An authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas (rice and beans) recipe that’s loaded with big flavor from coconut milk, fresh thyme, spices, and more. This here side dish is a Caribbean staple and often served alongside hearty main entrees, so delicious!

Jamaican rice and peas in white serving bowl with gold serving spoon on the side

Listen, behind almost every Caribbean recipe there is, you’ll also find a steaming pot of this rice. It’s pretty much an unspoken law amongst Islanders alike. The greatest curries, stews, and more gets paired with this famous side dish.

I like to say that it’s kind of like a West Indian holy trinity…the main dish of some sort, sweet plantains, and then some rice and peas. That’s just how it is, can’t mess with a good ting! Haha. You will love these rice and peas, y’all.

Jamaican Rice and Peas 🙌🏾

So, Jamaican rice and peas is basically rice and beans, but in the Caribbean; it is commonplace and known to be called rice and peas. It’s important to note that the word beans and peas will be used interchangeably in this post. Typical elements in this Island dish include coconut milk, onion, scallions, garlic, bay leaves, and spices that make it so fragrant and lush. It’s also easy to make.

This is the most popular rice in Jamaican cuisine. These rice and peas can easily be served alongside your favorite main dishes, but besties when paired with other Caribbean-centered recipes. You’ll find here tons of flavor-filled aromatics that make this rice dish different from others. Now, I’m a bit biased having West Indian ancestry myself, but it really is so good!

⇢ Other recipes: jamaican curry chicken, this blackened salmon with mango salsa, real deal southern green beans, louisiana red beans and rice, southern-style black-eyed peas, and these jerk meatballs in coconut curry sauce– ♡

black hands holding white serving bowl full of Jamaican rice and peas

Ingredients Needed For This Recipe

(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card directly below.)

  • Red beans: This recipe calls for *dried* red beans, like small red beans or kidney beans. I like to sort through them beforehand to get rid of any scraggly odds + ends found in the bag of beans. No need to rinse the beans as we’ll be soaking them prior to using (much more on that below).
  • Yellow onion: For added flavor, onion goes in basically every Caribbean dish.
  • Scallions: You might know ’em as green onions.
  • Garlic: No explanation needed…garlic is #bae, garlic is life!
  • Scotch bonnet pepper: For flavoring, we’re using just one pepper that’ll go into the pot whole (not cut open!)- trust, you don’t want that 😆❌
  • Fresh thyme & bay leaves: Adds some extra fragrant pops, chef’s kiss.
  • Seasonings: Just a few basics like ground Jamaican allspice (pimento), salt, and pepper. Jamaican allspice has a delightful combination of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon that give a little oomph to the rice and peas.
  • Chicken stock/broth: Flavor on flavor! This is one of the elements that makes this recipe so delicious, the rice and peas are not cooked in water.
  • Coconut milk: Always full-fat for richness. Coconut milk provides flavor, adds fragrancy, and promotes moisture within this rice recipe.
  • Long grain rice: We can’t make rice and peas without rice, yes?!
  • Butter: Just a touch to go in at the end with the rice, yum.
ingredients for Jamaican rice and peas laid out on beige surface

Soaking Beans 101: Why So?

Ahhh to soak or not to soak, that is the question. Some people swear by soaking their beans before cooking and others say nah. ⇢ Why soak beans? Okay so boom, soaking beans prior to cooking them allows for the beans to cook evenly and faster. In addition to that, soaked beans are also easier to digest. You see, soaking them allows for the complex sugars within the beans to break down, therefore reducing indigestion (and gas). An extra step but oh so worth it!

How To Soak Beans: Two Ways

There are ✌🏾 ways to get those beans ready for Jamaican rice and peas!

  • Cold soak (overnight): In a large bowl, cover the beans with cold water and let them soak overnight on the counter, about 8 hours. That’s it, after soaking, simply drain them and set aside until called for in the recipe card, below.
  • Fast soak (hot method): Bring about 6-7 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Then add in the beans and remove the pot from heat. Let the beans soak in the hot water for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Afterwards, simply drain the beans and set aside until called for in the recipe card, below.

*I almost always soak my red beans overnight that way they’re ready to go on the next day when I plan to make my rice and peas. However, the fast soak is a last-minute effort for the ones that forgot to long-soak their beans, ha!

rice and peas in white bowl with gold serving spoon on the side

How To Make Jamaican Rice and Peas

(Note: please see the recipe card directly below for the complete written instructions.)

  1. Cook the peas. In a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat; add in the drained beans, onion, scallions, garlic, scotch bonnet pepper, thyme, bay leaves, allspice, salt/pepper-to taste, stock/broth, and coconut milk. Stir all the ingredients together and cover the pot with a lid. Allow the beans to cook until mostly tender, about 1 hour.
  2. Rinse the rice. Meanwhile, add the rice grains into a large bowl and cover with cool water. Use your hands to gently swish the rice around and then drain. Repeat this process until the water runs clear. Then set aside.
  3. Back to the peas, check peas for tenderness: use a spoon to gather a bean and softly pinch, looking for a firm but semi-tender feel. At this point, the peas may not be completely soft (they’ll continue cooking later).
  4. Add the rice & butter. Once the peas are at this point, add in the rinsed rice and butter, and stir to fully combine. Immediately reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover the pot with a lid.
  5. Let the rice cook for 25-30 minutes. Keeping an eye on the rice and adjusting as needed. Then remove the pot from heat and let the rice sit, covered/undisturbed, for at least 10-15 minutes to continue steaming.
  6. Serve. Take a fork and fluff rice, discarding the scotch bonnet pepper, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves. Taste the rice and adjust seasoning with more salt/pepper, if desired. Serve these rice and peas immediately alongside your favorite main entrees or as-is. Enjoy!
black hands scooping Jamaican rice and peas in white bowl

Why Use Stock/Broth And Not Water?

You may find that some rice and peas’ recipes use just regular water, however, I find that using stock/broth yields a greater flavor. It adds more depth to not only the rice but the peas as well. The peas soak up all the flavor from the ingredients! In my opinion, using water gives a more bland-tasting rice and peas dish unless you add more spices- but can be done.

You can replace with water, if needed. When using water, you may need to use more than 3 cups (maybe up to an additional 1 cup). Keep an eye out and use your judgment while the peas are simmering.

Rinsing Your Rice

Gahhh, I cannot recommend this enough, y’all. We want to remove as much surface starch as possible from the rice by rinsing it well. I do this about 6 times for good measure. Otherwise, you may end up with super gummy rice, I’d hate this for you. Completing this extra step will yield fluffy, tender rice 👌🏾

Vegan Jamaican Rice and Peas

This recipe can very easily be made vegan or plant-based by swapping the chicken stock/broth for water (notes on this, above) and using non-dairy butter.

About The Scotch Bonnet Pepper

The pepper here is all about adding flavor and a very subtle hint of heat. So long as the scotch bonnet pepper is not cut into or burst open, there’s not a whole ton of heat. Alternatively, you can use a habanero pepper (next best, close alternate) in place of or omit the pepper entirely if you’d like.

Jamaican rice and peas in large white serving bowl with gold serving spoon on the side

These Jamaican Rice and Peas will always be a favorite, rice-centered side dish of mine. There’s so much goodness here. Be sure to tag @butterbeready in your BBR recipe creations, I sure love to see it when you do. Until next time! 🤟🏾

Recipes that’ll pair so nicely with your rice and peas:

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Jamaican rice and peas in white serving bowl with gold serving spoon on the side

Jamaican Rice and Peas

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 12 reviews
  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 1x
  • Category: Side Dishes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Caribbean

Description

An authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas (rice and beans) recipe that’s loaded with big flavor from coconut milk, fresh thyme, spices, and more. This here side dish is a Caribbean staple and often served alongside hearty main entrees, so delicious!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight & then drained
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper, left whole- do not cut!
  • 46 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Jamaican allspice
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups chicken stock or broth, plus more as needed
  • 1 (13.5- ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups uncooked long grain rice, rinsed until the water runs clear
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. In a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat; add in the drained beans, onion, scallions, garlic, scotch bonnet pepper, thyme, bay leaves, allspice, salt/pepper-to taste, stock/broth, and coconut milk. Stir all the ingredients together and cover the pot with a lid. Allow the beans to cook until mostly tender, about 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, add the rice grains into a large bowl and cover completely with cool water. Use your hands to gently swish the rice around and then drain. Repeat this process at least 6 times until the water runs clear, removing surface starch from the rice. Then carefully drain the rice and set aside until called for in the recipe.
  3. Back to the peas, check peas for tenderness by (carefully) testing: use a spoon to gather a bean and softly pinch, looking for a firm but semi-tender feel. At this point, the peas may not be completely soft but will also not be rock-hard either (they’ll continue cooking later).
  4. Once peas have achieved this state, add in the rinsed rice and butter, and stir to fully combine. Immediately reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover the pot with a lid.
  5. Let the rice cook for 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye on the rice as it may cook faster or take a bit longer. If you see that some of the liquid has evaporated too quickly before the rice has cooked through, add about 1/4 cup more stock/broth to replenish, as needed. Then remove the pot from heat and let rice sit, covered/undisturbed, for at least 10-15 minutes to continue cooking, steaming through.
  6. Then take a fork and fluff rice, discarding the scotch bonnet pepper, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves. Taste the rice and adjust seasoning with more salt/pepper, if desired. Serve these rice and peas immediately alongside your favorite main entrees or as-is. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. Please read the blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.