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Caribbean rice and peas recipe. An easy and delicious side dish!

Updated on May 3, 2009

The perfect summer meal

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Caribbean rice and peas is an essential side dish to any tropical meal. Be careful though, as this rice dish may steal the show!

Try a great easy grilled jerk chicken with this Caribbean rice and peas with some fresh sweet corn on the cob for an easy summer BBQ menu. You will love the tastes of the Caribbean.

This rice goes beautifully with any fruit salsa or chutneys as well.

Most recipes will have you cook the rice in the coconut milk, but I think this way is better and easier, and is a great way to use up leftover rice as well.

Caribbean rice and peas

  • 3 cups cooked rice (cold leftover rice is OK)
  • 3/4 cups of coconut milk
  • A couple shakes of dried thyme, or three or four fresh sprigs
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup red kidney beans, canned are OK

Easy Instructions to Rice N' Peas

  1. Heat a good heavy skillet or fry pan over medium and add about a spoonful of vegetable oil. When hot, add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds.
  2. Immediately add the coconut milk, the thyme and the kidney beans, along with a couple of pinches of salt, and bring to a boil.
  3. Boil for a couple of minutes, until the coconut milk has reduced by more than half.
  4. Add in the rice, and mash it around until it uniformly absorbs the coconut milk.
  5. Add salt to taste.

That's it. If you have some leftover rice on hand, this can be made in about 5 minutes...and it is really good.

Serve with your favorite grilled Caribbean meat, with a Cuban beef stew or any Caribbean curry.

I'm partial to jasmine style Thai rice, but any white rice will work well. You can use minute rice, but all your rice dishes will be MUCH MUCH MUCH MUCH better if you boil your own rice. If you make a lot of rice, get an inexpensive rice cooker for really hassle free perfect rice every time

A video demonstration of making rice and peas


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    • louromano profile image

      louromano 5 years ago

      Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing video.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Which Caribbean island is this recipe from? Never seen it before...seems very interesting.

      I am not dismissing your recipe like some people and not all of us cook our rice and peas with sugar like the previous comments. I mill my coconut myself so as to get that slight sweetness that the coconut gives. canned or frozen coconut doesn't give you that.

    • profile image

      baby g 6 years ago

      This is a good try but that is not how Jamaicans cook rice and peas. We especially do not use already cooked rice. what we do is we cook the kidney beans or what we call red peas or sometimes we use what we call gungo peas( usually around Christmas time though), wen the peas is cooked we add the coconut milk, escallion, garlic,a green scotch bonnet pepper, pimento seeds and thyme and allow the milk to cook down. when it is cooked we add a table spoon of brown sugar some salt and then the uncooked rice, leave it on high for 5 mins then lower the flame to allow the rice to slow cook. That is how we cook Jamaican rice and peas.

    • profile image

      Vasanth 7 years ago

      Looks like a lip smacking variety! Also, I sincerely thank you, for I should consider myself lucky to get a comment from a pro who has had a long and successful stint at Hubpages. I thank you for the comments you had left in the article related to top Caribbean resorts.

    • st lucia for sale profile image

      st lucia for sale 7 years ago from St Lucia

      Reading this has made me instantly hungry. I want some cook up rice, Guyana style!

    • John D Lee profile image

      John D Lee 7 years ago

      Hi Lisa,

      great to hear from you! You guys must be liking it in Saigon - ever think about a visit back to CM?

      Hope your dinner party goes off well with the rice and beans!

    • profile image

      Lisa  7 years ago

      Hi John,

      It is Lisa and Gary, formerly from Chiang Mai, now in Saigon. We are having the dinner club over tonight for a Caribbean dinner and I found this recipe that we will be adding to the menu. Funny that we used to have you "cater" for our parties and now we are doing it on our own. I still want to learn how you make that amazing pulled pork. Missing the old Bagel Cafe.......

    • profile image

      Veronica 7 years ago

      How do I brown chicken with brown sugar? I had some with rice and peas and I want to make it at home. Help please!

    • Katelyn Weel profile image

      Katelyn Weel 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Yum! I had this the other night. John D Lee, creamed coconut in the solid block form is available in Loblaws or other major grocery chains, it comes in a little box. And the 'key' ingredient missing is the Habanero pepper, which you add to the dish (whole) while it's cooking, then remove before serving it. Personally, I'm not a fan of spicy food so I choose not to use it. It's still rice and peas as far as we're concerned..

      Ms foodmaven, there are about as many little twists on the ways to make rice and peas as there are people that make it. A quick Youtube search will prove that. I thought your reply sounded a little harsh.. just wanted to throw that out there.


    • John D Lee profile image

      John D Lee 8 years ago

      HI ms,

      I don't think that creamed coconut is widely available in many areas, it certainly isn't where I live. Coconut milk works well though. Have you tried it? After boiling down the coconut milk you are left, essentially, with coconut cream, which is what you say is needed. So what is the difference at the end of the day?

      I am also not sure why you are talking about adding sugar? There is no sugar in my recipe.

      Thirdly, what is this elusive "secret" ingredient that you speak of?

    • profile image

      ms foodmaven 8 years ago

      Well, to be honest with you, your recipe would be ok for those who do not know the 'real' rice and peas. I have never heard of or seen any Caribbean use canned coconut milk. We use creamed coconut which is actually a solid block. We just cut off a portion big enough for the pot of rice and such that we are using. Secondly, I have never used and don't know any Caribbean that has put sugar in the rice and peas. And I'm sorry to inform you that your recipe is missing a key ingredient and basically is making a pot of rice and peas a whole lot more of an ordeal than it really ought to be. But, I don't wanna seem like the negative nanny, so I'll just end this note with a...Nice try.

    • TriniSoul profile image

      TriniSoul 8 years ago from United States

      Caribbean people call almost everything peas, and not beans, so it's called rice and peas for that simple reason.

      In Trinidad we make something with pigeon peas and it's called pelau, it's one of our main dishes on the Island. It's totally different from the Jamaican Rice and Peas.

    • John D Lee profile image

      John D Lee 9 years ago

      Thanks for the clarification Camille - very interesting!

      Hightfamily - definitely drain the beans prior to adding them.

      Thanks for the comments

    • profile image

      hightfamily 9 years ago

      do you drain the beans or add the liquid from the can as well?

    • profile image

      Camille 9 years ago

      There is a reason why it's call rice and peas. I am from Trinidad an Island in the caribbean where this is a top dish the real way that you make it is with pigeon pea and that pea come green or brown. Jamacians make it with red kindey bean. But the name rice and peas will always be because the original dish is made with this pea. The pigeon pea

    • John D Lee profile image

      John D Lee 10 years ago

      You've got a definate point there, and I don't know why it's called rice and peas when it should be called rice and just is!

      Anyways, I'm glad you tried it and I'm happy that it turned out well.

      Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      moss_rose 10 years ago

      Why is it called caribbean rice and peas,where are the peas? The recipe calls for kidney beans.I tried the recipe and it is great.

    • profile image

      John D Lee 10 years ago

      I'm happy to hear that you guys are interested in trying this really easy and delicious dish. Fresh thyme, especially fresh picked thyme, will be great. The thyme should just be an undenote taste though. You want to be able to taste it, but just barely.

      Thanks for commenting, and I hope you enjoy the dish!

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 10 years ago from San Francisco

      Yummmm! I'll have to try this soon!

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 10 years ago from San Francisco

      Beans, coconut and thyme - what's not to love?! I look forward to trying this recipe out. Have a bunch of fresh thyme at home that's looking for a dish...