If you love vibrant dishes packed with flavor then you will love Caribbean cuisine! Whether you like seafood, meat, or vegetarian recipes, Caribbean food has got you covered. With creamy flavors, warm spices, and plenty of fresh ingredients, this is the kind of food that excites the taste buds.
If you are new to Caribbean food or you have only ever eaten it at a restaurant then it can be tricky to know where to start. There are lots of recipes online that you can choose from.
To help you narrow down your choice we have put together a list of the 40 best Caribbean recipes. We have provided appetizers, main courses, side dishes, desserts, and even a few cocktail recipes, so you have everything you need to host an authentic Caribbean dinner party.
There is something for everyone on this list, so keep reading to find your perfect Caribbean dish.
The filling of these beef empanadas is simple but delicious, with ground beef, garlic, onions, oregano, cumin, achiote, and some salt and pepper.
This is all encased in a flaky golden crust, a bit like a pasty. You can use this recipe as an appetizer, or as lunch with a side salad. They are also great for party food as you easily pick them up and eat them with your hands.
Puerto Rican Tostones
Tostones are fried plantain. Plantain is very similar to a banana but firmer and not as sweet. These crispy fried plantains make an excellent side dish or even a starter and go really well with spicy food. It’s a simple recipe that comes out perfectly every time.
Conch Fritters with Dipping Sauce
This recipe is for conch fritters made the authentic Bahamian way, with a medium amount of spice and beautifully tender conch meat in a light beer batter. Conch shells are easily recognizable and used in lots of artwork associated with the ocean, but not everyone knows that you can eat conch.
It is classed as a mollusk, like snails. It’s not the easiest meat to get hold of so this recipe is best saved for a special treat.
If you are looking for a tasty lunch with Caribbean influences then this is the perfect recipe for you. It is also ideal for pork lovers as this recipe uses roasted pork and ham, layered with swiss cheese, pickles, and yellow mustard.
The sandwich is pressed to give it a crispy finish which adds a lovely texture. The key to this sandwich is layering the ingredients in the right order so that the sandwich holds its shape as you start to eat it.
These salmon croquettes are quick and easy to make and have a lovely delicate flavor. Serve this tartar sauce and salad for a light lunch or with some sauteed vegetables and rice for a main meal. The whole family will love them and they are often a big hit with children.
Jamaican Beef Patties
The pastry of these Jamaican patties has a wonderful golden color which comes from the use of turmeric. This also gives it a lovely spicy flavor which goes well with the spicy mince beef filling. You make up a big batch and freeze half so you always have some ready to go.
Caribbean Coconut Curry Mussels
As the Caribbean is a group of islands surrounded by the Caribbean sea, seafood and shellfish are readily available and used in lots of recipes. You can use any kind of shellfish in this recipe, but mussels are easy to get hold of in most states.
If you really want an authentic taste then try and get hold of a Caribbean lager, but it will also work well whichever lager is your favorite.
Puerto Rican Picadillo
This recipe for spicy ground beef is a classic Puerto Rican dish that is bursting with flavor. You can serve it with rice or use it as a filling for empanadas. If you want to get into Caribbean cooking then this is a great recipe to have under your belt.
Trinidad Style Chicken Curry
This recipe uses chicken drumsticks as it is more traditional, but you could use thighs or even breast meat if you prefer, but you may have to alter the cooking times. This is a much-loved dish and once you have made it once you will return to it again and again for the warm flavors and tender meat.
Bistec Encebollado is a Puerto Rican recipe for steak and onions. The meat is marinated before being stewed in a tomato-based sauce. It is simple but satisfying and is considered to be a very comforting dish. It is best served with rice and plantain on the side.
Pollo Guisado is a Dominican recipe for braised chicken. It is simple to make but packed with warming flavors and is one of the most popular recipes in the Dominican. The meat is so tender it will fall off the bone. The brown sugar counteracts the zingy lime and sweetens the tomato sauce, creating a perfectly balanced flavor.
Bahamian Boiled Fish
For this recipe, you want to use white fish that is fairly sturdy and won’t fall apart as it is cooked. It is flavored with lime juice, thyme, and some chili to give it a nice kick and cooked with potato and onions.
Ropa Vieja is the national dish of Cuba made from shredded beef and vegetables. It comes from the Spanish term ‘old clothes’ because it looks a bit like a heap of colorful rags of cloth. It was first created as a way to use up leftovers but has since become a much-loved meal.
It is packed with rich tomato flavors, sweet bell peppers, and caramelized onions.
These Trinidad-style spicy chickpea flatbreads are just heavenly. They epitomize Trinidadian street food and are a taste sensation. It is also a vegan recipe so is a great one to add to a party menu to make sure that there is something for everyone.
Arroz Con Pollo
Arroz con pollo is a Puerto Rican recipe for chicken and rice. It is easy to make and is a great weekday meal for using up leftovers. The rice is perfectly cooked and super tasty and you can make enough to have some for lunch the next day. This is a budget-friendly meal that is still a treat for the taste buds.
Chicken Fricassee Puerto Rican Style
Chicken Fricassee is a French casserole but this Puerto Rican take on the dish uses different flavors. If you prepare it the night before and leave the flavors to mingle in the pot overnight before cooking then it will taste even better.
You can serve it with rice and tostones for a deliciously satisfying meal that your friends and family will love.
Jamaican Jerk Chicken
When it comes to Caribbean cooking it doesn’t get much better than Jamaican Jerk chicken. This classic recipe is a real crowd pleaser and is ideal to serve at a BBQ or a summer party. It is the perfect combination of fragrant, spicy, and smoky sweet.
Pollo A La Barbacoa
This recipe for Cuban soy butter chicken is perfectly served with rice and vegetables. It’s very simple with only three main ingredients- chicken, butter, and soy sauce.
Pernil Asado is a Puerto Rican recipe for roast pork shoulder. The meat is marinated in lots of garlic, lime juice, and orange juice before being roasted.
The outside of the joint is caramelized and crisp but the inside is so soft it falls apart, making it great for shredding or carving. This is the perfect recipe to make for a big family gathering.
This is an Aruban recipe for a meat and cheese casserole that is the ultimate comfort food. It was traditionally made by stuffing the rind of a wheel of cheese with fillings and then baking it, but this recipe has been adapted to make it easy to cook at home.
Vaca Frita is a Cuban recipe for shredded beef. The meat is marinated in lime, garlic, and salt and cooked until it is nice and crispy. It needs to be cooked in small batches to make sure the meat sears rather than steam, or it will have a soft texture instead of crispy.
This Puerto Rican recipe for stewed shrimp goes really well with crusty bread to soak up the tasty sauce, but you can also serve it with fluffy white rice.
The recipe is easy to follow and it takes less than half an hour to make. This makes it the perfect meal to cook when you get in from work and you want something quick but flavorsome to fill you up.
Pastelon De Platano Maduro
This is a Dominican recipe for a layered dish that is similar to a lasagne or a casserole. It is made with ripe plantains and is packed with Caribbean flavors. The sweetness of the plantain cuts through the richness of the beef and it is topped with irresistible melted cheese. This is a hearty, comforting meal that the whole family will love.
Colombian Chicken Sancocho
Sancocho is a soup that is bursting with potatoes, meat yuca, plantain, and corn. It is a traditional Colombian dish that is nourishing and flavorsome. You can use whatever meat you fancy but this recipe uses chicken, which is a very healthy choice as it is lean meat. This soup is usually served with rice and avocado on the side.
Jamaican Curry Chicken
If you don’t know where to start with Caribbean cooking then Jamaican curry chicken is a great option for you. It is a classic dish that is loved by many, and it’s not difficult to see why. It is warm and spicy, but the coconut milk makes it nice and creamy too.
The sauce is thick and the chicken tender- what more could you ask for? Serve it up with rice and maybe some plantain or fried dumplings on the side if you fancy it.
Lechon Asado Con Mojo
What makes this Cuban roast pork so special is that it is marinated for at least 8 hours before it is cooked. The meat is perfectly tender but the skin goes crackly which is just what you want from pork.
This recipe garnishes the pork with Mojo, a sauce made from minced garlic, citrus juice, salt, pepper, and oregano. The Mojo can be made ahead of time and tastes even better if the flavors are left to mingle for several hours.
This staple recipe is one that you can use as a main dish, a side dish, a filling for pies or pasties, or a topping for potatoes or flatbreads. It is a Puerto Rican recipe for stewed beans that is creamy, tender, and very nutritious. This is a great recipe if you are looking for a vegetarian dish that is packed with Caribbean flavors.
Jamaican Rice and Gungo Peas
Rice and peas are essential recipes to perfect if you are making Caribbean and Jamaican dishes. The gungo peas are also called pigeon peas.
The rice is cooked in coconut milk which gives it a delicate but sweet flavor that perfectly complements the spicy Jamaican dishes it is meant to be paired with, like goat curry and jerk chicken. Once you have got used to this recipe you won’t want to go back to eating plain boiled rice.
This dish is made up of leafy green vegetables cooked with tomatoes, onion, garlic, thyme, and chili peppers. You can serve it on the side of any dish to add some extra flavor and nutrients as it has plenty of both. In Jamaica, it is also eaten as a breakfast food or served alongside saltfish.
Caribbean Coco Flan
Flan is a dessert that you can find versions of in many different countries. Caribbean flan is flavored with coconut and is the perfect tropical dessert. This recipe uses coconut milk and desiccated coconut for the perfect amount of flavor in each mouthful.
Hummingbird cake is a traditional Jamaican recipe made with pineapple, bananas, cinnamon, and vanilla. The cake became popular in the United States in the 1970s when Americans were introduced to the recipe.
It is a sweet cake with a fluffy texture and lots of layers. This is a great recipe to use for a special occasion like a birthday or an anniversary.
Caribbean Style Rum Cake
One ingredient that the Caribbean is particularly well known for its rum. Whether you are drinking it or cooking with it, you are certain to find some excellent rum in the Caribbean.
Rum cake is a popular dessert both in the Caribbean and the United States, and this recipe is a great example of the classic dessert.
Paletas De Coco
These coconut cream popsicles are the perfect recipe for a hot summer day. There are only five ingredients you need to make this dessert and there are no artificial ingredients so they are better for you than the brightly colored popsicles you get from supermarkets that are packed with added sugar.
These popsicles are also loaded with shredded coconut to give them a lovely texture.
A Bahama Mama is a fruity, tropical rum cocktail that will make you feel like you are on holiday as soon as you take one sip. With orange juice, pineapple juice, coconut rum, grenadine, and crushed ice, you will be transported to paradise with this delicious drink.
A Mojito is a classic Cuban drink that has become extremely popular all over the world. It is the perfect refreshing drink for a hot summer day. Either make one for yourself as a treat or invite some friends over and share a pitcher of Mojito in the garden.
Coquito is a festive Christmas drink that originated in Puerto Rico. It is similar to eggnog but is coconut based. Coquito translates to ‘little coconut’ in Spanish.
It also has flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla and includes white rum. The drinks are garnished with a cinnamon stick and would make the perfect drink for a festive party.
Sofrito is a Spanish tomato paste that is used a lot in Caribbean cuisine. If you are planning to do a lot of Caribbean cooking then you will want to get to know this recipe and make sofrito in large batches so you always have some handy to use in your empanadas or chicken casseroles.
You can freeze it or keep it in the refrigerator for 5 days. If you freeze it in an ice cube tray then you have the perfect portion size to add to any savory sauce or stock for some extra flavor.
Jerk Marinade is another recipe that you should keep handy if you are serious about getting into Caribbean cooking. You can make it in large portions so you always have some ready for when you get that jerk craving. You can use it on any meat or to flavor vegetarian dishes.
Cuban Mojo Marinade –
Mojo marinade can be used to marinade meat overnight or as a garnish for roasted meat. It is made with garlic, lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, oregano, and salt and pepper. The longer you can leave the flavors to combine the better it will taste.
Caribbean Green Seasoning
This sauce is easy to prepare and is a great addition to many Caribbean dishes.