Ever wanted to know what authentic Jamaican cuisine is all about, but not known where to get started? This guide has got you covered.
Food from Jamaica is unique because the island country is a melting pot of several different cultures. Jamaican cuisine focuses on savory meats, fresh veggies, seafood, and fruit that are all native to the island. Perhaps you’ve heard of jerk chicken, which is one of the most popular beloved Jamaican street foods
Jamaican cuisine is a vibrant blend of flavors, colors, and textures that showcase the island’s rich heritage and cultural diversity. Drawing influence from its African, Spanish, British, Indian, and Chinese roots, Jamaican recipes invite you to a world of mouth-watering combinations that celebrate the best of Caribbean food. With various spices and herbs, tropical fruits, and succulent meats, these traditional dishes will serve as an introduction to the unique culinary experience that is Jamaican cooking.
In order to cook authentic Jamaican recipes at home, you need to be familiar with the essential ingredients that give these dishes their characteristic taste. Scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, thyme, nutmeg, and pimento are just a few examples of what you will commonly find in Jamaican kitchens. Additionally, there are specific cooking techniques, such as slow-cooking, grilling, and marinating that contribute to the depth and complexity of Jamaican flavors.
- Jamaican recipes are a vibrant blend of flavors reflecting diverse cultural influences
- Essential ingredients like Scotch bonnet peppers and allspice are key to authentic taste
- Mastering cooking techniques like slow-cooking and grilling enhances the Jamaican culinary experience
In this article, I will provide you with 20 authentic Jamaican recipes. So, next time you’re planning a Jamaican meal, you have plenty of inspiration!
Keep reading to find out more.
If you like spice, it doesn’t get much more Jamaican than Jamaican goat curry! Also referred to as curried goat, this particular dish is influenced by both Jamaican and Indian cuisine.
This dish features succulent goat, made by stir frying the spiced goat in oil before simmering in coconut milk and chopped tomatoes to make the meat mouthwateringly tender.
In terms of flavor, Jamican goat curry packs a punch! This dish gets its spicy kick from a delicate balance of curry powder, allspice, habanero or Scotch Bonnet chilli peppers, and fresh ginger.
Jamaican oxtail is a hearty recipe for the whole family, slowly simmered to perfection with a delicious blend of herbs.
This variation of Jamaican oxtail lends itself to a variety of textures, featuring tender braised beef oxtail, sautéed vegetables, and butter beans.
This fragrant stew gets its flavor from Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, and smoked paprika amongst other ingredients.
Not only can this delicious dish be served as a stew, but also with sides such as rice and peas.
If you’re a fan of seafood, then this recipe is perfect for you. Jamaican hot pepper shrimp is a fiery dish that is packed with a tonne of flavor!
Featuring fresh shrimp, Scotch Bonnet chilli peppers, and a variety of spices such as allspice and old bay seasoning, this dish packs a punch!
Dicing the Scotch Bonnets distributes the flavor nicely, so this dish isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re not the biggest fan of spice, you can leave the peppers out and still get some delicious, well-seasoned shrimp!
Nothing quite says Jamaican cuisine like jerk chicken! When making jerk chicken, you should aim to use chicken thighs and legs. The dark meat pairs deliciously with the powerful spices, and these cuts of meat tend to be juicier.
Jerk chicken can be cooked in the oven. However, you’ll have a better result if you grill them as the added smoky flavor works well to enhance all of the flavors in the marinade.
Jerk chicken is great on its own, or accompanied by typical Jamaican side dishes such as rice and peas!
If you’re looking for a delicious side dish, Jamaican steamed cabbage is always a crowd pleaser! A great thing about cabbage is that it is an inexpensive side that can be found in most countries.
This colorful variation features sweet carrots, thyme, and spicy Scotch Bonnet pepper, adding just the right amount of heat without being too overwhelming. It takes something as mild as cabbage and gives it a whole new lease of life!
While the pepper adds both fragrance and heat to this Jamaican cabbage, it is entirely optional if you’re not good with spice.
Patties are a nationwide favorite meal in Jamaica, and part of the reason why is that they are so convenient and comforting to eat as well as very versatile.
The traditional Jamaican patty consists of a pastry shell, stuffed with a blend of ground beef and spices.
However, these patties come with a wide variety of fillings, including chicken, seafood, and vegetables.
Another crowd pleaser when cooking Jamaican cuisine is Jamaican curry chicken!
Jamaican curry might look similar to some Asian curries you’re used to, and it uses many of the same ingredients, including coconut milk.
The coconut milk adds body and a rich flavor to the dish, working to balance the delicious blend of spices. From Jamaican curry powder to the kick from Scotch Bonnets, the coconut flavor is a welcomed addition to this curry.
Serve this curry with delicious steamed rice of your choice and you’ll have a delicious meal for the whole family!
If you’re on the hunt for another perfect Jamaican side dish, it doesn’t get more classic than rice and peas. This dish is simple yet delicious, packed with a lot of flavor and is the perfect pairing for jerk chicken!
Though the dish is known as rice and peas, it’s actually made with kidney beans.
Cooking the rice in water and unsweetened coconut cream alongside onions, garlic, scallions, thyme, allspice berries, and a Scotch Bonnet pepper brings the Jamaican flavors.
A great Jamaican dish for those of you with a sweet tooth is these sticky sweet fried plantains are the perfect option for you.
Plantains are renowned for bringing a taste of the islands to any meal. Featuring brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and coconut oil, this delicious treat is truly a joy to eat as a side dish or a dessert!
They are super easy to make, and only need a few minutes to soften and begin to caramelize. Make sure that you are using plantains that are just ripe, as you don’t want them to be mushy in texture!
If you like pies, then you’ll love Jamaican beef patties. Much like an empanada or British Cornish pasty, Jamaica has its own version of a beef filled pie known as a beef patty.
Though many of the ingredients are similar to a Cornish pasty – beef, carrot, and onion, there are some significant differences in the spices. This dish features paprika, garam masala, and turmeric in the filling. However, if you don’t have garam masala, you can just use curry powder.
Make sure to seal the edges and brush with egg yolk to give the pie a golden finish.
This wouldn’t be much of a recipe guide without Jamaican rum cake! There’s a reason people always rave about Jamaican rum cake – it’s absolutely delicious.
This dense, yet moist cake might seem boring at first glance, but the flavor is all there. Infused with rum and butter syrup, this is a cake all of your friends will be able to get on board with.
Once baked and cooled, the rum and butter syrup poured over the sponge makes every bite simply heavenly!
12. Jamaican carrots
If you need a Jamaican side dish that’s fit for your vegetarian friends, this recipe is a stand out addition to your table.
Featuring sweet carrots, brown sugar, hot sauce, ground cumin, chilli powder, and pineapple juice – it truly takes your standard boiled carrots to the next level.
While this dish is best served spicy, you can always alter the ingredients for a milder taste. Serve with rice and peas, or amongst other dishes for a Jamaican-style feast!
If succulent pork is right up your street, then you haven’t lived until you’ve tried Jamaican jerk pork!
Featuring a spicy kick from the marinade made with spices such as allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and Scotch Bonnet, this pork is sure to knock your socks off!
Once the marinating process is complete, the pork needs to be slowly grilled above a wood and coal fire. When the meat is cooked all the way through, it is traditionally served with dumplings or bread. However, you could opt for rice if you prefer.
Porridge is a hearty breakfast that keeps you full all morning, and Jamaican cornmeal porridge is no exception!
The main difference of this variation is that it uses cornmeal instead of oats. Infused with spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg alongside brown sugar, vanilla, and coconut milk, this recipe is a warm, sweet, and comforting breakfast.
Serve with fresh fruit such as sliced banana, mango, slivered almonds and walnuts. The great thing about this recipe is that it is cheap, yet it keeps you full and energized right up until lunch!
Jamaican sweet potato pudding is a hearty, traditional dessert that uses simple ingredients but is absolutely delicious!
This Jamaican dessert is packed full of the flavors of sweet potato, coconut milk, vanilla and almond essence, and spices such as ginger and nutmeg.
This dish needs a double bake to create the creamy pudding top.
Dumplings are one of Jamaica’s most comforting and popular sides. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, these deep fried dumplings are an irresistible side dish.
Jamaican fried dumplings are neither aren’t too sweet nor savory, and can therefore be paired with everything from Jamaican curry to sweet, sticky plantains. However, they should be served immediately, as like many other fried foods – these fried dumplings don’t reheat very well.
17. Jamaican bammy
Another great Jamaican side dish is bammy. Bammy refers to a type of Taino flatbread made out of cassava flour.
Once grated and squeezed to get rid of excess moisture, the cassava gets pan-fried in a disc and soaked in coconut milk. This dish is great on the side of a variety of Jamaican dishes!
If you’re looking for a sweet treat, then these sticky coconut drops are to die for!
This dessert is sweet, chewy, and full of unique texture. The soft and chewy coconut pieces and the gummy texture of the toffee are truly delicious, and are super easy to make!
Jamaican gungo peas soup is a great recipe to feed a lot of mouths as it is relatively inexpensive!
This is the ideal recipe for vegetarian guests as it is a hearty stew that is packed full of beans, veggies, potatoes, and plenty of spice.
However, if you’re someone that struggles with spicy foods, you can alter the ingredients in accordance with your taste.
20. Grater cake
Grater cake is a popular traditional Jamaican sweet, with coconut being an integral ingredient. Jamaican grater cake is not a cake, but rather candy. This recipe is simply made with coconut, sugar, and flavouring!
If made right, it should have a thin crusty outside with a tender, pliable and gently chewy inside.
Our 20+ BEST Traditional Jamaican Recipes (+Jamaican Carrots)
- 1 pound sliced and peeled carrots
- 1 Tbsp. salted butter
- 2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
- 1 tsp. each hot sauce lemon juice, and orange juice
- 1 tsp. each cumin and chili powder
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- Sea salt
- Boil the carrots for 10 minutes.
- Heat all other ingredients in a saucepan.
- Stir the mixture into the carrots.
Organize all the required ingredients.
Enjoy the food.