How To Make Rice And Peas Like A Jamaican Grandma

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By Christopher Spiker

Welcome to your culinary adventure, where you’ll learn to craft a beloved Jamaican classic just like a seasoned grandma. In this guide, you’ll discover the secrets behind making perfectly flavored rice and peas, capturing the essence of rich tradition and home-cooked goodness. From selecting the freshest ingredients to mastering the gentle simmer, each step brings you closer to authentic Caribbean delight. Get ready to infuse your kitchen with the warm, inviting aromas of Jamaica and create a dish that speaks of love, history, and delicious memories. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to make rice and peas just like a Jamaican grandma? You know, that perfectly seasoned, aromatic dish that’s the heart and soul of many Caribbean tables. Well, your search ends here! By the end of this article, you’ll be well-equipped with everything you need to know to create your very own batch of authentic rice and peas.

How To Make Rice And Peas Like A Jamaican Grandma

What You’ll Need: Ingredients and Tools

Before diving into the process, let’s start with the essentials: the ingredients and tools you’ll need. These are both crucial for making your rice and peas taste like they’re straight out of Jamaica.


Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

Ingredient Quantity
Long-grain white rice 2 cups
Kidney beans (or gungo peas) 1 cup
Coconut milk 1 can (about 400 ml)
Water 2 cups
Garlic cloves 2, crushed
Fresh thyme 2 sprigs
Scotch bonnet pepper 1, whole
Green onion (scallion) 2, chopped
Ground allspice (pimento) 1 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Black pepper 1/2 tsp

Using these specific ingredients ensures you achieve that authentic and rich flavor synonymous with Jamaican grandma-style rice and peas.


And here are the tools that will make your cooking experience smoother:

  • Large pot with a lid
  • Colander or strainer
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Stirring spoon
  • Knife and cutting board

Having these tools on hand will help make the cooking process more efficient.

Preparing Your Ingredients

Now that you’ve gathered your ingredients and tools, it’s time to prep everything. Preparation is key to making sure you don’t miss any steps later.

Soak the Beans

Start by soaking your kidney beans or gungo peas overnight. This will not only cut down the cooking time but also make the beans softer and easier to digest.

Steps Duration
Rinse beans thoroughly 2 minutes
Soak in water Overnight

Chop Your Vegetables

Chop your green onions and crush the garlic cloves. Make sure you have them ready before you start cooking, so you don’t have to scramble to prepare them later.

Vegetables Preparation
Green onion Chopped
Garlic cloves Crushed

How To Make Rice And Peas Like A Jamaican Grandma

Cooking the Beans

Cooking the beans is a crucial step because they form the base of your rice and peas. If not done correctly, you could end up with tough beans or unevenly flavored rice.

Boil the Beans

Drain the soaked beans and place them into your large pot. Add enough water to cover the beans by at least two inches. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the beans are tender.

Steps Duration
Bring to a boil 10 minutes
Simmer until tender 45 minutes to 1 hour

Adding Seasoning to Beans

When the beans are almost done, it’s time to add some of the seasoning to start layering the flavors.

Ingredient Quantity
Crushed garlic 2 cloves
Fresh thyme 2 sprigs
Salt 1 tsp

These ingredients will infuse the beans with flavors that will marry beautifully with the rice.

The Main Cooking Process: Melding Flavors

This is where it all comes together. Adding the right ingredients at the right time ensures the rice absorbs all those spectacular flavors.

Incorporate the Coconut Milk

Once the beans are tender, add the coconut milk and water to the pot. This adds a rich, creamy texture that’s key to authentic Jamaican rice and peas.

Steps Quantity
Add coconut milk 1 can (about 400 ml)
Add water 2 cups

Add the Rice and Remaining Seasonings

Add the long-grain rice, green onions, ground allspice, and black pepper. Give everything a good stir to combine.

Ingredient Quantity
Long-grain white rice 2 cups
Green onion 2, chopped
Ground allspice 1 tsp
Black pepper 1/2 tsp

Add the Scotch Bonnet Pepper

Gently place the whole Scotch bonnet pepper on top of the mixture. Be cautious not to break it, as it can release a lot of heat. If you prefer milder rice and peas, you can skip this step.

Ingredient Quantity
Scotch bonnet pepper 1 whole

Cooking to Perfection

Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover it with a lid. Allow it to simmer for 20-25 minutes until the rice is fully cooked.

Steps Duration
Bring to a boil 5 minutes
Simmer on low heat 20-25 minutes

After 20 minutes, check the rice. If it’s tender and the liquid has been absorbed, you’re good to go! If not, give it a few more minutes but make sure it doesn’t dry out.

How To Make Rice And Peas Like A Jamaican Grandma

Final Touches and Serving

Once your rice and peas are done, it’s time to add the final touches and serve. This part is as important as any other and ensures the dish looks and tastes as it should.

Fluff the Rice

Remove the Scotch bonnet pepper and thyme sprigs, then use a fork to fluff the rice gently. This will help separate the grains and mix the flavors evenly.

Serve with Style

Transfer the rice and peas to a serving bowl or plate. This dish pairs well with a variety of Jamaican favorites like jerk chicken, curry goat, or even a simple green salad.

Tips and Tricks

Just like a Jamaican grandma, there are a few insider secrets that can elevate your rice and peas from good to great.

Use Fresh Ingredients

Whenever possible, use fresh thyme, garlic, and green onions. Fresh ingredients always deliver better flavors and aromas.

Coconut Milk Quality

Opt for good quality, full-fat coconut milk. The creaminess from a high-quality coconut milk adds richness that’s hard to replicate.

Be Patient

Food made with love and patience always tastes better. Don’t rush the simmering process, and let the flavors meld naturally.

How To Make Rice And Peas Like A Jamaican Grandma

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Even the most detailed instructions can leave some questions unanswered. Here we’ll address some of the most common questions people have when making rice and peas.

Can I Use Canned Beans?

Yes, you can use canned beans if you’re short on time. Just remember to rinse them well to remove excess sodium and adjust your cooking time accordingly.

What If I Don’t Like Spicy Food?

No worries! You can omit the Scotch bonnet pepper, or simply ensure it stays whole during cooking. This way, it will add flavor without too much heat.

Can I Use Brown Rice?

Yes, though cooking times will vary. Brown rice tends to take longer to cook, so you’ll need to adjust water levels and simmering duration.

Storing and Reheating

Rice and peas can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Just make sure it’s in an airtight container to maintain freshness.


You can also freeze rice and peas for up to 2 months. Portion them out into freezer-safe containers for easy future meals.


To reheat, simply microwave or warm up on the stovetop. Add a splash of water or coconut milk to bring back some moisture.

How To Make Rice And Peas Like A Jamaican Grandma


And there you have it—a comprehensive guide on how to make rice and peas like a Jamaican grandma. With the right ingredients, tools, and a bit of patience, you can create this classic Caribbean dish in your own kitchen. Whether you’re making it for a special occasion or just for a mid-week dinner, you’ll impress everyone with your newfound culinary skills. Happy cooking!