A Spicy Perspective

Best Jamaican Peas and Rice

Jamaican Peas and Rice Recipe – Enjoy this bold, spicy and comforting side dish with your favorite Caribbean stews and curries. This hearty rice pilaf includes kidney beans (also known as “peas”) plus coconut cream and vibrant spices.

Jamaican peas and rice with scallions

Once the weather warms up and I start thinking about summer vacations, I immediately start craving Caribbean cuisine. From smoky Caribbean Grilled Lamb Chops and rich curries to Rasta Pasta with Grilled Chicken, we love the bright, bold flavors of island-inspired recipes.

All of our favorite Jamaican stews and curries are served with classic Peas and Rice. This spicy rice pilaf dish is actually cooked with pigeon peas or kidney beans, referred to as “peas” on the islands. So nope, there aren’t any green peas in this recipe.

pot of rice with beans

The Best Jamaican Peas and Rice Recipe

Today we’re sharing an authentic Caribbean rice and peas recipe that you are sure to love even if you’ve never been to the islands. It will likely be familiar, however, as this dish is basically a Jamaican version of classic Creole Beans and Rice. There’s a good bit more heat in this pilaf but not to worry – you can definitely adjust the level of spiciness to your liking.

While this recipe does take some time to make, I promise that it is so worth the wait. The beans (aka peas) and rice are each prepared separately before being combined and cooked to perfection. Not only does our Jamaican Peas and Rice dish have the best and boldest flavors, but the texture is also fantastic AND it’s even delish to enjoy as leftovers.

This authentic Rice and Peas side dish also happens to be vegetarian and vegan-friendly, and gluten-free!

spoonful of Caribbean rice and peas

Ingredients You Need

There are only a dozen wholesome ingredients in this recipe. Many of these you probably already have in your pantry! For homemade Jamaican Peas and Rice you need:

  • Dried kidney beanssoaked overnight, see notes below
  • Olive oilor preferred cooking oil
  • Onionchopped
  • Garlicminced
  • Gingerfreshly grated
  • Fresh thyme leavesor 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Scotch bonnet pepperalso known as a habanero pepper
  • Spicessalt, ground allspice, ground black pepper
  • Vegetable brothor chicken broth for a non-vegetarian recipe
  • Long grain ricewhite or brown
  • Unsweetened coconut cream either canned coconut cream, or the thick cream part that’s at top of the can of coconut milk
  • Scallionschopped
soaking dried kidney beans

Tips for How to Soak Kidney Beans Before Cooking

Soak Beans Overnight: When using dried beans it’s important to soak them in water overnight so they cook evenly. The best method to do this is to place the beans in a large bowl and cover them with 2-3 inches of water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it on the counter for 12-24 hours. Drain when ready to use.

Don’t have time to soak dried beans? You can use 2 – 15 ounce cans of red kidney beans instead. First, drain and rinse the beans. Then start by sauteing the veggies and spices. Add in 4 cups of broth, the rinsed rice, coconut cream, and canned beans. Cover and simmer for 15-18 minutes

onions, spices, pepper in a pot

How to Make Jamaican Peas and Rice

Here are our easy step-by-step instructions for making delicious Caribbeans rice and peas right at home…

Sauté the Veg: Place a large 6-8 quart saucepot on the stovetop over medium heat. Add the oil, and once hot, stir in the chopped onion, garlic, and ginger. Stir and sauté for just a few minutes until the garlic is fragrant.

Prep the Pepper: Many classic peas and rice recipes call for a whole unseeded scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, meaning flesh, ribs, seeds, and all. This will create a very flavorful, and VERY SPICY peas and rice dish. Determine how spicy you would like your rice to be. Then add in the whole unseeded pepper, a whole seeded pepper for slightly less heat, or half a seeded pepper for some heat.

Season: Next stir in the thyme leaves, salt, allspice, and black pepper. Stir and sauté another minute.

soaked beans in a pot with spices and pepper

For the Beans: Into the saucepot pour the soaked and drained beans, 4 cups of broth, and 2 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Stir, then lower the heat to a low-boil, cover again and simmer for one to two hours, until the beans for soft. Check it occasionally and stir. If more water is needed, add it in 1 cup at a time. *The cooking time is determined by how long the beans have soaked.

Get the Complete (Printable) Jamaican Peas and Rice Recipe + VIDEO Below. Enjoy!

soaked rice in a pot with beans

Soak the Rice: Meanwhile, place the rice in the bowl you soaked the beans in. Rinse with cold water and stir with your hand, until the water runs clear. Then fill the bowl with cold water and let the rice soak. This step will quicken the rice cook time and help make the grains perfectly tender.

Cook the Rice: Once the beans are cooked, drain the water off the rice. Mix the soaked rice into the beans, and stir in the coconut cream. Let the beans and rice settle for a few minutes undisturbed. In order to have perfectly cooked rice, you need to make sure there is 1-inch of liquid over the surface of the rice. Use a spoon (or wooden chopstick) to measure how much liquid is over the top of the rice. Then add enough water to total 1-inch on top. Cover the pot and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the rice has absorbed the liquid and you see vent holes on top.

scallions added to the pilaf before steaming

Steam: Mix in the chopped scallions. Then cover and let the rice steam another 10 minutes before serving. Taste, then add salt as needed.

large pot of peas and rice with scallions

Serve Jamaican Peas and Rice warm as an entree or side with your favorite dishes.

vegetarian peas and rice recipe with scallions

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I make this Jamaican Peas and Rice less spicy?

The ribs and seeds inside the habanero hold the majority of the heat. Therefore, remove them to reduce the heat. You can also add less of the seeded pepper, or skip altogether for a totally mild version.

Can I use canned kidney beans instead of dried beans?

Yes! Use 2 – 15 ounce cans of drained and rinsed red kidney beans instead. See the recipe notes below for steps on how to prepare this recipe with canned beans.

What should I serve with Caribbean rice and peas?

Enjoy this delicious pilaf as a side with Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken, Goat Curry, or Jerk Chicken Thighs. Or eat as a main dish with sweet Baked Plantains.

How long will leftovers keep well?

Leftover Jamaican peas and rice pilaf will keep well for up to 5 days. Transfer cooled leftovers in an airtight container before refrigerating.

how to make the best peas and rice recipe

Looking for More Delicious Side Dish Recipes?

Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes
Leave a Review »

Best Jamaican Peas and Rice Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Make this Caribbean rice pilaf as a side or main dish! It includes kidney beans (also known as "peas") and tender rice, plus coconut cream and vibrant spices.
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Soak Beans Overnight: When using dried beans it’s important to soak them in overnight so the cook evenly. Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with 2-3 inches of water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set on the counter for 12-24 hours. Drain and use.
  • Sauté the Veg: Place a large 6-8 quart saucepot on the stovetop over medium heat. Add the oil. Once hot, stir in the chopped onion, garlic, and ginger. Stir and sauté for 3-5 minutes.
  • Prep the Pepper: Many classic peas and rice recipes call for a whole unseeded scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, meaning flesh, ribs, seeds and all. This will create a very flavorful, and VERY SPICY peas and rice dish. Determine how spicy you would like you rice to be. Then add in the whole unseeded pepper, a whole seeded pepper for slightly less heat, or half a seeded pepper for some heat.
  • Season: Next stir in the thyme leaves, salt, allspice, and black pepper. Stir and sauté another minute.
  • For the Beans: Pour in the soaked and drained beans, 4 cups of broth, and 2 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Stir, then lower the heat to a low-boil, cover again and simmer for 60-120 minutes, until the beans for soft. If more water is needed, add it in 1 cup at a time. *The cooking time is determined by how long the beans have soaked.
  • Soak the Rice: Meanwhile, place the rice in the bowl you soaked the beans in. Rinse with cold water and stir with you hand, until the water runs clear. Then fill the bowl with cold water and let the rice soak. *This will quicken the rice cook time.
  • Cook the Rice: Once the beans are tender, drain the water off the rice. Mix the soaked rice into the beans. Stir in the coconut cream. Then let the beans and rice settle. In order to have perfectly cooked rice you need to make sure there is 1-inch of liquid over the surface of the rice. Use a spoon (or wooden chopstick) to measure how much liquid is over the top of the rice. Then add enough water to total 1-inch on top. Cover the pot and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the rice has absorbed the liquid and you see vent holes on top.
  • Steam and Serve: Mix in the chopped scallions. Then cover and let the rice steam another 10 minutes before serving. Taste, then add salt as needed.

Video

Notes

Spice Control: The ribs and seeds inside the habanero hold the majority of the heat. Therefore, remove them to reduce the heat.
Burnt Rice: The coconut cream can sometimes cause the rice to stick to the bottom of the pot and burn before the rice is fully cooked. This happens most often in stainless steel pots. It’s less likely to happen in a non-stick pot. You can open the pot once after the rice has started cooking and stir. Then do not disturb the rice until it’s cooked.
Quickie Beans: Don’t have time to soak dried beans? You can use 2 – 15 ounce cans of red kidney beans instead. Drain and rinse the beans. Then start by sauteing the veggies and spices. Add in 4 cups of broth, the rinsed rice, coconut cream, and canned beans. Cover and simmer for 15-18 minutes.
Leftover Jamaican peas and rice pilaf will keep well for up to 5 days. Transfer cooled leftovers in an airtight container before refrigerating.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 326kcal, Carbohydrates: 60g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 1060mg, Potassium: 534mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 369IU, Vitamin C: 8mg, Calcium: 56mg, Iron: 3mg
Course: Main, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Caribbean, Jamaican
Author: Sommer Collier

Making this recipe? Follow us on Instagram and tag @ASpicyPerspective so we can share what you’re cooking!

Share This Recipe With Friends!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Did you make this recipe? Rate it!




3 comments on “Best Jamaican Peas and Rice”

  1. I am in love with your kitchen and every time i get new recipe tips.

  2. I just made the Jamaican Red Beans and Rice. The seasoning is spot on! I have made several of your recipes and thought they were great. Thank you for sharing!

  3. This Caribbean comfort food tastes amazing and makes me want to go vacation in Jamaica!