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The Best Traditional Caribbean Food

Genuine Caribbean Recipes

Caribbean cuisine is known for its powerful flavours and fresh ingredients. It can be quite spicy, but for those without a taste for spice, the islands also have an abundance of amazing fruits and vegetables. We have compiled a list of 10 traditional Caribbean food items that you won’t find better anywhere else.

Jerk sauce

Jerk chicken, jerk pork, jerk… whatever you like! This spicy sauce is a traditional Jamaican food that dates back to the 17th century. Generally, it is used as a marinade and rubbed over meat before grilling.


  • 60g ground allspice berries
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 7 cloves garlic
  • 5 scotch bonnet peppers, seeded and cored
  • 1 tablespoon ground thyme
  • 2 bunches scallions
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Simply combine all the ingredients in a blender and get marinating!



Roti is a kind of light pancake that is filled with a curry stew. It was first introduced to the islands from India and has since become especially popular in Trinidad.


  • 250g flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Flour for dusting

Combine all dry ingredients and slowly add the water. Leave to rest for 15 minutes, then divide into 6 dough balls and flatten each ball into a 3” disk. Brush one side of each disk with oil and dust the opposite side with flour. On a griddle, place 2 disks on top of each other with their oiled sides touching, then flatted them into a 4” layered disk. Leave to rest for 10 minutes and then roll out into an 8” disk on a floured surface. Transfer the disk back to the griddle and brush with oil. Cook until bubbles start to appear, then fill with curry.


Coconut drops

Coconut drops are a part of every Caribbean’s childhood memories. The small, sweet treats are a favourite of the islanders and they are also pretty easy to make.


  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups diced coconut
  • 1 ½ cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ginger

Boil the water and add the coconut. Leave for 40 minutes. Then, add the sugar and ginger and allow to cook for 30 minutes, or until it reaches a syrup-like consistency. Scoop out the mixture with a tablespoon onto a wet cookie tray and leave to cool until set.



Plantains are essentially Caribbean bananas, but they are much less sweet than the bananas we’re accustomed to. They are used a lot in cooking and their alternative name is actually ‘cooking bananas’. Their starchy, savoury taste lends well to many different recipes and they are definitely a staple in traditional Caribbean food.

Read up on some great plantain recipes here:



Callaloo is a popular leaf vegetable dish that gives a Caribbean twist to collard greens. Vibrant, fresh, and full of flavour, this recipe will soon become one of your favourites.


  • 4 cups callaloo, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 springs thyme
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Salt to taste

In a large pot, add everything except for the callaloo and water. Sautee until the onion is translucent and then add in the remaining ingredients. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.


Roast breadfruit

Breadfruit is a high-protein fruit and a member of the jackfruit and mulberry family. It is very starchy and savoury, and great when roasted. You can eat the fruits at any point of their maturity, but they are best eaten once they start to turn from yellow to purple, as this is when they are at their sweetest. Simply roast with salt until dried and serve with either ackee or callaloo.



The ackee fruit is a slightly sour, savoury food that is red in colour with yellow flesh. A popular accompaniment to many Caribbean meals, the ackee must only be consumed once ripe and should be boiled for 30 minutes. It is generally seasoned with onion and garlic and served over something like saltfish.


Fried Bajan flying fish

These silver, winged fish are known for jumping from the water and ‘flying’ above the surface. Commonly found in Barbados waters, the islanders have come up with quite a few great recipes for preparing them.


  • 4 small flying fish fillets
  • 1 lime
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • Bajan seasoning to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Mixed breadcrumbs and flour
  • ¼ cup butter
  • Lime slices and parsley for garnish
  • Bajan hot pepper sauce

Squeeze the limes and add the juice and salt to the water. Soak the fillets in the mixture for half an hour, then remove and pat dry. Rub the fillets with the Bajan seasoning, then roll in the egg, then into the breadcrumb mix. Fry them in butter until golden brown and serve with lime and parsley garnish. Sprinkle with the hot sauce to taste. These go very well with couscous!



Patties originally came from Haiti but are now enjoyed all over the Caribbean. They are quite like the English pasty, just a lot spicier and with more filling.


  • 1 small onion
  • Oil for frying
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 250g beef mince
  • 1 potato, cut into cubes
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • A few thyme springs
  • 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
  • 500g block of shortcrust pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Handful of salad to serve

To a pan, add the oil and fry the onion. Then, add the beef and garlic and cook until the meat is brown, followed by the potato, thyme, puree, 200ml water, and half the turmeric. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, then add the hot sauce and leave to cool.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and roll out the pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin. Cut out 6 x 15cm circles using a small plate as a guide and divide the mince between the circles, piling it up on one side. Mix the egg with the leftover turmeric, brush the edges of each circle, fold the pastry and seal the edges with a fork. Bake for 20-25 minutes and serve with salad.


Saltfish fritters

Saltfish fritters are a Jamaican classic. Perfect for breakfast, these crispy, spicy bites are easy to make and even easier to eat far too many of!


  • 500ml water
  • 1 pack boneless saltfish
  • Spring onions
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup small peppers
  • ¼ scotch bonnet pepper
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 100ml olive oil

Firstly, boil the saltfish in water for 10 minutes, then drain and repeat 2 times. In a mixing bowl, add all ingredients except for the olive oil and mix until you reach a kind of sloppy consistency. Add the oil to a frying pan and turn the heat up high. Scoop out the mixture using a tablespoon and fry each fritter until golden brown, flipping once.

Want to experience these authentic flavours?

To experience the bold, fresh flavours of Caribbean food, why not book a holiday to the islands? We offer great deals on flights, hotels and package holidays all around the Caribbean.

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