Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe – Easy Red Beans and Rice (2024)

Published by: Adina · Last modified: July 18, 2022 7 Comments

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An easy red beans and rice recipe, the well-know Jamaican rice and peas or rice and beans made with coconut milk.


So, why is this dish called rice and peas when it is actually made with beans. I had no idea until recently.

The rice and beans dish is a traditional African dish, very well-known in countries like Ghana and the Ivory Coast. The recipe was brought to Jamaica by slaves and was passed on from generation to generation.

As the slaves were only allowed one day off work during the week, the best foods they had were served on this day. Thus the tradition of serving rice and peas on Sundays was born.

Nowadays, rice and peas is the most eaten Jamaican food. It is served in every household and every restaurant in the country.

And why is it called rice and peas instead of rice and beans? Well, simply because in Jamaica the word beans means peas as well. Their red peas are the kidney beans we all know.

Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe – Easy Red Beans and Rice (1)


Rice and beans are a popular combination all around the world. Not only are both ingredients cheap and filling, but together they form a complete protein. This makes them a very popular meal among vegetarians and vegans as well.

Beans and grains have a symbiotic relationship in which the amino acids of each complement one another to form a complete protein, which is the foundation for the growth and development in humans.”

Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe – Easy Red Beans and Rice (2)

I cooked this Jamaican rice and peas recipe for the first time about 10 years ago, during the time we were still living in England. It was a super simple recipe I found in a magazine, something I could cook very quickly in the evening after work, filling, cheap and delicious.

We usually had this easy rice and beans dish as it was or maybe I would slice some tomatoes and cucumbers to go with it. Sometimes I would make some quick skillet chicken and sometimes fried eggs.

That super easy recipe for Jamaican rice and beans evolved over the years. Originally, I would give the cooked rice to a pot with coconut milk, red kidney beans and some salt and pepper. It was really good!

But slowly, I started to add some veggies, more spices and converted the recipe to what it is today: a rich and flavorful pot of rice and beans that even my children love to eat. Despite all the beans, which they are usually not very friendly with.

Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe – Easy Red Beans and Rice (3)


As mentioned above making this recipe for Jamaican rice and peas or Jamaican rice and beans is very easy.

  • Cook the rice in vegetable stock, but only about 5 minutes less than you would actually cook it. Have a look at the packet's instructions and calculate the cooking time accordingly.
  • Cook the onion, red bell pepper, chili, ginger and garlic in a little oil. Add the spices and stir for one minute.
  • I used a regular red chili because that is what I had. If you want to go really Jamaican, try finding a Scotch bonnet chili. Keep in mind though that Scotch bonnet is super hot and adjust the amount you use according to your heat tolerance.

Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe – Easy Red Beans and Rice (4)

  • Add the rice to the pan, add the drained red beans and the coconut milk. Heat through for about 5-6 minutes, the rice should have the right consistency by now. If you like it softer, give it a couple more minutes. Don't forget to stir from time to time.

Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe – Easy Red Beans and Rice (5)

Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe – Easy Red Beans and Rice (6)

  • Add a teaspoon of butter, some salt to taste and a little fresh lemon juice. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve.
  • The butter and the lemon juice are not traditional for a true Jamaican rice and peas recipe.
  • However, I started to add them to this dish a long time ago, the butter adds a bit of mellowness and enhances the taste of any rice dish and the lemon juice adds that hint of freshness I am looking for in almost any rice or grains dish I am cooking.
  • They are optional, you can decide if you want to use them or not, but I totally recommend using them.

Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe – Easy Red Beans and Rice (7)


You can serve this easy rice and beans recipe as it is with sliced vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers or a salad on the side. I make this delicious salad with yogurt dressing many times when serving Jamaican rice and peas.

But it also makes a great side dish for roast chicken, pan fried chicken breast, spicy chicken strips, actually any kind of roasted or pan fried chicken dish you can think of.

We often have this Jamaican rice and beans with fried or poached eggs.

Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe – Easy Red Beans and Rice (8)


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Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe – Easy Red Beans and Rice (9)


Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe – Easy Red Beans and Rice (10)

Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe – Easy Red Beans and Rice (11)

Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe – Easy Red Beans and Rice

An easy red beans and rice recipe, the well-know Jamaican rice and peas or rice and beans made with coconut milk.

4.39 from 13 votes

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Course: Pasta and Rice

Cuisine: Jamaican

Prep Time: 10 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes minutes

Servings: 4

Calories: 456kcal

Author: Adina


  • 225 g/ 8 oz/ 1 cup white rice
  • vegetable stock to cook the rice from a cube is fine
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 small chili See note 1
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika powder
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 200 ml/ 6.7 fl.oz/ ¾ cup coconut milk ½ a can of 400 ml/ 14 oz
  • 1 can kidney beans 400 ml/ 14 oz
  • 2-3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • some fresh parsley
  • fine sea salt


  • Wash the rice in a sieve. Place in a pot, cover generously with vegetable stock, and bring to a boil. Add a little salt if the stock is not salty enough, turn the heat down and simmer the rice, covered, 5 minutes less than required by the packet's instructions. Drain well.

  • In the meantime, chop the onion, bell pepper, and chili. Grate the ginger and the garlic.

  • Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook the onion, pepper, and chili for about 3-4 minutes or until they are softer. Add the ginger and garlic and stir for one minute.

  • Add the sweet paprika powder, ground black pepper, and dried thyme and stir for another minute.

  • Add the cooked rice to the pan. Add coconut milk and drained kidney beans. Heat for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender and the beans are heated through.

  • Add 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice and salt to taste. Stir in the butter. Taste again and add more lemon juice (not too much) and salt if necessary.

  • Sprinkle the chopped parsley on top and serve as suggested above.


Scotch bonnet would be very fitting, however, if you cannot find it use another kind of chili. Please add as much chili as you can handle and keep in mind that Scotch bonnet is very hot.


Serving: 1/4 of the dish | Calories: 456kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 928mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 6g

Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @adinabeck or tag #WhereIsMySpoon!

Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe – Easy Red Beans and Rice (2024)


Is rice and peas the same as red beans and rice? ›

Rice and peas is a staple side dish in Jamaica and much of the Caribbean. Though called rice and peas, it's actually made with beans! The reason this name came to be is because Jamaicans call red kidney beans peas – though funnily enough, other varieties of beans are called beans.

What thickens red beans and rice? ›

Mix the cornstarch and cold water together in a bowl then pour it into the red bean mixture and stir well. You will start to see the texture become thicker and creamier. Once done, remove the bay leaves and serve over rice.

What is Jamaican rice and peas made of? ›

Heat oil in a large 5-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, green onions, and thyme; cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the rice, kidney beans, stock, coconut milk, Scotch bonnet pepper, salt, sugar, black pepper, red pepper flakes, allspice, and cayenne pepper.

What is red beans and rice called? ›

The similar vegetarian dish rajma chawal (which translates literally to red beans and rice) is popular in North India. Red beans and rice is also a dietary staple in Central America, where it is known as arroz con habichuelas. The dish is popular in Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Haitian and Jamaican cuisine as well.

What does red beans and rice do for your body? ›

Rice and Beans Are Protein-Packed Foods

One of the significant benefits of rice and beans is their high protein content. They provide you with healthy plant-based protein, coming in at around 12 grams of protein per cup. These winning sides contain amino acids that blend together to make complete proteins.

Can I substitute pinto beans in red beans and rice? ›

Yes, we are all about the red beans and rice down this way for sure, and instead of the classic pintos often made in other areas of the South, I made this version of pintos much like my own homemade red beans and rice, but with the addition of a little Tex-Mex flavor by using jalapenos in place of the usual sweet green ...

Why add vinegar to red beans? ›

Vinegar Makes Red Beans Taste Great!

Vinegar is an acidic liquid produced through fermentation and used in cooking as a flavoring agent and preservative.

When to add butter to red beans? ›

My red beans secret: Put a stick of butter into your pot. of red beans after they've been cooking all day, right. before you serve 'em. Makes them super creamy!

What if there is too much liquid in red beans and rice? ›

If there's too much liquid in the pot, raise the heat back up to a rolling boil to burn off some of the liquid. After letting the pot boil for 10-15 minutes, reduce heat, and let simmer for 20 minutes. To make it a memorable experience, add a bottle of beer to the pot when you add the red beans.

Why do Jamaicans eat rice and peas on Sundays? ›

This practice is yet another that has its origins in slavery. Back in the 18th century, slaves only got one day off, which was Sunday. On that day, they served their best foods, one of which was our beloved rice and peas.

Why do Jamaicans say rice and peas? ›

“Jamaicans call it rice and peas because traditionally it was made with gungo peas. I'm not sure when we started using red beans though, but I remember growing up on gungo peas,” one woman tweeted.

What is a good substitute for rice in Jamaica? ›

Healthy and affordable substitutes for rice
  • SUNDAY and Monday — rice and peas; Tuesday and Thursday — dumplings; Wednesday and Friday — white rice; Saturday — soup with food stuff. ...
  • Bulgur wheat. ...
  • Couscous. ...
  • Sweet potatoes. ...
  • Cabbage. ...
  • Chickpeas flour.
Jul 21, 2019

How long to soak red beans before cooking? ›

The 10- to 12-hour overnight soak is the easy and always effective method, but you can quick-soak beans by bringing them to the boil for one minute, then covering the pan and letting them sit for one hour. After their soak, you can quickly cook them in a pressure cooker.

What ethnicity is red beans and rice? ›

The origins of red beans and rice in New Orleans can be traced back to its African, Spanish, and French influences. African culinary traditions brought the concept of slow-cooked beans as a nourishing staple, while Spanish and French colonizers introduced rice cultivation techniques.

What meat goes with red beans and rice? ›

Pork goes really well with red beans and rice! If you don't know what to serve with red beans and rice but have a pack of pork ribs, cook these country-style and serve together for a delicious dish.

What is the difference between rice and beans and beans and rice? ›

Rice and beans is a one pot dish-usually white rice and kidney beans cooked together with onions, garlic, and a touch of recado and coconut oil. Beans and rice, on the other hand, is another animal entirely.

What is a good substitute for red beans? ›

Cannellini Beans

As such, these beans make an excellent substitute for the typical red variety. As they share the same mild flavor, cannellini beans can easily be swapped in any dish where the color is not a big deal.

What is rice and beans together called? ›

Gallopinto, the rice-and-beans combination, is known by many names across Latin America, some charming like casamiento (wedding) others rather dated and decidedly politically incorrect like moros y cristianos (Moors and Christians).

Is rice bean same as red bean? ›

Red beans are bigger than red rice beans, which are more the size of the green mung beans, which are Vigna radiata. Be careful not to confuse the red rice bean with the red version of mung beans and the Japanese sub-species of the red bean called Azuki beans.


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