Instant Pot & Pressure Cooker/ Jamaican/ Main Dishes & Entrées/ Soups & Stews

Jamaican Stew Peas

April 23, 2023 (Last Updated: May 21, 2023)

Jamaican Stew Peas is a rich and hearty stew of red kidney beans, simmered with fresh herbs, aromatics, spices, and salted meat for a flavourful and filling main dish. Served with dumpling style spinners, this is the ultimate Caribbean comfort food and can easily be made vegan friendly without compromising flavour and taste!

a bowl of Jamaican stew peas and rice.

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Jamaican Stew Peas is a rich and hearty stew of red kidney beans, simmered with fresh herbs, aromatics, spices, and salted meat for a flavourful and filling main dish. Served with dumpling style spinners, this is the ultimate Caribbean comfort food and can easily be made vegan friendly without compromising flavour and taste!

For more Jamaican pea recipes, try my Jamaican Red Peas Soup, flavourful Jamaican Rice and Peas, and this Jamaican Gungo Peas and Rice recipe, next!

plated Jamaican stew peas and rice.

The Best Jamaican Stew Peas Recipe

Jamaican stew peas with spinners is a cozy meal that’s simple yet indulgent. Beans are boiled until tender and infused with garlic, scotch bonnet, allspice, salted beef and salted pigs tail. Although the meat is optional, that fat provides a deep, savoury flavour that enhances the whole dish. This mouthwatering Caribbean stew has layers of flavour, and as the warm scent wafts through your kitchen, prepare yourself for the best Jamaican stew peas.

Here’s Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Easy to Make – all you need is some time and a bit of patience. Simply soak, then simmer. Even the spinners are simple to make with just three ingredients.
  • Super Comforting – a pot of thick, creamy stew peas on the table for Sunday dinner is so simple yet so satisfying.
  • Customizable – stew it with whichever meat you prefer or no meat at all, the choice is yours!
a bowl of Jamaican stew peas and rice.

What is Jamaican Stew Peas?

Jamaican stew peas aren’t peas at all. They are actually red kidney beans but Jamaicans often refer to beans as peas. Traditional Jamaican style stew peas are cooked with salted stew meat but there are vegan variations as well. Jamaican spinners are added to thicken the stew. It can be cooked on a stovetop, in a slow cooker or pressure cooker. Classic stew peas are served over rice.

History of Jamaican Stew Peas

Jamaican Stew Peas are told to have been birthed out of wartime struggles (WW2) and the need to ration food and other resources.

What Kind of Meat to Use

Although Jamaican stew peas are traditionally made with either salted beef or salted pigs tail or both, there are plenty of meats that you can use as alternatives. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Smoked turkey
  • Ham hocks
  • Oxtail
  • Turkey wings
  • Salted pig feet
  • Chicken feet
  • Stew beef
  • Turkey neck

What are Spinners?

Spinners are thin Jamaican dumplings made of flour, water and salt. In this recipe, these unleavened dumplings are used to thicken the stew peas for a heartier meal.

red kidney beans soaking in water with herbs.

What’s Needed to Make This Recipe (Kitchen Tools and Equipment)

  • Stock Pot – to cook the Jamaica stew peas in.
  • Wooden Spoon – to gently stir the stew peas as they cook.

Ingredients and Ingredient Notes

Soaking Red Kidney Beans

  • Dried Red Kidney Beans – rinsed in order to remove debris or broken beans.
  • Water – to soak the red peas in.
  • Escallion – crushed, for a stronger flavour.
  • Thyme – for fresh, herby flavour.
  • Garlic – crushed for an even more garlicky taste.
  • Scotch Bonnet Pepper – whole, make sure it is not punctured unless you want it spicy.
  • Pimento Seeds (allspice berries) – for a warm, spiced flavour.

Jamaican Stew Peas

  • Salted Beef – cured bone-In beef, cut into chunks, optional.
  • Salted Pigtail – cut into smaller pieces, optional.
  • Water – more or less as needed.
  • Coconut Milk – use full-fat to add body to the stew. It also enriches the flavour.
  • Black Pepper – for a pungent, earthy taste.

Spinners

  • All Purpose Flour
  • Salt 
  • Water
a bowl of Jamaican stew peas and rice.

How to Make Jamaican Stew Peas

Soak Red Kidney Beans (Optional)

  • Rinse beans and place in a medium sized bowl. Add fresh water, escallion, garlic, scotch bonnet pepper, pimento seeds and thyme. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and allow to soak overnight.
red kidney beans soaking in water with herbs

Prepare Cured/Salted Beef

Add water to a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Then add salted beef, salted pig’s tail and boil for about 20 minutes to remove salt then discard water and set aside. Repeat as many times as needed until desired amount of salt has been been boiled out.

cleansed meat for Jamaican stew peas
cleansed meat for Jamaican stew peas

Jamaican Stew Peas

In a large pot, pour in bean mixture (including the water, which is now infused with flavour), salted beef and pigtail if using. Add an additional 2 cups of water and allow to boil over moderately high heat for about 45 minutes or until the beef and beans are near tender, stirring occasionally.

adding soaked beans to a pot

Ensure there is enough water to cover the beans and meat at all times until softened – you may need to add an additional 1-2 cups of water at the halfway point.

When beans tender, stir in coconut milk, season with black pepper, and allow to boil for about 5 minutes. Add spinners, and reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer. If the stew does not thicken after adding your dumpling, add a cornstarch slurry to the stew to make it thicker, stirring as your pour it into the pot. When stew has reduced and sauce thickened, remove from heat, serve and enjoy!

red peas submerged in water

Spinners

In a medium mixing bowl, add flour and salt then gradually add water and use your hand to knead and form the dough for the spinners. Dough should be soft but not sticky and wet.

Pinch or cut off 6 to 8 equal sized pieces. Use the palms of your hands to make long thin dumpling style spinners. Set each spinner aside.

overhead view of a bowl of Jamaican stew peas and rice.

Different Cooking Methods of Making Jamaican Stew Peas

Slow Cooker Stew Peas

After soaking the kidney beans, boil them for about 10 minutes. Then add them to the slow cooker with the soaking water and other stew ingredients. Cook the beans on low heat for up to 10 hours. Add the spinners during the last hour of cooking.

Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot) Stew Peas

Add soaked kidney peas to the pressure cooker with the other stew ingredients with the exception of dumplings and scotch bonnet pepper. Set the instant pot to high pressure for 20 minutes. Then let it naturally release for 10 minutes before turning the knob to quick release. Once all the steam has been released, turn settings to simmer and add in the spinners and the whole scotch bonnet pepper. Allow the stew to simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the dumplings are cooked.

  • Salted Meat – If you’re using salted meat, be sure to boil out salt prior to adding the pressure cooker.
  • To Thicken – if needed, you can let stew simmer until reduced, or you can add a cornstarch slurry of 1 tbsp cornstarch and 1 tbsp cold water.

Recipe Notes and Tips for Success

  • Quick soak red beans in the pressure cooker by submerging the beans in water and setting the pressure cooker to high pressure for 5 minutes. This softens the beans quickly, reducing the overall cook time.
  • Don’t dump the water the beans soaked in because it is infused with flavour and gives the peas a more vibrant color. Instead, add it to the pot to cook with the beans.
  • Want to free up some space on the stovetop? Use a pressure cooker or instapot to tenderize meat the meat instead of boiling it on the stove.
  • Avoid bursting the scotch bonnet pepper when handling it or your Jamaican stew peas will be very spicy.
  • The longer the Jamaican stew peas simmer, the thicker they will be. You can also thicken it by adding arrowroot starch, tapioca flour or regular flour.
plated Jamaican stew peas with white rice.

Recipe Substitutions and Variations

  • Canned Beans – if you don’t have time to let the beans soak, use the canned variety instead. Drain, rinse, and season them before adding them to a pot with the other ingredients and simmering for 10 minutes. Then add the spinners and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Vegan Jamaican Stew Peas – simply omit the stewed meat. Replace it with vegetables like sweet potato, pumpkin or additional beans.
  • Meat – use smoked turkey, ham hocks, oxtail, turkey wings, salted pig feet or chicken feet.

Serving Suggestions and Tips

Although this can be a meal all on its own, it is traditionally served with either brown or white rice. The rice soaks up all that delicious sauce and makes it a more filling dish. For a lighter, healthier alternative, serve it with salad.

Can I Make this Ahead of Time?

Yes. See below for storage instructions.

Storage Instructions

Store leftover Jamaican stewed peas in an airtight container in the fridge and consume within 4 days.

Reheating Instructions

Reheat the stewed red peas over medium heat on the stove, occasionally stirring until it is warmed through.

a bowl of Jamaican stew peas and rice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are stew peas made of?

Jamaican stewed peas are made with softened red kidney beans, coconut milk, stewed meat and spinners.

Where did stew peas originate from?

Stew peas originated in Jamaica in the 1940s and appeared in a cookbook for the first time during the 70s. It’s so popular that some refer to it as the unofficial national dish of Jamaica.

Why do you have to soak dried peas before cooking?

Soak beans in order to soften them. When they are tenderized, they don’t take as long to cook. This also allows the dried beans to absorb water which dissolves the starches that can cause stomach pains.

Interested in more Jamaican Recipes? Check These Out!

a bowl of Jamaican stew peas and rice.

Jamaican Stew Peas

Taneisha Morris
Jamaican Stew Peas is a rich and hearty stew of red kidney beans, simmered with fresh herbs, aromatics, spices, and salted meat for a flavourful and filling main dish. Served with dumpling style spinners, this is the ultimate Caribbean comfort food and can easily be made vegan friendly without compromising flavour and taste!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Soak Beans 8 hours
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Beef, Jamaican, Main Dishes & Entrees, Pork, Vegan, Vegetarian
Cuisine Jamaican
Servings 4 servings
Calories 546 kcal

Equipment

  • Stock Pot
  • Wooden Spoon

Ingredients
  

Soaking Red Kidney Beans

  • 2 cups Dried Red Kidney Beans rinsed
  • 3 cups Water
  • 2 stalks Escallion crushed
  • 3 sprigs Thyme
  • 3 cloves Garlic crushed
  • 1 whole Scotch Bonnet Pepper
  • 6 whole Pimento Seeds allspice berries

Jamaican Stew Peas

  • 1lb Salted Beef cured bone-In beef, cut into chunks, optional
  • 1lb Salted Pigtail cut into smaller pieces, optional
  • 3 cups Water more or less as needed
  • 1 cup Coconut Milk full-fat
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper

Spinners

  • 1 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 tsp Salt +/- a tbsp or so
  • 1/2 cup Water

Instructions
 

Soak Red Kidney Beans (Optional)

  • Rinse beans and place in a medium sized bowl. Add fresh water, escallion, garlic, scotch bonnet pepper, pimento seeds and thyme. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and allow to soak overnight.

Prepare Cured/Salted Beef

  • Add water to a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Then add salted beef, salted pigtail and boil for about 20 minutes to remove salt then discard water and set aside. Repeat as many times as needed until desired amount of salt has been been boiled out.

Jamaican Stew Peas

  • In a large pot, pour in bean mixture (including the water, which is now infused with flavour), salted beef and pigtail if using. Add an additional 2 cups of water and allow to boil over moderately high heat for about 45 minutes or until the beef and beans are near tender, stirring occasionally.
  • Ensure there is enough water to cover the beans and meat at all times until softened – you may need to add an additional 1-2 cups of water at the halfway point.
  • When beans tender, stir in coconut milk, season with black pepper, and allow to boil for about 5 minutes. Add spinners, and reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer. If the stew does not thicken after adding your dumpling, add a cornstarch slurry to the stew to make it thicker, stirring as your pour it into the pot. When stew has reduced and sauce thickened, remove from heat, serve and enjoy!

Spinners

  • In a medium mixing bowl, add flour and salt then gradually add water and use your hand to knead and form the dough for the spinners. Dough should be soft but not sticky and wet.
  • Pinch or cut off 6 to 8 equal sized pieces. Use the palms of your hands to make long thin dumpling style spinners. Set each spinner aside.

Video

Recipe Notes

Soaking the Beans – this step is optional, but recommended to cut down on the length of time it takes for the beans to soften.
Red Kidney Beans – the boiling process to cook the beans will take anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour depending on how long you’ve soaked your beans. Just ensure there is enough water in the pot to cover the beans at all times.
See Recipe Notes and Tips for Success Section in Blog Post for More!

Nutrition

Calories: 546kcalCarbohydrates: 84gProtein: 26gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0.2mgSodium: 167mgPotassium: 1459mgFiber: 16gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 108IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 114mgIron: 10mg

Note, the nutritional information is calculated using a nutrition facts calculator. It is a rough estimate and can vary based on products used.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Leave a star rating and a comment below! You can also tag @theseasoned.skillet and use #theseasonedskillet on Instagram!
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a bowl of Jamaican stew peas and rice.

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