Jollof Rice Recipe – Smoky Jollof

From ordinary rice, cook the rich, delicious, and aromatic Jollof Rice recipe for the ultimate dining experience!

Have you tried Jollof Rice before? It is an African delicacy that you can cook in amazing pepper sauce for a smoky, colorful, and savory flavor. It was first cooked in the 14th century in the Senegambian area and now, it is cooked all over the world.

Over the years, the recipe has been made into many variations. For instance, Nigerian Jollof Rice is usually made of asli basmati rice, spices, tomato sauce, and meaty liquid stock. Today, I’ll show you the Yummieliciouz version of Jollof Rice!

smoky jollof rice

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Make dining a whole lot better for the whole family with new, hearty, and satisfying Jollof Rice. It goes with so many main dishes that you won’t run out of ideas to enjoy them. Wait until you cook and taste it in your own home!

A Short History of Jollof Rice

Jollof rice is the most common rice dish in West Africa. Thus, it’s a staple dish throughout the region – including Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Togo, Cameroon, and Mali.

Each country has its version of cooking Jollof Rice. Hence, they’re called Nigerian Jollof Rice, Ghanaian Jollof Rice, or Senegal Jollof Rice, respectively, and the list continues.

Did you know that the original Jollof rice originated from Senegal? The name “Jollof” was derived from the name of the Jolof (or Wolof kingdom) people of Senegal; as found by James C. McCann, a professor of history.

party jollof rice

How to Make Jollof Rice

It takes time and lots of ingredients to make Jollof Rice but everything is certainly worth it. With chicken, basmati rice, pepper sauce, and the right spices, you can cook rice that will make you feel like you’re in Africa.

Let’s get started on your Jollof Rice, shall we?


Here’s a list of everything you will need for the Jollof Rice recipe:


When it comes to Jollof Rice, you can never go wrong with using chicken.

It is bursting with flavor to give the rice a distinct taste at every spoonful. The best part about cooking it is you can get crunchy fried chicken and chicken liquid stock. The liquid stock will come in handy for more African recipes.

With the right herbs and spices, you can surely cook chicken that everyone will love! Aside from using it for Jollof Rice, I also enjoy using chicken for Chicken Gizzard Stew or Roast Chicken!

smoky jollof rice recipe
Basmati rice

What are your go-to grains for rice?

There are many rice options, but for this recipe, I suggest using basmati rice because it has a loose, fluffy, and soft quality that will cook well in the sauce. It’s also easy to season and quick to cook.

Basmati rice also has a nutty and subtle flavor that you can certainly improve the herbs and spices. In fact, it is also one of the most commonly used grains in African recipes. Once you taste it, you will realize why that is.

According to USDA, Basmati Rice has plenty of health benefits to offer. It’s good for your stomach, energy, endurance, and physical activity. Just learn how to cook the perfect basmati rice for the best results!

Sweet peppers and bell peppers

It won’t be pepper sauce without sweet peppers and bell peppers in one!

Give the dish a real African character by using sweet peppers and bell peppers to make the pepper sauce. These will also give the rice a mildly sweet flavor that will taste well with the savory chicken.

Additionally, these peppers will smell fragrant once you cook everything together. The rice will also have a vibrant red color from these peppers. These should also be your go-to peppers for Ewa Agoyin Sauce and Ofada Sauce!

Tomato sauce

Aside from the sweet peppers and bell peppers, you will also need tomato sauce for the red color and tangy flavor. It will add acidity and umami taste to the rice to truly make it as tasteful as possible.

You can make tomato sauce at home or use store-bought sauce. It will also make it easier for the rice to absorb the sauce. Whether you use tomato sauce or fresh tomatoes, you will surely get incredible flavor.

Scotch bonnet

If you love a kick of spice in your meals, then I suggest using a scotch bonnet with peppers. It has an intense hot, spicy, sweet, and fruity taste that will balance the flavor of the sauce.

Aside from using a scotch bonnet, you can also use chili flakes for well-distributed flavor. I love using scotch bonnets with meaty and savory dishes like Jollof Rice!

Nigerian jollof recipe

Never skip the aromatics and spices.

Use onion, garlic, and ginger for a pungent, spicy, and sweet flavor. These are also guaranteed to give the dish a fragrant aroma. The chicken and rice will definitely taste so much better with these aromatics.

Meanwhile, the best spices for the Jollof Rice recipe include curry powder, mixed herbs, cumin, smoked paprika, cumin, mace, coriander, cardamom, fenugreek, stock cubes, and sea salt.

With the fusion of these herbs and spices, I can guarantee the remarkable quality of the rice!

Sunflower oil

You will also need sunflower oil to cook the chicken and the pepper sauce. It has a high smoke point to cook the dish properly without losing flavor or quality.


Cooking this Jollof Rice will make you realize that you don’t need fancy ingredients to make the best food. This recipe is easy to follow, and you won’t even notice that you’ve already cooked a masterpiece! 


Without further ado, let’s get started!

Liquid stock

  1. Put the cleaned chicken in the pot without turning on the heat.
  2. Peel and chop the onion, garlic, and ginger with a knife.
  3. Then, add the aromatics to the pot.
  4. Season it with curry powder, mixed herbs, cumin, mace, coriander leaf, ground cardamom, fenugreek, chicken stock, curry leaves, and sea salt.
  5. Toss the chicken in the seasoning to coat.
  6. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes on medium fire with occasional mixing.
  7. Once cooked, separate the chicken from the liquid stock.
  8. Set the chicken stock aside for later use. 

Fried chicken

  1. In a pot, pour sunflower oil and allow to heat over high heat.
  2. Sautee onions and garlic for a minute.
  3. Then, deep fry the chicken.
  4. Set the oil aside.

Pepper sauce

  1. Rinse and chop the tomatoes, bell peppers, and sweet peppers using a knife.
  2. Peel and slice the garlic, red onion, and ginger.
  3. Blend in a blender until smooth. 
  4. Heat the oil from the fried chicken in a pot.
  5. Then, saute onions for one minute.
  6. Add curry powder, mixed herbs, mace, cumin, chicken stock cubes, and smoked paprika.
  7. Fry for three minutes. 
  8. Then, pour in the blended pepper sauce and cook for ten minutes.
  9. Add the chicken liquid stock and bay leaves, and stir.
  10. Cook further for 15 minutes.
  11. Season with sea salt. Taste and season as needed. 
smoky jollof rice recipe

Jollof Rice

  1. Rinse the rice several times until the water is clear.
  2. Add the rice into the pot to cook it with the sauce.
  3. Submerge the grains for a stronger flavor.
  4. Cover it with parchment paper and the lid. 
  5. Then, cook it on low heat for 25 to 30 minutes. 
  6. Add the onions.
  7. Let it simmer for five minutes until the rice is cooked to perfection. 

Have you ever cooked so tasty, fragrant, and appetizing? Indeed, this Jollof Rice recipe is the one to beat! It’ll certainly be a meal to remember! 



Buying chicken
  • The chicken should have pink and plump flesh without tears.
  • Check if the chicken has a neutral smell.
Storing chicken
  • According to Taste of Home, chicken must be refrigerated or frozen immediately.
  • It can last up to two days in the fridge and up to several weeks in the freezer.
Preparing chicken
jollof rice


Buying tomatoes
  • Bon Appetit suggests buying tomatoes with a bright and intense color.
  • The heavier it is, the juicier it will be.
  • Moreover, the stem should also be attached and in a healthy green color. 
Storing tomatoes
  • Ripe tomatoes can last up to two days at room temperature and two weeks when refrigerated.
  • Place it in an area away from heat with the stem pointing downward.
  • Arrange them in a single layer in a container.

Bell Peppers and Sweet Peppers

Buying peppers
  • According to The Produce Moms, bell peppers and sweet peppers should have smooth, shiny, and firm skin.
  • Their stems should also be fresh and green in color. 
Storing peppers
  • Refrigerate the bell peppers in resealable bags to last for up to a week. 

No-Blender Pepper Sauce

If you don’t have a blender, then you can make the sauce using a food processor. On the other hand, you can boil or steam the ingredients and use a sieve to get the right consistency.

More Tips

  • Do not cook the rice on high heat for a fluffy and loose texture.
  • Add the right amount of sauce to coat the sauce’s grains fully. 
  • For the grains, it is best to opt for long grains.
  • The key to a stellar jollof rice is the smoked paprika, herbs, and spices you will use.
jollof rice recipe

Jollof Rice Recipe Variations

Do you want to make your Jollof Rice recipe extra special?

For a vegan Jollof Rice, you can simply omit the chicken and replace it with mixed vegetables or other nutritious dishes. It’s alright to skip the chicken, too, as long as you add in other flavorful ingredients.

Aside from chicken liquid stock, you can also use the beef liquid stock or vegetable liquid stock for a meaty and umami taste. There are also many protein-rich foods you can add to this dish.

You may also use other herbs and spices such as parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, pepper, and other spices you prefer. You can also cook turkey, beef, fish, and more!

  • Blender: Make the sauce using a blender to achieve a smooth consistency
  • Pot: Cook the chicken and the Jollof Rice in a pot.
  • Spatula: Stir the ingredients with a spatula. 
  • Parchment paper: Cover the rice with parchment paper and lid.

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How to Serve Jollof Rice

Get ready to feel the job from enjoying some Jollof Rice!

Jollof rice is so flavorful, rich, and savory that you can serve it with any dish you want. You can pair it with an egg and relish its goodness! It’s perfect for breakfast to dinner as it can put you in a good mood all day.

It is best served with the following:

Meanwhile, drink options can include any of the drinks below to balance the flavor and refresh your taste buds:


According to Everyday Health, the suggested serving size for rice is ½ cup every day. Imagine the standard size of a cupcake mold, which is how much rice you should have daily.

crowd pleasing jollof rice

Storage Tips

At room temperature: Eat Jollof Rice within four hours at room temperature. 

Make ahead

In the fridge: Place cooled jollof rice in containers or resealable bags and refrigerate for up to three days. 

To freeze: Portion the jollof rice and chicken in freezer bags to use within three months. It can be thawed in the microwave or on the stove. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is so special about jollof rice?

Jollof Rice is special because it is cooked in a delicious and savory sauce. It is a traditional meal in Africa that’s also cooked with vegetables and flavoring agents. It is also rich in protein and other nutrients to complete your meals.

Is jollof rice Jamaican or Nigerian?

Jamaica and Nigeria both have their own versions of the Jollof Rice. There may be difference in how they are cooked but whichever one you make will surely give you a wonderful experience.

What does jollof rice taste like?

With the ingredients in this recipe, the Jollof Rice tastes like a combination of sweet, spicy, warm, savory, meaty, umami, and intense flavors.

You might be surprised that the secret ingredient to jollof rice is smoked paprika! It gives the dish a savory flavor and fragrant aroma for an appetizing meal.

Which country has jollof rice?

The Jollof Rice was originally cooked in Senegal as early as the 14th century. Later on, other regions and countries developed their own versions of the recipe. Nowadays, you can also find Jollof Rice in Nigeria, Ghana, Jamaica, and other African countries.

jollof and tilapia recipe

More African Recipes

party jollof

Party Jollof Rice (VIDEO)

5 from 1 vote
This 2-in-1 recipe will definitely be one of the best meals you'll ever experience. It’s a Nigerian treasure that deserves a place on your dining table. The best chicken and smoky jollof rice pair!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 12
Course Main Course
Cuisine African, Nigerian, West African
Calories 495kcal


For the cooked chicken

  • 2 kg chicken (soft chicken drumstick & thigh)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ thumb-sized ginger
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp mace
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp fenugreek
  • 2 cubes stock cubes
  • 3 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp sea salt

For the fried chicken

  • 1 red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • sunflower oil (enough to deep-fry)

For the pepper sauce

  • 5 tomatoes
  • 3 bell peppers
  • 3 sweet peppers
  • ½ fresh ginger
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 scotch bonnet (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion (diced)

For the rice

  • ½ cup sunflower oil (chicken flavored ) – (optional)
  • 1 onion
  • tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs
  • ½ tsp mace
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 4 stock cubes
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika (secret ingredient)
  • 5 cup pepper sauce (prepared above)
  • 1 cup chicken liquid stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 cups basmati rice (use any rice of your choice)
  • tsp sea salt


For the chicken

  • Season the chicken.
    Put the cleaned chicken in the pot without turning on the fire. Peel and chop the onion, garlic, and ginger. Incorporate the herbs into the chicken. 
    Add the curry powder, mixed herbs, cumin, mace, coriander leaf, ground cardamom, fenugreek, chicken stock, curry leaves, and sea salt. Toss the chicken in the seasoning to coat. 
  • Cook the chicken.
    Set the heat to medium, cover the pot, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes. Mix it at regular intervals to cook the chicken thoroughly.
    Turn off the heat and separate the liquid chicken stock and the boiled chicken. 
    Set the chicken stock aside for later use. 

For the fried chicken

  • Infuse onion in oil.
    In a pot, pour sunflower oil and allow to heat over high heat. For extra flavor, saute onions and garlic for a minute.
  • Fry the chicken.
    Deep fry the chicken along with the herbs to enhance flavors. Set aside the oil used in frying the chicken to cook the sauce. 

For the jollof rice pepper sauce

  • Make the sauce. 
    Rinse and chop the tomatoes, bell peppers, and sweet peppers. Peel and slice the garlic, red onion, and ginger. Blend them together until smooth. 
  • Fry the herbs and spices. 
    Heat the oil used for frying the chicken. Saute chopped onions for 1 minute. Add curry powder, mixed herbs, mace, cumin, chicken stock cubes, and smoked paprika. Fry for 3 minutes. 
  • Cook the sauce. 
    Pour in the blended pepper sauce and cook for 10 minutes. Add the chicken liquid stock and bay leaves, and stir.
    Cook for another 15 minutes. Season with sea salt. Taste and season as needed. 
    Cooking the sauce is necessary to fortify the flavors of the sauce. 

For the jollof rice

  • Prepare the rice. 
    Rinse the rice several times until the water is clear. Add the rice into the pot to cook it with the sauce.
  • Submerge the grains for a more robust flavor. Cover it with parchment paper and the lid. 
  • Steam-cook the rice.
    Cook it on low heat for 25 to 30 minutes.  Add chopped onions for color, aroma, and texture.
    Simmer for up to 5 minutes until the rice is cooked to perfection. 



  • Purchase and store the best ingredients on the market.
  • Be creative with the seasoning to customize it to your preferences.
  • For an authentic party jollof rice experience, allow the jollof rice to scorch/smoke/burn slightly. 


Serving: 1 plate (with chicken)Calories: 495kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 21gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 3561mgPotassium: 755mgFiber: 5gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 3210IUVitamin C: 170mgCalcium: 74mgIron: 3mg
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