In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

Rich And Creamy Caribbean Pumpkin Rice.

Pumpkin rice rice is a dish I only just started to appreciate after having it at an “Island Grill” fast food joint in Kingston,  just over a year ago. Though that pumpkin rice was rather bland, it worked well with the side of spicy jerk chicken and creamy coleslaw or maybe I was terribly hungry after a day with friends exploring the sights and sound of Jamaica. I recall our dad speaking about this dish when we were growing up and how good it was with pieces of “saltfish”, but I don’t ever recall my mom making it. The two main rices dishes in our home were cook-up rice and the king of rice dishes.. pelau. Even if our mom did make pumpkin rice, it would be her and the old man eating it alone as you couldn’t force us to eat pumpkin as kids.

You’ll Need…

2 cups diced pumpkin
2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
1 scotch bonnet pepper
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt *see note below
2 cups brown rice (long grain)
tablespoon olive oil (veg oil or butter)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
3 – 3 1/2 veg stock *see note below

Notes: By using the whole scotch bonnet pepper in the dish I got the flavor and not the heat. Break open the pepper near the end if heat is your thing. I used vegetable stock as I wanted to keep this dish vegetarian and I also wanted a mild stock which wouldn’t over power the pumpkin. You’re free to use chicken or beef if you prefer, but be aware that the overall flavor of the dish will be changed. I used Calabaza (Cucurbita moschata), also known as West Indian, Cuban, or Caribbean pumpkin, but I think butternut squash would make for an excellent substitution. Be aware that a lot of stock comes loaded with sodium, so if you’re not familiar with the stock you’re using, add half the salt and adjust near the end of cooking.

* Be sure to watch the video at the bottom to see how I peeled and cubed the pumpkin and for general instructions on cooking this tasty vegetarian pumpkin rice dish.

Start by peppering everything for cooking. Peel and dice the pumpkin, dice the garlic and onion and grate the ginger. Then in a deep pot, heat the oil on a med/high heat and add the diced onion, garlic and the thyme. I left it on the sprig as I wanted the flavor from the stems and near the end of cooking I have the opportunity to remove the stems from the pot. Allow this to soften up on a med heat for a couple minutes.

Now add the grated ginger and black pepper to the pot and give it a good stir. After cubing the pumpkin do give it a good rinse under cool water and drain. Now you can add the diced pumpkin pieces and give it a good stir. With your heat at a med/low setting, allow this to cook for a couple minutes to infuse all the wonderful flavors. As this cook, be sure to wash your rice (see video below) as we’ve done in the past. Basically all you’re doing is… place the rice in a deep bowl and cover with water, now using your hands do a sort of massage motion to allow the grains to work between your fingers. You will notice that the water will go cloudy… pour out and repeat until you have clear water. usually 3-4 times.

With the rice now washed/drained, add it to the pot and stir. Pour in the stock, add the salt (remember my note above) and plop in the scotch bonnet pepper into the pot.

Bring this up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer  and cover the pot to cook off the liquid and get the rice nice and tender. After about 10 minutes or so you’ll notice that your liquid would have reduced, the pieces of pumpkin will start to fall apart and the rice grains will start to get plump.

Here is where this can become a bit tricky as the brand of rice you use may have a bearing on this part going forward. After 18 minutes of my rice simmering away I noticed that the rice grains were almost all the way cooked and I still had some liquid. So I turned up the heat and burned that off… remember to stir or it will stick to the bottom of the pot. I like my rice a bit grainy so I had to account for it cooking further in it’s own heat, even after I turned off the stove. If you like you rice creamy, give it a bit more time cooking to really plump up the rice. The texture and consistency of the final pumpkin rice dish will depend on your own liking. remember to now remove the whole pepper and sprigs of thyme. Check for salt and if you want a blast of heat, do burst open the pepper.. but be warned.

There you go, a hundred times better than what you’d find at Island Grill and be sure to add a pinch or nutmeg and/or allspice (pimento berries) to really give this a wicked flavor infusion.

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.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Sherril Sandy
    March 20, 2022 / 3:32 pm

    Hi Chris, the menu for today is your version of pumpkin rice, it’s going to be delightful. Thanky you soon much for Caribbean Pot! It’s creativity to the Max!!!

  2. Annette
    December 20, 2020 / 10:01 am

    Hi Chris been following you for years but only pick up the courage to leave a comment you pumpkins and rice brought back so many memories as it was the first dish my husband of 55yrs cook for me and we are still going strong. Keep up the good work In London everyone knows you and your recipe is prove to show my grand children because when I tell them what grandpa cook for me the joke who eat that .God Bless You.

  3. Sato
    June 23, 2019 / 9:09 am

    What’s up Soldier, man you could have added some coconut milk to this, would hv been awesome! Keep up the good work bro!

  4. Ruth Wiggins
    September 24, 2018 / 1:38 pm

    Hi Cris
    When are you going to open your restaurant
    Please let me be the first to know

  5. August 29, 2014 / 8:40 am

    Gosh! Luv it. Try seasoning and baking the rice as well with carrots. See the carrots come out on top. Makes a lovely attraction.

  6. anne marie
    December 2, 2013 / 9:55 am

    Add some saltfish to this recipe. My mom used to make it that way. I never heard of the ginger, though. This could be an interesting new flavor to this recipe.

  7. Smita
    August 10, 2013 / 10:00 am

    Looks so yummy I can’t wait to try it.

  8. dees
    January 3, 2013 / 3:16 pm

    can i make this with canned pumpkin?

  9. ann
    November 6, 2012 / 5:46 pm

    I made this but used coconut milk instead of the vegetable stock…..was delicious… could also add sweet potato and eddoes

  10. Debbie
    July 19, 2012 / 11:21 am

    add coconut milk to it and let me know the results

  11. Aribabs
    May 19, 2012 / 4:50 pm

    Hi Chris, I operate a Caribbean entertainment blog at and I must say I love your cooking. I have begun adding your recipes to my blog under the menu ‘Caribbean Recipes’ and I look forward to more recipes from you. #TeamTrini

  12. elaine
    May 7, 2012 / 10:29 am

    pumpkin rice is great!! I love it so does my husband I add a little ginger to it and it's great

  13. Allana Ram
    April 24, 2012 / 6:40 am

    Just found this site, and I am sooo excited about trying some of your recipes. My husband is from Guyana and he has come up with a great idea for cleaning the rice. He uses the whisk, it works amazing! All of his brothers and sisters now use this idea too. Thanks, wishing you a day filled with happiness!!! Allana Ram

  14. April 23, 2012 / 8:31 pm

    Hi Chris, you posted on my blog a while back….just stopping by to say hello to a fellow Trini foodie! Great recipes…this pumpkin rice is rather interesting, never saw this combo before..will give it a try..

  15. cici
    April 22, 2012 / 8:40 pm

    yum yum..i made it tonite with jasmin is amazing!!

  16. Antonette
    April 18, 2012 / 12:05 pm

    I wanted the recipe for the pumpkin rice also. I had it at Island Grill here in Barbados along with jeerk chicken and enjoyed it. Thanks for the recipe.

  17. carol
    March 30, 2012 / 1:08 am

    i look on your web site to make a lot of stuff and I must say I have learned so much and the dishes come out very good even your roti recipe thanks a lot I recommend this web site to a lot of my friends keep up the good work

  18. Lady Jenni Elson
    March 8, 2012 / 8:09 pm

    this i have 2 attempt.. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *