How many calories in Rice and Peas Jamaican?

Rice and peas is a traditional Jamaican dish made with rice, beans, and coconut milk. It’s a staple in Jamaican cuisine and is often served alongside curried chicken, oxtail, or jerk chicken. But how many calories are actually in this classic Caribbean meal?

In this article, we’ll break down the calorie content of rice and peas by looking at the individual ingredients that go into making this dish. We’ll provide details on calorie counts for a typical serving size of Jamaican rice and peas. We’ll also offer tips on how to reduce the calorie content if you’re looking for a lighter version of this flavorful dish.

Calories in Rice

Rice is the main component of rice and peas. The calorie content of rice depends on the type and how it’s prepared:

  • Cooked white rice (1 cup) – Around 200 calories
  • Cooked brown rice (1 cup) – Around 220 calories
  • Cooked parboiled rice (1 cup) – Around 120 calories

Jamaican rice and peas is usually made with white rice. A 1 cup serving of cooked white rice contains about 200 calories, with 43g of carbohydrates, 4g of protein, and almost no fat.

So if you’re having a typical 1 cup serving of rice with peas, you can estimate around 200 calories just from the rice alone.

Calories in Beans

Traditionally, red kidney beans are used to make Jamaican rice and peas. Here are the nutrition stats for kidney beans (1 cup cooked):

  • Calories: 225
  • Carbs: 40g
  • Protein: 15g
  • Fat: 1g

So a 1 cup serving of cooked kidney beans contains about 225 calories. Other types of beans like pinto or black beans have a similar calorie content.

Again, if you’re having a typical 1 cup serving of beans with rice, that’s another 225 calories.

Calories in Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is added to give Jamaican rice and peas its rich, creamy texture. Light coconut milk contains around 50 calories per 1/4 cup. Full fat coconut milk has about 130 calories per 1/4 cup.

So if you use a 1/4 cup of regular full fat coconut milk to cook the peas and rice, that adds another 130 calories to your total count. Opting for light coconut milk instead saves you about 80 calories.

Total Calories in Rice and Peas

Now let’s add up the calorie counts for each component:

  • Rice (1 cup cooked) = 200 calories
  • Beans (1 cup cooked) = 225 calories
  • Coconut milk (1/4 cup regular) = 130 calories

That brings the total calorie count to approximately 555 calories for 1 cup each of rice and beans made with 1/4 cup of regular coconut milk.

This is for a fairly standard serving size. You may have slightly more or less depending on your portions.

Here is a quick calorie breakdown for Jamaican rice and peas:

Ingredient Calories
White rice (1 cup) 200
Kidney beans (1 cup) 225
Full fat coconut milk (1/4 cup) 130
Total Calories 555

So in summary, a typical serving of Jamaican rice and peas contains about 555 calories. This will vary based on the exact ingredients and portion sizes.

Ways to Reduce Calories in Rice and Peas

If you’re looking to lighten up this dish, there are a few easy ways to reduce the calorie content:

  • Use brown rice instead of white rice – saves around 50 calories per cup
  • Use light coconut milk – saves around 80 calories per 1/4 cup
  • Increase veggies – add extra peppers, carrots, garlic, onions for bulk and nutrients
  • Use less oil when cooking – aim for 1 tsp instead of 1 tbsp to save about 120 calories
  • Go easy on salt – reduce sodium and risk of bloating
  • Enjoy sensible portions – aim for 1 cup rice and beans instead of larger servings

You can also boost the nutrition without adding many calories by including more veggies like spinach, kale or collard greens. Spices and herbs like jerk seasoning, garlic and green onions also pack extra flavor.

With a few simple substitutions and adjustments, you can still enjoy the great taste of Jamaican rice and peas while consuming fewer calories per serving.

Health Benefits of Rice and Peas

Despite its calorie content, when enjoyed in moderation, Jamaican rice and peas can be part of a healthy diet. Here are some of the benefits this dish offers:

  • Fiber – Beans and rice provide filling fiber to support digestion.
  • Protein – Beans contain plant-based protein to help build muscle.
  • Complex carbs – Rice offers steady energy from complex carbohydrates.
  • Nutrients – Beans have iron, magnesium, potassium and B vitamins.
  • Satisfying – The creamy, hearty dish keeps you full and satisfied.

Rice and beans forms a complete protein together, meaning they provide all the essential amino acids your body needs. This vegetarian meal is also naturally gluten-free.

The combination of fiber, plant-based protein and complex carbs makes Jamaican rice and peas a nutritious addition to a balanced diet when eaten in moderation. Allowing yourself an occasional serving can be an enjoyable way to get unique flavors and key nutrients.

Simple Tips for Serving Rice and Peas

Here are some quick tips for serving up delicious Jamaican rice and peas at home:

  • Cook the rice and beans separately for maximum flavor.
  • Season the rice with garlic, onion, scallions, salt and black pepper.
  • Flavor the beans with garlic, thyme, scallion, scotch bonnet pepper and coconut milk.
  • For a quick weeknight meal, use canned beans to save prep time.
  • Garnish with extra green onions, hot sauce or coconut flakes.
  • Pair it with jerk chicken, curried meats or mac and cheese.
  • Leftovers can be refrigerated up to 4 days or frozen up to 3 months.

With flavorful ingredients like curry powder, habanero peppers, ginger and allspice, you can adjust the spices to suit your tastes. Serve it up with a side salad for a filling veggie-packed meal.

Healthy Rice and Pea Recipe

Want to whip up a healthier homemade version? Here is a great recipe to try:


  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1⁄4 tsp allspice
  • 1 habanero pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and bell pepper then cook for 2 more minutes.
  4. Stir in kidney beans, broth, coconut milk, thyme, allspice, bay leaf, habanero and salt.
  5. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until liquid is reduced.
  6. Meanwhile, cook brown rice according to package directions.
  7. Remove bay leaf from beans then mix with cooked rice.
  8. Add lime juice and green onions and stir well to combine.
  9. Season with more salt and pepper if desired.
  10. Enjoy hot!

This healthier homemade version uses brown rice, light coconut milk and lots of veggies for extra nutrition without adding many calories. Feel free to adjust the spices to your desired level of heat.

Simple Swaps to Make it Healthier

With a few easy substitutions, you can lighten up traditional rice and peas:

Instead of: Use:
White rice Brown rice or cauliflower rice
Red kidney beans Black beans or pinto beans
Regular coconut milk Light coconut milk
Vegetable oil Olive oil spray
Salt Herbs and spices

With a few simple swaps, you can lighten up the traditional recipe while still enjoying the delicious flavor.

Are Rice and Peas Healthy?

While rice and peas is higher in calories and carbs compared to other dishes, it can be part of a healthy diet when prepared with nutritious whole food ingredients.

Here are some tips to enjoy rice and peas in a balanced way:

  • Eat sensible portions – 1 cup of rice and beans is a good target.
  • Fill half your plate with veggies to add nutrients.
  • Boost nutrition with spinach, kale or collard greens.
  • Use brown rice instead of white rice.
  • Flavor it with garlic, onions, herbs and spices.
  • Enjoy it occasionally as part of an overall healthy diet.

Rice and peas also provides some impressive health benefits, especially when made with beans, coconut milk and spices like turmeric, ginger and garlic.

While it’s higher in carbs and calories than some dishes, rice and peas can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle when prepared thoughtfully and enjoyed in moderation.


Rice and peas is a traditional Jamaican comfort food that’s loaded with flavor. A standard serving made with white rice, kidney beans and coconut milk contains around 555 calories. With a few simple ingredient swaps and preparation tips, it’s easy to lighten up this dish. While higher in calories and carbs, rice and peas offers nutritional benefits from veggies, beans, herbs and spices. When enjoyed occasionally as part of an overall balanced diet, rice and peas remains a delicious and culturally significant Caribbean staple.

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