Jamaican food is very popular, and just hearing the words “Jamaican food and drinks” can make you want to go back to the amazing restaurant where you first fell in love with it.
There’s something about the seasonings and spices used in this type of Caribbean cooking that can turn even the toughest critic into the most mellow foodie. This is probably what will happen to you once you find that Jamaican dish that speaks to your soul… or your palate.
Jamaican Chicken Rice and Peas
During your trip to Jamaica, you’ll find that there are a lot of tasty things to eat, but if you don’t know the names of the different dishes, you might not know what to do when you’re offered some of the national favorites or even Jamaica’s national dish, if you’ve never had it before.
You might also be confused about where to find the best versions of Jamaican dishes, since everyone on the island, whether they work in the food business or not, says that their version is the best.
You can save yourself some time by learning more about the best Jamaican foods so you know what’s on your plate in Jamaica and, even before that, what to order to get the most for your money.
Want to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner as much as you want while in Jamaica? Check out one of Beaches’ all-inclusive resorts for families or one of Sandals’ all-inclusive resorts for adults only in Jamaica.
Beaches and Sandals offer more than any other all-inclusive resort in the world. They have up to 16 restaurants per resort that serve gourmet food of the highest quality.
You’ll want to try these 11 Jamaican main dishes.
Jamaican Ackee and codfish
Jamaica’s national dish is ackee and codfish, which is also called ackee and saltfish. It is made with the ackee fruit, which was brought to this area by slaves from Ghana in Africa.
Now, the fruit grows well in Jamaica and is a staple food there. It is served with stewed salted codfish cooked with vegetables and other herbs and spices. To make this dish, you need to know when the ackee fruit is ready. When it’s ready, the ackee pod usually bursts open, revealing a yellow fruit inside. The part you eat is the yellow part, and when it’s cooked, ackee can look like scrambled eggs.
Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Pork, and Fish
Jerk meals are very popular, but they came from Jamaica and are one of the most well-known foods from that country. There is a certain way to cook meats that gives them this flavor, and most of the time, a certain homemade sauce is used to give the meat an amazing, spicy taste.
To make jerk chicken, you need to marinate the chicken in jerk spices, which usually include ginger, garlic, cloves, cinnamon, scotch bonnet pepper, and pimento. With the dry rub method, ingredients are sometimes also put on the meat. After the meat has had enough time to soak up the flavor, it is slowly cooked on an open grill, often over hot coals.
You can eat jerk food on the street or in some of the best restaurants in Jamaica. Don’t worry if you see jerk chicken being cooked on the side of the road in a metal drum. This is often the best kind. Jerk chicken is delicious on its own, but it tastes even better when served with bread or festival.
Jamaican Oxtail Rice and Peas
Many people try oxtail for the first time when they eat Jamaican food. Oxtail is the tail of a cow. Like most stews, oxtail is first seasoned with herbs and spices, then fried, and then cooked slowly.
This can be done on a low heat for a few hours or in a pressure cooker. This is one of the most filling and tasty meals you will have in Jamaica. It comes with rice and peas. Most Jamaican restaurants have oxtail on the menu, but before you choose one, read the reviews to make sure you get a good introduction.
Curry lamb, goat, or chicken
Meats like goat, mutton, and chicken are often cooked in a curry sauce in Jamaica. In Jamaica, the popular South Asian dish is made with ingredients from the Caribbean. Garlic, onion, ginger, hot peppers, and herbs are added, and the meat is cooked slowly to bring out the flavors. Potatoes are often added, which can help make the sauce thicker. Most restaurants in Jamaica serve meat that has been cooked in a curry sauce.
Fish Escovitch from Jamaica
The first step in making Jamaican Fish Escovitch is to fry a whole fish. Usually, Red Snapper is used. Then carrots, onions, peppers, pimentos, and chayote that have been pickled are put on top. Jamaican Fish Escovitch is often served with bammy (see Jamaican side dishes further down this page for more on bammy), and it is said that Spanish Jewish settlers brought the idea for this dish to the island hundreds of years ago. Some people say it’s best to eat this meal the day after it’s made, so the flavors have time to blend.
This is a common part of Easter lunch in Jamaica.
Chicken in a brown stew
Brown stew chicken is a Caribbean comfort food that people know and love. Jamaica is no different, and the spices used to make this dish in Jamaica take it to a whole new level. This dish has chicken, which is sometimes fried before it is stewed, and vegetables, which are slow-cooked with spices and a certain amount of water until the meat is tender and the gravy is delicious, thick, and maybe the best thing you’ve ever tasted.
Jamaican Food Run Down Run Dun
Run-Down is the name for fish stew in Jamaica. This is another dish you won’t be able to stop eating. Garlic, onions, tomatoes, hot peppers, spices, and carefully cut pieces of fish are used to make the stew. Mackerel is often used in fish stew, but cod is sometimes used as well. The fish stew is made by slowly cooking it in coconut milk. At the end, it is served with dumplings and green bananas that have been boiled down until they are just right. When the fish starts falling apart and the stew is thick and creamy, the dish is ready.
Pepper Soup in a Pot
Pepper Pot Soup is a great way to get your kids to eat vegetables when you take them to Jamaica. It is a traditional Jamaican dish that is usually made with callaloo, okra, ground provisions, coconut milk (for texture), and meat. This Jamaican soup is very filling, and if you make it for yourself, you can change the recipe to suit your tastes.
If you’re going to Jamaica with kids, you might want to stay at a Beaches Resort with a waterpark. You can choose to stay at Beaches Negril, which is on the beautiful Seven Mile Beach, or Beaches Ocho Rios, which is close to Jamaica’s most popular attractions (see our article listing the top things to do in Ocho Rios).
Jamaican Food Fish Tea
If you were in Jamaica and someone offered you Fish Tea, you might be a little worried, but now you know that this is not your typical tea. In reality, it’s a hot fish soup. There are sometimes light versions with broth or fuller versions that are usually heartier. This dish is usually made with Jamaican Doctor Fish, and Fish Tea is said to be energizing. This dish has green bananas and vegetables in it, and it is also thought to be an aphrodisiac.
Jamaican Food Jamaican Corn Soup
Jamaicans like to eat soup on Sundays, and Jamaican corn soup, which comes from the Rastafarian religion, is a favorite dish there. This dish can have a long list of ingredients, such as onion, garlic, celery, yellow split peas, pumpkin, potatoes, scotch bonnet pepper, ginger, carrots, corn, and more. This Jamaican soup is, of course, very filling and tasty, and it will make you feel right at home in Jamaica.
Red pea soup from Jamaica
Jamaica Red Peas Soup has a very unique flavor and is usually made with pig tail, beef, red kidney beans, pumpkin, dasheen, pimento seeds, and other things. You can leave out the meat if you want, but many Jamaicans will tell you that Red Peas Soup isn’t complete without a little pigtail!
6 traditional sides from Jamaica
Rice peas from Jamaica
It’s a lot harder to make Jamaican rice and peas than it sounds. This dish is nothing like your grandmother’s rice and peas, which might have been great. Instead, it brings together different Jamaican foods, and how it’s made can make or break the dish. So, if you have jerk chicken and don’t know what to do with it, this is the dish for you! In Jamaica, the word “peas” means beans, especially red kidney beans. Jamaican rice and peas, which is often served with jerk chicken, is flavored with coconut milk and other spices.
This treat, which is often served with jerk chicken, fried fish, and other dishes, will be a party in your mouth. Cornmeal, sugar, flour, spices, milk, or water are used to make it. The ingredients are mixed together and fried until golden brown. The result is similar to the floats sold in other Caribbean countries, but it is in the shape of a tube.
Fried plantains from Jamaica
Fried plantain is (in a good way) addicting, and so are plantain chips, which you can find in most Jamaican supermarkets. During your trip to the island, you’ll have many chances to try this dish, which is usually made by frying ripe plantains—the riper, the better. You’ll just need to peel and cut the plantains into the size you want (but not too big), and then put them carefully into a pan with hot oil. In Jamaica, after the plantain has been fried, salt and pepper are sometimes spread on top of the butter. This is great with ackee and saltfish, or really any other dish.
When it’s cooked right, callaloo is one vegetable that even kids find hard to refuse. In Jamaica, the green, leafy vegetable is usually served as a side dish, but it can also be turned into a very tasty soup. Some people say it tastes like kale. When it’s on your plate, it’s probably been sautéed with onions, garlic, and maybe even scotch bonnet peppers. Don’t be surprised if you see it on a traditional Jamaican breakfast plate.
In Jamaica, you will have to get used to the name bammy, which is a food made from cassava. To make bammy, you need to start by grating some cassava root, dipping it in coconut milk, and frying it until it turns golden brown. It is usually served as a side dish, and can be eaten at any time of day. It is often eaten with callaloo. Some people eat bammy with syrup for breakfast, but you can also eat it with your main dish.
Breadfruit is great, and there are so many different ways to cook it. In the Caribbean, it is known as a ground provision. Some people in Jamaica think that breadfruits were brought to the island from Tahiti in 1793. Breadfruit is a fruit, but in the Caribbean, it is more often used as a starch. Breadfruit can be cooked in Jamaica by grilling, baking, or making a puree out of it. Breadfruit is very healthy and tastes great.
6 Jamaican snacks that are good to eat in between
Beef patties from Jamaica
Jamaican patties have a lot of flavor and are usually filled with chicken, beef, or vegetables. They are similar to the traditional Spanish empanada. When you bite into the flaky pastry, you’ll taste the well-seasoned meat or vegetables inside, which have usually been cooked with onions and other spices in a sautéing process. The patty is in the shape of a half circle, and its color is orange or yellow because of turmeric or curry. Most Jamaican patties are baked, and some places offer ackee and saltfish, lobster, or fish as fillings.
Go Fish Fritters with a Jamaican Stamp
Stamp and Go, which is also called saltfish fritters, is a common breakfast food in Jamaica. It is made with flour, saltfish, green onions, peppers, and other spices. The name “Stamp and Go” comes from a tradition on British sailing ships in the 18th century. When officers needed something done quickly, they would shout “Stamp and go!” “To make this dish, you’ll need to start by making a batter, which you’ll then fry in oil until golden brown on both sides.
Tip from an expert: To make Stamp and Go faster to cook, prepare the saltfish the day before.
Coco bread has a lot of starch and a bit of sugar. It is made with some of the usual ingredients for bread, but often coconut milk and sometimes sugar are added. After it is made, it is cut into squares and folded once. This makes it a great choice for sandwiches, and you can put anything in it, from fried fish to Jamaican patties. Coco bread is very filling, so be careful when you eat it!
One of the dishes in the Jamaican food encyclopedia is called Solomon Gundy. It is a kind of pickled fish paté that is usually served with crackers as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre. As with most Jamaican dishes, you can expect it to be full of spices to give it that unique Jamaican taste.
Jamaicans often eat porridge for breakfast. It is usually made with oats, cornmeal, or plantain. Many people eat this dish for breakfast because it is filling and the recipe can be changed to suit each person’s tastes.
Jamaicans don’t eat mannish water because they like the way it tastes. Instead, they think this spicy soup is an aphrodisiac. It is made with goat head, green bananas, scallions, garlic, small dumplings, scotch bonnet peppers, and other things. People often eat it with roasted yam. In some versions, this dish is made with tripe and other parts. Mannish Water is hard to find in restaurants, but you can buy it at some roadside stops.
Must try 6 delicious Jamaican desserts
Dessert made with sweet potatoes
For this dish, the sweet potato is grated very finely and then mixed with coconut, brown sugar, raisins, vanilla, cinnamon, and other spices. Sometimes rum is added, and the dish is baked after that. The goal is for it to come out of the oven with the top still being a little soft and the bottom being firm. This is something you should try if you go to Jamaica.
Jamaican Gizzada pinch me round
In Jamaica, there is more than enough dessert for everyone, and pinch-me-round is everyone’s favorite. It’s easy to spot because it’s a small round tart with pinch-like marks around the edges for style. It’s filled with grated sugar,ginger, coconut, vanilla and nutmeg. Crunch your way to the gooey middle for a burst of delicious flavor. Some people think that this Jamaican dessert has its roots in Portugal.
Coconut drops are tasty treats that are easy to make. To make them, you just drip a hot mixture of diced coconut, sugar, and spices onto a banana leaf, where it quickly cools and takes the shape of a drop. Both kids and adults love it, and if you decide to make it, you should remember not to mix it too much because you want the end result to be textured.
Jamaican Banana Bread
One of the most popular treats in the Caribbean is Banana bread. It is made with ripe bananas, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon, among other spices. In Jamaica, coconut, lime, and rum are sometimes added to traditional banana bread recipes, making it a dish you’ll want to make again when you get home.
Jamaican pudding in a cake form
Grated cornmeal, cassava, or sweet potato are used to make this popular Jamaican dessert. Coconut milk and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are used to make it. Some people add rum to make things more interesting. Most of the time, it is baked until the top bubbles. This dish is both different and tasty.
The Jamaican Toto Coconut Cake
Toto is basically a traditional Jamaican dessert called a coconut cake. Its roots go back to the colonial era, when slaves often only had coconut molasses and flour to make a meal. Even though the basic recipe for this dessert hasn’t changed, it now has a few extra ingredients that have helped make it a staple at Jamaican family gatherings.
13 drinks from Jamaica to enjoy on the beach
The beer Red Stripe
By the time you’re ready to leave Jamaica, you should have had a chance to try Red Stripe, a popular local beer that is also sold outside of the country. It has a light body and goes well with most meals. It’s also a great thing to have at the beach. Look for Red Stripe Light, Red Stripe Bold, and flavors like lemon and sorrel while you’re in Jamaica.
Jamaican drink named after Bob Marley
The green, yellow, and red colors that are typical of Rastafarians make this drink stand out. It has different frozen layers, like mango and strawberry daiquiri. This recipe was made by the all-inclusive resort chain Sandals Resorts, but you can now find it in bars all over Jamaica.
Want to drink as much Red Stripe beer and rum-based cocktails as you want? During your stay at any of the Beaches Resorts in Jamaica, you can drink as many premium brand alcoholic drinks as you want. Perfect for when you just want to sip your drink and float down a slow river.
Coffee from Blue Mountain
Blue Mountain Coffee has become known over the years as one of the most expensive and best coffees in the world. It’s hard to grow in the mountains, which is part of the reason why it’s so hard to find. People who like Blue Mountain coffee like that it isn’t bitter, isn’t too strong, and comes in many different kinds that are easy to find in Jamaica. 75 percent of Blue Mountain Coffee goes to Japan, which is an interesting fact. This could be because Jamaicans don’t drink a lot of coffee. Make sure to buy some for yourself and some to bring back as a souvenir.
Hampden Estate Pure Single Jamaican Overproof Rum, Appleton Estate Rum, Smith & Cross Jamaica Rum, Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum, Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry Rum are all Jamaican rums you should try if you visit the island. There are more, but these are the ones you’re most likely to hear about on the island. If you want to try them all, you can sign up for tours like the Appleton Estate Rum Tour while you’re there.
In the Caribbean, the holiday season is often associated with making sorrel and going from “house to house.” The latter includes stopping by the homes of different family members and friends to join in the celebrations.
The sepals of a hibiscus plant are used to make sorrel, which is popular around the holidays. Because of the color of the plant, the color of the drink is the same. Sorrel has a little bit of sweetness and a hint of spice. This is mostly because ginger, star anise, cinnamon, and allspice are added to it. Sorrel is made by boiling the leaves and then mixing them with water and sometimes rum.
Sorrel is popular even when it’s not the holiday season because people think it’s good for their health. It’s said to help control cholesterol levels and blood pressure problems.
Jamaican Ting Soda
Ting is a tropical soft drink made with grapefruit concentrate that doesn’t get enough attention. You can make it spicier by using it as a base for a cocktail.
Jamaican Malta Drink
Malt is very addicting because of something about it. For example, the Jamaican Malta is a very popular drink in Jamaica. It is a carbonated malt drink that looks like stout in color. The best way to eat Jamaican Malt is cold.
Ginger beer from Jamaica
Jamaican ginger is one of the best kinds in the world, which helps Jamaican ginger beer stand out. Ginger beer is usually made with sugar, honey, and lime juice, and if it’s done right, like it is in Jamaica, it’s a great way to wash down the local rum.
The Jamaican Guinness Punch
This tasty, creamy drink is made with Guinness, vodka, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, and ground nutmeg. It is usually served cold and is a great way to enjoy the popular stout with a twist. There are rumors that this punch is both sugary and bitter.
The Jamaican Dragon Stout
Dragon Stout would be the name of Red Stripe’s older brother if he were tall and strong. This is a dark, rich stout made with caramel, roasted malts, brown sugar, and other things. If you like stouts, you’ll love its distinctive smoky flavor and rich, smooth texture.
Bush Tea from Jamaica
“Tea” can refer to anything from coffee to hot chocolate in Jamaica. In contexts where accuracy is paramount, however, “bush tea” (tea brewed from indigenous plants or tree bark) is typically meant.
There are several tours available on this island that will take you through botanical gardens and explain you about the medicinal properties of the plants you see. This information has been handed down from generation to generation in Jamaica.
When you’re relaxing on a beautiful Caribbean beach, coconut water is one of the most refreshing things you can drink. In Jamaica, coconut trees are everywhere, but you won’t have to climb one to get a coconut.
You’ll either be approached by a coconut vendor or run into one and talk to them yourself. When this happens, they’ll probably use a cutlass (machete) to open a coconut in front of you and give you a straw so you can drink straight from the coconut.
If you bring your own water bottle, they can also pour the coconut water into it. Some places will also give you cups or bottles. Coconut jelly, which is also called the “meat of the coconut,” is what you’ll find inside mature coconuts. This is something that many people like to eat, and it can be quite filling.
You can eat as many coconuts as you want because they don’t have any fat and are full of antioxidants. But remember that coconut water can also help you go to the bathroom.
Jamaican Tia Maria
Tia Maria is a cocktail made by mixing Blue Mountain coffee beans, Jamaican rum, vanilla, sugar, and a few other things. The end result is sweet and tasty. Sometimes milk is added over ice, or the mixture is just put in a glass with ice and served. If you add a banana to this cocktail, you’ll get something pretty close to a Dirty Banana. Just be ready with a funny answer in case the bartender asks you how dirty you want it.
Jamaica is full of new food and drinks to try. Don’t miss the chance! Happy eating!