Apart from breathtaking views, The Caribbean archipelago has an abundance of rich and vibrant cultures. This cornucopia of cultures makes for some of the best places to visit in the world and oﬀers flavours unlike any other. I am talking about food that will blow your mind because Caribbean cuisine is a flavour bomb. All the hype is justified.
There are more than 700 islands in the Caribbean but I will be focusing on the ones that are more common and most often visited. Caribbean cuisine has influences from all corners of the world, especially France, India and Africa due to their rich history.
If you think outside the box, all these islands make up for a huge plate that is waiting to be devoured. While collectively they share a lot of similar dishes and flavours, each island is also known for some specific dishes. Their gastronomy is easily one of the biggest in the world so I will try my best to recommend the dishes that are well known and easily available all around and divide them based upon which island they come from.
- Caribbean Food
- Top Food Tours
- Food in Jamaica
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Dominican Republic
Top Food Tours
- Original Bajan Walking Food Tour Barbados – get a taste of Barbados on this popular food tour.
- Aruba Dinner and Nightlife Tour – wine, dine and enjoy the night.
- St Thomas Food Tasting and Cultural Walking Tour US Virgin Islands – a great way to explore the islands’ food culture.
Food in Jamaica
If you have had oxtail, you know how amazing it is and honestly, I cannot get enough of it.
While there are a lot of great oxtail dishes out there, Jamaican oxtail dishes easily stand out.
I am pretty sure that it was due to Jamaica; that the use of oxtail got popularised all over the world.
Oxtail stew is a local favourite and it is one of the best examples of Jamaican browning technique.
Most Jamaican dishes have a beautiful caramelisation and that is due to the addition of browning sauce which is made from brown sugar.
The addition of this sauce really makes the oxtail stew shine.
The oxtail is cooked for a long-long time and the end result is rich, meaty and super tender.
When you think of Jamaican food, most definitely jerk chicken pops in your head.
It is extremely popular all over the world and it is a flavour extravaganza.
All the credit of this dish goes to the jerk sauce.
It is a spice paste that dominantly harbours the flavours of all spice, cinnamon and scotch bonnet peppers.
This combination of spices can be used with any type of meat but works best with chicken.
Even thinking about jerk chicken makes my mouth water.
After the marination, the chicken get smoked over pimento wood in oil barrels which gives it that perfect char.
That smoky flavour with the heart warming spices makes for one of the most irresistible meals you can ever have.
This beauty has made its way into almost every convenience store in America but it is still very unknown in the rest of the world.
A good homemade Jamaican patty is easily one of the best, if not the best confectionary item.
These patties are flaky, heart-warming, flavour packed and you can never stop after eating one.
The exterior gets its familiar yellow colour because of a turmeric packed dough and the ground beef filling has spices similar to that of a jerk sauce but it is sweeter due to the use of paprika.
You will find these patties being sold all over the island and they are all homemade.
A great way of enjoying it is by stuﬃng it between two pieces of fluﬀy coco bread.
Ackee Ice Cream
Ackee and saltfish is the national dish of Jamaica.
It is a weird one but it is loved by the locals and many do say that it is an acquired taste.
It is one that you should definitely try on the island.
Ackee is a fruit that is poisonous when raw but it is related to the lychee family and has a nutty flavour.
Personally, that flavour works like wonders when made into an ice cream and that is why I love the ackee ice cream.
The texture of this ice cream is kind of like a thick creamy custard but that depends on the preparation.
Parboiled and poison-free ackees are cooked with whipping cream, mixed with condensed milk and then flavoured with vanilla.
You are absolutely going to adore this dessert.
Looking for a Caribbean vacation? Read:
- 20 Things To Do In San Juan
- 20 Puerto Rico Cities and Towns
- National Parks in Puerto Rico
- Best Time To Visit Puerto Rico
- 20 Landmarks in Puerto Rico
- 20 Things To Do In Jamaica
- 20 Jamaican Drinks
- 10 Villas in Jamaica
- My Jamaica Vacation
- Best Time To Visit Cuba
- 20 Landmarks in Cuba
- Carnaval de Santiago de Cuba
- 10 Things To Do In Cuba
- 20 Things To Do In The Bahamas
- 20 Things To Do In Aruba
- Where To Stay in Jamaica
- Where To Stay in the Bahamas
- 20 Things To Do In Dominica
- 20 Things To Do In Antigua
- 20 Things To Do In St Lucia
- 20 Things To Do In Grand Cayman
- 20 Beaches in Curacao
- 20 Beaches in Trinidad and Tobago
- 20 Beaches in Anguilla
- 20 Beaches in Grenada
- 20 Beaches in Aruba
- 20 Beaches in Cayman Islands
- 20 Beaches in Haiti
- 20 Beaches in Barbados
- 20 Beaches in Turks and Caicos
- 20 Beaches in Jamaica
- 20 Beaches in Dominican Republic
- 20 Beaches in Cuba
- 20 Things To Do In St Thomas (US Virgin Islands)
- 20 Things To Do In Trinidad and Tobago
- 20 US Virgin Islands Resorts
- 20 Things To Do In Grenada
- 20 Types of Caribbean Food
- 20 Things To Do In Turks And Caicos
- 20 Things To Do In Haiti
- 20 Things To Do In Dominican Republic
- Where To Spend Christmas In The Caribbean
The Cuban Sandwich
Cuban cigars are notoriously famous around the world but the real crime is that this sandwich is what Cuba should be known for.
Sandwiches are easily one of the best foods out there and trust me, all you need is a good cuban sandwich.
There are many variations of this dish out there but the authentic one is just salami, roast pork, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles.
All of that between two pieces of the magnificent cuban bread.
Cuban bread has a really light and fluﬀy crumb.
The way it is treated and the addition of lard makes the insides soft and airy while the exterior has a texture similar to thin wafers.
The right proportions of the ingredients in a tightly grilled cuban bread is delicious.
There is something about simple dish in the Caribbean that makes it the best.
This dish is the perfect combination of powerful flavours and simplicity at its finest.
Ropa Vieja is a funny name for dish like this because it literally means old clothes but after having tried it, I can confidently say that this dish can never get old.
Cheap cuts of lean meat are braised in aromatics and spices till they get extremely tender.
The cooked meat is then shredded and then topped with the reduced braising sauce.
Even with all the flavours added to this dish, you never lose the natural meaty flavour.
It is best when served with some cuban style black beans, rice and fried plantains.
Massas de Cerdo Frita
I really felt recommending a dish like chicken fricassee and talk about the French influence in the Caribbean but I couldn’t resist talking about this fantastic dish.
The name translates to fried pork dough and you can find this beautiful street food all around the island.
Also called Masitas, this dish is basically crispy fried pork.
The chunks of pork are marinated in salt and lime or orange juice which gives the dish some great sweet and sour tones.
When served with mojo sauce, this dish is elevated to a whole another level.
Mojo sauce is herby, the base is olive oil and it is packed with garlic.
This dish just hits all the right notes and you would be having it whenever or wherever you can.
Mojito Shortbread bars
If you like lemon bars, let me tell you, this dessert is about to become your new favourite.
The surprising thing is that these shortbread bars taste exactly like mojitos.
And I am not talking about the virgin ones.
The base of these bars is a basic shortcrust dough with a lot of lime zest.
The flavouring of this dessert starts at its core.
The shortbread is buttery, decadent and has a great flavour.
Sitting on top of the bread is the custard which is made by infusing all the flavours that you would find in a classic mojito, including rum.
This dessert is rich but light, perfectly tangy and extremely refreshing.
You can have it alcohol free but just go for the real deal if you can.
Trinidad and Tobago
You would find lots and lots of Indian gastronomic influence in Trinidad and Tobago due to the immigration during the era of colonisation.
I didn’t know much about their history so when I first had this dish it blew my mind, but also made me confused.
Doubles is a street food version of the northern Indian staple called chole bhature.
Two pieces of fried flatbreads called Bara in T&T get stuﬀed with a chickpea curry and then lathered with diﬀerent chutneys.
The flatbread is super crispy, really fluﬀy and honestly, quite heavy.
Anyway, it is tastes like a party in your mouth.
Just like the Indian counterpart, this dish is one of the best tasting things in the world.
Curried Crab with Dumplings
I did say that there is a lot of Indian influence on this island and therefore, you will find a lot of dishes with a curry base (which I am a fan of).
Curried Crab with Dumplings is the perfect example of the T&Tian and Indian flavours coming together.
The flavours and the technique of this dish complement each other so well.
The crab gets soaked in lime water, then marinated and cooked in pimento peppers, curry paste, some aromatics and coconut milk.
Also as a seafood lover, this crab curry is amazing but unbelievably delicious when served with local dumplings.
Apart from other additions, the dumplings have a unique taste due to the use of grated cassava in their base.
This combination is a match made in heaven.
The culinary history of the Caribbean will never stop amusing me.
This dish sounds very similar to an Indian dish but the preparation and taste are very diﬀerent.
Even though it has those Indian tropes, Trini pelau was actually invented in the French occupied West Indies.
This rice dish is extremely iconic for family gatherings and festivities.
Just like a traditional Indian pulao, it is a one pot meat and rice dish but with the Caribbean flavours added to it.
The meat is browned using the Jamaican browning sauce and then rice, pigeon peas and tons of herbs are added to it.
The unique ingredient is the addition of coconut milk which brings everything together and results in this beautiful classic Trini dish.
Cassava Pone with Soursop
My recommendation here is a mix of two very famous Caribbean desserts and it is so worth it.
Cassava pone is a sponge cake lookalike but don’t let that fool you, the texture of this cake is really unexpected.
The base is made with cassava root, pumpkins and sweet potatoes along with other basic ingredients.
The combination of these veggies give it a really gummy texture that is absolutely amazing.
It is a local favourite and is available abundantly in the surrounding islands too.
I suggest you to pair it with some soursop ice cream which has a tangy taste with a texture that is somewhat like a sorbet but still creamy.
This ice cream complements the cassava pone at all levels perfectly.
- Street Food and a Taste of Trinidad Nightlife
- Half-day Private Cocoa Tour with 3-Course Lunch in Trinidad
I am a massive seafood lover and am always on the lookout for new fishes to try.
What is even better than that, is food that might not seem edible but turns out to be incredible.
That is what lion fish is, a delicacy that when seen roaming freely in the water, might scare you.
This black, red and white stripped fish is full of protruding spikes around it which are venomous but when treated carefully this beauty oﬀers some delicate, flaky and buttery meat.
The Bahamian seas are abundant with lion fish so the locals get to really feast on to this beauty.
Like any other fish, it is enjoyed many diﬀerent ways but I suggest you try it grilled or steamed so you can get the real taste of it.
Cracked Conch/ Conch Fritters
These are two dishes which are very similar and might be a part of the most famous dishes in the Bahamas.
The only diﬀerence between the two is that in the cracked version, the conch is smashed before being fried.
In any case, these dishes are absolutely addicting and a great way to enjoy conch which is a local delicacy.
Conch has a sweet, slightly smoky flavour and a texture very similar to abalone.
The firm, chewy texture is perfect after fried.
You will find these dishes being served on the streets and in sit-down restaurants.
I love it when they are served in cones, like fries.
So, you can go around, enjoying the vistas while popping these in your mouth.
Johnny Cake with Fish Stew
Another Bahamian dish that you can never get enough of.
This dish does have some French influence so it resembles a bouillabaisse but it is much-much more flavourful.
This fish stew is packed with all kinds of seafood that are available locally.
The preparation of the dish varies from place to place but it will always be flooded with seafood and delicious.
While the meat is always cooked to extreme tenderness, the sauce is where its at.
It is punchy, rich and luscious.
The best way to enjoy it is with some Johnny cake which is a dense bread, a little sweet and is perfect for soaking up any flavour.
You can order this dish, order some Johnny cake lathered with butter and dig in to have a great time.
Duﬀ is a local favourite when it comes to desserts in the Bahamas.
It might remind you of a cream roll as the dough is rolled with fillings but instead of being baked, it is steamed.
The dough is usually stuﬀed with some kind of fruit but the most famous version is with Guava.
The combination works really well when done with guava that has that unique flavour and even better when the fruit is spiced.
The result is a pudding like texture due to the steaming of the duﬀ.
The dessert is then topped oﬀ with a buttery sauce containing rum or in some cases, brandy.
It is a unique tasting dish which would work for everyone and the sauce just makes this dessert irresistible.
- Nassau Rum and Food Walking Tour Bahamas
- City Sight Seeing with Wine, Rum Cake and Conch Fritter Samples
Coming to Dominican Republic, we get to experience some African influence on the food.
Mofongo is a dish with a very unique texture and flavours to die for.
Plantains are used in a lot of Caribbean cooking but this dish truly makes them shine.
Basically, the dish could be explained as a plantain mash but it is so much more.
Cooked plantains are mashed and then mixed with fried plantains, garlic paste and chicharrones (crispy pork rinds).
It sounds like weird combination but it absolutely works.
The mash is then served with a rich, deep beef broth.
It is supposed to be eaten using your hands, so you can delve into the flavours and the culture.
Nothing shouts royal than this dish and Sancocho is truly a dish that is reserved for special occasions.
This meaty stew is unlike any that you have ever experienced and honestly, you need to be a meat lover to enjoy this dish.
It is a stew which is packed with flavour, root vegetables, spices and seven diﬀerent types of meat.
There are diﬀerent variations of this dish, depending on what you are celebrating but the deluxe version takes seven meats.
Pork, mutton, beef and chicken are added to it and weirdly it works.
You get a diﬀerent flavour in every bite.
It might sound like a lot but this is a dish you need to try at least once to experience the flavour combinations.
La Bandera Dominicana
Good food is a such a big part of the Dominican culture that the locals have a dish named after the Dominican flag.
Some might even consider it to be a part of their identity.
La Bandera Dominicana, translates to ‘The Dominican Flag’ but apart from the strong emotions attached to the dish, I fail to see the correlation.
Anyway, the locals are crazy about it and it tastes incredible.
It is a simple dish consisting of rice, meat, beans and salad.
It does sound basic, doesn’t it? Sometimes there is nothing better than simple, hearty food.
Everything on the plate is done really well with love and you can taste how good the Dominicans make this simple dish.
Habichuelas con Dulce
Being Latin means to be crazy about beans.
The people in the Dominican Republic love their beans so much that they decided to make a dessert out of them too.
This is a very unique dish that does sound strange but one bite of it would open your mind.
At its core, this creamy pudding is a combination of red beans and coconut milk spiced with warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
The dessert is usually topped with plantains or yuca flatbreads and sometimes chunks of sweet potatoes are mixed in too.
This dessert is traditionally associated with the Easter holiday but that shouldn’t stop you from digging into it whenever you can.
Caribbean gastronomy is some of the best in the world.
I haven’t even cracked the surface of what is Caribbean food really is by suggesting these dishes.
You really have to try all the diﬀerent dishes yourself and cherish the wonder.
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