12 Traditional Liberian Dishes and Foods

Liberian dishes feature staples such as rice, cassava, and plantains in hearty stews and savory rice dishes, emphasizing communal dining.

Lastest Updated April 19, 2024
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Basic Information

Liberian Food: Basic Overview

Common Ingredients

Rice, cassava, plantains, fish, tropical fruits (bananas, citrus fruits), vegetables (okra, spinach), and palm oil

Common Cooking Methods

Boiling, frying, slow cooking


Main course, dessert, soup, salad


Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Key Taste

Savory, sweet, bitter, complex, neutral

Eating Etiquette

Liberian dining etiquette emphasizes handwashing, communal eating, respect for elders, and generosity. Meals are a time for fostering connections among diners, reflecting the communal values of Liberian society.

Meal Presentation

Meals are typically served on large platters to encourage sharing, reflecting the communal dining culture of Liberia.

Culinary Festivals

Weddings, family gatherings, and other special occasions

Influence and Fusion

Liberian cuisine blends indigenous traditions with American, European, and African cultural influences.
Origin and Region

Liberian Food: Origin and Region



Cuisine’s Geographical Territory

West Africa
Liberia Map
Ingredients and Preparation

Popular Types of Liberian Food

  • Stews

    In Liberian cuisine, stews often incorporate a base of palm oil, tomatoes, onions, and spices.

    Meat is a central ingredient, with chicken, beef, and fish commonly used.

    The stew is typically simmered to perfection, and often served with starchy sides like rice, yams, or plantains.

  • Soups

    Liberian soups range from spicy and brothy to thick and nutty.

    Ingredients like chili peppers, scent leaves, and various meats or fish are common, providing a complex and layered taste profile.

Liberian dishes are common culinary delights widely enjoyed in Liberia, a country in West Africa. These dishes blend indigenous traditions with influences from American delicacies + (American dishes), European culinary creations, and African specialties.

Liberian cuisine centers on staples like rice, cassava, and plantains, with rice being particularly significant in various dishes. Cassava is versatile, used both as flour and in fried forms.

The cuisine features stews, soups, rice dishes, meats such as chicken, beef, and fish, and vegetables like okra and spinach.

Jollof rice is an essential dish that combines rice with spices, vegetables, and meat or fish. Flavors are rich, often spicy and savory, with spices, hot peppers, and palm oil adding depth.

Cooking methods include boiling, frying, and stewing. Meals are central to family and community life, served on large platters to encourage sharing.

I’m excited to dive into Liberia’s famous dishes, uncover the secrets of its traditional cuisine, discuss why it’s loved worldwide, and discuss its health perks. I’ll also touch on dining etiquette and share some tips for matching dishes with the perfect drinks.

Ready to begin?

Here’s an overview of the key components that define traditional Liberian food:

  • Rice: The cornerstone of Liberian meals, serving as a base for various sauces and stews rich in vegetables and meats.
  • Cassava: A versatile staple used in many forms, including flour for bread, grated for dishes, or fermented for traditional drinks.
  • Fish: A crucial protein source, including dried varieties, reflecting Liberia’s extensive coastline.
  • Spices: Liberian dishes are often spicy, incorporating chili peppers or hot sauces for added heat.
  • Tropical Fruits and Vegetables: These include bananas, citrus fruits, plantains, coconut, and sweet potatoes, which are used in meals or as snacks.
  • Fufu: A staple food made from cassava or plantains, served with soups or stews.
  • Jollof Rice: A popular one-pot dish cooked with tomatoes, onions, and spices, often with added vegetables, fish, or meat.
  • Palm Oil: Used to add flavor and color to dishes, reflecting fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

This deep-rooted culinary culture has begun attracting food lovers worldwide, marking the start of its journey on the global food map.

Despite its rich flavors and unique dishes, Liberian cuisine has not gained widespread international popularity in the same manner as other cuisines, like Italian or Chinese. Its presence is mostly felt in regions with significant Liberian expatriate communities.

These communities, primarily found in the United States (especially in states like Minnesota, Georgia, and New Jersey) and parts of Europe, serve as cultural hubs where Liberian food can be experienced outside Liberia.

Restaurants and food shops within these communities offer traditional dishes, allowing people from other backgrounds to explore Liberian cuisine.

While Liberian food may not be widely known globally, the globalization of food and the growing interest in African cuisines could lead to increased recognition and appreciation of Liberian dishes in the future.

This growing appeal is due to their taste and the health benefits these dishes provide, thanks to natural, nutrient-rich ingredients.

Here’s how various aspects of Liberian food contribute to its healthfulness:

  • Staple Crops: Liberian meals frequently include rice, cassava, and sweet potatoes, rich sources of energy-providing carbohydrates.
  • Leafy Greens: Dishes often feature cassava leaves, spinach, and bitter leaves, loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals that aid digestion, enhance the immune system, and promote heart health.
  • Fruits: Using bananas, papayas, and mangoes introduces essential vitamins and antioxidants that support overall well-being.
  • Lean Proteins: Liberian cuisine incorporates fish, chicken, and seafood, offering necessary amino acids with lower saturated fat levels than red meat.
  • Palm Oil: Palm oil traditionally contributes to cotrienols (a form of Vitamin E) and beta-carotene, benefiting heart health and vision, although its high-calorie content calls for moderate consumption.
  • Cooking Methods: The preference for boiling, steaming, or light sautéing over heavy frying helps preserve the nutritional value of foods, minimizing fat content and nutrient loss.

Among these nutritious offerings, a few standout dishes have become favorites for many.

12 Popular Liberian Dishes with Filters

Here are 12 of Liberia’s most famous dishes, sorted by their popularity. You can use the filter option to explore different ingredients, tastes, cooking styles, meal types, and times. Dive into everything from traditional recipes and national favorites to street eats.

  • Liberia’s most popular dishes are known for their rich flavors and communal nature.
  • These dishes often feature a hearty blend of spices, meats, and vegetables, reflecting the country’s culinary diversity.
  • They are widely enjoyed in homes and social gatherings, embodying the essence of Liberian cuisine.
  • Liberia’s national dish is deeply rooted in the country’s culture and traditions.
  • They typically include staple ingredients like cassava and rice, transformed through time-honored cooking methods into comforting and satisfying meals.
  • Made from locally sourced ingredients and with age-old techniques, these dishes offer a taste of Liberia’s history and communal values.
  • They range from savory stews to hearty soups, each with a special flavor profile passed down through generations.
  • Liberian street food is a vibrant part of the country’s food scene, offering a variety of snacks and quick bites that are both delicious and convenient.
  • From sweet and fluffy puff-puff to savory deep-fried dough balls, these treats are a staple at markets, gatherings, and along busy streets, providing a taste of Liberian hospitality on the go.
Jollof Rice

Jollof Rice

  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Jollof rice is a beloved one-pot dish in Liberia, known for its vibrant color and rich flavors. While it’s a staple across West Africa, the Liberian version distinguishes itself with its blend of spices and ingredients, including local fish or meat.

It’s famous for its spicy and savory taste, often featuring a delightful mix of tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers.

Jollof rice is a celebration food frequently served at weddings, festivals, and other important gatherings.



  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Fufu is a traditional West African dish popular in Liberia. It’s a thick, dough-like food made by boiling and pounding starchy vegetables such as cassava, yams, or plantains.

Fufu is favored for its texture and the way it complements the flavors of the soups and stews it’s served with.

This dish represents Liberian hospitality and communal eating, often enjoyed with hands in a shared meal setting.

The taste of fufu is quite mild, making it the perfect accompaniment to more flavorful and spicy Liberian dishes.



  • Street Food

Puff-puff is a street food snack in Liberia and West Africa. This dish consists of deep-fried dough balls that are soft and spongy on the inside and golden brown on the outside.

The taste of puff-puff is sweet, often enjoyed as a treat or a quick snack at various times. It’s made from a simple batter of flour, sugar, yeast, and water, sometimes with a hint of nutmeg for an extra flavor kick.

Puff-Puff is particularly popular at celebrations and gatherings, where guests enjoy it as a tasty finger food.



  • National
  • Traditional

Dumboy is a national Liberian dish made from pounded cassava, transformed into a dense, sticky dough and often served with a flavorful soup or stew. The unique texture of dumboy is what sets it apart, offering a filling and comforting eating experience.

Its taste is quite neutral, making it a versatile companion to the more spiced and aromatic Liberian dishes it accompanies. Dumboy is deeply embedded in Liberian culture, playing a significant role in daily meals, special occasions, and ceremonies.

Pepper Soup

Pepper Soup

  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Pepper soup is a West African delicacy known for its spicy, light, and watery texture, combining a variety of meats or fishes with chili peppers, scent leaves, and calabash nutmeg.

Despite its spice, the soup’s flavors are complex, including nutty, bitter, and floral notes. It’s enjoyed across Western Africa, including Liberia, for its believed medicinal qualities and is often served to new mothers and after weddings for its health benefits​​.

Africa Okra Soup

Okro Soup

  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Okro soup, celebrated as a vibrant staple across West Africa, including Liberia, Nigeria, Ghana, and Cameroon, is a traditional dish made with the delicious okra vegetable.

This soup stands out in Liberian cuisine for its rich mix of shrimp, goat meat, fish, and African spices. Liberian Okro Soup is often enjoyed with rice, showcasing the country’s love for hearty, comforting meals that speak to its cultural diversity and culinary traditions.

Palaver Sauce Stew

Palaver Sauce

  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Palaver Sauce, a traditional West African stew, is known by names like kontonmire and nkontommire in Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. It’s a blend of beef, fish, shrimp, pepitas, cassava, taro leaves, and palm oil, with variations like molokhia leaves in Liberia.

The preparation involves frying meat in palm oil, adding onions, peppers, chili, fish, vegetables like spinach or okra, and spices, simmered until reduced.

In Liberia, it combines jute leaves, dry fish, meat, chicken, palm oil, and spices, making it a flavorful dish with cultural significance, often served with fufu or rice.

Liberian Peanut Soup West African

Liberian Peanut Soup

  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Liberian peanut soup is a traditional dish blending peanuts, beef, chicken, onions, bell peppers, and okra, flavored with chicken stock, spices, and optional dried fish for a nutty and rich taste.

Served hot, typically with rice, it is a staple for any meal. The cooking process includes simmering the ingredients until tender, then adding peanut butter to thicken and flavor the soup.

Collards and Cabbage

Collards and Cabbage

  • Traditional

Collards and cabbage is a Liberian dish combining collard greens and cabbage with onions, red pepper, black pepper, and optional bacon.

It’s nutritious, offering vitamins, calcium, manganese, and fiber. Variations include adding tomatoes or bell peppers for flavor and color, using smoked turkey or tofu as lighter alternatives to bacon, and incorporating beans or lentils for extra protein and fiber.

Serve it as a side with grilled meats or as a main with cornbread, enhancing flavors with hot sauce or vinegar.

Liberian Chicken

Liberian Chicken Gravy

  • Traditional

Liberian chicken gravy is a traditional stew, celebrated especially for its rich, meaty flavor reserved for special occasions in Liberia due to the cost of meat.

This stew combines chicken with vegetables like green beans, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions and is simmered in a savory chicken stock​​.

Liberian Cabbage Stew

Liberian Cabbage Stew

  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Liberian cabbage stew is a traditional dish from Liberia, rich in flavors and nutrients. It combines cabbage with chicken, beef, and various spices, cooked perfectly in vegetable oil.

This hearty stew is typically served alongside starchy sides like yams, plantains, or rice, making it a comforting and satisfying meal​​.

Liberian Rice Bread

Liberian Rice Bread

  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Liberian rice bread is a traditional dish appreciated for its distinct flavor and texture, often served as a favorite among various local bread varieties in Liberia.

The bread is crafted using country rice, which is finely ground, and then mixed with ripe mashed plantains, eggs, and a blend of other ingredients like butter, baking soda, sugar, salt, and ginger for added flavor​​.

What Is Liberian Dining Etiquette?

Liberian dining etiquette is a fascinating fusion of traditional customs and modern influences, mirroring the nation’s rich cultural fabric and societal values. Here’s an overview of key practices:

  • Handwashing: Before meals, especially those eaten with hands, handwashing is essential, highlighting the significance of cleanliness in Liberian culture.
  • Communal Eating: Sharing food from a communal plate is common, symbolizing unity and the communal nature of meals, aimed at fostering connections among diners.
  • Respect for Elders: At meal times, elders are given priority either by being served first or by initiating the meal, reflecting the society’s reverence for age and experience.
  • Generosity and Hospitality: Liberians view guests with high regard, often insisting they eat more as a display of friendship and hospitality, ensuring they feel welcomed.
  • Influence of Urbanization and Globalization: While traditional practices prevail, urban and younger populations incorporate Western dining habits like using utensils and individual plates.

Next, let’s see how drinks and dishes complement each other in Liberian cuisine.

Which Beverages Best Pair with Liberian Dishes?

Here are some beverages that might complement Liberian dishes well:

  • Ginger Beer: A popular drink in West Africa, homemade ginger beer is refreshing and spicy, making it a great match for the rich and often spicy Liberian stews and rice dishes.
  • Palm Wine: This traditional West African alcoholic beverage made from the sap of various palm trees complements Liberian dishes’ earthy flavors like cassava leaf stew and fufu.
  • Sour-Sop Juice: Also known as graviola, this fruit juice is creamy and has a complex flavor profile that’s sweet and sour, making it a delightful complement to rich and hearty Liberian meals.
  • Bissap (Hibiscus Tea): This tart and sweet beverage, known in some parts as “Sorrel,” can be served cold and is a refreshing counterpoint to Liberian cuisine’s savory and spicy flavors.
  • Coconut Water: With Liberia’s tropical climate, fresh coconut water can be a hydrating and mildly sweet drink that pairs well with virtually any dish, especially seafood and spicy foods.
  • Beer and Light Lagers: Light beers pair well with spicy and hearty dishes, offering a refreshing and palate-cleansing effect between bites.
  • Rice Beer: A traditional homemade beverage in many parts of Africa, rice beer has a distinctive taste that can complement the starchy components of Liberian meals, like rice-based dishes.

When choosing a beverage to pair dishes, consider the balance of flavors and how the Liberian drinks can complement or contrast with the dish for an enjoyable dining experience.

Which Liberian dish are you most excited to try? Comment on some words to let me know. Additionally, feel free to like and share the article to your family and friends. Thank you for your time!

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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