Classic Nigerian Jollof Rice

August 16, 2016
25 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
Author Notes

Because Jollof Rice is Bae, and much loved South of the Sahara and along the coast of West Africa.

Spiced and stewed in a flavorful tomato broth, it is everything from "everyday" to celebration. The classic version is cooked with long-grain rice (Uncle Ben's/Carolina's) and seasoned with Nigerian-style curry powder and dried thyme. Served with fried, ripe plantains which we call dodo and coleslaw, it is everything. Note that the world might consider this a side but in Nigeria, it is the main. :)

Even more special is Party Rice, a smoky version, cooked over an open fire, layered with smoke, spice, and immeasurable goodness. A few years ago, I cracked the code on approximating the smoky flavor on the stovetop. The secret? Read on.

Learning to make Jollof was a rite of passage for me and I've gone through so many iterations each time trying to streamline the process while delivering the most flavour.

Some notes:
- This makes a large pot but you can successfully halve this recipe
- If you're using thinner long grain rice like basmati rice or scented rice, use less stock - so 3 - 4 cups not 5 - 6; and less tomato sauce - say 1/2 - 2/3rd. Leave the tomato puree as is and slightly adjust the spices
- When you add the rice in Step 4, trust the process - leave it to steam without fretting. Trust me, it'll be fine
- Leftovers keep well too —Kitchen Butterfly

Test Kitchen Notes

Ozoz Sokoh, aka Kitchen Butterfly, is a Nigerian food explorer, blogger, culinary anthropologist, and food historian —she’s also a longtime Food52 community member and contributor of many beloved recipes. In fact, it’s her we have to thank for sharing one of our all-time most popular dishes: Classic Nigerian Jollof Rice.

“The thing about’s that one dish across West Africa that is a unifying dish,” Ozoz told our co-founder Merrill Stubbs in a recent episode of ‘At Home With Us.’ Every country has their own version, she explains, “But the core is always two things—well, three things: rice, a tomato stew, and seasoning.”

Thousands of people have made this recipe since Ozoz put it up on the site in 2016. She’s revisited it to make a few key changes that are slightly different from what you’ll see in the video.

In the original recipe, the method instructs you to first parboil the rice in stock, but it can sometimes lead to overcooked rice. Ozoz now skips that step and adds the stock in with the tomato and pepper mixture, adding the rice in raw. She also calls for 1/2 to 1 Scotch Bonnet pepper (instead of the full 1) now.

Another tweak to the ingredients list: Ozoz uses both white and black pepper for a deeper, earthier, smokier flavor. Oh, and one last thing: If you want to make your curry powder blend from scratch, this Nigerian-style version from Ozoz is the way to go. —The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Classic Nigerian Jollof Rice
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Makes a family-sized pot
  • 1/3 cup oil (vegetable/canola/coconut, not olive oil)
  • 6 medium-sized fresh plum/Roma tomatoes, chopped, OR a 400-gram tin of tomatoes
  • 6 fresh, red poblano peppers (or 4 large red bell peppers), seeds discarded
  • 3 medium-sized red onions (1 sliced thinly, 2 roughly chopped), divided
  • 1/2 to 1 hot pepper, or to taste (yellow Scotch bonnets are my favourite)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons (Caribbean/Jamaican-style) curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 5 to 6 cups stock (vegetable, chicken, or beef) or water, divided
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter (optional), divided
  • 4 cups uncooked converted long-grain rice or golden sella basmati, rinsed
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black and white pepper, to taste
  • Extra: sliced onions, tomatoes
In This Recipe
  1. In a blender, combine tomatoes, red poblano (or bell) peppers, chopped onions, and Scotch bonnets with 2 cups of stock, blend till smooth, about a minute or two. You should have roughly 6 cups of blended mix. Pour into a large pot/ pan and bring to the boil then turn down and let simmer, covered for 10 - 12 minutes
  2. In a large pan, heat oil and add the sliced onions. Season with a pinch of salt, stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the bay leaves, curry powder and dried thyme and a pinch of black pepper for 3 - 4 minutes on medium heat. Then add the tomato paste - stir for another 2 minutes. Add the reduced tomato-pepper-Scotch bonnet mixture, stir, and set on medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes till reduced by half, with the lid on. This is the stew that will define the pot.
  3. Add 4 cups of the stock to the cooked tomato sauce and bring it to boil for 1 - 2 minutes.
  4. Add the rinsed rice and butter, stir, cover with a double piece of foil/baking or parchment paper and put a lid on the pan—this will seal in the steam and lock in the flavour. Turn down the heat and cook on low for 30 minutes.
  5. Stir rice—taste and adjust as required.
  6. If you like, add sliced onions, fresh tomatoes and the 2nd teaspoon of butter and stir through.
  7. To make Party Rice, you'll need one more step. Now Party Rice is essentially Smoky Jollof Rice, traditionally cooked over an open fire. However, you can achieve the same results on the stove top. Here's how: Once the rice is cooked, turn up the heat with the lid on and leave to "burn" for 3 to 5 minutes. You'll hear the rice crackle and snap and it will smell toasted. Turn off the heat and leave with the lid on to "rest" till ready to serve. The longer the lid stays on, the smokier. Let the party begin!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sumbo Eludire
    Sumbo Eludire
  • Sydney E. Smith
    Sydney E. Smith
  • Courtney Bracey
    Courtney Bracey
  • Sabrina Howell
    Sabrina Howell
  • Jill Fergus
    Jill Fergus
I love food and I'm interested in making space for little-heard voices, as well as celebrating Nigerian cuisine in its entirety.

    86 Reviews

    Sumbo E. February 20, 2021
    This is an amazing recipe! I normally struggle to get jollof rice done - but this turned out incredibly well and it was super easy to make as well. Win-win!
    Sydney E. January 16, 2021
    If Ozoz Sokoh could get her hands on me! Well I cooked a few bone in pork chops and chicken thighs in the sauce before I cooked the rice. I couldn't help myself. I'm shooting out 5-Stars to Ozoz. Need a cook book and a TV cook show young lady.
    Courtney B. January 5, 2021
    This was THE best rice recipe ever. I didn’t have all the ingredients (used Orange peppers since that’s what Aldo had, veggie broth, and skipped the bitter) and it was so good! The foil + low heat made the rice cook nicely - soft but not mushy. This will be on repeat!
    Courtney B. January 5, 2021
    Autocorrect 🙄
    Eratwoeratwo December 20, 2020
    Great recipe. Although I found it amusing that it uses Jamaican curry powder which might be hard to obtain in Nigeria...Here in Brazil you have to make whatever kind of curry powder from scratch. I used plain old long grain rice ans green cayenne peppers for the scotch bonnets. The leftovers are exceptionally good when used as a base for deep fried rice balls. A unique pass around hors d'ouvre.
    Author Comment
    Kitchen B. January 4, 2021
    :) - I say Jamaica curry powder because that's the closest common type you'll find in stores. You'll be hardpressed to find Nigerian curry powder. I've also developed a version

    And yes to rice balls. Yum yum
    Sabrina H. September 6, 2020
    wow thank you so much for this beautiful recipe im orginally from jamaica but i love Nigerian food and ive attempted to make jollif rice before but it never came out as perfect as it did today my family loved it i made a massive pot of it i have loads left i guess thats dinner sorted for tommorrow loool thank you so so so much!!
    MissyMingole September 5, 2020
    Hey I’m cooking this right now. It tastes delicious but the problem is that rice won’t cook. Must done something wrong there :(
    Author Comment
    Kitchen B. January 4, 2021
    So sorry to hear that. What kind of rice did you use? The best rice for this is longgrain parboiled/ converted rice. Golden Sella Basmati works well too
    Jill F. September 2, 2020
    Wonderful recipe!!! Cooked up a batch this afternoon and half of it will easily he gone before dinner. Everyone keeps sneaking spoonfuls! This is so delicious and flavorful, have some sweet plantains and beans ready for this eve!!! Thank you!
    some1105 September 1, 2020

    I have found Jamaican curry powder in both hot and mild varieties. Do you use hot or mild curry powder when you make this? I will also be adding a scotch bonnet or habanero. Thank you!
    Author Comment
    Kitchen B. January 4, 2021
    I tend to use a mild curry powder
    What's F. July 29, 2020
    Made this tonight. It is delish!
    Thank you for the recipe and video.
    Author Comment
    Kitchen B. July 31, 2020
    Yay. Thank you
    chengecheryl July 21, 2020
    I tried this out for lunch today and my kids are already me when i will make it again.i cooked it in the microwave(like i always do with rice) and it turned out perfectly...thank you for sharing.
    Author Comment
    Kitchen B. July 31, 2020
    I'm glad
    Author Comment
    Kitchen B. July 31, 2020
    And microwave - oh wow! I need to try this.
    Adcole July 14, 2020
    Well, Im so dissapointed in my rice. I have been craving this for so ling! I know where it went wrong to..My rice step.I used jasmine .I drained it well but somewhere in between it became mushy..
    Oh well the flavors are there and my husband cant wait to try it..Licking my wounds and will try it again! I love the recipie by the way!
    Author Comment
    Kitchen B. July 31, 2020
    I'm so sorry. The rice is key. Jasmine is thinner than converted rice and so cooks in less time and with less liquid/sauce. There are a few tips in the headnotes for how I adjust when using different types of rice
    Jenny T. July 13, 2020
    This was absolutely delicious! I was wondering if you also had the recipe for the chicken and coleslaw or the name of the dishes so I can try and make it as it is? Thank you!
    Author Comment
    Kitchen B. July 31, 2020
    Thanks Jenny. Yes
    Nigerian salad -
    Nigerian chicken -, this is the stock base/ you'll need to adjust for quantities and volume.

    Thank you
    Tessa F. July 1, 2020
    Hey Kitchen Butterfly- I watched your Food52 recipe with Merrill and really enjoyed it. So when I looked up the recipe, it was very different (you used 2 TBSP curry, recipe said tsp, you cooked the tomato broth first, recipe does it in the opposite order). I was delicious but I'm wondering which you prefer: the written recipe or how you did it in the video? Thanks, Tessa
    Author Comment
    Kitchen B. July 31, 2020
    Thanks Tessa, updated. The video is an updated recipe from a 2016 version and something went wrong with the order.
    mimibalfe June 23, 2020
    This was soooooooooooooooo good! I made half the recipe and it served 4 with a lil leftover. Definitely will make again
    Author Comment
    Kitchen B. July 31, 2020
    I'm glad to hear. Thank you
    Andrea D. June 22, 2020
    My teenaged daughter, who has a growing interest in cooking, made this for our family and it was terrific! Layered flavor, just spicy enough and so satisfying. Thank you for sharing this recipe!
    Author Comment
    Kitchen B. July 31, 2020
    That's brilliant. Please send her my thanks
    Amaka A. June 15, 2020
    Say no more!
    On my way to the kitchen to make Smokey Jollof Rice!!
    Thanks for the receipe.
    Author Comment
    Kitchen B. June 16, 2020
    Mtorre June 13, 2020
    This was so amazing. I used a couple of different peppers than those listed because I live in a more remote area with not as many choices but it was still fantastic. Thanks for the recipe.
    Author Comment
    Kitchen B. June 16, 2020
    I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thank you
    simonandrew89 June 13, 2020
    I love this recipe of rice.
    Author Comment
    Kitchen B. June 13, 2020
    I'm glad to hear this!
    Mia H. June 11, 2020
    I have made this quite a few times now & I love it! A couple times it has gone wrong either too mushy or not cooked enough but hey practice makes perfect. I definitely need to half the ingredients though as unfortunately a lot ends up going in the bin ☹️
    Author Comment
    Kitchen B. June 13, 2020
    I think finding the right rice is the trickiest thing. In Nigeria, we use parboiled (a special rice process) long grain - not easy cook. These days I try with golden sella basmati rice. Thank you for trying
    Regine June 18, 2020
    I am just curious. If you are saying that parboiled rice is usually used, why did not you specify/clarify this in list of ingredients? I googled the golden sella basmati and I do see it is parboiled but with you also listing “long grain rice,” it may lead one to use non-parboiled rice or “white” rice like jasmine rice. Cooking rice with this type of rice instead of parboiled may cause the rice to be mushy. It is easy to find parboiled rice in the US. I want to make your recipe but I just wanted to comment first. 😎 Thanks so much!
    Author Comment
    Kitchen B. July 31, 2020
    Thanks for this.

    Language is so tricky. In Nigeria, we use long-grain rice which is a specific kind - called converted in the US, I recently found out. We don't talk about it being 'par-boiled' but it is.

    Par-boiled has two meanings. There's a parboiling process where the rice is steamed before being husked and dried, bagged and prepared for the shelves - as raw rice. Then there's parboiling during cooking. Quite confusing.

    My recommendation is par-boiled, long-grain rice. And if using basmati varieties - golden sella is my choice

    Regine August 1, 2020
    Thanks for clarification. Maybe you should add that to your instructions. I think I saw some people using a different rice like jasmine and rice turned out mushy. I have not yet tried your recipe but I will soon. Thanks.
    Melissa S. May 12, 2020
    This was a fun one! The flavors were divine. I added browned ground beef. I halved it because I was cooking for two people, and there were tons of leftovers. My rice got a bit soft, so I'd taste it a few times toward the end of the cooking time. I cut back on the oil a bit, and I didn't miss it.
    Author Comment
    Kitchen B. June 13, 2020
    Yay - I'm going to add that it can be halved in the notes. I'm glad you enjoyed it