Easy Trinidad Christmas Rice Recipe with Cranberries

This Christmas rice is a colorful, tasty side that pairs well with other Trinidad Christmas food.

It has all the basic ingredients of a simple fried rice plus cranberries to add some pops of sweetness.

christmas rice trinidad with cranberries on a white plate with a fork on the right side

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Ingredients and substitutions

For this recipe, you will need:

  • rice: I used white jasmine rice but you can use parboiled, brown, basmati or any rice that won’t become overly mushy when mixed with veggies.
  • onion: white or purple onions work great in this recipe. I used the purple ones but they lost their color.
  • garlic
  • ginger: adds great, subtle flavor to the Christmas rice.
  • pimento pepper: common to the Caribbean, but feel free to use fresh scotch bonnet or chilis, or black pepper, cayenne or paprika.
  • carrot
  • bell peppers: yellow, red and green sweet peppers add festive pops of color to this holiday rice. I only had green peppers on hand here.
  • cilantro: adds a great, fresh flavor to the rice.
  • chadon beni: or culantro is a classic Trini herb that is used in everything. Use cilantro as a substitute if it is not available.
  • cranberries: these add sweet, tart bursts of flavor to the rice and red pops of color. Substitute with raisins and sultanas if you like.
  • clove
  • salt
  • sugar: This is optional. If you want the rice to have a slightly sweet taste, you can sprinkle a little sugar at the end while the rice is still hot.
  • vegetable oil
  • butter
  • water

How to make Trinidad Christmas rice

Prepare the rice

Step 1: Place a large, heavy-bottomed pot on the stove on medium heat. Add water, salt and cloves and bring to a boil.

Step 2: Wash the rice a couple times until the water is no longer cloudy and runs clear.

Step 3: Add the washed rice to the boiling water.

boil rice with cloves

Step 4: Cook the rice until it has completely softened. This white jasmine rice took about 12 minutes. But the time may differ depending on the rice you use.

Step 5: Strain the rice and set aside to cool completely. This can take about 15 minutes. You can fluff the rice with a fork when it is cool and remove the cloves.

cooled rice

Prepare the other ingredients

Step 6: Wash, peel and chop the onion and garlic. Wash, peel and grate the ginger.

Step 7: Rinse, scrape and dice the carrots. Wash, remove the seeds, and dice the pimentos and sweet peppers.

Step 8: Rinse and finely chop the herbs like cilantro (celery), and chadon beni. Wash the cranberries. You can cut them in half if you like.

trinidad christmas rice ingredients - rice, cranberries, culantro, cilantro, pimento, red onion, garlic, ginger, butter, oil, carrots and bell peppers

Sauté the veggies

Step 9: Place a large skillet on the stove on medium heat. Allow to heat up for 1 minute. Add butter and oil to the pot.

Step 10: Toss in the chopped onion, garlic, ginger, and pimento. Stir and sauté for 30 seconds.

sauteed aromatics for rice

Step 11: Mix in the chopped carrots and salt. Cook for 1 minute.

add diced carrots to aromatics

Step 12: Add the diced sweet peppers, cilantro (celery) and chadon beni (culantro). Sauté for 1 minute.

add sweet peppers and seasoning to skillet

Make Trini Christmas rice

Step 13: Add the cranberries to the vegetables. Cook for another 30 seconds.

cranberries and sauteed veggies

Step 14: Add the rice and mix thoroughly with the vegetables and cranberries. Turn off the heat.

add rice to cranberries and veggies

Step 15: Taste test and adjust the salt, pepper and seasoning to your preferred taste. If you want the rice a little sweeter, you can sprinkle a pinch of sugar over the rice. Serve hot alongside stewed lentils or stewed red beans, macaroni pie, baked chicken and more lunch sides.

christmas rice on a plate and skillet

Christmas rice recipe

christmas rice with fork and towel
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Christmas rice with cranberries

This Trinidad Christmas rice is a wonderful side dish for the holidays. It has all the basic ingredients of a simple fried rice plus cranberries to add wonderful pops of sweetness.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time16 minutes
Cooling Time15 minutes
Total Time46 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Caribbean
Keyword: Christmas rice
Servings: 6
Calories: 209kcal
Author: Ros Singh


  • 1 cup rice (like white jasmine rice)
  • 4 cups water
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • tbsp ginger
  • 1 pimento pepper (or pepper of choice)
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 2 medium bell peppers
  • ¼ cup cranberries
  • ¼ cup cilantro or celery
  • cup culantro or chadon beni
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • pinch of sugar (optional)


  • Place a large pot on medium heat.
  • Add water, 1 tsp salt and cloves. Bring to a boil.
  • Rinse rice at least 3 times until the water runs clear.
  • Add the washed rice to the boiling water.
  • Boil until the rice is completely cooked (about 12 minutes).
  • Strain any excess water. Set aside to cool (about 15 minutes).
  • Wash, peel and chop the onion and garlic.
  • Scrape the ginger peel. Grate.
  • Rinse, scrape and dice the carrots.
  • Wash, de-seed and dice the bell peppers and pimento pepper.
  • Wash and chop the cranberries (optional).
  • Wash and finely chop the fresh herbs like celery and chadon beni.
  • Place a large skillet on medium heat. Leave to heat up.
  • Add oil and butter.
  • Mix in the prepped onion, garlic, ginger and pimento.
  • Stir. Cook for 30 seconds.
  • Toss in the carrots and 1 tsp of salt. Cool for 1 minute.
  • Mix in the sweet peppers, celery and chadon beni.
  • Sauté for 1 minute.
  • Stir in the cranberries.
  • Fluff rice with a fork. Remove cloves (optional).
  • Add rice to the sauteed vegetables. Mix thoroughly.
  • Taste test and adjust salt and pepper. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar (optional) for a sweeter dish.
  • Turn off the heat. Serve hot.

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