In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

Classic Island Peas And Rice.

This is a repeat of the original peas and rice recipe I posted a while back, however this time we’re using fresh kidney beans and not the stuff from the can. In that rice and peas recipe there was a lot of discussion about the real name.. is it rice and peas or peas and rice. But here’s the funny part.. we’re not even using peas, but beans. This peas and rice dish is normally associated with Jamaica and quite rightly so, however just about every island in the Caribbean does a version of rice and peas. My daughters refer to this dish as the spicy rice with the beanies (anything with peas or beans are called beanies), as I love to burst the scotch bonnet pepper near the end of cooking to release all that wonderful Caribbean vibe! We’ll get to that later on in the recipe.

You’ll Need…

1/2 cup red kidney beans (dry)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 scotch bonnet pepper
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 sprigs thyme
2 cups long grain brown rice
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 scallions
2 cups water

Note: If you have whole pimento berries (allspice) feel free to use about 3 instead of the ground allspice.

Quickly go through the dried kidney beans to remove any debris which may be among them (I’ve seen little pebbles in the past as well as twigs). Then rinse with cool water, drain and place in a bowl. Now add the 2 cups of water and allow to soak for a couple hours. Overnight is probably best as it will cook much faster. Then pour everything into a deep sauce pan and bring to a boil.

Chop the scallion, onion and garlic and add it to the pot as well. Same for the salt, black pepper, all spice and toss in the sprigs of thyme. Don’t worry about the sprigs as we can remove it when the dish is done cooking.. we want maximum flavor from the thyme sprigs. As it comes to a boil, drop in the scotch bonnet pepper whole into the pot. This will give us a ton of flavor and not that raw heat scotch bonnet peppers are infamous for. Place the lid on your pot and reduce to a gentle simmer.

We’re trying to get the kidney beans tender before adding the rice, but at the same time we’re building a wicked flavor base.

Your kitchen will have a lovely aroma as this simmer away. Depending on how long you pre-soak your beans, it should take anywhere from 40 minutes to 1 hour to get tender. They will plum up and the water will take on a lovely reddish colour.. this will help add that unique color when we add the rice. I had soaked my beans for 2 hrs and it took 40 minutes to get tender enough for me to continue.

Now it’s time to wash your rice. Traditionally the rice is placed in a bowl with water, you then massage with your hands. The action will cause the white grit and impurities from the polishing of the rice to cause the water to go cloudy. Drain that water out and repeat until you no longer have that cloudy appearance. Recently I adopted a new method for washing my rice though.. I place the rice in a strainer, then allow water to pour over it as I work my hand/fingers through it. This method works like a charm and it so much easier to strain and place in the pot.

Now add the washed rice to the pot with the now plump beans and give it a good stir. Add the coconut milk, then bring back to a boil (I’ve seen some people put a tablespoon of vegetable oil into the pot at this time as well) … then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, put the lid on the pot and allow to cook. Depending on the rice you use (no 2 brands cook the same), it can take between 25 minutes and 40 minutes to fully cook.

The liquid will burn off slowly as the rice cooks away, so keep an eye on things.. in the event your rice is not fully cooked, you may need to add a little water or coconut milk. I like my peas and rice grainy, but if you like the rice a bit more creamy you may need a bit more liquid and cooking time.

Remember to remove the sprigs from the thyme and don’t forget that scotch bonnet pepper. You can certainly burst it open and release the heat or fish it out and discard. However I’m sure one of your family members or friends may appreciate the pepper (set it aside for them). Rice and peas is a sort of tricky dish to prepare as it can be a bit hard to get that perfect texture, where it’s grainy and not soggy. Following this recipe and with close attention near the end of cooking and I’m sure you’ll have a tasty peas and rice dish. Remember that the rice will continue cooking after the stove is turned off, from the residual heat. I usually take mine off the stove when it’s 95%  cooked, so the residual heat will finish it off for me.

I do hope you give this recipe a try and don’t forget to share it with family and friends.. that’s a huge part of being from the Caribbean and adopting our lifestyle.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. oh yea! leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.

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  1. PapiChulo
    June 24, 2020 / 7:46 pm

    Hello I really liked this recipe, but there is a bit of confusion. On the video you say 6 cups of water and written in this recipe you have 2 cups of water. That’s a big difference on the outcome of the rice.

  2. Nancy
    April 5, 2019 / 12:20 pm

    Hi Chris,
    Could you please share with us what brand of brown rice you use for this recipe…mine came out mushy as well.


  3. Akil R.
    November 3, 2018 / 10:46 pm

    I’ve tried COUNTLESS rice and beans recipes. I followed this to the T, and the rice was PERFECT! Forgot to take out the Scotch bonnet pepper and there was some definite heat. I’ll take it out next time before adding the rice, but otherwise I’ve found the BEST recipe! Not mushy, rice is perfectly cooked. I did add a tablespoon of vegetable oil (this was optional). Thank you Chris!

  4. Dawn
    July 31, 2018 / 7:54 pm

    Hi, I’m Barbados we use pigeon peas.

  5. Maria
    November 24, 2017 / 5:45 am

    Do you just cook the rice and peas in the coconut milk usually? and add water if its needed??

  6. tony austin
    October 16, 2017 / 8:44 pm

    this is a must do for us. thanks chris

  7. Reia Ramdass
    November 27, 2016 / 3:53 pm

    Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Denesia Ramsundar
    May 24, 2016 / 12:35 pm

    Thanks for the recipies.

  9. Kenny
    January 7, 2016 / 1:51 pm

    Lovely recepies Chris. I love them all. Thanks a bunch for everything.
    About the rice and peas recepies, I usually add some salt fish, smoke herring, or salt meat for flavor. Folks love it.

  10. mikesha
    November 15, 2015 / 7:37 pm

    I followed directions to a tee, the rice came out disgusting. What could I have done wrong?

    • admin
      November 15, 2015 / 8:01 pm

      do you know type/brand of rice you used?

    • Paul
      August 2, 2020 / 6:57 am

      How much water did you use

  11. Fayemous
    April 14, 2015 / 10:13 am

    I sometimes mix white and red kidney beans together – I also pound green onion and thyme with a mallet and give those a quick but gentle stir and just before closing the pot I add hot pepper which I remove before adding rice and then add again just before closing the pot on top of the rice and do not stir (so it does not burst).

    Chris, do not add salt at the beginning of cooking the beans as this toughens the beans. Try adding you salt about 5 minutes before beans are done – helpful to soften beans faster.

    • admin
      April 14, 2015 / 11:32 am

      love the salt tip. I recall my mom saying that don’t add salt till it comes to a full boil. that seems to work as well.

  12. Gee
    March 29, 2015 / 11:58 pm

    I made this today, it was amazing. Thanks for the recipes.

  13. shema
    February 27, 2015 / 11:54 am

    I just made this. Delicious! !

  14. January 29, 2015 / 5:20 am

    I am not keen on kidney beans in a cook-up…I prefer pigeon peas(fresh) or tinned (gumbo) its lovely……When we lived inTrinidad our cook sometimes would grate fresh coconut the last few minutes of cooking(she knew a thing or two about cooking creole food…..when she died,, eating was not the same but we pulled through…….all the best……Querino de-Freitas..

  15. tasha
    November 22, 2014 / 5:38 pm

    Hey Chris we love this recipe and many others!! Can’t wait for summer to be here so we can try some of the grilled recipes! Thank u and keep em coming!

  16. Lala
    February 11, 2014 / 2:56 pm

    Hi can nayone tell me how many portions this recipe makes. thank you

  17. Maigan
    December 9, 2013 / 9:47 pm

    This recipe turned out perfect. I followed it step by step and it was delicious. I doubled the recipe and it served about 8 people.

  18. Amyra
    December 8, 2013 / 12:54 pm

    Greetings, Just the way , I cook mines. Sometimes, I use piegon peas and burn brown sugar water.

  19. November 4, 2013 / 5:10 am


    you have a lovely website and thanks for the many recipes. i’m planning to cook a Jamaican meal and you are now my go to point of reference (especially looking forward to trying out your ultimate (=P) jerk chicken)

    i have a quick question if you don’t mind and could help.
    i intend to make rice and peas, but i’m a little short on cooking time/time on the hob. so, i was hoping to soak the ‘peas’ overnight to minimize cooking time. however, i’ve also been told that in the preparation for kidney beans, they ought to be cooked for at least 2 hrs to destroy their toxins. what would you suggest?

  20. Richard
    July 10, 2013 / 6:22 pm

    Nice Chris.I really never tried just rice and peas as i love meh meat..But ill try this with some chicken at the side.
    Thanks for another great recipe

  21. Nina
    February 6, 2013 / 6:04 pm

    Hi Chris. I've contacted you on youtube before. I'm confused about the brown rice you are using because I'm not getting the results and my rice looks darker than yours coming out of the bag. It's the texture of the rice and the flavor that is just not coming through for me. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. Can you please help me? My rice is coming out too hard or sometimes too mushy. It's dry with no flavor. Like I didn't even add herbs or anything. It doesn't even compare to what I've had in caribbean restaurants.

    • janet
      March 27, 2013 / 3:31 pm

      Try the guyanese rice such as bedesse or star bonnet.Any west indian store carries it.

  22. Manou
    January 23, 2013 / 7:00 am

    I love it! This is the exact way haitians do it… I miss my mom’s cooking!! Here in France you don’t find all the carribean ingredients to cook what you want! 🙁

  23. Tricia25
    January 7, 2013 / 9:26 am

    Chris am in Trinidad;and i enjoy your Recipes,keep it up as i stay in tune .

  24. Natalie
    October 29, 2012 / 8:47 pm

    I am a Jamaican and I can tell you that rice and peas is cooked in almost every Jamaican home on a sunday its good to know that other counmtries enjoy this too.

  25. Trini
    October 28, 2012 / 6:25 pm

    In Trinidad we say redbean pelau

  26. Leslie
    October 20, 2012 / 5:50 pm

    Ok, I added the coconut milk BEFORE the beans were soft. Will this make a big difference?? (crossing my finders and hoping not)

    • Yvette
      October 29, 2012 / 6:45 am

      The flavor of the coconut dissipates the earlier the coconut goes in, hence the reason for putting it in after…..

  27. Leslie
    October 16, 2012 / 10:55 pm

    I moved to Arizona from Chicago and with the move lost my access to Jamaican food…this is great, Thanksgiving dinner is going to be a lil different this year!! muah!

  28. Karen
    September 21, 2012 / 4:55 am

    Hey Chris,

    Love your site and all of your recipes. I’m a Canadian girl raised in a small town in Ontario. My boyfriend is Jamaican born and raised and though I’ve always loved to eat different foods and I love to cook having a Jamaican boyfriend I need to cook the food he eats. Its nice to be able to get authentic recipes that give amazing results. You’ve got this white girl cooking food that makes her Jamaican boyfriend say Yah Mon. Thanks and keep up the great work. You are appreciated.

  29. Michelle
    August 15, 2012 / 6:23 am

    Chris for years I seemed to have a lack of appetite, bored with food here until I saw you on my husbands facebook page, all the pictures and videos brought back fond memories for me that seem so long ago and the recipes from my grandmothers and techniques, man was I inspired! I can cook the things I grew up eating and I have colaloo and scotch bonnet peppers growing in the garden, thanks so much.

  30. Mary Thomas
    August 5, 2012 / 6:12 pm

    Chris I love your recipes!!!!! I am from B'klyn NY and you got me cooking like a Island Gurl!!! Your recipes are easy to follow and the results are amazing. Blessings to you and your family. Looking for your recipe for oxtails soup or stew, carry on Chris!!!!!

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