Rice & Peas Recipe, Jamaican Style

My belly will always appreciate a good plate of Jamaican style Rice & Peas. 
Still, two of the things I do not miss about my Jamaican childhood are stoking a coal pot or a wood fire for hours, usually on a Saturday afternoon, to cook peas to make Rice and Peas, a Sunday dinner must have, and grating coconut for milk to boil said rice and peas.  Such is the life of a ‘poor’ Jamaican country gal.  Thankfully coconut milk is now only as far as the grocery store and outdoor cooking is now a perk of my trade not a part of my daily life. 

gungo peas
At Christmas time and for Jamaican celebrations Gungo aka pigeon peas is a must for making rice & peas. The nuttier, creamy flavor adds extra richness to this Jamaican classic.
Gungo Rice & Peas
Gungo Rice & Peas

Few dishes are as closely identified with Jamaican cuisine as rice and peas.   Even though there are several variations of Rice & Peas served throughout the Caribbean; foreigners almost always associate this dish with Jamaican cuisine. A lunch and dinner mainstay, Rice & Peas can be found on all Jamaican restaurant menus and at most Jamaican (and other traditional Caribbean) gatherings. In recent months I have seen more than a few chefs, some from reputable Jamaican establishments, touting “coconut rice& peas”. Fact is coconut milk is a standard ingredient in authentic Jamaican Rice & Peas. So regardless of what anyone tells you to make this tasty aromatic side dish coconut milk, thyme and scallions, or onion are a must. Rice & Peas can be made with kidney beans or gungo (pigeon) peas.

For making Rice & Peas. A can of pre-cooked dark red kidney beans will do just as well as cooking dried beans from scratch.

making Jamaican rice and peas add rice

cooked Jamaican rice and peas

Yields 5

Rice & Peas Recipe, Jamaican Style

Jamaican Rice and peas (not to be confused with Bahamian or Spanish Rice& Beans) is a Sunday tradition observed by many Jamaicans worldwide. Other Caribbean cultures have their own version of this dish referenced by other names but, the term “rice and peas” is used to describe the Jamaican version. Many smaller Caribbean island like Belize, Trinidad and Guyana have adopted the Jamaican version of this dish as their own. The peas in Jamaican rice & peas refers to kidney beans, though Gungo peas is a popular alternative.

10 minPrep Time

30 minCook Time

40 minTotal Time

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  • 1 15oz. can red kidney beans
  • 1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • 1 stalk scallion or ½ sm onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2 Tsp butter/ margarine
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2 C water
  • 2 C rice


Add beans and coconut milk to pot. Heat through. Add all other ingredients except rice. Cover pot and simmer 10 minutes over medium heat. Add rice, stir with fork. Cover reduce heat to med- low and let cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Check rice for tenderness. If done turn off heat. If rice grains are still hard add ¼ cup water and cook for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Cuisine: Jamaican | Recipe Type: Rice

Rice & Peas with kidney beans
A traditonal Jamaican Sunday dinner of Rice & Peas w/ steak fried plantain and a tossed salad
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1 thought on “Rice & Peas Recipe, Jamaican Style

  1. […] only authentic fat free coleslaw. This tangy cabbage slaw  is traditionally served alongside rice & peas and meat as part of a complete […]

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