Jollof Rice

5 from 78 votes

This jollof rice is a hearty and filling one pot meal that is packed full of flavor. Easy and quick to make and naturally gluten-free.

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Growing up in Sierra Leone in West Africa, my parents cooked all kinds of local dishes, including Jollof Rice. It’s basically rice cooked in a fragrant, flavorful and spicy tomato sauce, which can be left vegan or bulked up with beef or chicken. It has basic pantry items but amazing flavor that you’ll love!

Jollof rice served in a bowl with beef and tomatoes on top
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What is jollof rice?

Jollof rice is one-pot rice dish that is very popular in West African countries like Sierra Leon, Nigeria and Ghana among others. While it varies between regions, the unifying theme is always rice, a spicy tomato stew and the seasoning made up of curry, thyme, ginger and chili pepper.

How to make jollof rice

  • Season and cook the steak. Remove from the pan.
  • Cook the onions until they are soft and translucent.
  • Add in the rice, along with the tomato paste and seasonings. Stir to combine.
  • Add in the rest of the ingredients, the cooked steak and water; and bring to a boil.
  • Simmer covered until the rice is cooked.
Step by step process shots for how to make the recipe all in one pot

Tips for making jollof rice

  1. Make it more traditional by making a tomato puree first. To limit the recipe to only using one pot without the need for a blender, I cook the tomato paste, fresh tomatoes, green pepper and onions in the pot. Traditionally, you would puree the tomatoes, onions and peppers first and then cook in the pot.
  2. Make it vegan. It’s very common to serve the dish without any meat, so you can skip the first step and just keep it vegan. I usually like to add meat or chicken to bulk it up for the kids and I find that the steak cooking with the rice enhances the flavor.
  3. Turn up the heat. I’m not too fond of overly spicy food so my spicy ingredients here are limited to crushed red pepper, black pepper and sweet peppers. However, it’s common to also use scotch bonnet pepper or hot pepper.

Frequently asked questions

Can you make it ahead of time?

Yes, it’s great for meal prepping in advance. If you have leftovers, they will keep well in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Let it cool and store it in an airtight container. It can be warmed through on the stovetop to serve.

Can you freeze jollof rice?

Yes, jollof rice is a great freezer friendly meal and will keep well for up to 3 months. If you aren’t using protein, you can reheat it from frozen in the microwave, otherwise let it thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating on the stovetop.

What do you serve with jollof rice?

Since I add steak to the one-pot rice dish, it’s really a whole meal on its own. But it’s also very popular to serve this with suya beef kabobs or fried plantains.

Spoon in bowl of Nigerian jollof rice

For more West African recipes

For more rice dishes

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Jollof Rice

This jollof rice is a hearty and filling one pot meal that is packed full of flavor. Easy and quick to make and naturally gluten-free.
5 from 78 votes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 310
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
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  • In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season the steak with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cook until browned on the outside, about 5 minutes, stirring a couple times. Remove the steak and set aside.
  • In the same pot used to cook the steak, add the onions with the remaining olive oil and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add the rice on top of the cooked onions along with tomato paste, remaining salt and pepper, thyme, ginger and crushed red pepper; stir to combine until the rice is red in color and lightly toasted.
  • Add the diced tomatoes and green pepper along with the bay leaves on top of the rice. Return the cooked steak to the pot along with the water.
  • Mix all the ingredients together, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for 15 minutes, until rice is fully cooked. Remove from heat and allow the steam to continue cooking the rice for 5-10 more minutes.
  • Fluff the rice, sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve warm.


Storage: Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.


Calories: 310kcal, Carbohydrates: 45g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 35mg, Sodium: 643mg, Potassium: 564mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 620IU, Vitamin C: 21mg, Calcium: 48mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine African
Course: Main Course

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Recipe Rating


  1. Karen says:

    You mention adding ginger, but I don’t see the amount or type (fresh or powdered?) listed in the ingredients.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Oops, sorry about that! It should be 1/2 teaspoon, and I just updated the recipe card to reflect that now!

  2. Dahnisha says:

    I made the Jollof Rice… Thank you so much for the recipe. I loved it so much and will add this to my saved recipes.

    In the future, I plan to use Halal beef and Zaatar. For this first time, I was scared and ended up using the whole 48 oz of chicken broth to ensure the rice was fully cooked… and there wasn’t a measurement for ginger, so I just used 2/8 of a tsp. of ground ginger. I substituted some thinly shaved ribeye for the sirloin, and added the bell pepper at the same time I added the onion. I also added a little steak seasoning when cooking the steak. I don’t think I messed it up from the original recipe, too bad… lol

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      You’re so welcome! That makes me incredibly happy to hear. Let me know how it goes that way!

  3. Fashion Styles says:

    Nice read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing some research on that. And he actually bought me lunch as I found it for him smile Thus let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Thank you! That’s perfect!!

  4. Stephanie says:

    This recipe was very flavorful and easy to make. My husband and I loved it!

    1. Yumna J. says:

      I love that you both enjoyed it! Thank you!

  5. Cheryl says:

    Just finished cooking this dish. It’s so hearty and flavorful. I can’t wait for the rest of the family to taste it.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Yay! I’m so happy to hear that!

  6. Natalie Canterbury says:

    Tried this rice stuck to pan n burnt was a complete failure after following al instructions to a t ! Disappointed

    1. Yumna J. says:

      I would recommend turning down the heat slightly to avoid that from happening!

  7. Rasha says:

    Very yummy… Grew up to this dish too but loving the twist you put to it with the oregano

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      So glad you enjoyed it! Thank you Rasha 🙂