Exploring new cuisines is a great way to find dishes to add to your weekly menu, but it’s also an insight into a culture.
Caribbean food, which encompasses dishes from thirteen countries bordering the Caribbean sea, focuses on tropical flavors and slow-cooked stews, often of African and Indian origins.
One of the best parts of Caribbean recipes is how flexible they are. The recipes in this list offer the ability to change ingredients to things you can find locally, like using white fish if you can’t find flying fish.
Read on for 19 Caribbean recipes for a variety of occasions.
These Bahamian Style crispy conch fritters with a zesty dipping sauce are a great alternative to deep-fried clams or mussels as an appetizer.
The tender conch meat has a kick of heat from the scotch bonnet, and you can serve it freshly fried or prepared ahead of time and reheated in the oven.
Coucou and Flying Fish
Coucou and flying fish is the national dish of Barbados, and that’s because it’s delicious!
The fish is seasoned with jerk seasoning and accompanied by gravy and coucou, a steamed cornmeal side dish.
It’s a beautiful balance of heat, and thanks to the cooking method, the okra isn’t slimy at all.
From Belize, Creole bread uses coconut milk and coconut oil to produce soft and faintly coconut bread.
You can use the bread to sop up sauces from curries or spread with butter while still warm and enjoy.
Unlike many other bread doughs, creole bread only takes a few hours rather than all day.
Jerk Chicken with Pineapple Salsa
Jerk Chicken with pineapple salsa is quintessential and iconic Caribbean food.
This dish ticks all the boxes; it’s spicy, sweet, savory, and tangy.
Although you can prepare the chicken on the stove, it can be beneficial to choose an outdoor grill if possible, and the char makes it even better.
La Bandera, a name borrowed from the La Bandera Dominicana flag, is the Dominic Republic's national dish, tri-colored and traditionally made of rice, salad, meat, and beans.
Every Dominican prepares the dish differently, and that means you can customize your Bandera experience and your plate to find what fits you best.
Plantain mofongo is a Puerto Rican dish served as a side or a main course.
It’s ground unripened plantains, crushed pork rinds, and garlic but can have meat added in the mix.
It’s quick to make and is traditionally served with broth, and straight out of the mortar you prepared it in.
Sofrito is a thick green sauce used in Puerto Rican and Caribbean food to add another layer of flavor to meats, sauces, and stews.
It’s so simple to make, lasts a long time, and can be customized to use the vegetables and herbs you have on hand, along with a bit of olive oil.
You may not cook with goat very often, but the curried goat is a very popular dish in Caribbean cuisine.
Cooked low and slow, this healthy meat, which is high in iron, falls from the bone, spiced with curry to balance the richness.
If necessary, you can also replace the goat meat with mutton.
Another popular Caribbean rice dish is Trinidad pelau hailing from the islands of Trinidad and Tobago.
Its key ingredients are seasoned chicken, pigeon peas, and a browning sauce with caramelized sugar.
It takes an hour for this rich and filling dish to cook, and you can serve it with salad or as a side.
Many Caribbean dishes are easily made vegetarian, but baigan choka, a Trinidadian and east Indian eggplant dish, is already veggie. No changes are necessary.
The eggplant is roasted over an open flame or in the oven, then mashed with seasonings, oil, and roasted tomato for a vibrant and filling veggie main course.
If you’re looking for a delicious way to eat leafy greens, the favorite Jamaican dish, Callaloo, named after the greens of the same name, is the way to go.
It’s a tasty way to eat healthy greens that you can customize to fit the greens you can get at your local market.
Poulet En Sauce
Stews like poulet en sauce or Haitian chicken stew are an excellent centerpiece for a family Sunday lunch, with cornmeal or rice to soak up all the sauce.
These inexpensive meals are rich and filling and can be made quickly or set to simmer for hours on the stovetop while preparing vegetables and sides.
While they began in Portugal, Jamaica has made the coconut dessert gizzada its own.
With its pinched short, buttery crust, this tart is filled with brown sugar and spices and then topped with grated coconut.
They take some time to prepare before baking but make a great special occasion treat.
Stews are a central part of Caribbean cuisine, and Dominican chapea is a quick and easy stew made of vegetables, broth, rice, and beans.
Although autumn flavors like pumpkin or chayote squash are traditional, every Dominican home prepares its stew differently, so feel free to experiment with what you have.
A dish that bridges Dutch and Caribbean cuisines, keshi yena is a mixture of ground beef or chicken spiced with garlic, scotch bonnet, and then finished with melted Edam cheese.
This dish is often served at hotels and inns in Aruba as part of their breakfast, but it’s great for any meal.
Tamarind is probably best known as an ingredient in pad thai, but tamarind balls are Caribbean delicacies made of sugar, tamarind, and seasoning like hot sauce.
These one-bite treats are so simple and delicious for a special occasion or a family dinner.
Tamarind is available at most supermarkets or specialty Asian stores.
Dishes like the Dominican mangu are so simple to make.
It’s mashed green plantains with butter and seasoning, but it’s perfect Caribbean breakfast food or a great side dish.
Serve mangu with scrambled eggs and fried sausage or salami at breakfast time or for dinner with pork. Either way, it’s filling and nutritious.
Pigeon Peas and Rice
Most cultures use rice and beans as a side dish to bulk out more expensive meat for more filling meals.
Pigeon peas and rice, cooked with bacon, are a typical side dish to Caribbean stews.
They are very healthy additions to any meal as they are excellent sources of iron, vitamin A, calcium, and potassium.
Trinidadians love pineapple, and pineapple chow is both a side dish and a great snack any time of day.
The sweet and juicy pineapple is mixed with cilantro and garlic but then seasoned with salt and spicy elements.
Traditionally chow is made with slightly underripe mango or any firm fruit like green apple.
Which Caribbean Recipe Will You Try First?
Try any and all of these Caribbean dishes and tell us what you think in the comments!
19 Traditional Caribbean Foods
Have you ever tried Caribbean food? Check out some of the most popular Caribbean dishes to try if you visit the region, or make them yourself!
1. Choose your favorite recipe.
2. Gather the necessary ingredients.
3. Prep and cook your recipe.
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