If you are searching for some authentic Jamaican recipes to bring some Caribbean flavor to your home, then you have come to the right place.
If you have ever been to Jamaica you will know the local cuisine is much more than just jerk chicken with rice.
That is not a slight on jerk chicken as the dish is personally one of my favorites but, the island nation has a palette to challenge even the most popular foodie nation.
Jamaica has foods that are vibrant, fruity, spicy and unique to the country that you will not find anywhere else.
Many of the traditional Jamaican dishes are inspired from the surrounding islands, that blend together seafood, fish and oxtail with some regional vegetables and fruit.
There is of course a jerk chicken recipe (see also ‘24 Simple Canned Chicken Recipes‘) within this article but it’s one I absolutely love. But read on and take in 20 Jamaican recipes that contain plenty of delicious local cuisines.
1. Jamaican Oxtail
Oxtail does not look the most appetizing cut of beef but appearances can be deceiving, if you have never cooked with oxtail before maybe it is time to give it a go.
The cut of meat does have some extra fat, this does produce some rich flavourful stock and when it is slow cooked it can be more tender than any other cut of beef.
2. Jamaican Steamed Cabbage
Cabbage seems an odd choice to be the center point of a dish after all it is just a side for most of us, but this colorful Jamaican twist on an inexpensive ingredient means this meal is quick and easy to make.
The Scotch Bonnet Pepper (see also ‘18 Recipes That Make Anaheim Peppers The Star Of The Show‘) is my personal highlight of this dish. Adding the perfect amount of heat that is not overwhelming and gives new life to a vegetable many assume to be mild and dull.
3. Jamaican Callaloo
Similar to spinach, callaloo is cooked with an onion, tomatoes, green onions and once again a Scotch Bonnet Pepper (see also ‘5 Substitutes To Use Instead Of Scotch Bonnet Pepper‘). If you can not find any callaloo then collard greens would make a fine alternative.
A combination of spinach and a large green cabbage would work in place too.
4. Jerk Chicken
Now the one I have looking forward to sharing with you.
When you decide to make jerk chicken it is always a good idea to use thighs and legs with the bones still in, the dark meat pairs much better with the powerful spices and the cuts of meat are much juicer.
They bake up great in the oven but can be grilled and the added smokey flavor will truly enhance the marinade.
5. Jamaican Hot Pepper Shrimp
Word of warning before you decide to make this dish, if you can not handle a fiery plate of food then this dish may not be for you. Still here? Perfect, dicing the peppers allows the flavor to spread all over the shrimp.
The hot peppers can be swapped out for a less spicy variant and you will still have a plate of beautifully seasoned shrimp.
6. Jamaican Curry Chicken
At first glance Jamaican curry may look no different to some Asian curries that you are perhaps more accustomed to, they do use many of the same ingredients but the taste is totally unique.
Your typical Jamaican curry will have a lot more warmth to it than its Asian counterparts. This comes via the ever present scotch bonnet peppers and the additional all-spice and turmeric that really hits the spot.
7. Rice And Peas
This meal is simple but effective and is packed with flavor, it also is the ideal partner for jerk chicken. The dish may be known as rice and peas but the recipe is actually made with kidney beans.
Cooking the rice in a broth of stock and coconut cream ensures that the dish remains tender and flavorful, as you have come to expect, yes there is scotch bonnet pepper in this so you can omit it if you prefer it to be mild.
8. Jamaican Beef Patties
This is a Jamaican twist on a beef filled hand pie we see worldwide, the ingredients are similar to the British Cornish pasty with beef, onion and carrot mixed with some curry powder.
To ensure you get the perfect golden finish, seal the edges and brush with egg yolk.
9. Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge
This hearty breakfast meal uses an odd combination of cornmeal, condensed milk, cinnamon and nutmeg to make a surprisingly tasty breakfast. Add in mango or coconut shavings for a warm, filling way to start the day.
10. Sticky Sweet Fried Plantains
Plantain is a truly unique food and when combined with brown sugar and some sticky maple syrup it transforms into an incredible sticky snack that will satisfy all that taste it.
Sweet fried plantain is fried and covered with syrup, sugar and some coconut oil.
Once fried they need only a few minutes to soften and begin to caramelize.
11. Jamaican Carrot Juice
Now I know what you are thinking, ‘carrot juice?’ You will have to trust me on this but Jamaican carrot juice is a game changer.
It is made with condensed milk and spices that create a creamy drink, you can also make it with coconut milk to create a nuttier flavor.
12. Jamaican Carrots
These are not your typical carrots that your mom would make. These carrots are soaked in hot sauce, pineapple juice and cumin for the ultimate flavor packed carrot.
Once you have tasted them you can never go back to the standard variety and can be the stand out on any food table.
13. Jamaican Oxtail Stew
Oxtail is the perfect cut of meat for a stew, the meat is perfectly tender, rich and packed with flavor waiting to burst out. If you do not want the chillies then you can but including them makes this dish the perfect one for those cold winter days (see also ‘33 Tasty And Cozy, Winter Dinner Ideas‘).
If you can handle it you can even level up the chillies and have a tasty stew that will leave your mouth watering for more.
14. Jamaican Fried Dumplings
These little bites are to die for, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Is there any reason not to make this dish? Not any I can think of.
Being neither overly sweet or savory they can be paired with many different meals ranging from Jamaican chicken curry to sweet plantains (see also ‘23 Simple Plantain Recipes That Are Anything But Simple!‘).
15. Jamaican Vegan Sweet Potato Pudding
This recipe is perfect for those who love sweet potato pie. The pudding needs a double bake to make the perfect base and creamy top.
You may need to add some additional flour to account for the different sweet potatoes you will find here in the US compared to those in Jamaica.
16. Jamaican Style Chickpea Curry
Chickpeas have become commonplace in curry, this dish has a great texture and is a great vegetarian alternative to the meaty curry we previously talked about earlier.
If you enjoy a slightly thicker curry, then try mashing or pureeing some chickpeas and then adding them back into the curry.
17. Jamaican Gungo Peas Soup
This dish is low in fat but packed with fiber, the only issue with this meal is that gungo peas are hard to find. They can be substituted with other peas such as black-eyed peas for a similar flavor and texture.
The stew itself is packed with beans, vegetables, potatoes and is topped with plenty of spice.
18. Jamaican Rum Cake
The Caribbean are masters of rum, and rum cake is one of their defining meals. The moist buttery cake suffers from similar issues as other dishes in this list; its looks are deceiving. It looks like a standard boring cake but it is far from it.
Once baked and cooled you will need to pour some cooled syrup over the top and let the rum soak into the cake making every bite as flavourful as the first.
This vegan, gluten free flatbread will change your taste in bread forever. Cassava is a starchy root vegetable found in plenty of Caribbean meals.
When it is grated and all the excess moisture is squeezed out the cassava is then pan fried and soaked in coconut milk.
20. Jamaican Jerk Marinade
Everyone looks for a shortcut when it comes to marinating your meat but doing it properly goes a long way to creating the perfect jerk chicken.
If you are the type of person who likes to pre prep then this recipe is perfect for cooking up a big batch to use for the future. The ingredients list is long but is totally worth the effort as the results are second to none.
21. Ackee And Saltfish
You have probably been waiting for this one to come up. Jamaica’s national dish is perfect for a tasty breakfast or a hearty brunch. Made up of the buttery ackee fruit, the dish is best seasoned with fresh onions, peppers, garlic, and thyme.
Cook the dish alongside some salted codfish and serve it with some fresh crispy fried dumplings.
22. Jamaican Curry Goat
An incredibly popular dish in any Jamaican restaurant. It does not get any more Jamaican than curried goat, the dish gets influence from other Jamaican cuisine but also from Indian cuisine .
A meal made from succulent cuts of goat meat that are slow cooked to perfection in a spicy curry sauce, gives you a beautifully tender cut of meat packed with spicy flavor.
This dish can pack a punch and gets its spicy flavor from curry powder, allspice, habanero or a classic from this list the Scotch bonnet pepper.
23. Jamaican Jerk Pork
We have already spoken about the famous jerk chicken but to close out this article we will talk about the pork counterpart that is just as flavorful.
This dish features a spicy kick from the marinade made from the recipe we have provided. The marinade perfectly blends with a succulent piece of pork.
Once the meat has been marinated the pork can be slowly grilled to perfection. When cooked all the way through it can be perfectly paired with some dumplings or a side of peas and rice.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Makes Jamaican Food So Unique?
Jamaican culinary has become a cultural melting pot that reflects the sheer amount of cultures that have influenced the island over the past few centuries.
The local cuisine focuses on fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood that are typically grown and sourced locally by farmers.
Is All Jamaican Food Spicy?
Not all Jamaican food has to be spicy. Jamaicans will tend to use a variety of spices and herbs during the preparation of the meal and the result of this can be anything from sweet and sour, to hot and spicy.
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