Kitchn Love Letters

I Could Never Perfect Jollof Rice Until I Found This Foolproof Recipe

updated Oct 29, 2020
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KLL Jollof Rice
Credit: Nicole Rufus

There are few things as satisfying to me as a fresh pot of jollof rice. For anyone who hasn’t tried it yet, it’s a rice dish cooked in a mixture of tomato, red pepper, habanero, and onion and usually seasoned with thyme, curry, white pepper, and bay leaves (although there are different variations across West Africa). I love it for its robust, spicy, slightly smoky taste that keeps me going back for more.

Jollof is also the hallmark of every good Nigerian party, and probably my favorite food. I learned how to cook it as a kid by watching my mom do it, so by the time I was old enough to make it by myself, I naturally assumed I would be a pro. Not only had I assisted in the preparation dozens of times, but I had also eaten it more times than I could count. But much to my shock, I was very much not a pro.

It didn’t matter how thorough my mom’s explanations were as she coached me through it over the phone, or how many video tutorials I watched: My jollof rice came out soggy time after time. Eventually, I got to a point where I would get pretty close, but it was never quite right. When you’re eating a plate of perfectly cooked jollof rice, you’ll notice each individual grain is visible. Mine, unfortunately, was mushy.

At Long Last, the Perfect Pot of Jollof Rice

After my many failed attempts, I finally came across this recipe by Ronke Edoho, also known as 9jafoodie, and magic happened. Thanks to Ronke, I finally made the perfect pot of jollof rice. After getting it wrong for so long, I was sort of in disbelief that I was capable of making it taste so good! I couldn’t have been more surprised at how well it turned out, and from reading the comments, it seems I was far from the only one who felt that way. There were many fellow “my rice has never come out right until today” folks in the comments section.  

The thing that makes this recipe so great is the way she breaks down the fundamentals, like using stock instead of water, and creating a controlled burn for the smoky flavor. She also nailed the proportions, and it cooks beautifully every single time. As Ronke mentions, the trickiest thing about making jollof is the timing: You want the rice to absorb as much flavor as possible, but you also don’t want it to be overcooked. There’s a delicate balance and Ronke has nailed it, and she makes it easy for you to nail it, too.

Whether you’re looking to try your hand at jollof rice for the first time, or finally perfect it after many unsuccessful attempts like me, I highly recommend Ronke’s recipe. It’s pretty much foolproof.

At Kitchn, our editors develop and debut brand-new recipes on the site every single week. But at home, we also have our own tried-and-true dishes that we make over and over again — because quite simply? We love them. Kitchn Love Letters is a series that shares our favorite, over-and-over recipes.