Here's how to make authentic jollof rice that's Nigerian aunty approved with smoky, spicy, and savory flavors. Originally published February 2018. Last updated October 2022.
Happy Black History Month, y'all! To kick things off, I'm sharing a recipe that's near and dear to my heart and the pride of my father's home country: Nigerian jollof rice recipe. There's been a lot of buzz lately over which West African nation produces the best jollof rice, which is quite a shock to me since I was born and raised on the best kind: Nigerian jollof. Period. If you are wondering which country has the best jollof rice, one taste of this version will settle your mind. Let's get into it!
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More Black History Month recipes:
- Aunt Georgia's Peach Cobbler
- Soul Food Power Bowls
- Suya Spiced Brussels Sprouts
- Vegan Buttermilk Biscuits with Pear Compote
My heritage is Nigerian on my dad's side and Black American on my mom's side so I like to switch up (and sometimes even combine) what I share in the BHM virtual potluck each year. As for the rest of our virtual potluck menu, the contributions span the African diaspora, with soul food classics, Caribbean staples, Latin fare, Creole creations, and more African recipes. You can also see regular recipe contributions from top Black food bloggers on Facebook at We Love Black Food Bloggers.
Quick How-to Video
Now, despite Naija jollof being collectively superior, each person makes theirs a bit differently. I've tasted several variations and, in my opinion, my Aunty Toyin makes the best jollof rice (and Nigerian food, in general) that I've ever tasted and she taught me everything I know. So this is my version of to make jollof rice like a Nigerian aunty.
So this isn't necessarily how every Nigerian makes their jollof but it's what I grew up on. Like many good dishes, this recipe wasn't previously written down anywhere and the measurements are approximations. Feel free to modify this as you see fit.
For example, our family likes a lot of spiciness and my Aunty would add more scotch bonnet peppers if she were making a pot for herself but we didn't want to burn anybody's tongues off so we settled on four for this recipe. I would love to hear how you make yours (please be respectful) in the comments section below.
What is Jollof Rice?
Jollof rice is a West African staple recipe that starts with the a simple red stew as the flavor base. There are variations across regions and countries including Nigerian, Ghana, Senegal, and Liberia. Jollof is actually believed to be a predecessor dish to American jambalaya. The rice cooks in one pot with a flavorful and fragrant combination of fresh vegetables, aromatics, and spices, so that each grain is infused with flavor.
What You'll Need for this Recipe
Here's what goes into a pot of Nigerian jollof. It's simple but so very good!
- Bay Leaf
- Bell Pepper
- Chicken & Beef Broth
- Curry Powder
- Ground Thyme
- Maggi Cube (bouillon)
- Parboiled Rice
- Roma or Plum Tomatoes
- Scotch Bonnet Peppers (or habañero)
- Tomato Paste and Sauce
Notes on substitutions: You can try a variety of oils in this recipe. I typically use palm oil, avocado oil, or olive oil. If you cannot find Maggi cubes in your area, chicken or beef bouillon cubes will work as an alternative. The use or number of Scotch Bonnet peppers is up to your preference. You only need one or two pepper for a decently spicy jollof rice, however Yoruba people love really spicy food, so I tend to use three or four.
Tips for Making Jollof Rice at Home
- What does jollof taste like? From the ingredients, you've likely gathered that jollof rice is a bit spicy, it's savory, and has a hint of meatiness from the bouillon and broth. It's also smoky if you do it right.
- What to do if my jollof rice burns? Many people believe that jollof rice tastes best when a bit of it burns. If your rice starts burning excessively or very early on in the cooking process, simply add a little more water and/or oil to help that.
- How long to cook jollof rice? Jollof rice takes roughly 40 minutes to cook in my experience but I find it is best to stay nearby during the process, stir often, and taste test as you go. Check the recipe card notes below for some common corrections you might need to make along the way.
What to Serve with Jollof Rice
I hope you enjoy a big pot of Naija-style jollof with friends and family very soon. Sharing is caring online, too, so be sure to pin this Nigerian recipe on Pinterest. Thanks for reading!
Nigerian Party Jollof Recipe
Classic one-pot West African staple comprised of fluffy, fiery rice flavored with tomato, peppers, onion, spices, and chicken and beef stocks
- 7 roma tomatoes cut into chunks
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and cut into chunks
- ½ white onion cut into chunks
- 4 habanero or scotch bonnet peppers use fewer or more depending on your preference
- ½ cup water
- 8 cups parboiled rice rinsed
- ¼-1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 4-6 ounces tomato paste
- 4 cubes chicken and/or beef bouillon crushed
- 3 cups chicken and or beef stock
- 2 teaspoons powdered white pepper
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon powdered bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon powdered thyme
- sea salt to taste
- Add tomatoes, onion, red bell pepper, and habanero peppers to a blender with ½ cup of water then blend until completely liquified and uniform (about 2 minutes).
Meanwhile, rinse the parboiled rice in plenty of warm water then drain.
Add rice and vegetable oil to a large pot over medium flame, followed by blended tomato mixture, tomato paste and sauce, chicken and beef stocks, crushed bouillon, white pepper, curry powder, powdered bay leaf, powdered thyme, and sea salt. Stir everything together until uniform.
Cook for about 40 minutes or until rice is cooked through and all liquid has dissipated, stir (to help prevent sticking and burning) and taste-test the liquid and rice as you go.
It may be necessary to add more liquid along the way to prevent the rice at the bottom from burning excessively (see recipe notes). The bottom layer of rice in a pot of jollof rice often burns, which is where the smoky flavor comes from. Some believe that the rice tastes best when this happens. As you stir the rice and expose any burnt portions, you can simply discard them if you don't want them in the rice.
- Spice measurements are to taste, which is why tasting as you go is so important.
- Jollof rice burns quickly so it is best to use a non-stick pot and cook over medium heat.
- As the rice cooks and liquid dissipates, you may find it necessary to add additional ingredients according to your preference:
- more oil for moisture
- more stock or bouillon for flavor
- more tomato paste or sauce for color
- Sea salt to your taste