Rice & Peas Recipe, Jamaican Style

Few dishes are as closely identified with Jamaican cuisine as rice and peas.  Even though there are several variations of rice +beans served throughout the Caribbean; foreigners almost always associate this dish with Jamaican cuisine. A lunch and dinner mainstay, Rice & Peas is 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.

Jamaican rice and peas with gungo peas
gungo peas, pigeon peas
You can make Jamaican style Rice & Peas with kidney beans or pigeon Gungo peas. The nutty, creamy flavor of Gungo peas adds extra richness to the flavor of this Jamaican classic which gives a little added luxury to the flavors of Christmas and other celebratory meals.  

Uncooked kidney beans

For making Rice & Peas. A can of pre-cooked dark red kidney beans will do just as well as cooking dried beans from scratch. Italists, vegans and other raw food devotees who follow a no processed food diet may choose to avoid canned beans. To prepare dried beans easily; cover beans with water 2 or more inches of water. Add salt onion and thyme. Bring to a boil. Cover pot securely and let it sit for 4 to 24 hours to soften beans. when you are ready to cook. Boil beans over medium heat for 30 to 45 minutes until beans are soft to bursting.[/caption]

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.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Jamaican
Keyword Caribbean cuisine, rice and peas
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 5
Author Sian Rose


  • 1 – 15 oz. 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
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 C water
  • 2 C rice


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



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