How to Make the Tastiest Nigerian Coconut Jollof Rice

My love for coconut rice started long ago.

I went to secondary boarding school, Girls Secondary School, Ihioma, one of the best model schools in Imo-State, Nigeria. This school also doubles a convent owned and operated by the Catholic Church. First of all, “secondary” school is the same as high school here in America. Boarding school was a bit challenging because you live in school, eat the meals provided by the school, and do not get to see your family until “visiting day.” Every first Sunday of the month was our visiting day, and I just like all the other kids look forward to that. My mother would usually bring the bestest tastiest yummiest Nigerian coconut jollof rice ever. That is typically the highlight of my month. Can you imagine waiting all month, and looking forward to coconutty goodness? In like manner, I love celebrating my yearly birthday with a dish of coconut rice.

Year after year, even at this stage of my life (as a fully grown woman), I still feel that the need to give myself the best birthday gift of them all – coconut rice. It is flavorful, tasty, easy to make, and yet classic. As a matter of fact, I am not the only one in my family that feel the same way about coconut rice. My brothers and sisters all adore this deliciousness, let’s face it is the best!

It all starts with some raw rice, and fresh (or can) coconut milk.

Nigerian coconut rice is the best.

Growing up, I never knew that you could buy already made coconut milk in tins just like tomato paste. In fact, I never saw commercially produced coconut milk until I traveled abroad. Yikes. Am spilling all the tea, but you get what I mean? Mother would usually use a grinding stone to crush the fresh coconut meat, and then use hot water to extract all the milk. Afterward, she will use it to make coconut rice – sweet, fragrant, flavorful. Mother’s coconut rice was E V E… Click To Tweet

In reality, 9ja coconut rice is always the best, whether you are talking about Nigerian coconut jollof rice (aka, this recipe), or any other one.

Countless coconut rice recipe

There are plenty of ways to cook coconut rice, just like there are many ways to cook fried rice as well. This is one of the ways I make my coconut rice. For this very recipe, I use tomatoes (mainly paste), bell peppers (sometimes), onions, and garlic. And would generally finish up with some mixed veggies, which is optional. For that extra veggie-ness, nutritiousness, and eye-catching-ness.

One of the most common things in all coconut rice recipes that I have seen is that they all need/use coconut milk and coconut oil.

Adding vegetables to your coconut rice is a matter of choice; nevertheless, it sure tastes perfect if you do.
One rice recipe, two options. With or without mixed vegetables? You choose 🙂

If you are indeed crazy about coconut rice like yours truly, then here you go for the recipe.

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How to Make the Tastiest Nigerian Coconut Jollof Rice
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Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Category: Coconut Rice

Cuisine: Nigerian

Author: Nkechi Ajaeroh, MPH

Servings: 6 persons

How to Make the Tastiest Nigerian Coconut Jollof Rice

There are plenty of ways to cook coconut rice, but this recipe stands out, any time, any day. And don’t forget to finish up with some mixed veggies, and your choice of protein. This chicken breast was a perfect accompaniment.


  • 3 cups of long grain rice
  • 1 whole big bell pepper (any color works but I would normally use orange or red for this type of coconut jollof rice.)
  • 1 tin of 6 oz. tomato paste; I would usually scope off 1 tipping tablespoon out of it, and use the rest.
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 bulb of onions (divide into 2; chop up half for sautéing and blend up the other half with bell pepper, tomato paste, and garlic)
  • ½ bulb of onions (chopped, as mentioned above)
  • 2 cups of fresh coconut milk or 1 (13 oz.) can of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1½ cups of chicken/veggie broth
  • 1½ cups of water plus another half to blend the bell pepper, tomato paste, garlic and onions.
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut oil (or a little less if your coconut milk is oily)
  • ½ teaspoon of grated fresh Nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme of ½ of dry Thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground/crushed red pepper (or more if you like spicy foods)
  • 2-teaspoons of salt (always add salt according to your health need or taste; also reduce salt if your broth/stock is salty.)
  • 1 seasoning cube
  • 2 teaspoons of seasoning powder
  • 2 cups of mixed vegetables (optional; personally, I love adding them)
  • Spring onions (sliced; for garnishing. Optional)


  1. Parboil rice in boiling water for about 5 – 7 minutes, wash with cold water until the water becomes clear, then place in a colander and set aside. Blend up onions, bell pepper, garlic, and tomato paste with a half cup of water, and set aside. Chop onions and set aside as well.
  2. Set clean pot on the stove, and allow the pot to warm up, and then add coconut oil. Allow to heat up before adding the chopped onions, cook for 2 minutes or until it softens. Then add the vegetable blend and cook the blend for at least 10 minutes (stirring every now and there) until the water/liquid visibly reduces. In the process, add salt, pepper, thyme, ground red pepper, nutmeg, and seasoning cubes/powder (except for one cube or 1 teaspoon of seasoning powder). Make sure that the ingredients are well combined.
  3. At this time, give your pot a good stir and add in the coconut milk, stir, cover, and bring to a simmer. Then stir in the broth as soon as it starts to simmer, taste the sauce, and then add the water (from the blender rinse). You can add just about one cup, keep the remaining half and see if you need it later. Give a gentle stir, cover, and allow simmering.
  4. Make sure that the stove is on medium (like #5) before adding the rice. Gently use a wooden spoon or spatula to ensure that the rice is evenly distributed, then crush in that last seasoning cube or sprinkle the seasoning powder, cover and cook for the next 30 – 35 minutes.
  5. 20 – 25 minutes into cooking check to see how the rice is doing; you may need to stir the top very lightly (barely). At this point, you can decide if you still need to add the last half-cup of water. Add the mixed vegetables; use a spatula to distribute gently. Ensure that your stove is at low – medium (about #4 or so). Taste for flavor and use your hands to press one or two rice to check their level of tenderness. Cover and cook for the next 10 minutes or until the rice is tender and have absorbed all the liquid, and smells divine.
  6. Enjoy warm, garnish with green onions, serve with avocado, beans, and your choice of protein. Here I chose chicken breast.


Do not be tempted to add too much water to this coconut rice recipe or even any other (African) rice recipe. Remember that the steam cooks the rice, not the heat, so little water/liquid (and low heat) as recommended is enough. Too much water could make it mushy.

Any color of bell peppers work but remember the colors you choose will affect the color of the rice. And this type of coconut rice needs to look a bit like Jollof or reddish or tomato-ish. I would use red or orange bell pepper for this purpose.

By the time you blend the onions, bell pepper, tomato paste, and garlic, you will have about 2½ cups of the blend.

Don’t worry if you do not have bell pepper on hand. Tomato paste would work just fine. I have done it over and over with only tomato paste, and it would end up fantastic as well.

I would use about one and a half cup of water to rinse the blender after blending (the bell pepper, onions, tomato paste, and garlic). That becomes the entire water that this recipe needs.

You use can 3 teaspoons of seasoning powder or just its equivalent in cubes, or combine like I did, and it would work very well still.

I like using long grain rice for this recipe am sure any other type of rice would work.

If you parboil the rice for a long time, it may shorten the cooking time of the rice, and if you are not careful, it might become mushy.


Now it is your turn to share with me your best part of coconut rice. Do you like it, or maybe I should ask, “have you had it before?”

Will you be making this recipe? 

Meanwhile, I want to extend a special invitation to you to join me inside my private Facebook community. I provide free tools, resources, and recipes that are so irresistible, and can help you jumpstart/maintain your healthy eating lifestyle. I can’t wait to see you there!

Also, I have great light and lovely recipes you will enjoy. I got you!

Please share this post on your social media, and with family and friends.

With love,

Nkechi Ajaeroh, MPH

Hi, I'm Nkechi "Kechi" Ajaeroh, a Public Health professional turned Inspirational author slash exceptional home cook. A 2x International Best Selling Author of Elevate Your Life with the Power of Positive Perception and Gratefully Growing. African, (specifically, Nigerian) Food Enthusiast, watermelon connoisseur, on my to finessing my fitness. This blog is all about loving food, living life, practicing gratitude, and inspiring you to use your wings. Join the journey.

  1. Ok, so I drool whenever I see your posts. I am definitely making this tonight to go with our ribs. But I will use coconut to make my own coconut milk. I cannot wait! Mmmm….

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