Healthy Jollof Rice Recipe with Chicken – West African One Pot Chicken & Rice

Try this Jollof Rice recipe with chicken – you will love this easy, flavorful West African one-pot chicken and rice dish! Perfect for regular nights, big parties, and special occasions!

overhead shot of West African Jollof chicken and rice in a white bowl with a spoon

Coming at you with a legendary one-pot chicken and rice dish that is easy enough for any weeknight but also makes for extremely good party food for feeding a big crowd.

West African Jollof Rice! An AMAZING one-pot dish that everyone at the dinner table is going to shove down their throat in no time at all.

What is Jollof Rice?

Jollof rice is a one-pot rice dish popular in many West African countries. It traditionally consists of rice, cooking oil, vegetables such as tomato, onion, red pepper, garlic, ginger, and scotch bonnet. To enhance the color of the dish, some tomato paste is added to the base and as seasoning, we use typical West African spices like onion powder, dried thyme, cayenne, curry powder and bay leaves.

While you can enjoy this rice without any meat added, I like to add some protein to this dish – chicken, turkey, beef or fish are all great choices. 

close up of a bowl of West African healthy Jollof rice with chicken sprinkled with cilantro

Jollof rice is characterized by a sweet and smoky flavor, which is achieved by evaporating the water in the rice dish to the point where the rice has absorbed it all. Sometimes it is even a bit scorched at the bottom of the pan, which in turn, imparts the smoky flavor.

I don’t go too heavy on the scorching for this Jollof rice recipe as that would also mean having to add way more fat to the bottom of the pan. However, I did make sure to get the ratio water-veggies-rice just right so that you end up with the perfect fluffy rice.

overhead shot of a pot with Jollof chicken and rice

What Rice is best for Jollof?

It depends! Ghanaians love their basmati rice, Nigerians would probably go with long grain rice. You could use either one as long as you follow the recipe and don’t lift the lid or add any more liquids. That includes adding more veggies! If you want to play it safe for jollof rice follow this one to the letter. Nobody wants to end up with a soggy, clumped-up mess.

Soggy jollof rice has happened to me on more than one occasion,  so please learn from my mistakes. The best thing you can do, to get light and fluffy jollof rice grains is picking the right kind of rice – which is long grain rice.  You can use American long-grain rice, jasmine, or basmati rice – this is up to your individual preferences.

a wooden spoon stirring in a pot of homemade West African Jollof chicken and rice

How to make this Jollof Rice recipe:

a picture collage demonstrating how to start cook chicken for jollof rice recipe

Step 1 – In a small bowl toss the sliced bell pepper with 2 tbsps of vinegar and ½ teaspoon salt. Set the bowl aside while you make the rest of the recipe. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Now, you want to combine onion powder, thyme, cayenne, curry powder, and 1 bay leaf in a spice grinder and pulse all the spices together until finely ground! (Yes, you read that correctly, grind one of the bay leaves). If you don’t have a spice grinder, you can use a mortar and pestle or a small blender. And worst-case scenario, try to chop the bay leave as fine as possible.

Step 2 – Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or a large skillet with a heavy bottom and an oven-proof lid.  Generously season the chicken with salt, then add to the hot oil. Cook, turning the pieces occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes – We’re not looking to cook it all the way through here, more like 75%. Don’t crowd the pan; work in batches if you have to. Remove the chicken and place in a bowl next to the stove.

Step 3 – Add the onion and diced pepper to the same skillet and sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until they start to soften, about 5 minutes.

 

picture collage demonstrating how to cook West African Jollof rice on the stovetop

Step 4 – 6 Stir in the ginger, minced garlic and spice mixture, and 2 teaspoons salt, then stir in the rice. Cook, stirring, until the rice is toasted, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring for 1 minute, then add the chicken stock and the remaining bay leaf as well as the chicken and bring to a boil.

picture collage demonstrating how to make Jollof Rice with chicken on the stovetop

Step 7 – Cover, transfer to the oven, and bake until the rice is tender and has absorbed all of the liquid, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes.

Step 8 & 9 – Once completely cooked, cover the rice and season with some more salt to taste. Drain the pepper slices from the vinegar marinade (save leftover as a dressing)  and scatter over the hot rice along with scallions and/or parsley and serve.

a serving of healthy African Jollof Rice with chunks of chicken and red bell pepper

 

Jollof Rice Recipe Tips:

  • You can also make this dish exclusively on the stovetop. Rather than transfer it to the oven, cover and set the element to a low simmer for 20 or until the rice is cooked. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
  • You can save the leftover vinegar from soaking the bell peppers for making dressing.
  • This recipe tastes great with beef as well.
  • For some more color, add some frozen peas.
5 from 4 votes
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Jollof Rice with Chicken

Jollof Rice with Chicken–  You will love this easy, flavorful West African one-pot chicken and rice dish! Perfect for regular nights, big parties, and special occasions!
Course dinner, Main Course
Cuisine African
Keyword chicken and rice, jollof rice recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 5
Calories 448 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 bell peppers one sliced into long strips, one diced
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ¾ tsp cayenne or 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs cut in 2-inch pieces - 500 g
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated 1 inch
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup jasmine rice rinsed well and drained
  • cups chicken stock
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • scallions or parsley for topping

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl toss the sliced bell pepper with 2 tbsps of vinegar and ½ teaspoon salt. Set the bowl aside while you make the rest of the recipe.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
  3. Now, you want to combine onion powder, thyme, cayenne, curry powder, and 1 bay leaf in a spice grinder and pulse all the spices together until finely ground! (Yes, you read that correctly, grind one of the bay leaves). If you don’t have a spice grinder, you can use a mortar and pestle or a small blender. And worst-case scenario, try to chop the bay leave as fine as possible.
  4. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or a large skillet with a heavy bottom and an oven-proof lid. Generously season the chicken with salt, then add to the hot oil. Cook, turning the pieces occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes - We’re not looking to cook it all the way through here, more like 75%. Don’t crowd the pan; work in batches if you have to. Remove the chicken and place in a bowl next to the stove.
  5. Add the onion and diced pepper to the same skillet and sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until they start to soften, about 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in the ginger, minced garlic and all of the spice mixture along with 2 teaspoons of salt, then stir in the rice. Cook, stirring, until the rice is toasted, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring for 1 minute, then add the chicken stock and the remaining bay leaf as well as the chicken and bring to a boil. Cover, transfer to the oven, and bake until the rice is tender and has absorbed all of the liquid, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes.
  7. Once completely cooked, cover the rice and season with some more salt to taste. Drain the pepper slices from the vinegar marinade (save leftover as a dressing)  and scatter over the hot rice along with scallions and/or parsley and serve.

Recipe Notes

 

  • You can also make this dish exclusively on the stovetop. Rather than transfer it to the oven, cover and set the element to a low simmer for 20 or until the rice is cooked. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
  • You can save the leftover vinegar from soaking the bell peppers for making salad dressing.
  • This recipe tastes great with beef as well.
  • For some more color, add some frozen peas.
Nutrition Facts
Jollof Rice with Chicken
Amount Per Serving (1 /4)
Calories 448 Calories from Fat 198
% Daily Value*
Fat 22g34%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 91mg30%
Sodium 282mg12%
Potassium 577mg16%
Carbohydrates 41g14%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 21g42%
Vitamin A 1761IU35%
Vitamin C 65mg79%
Calcium 40mg4%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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5 Comments
  1. Until recently, I’d never even heard of Jollof Rice, and now I feel like I keep seeing it everywhere, so clearly it’s time to give it a try! What a perfect idea to add chicken, although I’m also really intrigued to try your suggestion of using fish (and also maybe your idea of adding little sweet green peas). Love that I can change it up a bit!

  2. Like most families I am always run off my feet during the week and just have no time to think about dinner. This one pot recipe is exactly what I need to get dinner on the table quickly. It was delicious! Definitely making it again soon.

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