Discover The Best Jamaican Foods: Meals, Snacks, and Drinks You Must Try.

Foods you must try in Jamaica

Are you thinking of taking a trip to Jamaica? Then this blog is for you. There are thousands of different Jamaican foods to choose from. Learning about them before visiting the island will help you make smarter dining choices. Food Explora’s blog shares some of the best Jamaican foods (meals, snacks, and drinks) you should try when you are in Jamaica.

While many Jamaican foods or dishes are widely available in some states in America, a true Jamaican or “Yardie” like myself, will agree that the flavor and essence of these dishes do not compare to those prepared or cooked in Jamaica.

Jamaica is arguably the most beautiful and vibrant Caribbean island and Its food culture is no exception. Furthermore, the island takes pride in producing some of the diaspora’s most flavorful cuisines. 

Foods you must try in Jamaica

As you travel across Jamaica, the flavor, smell, and taste of some dishes change due to the variations in their recipes, but will definitely knock you off your feet.

In this blog, we will explore some of the most iconic Jamaican foods that everyone must experience when they visit the island. 

We will discuss Jamaican meals, snacks, and drinks that showcase the diversity and vibrancy of Jamaican cuisine and culture.

  

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Jamaican Fruits

Jamaican Food Culture

The Jamaican food culture is fascinating. Our breakfast is “heavy,” similar to what most people in the United States would eat for dinner. 

Consider having meat, fish, and dumplings for breakfast. Our dishes take time and can be labor-intensive but are filled with love and pride.

Jamaica produces a variety of delectable exotic fruits that you will adore. You will undoubtedly become addicted to our snacks or sweet treats.

If you do not eat meat, there are various Vegan cuisines and restaurants to choose from on the island of Jamaica.

 

1
Ackee and codfish

The national dish of Jamaica is Ackee and Codfish, which is a must-try when visiting the island. Ackee is a fruit that is boiled and sautéed with salted codfish, onions, peppers, and spices to make a filling breakfast. jamaican Ackee

Ackee has the texture of buttery scrambled eggs, and when combined with the salty and savory codfish, it creates a flavor explosion in your mouth.

The national dish are usually served with boiled or fried dumplings, yams, boiled green bananas, or any other starchy side dish of your choice.

Jamaican Ackee and Codfish

2
Jamaican patties

Whether you purchase them from Tastee, Juici Beef, or Mother’s Restaurant, these delicious flaky meat pies are a must-try when you visit Jamaica. 

There are good reasons why these patty stores are stationed all over Jamaica. They sell patties that everyone will enjoy and includes beef, chicken, seafood, vegan, or vegetable patties.

Do not forget to order Coco Bread to go along with your patty. Coco Bread is a sweet and fluffy bread that is a popular snack in Jamaica.

It’s made with flour, sugar, coconut milk, and yeast, giving it a sweet and coconutty flavor. It is usually served with a beef patty or on its own.

Sandwiching your patty between the fold of the coco bread take its flavor profile to new heights.

Jamaican beef patties

3
jAMAICAN
jERK cHICKEN

Jerk chicken, perhaps one of the most famous Jamaican food, is a spicy and smoky grilled chicken dish seasoned with a blend of herbs, and spices such as pimento, thyme, and scotch bonnet peppers.

You will find this one-of-a-kind jerk bird in almost every part of Jamaica. 

 If you stay at an all-inclusive hotel, Jerk Chicken will most likely be on the menu. However, the best jerk chicken in my opinion is from street food vendors outside the resorts. 

Please be safe when traveling outside of the resorts. Munchies Youtube channel features several jerk stops that you may visit when you are in Jamaica.

Most jerk sauce or pepper sauce that is served over the juicy Jerk Chicken, carries a lot of heat from the scotch bonnet peppers.

If you do not like fire-hot heat, you may want to ask for the sauces on the side. 

Where there is Jerk Chicken, there is Jerk Pork. If you eat pork, don’t forget to order you some.

This may be a biased opinion, but I think that there is no other place on earth that cooks jerk pork like Jamaicans do.

The flavorful Jamaican jerk chicken or pork is often served with rice and peas, festival, hard dough slices of bread, or bammy (cassava cake). 

french fry stewed beef liverI dare you to try these two Jamaican dishes. They may sound gross, but do not dismiss them until you have tried them. Even though stewed liver can be served for lunch or dinner, Stewed liver is a popular breakfast item in Jamaica. Check out my French Fried Stewed Liver recipe to learn more. 

Cow Foot Stew

Cow Foot, on the other hand, is made from the feet of the cow. The cow feet are chopped into smaller pieces, seasoned, and cooked for an extended period or pressure cooked until the gelatinous skin is soft and falling off the bone.

It is further stewed into a rich brown gravy made of its natural fat, juices, and a variety of seasonings. Butter Beans or Broad Beans are often added to increase its nutritional value.

These dishes can be served over rice or with other starch side items such as Boiled Dumplings.

Jamaican Cow feet

5.
Fruits of jamaica.

Jamaica has an abundance of luscious and juicy exotic fruits. You can not visit the island without trying at least one of the fruits listed below.

Jamaican MangoesJamaican Mangoes

There are so many species of mangoes to choose from. These are the most popular mangoes grown in Jamaica: Julie, East Indian, Hairy, # 11, and “blackie”. Mango season lasts from May to September, but it varies depending on the species.

Sweetsop and Soursop

SweetSop and Soursop fruits are like first cousins. Their flesh surrounds black seed and has a milky custard-like texture that you will adore.

They contain a number of health benefits that you will not want to miss. The leaves of the soursop are used to make tea. I grew up drinking this tea every week.

If you happen to come across a soursop tree, you can pluck the leaves, dry them, and bring them home with you. The leaves can also be purchased on Amazon. Click HERE to learn more.

NaseberryNaseberry 

When mature, Naseberry, as it is known in Jamaica, is a dark fleshy fruit that is soft and sweet. The taste is similar to a cross between persimmon and cantaloupe.

Coconut Jelly

Coconut Jelly is a must-try when you visit Jamaica. Nothing compares to nature’s fresh electrolyte water from a tree.

The coconut water will replenish and quench any thirst. The immature soft succulent coconut jelly flesh can be enjoyed by scooping it out using a spoon made from the husk.

Jamaican Otaheite Apple

One of the most sought-after fruit in Jamaica is the Otaheite Apple. Its vibrant reddish-purple skin and white flesh are juicy with a distinctive sweet flavor.

The darker red the flesh, the sweeter the apple. They are typically in season and available between August and October.

Guineps

These grape-like fruits are one of a kind. Guinep’s inedible green skin encapsulates the pinkish-orange succulent flesh.

Suck off the flesh from the seed to appreciate the sweet juicy flavors. 

Naseberry
Naseberry
coconut Jelly
Coconut "Jelly"
Jamaican Mangoes
Julie/ East Indian Mangoes
Jamaican Fruits
Guineps

6.
Jamaican Food
Snacks.

From sweet to salty, there is a snack for everyone. There are hundreds of Jamaican snacks that are widely accessible in most grocery stores or corner shops. 

Fortunately, most of them are now sold at concession stores located inside our Jamaican airports. 

Here are a few of my favorites, and I hope you try at least one of them when you visit Jamaica.

Banana Chips 

Most Jamaicans may argue that the Chippies banana chips taste better that the St. Mary’s brand. Which of these brand chips is your favorite? 

I personally have tried and like them both. However, I grew up eating Chippies and believe the texture is a bit better. 

You will undoubtedly enjoy whichever one you come across. Green bananas sliced, deep fried, and lightly salted are a crispy delicious treat that you will enjoy and grow to love.

Gizzada

This spiced coconut pastry is a delicious sweet treat. Grated coconut, ginger, spices, and brown sugar are stewed to a syrupy consistency before being filled in a baked rough-puff pastry base. The filling is similar to my Carrot Coconut Grater Cake recipe. Click HERE to learn more.

Sugar Cane

sugar caneSugar cane is God’s natural sweet treat to the human race. It is sweet and filling. This was most Jamaican “candy” growing up.

Eating sugar cane is a workout for your jaws and was either grown in our backyard or could be purchased from “cane man” who sometimes sells it from his cart or roadside shop.

Today, is now widely available in most Jamaican supermarkets.

Do you classify sugar cane as a fruit?

Spiced Bun

This has long been a favorite of mine. Spiced buns have the texture of a moist sweet brown bread with a burst of spices and pureed raisins.

As a tasty snack, I frequently eat this with a thick slice of the popular Jamaican Cheddar Cheese. You may purchase this unique-tasting cheese on Amazon by clicking HERE.

Coconut Drops

I am a lover of anything coconut. Coconut drops are one of my favorite childhood snacks.

Diced coconut cooked in spiced brown sugar until reduced to a caramel-syrup-like texture.

Traditionally, a spoonful of the coconut mixture is then “dropped” on banana leaves and left at room temperature to be set firm.

Rum Fruit Cake

I am overjoyed that rum cakes are now available in single-serving sizes. If you’ve been reading my blog, you will know that I recently shared my Rum Fruit Cake recipe with you.

These small packets of rum cake are now available at the supermarket across Jamaica.

I actually purchased mine at the Norman Manley Airport. The texture and flavor of this brand’s fruit cake are on point; I highly recommend it.

Did you know you can also purchase this rum fruit cake on Amazon? Click HERE to learn more.

Food Explora have created a simpler version of the Jamaican Rum Fruit Cake recipe on my blog. If you are interested in learning how to make it, visit HERE.

Jamaican Chippies Banana chips
Banana Chips
Coconut Drops
Coconut Drops
Jamaican Gizzada
Gizzada
Spiced Bun
Spiced Bun
rum fruit cake
Rum Fruit Cake

7.
Stewed meats of Jamaica

In Jamaica, stewed meats are highly popular. They’re on practically every restaurant’s menu.

Jamaican Food: Brown Stewed Chicken

Brown stew chicken is a savory and tasty dish made with thighs or legs of chicken, brown sugar, soy sauce, thyme, onions, and garlic. Before browning and simmering in a rich, tomato-based sauce, the chicken is marinated in the seasoning combination.

Stewed Oxtails

Oxtail stew is a rich and tasty dish cooked with soft pieces of oxtail, carrots, onions, garlic, and a blend of herbs and spices that is a beloved comfort food in Jamaica.

Jamaican Food: Curry Goat

Another Jamaican classic, curry goat is a rich and savory stew made with tender goat meat, onions, garlic, ginger, and a blend of curry spices. It’s typically served with plain white rice or rice and peas and a side of fried plantains and cooked or raw vegetables.

These meats are sometimes also served with dumplings or some other starchy root vegetables.

Escovitch Fish  Even though Escovitch Fish is not a not necessarily a stewed meat, it has to 

Jamaican Callaloo

Do not forget to add Jamaican calaloo to your plate. Callaloo is a green leafy vegetable that is sauteed with herbs and cooked until tender.

Codfish are sometimes added and is often served as a breakfast meal. 

The picture below is a breakfast meal of stewed (AKA “Steamed”) red snapper fish, boiled green bananas, and calaloo greens.

Jamaican oxtail
Stewed Oxtails
Jamaican Boil Dumplings Green Banana
Jamaican Dumplings
Stewed Fish with calaloo and green bananas
Stewed Fish, Callaloo and Green Bananas
Jamaican ecovitch fish
Escovitch Fish

8.
Jamaican Foods: soups

Soups are a one-pot meal in Jamaica. They are loaded with a variety of flavors, and consistency to suit everyone’s taste.

Whether you are a meat lover, Vegetarian, or Vegan, there is a soup for everyone in Jamaica.

Visit my recipe blog for a healthier version of traditional Jamaican Chicken Soup and to learn more about the different types of soups in Jamaica.

Jamaican Style Chicken Vegetable lentil Soup

9.
Porridges of jamaica

Porridge is Jamaica’s most popular hot breakfast cereal. They are sweet, creamy, and spice-flavored. Porridges are available in Jamaica in several varieties, including cornmeal, hominy corn, plantain, and banana.

Please keep in mind that as you travel across Jamaica, each of these porridges has different variations or added ingredients in the recipe.

Some vendors have come up with creative ways to add peanuts to their cornmeal porridge recipe and I love it.

Visit my blog to learn more about the healthier versions of Jamaican porridges below.

Plantain Persimmon Fuyu Porridge

Hominy Corn Porridge

Cornmeal Oats Chia Seeds Porridge

You can now purchase easy quick-fix porridges from Amazon. Click HERE to learn more.

 

hominy corn porridge
Hominy Corn Porridge

10.
Best Jamaican Drinks

Rum Punch

Rum punch is a popular and delicious beverage mixed with white rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, lime juice, and grenadine, and is popular in Jamaican Black Fruit Christmas Cake: White RumJamaica. 

It’s usually served over ice and garnished with a slice of fresh fruit.

Do not forget to purchase a few of these or other duty free Jamaican rum at the airport when you are leaving to go home. 

 

Jamaican Red Stripe Beer Jamaican Red Stripe Beer

Red Strip Beer is the most popular beer in Jamaica. It has set the gold standard since 1928. It is known for its butterscotch flavor that is smooth and full-bodied.

They are now available in a variety of fascinating flavors, including sorrel and lemon, which are two of my favorites.

Sorrel

This is one of my favorite drinks. You often find it readily available during the Christmas season. 

However, due to the fact that the leaves are dried and packaged, you may be able to find sorrel drinks all year round. 

Flavored with Jamaican J. Wray & Nephew White Rum make it even more festive and buzzy. You can make your own at home by visiting my recipe blog HERE.

Ting

Ting is a pleasant and somewhat sweet carbonated grapefruit beverage. It’s an excellent substitute for soda and goes well with spicy Jamaican meals.

 

Jamaican Food: Irish Moss Drink

Jamaican Irish moss sea moss drink recipeThis is one of my all-time favorite Jamaican drinks. It is made from the health-crazed sea moss or seaweed, as most Jamaicans call it. 

The punch is blended with sweetened condensed milk making it creamy, and sweet. 

Jamaican white rum and spices are also added for a more flavorful punch. Click HERE and visit my blog to learn how Jamaicans make this healthy and delicious Irish Moss Drink.

 

Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee

Blue Mountain coffee is regarded as one of the best in the world, valued for its smooth, rich flavor. 

When you visit Jamaica, you will more or like be served blue mountain coffee at breakfast.

 

Hot Cocoa/Chocolate

Jamaican hot cholate/cocoa tea is nothing like what you may find in American grocery stores.

If you have the opportunity to sip on a cup of authentic Jamaican hot cocoa tea, you will never go back to store-bought hot chocolate packets.

Let me take you to my site HERE to learn where you can buy cocoa balls made from real cocoa beans and prepare your own hot chocolate cocoa tea at home to savor the flavor.

Jamaican Sorrel Drink
Jamaican Sorrel Drink
Jamaican Brown Stewed Fish vegetables
Stewed Fish, Jamaican style
Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe
Jamaican Rice and Peas

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Enjoy Your Time In Jamaica or At A Jamaican Restaurant.

"Jamaican cuisine is a cultural melting pot that have influenced the island and world over time. From indigenous Taino cuisine to Spanish, African, and Indian influences, Jamaica has a rich culinary heritage that offers a wide variety of unique dishes, snacks, and drinks. Furthermore, the food culture in Jamaica is deeply rooted in the country's history, and it's a reflection of the people's creativity, resilience, and resourcefulness."
Kevin the food explora
Kevin Foodie
Food & Travel Blogger

Share Your Thought Below:
What Jamaican food have you tried or will be trying?

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30 thoughts on “Discover The Best Jamaican Foods: Meals, Snacks, and Drinks You Must Try.”

  1. I came to see if I missed any special dishes for the times I’ve visited Jamaica and it looks like I’ve practically had everything on the list. The hours I spent at a brunch buffet in Kinsgton can take most of the credit.

    I dont know if it’s the seasonings used but Jamaican patties in America trigger skin allergies. I didn’t have an issue when I ate them in Kingston.

    I love Jamaican food!!! 💛💚🖤

    1. You are so right Sandra, the patties here in NYC are nothing compared to those in Jamaica. I am surprised they haven’t had a franchise of one of the Jamaican patty restaurants here in the US already.

  2. I used to have a Jamaican roommate and I love when she prepared food for us, since then, I felll in love with jamaincan food, but I haven’t tried their snacks. Reading this makes me want to drive to the Jaimacan store👍😊. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Jerk chicken & beef patties are my fav. We have an authentic Jamaican restaurant by me & they have amazing food. Cant beat the flavor!

  4. Jamaican food is so delicious! I’ve tried the jerk chicken with rice and peas and Jamaican patties. All are delicious and I would like to try the other dishes on the list!

  5. It was not such a good idea to read this because there isn’t anything on here I’d not eat or at least have tried with the exception of the coffee. That one has evaded me.

    1. Jamaican patties are very hard to copy. But I am sure your granny came close to it. You will have to visit Jamaica to explore the authentic Jamaican foods. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Cynthia.

  6. Yuuummm! There’s so many things on here that I love the sound of. Being a traveler, I’d love to visit Jamaica, it looks like a beautiful place, but lots of the foods you’ve mentioned here make my mouth water, such as the Jerk Chicken, Spiced Buns, and the chippies. Oh and anything with rum in it!

  7. I like the way the patties look like. Never tried before. I love tasting new foods, so your post was very useful to me. Thanks for sharing this wonderful article!

  8. I’d love to visit at some point in my life. Especially the local fruits are interesting to me. I just love a good fruit salad or really anything with fruits. Hm…now I’m really hungry :D

    Also the Irish Moss Drink sounds like a fun drink I should try! Thank you for sharing your unique insights!

  9. As someone who loves trying new cuisines, I found it informative and enticing. Jamaican cuisine has a rich blend of flavors and ingredients, and I’m excited to try dishes like jerk chicken, ackee saltfish, and patties. Any recommendations for where to find authentic Jamaican food or personal favorites? Let’s keep the culinary conversation going!

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