Jamaican Stew Peas with Pigtails and Beef

Bowl of Jamaican Stew Peas

Jamaican Stew Peas is the one dish I’d forgo veganism for.  According to my estimation, it’s hands down one of the top meaty stews in the world.  Now all you need is to try it for yourself to see if you agree.  I’m confident you will.  Authentic Jamaican Stewed Peas has the perfect balance of creaminess from pea protein and coconut milk, umami-rich flavours and saltiness from the pork. Yet, it is soothingly herbaceous from the addition of thyme and other herbs. 

Stew peas with pigtail is very popular in Jamaica and I believe it could be the national dish of Jamaica as it’s so delicious and treasured.

You can prepare stew peas in various unique ways by swapping out the pigtails for more affordable protein options like chicken feet, pork skin, chicken back, and turkey neck.

Video Demonstration

You can follow along to my video demonstration by clicking the link below, or skip ahead to the recipe where you can print or download as PDF.

Near the end of cooking, rope-like flour dumplings known as “spinners” are added.  However, I typically leave it out to cut down on the starch content, as this dish is meant to be had with heaping amounts of steamed white rice.

What Pairs Well With Stew Peas

This stew peas recipe pairs really well with Jamaican steamed callaloo which you can find on my blog as well. Because it is such a hearty dish with proteins, fats and fiber, the best thing to pair it with are vegetables. So feel free to try it with callaloo.

Jamaican Stewed Peas with Pigtails and Beef

Cuisine: Jamaican, African, CaribbeanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



According to Wikipedia, In September 1992, the Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner declared stew peas with rice as “the best dish made in Jamaica”. This dish will have your guests beaming on the inside.


  • 2 lb cured pigtails

  • 1-2 lb beef stew chunks

  • 2 cups red peas (dried)

  • 4 cups of water

  • 6 cloves of garlic (minced)

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 large onion (diced)

  • 1 tsp ginger grated

  • 6 Pimentos seeds (whole)

  • Black peppercorns (grounded)

  • 2-3 green Scotch bonnet peppers (whole)

  • 1 medium carrot (peeled and diced)

  • 2 tsp thyme leaves

  • 1 stalk scallion (diced)

  • ½ green sweet/bell pepper (diced)

  • ½ cup Coconut milk (optional)


  • Soak the pigtails overnight in a mixing bowl full of water in the refrigerator to remove excess salt and discard the water and set the pigtail aside.   If you’re short on time, just when you’re ready to cook the dish, bring a soup pot halfway full of water, cook the pigtails, boil them for about 30 minutes, and discard the salinized water.
  • Rinse the red peas to remove any residues.  Soak for about half-hour in 2 cups of water.
  • Place the pigtails, beef, peas with soaking water, garlic, onion, and ginger in a pressure cooker. Pour in 4 more cups of water, then seal and pressure cook for about 30 minutes until the peas and meats are tender.  NB. (Take care to follow the pressure-cooking instructions that came with its manual.)
  • Now it’s time to finish the stew. To do this, use a large, slotted spoon to remove 1 cup of the cooked peas and add them to a blender along with 1 cup of the stew liquid and coconut milk along with 1 tbsp corn starch. 
  • Blend this mixture into a thick soup then pour this creamy mixture back into the pot and stir well to combine. Add diced carrots and simmer on medium heat for about another 5 minutes until the gravy has thickened and the carrots are cooked.
  • Add the thyme leaves, and sweet peppers, and simmer for another 3 minutes.  Serve hot over warm steamed white/ cauliflower rice and a side of garden salad.  

Essential Tool for Making Stew Peas

The quickest and simplest way to make stew peas, is to make it in a pressure cooker. It saves you from having to boil the peas for hours, and the nature of the dish is a one-pot dish which suits using a pressure cooker. I personally recommend this pressure cooker, which I have, but you can view the various types of pressure cookers at the link below.


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About The Chef
Chef Samantha

A formally trained chef, Observer Food Awards scholar, graduate of The University of Technology in Hospitality & Food Service management, young wife and mom of two.

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