Classic Nigerian Jollof Rice

August 16, 2016
71 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Makes a family-sized pot
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 - 2/3rds. Leave the tomato paste 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

Helpful tools for this recipe:
- Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Sauteuse
- Vitamix One High-Speed Blender
- Five Two Double-Sided Bamboo Cutting Board

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.

Want to hear more about jollof rice? On our new podcast Counterjam—a show that explores culture through food and music—host Peter J. Kim asks comedian Ego Nwodim and Afrobeat pioneers Femi and Made Kuti about their favorite versions—check out the episode here. —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Classic Nigerian Jollof Rice
  • 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
  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, partly 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 partly 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 flavor. Turn down the heat and cook on the lowest possible heat for 30 minutes, stirring half way through.
  5. Stir rice—taste and adjust as required. If rice isn't soft enough/ needs additional cooking, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of stock or water, stir through and continue to steam, on low till cooked through.
  6. If you like, add sliced onions, fresh tomatoes and the 2nd teaspoon of butter and stir through. Let rest, covered for 5 to 6 minutes.
  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.

  • Smaug
  • Kitchen Butterfly
    Kitchen Butterfly
  • Giffen Mare Maupin
    Giffen Mare Maupin
  • brushjl
I love food and I'm interested in making space for little-heard voices, as well as celebrating Nigerian cuisine in its entirety.

137 Reviews

Giffen M. April 9, 2024
This recipe looks absolutely delicious, and I can’t wait to try it. Has anyone ever tried to freeze the tomato mixture after blending it? I’d love to make a double batch and freeze some, but was wondering how that might affect texture and flavor.
Smaug April 9, 2024
It'll work just fine.
brushjl December 31, 2023
Great rice recipe, makes a ton! Very tasty.1¹
thva3 August 28, 2023
Can't say more this recipe is absolutely the best va pe carts shop i just like a pro now
nauman-khalid July 25, 2023
For a delicious culinary experience, visit
thva3 July 9, 2023
this on is the best ever recipes i have come across
vandine219 June 16, 2023
I don’t know anything about jollof rice so I never said anything about it but this looks good I wanna try this I love rice too much for my own gooda small world cup
Smaug May 2, 2023
I don't believe I've ever seen red (fully ripened) Poblano peppers for sale. I grow my own, and I love them, but they take a long time to ripen so not a favorite with farmers. Note that some varieties will ripen to more of a brown color on the outside- insides are still re. At any rate, they are a touch sweet but have a lot of depth; bell peppers would make a very weak substitution. I have to wonder what they use in Nigeria- I would bet against the $1000 or so of equipment recommended here.
Smaug May 2, 2023
After a bit of poking around- the author has a recipe for Nigerian curry powder on this site. There is a Lion brand available on Amazon for a not too horrible price. There is a short but interesting article on the dish in Wikipedia, and several alternate recipes here.
OktimeforplanZ June 26, 2023
I think you're overthinking it tbh. You can use basically any red vegetables. Bell peppers are fine. I know Nigerians who only use tomato and no pepper, or only use peppers and no tomato. Saw someone making the stew base once with carrots even. This is really a use what you happen to have at home kind of dish
Smaug June 26, 2023
Sure, there are a million versions of the dish across much of Africa (and elsewhere), and its open to improvisation. However, the recipe under discussion calls for red poblano chilis, which I found curious; I live in an area with a large Mexican population and a great place to grow peppers, and as I said I never see them for sale; there is no substitute, certainly not bells. Mostly I'm curious where the author gets them.
rox L. August 23, 2023
I too have had pablanos begin to turn a brownish/red. I will try to allow some to ripen further before making. I can't wait to compare the flavor. I now make my stuffed peppers with pablano's.
Smaug August 23, 2023
There are a lot of varieties of Poblanos; some are more of a brownish color when fully ripe; the flesh will be red inside. Some turn a bright red more typical of peppers. Partially ripened fruit will ripen quite well after picking.
Amateur May 1, 2023
For me, jollof has not only proved a delicious dish, but also a life-saver. Had been virtually crippled by bladder pain but can now spend all day on my feet while volunteering. I think that it must be the red pepper and scotch bonnet chilies. Am going to make a regular habit of it!
Privie April 23, 2023
Jollof rice is one of my favourite rice recipes. I have just made this and it turned out really gooooood.
Thank you, love from Zimbabwe🖤💖🇿🇼.
Can't wait to try your other rice recipes especially the Arab recipes
mary April 15, 2023
Hi, This recipe looks delicious. I'd love to try it. Any suggestions for using brown, wild, etc., rice for this recipe? I'd love to try it. Or would it just not be the same! Thanks
beekeeper August 22, 2023
If you want to use brown rice soak it for several hours in room temperature water then drain well before using.
laurin February 16, 2023
Very good recipe! I cooked this for my Nigerian boyfriend, I had never tasted much less made jollof rice in my life (lol) but wanted to make it for him. He loved it! I roast the vegetables in the oven for about 30 min on 400°f and it's delicious. 😊
ThaChef16 November 4, 2022
I love the recipe and I am going to try to make this for the first time my father is Nigerian and so far everything I have cooked for him he has loved. So fingers crossed.
yourmom125 November 4, 2022
your rice is so yummmm yummm i love beans so good i ove you 1000000/2
love love yumm. i think you should make some cookies have goose
obama#1 November 4, 2022
Jollof rice is my life, 4 winters ago i woke up each morning depressed, on the verge of suicide, then by random chance i found this recipe of jollof rice.
Ive never been the same since, it is every aspect of my life. I love it.
Each morning i wake up to jollof rice, lunch is jollof rice and so is dinner.

All i crave is jollof rice
letsgobrandon November 4, 2022
each morning i wake up in agony, i feel an unquenchable hunger and thirst for this miraculous elixir of life.
The voices only order for the Jollof Rice, they never stop,never rest and are driven by an otherworldly power. All they demand for is Jollof Rice.
Even now they call and wail for it, theyve gotten louder.
i must go
JOLLOFRICELOVER12 December 16, 2022
This morning when i woke up i discovered jollof rice, its the best thing thats ever laced my mouth. The rice is so unimaginably juicy and jollofy. I was going through a very dark and depressive time before I came across jollof rice. Its saved my life, i think im in love with jollof rice. I am JOLLOFRICELOVER12 and Im proud to be in the jollof rice community.
JOLLOFRICEHATER12 December 16, 2022
HOW DARE YOU. Whoever this is, you are only spreading negativity in this comment section. I order you stop before you get reported by everyone in the community for hate. You had no reason to act like this, you should keep your opinions to yourself if they aren't positive. Hate is not needed in this community !!!!!!!! Live laugh love jollof rice #jollofrice4life
JOLLOFSTAN December 16, 2022
Yes !! You are honestly so right. I'm so sick and tired of people hating on this community over and over again. It honestly gets on my nerves, and I'm pretty sure it's getting on everyone else's too. Too many people in this world think they are so much more superior than others by hating on community's that clearly have a lot of love for something. Our love for Jollof rice will only grow bigger and bigger everyday. JOLLOFRICE4LIFE
JOLLOFRICEHATER19 December 16, 2022
no one cares about ur delusional obsession
future.masterchef December 18, 2022
what the hell have i just read? I was looking for a recipe for a competition and came across THIS in the reviews? grow up honestly.
JollofRice June 13, 2023
Youve read perfection, how about you go have a bowl of jollof rice andgrow up yourself
go away sonny ❤️
Donald J. June 23, 2023
My fellow americans,
i am here today to adress you that i will be stating jollof rice as the national dish.
few knew that when our founding fathers made this free land, they were full of jollof rice.
So when i come here today to tell you not to dwell on a past of un-jollofness, but to accept that jollof will now be every aspect of your life.
Each day you must pray 5 times towards nigeria and you must donate 5 dishes of jollof rice a month, it is gods will.
in these hard times we will stand united, as one nation under jollof rice.
thank you
Im here to celebrate the absolute wonder of Jollof rice. I woke up one day, betwixt, and my two wives on my side. Have your ever tried jollof rice. MY unknown former self said no and my wives cooked up this dish . This version of the jollof rice was rubbish because my wives cant cook but i made it again and it was fabulous. I am at neutral ground with this dish because of my awful experience with this dish.
twisty7867 October 1, 2022
I've never made Jollof Rice (or indeed any African food). I saw a chef on Beat Bobby Flay who intended to make it and did not, but my interest was piqued.

I loved the taste and flavor. I bought Lion brand curry powder from Nigeria from rather than using a Caribbean one and it smells so good.

The only trouble I had with the recipe is that it says the ingredients that go in the blender should amount to about 6 cups, but mine amounted to 10 cups! (I guess we have huge vegetables?!). I just let it simmer for half an hour to reduce to 6 cups so I'm sure we got a little extra flavor out of that :)

I was a little intimidated by the scotch bonnet pepper, so I only put half of one in and I kinda regretted that, in the end it was not really hot at all. I think a whole one would have generated a nice mild heat.
RichardS September 2, 2022
I've made jollof rice before, but after watching the video in conjunction with the recipe to get a better idea of how to make the stew, it was perfect. Amazing colour and depth of flavour. My family loved it.
cocoabrioche July 11, 2022
Burlap and Barrel sells Jollof Rice seasoning. I found this recipe just as my bottle of Jollof rice seasoning arrived, and that evening we watched the Chrismas season 2 episode of Ted Lasso. There was a big bowl of jollof rice for the expats dinner! I used a few drops of liquid smoke, reduced the liquid because all I have is brown jasmine rice, and the rice was great. One of those dishes where you could add sausage, or shrimp or goat or just about anything. Love that it's from a different culture.
Dave G. February 26, 2022
I loved this!
A trick I came up with was to sauté the rice in batches after cooking it to caramelize/brown it, adding texture and complexity without burning it. It took a little extra time but was well worth the effort.

I made it for a group of Nigerian immigrants from Houston (consulting at our clinic in cold February Wisconsin) and they said it was the real thing! Kudos to you!!
Chazi February 23, 2022
This is my first time doing this recipe wow it turned out perfectly will be doing again
Thanks very much
MagnusRex February 9, 2022
Nothing but trouble with the recipe - seems like there is way too much liquid and it's not reducing enough at all. I want to try it again, but I really need to rebalance this.
Kitchen B. June 7, 2022
I'm sorry to hear this. Some possible issues:
- Stews/ sauces aren't cooked down sufficiently
- If other types of rice are used - instead of parboiled/ converted, the absorption of the liquid is really different

Please hold back some of the liquid and add as you need.