25 Well-known Jamaican Dishes and Foods

Jamaican dishes are a flavorful fusion of diverse cultural influences featuring spicy meats, tropical fruits, and seafood.

Lastest Updated April 19, 2024
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Basic Information

Jamaican Food: Basic Overview

Common Ingredients

Goat, beef, chicken, coconut, beans, fruits, cassava, plantains, rice, molasses

Common Cooking Methods

Stewing, braising, grilling, boiling, simmering, sautéing, pan-frying, baking, deep-frying


Main course, appetizer, dessert, soup


Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Key Taste

Savory, sweet, neutral

Eating Etiquette

Jamaican meals are often communal for sharing and enjoying food together. Utensils are commonly used, but some snacks and street foods may be eaten with hands.

Meal Presentation

Jamaican dishes are presented vibrantly and invitingly, often showcasing the rich colors of the ingredients.||The presentation can range from simple and rustic for casual meals to elaborate for special occasions.

Culinary Festivals

New Year, Christmas

Influence and Fusion

African, European, and Indian cuisines
Origin and Region

Jamaican Food: Origin and Region



Cuisine’s Geographical Territory

Jamaica Map
Ingredients and Preparation

Popular Types of Jamaican Food

  • Fried Dishes

    In Jamaica, fried dishes capture the essence of the island’s love for hearty and flavorful meals, often featuring locally sourced ingredients.

    The method is often employed in both family cooking and street food stalls.

  • Cakes and Pastries

    Jamaican cakes and pastries boast a rich tradition of baking, incorporating tropical fruits, spices, and rums.

    These sweet treats are a centerpiece of celebrations and family gatherings.

  • Stews

    Stews in Jamaica are a culinary mainstay, offering a comforting blend of spices, meats, and vegetables slowly simmered.

  • Bread and Doughs

    Jamaican bread and dough-based foods are crucial to the island’s culinary landscape, ranging from fluffy, sweetened breads to dense, savory doughs.

    These staples are the perfect complement to a variety of dishes or enjoyed on their own as a snack.

Jamaican dishes are specialties with flavors and techniques influenced by the diverse cultures in Jamaica that have inhabited the island.

Dishes incorporate a wide variety of seafood, tropical fruits, and meats. Key dishes include curry goat, fried dumplings, ackee and saltfish, and Jamaican patties, a type of pastry filled with spiced meat.

The cuisine also features a variety of pastries, breads, and beverages. Influences from the Rastafarian diet introduce unique vegetarian dishes, emphasizing cooking with little or no salt, known as the ‘Ital’ way.

After going through the delicacies of Jamaica, you should take some time to have a look at the relationship between Jamaican and Rastafarian cuisines, along with some combo suggestions of dishes and beverages to enjoy.

Traditional Jamaican food reveals a rich tapestry of flavors and techniques, with some of the following key aspects:

  • Culinary Fusion: Jamaican cuisine is a blend of cooking techniques, flavors, and spices from Amerindian, African, European, Indian, and Chinese influences.
  • Local Ingredients: Utilizes crops introduced from tropical West Africa and Southeast Asia, now locally grown.
  • Seafood and Meats: A wide variety of seafood and meats form the basis of many dishes.
  • Soups: Soups are significant, often served as main dishes, rich with tubers, vegetables, and meat.

Exploring traditional Jamaican food is only one side of the story, as you can look into the cuisine’s impact around the world through its popularity.

Jamaican food has a remarkable journey across the globe, finding a special place in the kitchens of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. In the US, cities like New York and Miami buzz with the vibrant flavors of jerk chicken and patties.

Canada, particularly Toronto, embraces the spicy and savory tastes of Jamaica, with numerous eateries dedicated to authentic Jamaican dishes. The UK’s connection to Jamaica, rooted in history, has blossomed into a rich culinary landscape, especially in London, Birmingham, and Manchester.

These countries, home to significant Jamaican diaspora communities, have not only adopted Jamaican dishes but have also integrated them into their local food culture.

Next, it’s essential for you to dig into the health aspect of consuming Jamaican food, which is also an important feature for many.

Jamaican food is a source of healthiness due to some of the factors coming from the usage of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, spices, and even its cooking methods:

  • Use of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: Jamaican dishes often include a variety of fresh produce like ackee, callaloo, okra, and a wide range of tropical fruits. These ingredients are essential for maintaining good health.
  • Whole Grains: Dishes often feature whole grains like brown rice and cornmeal. These grains provide dietary fiber, which is important for digestive health and can help to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Spices and Herbs: Jamaican cuisine is known for its bold use of spices and herbs such as allspice, ginger, garlic, thyme, and Scotch bonnet peppers. These not only add flavor without the need for excess salt but also offer various health benefits,
  • Traditional Cooking Methods: Many Jamaican dishes are grilled, roasted, or steamed, cooking methods that require less oil and help retain the nutritional value of the food.

With that information in mind, you are more than ready to see these 26 dishes of Jamaica, offering an intriguing peek into the country’s cuisine.

25 Most Popular Jamaican Dishes with Filters

While looking at these dishes, you need to make use of the filter system to view these Jamaican specialties in alphabetical order, tastes, dish types, key ingredients, cooking methods, and worldwide popularity.

While at it, you shouldn’t miss some categories of dishes that are available in Jamaica, including the most popular, national, traditional, street food, and fusion choices:

  • These are the meals widely enjoyed across Jamaica.
  • Often served in both homes and restaurants, these dishes embody the flavors that are synonymous with Jamaican culture and are celebrated by locals and tourists alike.
  • National dishes of Jamaica are emblematic of the country’s identity, showcasing ingredients, and cooking techniques unique to the island.
  • They hold a place of pride within the culinary landscape, often tied to the country’s history, and are celebrated during national holidays and significant cultural events.
  • Traditional Jamaican dishes are deeply rooted in the island’s history, including African, Taino, British, Indian, and Chinese influences.
  • These meals are passed down through generations, preserving the culinary traditions and showcasing the rich biodiversity of Jamaica’s flora and fauna.
  • Jamaican street food is a part of the island’s food scene, offering a diverse array of quick and flavorful options that provide a taste of local life.
  • From bustling markets to roadside stalls, street food in Jamaica serves up an authentic culinary experience, highlighting the island’s love for spicy, savory, and sweet treats.
  • Fusion dishes in Jamaica represent the innovative blending of the island’s traditional flavors with global culinary practices, creating new and exciting tastes.
  • These dishes reflect Jamaica’s history of cultural exchange and adaptation, showcasing how international influences have been integrated into the local cuisine to produce unique flavor profiles.
Goat Curry

Goat Curry

  • Fusion
  • Traditional

Goat curry is a staple at Jamaican parties and special occasions, showcasing the rich Indo-Jamaican culinary tradition.

Brought to the island by Indian and Chinese immigrants, it’s prepared Caribbean-style, stewed with a unique blend of spices, featuring onions, garlic, peppers, and potatoes.

Typically served with steamed rice, dal bhat, or roti, the curry guarantees a satisfying meal.

Oxtail And Beans

Oxtail And Beans

  • Traditional

Oxtail and beans is an adaptation of Jamaica, inspired by British culture and cuisine. The delicacy is made by braising local ingredients and spices to reflect the island’s flavor and identity.

Cooked either with a pressure cooker or simmered on the stovetop, this dish offers a tender texture, accompanied by a savory sauce.

Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken

  • National
  • Traditional

Jerk chicken is a traditional Jamaican dish served at many restaurants in this country. This food was created by a tribe from Peru who settled in Jamaica 2500 years ago.

With its rich flavor and distinctive spicy taste, this jerk chicken was created by seasoning wild meat with spices and drying it with charcoal.

Nowadays, you can elevate this dish to a whole new caliber by serving jerk chicken with compatible foods like coconut rice, classic potato salad, maque choux, etc.

Mannish Water

Mannish Water

  • Traditional

Mannish water is a traditional goat soup of Jamaica made from various parts of the animal. Renowned for its aphrodisiac qualities, it has a history of over 300 years, particularly in Maroon celebrations.

The dish is richly seasoned with local herbs and spices, and brimming with vegetables and provisions. Traditionally served to grooms on their wedding night, mannish water holds a special place in Jamaican culture and is frequently mentioned in literature about the island.

Brown Stew Chicken

Brown Stew Chicken

  • Traditional

Brown stew chicken is a Jamaica savory specialty, featuring tender, savory chicken, meticulously seasoned and slow-cooked.

The thick, delicious gravy that accompanies the stew makes it an exceptional choice for serving with bread or rice.



  • Traditional

Rundown, or run-dun, is a beloved stew in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago coming from Latin America with the arrival of Afro-Jamaican immigrants.

This stew, primarily made with mackerel, simmers in coconut milk until it reaches a creamy consistency, offering an irresistible smooth flavor.

While cooking, people will try to avoid overcooking the fish, ensuring it retains its beautiful texture and taste.

Ackee And Codfish

Ackee and Saltfish

  • National
  • Traditional

Ackee and saltfish is Jamaica’s national dish, combining the unique flavors of ackee, a fruit brought from Ghana, and salted codfish. Ideally, ackee must be fully ripe before consumption due to its toxicity.

This dish is crafted by sautéing salt cod and boiled ackee with onions, peppers, tomatoes, and a blend of spices.

Traditionally served as a hearty breakfast alongside breadfruit, bread, dumplings, or bananas, ackee and saltfish can also accompany rice and peas or plain rice.

Escovitch Fish

Escovitch Fish

  • Traditional

Escovitch fish is a Jamaican dish that involves seasoning, marinating, and frying fish, typically red snapper or another firm white fish. The fish is then topped with a spicy, vinegar-based dressing.

This combination of flavors creates a vibrant and tangy dish that is aromatic. Escovitch fish is often served for breakfast or during special occasions and is celebrated for its aphrodisiac qualities.

Rum Cake

Rum Cake

  • Traditional

Rum cake, or black cake, is a Jamaican delicacy, celebrated for its rich, moist texture and the distinctive flavor imparted by rum and butter syrup. This syrup not only enhances the cake’s taste but also preserves it for an extended period.

The cake is laden with dried fruits such as raisins, cherries, and prunes, which are soaked in wine and rum and incorporate browning or molasses for a deep color. Typically baked in a bundt or tube pan, rum cake is served without frosting or glaze.

While it is a quintessential treat during the Christmas season, it is also a popular choice for weddings, birthday parties, and other celebrations. In Jamaica and across the Caribbean, people even soak fruits in cherry brandy or rum to make black cake, a variant of rum cakes.

Jerk Shrimps

Jerk Shrimps

  • National
  • Traditional

Jerk shrimp is a national dish in Jamaica with a unique flavor that’s hardly found anywhere else in the world. The Amerindians of the Taino and Arawak tribes invented this incredible food.

These shrimps offer a spicy taste, often grilled or sauteéd for a smoky profile along with a crunchy texture.

Fried Plantains

Fried Plantains

  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Fried plantains are a popular snack in Jamaica, along with many countries in the Caribbean region. These slices of bananas are often fried to a vibrant golden brown until the outer surface becomes golden brown. Once fried, these pieces are seasoned with salt and cinnamon before serving with jerk chicken or curry goat.

Cassava Cake


  • Traditional

Bammy is one of the iconic dishes of Jamaica made using cassava flour. It is also known as cassava cake, made by frying the ground cassava root and coconut milk.

These beautiful golden brown cakes were first made in pre-Columbian times. This incredible food is often mixed with callaloo, a spicy stew, to create a taste-stimulating combo for diners.

Coco Bread

Coco Bread

  • Traditional

Coconut bread, often referred to as coco bread, is a beloved Jamaican staple known for its slightly sweet flavor and starchy texture, achieved by incorporating milk or coconut milk into the dough.

This bread is designed to be easily split in half, creating the perfect pocket for stuffing with a Jamaican patty or other fillings to make a hearty sandwich.

Coco bread is a common sight in school cafeterias and bakeries across Jamaica, frequently served for dipping sauces. Today, coconut bread enjoys widespread popularity in the Caribbean and among Jamaican communities.

Jamaican Patties

Jamaican Patty

  • Street Food
  • Traditional

A Jamaican patty is a Jamaican baked pastry with a golden yellow and flaky shell made from turmeric or egg yolk dough. This delicious turnover boasts various fillings and spices, but seasoned ground beef is usually preferred.

Other fillings include pork, chicken, shrimp, veggies, seafood, or cheese. The locals either pair these patties with coco bread and enjoy them as a full meal or make them into bite-sized pieces to serve as cocktail patties.

Outside Jamaica, these yummy turnovers are famous in Costa Rica, Panama, and other Caribbean countries.

Saltfish Fritters

Saltfish Fritters

  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Saltfish fritter, widely known as “stamp and go” is a favorite Jamaican breakfast dish. Plus, it is an excellent snack possessing an eye-catching golden brown color and a crispy bite.

Its name, “stamp and go”, is associated with 18th-century English boatmen. The captains would shout “Stamp and Go” when they wanted to speed things up.



  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Festivals are a deep-fried bread of Jamaican cuisine, known for their slightly sweet flavor. These delightful side dishes perfectly complement savory meals like fried fish, escovitch fish, or jerk chicken.

Made from a dough that combines wheat flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, milk powder, sugar, and water, festivals are then deep-fried in neutral cooking oil until golden brown.

They are cherished for their crispy exterior and soft, fluffy interior. Served hot, festivals add a deliciously sweet balance to the spicy and savory flavors typical of Jamaican dishes.

Jamaican Fried Dumplings

Jamaican Fried Dumplings

  • Traditional

Fried dumplings are a common meal of the Jamaican diet, dating back to the colonial and slave times when workers would carry fried biscuits for long trips to work.

Also known as “journey cake” or “Johnny Cake”, the food is often served with callaloo and kidney.

The fried dumplings with a clear and eye-catching yellow color offer a crispy shell along with a tender inside.

Bulla Cake

Bulla Cake

  • Traditional

Bulla cake is a popular sweet treat, especially among schoolchildren in Jamaica. This flavorful cake consists of molasses, ginger, and nutmeg. It has a round and flat shape and can be dark or light in color.

Characteristically flat and round, Jamaicans usually enjoy bulla cake with butter, cheese, or avocado.

Besides being a wonderful snack or dessert, you can also enjoy bulla cake as a delicious breakfast at many food stalls in Jamaica.

Jamaican Gungo Peas Soup

Jamaican Gungo Peas Soup

  • Traditional

Gungo pea soup is a brothy and heaty creation of Jamaica. To nail the flavor, the dish comes with pigeon peas, vegetables, and dumplings, offering a wonderful flavor and distinctively thick texture.

This delicious dish is a fabulous Jamaican specialty often served as on special occasions.



  • Traditional

Callaloo is a Jamaican stew made from a plant of the same name, cooked with various ingredients. This dish is a fusion of West African and Taino culinary traditions.

In Jamaica, callaloo typically refers to a local variety of amaranth, which is steamed alongside saltfish or other meats and seasoned with a blend of garlic, carrots, tomatoes, salt, peppers, onions, scallions, thyme, and pimento.

Renowned for its versatility, callaloo can be enjoyed as a side dish, a hearty breakfast, or incorporated into patties, rice dishes, or fritters.

Coconut Tart


  • Traditional

Gizzada, also known as “pinch-me-round” or “grizzada,” is a traditional Jamaican pastry. This sweet treat consists of a flaky, buttery crust formed into a tart shell, which is then filled with a spiced coconut filling.

The filling features a combination of grated coconut sweetened with sugar and flavored with spices such as ginger and nutmeg. The edges of the gizzada crust are often pinched to create a decorative pattern.

Originating from Portuguese influence on Jamaican cuisine, gizzada is a popular snack and dessert in Jamaica, enjoyed by people of all ages.

Easter Bun

Easter Bun

  • Traditional

A spiced bun is a sweet, dense bread that is a staple in Jamaican cuisine, particularly popular during the Easter season but enjoyed year-round. This bun is richly flavored with a spice that often includes molasses or honey for sweetness.

The bun also comes with Ingredients like dried fruits (raisins, currants), and sometimes stout or red wine is added to enhance its flavor and moistness.

The bread is typically served sliced and buttered, often paired with cheese. Better yet, the Jamaican version has evolved to include local flavors and ingredients.

Ital Stew

Ital Stew

  • Traditional

Ital stew is a Jamaican vegetarian creation, closely associated with the Rastafarian movement. The stew is made with vegetarian elements like simple vegetables in the country.

Some people even think that iodized salt is also considered a forbidden ingredient in this food. The food has a variety of flavors when it contains many different components, being able to swap out for each other.

Perfect Cake For Christmas

Hummingbird Cake

  • Traditional

Hummingbird cake is a standout among Jamaican desserts, originating in the 1960s and initially known as Doctor Bird cake.

While some believe its name reflects the bird’s yellow plumage, others attribute it to the cake’s sweetness, which purportedly attracts hummingbirds. . It’s known for its unique combination of flavors, including bananas, pineapple, and pecans, all spiced with cinnamon. The cake is typically layered and frosted with a creamy cheese icing,

Jamaican Rice And Peas

Jamaican Rice And Peas

  • Traditional

Rice and pea is a dish in Jamaica of rice cooked with coconut milk and kidney beans. It is seasoned with thyme, scallions, garlic, allspice, and Scotch bonnet pepper.

This straightforward specialty often serves with jerk chicken, curry goat, or fried fish. Brought to Jamaica by the Akan tribe, it is considered a staple in the country.

The combination of rice and peas appears at almost every Jamaican lunch or dinner. In addition, on special occasions and Sunday dinners, it is an indispensable component.

What Is the Connection Between Jamaican and Rastafarian Cuisines?

The connection between Jamaican and Rastafarian cuisines lies in the shared emphasis on natural, wholesome ingredients and the influence of Rastafarian dietary principles on Jamaican cooking.

Jamaican cuisine, with its rich mixture of cooking techniques, flavors, and spices, has been influenced by a wide array of cultures, including Amerindian, West African, European, Indian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern.

Rastafarian cuisine, known as Ital, is integral to the Rastafarian way of life, emphasizing vegetarian or vegan dishes to maintain a natural and healthy diet. Dishes often avoid using processed foods and artificial additives.

Rastafarians typically abstain from pork and shellfish, and some also exclude salt from their diet, considering it to be unnatural.

The influence of Rastafarianism on Jamaican cuisine can be seen in the widespread adoption of Ital principles, leading to the creation of dishes that are not only flavorful but also health-conscious.

To learn more about Jamaican dishes, here are some suggestions for pairing them with fine refreshments.

What Jamaican Dishes to Have with Beverages?

In Jamaican cuisine, there are several dishes that pair wonderfully with the beverages of Jamaica. These are some choices to consider:

  • Ackee and Saltfish: The national dish of Jamaica, often served for breakfast, pairs well with hot beverages like coffee or tea.
  • Fried Dumplings: These can be enjoyed with a variety of drinks, from hot coffee in the morning to cold sodas or fruit juices.
  • Curry Goat: A rich and flavorful dish that goes well with cold beers or fruity cocktails to balance the spice.
  • Festival: These sweet fried dough treats are a perfect match for cooling drinks, such as sorrel (a hibiscus tea drink popular around Christmas) or iced tea, making for a delightful snack or dessert option.
  • Rundown: A coconut milk-based stew with fish or seafood, rundown is rich and flavorful, best enjoyed with light, crisp beverages like a cold lager or sparkling water to cut through the richness.

I look forward to receiving other great Jamaican delicacies you know in the comments. Don’t forget to share these dishes with other people, allowing them to know more dishes from Jamaica.

Jamie Scott

Jamie Scott

Editor in Chief, Senior Content Writer


Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Baking and Pastry, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Western Food Evaluation Expert


Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

  • Program: Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts
  • Focus: Gained foundational knowledge in French and European culinary techniques. Participated in workshops and hands-on training sessions under the guidance of seasoned chefs.

Local Community College, New York, NY

  • Program: Associate’s Degree in Nutrition
  • Focus: Acquired basic understanding of nutrition principles, dietary needs, and the importance of balanced diets in daily life.

Jamie Scott is a skilled culinary expert and content creator specializing in Western cuisine. With over 15 years in the culinary field and formal training from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, Jamie deeply understands how to blend nutrition with delicious flavors. His passion for cooking matches his commitment to making healthy eating accessible and enjoyable.

On Fifteen.net, Jamie brings a fresh perspective to classic dishes and beverages, offering readers insightful recipes, cooking tips, and a fresh view on meal planning that emphasizes taste, health, and simplicity.

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