15 Best Traditional Jamaican Food and Drinks

Are you looking for some delicious traditional Jamaican food and drinks to try to make you feel the island vibes? I went to Jamaica with my husband and mother-in-law, and we were lucky to experience the popular traditional Jamaican food and drinks!

As we go around the island of Jamaica, we seem to have gone on a gastronomical tour as well. We started our Jamaica itinerary from Montego Bay travelling to the relaxing Port Antonio and the cultural hub of Kingston.

Jamaican Food
Jamaican Food: Ackee and Saltfish, Jerk Chicken, Fried Plantain, Callaloo, and Rice and Peas

Jamaican food is a fusion of African food, British food and Indian food influence that can be traced back to their Jamaican heritage and culture. You can see as you read more of this article the best traditional Jamaican food that you must try when you visit Jamaica.

Best Traditional Jamaican Food and Drinks

Traditional Jamaican Food - Ackee and Salt Fish, Callaloo, Fried Plantain, Dumplings and Bammy
Traditional Jamaican Breakfast from Mocking Bird Hill Hotel

1. Ackee & saltfish

Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica and cod is primarily use for making the salt fish. You can find this dish as an accompaniment to a daily staple food in Jamaica, from breakfast to dinner. It is tasty and sometimes spicy.

2. Callaloo

This tasty green leafy vegetable is another main dish in Jamaica. Callaloo is widely served in the Caribbean. It is made from 3 vegetables called amaranth, taro or Xanthosoma. I can somehow compare it to the taste of spinach.

3. Fried Plantain

Jamaica is known for its Banana plantations, hence banana is one of the main exports of Jamaica. Fried plantain is part of the traditional Jamaican food, it is a snack or an accompaniment to the main meal.

4. Dumplings

Another staple food in Jamaica. Made from flour, butter and water to create a dough, they normally serve it as fried or boiled dumplings. Served with the main meal of the day.

5. Bammy

It is a traditional Jamaican dish, made from grated cassava and moulded as a flatbread. They normally served it fried and as an alternative to bread.

6. Blue Mountain coffee

Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee

One of the most expensive and best coffee in the world.  Only grown in the Blue Mountain of Jamaica! For all the coffee lovers out there, I need not explain how tasty this coffee is! It is sought after by coffee lovers and it is one of the main exports of Jamaica.

7. Jerk

Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas
Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas

Boston Bay, Jamaica is the home of Jerk food. If you love spicy food, you should try this tasty Jamaican dish. It is a Jamaican way of cooking and grilling the meat then coating it with spicy spices and Scotch Bonnet. It is one of the main trademarks of Jamaican food that they are known around the world.

Jerk Chicken
Jerk Chicken

8. Overproof Rum

Jamaica is known for their best Caribbean rum. Caribbeans preferred their alcohol to be highly concentrated with high proofing. A standard rum will range about 80 – 100 proof, but this bad boy is ranging from 125 – 160 proof! The famous brand of Overproof rum is the Wray and Nephew.

Wray and Nephew Overproof Rum from Jamaica
Wray and Nephew Overproof Rum from Jamaica

During our trip to Jamaica, I was not brave enough to try the Overproof rum, but I tried and bought a tasty Sangster’s Banana Cream Rum.

9. Goat Curry

Curry Goat
Goat Curry or Curried Goat

Goat curry was brought by the South Asian people when they migrated to Jamaica during colonial times. It has become a staple food of the island and is loved by many. It is typically served with roti, chapati or rice and peas.

10. Rice and Peas

Rice and Peas
Rice and Peas

Rice and peas are another traditional Jamaican food that you will love. It is a perfect accompaniment to most Jamaican food. It is consist of rice, red kidney beans ( locally called peas) and coconut milk. It will surely fill you up quickly.

11. Jamaican Patty

Jamaican Patty
Jamaican Patty

When we visited Jamaica, you can probably see a patties shop in every big town on the island. So we never missed a chance to try the famous Jamaican snack that has been recommended by my friends. Jamaican patties are made of flakey pastry with meat filling. You can have it in different flavours including jerk meat and goat curry patties.

12. Scotch Bonnet Pepper

Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce from Jamaica
Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce from Jamaica

Scotch bonnet pepper is one of the spices that’s used in making jerk food. It is widely used in different Caribbean dishes. According to Forbes magazine (source), the Scoville heat rating of Scotch bonnet peppers is ranging from 100,000 – 350,000 Scoville units. It is relatively the same Scoville heat level as the Habaneros.

13. Jelly

Jelly Coconut
Coconut Jelly

No Jamaican island vibes visit is complete without trying the “Jelly”. The locals call the green coconut fruit Jelly, because of the jelly-like coconut flesh of the fruit. It is really refreshing to eat and jelly water (coconut water), can really quench your thirst from the tropical heat.

14. Gizzada or Pinch-me-round

Gizzada or Pinch-me-round is a small tart delectable snack or dessert that is made of hard shell pastry and sweet & spiced coconut filling. It’s a perfect on-the-go snack. It is also a known pastry that originates from Portuguese cuisine.

15. Ting

Ting Grapefruit drink
Ting Grapefruit drink

Ting is a Jamaican drink that I completely fall in love with. It is a refreshing mildly carbonated fruit drink made from grapefruit. The sweetness is not so sickly as other sodas and it will quench your thirst in the sweltering tropical heat.

Ting Grapefruit drinks from Jamaica
Ting Grapefruit drinks from Jamaica

I loved it that much, I went looking for it in the UK supermarkets when I got back home from Jamaica. Luckily, due to the big Caribbean community in the UK, I can easily find this in the supermarket’s world food section.

These are the traditional Jamaican food that I encourage you to try when you visit Jamaica. If you have tried this before, let me know which one is your favourite!

Best traditional jamaican food and drinks
Best Traditional Jamaican Food and Drinks

Special thanks to Mocking Bird Hill Hotel for hosting us in Jamaica and letting us experience the real Jamaica!


Ryazan Tristram EverythingZany Author Bio

Ryazan Tristram

Travel Writer & Photographer

Ryazan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism and Hotel Management. She also has more than 10 years of work experience gained from working in the hotel and travel sectors in Asia and Europe. Her work has been featured and published on Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Discovery Channel, World Travel Guide, MSN, CNBC, GMA, Daily Mail UK, Lonely Planet and many more. She is currently living in the UK as a dual citizen (British – Filipina). Join her in travelling around the UK and beyond with a mission to promote sustainable tourism and share travel guides, travel tips, foodies, history and culture.

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