Calypso Rice

16.9.21 | Recipe by Renz

Let me transport you to the Caribbean with this vibrant and flavorful Calypso rice. A variation of the plain white rice but packed full of crunchy veggies and flavored with onion and garlic. Incredibly quick and simple to make; it’s a great alternative to plain white rice.
Close up of a spoon full of calypso rice

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Calypso rice is the perfect way to up your rice game without having to spend a lot of extra time in the kitchen.

It’s simple to make, and it will transform your plate, adding a pop of color that will wow your guests!

I like it as a delicious way to get some extra veggies in, too.

We eat a lot of rice with our food. It is important to have a lot of variations so that we don't get too bored of the same plain white rice.

If you are looking for some more tasty rice recipes check out rice and peas, saffron rice, ochro and rice.

What is calypso rice?

You are probably there wondering what Calypso is and how it relates to rice.

Calypso is a genre of music (origination from Trinidad and Tobago) that is a mix of African beats with island themes. Well, that's how it started. Now it has evolved to fuse together many different genres of music while still holding to its base of African beats.

So why is the rice called Calypso? Calypso is heavily played during a festival called Carnival in the Caribbean islands. Carnival is not something I can aptly describe in words but it's a festival of revelry of music and people in colorful costumes infused with music and color, and, of course, food.

This rice with all its color with the red bell peppers, green bell peppers, carrots, and onions and thyme, and scallions. A plethora of colors that can easily identify with the concept of a carnival.

And what do we hear at carnival? Calypso. So this simple rice dish made by frying up vegetables, onions, and garlic, embodies the colorful revelry of the Carnival festival in the Caribbean.

No more boring-rice option

How to make calypso rice?

This is a quick and easy recipe that uses your basic kitchen staples.

The main ingredients for making calypso rice

Ingredients include:
  • Rice
  • Carrots
  • Bell peppers/sweet pepper
  • Onion
  • Fresh thyme
  • Garlic cloves
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Scallions/Green onions
  • Butter - you can also use oil (canola oil or olive oil can be used)

Chop everything up into cubes. I used to sit and take my time cutting my bell peppers up into perfect squares. But then I found an amazing vegetable chopper on amazon that makes everything so much easier. In less than 10 minutes, I get all my veggies cubed up and ready to go.

You can julienne the peppers and carrots or you can chop them up. I prefer them to be chopped up. They fit better with the rice in my opinion.

So while the rice is boiling, I take that time to chop up my vegetables as needed.

On medium-high heat, heat up your heavy bottom saucepan and heat your butter. I prefer to use butter but you can also heat oil if you prefer.

Add your garlic, onions, bell peppers, scallion, thyme, carrots, and pimento peppers if you have, and saute those till opaque and tender.

I add my rice in portions so that I can easily incorporate the vegetables.

Add more butter if you find the rice is getting dry.

Taste for salt at this point and add if needed.

You can also sprinkle some chopped cilantro on the top after you are done.

What to serve with Calypso Rice

Calypso rice is tasty on its own, but it also goes well with saucy dishes as a side plate.

Try serving it alongside shrimp with a spicy curry cream sauce for a quick but special weeknight dinner or a tasty Jamaican steam conch or some curry chicken.
An orange pan of colourful rice with a brown serving spoon

Storing and reheating

People get pretty nervous about reheating rice because some toxins in reheated rice can survive the cooking process and make you sick.

However, these toxins breed at room temperature, so if you cool your rice down quickly after cooking and store it in the fridge, it’s safe to store and reheat.

You can cool your leftover calypso rice down quickly by spreading it in a thin layer on a plate or baking sheet. As soon as it’s cool enough, put it into an airtight container in the fridge.

You should only keep your rice for a day at most, so try having it as a treat for lunch the next day! Or if anything, put it to freeze the next day in a Ziploc bag.

When reheating, you can use the microwave. Combine the rice and a little bit of water in a bowl. Make sure to break up any clumps of rice. You can also add a little butter. Using a dampened paper towel, cover the rice and microwave in 30-second spurts. Mix the rice, and check if reheated all the way through.


Uncooked rice: If you don’t want to cook the rice first, you can use uncooked rice to make calypso rice. If using uncooked rice, you will also need to add water. (See Note for this process).

Vegetables: Feel free to add any extra vegetables that you like! Cauliflower, green peas, and corn all work well. Frozen vegetable packs. Anything with a lot of color is a good choice!

Rice type: I usually stick to using parboiled rice, I actually stick to Uncle Ben's brand of rice. It's the main rice I grew up using. It's used in pelau and most of our rice dishes, but you can easily substitute it for your favorite rice like jasmine rice or brown rice or even yellow rice. . You need to just have 3 cups of a cooked bowl of rice to be used.

Seasonings: I prefer to see fresh versions of these but If you don't have fresh garlic, thyme, the onion you can use the powder version of these seasonings. Add them after you add the rice to the pot and add to taste.

If you want this to be a little spicy rice, you can slice up thinly half of a scotch bonnet pepper without the seeds and membrane and cook it with the onions and garlic in the beginning.

Birdseye view of calypso rice ready to be served.


Prefer to do all cooking in one pot? If you want to cook the rice with the vegetables you can. You will need to add water (or chicken stock) to the process and then steam away.

After sautéing all the veggies, add the uncooked rice and mix it and let it toast. Then add water/broth, salt and pepper to the skillet and mix. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and steam on medium-low till rice is cooked. Keep your eye on the water and doneness of the rice to see if you may need to add a little more water. When the rice is cooked, fluff with fork, then sprinkle with cilantro.

If you need information on the water to rice ratio, this is a great article on how to steam rice.