Learn how to make rice and peas in your instant pot with this quick and easy recipe. Serve this popular Caribbean side dish with your favorite dinner entrees for a delicious weeknight meal.
Jamaican Rice and Peas
Rice and peas are a staple in Caribbean cuisine, but particularly in Jamaica. A few years ago my Jamaican friend, Chris, requested rice and gungo peas for Christmas. Until that moment, I had no idea that rice and gungo (pigeon) peas were a traditional Jamaican Christmas side dish.
During this time I was busy prepping for our Christmas dinner and decided to quickly whip up the rice and peas in my Instant Pot. Making the Instant Pot rice and peas was such a time saver that I continued to make all of my rice and peas dishes in the instant pot.
- Jamaican Rice and Peas
- Why You’ll Love This Rice and Peas Recipe
- Ingredients for Instant Pot Rice and Peas
- Rice and Peas with Coconut Milk
- How to Make Rice and Peas in the Instant Pot
- Tips for the Best Rice and Peas
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Instant Pot Rice and Peas
If you don’t have an instant pot, why not get one today by clicking here? If you have an instant pot but have never used it, try this simple recipe and start using your instant pot today! Great tasting food doesn’t have to take hours to cook. You can have quick, delicious and nutritious dishes in minutes with your instant pot.
Why You’ll Love This Rice and Peas Recipe
- Quick & Easy: It takes 15 minutes to make this dish, including prep time.
- Healthy Side Dish: This delicious vegan side dish is super filling.
- Versatile: You may use any peas or beans for this dish for the same delicious results!
Ingredients for Instant Pot Rice and Peas
The ingredients in this instant pot rice and peas dish are very simple and so are the steps.
- Green onions or scallions: Scallions add a burst of freshness to the dish.
- Garlic cloves: Finely chopped.
- Oil: Use this to caramelize the brown sugar.
- Brown sugar: Sugar in rice and peas? Absolutely! Although it’s not traditional, it adds a mouthwatering quality that offsets the savory flavors, for more depth of flavor.
- Pigeon peas: Also known as gungo peas, this legume is earthy, nutty, and slightly sweet.
- Jasmine rice: Long-grain rice is perfect for this recipe. Rinse the rice before adding it to the instant pot.
- Coconut milk: Fresh coconut milk is always preferred but I was in a pinch so I used coconut milk powder instead.
- Salt: This enhances the overall flavor.
- Allspice berries: I add a few pimento berries/allspice berries. This is not a common ingredient in Guyanese cooking, but to borrow a delicious tip from my Jamaican friends, add some pimento berries to your rice dishes for a really nice spiced flavor.
- Scotch bonnet pepper: This adds a fiery spice to the dish. You can use any other kind of chili pepper that you have available or simply leave it out.
See recipe card for quantities.
Rice and Peas with Coconut Milk
I live in Denver, Colorado and while fresh coconuts are available at the local supermarkets they are often not good or creamy enough for good coconut milk. Long gone are the days when I could just go into the backyard and look around for fallen dried coconuts to husk, grate, and make fresh coconut milk. However, my favorite alternative to grating it fresh is buying frozen grated coconut, blending it, and making the coconut milk.
When that option is not available my next choice is using diluted canned coconut milk. And finally, as a last resort, I keep some packets of coconut milk powder in my pantry.
Coconut milk powder is a good coconut milk option. The instructions on the back of the packet are a bit off and always make my dishes too fatty, so I started to just use half of the packet to make 3 to 4 cups of coconut milk and that consistently produces great results. For this instant pot rice and peas recipe I used coconut milk powder to make my coconut milk.
How to Make Rice and Peas in the Instant Pot
The first step to intensifying the flavor of the rice is to caramelize brown sugar in oil. The process is similar to when making burnt sugar but don’t let it get to that dark color that is typical with burnt sugar. As soon as it caramelizes, add green onions, chopped garlic, and a Scotch bonnet pepper.
Then combine washed Jasmine rice, followed by the salt, pimento berries, and coconut milk
Stir everything together, then seal the instant pot and set it to high pressure for 10 minutes. To set the instant pot to high pressure, you must first hit cancel to take it out of the sauté mode. In older models, you then hit manual, adjust to the desired time and it’s ready to pressure cook. In newer models select pressure cook, adjust to high pressure, and adjust the time
Alternatively, just select the rice option on the instant pot. When the instant pot cooking cycle completes, release the pressure by venting the instant pot (see instructions in your instant pot manual for quick release venting).
Fluffing Instant Pot Rice and Peas:
Immediately after your instant pot finishes pressure cooking and you’ve released the steam, fluff your rice with a fork. Mix the rice and peas to help distribute any peas that may have settled on the top during cooking. Then cover the rice and let it rest for 5 minutes before garnishing and serving.
It is important to fluff your rice and to let it rest before serving for truly fluffy rice and peas. The picture above shows what the rice looks like just after cooking. The picture below shows what the rice looks like after fluffing, resting, and garnishing. Looks like two completely different dishes. Fluff your rice and then let it rest before serving. It will be so worth it!
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat rice and peas in the microwave until warmed through
Tips for the Best Rice and Peas
- Long-grain rice like jasmine or basmati rice is best for rice and peas. It cooks up fluffy and separate, providing a great texture for the dish.
- Remember to rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This helps remove excess starch and prevents the rice from becoming overly sticky.
- Do not use dried beans for this recipe. Dried beans must be soaked and cooked beforehand if you intend to keep this recipe under 15 minutes. Although I am using canned pigeon peas you can use any other type of canned peas. Kidney beans are a great substitute.
- After the rice is cooked, let it sit with the lid on (not under pressure) for at least 5 minutes. This helps the rice grains firm up for better texture.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ensure you are adding the correct ratio of liquid to rice. Quick releasing the pressure after cooking rice can also result in undercooked rice. Quick release can cause the rice to stop absorbing moisture and remain hard. Try using natural release for a few minutes before manually releasing the remaining pressure.
When you cook rice in an Instant Pot, it’s important to reduce the amount of water to prevent the rice from becoming mushy or overcooked. The sealed environment and the retained allow the rice to absorb liquid more efficiently. If you use the same amount of water as you would for stovetop cooking, you might end up with soggy rice and peas.
Jamaicans often refer to beans as “peas.” So if you serving authentic rice and peas, make sure you don’t call it rice and beans!
Instant Pot Rice and Peas
- Instant Pot
- 5 heads of green onions / scallions thinly sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- I can of pigeon peas gungo peas
- 2 cups of Jasmine rice washed
- 3 cups of coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 4-5 whole all spice berries pimento berries
- 1 whole scotch bonnet pepper or other chili pepper for flavor
- Turn on the sauté function on your instant pot and wait until it is hot (it will beep when it is hot)
- Add oil to the instant pot, then when the oil is hot (this should take about a minute) add the the brown sugar and let it caramelize until it becomes melted but still light brown in color
- Add the garlic, scotch bonnet pepper and the green onions (reserving about 2 tablespoons of the green stems for garnishing at the end)
- Sauté for a minute or 2 until the garlic and green onions get a little soft then add the canned peas
- Mix together well then add washed Jasmine rice, followed by the salt, pimento berries and coconut milk
- Stir together, then seal the instant pot and set it to high pressure for 10 minutes
- To set the instant pot to high pressure, you must first hit cancel to take it out of the sauté mode. In older models you then hit manual, adjust to the desired time and it’s ready to pressure cook. In newer models select pressure cook, adjust to high pressure and adjust the time
- Alternatively you can also just select the rice option on the Instant Pot
- When the instant pot cooking cycle completes, release the pressure by venting the instant pot (see instructions in the instant pot manual for quick release venting)
- Fluff the rice and peas with a fork and mix together to distribute any peas and seasoning that may have settled on top of the rice during cooking
- Let the rice rest for 5 minutes then garnish with the remaining green onions
- Serve warm
The information listed in the recipe card is an estimate provided by an online nutrition tool. The tool evaluates ingredient names and amounts then makes calculations based on the number of servings listed for the recipe. It is provided as a general guideline and not as a precise calculation. For precise nutrition information please feel free to add the ingredients to your preferred nutrition calculator or consult a doctor or licensed nutritionist.