This authentic Jamaican rice and peas recipe is an easy side dish with lots of flavour! Scotch bonnet pepper adds a kick, while coconut milk makes it delicious.

Overhead view of Jamaican rice and peas in pan

Rice and peas is a quintessential Jamaican side dish. It’s almost a requirement at any kind of dinner, get-together, or celebration, and it’s also one of the easiest Jamaican dishes to prepare. Win!

Jamaican rice and peas is naturally vegan, with coconut milk to give the dish a delicious flavour, along with standard Jamaican seasonings: scallion, Scotch bonnet, allspice, thyme, salt, and garlic. This is one of those dishes where simple ingredients come together to create something divine!

Why You’ll Love Jamaican Rice and Peas

  • Make it your own. There are so many ways to prepare rice and peas! I share a few ideas later in this post, but you can feel free to put your own spin on it too.
  • A classic combination. From congri to dirty rice and arroz con gandules, every culture seems to have its own version of rice and beans! It’s a satisfying combo that’s a great way to round out a meal.
  • Goes with so many main dishes. It’s not just for Jamaican food! Even a simple protein like baked tofu will pair well with this recipe.
Overhead view of ingredients for Jamaican rice and peas with labels

Notes on Ingredients

Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.

  • Dried red kidney beans – Soak these in water overnight to reduce the cooking time.
  • Water – If you’d like, unsalted vegetable stock will also work.
  • Uncooked long grain rice – Short-grain rice is stickier, which isn’t what we want for this recipe.
  • Full-fat coconut milk – This adds a fabulous rich flavour.
  • Sea salt
  • Scallion
  • Scotch bonnet pepper – You can substitute a habanero if you can’t find Scotch bonnets locally. It will not taste the same, as the scotch bonnet pepper gives a distinct slightly fruity flavour, but it works in a pinch.
  • Garlic
  • Pimento berries – AKA allspice.
  • Thyme – Sprigs of fresh thyme are best, but you can substitute dried if you have to.

How to Make Jamaican Rice and Peas

  • Rinse the beans. Place them in a colander and rinse, discarding the soaking water.
  • Cook the beans. Add the beans to a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until tender.
  • Add the remaining ingredients. Stir everything else into the pot with the beans. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the rice is tender.
  • Finish. Remove from heat and rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Season to taste, then serve. 

Tips and Variations

  • Be aware that cooking times can vary. Use my instructions as a guide, but be sure to pay attention while cooking the dish. Your dried kidney beans may be slightly larger or smaller than mine (hence needing a little bit more or less water), the rice size or shape may be different, etc. Take note of your own ingredients and enjoy the cooking process—don’t stress! I guarantee that every Jamaican mother or grandmother has a different variation!
  • Use a pressure cooker. If you like to cook beans in your Instant Pot, you can definitely cook the kidney beans that way to speed up the process since that’s the part of the recipe that takes the most time.
  • Don’t break apart the Scotch bonnet pepper. Although there is Scotch bonnet in this recipe, it is not spicy. The pepper adds a delightful flavour, but not much heat since it’s not diced. (Be sure not to burst the pepper or your Jamaican rice and peas will be spicy.)
  • Try another variety of bean. Kidney beans are the traditional choice, but you can try another dry bean in this recipe if you’d like. (I don’t recommend using canned beans because the flavour and texture isn’t quite the same.)
Pan of authentic Jamaican rice and peas

What to Serve With Rice and Peas

How to Store Leftovers

Transfer leftover Jamaican rice and peas to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. When you’re ready to reheat, you can use a microwave or the stovetop. Add a splash of coconut milk or water if the rice and peas are dry.

Top-down view of Jamaican rice and peas in skillet

Can I Freeze This Recipe?

Yes, you can! Place the rice and peas in a freezer-safe container or a freezer bag, pressing out as much air as possible before sealing. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat according to the instructions above when you’re ready to serve.

More Rice Recipes

Wooden spoon in pan of Jamaican rice and peas

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Top-down view of Jamaican rice and peas in skillet

Jamaican Rice and Peas

This authentic Jamaican rice and peas recipe is an easy side dish with lots of island vibes! It's packed with flavour and so simple to make.
5 (from 27 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight in water. or for 8 hours at least
  • 3 cups water, up to 4 cups to cover the peas while boiling
  • 2 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • 13.5 ounce can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 stalks scallion, cut or torn in half
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon pimento berries/allspice
  • A few sprigs of thyme

Instructions 

  • Rinse your soaked kidney beans thoroughly in a sieve, strainer or colander. Discard that water it was soaking in.
  • Cover with 3 cups water to cover the kidney beans
  • Bring to a boil, then to a simmer at medium heat for 30 minutes to an hour (taste test after 30 minutes to see if it’s tender. My peas are always finished within 30 minutes. You may need to add up to an extra cup of water while the peas are simmering to ensure there’s enough water in the pot.
  • After your peas are cooked (don't wash the peas nor throw out the leftover water), add in your rice, coconut milk, sea salt, scallion, scotch bonnet pepper, garlic, pimento/allsprice, thyme. Stir to combine.
  • Cover your pot with a tight fitting lid. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer at medium heat for about 15 minutes, then to low heat for about 5-10 more minutes until the rice is fully cooked through. Just watch your rice. It may cook in a quicker time period, or it may take a little bit longer. You may need to add in an extra ¼ cup of water in case the liquid boils out before the rice is fully cooked through.
  • Remove from heat and let the rice sit, cover still on, for an extra 10 minutes. Taste test and add anything if necessary. Remove the seasonings and enjoy!

Notes

It’s difficult giving it a very strict set of instructions to make Jamaican rice and peas because so many small variations can change the cook time a little or quantities needed. Use my instructions as a guideline, but be sure to pay attention while cooking the dish. Your dried kidney beans may be slightly larger or smaller than mine (hence needing a little bit more or less water), the rice size or shape may be different, the coconut milk, etc. So take note of your own ingredients and enjoy the cooking process, don’t stress it! I guarantee that every Jamaican mother or grandmother has a different variation!
You can use vegetable broth or stock instead of water while cooking it. Be sure to check the saltiness of the broth first to see if you may need less salt.
There are MANY ways to make rice and peas. You can pressure cook the peas to cook it. You can use homemade coconut milk instead. Take some time to delve a bit more into Jamaican culture
Although there is scotch bonnet in this recipe, it is not spicy. The scotch bonnet adds a delightful flavour to it. Be sure not to burst the pepper, else it’ll make it very hot.
If you have to substitute and can’t find scotch bonnet peppers, habanero peppers are your next best bet. They do not taste exactly alike, however will do in a pinch.
To store: Transfer leftover Jamaican rice and peas to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. When you’re ready to reheat, you can use a microwave or the stovetop. Add a splash of coconut milk or water if the rice and peas are dry.
To freeze: Place the rice and peas in a freezer-safe container or a freezer bag, pressing out as much air as possible before sealing. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat according to the instructions above when you’re ready to serve.
Calories: 344kcal, Carbohydrates: 53g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 308mg, Potassium: 493mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 58IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 50mg, Iron: 4mg

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