Rice and Peas Recipe

Rice and Peas Recipe
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Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe

Delicious!! Most common of all the tasty Jamaican dishes, you will find Rice-and-Peas everywhere, served with every type of meat and fish, or just eaten by itself!

In the “old days” (before canned or powdered coconut milk), it took quite some time to prepare rice-and-peas. You would have to split a dry coconut, pry out the coconut meat, grate it, press it through a sieve and squeeze out the milk. Some people still do it this way, but grating and “milking” coconut is not for the faint of heart!

A note about “peas”: Jamaicans refer to beans such as kidney beans as “peas”. You may find rice-and-peas made with gungo or pigeon peas. You may just as frequently find it made with red kidney beans. It’s a matter of personal preference. Some people even prefer to use black-eyed peas. You can use canned peas/beans or dried peas/beans. Use whatever is most convenient or the one whose flavor you like best.


2 cups long grain rice

1 1/2 cups red peas, dried or canned (liquid reserved),
either kidney beans, gungo peas or pigeon peas

2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (canned) or mix it from powder

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 or 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)

2 green onions (crushed, not chopped) (aka scallion, spring onion, salad onion)

1 whole Scotch bonnet pepper (DO NOT CUT), or substitute 1 habanero or 2 serrano or 2 jalapenos


1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon pimento (allspice)


1. Prepare your peas/beans: If you are using canned peas/beans, there is no need to cook them beforehand; simply skip ahead to step 2. Cook dried beans in a pot with enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer gently until the beans are tender, adding hot water during cooking if necessary. When beans are fully cooked, drain them, reserving the liquid, and return the beans to the pot.

Note: If using fresh or canned gungo peas, DO NOT cook beforehand; simply add with the rice. If using dried pigeon peas, cook in the same manner as the kidney peas/beans.

2. Heat the butter in a frying pan and sauté onions with garlic until onions are a golden color. Add the butter/onion/garlic mixture to the pot with the beans.

3. Place coconut milk into a large measuring cup. Add the water you saved from cooking the peas/beans (or from the canned peas/beans). If the liquid does not equal 4 cups, add more water until you have 4 cups. Place liquid into the pot with the peas/beans. Add the hot pepper, thyme, salt, pepper and pimento (allspice), and allow to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Add the rice to the mixture and stir well. Increase the heat until the liquid boils. Then reduce to a very low heat and cover tightly. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and all liquid is absorbed. Try not to stir the mixture again while it cooks or you may end up with sticky rice and peas.

5. Remove the Scotch bonnet (or other) pepper. Fluff up the rice and serve!
Serves 6.

Note: Powdered coconut milk can be found in most Asian grocery stores.



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  1. Hi! Thank you for posting this recipe….so easy and definitely reminds me of our time living in the Caribbean. Love it!! Question though….is there a trick to making servings for a large crowd?? I’ve increased the recipe as I usually would for others, but so far I’ve had to throw out 2 rounds of rice due to it either being too watery/mushy or too dry without the rice cooked through. I’m tying to make a large enough serving for 12-14 people. Thank you so much!!

  2. Hi Lesley. I’m glad you liked the Rice and Peas recipe. Rice and I don’t always see eye to eye, especially when I need to double or triple it! But here are a few suggestions. Are you using long-grain rice? Medium- and short-grain rice have a high starch content, which makes the cooked rice moist and sticky; long-grain rice has less starch, so it cooks up dry and fluffy. Each type of rice requires a different amount of liquid. Shorter grains require less, but, even for long-grained white rice, if doubling or tripling this recipe, I would probably cut back on the total liquid to just 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups per cup of rice.

    It may also help to rinse shorter-grained rice 2 or 3 times in water until the water is no longer milky, then drain and proceed as usual. This will remove the excess starch from the rice to end up with fluffier rice. Also, make sure your pot lid fits tightly to keep in the steam. If not, you can cover the pot with aluminum foil or a cloth and put the lid over it while you cook it.

    Another option (for large quantities) is to bake the rice in the oven, as most restaurants do. Use a large oven-proof pan (wider rather than deeper) with tight-fitting lid. (If it doesn’t have a lid, you can cover it with a layer of plastic wrap first and then the aluminum foil after.) Preheat the oven to 350F. Put everything in the pot using the ratio of 1 cup rice to 1-1/2 or 1-3/4 cups of total liquid. Cover the pan tightly with foil, put the lid on, and place in the oven to bake. This should take about 40 minutes, depending on the rice. Check after 30 minutes – if the rice is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed, it’s done.

    Maybe other readers will have suggestions. If you find the best solution, be sure to let me know!

  3. Thank you so much for the tips!!! I’ll be testing them this weekend :)

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