Have a fun food trip to Jamaica without leaving your home! These Jamaican appetizers are fun, unique, and full of flavor!
Influenced by diverse cultures, from African to Chinese to Indian, Jamaican food offers a fantastic fusion of flavors. This collection of recipes is proof.
If you’re looking to spice up your party, give it a Jamaican twist! These appetizers are the perfect way to start.
Naturally, there are a couple of jerk chicken recipes on this list, but I promise you, there is more to Jamaican cuisine than just that.
From banana fritters to beef patties to fried dumplings, these Jamaican appetizers will make your festivities a guaranteed hit.
1. Banana Fritters
These banana fritters are golden crisp on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside.
Ripe bananas are mashed and seasoned with brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg for extra flavor, and then fried to perfection.
If you think about it, it’s a lot like banana bread, only better!
2. Jamaican Hot Pepper Shrimp
Sweet and plump shrimp are seasoned with hot scotch bonnets and paprika and given an earthy flavor by thyme, allspice, and cloves.
This appetizer is extra hot and delicious, and you’ll love it.
The sweetness of the shrimp combined with the spices creates a wonderful balance of flavors.
3. Jamaican Jerk Sweet Potato Fries
Move over French fries, these sweet potato fries are even more addictive.
Aside from the sweetness that sweet potato has to offer, it is made even more special with spices.
Cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and cayenne are coated evenly on each fry, giving it an irresistible flavor.
Best of all, these fries are baked, not fried, which means you can have more minus the extra calories.
4. Fried Plantains
If you’ve never had plantains before, now’s a good time to try them! This recipe yields a sweet and sticky party appetizer that’s sure to disappear in seconds.
Ripe plantain slices are coated in brown sugar and maple syrup and fried until golden.
Whether you serve them as a starter, side dish, or dessert, they’ll be a hit.
5. Boiled Yellow Yam
Admittedly, this dish sounds boring. But trust me, there is a lot to look forward to with boiled yams.
First of all, they taste great. They’re sweet and starchy, soft but also with a firm bite.
Second, they’re super nutritious! Yams are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and all that good stuff.
Lastly, it’s extremely easy to make. You literally boil them and you’re done!
6. Jamaican Fried Dumplings
Fried dumplings, often referred to as “Johnny Cakes” are a classic comfort food in Jamaica.
Made from a flour-based dough that’s formed into balls and deep-fried, these morsels are addictive on their own.
Unlike donuts or other dumplings, Johnny cakes need no filling or coating to be delicious.
7. Jamaican Fried Chicken
Say hello to jerk chicken recipe number one. This fried chicken is super crispy and crunchy, and tender and juicy. Flavor-wise, it’s a 10 out of 10.
Marinated for 2 hours in thyme, paprika, ginger, and garlic, this fried chicken is bursting with flavor – both the skin and the meat!
8. Jamaican Beef Patties
Jamaican beef patties are my absolute favorite! Crisp and flaky crust filled with ground beef? I can eat them all day. (I actually have, on more than one occasion.)
The filling isn’t your typical well-seasoned ground beef, either. Its unique curried flavor is sensational, and it tastes especially delicious when eaten with the crust!
9. Jamaican Coleslaw
Just like the American classic, Jamaican coleslaw also features shredded carrots and cabbage. It’s just as crunchy and refreshing, but so much more.
The dressing is a combination of mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, and Jamaican jerk spice.
It’s a lovely combination that creates a beautiful harmony of flavors. It’s loaded with chopped walnuts, too, for more crunch and flavor.
10. Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings
Now, on to jerk chicken recipe number two. These chicken wings are crisp and juicy, and bursting with so much flavor!
How can it not be, when it’s coated with a jerk spice rub made from thyme, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, paprika, and so much more?
Bonus: these chicken wings are baked instead of fried, which means you won’t have to worry about excess grease.
11. Jerk Beef Sliders
These jerk beef sliders are hamburgers with a wonderful Jamaican flair.
The patties themselves are seasoned with allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and all that jazz, so they’re brimming with flavor.
Aside from the patties, these sliders are also filled with citrus coleslaw, giving it the perfect balance of hot and cold, creamy and meaty, tender and crunchy.
12. Jamaican Coco Bread
Coco bread is Jamaica’s version of the American dinner rolls. I have to admit, they taste 10 times better. That or I just really love anything with coconut.
This bread is oh so soft, buttery, mildly sweet, and wildly coconut-y. It’s also shaped like a folded bread, which makes it easier to fill with your favorite bread spread!
13. Jamaican Pumpkin Soup
Jamaican pumpkin soup is wonderfully smooth and creamy.
Traditionally from Jamaican pumpkin or “calabaza,” it has a slight sweetness and a lovely orange hue brighter than the sun.
It also contains potatoes and carrots, which makes it extra hearty! It also gets extra points for being accidentally vegan and gluten-free.
14. Jamaican Vegetable Patties
If you’re looking for a delectable appetizer for your vegetarian friends, look no further. These patties are just as good as any, but they’re filled with veggies!
They’re eggless and dairy-free to boot.
The filling is a beautiful medley of sweet potato, butternut squash, carrot, tomatoes, cabbage, peas, sweetcorn, and broad beans.
Flavored with scotch bonnet chilies, coconut milk, and thyme, it’s seriously so delicious, you might just turn into a vegetarian, too.
15. Drunken Jerk Prawns
Plump and juicy prawns marinated with bourbon and jerk spice – this appetizer is sweet and savory with a mild kick.
When cooked, the alcohol creates a beautiful caramelization on the prawns, giving them even more flavor and shine.
16. Jamaican Banana Bread
Banana bread with a Jamaican twist? I won’t say no to that!
It’s just as moist and tender as classic banana bread, but it’s 10 times more flavorful.
Cream cheese, rum, coconut, pecans, and a buttery frosting make this Jamaican rendition so much more special.
17. Boiled Green Banana
Ending this list is a classic Jamaican snack – boiled green banana. With this simple recipe, you can turn the simple fruit into a fabulous side dish.
Green bananas are firmer than yellow ones, firmer and starchier as well.
But when boiled, they turn into soft and chewy treats – just like cooked potatoes.
Serve it as a hearty appetizer or side dish to jerk chicken and you’re golden.
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