Jollof Rice – This easy, flavorful, and flawlessly cooked African classic dish Jollof rice is simple whether you choose to make it on the stovetop or take the easy way out by putting it all in the oven. With its well-seasoned goodness, including onion, garlic, and tomatoes with some nutritious veggies thrown in, it's perfect for regular nights or special occasions! The soul-satisfying flavors from thyme, paprika, and a Scotch bonnet round out this dish to perfection.
Jollof rice is a legendary one-pot dish that’s ubiquitous in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Togo, and Sierra Leone. In fact, this is the most popular party food in West Africa and has been gaining momentum elsewhere in East Africa. Because of its popularity, there have been several debates about its origin. What I know for sure is that it is an amazing one-pot dish, and there is no argument when everyone is shoving it down their throat. What is Jollof Rice?
Jollof Rice, sometimes called jellof rice, is a classic rice dish cooked in a flavorful tomato-infused broth. With its several regional variations in name and ingredients, there is no absolute right or wrong way to cook this popular African rice recipe.
Jollof Rice Ingredients
I just want to say that jollof rice is great for entertaining, especially if you have picky kids. They always gobble it down.
It is fair to say that this delicious rice dish is pretty easy to make anywhere in the world because the ingredients are easy to find.
Despite its many variations, the most common ingredients in a jollof rice recipe are as follows:
Rice – The starchy base for our dish, this filling ingredient is generally fragrant and soaks a lot of water. I prefer basmati, but you can use any long-grain rice.
Onions – This veggie is excellent served fresh with its tangy flavor. However, I personally love it slightly caramelized for a bit of sweetness. Get the perfect cut for this ingredient with this easy-to-follow guide.
Thyme – A deliciously aromatic herb from the incredible mint family is a delicious addition to just about any savory recipe. Fresh is good, but dried will work, and I have a list of the perfect substitutes if you don’t have thyme at all.
Garlic – Ah, the wonderful garlic flavor makes this Jollof Rice recipe even better. And here’s my trick for mincing it.
Paprika – This ingredient adds the fabulous pepper flavor without the heat.
Tomato Puree or Sauce – The sweet, slightly acidic, and fresh flavors of tomato in a thick mixture is perfect for many starchy dishes.
Chicken Broth (or water) – Basically, the flavorful water that chicken was simmered in. Not only is it full of flavor, but it’s also filled with healthy fats and collagen.
Scotch Bonnet or Hot Pepper – My favorite hot pepper is a tear-jerker, but sometimes a good cry is good for ya. 🤣 Most of the time, I put it whole instead of chopping it to get the flavor from its skin and not the seed’s heat.
Vegetables – Carrots, peas, green beans, and corn are all excellent choices to create a mix of colorful veggies to make it even more vibrant.
How to Cook Easy Jollof Rice
Traditionally, Jollof is cooked on the stovetop. However, that involves a lot of stirring, and sometimes the rice sticks to the pot, making the dish quite unappetizing.
In this blog post, I completely eliminated that problem by making it in the oven with just five minutes of prep time and no constant stirring involved.
But if you want to stick to the traditional method, I’ve also included the stovetop method. Here are the super-easy steps to make this simple dish.
Rinse the rice – Make sure you clean it thoroughly with just water. Do not parboil!
Put It All In! Add all the ingredients to the baking dish or pan.
Cover and Cook – Lastly, cover it with aluminum foil and pop it in the oven.
Is that easy enough for you?
Now, if you are not vegan and want to throw in some meat or protein, by all means, do so.
Simply stir-fry shrimp, beef, or chicken and a medley of vegetables, mix with the rice and serve.
Serving, Storage & Make-Ahead
This dish is best steaming right out of the oven, but you may want to let it cool down for about five minutes before putting it on the table.
Store any leftover jollof rice in the fridge in an airtight container. It should last three or four days easily.
To have it ready ahead of time, make it, then let it cool. Store it the same way you would leftovers. Put it in a baking dish, add a splash of water or chicken broth, cover it, and bake it in a preheated 350℉/177℃ oven for around 20 minutes. Ready!
Tips & Tricks
People say not to wash your rice because you remove the enriching vitamins. However, you really don’t lose that much, and washing your rice before cooking makes for fluffier rice.
Use a heavy-bottomed pan for the stovetop version to reduce the chances of your rice burning.
Let the rice sit covered for about ten minutes after removing it from the heat so that the rice evenly absorbs the remaining moisture. Then fluff your deliciousness with a fork for perfectly fluffy rice.
What’s the key to making great Jollof rice?
While I made cooking the rice easy-peasy by baking it, the real secret to amazing Jollof rice is taking your time on the sauce, especially caramelizing the onions.
Is Jollof rice good for you?
You bet it is! Great food makes you happy, and happiness is healthy. Besides, rice is a healthy carb, and the tomatoes are fabulous.
What do you do if the rice is still hard?
It happens to the best of us. If there’s liquid still in the pan, just extend the cooking time. If your pan is dry and the rice is still hard, heat up some broth or water and stir it in. You want the liquid you’re adding to be hot so that it doesn’t cool your rice down and take even longer to cook.
What to Serve with Jollof Rice
This delicious rice dish can be served with just about any meat or non-meat recipe that you like. You can start with these few below and then explore other recipes to pair with this lovely dish:
Prepare the rice and the oven – Preheat oven to 350℉/177℃. Rinse the rice with water and drain.
Combine and Stir – In a half-sheet pan (approx. 13″x18″x 2½”), combine all ingredients and stir so that everything is fully incorporated. (See photos 1-2)
- Cover and Cook – Cover tightly with aluminum foil paper. Double the foil if you can because it helps cook faster. Gently place in the oven and cook for about 70-80 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and check after 70 minutes. Since posting, I have retried the recipe several times, and it works best for my oven after 75 minutes. (See photo 3)
- Open and Serve – When cooked, remove carefully from the oven and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Then carefully remove the aluminum paper. Fluff rice with a fork, throw in your add-ins, and mix evenly. Serve hot, but you can let it cool a tad if you prefer. (See photo 4)
This post was first published in March 2014 and has been updated with new photos, a video, and some tips and notes.