to soak your dry kidney beans overnight or for at least six hours. But say you want to skip a step and just use canned beans? Well, not so fast, if you want to make a truly authentic dish. As Hahn told Mashed, "The traditional rice and peas recipes involves using dried beans. It is a very old recipe, from before canned beans were available, and the culture continues to honor that tradition." 

Once your beans are soaked, drain them. Now, you can go ahead and dice your veggies: the onion, scallions, and garlic. Everything goes into a large pot along with the whole pepper. Note that as Hahn explained, "If you use a somewhat tame pepper, the dish does not come out that spicy. If you use a hotter pepper, it will have more of a kick."

Now, cover the beans and veggies with water. You will bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-high and let the mixture simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, with the goal of cooking the beans until they are done. At this point, you can discard the pepper.

Add the rice

Your next step is to add the rice and coconut milk to your pot. Hahn instructs home cooks to check the water level in the pot — you want to have about half an inch of liquid above the contents. Otherwise, you won't have enough liquid to cook in. With the rice added, cook the contents for about 15 minutes. You can also follow the instructions on your jasmine rice package.

Finally, fluff your rice with a fork and serve your authentic Jamaican rice and peas. You can top the rice with fresh parsley if you would like. And as Hahn told Mashed, "This dish is often served with chicken, curries, or stews. It is a nice side dish with any type of meat, but can actually be a stand-alone main, as it is complete with protein, fat, and fiber." 

Jamaican Rice And Peas Recipe
4.9 from 38 ratings
One might think the recipe involves green peas, but in Jamaica, they call red kidney beans peas. Try out this delicious recipe today.
Prep Time
Cook Time
finished dish ready to serve
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • 1 cup dry red kidney beans
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 fresno chili, scotch bonnet pepper, or habanero pepper, whole
  • 2 cups jasmine rice, uncooked
  • 1 ½ cups coconut milk (canned)
Optional Ingredients
  • Fresh parsley
  1. Soak the dry kidney beans overnight or for at least 6 hours.
  2. Chop the onion, scallions and garlic.
  3. Drain the soaked beans and add to a large pot with the onion, scallions, garlic, spices, and whole pepper. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high for about 20 to 30 minutes or until beans are done.
  4. Remove and discard the pepper.
  5. Add in the rice and coconut milk. Check the water level in the pot. You want about half an inch of liquid above the contents so that you have just enough liquid for the rice to cook in without leaving excess. Cook for about 15 minutes or the time listed on the jasmine rice instructions.
  6. Fluff with a fork and serve. Top with fresh parsley if desired.
Calories per Serving 457
Total Fat 12.9 g
Saturated Fat 10.9 g
Trans Fat 0.0
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 73.7 g
Dietary Fiber 6.5 g
Total Sugars 2.3 g
Sodium 404.7 mg
Protein 13.1 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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