Christmas rice recipe

8.9.22 | Recipe by Renz

Christmas rice is a popular side dish we make in Trinidad and Tobago for the holidays. It is a flavorful, colorful rice dish. Great for the festive season. This delicious dish will bring you the holiday spirit that you are longing for.

A bowl full of Christmas Rice garnished with a bustle of parsley.

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Most people I know love a tasty rice dish. A variety of rice dishes is very common in the Caribbean. Some are rice with meat and some include vegetables, just like the Christmas rice.

I am not really a fan of vegetables growing up. But thankfully, my mother did not give up encouraging me to eat healthy food.

This Christmas rice recipe is a mixture of steamed rice, vegetables, and ham to make it tasty and savory! Perfect for the holiday season.

This aromatic rice dish is a fancier version of my calypso rice recipe.


Ingredients for Christmas Rice

It may look complicated but the ingredients for this are pretty simple.

Ingredients needed to make Christmas rice.

Take in some special notes for these specific ingredients:

  • Long grain rice - I always use long grain rice to cook my dishes. It stands up better to additional cooking.
  • Coconut oil - Coconut oil adds some additional flavor to this dish. Versus using another like vegetable oil. But you can use what you have on hand
  • Black olives - I know not everyone likes black olives, but it really adds some saltiness to combat the sweet. Everything combined is an explosion of flavor.
  • Diced ham - you can use the cubed ham that sells in groceries. Or if you have already done a baked ham for the holidays, cut off and chop up some of that.
  • Sweet peppers - try to use ones that are bright so like red, yellow, orange


Large nonstick pot
Vegetable chopper
Cutting board

How to make the tasty and savory Christmas Rice

Did you know that this type of rice dish is so easy and quick to make? With a little patience and some basic kitchen skill, you can make this recipe in no time.

Please make sure you have everything ready to go before starting on the stove. Prep time is probably the most work for this dish

Boil your rice with whatever process you prepare rice; on the stove or in your rice cooker. It does not matter.

Once the rice is done, drain and set aside.

I actually prefer to use stale rice, as I do for fried rice. So I might boil my rice the night before.

Heat the stove on medium heat. Then, add half of the coconut oil to your pot to heat through.


Peppers, celery, onions, garlic and ginger being sautéed in coconut oil.

Add onions, garlic, celery, bell peppers, and ginger, and sauté until the onions are opaque.

Add the grated carrots and mix for two minutes. I like to add the carrots now so that it can get rid of some of the liquid it created while it was grated and sitting.

Carrots with sauteed vegetables in a large open dutch pot.

Once that is done, add in your cubed ham and cook until heated through.


Diced ham cubes with sautéed vegetables in coconut oil.

Add soy sauce and the cooked rice and combine well. Cook until rice is incorporated with everything.


Rice added to sauteed vegetables and mixed in with black olives, with raisins and cranberries.

Remove from heat and add in raisins, cranberries, and black olives.

Garnish with roughly chopped parsley.


Finished Christmas rice with a garnish of parsley leaves.

What can I serve with Christmas rice?

Christmas rice can be a stand-alone dish since it is already tasty and flavorful. But it is nice to pair it with turkey, meat, or fish.

Some great options are:


Cream serving bowls with servings of Christmas rice.

Storage and reheating of Christmas rice

This rice dish can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to three days.

To warm up, throw in a microwaveable bowl and warm up for 45-second spurts until warmed through.

It can also be put to freeze in airtight bags. To warm up from the freezer, defrost in the fridge overnight then warm up in the microwave.

A close shot of a spoonful of Christmas rice.


  • Oil - Though I prefer to use coconut oil, you can also use ghee, olive oil, or canola oil to free things up. You can also use sesame oil to add flavor later down.
  • Rice - Don't like parboiled rice? Easily replace with brown or jasmine rice. You can also try some yellow rice, and give it a nice Spanish look.
  • Meat - don't want to use ham, try any other meat you prefer, chicken or turkey. You can also use minced meat or bacon.
  • Onion - Instead of white onion try using some red onion instead. 


The good thing about this dish is that you can defiantly put in what you like. Just try to make it colorful and mix the sweet and a bit salty.

  • Sweet corn kernels.
  • Green peas.
  • Crushed walnuts.
  • Red rice or any colored rice is also used. Some people will also add food coloring (red and/or green food dye) to make it more festive. After boiling the rice, separate it in half, add a few drops of each color, and mix in.
  • Hot pepper - if you want to add a spicy flavor.
  • Chadon beni - use this instead of or along with the parsley.
  • Red onions.
  • Pickled beets - they sell these in jars. They are small round balls. Cut them in half. Add them when adding the raisins at the end.
  • Scallions
  • Whole cashews

Servings of Christmas rice ready to be eaten.

Check out some other rice recipes:

And some amazing Christmas sides