Jamaican Stew Peas and Rice Recipe

Watch our step-by-step video for this recipe below

Stew Peas and Rice is a beloved Jamaican dish. For me it’s simply comfort food. Funny … even though Jamaica is  a hot, tropical country, we love our hearty stews and soups, all well-suited to colder climates. I think it has to do with the fact that we are traditionally hard-working people who need our meals to “hold us” for the day. Stew Peas and Rice is family favourite, and salted pig tails are a key ingredient. They’re what makes this recipe salty… in a good way.

You’ll notice below that salt is not on the ingredient list. That’s because there’s no need to add more salt since there’s so much in the pig tails (used as a preservative) that you have to remove some by soaking the meat overnight! If you have access to a West Indian store in your city, and if they’re worth their salt … LOL, you can get salted pig tails there. They’ll cut them into small pieces for you, just ask. If you don’t have access to a West Indian grocer, you can use ham hock as a substitute. It won’t be authentic, but still really tasty. You’ll also likely have to add some salt since it won’t be as salty as the pig tails. Serve up this stew with steamed white rice and fried plantain and you’ll have meal that will stick to your ribs … and curl your toes.
2 Salted Pig Tails, cut into 2-inch pieces (they will cut at the West Indian store)
1lb  Stewing Beef, cubed
1 cup  Dry Kidney Beans

1 Tbsp Margarine or Butter
1 small Onion, chopped
2  Tbsp each Red and Green Bell Peppers, finely chopped
2-3 slices Scotch Bonnet Pepper
2 stalks Scallion or Green Onion

2-3 sprigs Fresh Thyme (or 1 tsp Dried Thyme)
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Pimento seeds (optional)

Spinners (long dumplings)
3/4 cup Flour
pinch of Salt
Add enough cold water to make soft dough
Night Before:
1. Rinse red beans in cold water and soak in 3 to 4 cups cold overnight
2. Rinse salted pig tails and soak in about 6 cups of cold water overnight
Next Day:
1. Drain water from pig tails; place in pot and cover with fresh cold water
2. Bring to a boil; boil for 3 to 5 minutes; drain water
3. Add 6 cups for fresh cold water to pot and bring to a boil; lower heat and cook about 1/2 hour
4. Add red beans (including the water they were soaked in) and stewing beef to pot
5. Cover pot and cook meat and beans on a low boil until very tender, about 1 hour (keep the liquid level the same by adding boiling water to pot as liquid evaporates)
6. In a frying pan, melt margarine (or butter) using medium heat; saute onion, scallion (white part only, chopped), and red and green bell pepper until onion is transparent, about 3 minutes
7. Add all the sauteed ingredients to pot on low boil along with remaining scallion (unchopped), sprigs of thyme, pimento (if using) and black pepper; remove scotch bonnet pepper after a few minute, or to taste
8. Make small spindle-shape dumplings (called spinners) and add to the pot; simmer stirring often until stew thickens and dumplings are cooked
9. Remove large pieces of scallion, sprigs of thyme and pimento (if using)
Serve Stew Peas hot over steamed white rice with fried plantain

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Stew peas
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  • Jay

    I am Jamaican however I am my mothers baby so she always did all the cooking for me. Now that I am married I have been cooking and lets say its not like mummys cooking. Funny thing is I am married to a white man who loves home cooked Jamaican food. I am happy I found your website!!! I will be trying this stew peas and rice! wish me luck

  • Leah

    Hi Ms. Fay. Quick question. Can I substitute salt pork for the pigs tails? My family really enjoys all of your recipes. Thanks!

  • Janice

    I’m so surprised that a true Jamaican cook like you Faye would make stew peas and rice without the coconut milk! That’s my must-have ingredient and it gives it such a nice taste too.

    • Bri

      I agree with Janice. I have never had pigs tail stew cooked without coconut milk. I am not sure you’ll get the creamy texture that’s a pigs tail stew nor the rich flavor. The picture above looked like it’s creamy but I don’t see what ingredient could make it that way.

      I like that you sauteed your veggies prior to adding to the pot though.

      • Fay & Angela

        Hi Bri,
        Adding coconut milk to this recipe is just a matter of preference. But I guarantee that my recipe is as creamy and delcious without it. Give a try and feel free to add coconut milk if you disagree… or agree.
        Blessings, Fay

        • Marsha

          I am 100% Jamaican and my mother never made it with coconut milk and neither do I and it taste great. However, I no longer use the pig tail or hamhocks as I now uses a healthier and lower fat alternative by using smoked turkey legs and you will be surprised that you will not miss the pork. ~Blessing yardie folks~

  • smatt

    Yes!!!! This is my all time favorite!!! My mom would always make it for me growing up and whenever I came home to visit from college. I just never made it myself … Now I can, for my hubby as well!! Thnx a bunch 🙂

  • li

    amazing website!!!, thankyou so much for helping a teen from england learn how to cook her food ( i love ingredient of the week to, i get to learn about ingredients i know bout but dont have over here – ur such a lovely lady xxx

  • gail rofe


  • richard

    Hello Ms. Faye. Thank you for all you do. Can i use pig feet instead of tail when cooking beef stew? And if so what is the difference in cooking time with the feet? Thanks much.

  • Dee

    Fay. Do you want to know what I just had for dinner? My husband and I just ate something that I haven’t had since I was a child. I am 33 and 3 months pregant. The only food I feel like eating these days are soul comforting Jamaican food like my mother used to make. She passed away when I was a teen,and I REGRET not watching her cook or having the chance to realize I would want that information one day. I can’t tell you how much your website and youtube videos mean to me. Today I made pudding and stew peas and I am on cloud nine. The only adjustments I made was using bacon since I didn’t have nor wanted pigs tail. Next time, I think I will just use salt beef instead. This was so wonderful, and well written and really reminded me of sunday dinner after church. I wish I could hug you. Thanks so much. You are truly a blessing.

  • Kirk

    Ms. Fay greetings. I am married to a woman that can’t cook so I have to do the cooking. I learned by watching my mother cook. Your recipes are similar to how my mother cooked when we lived in May Pen. Stew peas is a favorite of mine and my mother would make it for me when I came home from college. I have one question about the stew peas recipe which is about the coconut milk which my mother never added unless it was a special dinner with company. If you were to add the coconut milk which step would you add the coconut milk? Thanks for your efforts and love your recipes. All the best.


  • Natalie

    Hi Faye,
    Im so dissapointed because mine came out so watery and no matter what I did I couldn’t thicken it. Any suggestions?

  • Dahilia

    I’m so new to this cooking thing but I’ve been watching your videos and they really! Keep the videos coming 🙂

  • Kelly

    Hi Faye, how are you..I am enjoying your cooking and also your great recipees. when cooking stew pease, what if you do not have or eat pig tail, what can be subistuted for the pigtail in your stew pease?

  • joy

    Hi my dear Fay,

    your recipes really remind me of my mother bless her soul!
    I’m a British Jamaican, and i live in Holland! I’m a caterer just starting up but thanks to you!
    you refreshed my memories! of my mums cuisine very similar, now many doors
    have opened for my biz ! Thanks to you, now i’m cooking again just like i should, THANKS!

    Blessing Joy,,, 🙂

  • Lora

    I have a question. Instead of using pork that is salted, can I salt the meat and let it soak over night? I should have stayed in the kitchen when my family was cooking.

  • patricia

    to the person whom stew peas was watery, you could have put some of the cook peas in a blender and blend it and mix 2tsp of flour to thicken it

  • derrick

    Hi Fay,

    I want to try this recipe for stew peas, but I could only find unsalted pigtails. My question to you is can I use these pigtails and just skip the soaking process and if so should I season then before cooking?

  • Tameka

    It was a wonderful video. I even found it cute when the person filming tried to correct the way you said “seasoning”. I will being trying your recipe next weekend. As the daughter of a Jamaican Woman, one would think I wouldn’t need help, but I do. I never paid attention. Just showed up for the delicious food. The only thing I would ask is that you show what the meats look like before cooking and how to mix the dough for the dumplings. Thanks for the video.

  • Debra

    I second Tameka’s request about showing what the raw meats look like before cooking. I’m a beginner cook and buying and cooking meat is always the trickiest part for me. Thanks Fay – love your website!

  • Simon

    Hello Fay, thanks for another great recipe. I didn’t add any pork, but I added 1.5Lbs of beef and 2 teaspoons of salt. It work out great. A really good one pot meal.

  • Patricia Officer

    I read onion, scallion, and peppers are to be sauteed in butter, but the onion appeared to be added to the stew raw. If this observation is true, which method do you recommend? Also, is the stew beef raw when added to the peas and allowed to be cooked for the same length of time as the peas, or does the beef get a head start in a separate pot?

    • Cook Like A Jamaican

      Hi Patrica,
      I sometimes sautee my “seasonings” before putting them in a soup or stew to give them a start, but you really can’t go wrong either way. Yes, the stewing beef is raw when added to the pot with the peas. However, the beef may cook faster than the peas, so if that’s the case just remove and set it aside to be added back later. Blessings, Fay

  • Jamila

    Hi Fay,

    Just wanted to say thank you so much for the recipe for stew peas! I’m a 20 year old university student from London and I’ve always been too lazy to learn to cook, but I’ve recently started learning using your recipes. The only person who ever made stew peas in my family was my grandma (because noone can make it to perfection quite like a real jamaican!) but she passed away almost 3 years ago and I haven’t had this dish since. The only addition I made was to add coconut milk and also I didn’t use pig tails as I no longer eat pork. I attempted it today for the first time and it literally came out perfectly, reminds me of the Sunday dinner I used to look forward too so much when I was younger and how much I miss my grandma! I’m so glad I can finally make this dish myself as it reminds me of her so much, I absolutely love it! Your recipes are amazing and so easy to follow, thanks again.


    • Cook Like A Jamaican

      Hi Jamila,
      Thank you for getting in touch and sharing your story with me. I’m glad to be of service. You sound like you have the makings of a very good cook. Keep it up m’dear. Blessings, Fay

  • Tina

    Hi Fay,

    I am Canadian and I found your website by chance while I searching a stew chicken recipe. My husband is Jamaican, and now we have a son, so I am slowly learning and bringing Jamaican cuisine into the regular mix so they both continue to eat good Jamaican food. Ive made stew chicken before but when I tried your recipe, I over heard my husband on 2 occasions talking about how good the stew chicken was. 🙂

    The funny thing is, when I found your site I sent the link to a friend of mine (who’s husband is also Jamaican) and she said “Its Fay !!” LOL Apparently she is subscribed to your youtube page and also follows your recipes. I am making stew peas today and next week my friend and I are getting our kids together and making homemade beef patties.

    Thanks so much for sharing your recipes !

  • Nina Allen

    Hi Fay
    I found your website when “Googling” Jamaican recipies to cook for my Jamaican husband. LOOOVE that I found your website!!! We dont eat meat however and I wanted to ask if it will taste as good to make this Stew Peas as a vegetarian dish eg taking out the meat and perhaps substituting with pumpkin or something? As Im assuming the pork creates the flavours in this dish? Any tips?
    Blessings Nina in UK

    • Cook Like A Jamaican

      Hi Nina,
      The pigs tail is an important ingredient because it does add a lot of flavour and salt. However, you can make this dish without any meat to make a flavourful beans and rice dish. I suggest using vegetable bullion and some salt for additional flavour.

  • Yvonne

    Boy oh boy, it was my lucky day when I came upon your site. I made the stew peas, yesterday. It was perfect! Today, I’m making the jerk chicken. Friday , I’m either going to make the escovich fish, or the steamed fish. Finally, I’m making the corn soup on Saturday. I did all of my grocery shopping for the various items, last week. I’m having a ball:) God bless you.

  • Charlene

    Can i substitute oxtail for the pigs tail?? Not big pork fans around here and just looking for a substitute! Many thank 🙂

    • Cook Like A Jamaican

      Hi Charlene,
      I’ve never tried that. The pigtails are salted so it does add flavour. I think you would be fine to omit them and just use more stewing beef instead of oxtail. You’ll also need to add more salt when not using the pigtails. Enjoy!

  • channy

    hi fay…its so hard to get pig tails where i live…shop runs out fast lol so thats why i am wondering if ya can use salted ribs instead???

    • Cook Like A Jamaican

      I’ve never tried salted ribs but you can give it a try. Let me know how it works out! Fay

  • Lynda (Atlanta)

    I made this for dinner tonight and it turned out soooo good.
    I’ve always said my grandmother’s stew peas was the best.
    This would have made her proud. Thank you Fay!

  • Ashtavia Maddox

    Hello Fay,
    In my recipe I use a turkey drumstick.
    My mommey makes this for me all the time.

    She raised me up not eating pork so alot of her traditional Jamaican recipes which cause to use pork we subsitute with turkey.

    It is alot healthier.

    My mom is a true real Jamaican and Me and my sibilings are Jamerican!!

  • John Naik

    One word says it all “Amazing”
    Thank you so much for sharing your recipes with us. I subsitued the pork tails for turkey ham chunks as I dont eat pork, still tastes amazing. Im so full i can bearly move my fingers to type this but I had to say just how good this was. My mom passed away last year and this brings back some good memories. I’m going to try to make ox tails next.

  • Latoya Patrick

    Hello Ms. Fay,
    I just wanted to ask if you use coconut milk in your stew peas because I did not see it in the recipe. I was not sure if it was an error or you just don’t use it.
    Thank you

    • Cook Like A Jamaican

      Hi Latoya,
      Thank you for getting in touch. I don’t put coconut milk in my stew peas but some people do. Either way you can’t go wrong. Blessings, Fay

  • Ava

    After using your recipe for cornmeal porridge this morning, I was excited to try another one of your recipes. I was not disappointed. My alterations were, I used salt beef, salt pig tail, and a few small pieces of oxtails; I did not have any green onions, thyme or bonnet pepper (I used pepper flakes), and I did add 1/2 cup of coconut milk. I only had to add 1 extra cup of water once it began to simmer. Other than those alterations, I followed the recipe exactly as written, it turned out so deliciously. Thanks again for all these great recipes. I’m so excited I found this site.

  • Victor Francis

    Miss Faye; love you lady. You remind me so much of my mom…she lives in Toronto and is in her 80s; I live in the USA. your recipes are great, just shared them with my brother-in-law and he is so excited to view your site. What can I say, you and Angela are doing a wonderful job, connecting some of us to our Jamaican flavour…blessings to you both

  • Shurice

    I found you on Youtube and had to make this. I was almost licking the bowl it was so good! And easy!

  • mya

    This recipe is missing coconut milk and flour to thicken sauce and make sure u cut salted beef very fine.

    • Fay & Angela

      Hi Mya, Some people like to add coconut milk or flour as options. My recipe isn’t missing these ingredients they are just ones that I don’t include. Fay

  • Amelia

    Growing up, my aunt used both oxtail and pigs tail. I’ve cooked it myself with either not both, it’s actually really good. You would need to use a pressure cooker for the oxtail at first though.

  • Amy

    Faye do you have a cookbook with all these Jamaican recipes? If so i would surely buy one!!

  • Kenea

    Hi Faye,I would recommend discarding the water the peas soaked overnight in. The peas releases gases into the water which is what causes the pot to boil over when covered. A fresh pot of water minimizes that catastrope. Just a tidbit I learnt over many years of trial and error in cooking rice n peas or stewed peas.

  • stephanie

    I just recently found you website and I would love to try this recipe. I’m an American and I never made Jamaican food. I recently got into a relationship with my boyfriend who is from the Cayman Islands. I would like to surprise him by cooking this for dinner. My question for you is can this recipe be cooked in a crockpot? If so how long would this take in a crockpot? Thank you for sharing your videos. I absolutely love them and can’t wait to try this recipe!

    • Fay & Angela

      Hi Stephanie,
      I’m sure your boyfriend will appreciate you cooking effort. I think this recipe would work well in a crockpot but have not tried. I know that you have to adjust the recipe for it to work well in a slow cooker. If you give it a try let us know how it works out. Fay

    • Kadian

      It works brilliantly in a crock pot. Put the cooked pigtails and raw beef in first, add the seasoning and the pre-soaked kidney beans with enough water to just cover them. Cook on Low for about 4 to 5 hrs. Add more seasoning to taste, if required, and the coconut milk, if using. Add the spinners and stir everything. Cover and cook on High for another 1 to 1.5hrs and you’re all set. Best meal ever!

  • Carrie

    This is the BEST site I’ve come across in years that truly shows you how to cook AUTHENTIC Jamaican recipes!! THANK YOU!! I truly appreciate the information you provide on preparation. Stew peas and rice is my favorite meal from back home. Now that I am married and starting a family I will be referring to your site frequently to make our traditional dishes. I was born in Jamaica but raised in New York since the age of 5 and unfortunately as much as my mom tried to teach me the cooking growing up, life gets in the way and now as an adult is when I call her back and forth for how to make this or that. I’m grateful for this site! Thanks again! Take care.

  • Karry

    Hi Miss Fay , good to have a Jamaican who cooks our food real home style,i am A Jamaican and cook every day, just want to say thank you it bring so much bless memories,thanks keep our recipes coming,my American husband love it,some Jamaicans cook it the coconut milk some don’t,we do both ways it good both ways thanks again ,God be with you and continue to bless you

  • Jacqueline

    Hi Fay/Angela
    I am a Barbadian but some of my family are Jamaica. About 2 years ago I had stew peas and rice at my friend’s friend house, it was so delicious and I enjoy very much. I have always wanted to cook it myself and have asked a few people how to do it but have never got a true answer. Now that I have the time, I have decided to give it a go. Searching on the internet I found your website and your recipe, I read it and it looks easy so even I should not have any problems cooking it as cooking is one of my favourite hobbies. Thank You, Kind regards From Jacqueline (Jackie)

  • Jennifer

    Hello, I’m from Costa Rica, but here in the Atlantic Coast of my country, we are Jamaican descendants (Limon, Costa Rica) I don\’t remember my mother adding coconut milk to this stew. What I do remember is that the reason why the spinners were added was to make it creamier (or thicker as we would say over here). We not only use the kidney beans for this, we also use black beans; same recipe, same ingredients, same deliciousness!!!! I have never cooked it myself, but I will definitely try and let you know. Thank you very much for sharing Fay!!

  • Remk1234

    I use a crockpot/slowcooker for this one pot, red light food I love – first I season the cubes of lean beef with ground allspice and salt and blackpepper and set aside – then I Chop two large/medium onions in my food processor with 6 cloves of garlic- – parboil the pigs tail separately till barely tender to get rid of salt ( not all of it) – there’d be a riot in my house if there wasnt pigs tail in that stew peas- or ham hocks chopped up – pigstail is worth the trip anywhere! – I add lots of fresh thyme or dried thyme if I find it – layer all seasonings in bottom of crockpot put cubes of meat on top – add a tablespoon of whole allspie pour on dried (not canned) kidney beans prewashed or soaked and drained (can have non wanted material in beans) add salt – about a tablespoon. Cover with water (I never use coconut milk) and cook on high for 4 hours – 2 hrs before cooktime ends add pigstail – make the spinners – another riot occasion if they are left out in my house ( I have made over one hundred to avoid riots) add to crockpot,/slow cooker so it takes on all the flavours for the last hour or so – check for salt – add more if necessary- remember slowcookers come in many sizes – and I use it as a family get together meal so I use 4 cups of beans in a large slowcooker – six – eight whole pigstail chopped up and about1 to 11/2 lbs of lean cubed beef. Remember to stir a couple of times- and check for thickness – my slowcooker has an insert so can be moved to stove to concentrate to cookdown to slightly thicker if watery – or if have time leave in slowcooker for longer. Dont forget to add scothbonnet at last hour but do not allow it to break- remove unless you like fiery stew peas! By the way the slowcooker can be used and works well with oxtail.

  • GAIL

    hi fay, thank you .i am cooking tonight oxtail, i wish my mum and dad were here to see this, they came to london, england in the fifties from kingston jamaica they cooked it for myself and my sister and we did not like it as children, as we got older our taste changed and we love it now. the trouble was we had english food at school and at home which mum cooked us.
    it is nice that you are sharing your recepies with us. as most west indians in london keep them in the family. god bless gail.

  • AJ

    I’ve had stew peas made with saltfish in the past. That could be a substitute – just soak it overnight as it too is very salty.