Pumpkin Rice is a savory Jamaican-inspired rice dish made with real pumpkin and coconut milk. Serve it with almost any main dish for a fall-inspired side dish. Everyone loves this creamy and satisfying recipe that is plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

A white stockpot filled with cooked pumpkin rice.

Nothing says fall like pumpkin, and there are so many great ways to use it besides lattes!

This is an amazing recipe that is the perfect side dish to any meal. You can also enjoy it on its own as a light lunch.

Why You Need This Recipe

  • This one-pot meal is very easy to make and is hands-off once you get it started. It’s also naturally vegan as it uses coconut milk instead of heavy cream.
  • The bright colors are so cheerful on the plate even kids can’t wait to dig in.
  • It’s easily customizable based on the ingredients you have on hand. It’s also very budget-friendly! You can use whatever type of squash you can find. Don’t have pumpkin? Use butternut squash instead.

Key Ingredients

Ingredients to make creamy pumpkin rice in small bowls on a white surface.

Pumpkin contains vitamin C and beta carotene as well as being naturally sweet. You can also use butternut squash in this recipe if you don’t have pumpkin available. Be sure to cut either type of squash into small pieces to help them cook faster. Don’t use pumpkin puree.

White rice is easily digestible and gluten-free. Use any type of long-grain white rice here, including basmati or jasmine.

Vegetable broth is comforting and nourishing, especially if you use homemade. You can use chicken broth if you want to add more protein to this dish and you aren’t on a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Coconut milk brings dairy-free creaminess. No heavy cream needed!

Jalapeño pepper adds traditional spice to this dish, without being too hot. The authentic Jamaican version uses whole scotch bonnets which are extremely spicy. Feel free to adjust the type of pepper you use to make this dish either mildly spicy to very spicy!

Recipe Steps

Diced onions and garlic in a white saucepan.

Step One

Sauté onion, garlic, and pepper in a large stockpot over medium heat.

As always, please do see the recipe card at the end of this post for the exact ingredients and measurements.

Ingredients to make pumpkin rice in a white saucepan.

Step Two

Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.

A white stockpot filled with cooked pumpkin rice.

Step Three

Cover and simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and serve.

I hope you love this Jamaican Pumpkin Rice recipe. It’s very flavorful and a great way to serve rice in a different way.

A forkful of pumpkin rice over a small serving on a plate.

Recipe Tips & Substitutions

  • If you can’t find a real pumpkin, you can use peeled and chopped butternut squash instead. You can also use peeled and chopped Kabocha squash (sometimes called Japanese pumpkin). 
  • Traditional Jamaican pumpkin rice is usually made with a hot pepper called a Scotch Bonnet pepper. This version uses a jalapeno pepper, but you can feel free to use a hotter pepper. Or, if you don’t like spicy food, feel free to leave out the pepper altogether.  
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat before serving. 

Recipe FAQs

Can I use brown rice in this recipe?

Yes, but you will need to increase the cook time to 40 minutes to ensure that the rice gets cooked through. 

Do I need to use pumpkin?

You can chop a pumpkin or if that’s too difficult to find or do, look for butternut squash or Kabocha squash. You may also use sweet potato if that’s what you can get.

A wooden spoon in a pot of pumpkin rice.

I hope you make this recipe! If you do, please leave a comment and a starred review below.

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Print
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A small white plate filled with a serving of pumpkin rice.

Pumpkin Rice

Pumpkin Rice is a savory Jamaican-inspired rice dish made with real pumpkin and coconut milk. Serve it with almost any main dish for a fall-inspired side dish. Everyone loves this creamy and satisfying recipe that is plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup chopped pumpkin (cut into 1/2-inch pieces; see notes for substitutions)
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice, rinsed well in a fine-mesh colander
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • Chopped parsley (optional, for topping)

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan or stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and pepper, and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  2. Add the thyme, pumpkin, rice, broth, and coconut milk and stir to combine. 
  3. Let the mixture come to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed almost all of the liquid.
  4. Turn off the heat, remove the lid, and use a fork to fluff the rice.
  5. Serve hot, with optional chopped parsley on top as a garnish. 

Notes

  1. If you can’t find a real pumpkin, you can use peeled and chopped butternut squash instead. You can also use peeled and chopped Kabocha squash (sometimes called Japanese pumpkin). 
  2. Traditional Jamaican pumpkin rice is usually made with a hot pepper called a Scotch Bonnet pepper. This version uses a jalapeno pepper, but you can feel free to use a hotter pepper. Or, if you don’t like spicy food, feel free to leave out the pepper altogether.  
  3. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat before serving. 

Keywords: Jamaican rice. pumpkin rice, dairy free rice

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