From sweet to savory these Jamaican snacks will keep you energized all day long. Both traditional and commercially produced they are all so tasty.
Without a doubt Jamaican food is one of the most underrated cuisines, and yet if you look closely you’ll see it influences food in so many other countries.
And Jamaican snacks are everywhere. They are a quick and easy way to try so many different foods that flourish in Jamaica.
The last time I was in Jamaica I tried so many snacks in Montego Bay I was almost too full for regular meals.
Jamaican food is quite vegetarian and vegan friendly and many dishes are made with plantain , perfect for those who cannot eat gluten.
So feel free to grab these snacks in Jamaica for road trips, beach days or just because they are so tasty.
Jamaican Snacks You Need to Try
You can find these snacks in Jamaica everywhere from road side stands to farmers markets and small stores.
1. Banana Chips
Jamaicans love snacking and they’re partial to their favorite for decades, the Jamaican banana chips.
With the abundance of bananas in this part of the Caribbean, locals have developed a way to create the crispiest banana chips that they can snack on every single day.
One of the first banana chips brand in Jamaica, Chippies has captured the taste buds of Jamaicans for many decades.
The Chippies banana chips are especially popular because of its authentic flavor and crunch.
In fact, these banana chips are so in demand that they usually are sold out in supermarkets.
So it’s not uncommon for Jamaicans to buy their favorite snacks in bulk.
St. Mary’s Banana Chips is another popular brand in the country.
Duckunoo is a humble snack but it’s definitely packed with flavor. This green banana-based boiled pudding/sausage originated in West Africa.
But it has since been adapted as a Jamaican snack and dessert.
Also called “Blue Drawers” or “Tie-a-Leaf,” Duckunoo is made with green bananas, “Boniatos” or Caribbean sweet potatoes, coconut milk, vanilla, raisins, flour and sugar.
It is then wrapped in banana leaves and tied with twine or cord thus its name.
I’ve also tried this as an Antigua food but there it is known as ducana.
3. Jamaican Patty
You can’t visit Jamaica and not try one of its famous snacks, the Jamaican patty.
This hearty pocket of goodness is basically a flaky pastry similar to an empanada. It is traditionally filled with ground beef and spices baked until they’re golden brown.
Originally made in Jamaica, you can already see different versions of Jamaican patty in nearby Nicaragua, Costa Rica and other parts of the world.
But what makes Jamaican patties so stellar is the flaky crust.
From beef, these pockets can now also be filled with pork, chicken, lamb, shrimp, vegetables, lobster, soy, fish, ackee or cheese.
But if you’re looking for that authentic Jamaican taste, the spicy Scotch bonnet has to be part of the ingredients.
Although it’s considered as a snack in Jamaica, some locals also eat it as a complete meal, especially when it is paired with delicious coco bread.
4. Stamp and Go
It’s hard to resist the flavorful goodness of stamp and go. It is a fish fritter that’s popular in Jamaican cuisine and served as a breakfast or snack.
This dish got its name from the British sailing ships in the 18th century where sailors would usually shout “Stamp and Go” if they want to order a meal fast.
This makes stamp and go one of the first fast foods in Jamaica.
These fritters are made with salted codfish, flour, salt, scallion, water, oil and of course, the famous Jamaican scotch bonnet pepper that seals its flavor.
After flaking the fish, it is combined with the rest of the ingredients until it’s a pourable batter. Then it is deep fried until golden brown.
Aside from being enjoyed as a snack or meal, stamp and go is also served in cocktail parties with different dips.
5. Solomon Gundy
If you love pates then you’ll enjoy snacking on crackers paired with this hearty Jamaican pickled fish pate.
Solomon Gundy is primarily made with smoked red herring mixed with Jamaican chili peppers and other seasonings.
This snack is a staple in Jamaican cuisine where you’ll find it in the menus of restaurants. You can also buy bottled Solomon Gundy in supermarkets.
The fish pate is believed to take its name from the British word “Salmagundi,. This refers to a salad containing different kinds of ingredients.
It could also be based on a Jamaican poem called “Solomon-a-Gundy,” which is inspired from the European nursery rhyme “Solomon Grundy.”
Interestingly Solomon Gundu is also a traditional Nova Scotia food.
6. Roasted Corn
Roasted corn or corn on the cob has always been a favorite snack in the Caribbean.
In Jamaica, the corn is fire-roasted with butter or some salt and pepper to bring out its natural sweetness. Locals also add an authentic Jamaican twist to this classic snack with a generous rubbing of jerk seasoning.
Jerk is native to Jamaican cuisine. It is usually applied to meat that’s marinated with jerk seasoning, a spice mix consisting of Scotch Bonnet peppers, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, scallions, garlic, thyme, brown sugar, salt and ginger.
Corn is also usually rubbed with this spice mix before it’s put on the grill. It gives it a sweet and tangy taste that represents the flavors of Jamaica.
7. Peppered Shrimp
Also called “Pepper Swims,” Jamaican peppered shrimp is a must-try for anyone who likes savory shrimps with a serious chili kick.
This classic Jamaican snack and appetizer is especially popular in Jamaica’s “Middle Quarters” on the Southern Coast.
It is made with fresh shrimps, garlic, scallion, all-spice, vinegar, and of course, the Scotch Bonnet pepper that gives it that blazing heat.
It’s common to see vendors selling bags of these tangy shrimps on the streets of Jamaica,
But you can also find it in the menus of most restaurants.
8. Fried Plantains
The Caribbean is rich in plantains. It is in the banana plant family but full of starch, making it great for cooking rather than being eaten raw.
Although it’s believed to have originated in Southeast Asia, plantains have since been grown in Africa, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
They are known as patacones or tostones in many Latin American countries.
Fried plantain is a simple yet delicious Jamaican snack. It is so easy that mothers in Jamaica usually teach their children how to cook fried plantains even at a young age.
You can also fry sweet plantains that can also be served as a side dish to meat. You just need to slice plantains and fry them until they’re golden brown.
Then, you have the option to dust them with sugar, nutmeg or cinnamon.
9. Bun and Cheese
Every Easter holiday in Jamaica is highly anticipated because of one very delightful Jamaican snack, the Easter bun and cheese.
It brings a lot of fond childhood memories to Jamaicans even as adults.
Jamaica’s bun and cheese dates are believed to be inspired by ancient Babylon’s hot cross buns that eventually made its way to England.
The British then introduced the cross bun when it invaded Jamaica. Since then, Jamaicans have made the recipe their own by using molasses instead of honey.
Jamaicans also prefer to eat their buns with cheese, thus the name.
The tradition of eating the Easter bun and cheese on Good Friday still continues in Jamaica until today. However, it has already been forgotten in Britain.
10. Milo Drink
Milo may be popular drink around the world, but it actually has a long and rich history in Jamaica. It has become a childhood favorite drink for generations.
Developed originally in Australia by Thomas Mayne, Milo has since been sold around the world as a chocolate and malt powder that can be enjoyed hot or cold.
Aside from being enjoyed as is, Jamaicans have also put their own twists to the classic Milo drink.
This includes the popular Milo Dinosaur that’s simply a Milo drink mixed with a sweetener and ice cubes then topped with more Milo powder.
Like the rest of us, Jamaicans love a good KFC meal. But here’s the catch: a lot of people say that KFC Jamaica is the best KFC in the world.
I learned this from my airport driver who insisted that I try KFC. I thought he was crazy at first but then more locals raved about it!
In fact, most Jamaicans only eat KFC when they’re back home. And a lot of tourists who tried KFC Jamaica rave about how much better it is compared to the one they have back home.
There are a couple of reasons KFC Jamaica is known to be the best in the world. For one, the restaurant only uses organic chicken that’s raised on the island.
The chicken is also a lot juicier and has less grease than those in the United States and Canada.
And the original KFC recipe has been slightly adapted to suit the preferences of Jamaicans.
So if you’re looking for a quick snack or meal in Jamaica, make sure to try KFC.
12. Big Foot
Big Foot is a very popular cheese snack in the Caribbean and especially in Jamaica.
Originally produced in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, this cheesy and sometimes spicy snack is shaped after the feet of Big Foot.
This mythical character is believed to have come down from the snowy mountains into the Caribbean for its fairly warm weather and friendly people.
These chips are crispy, huge and tasty that both children and adults love to munch on them.
It also comes in a spicy variant to cater to the Jamaicans’ love for spicy food.
If Big Foot was shaped like a foot, Tigaz is a cheesy and crunchy snack shaped like the paw of the tiger, thus the name.
This Jamaican favorite treat is originally made in the country.
It is sold in most supermarkets and stores around the country.
And for those Jamaicans who miss this childhood snack, Tigaz is also now sold around the world.
14. Shirley Biscuits
You can’t be from the Caribbean and not know about Shirley Biscuits.
Created in 1952 by WIBISCO and named after one of its office workers, Shirley Biscuits are exceptionally tasty that they’ve become a Jamaican classic snack.
These biscuits have even captured the palates of the British and Americans. They are now sold in more than 20 markets around the world.
Aside from the classic flavor, Shirley Biscuts also now come in coconut, ginger and wheat crunch varieties.
15. Cheese Trix
Another popular Jamaican favorite snack, Cheese Trix is basically tasty cheese puffs.
Originally made in Jamaica, this golden-colored snack is different from other cheese puffs.
Because instead of using cheese powder, Cheese Trix is made from real cheese.
It gives it a sweet and tangy flavor profile that Jamaicans absolutely love.
Christmas in Jamaica
16. Red Ballers
Whether it’s called “Red Red” or “Sugar Pop,” Red Ballers will surely bring back a lot of fond childhood memories for Jamaicans.
An authentic product of Jamaica, Red Ballers are basically sweet strawberry balls that are sprinkled with sugar.
They’re sweet and crunchy that both children and adults love munching on them as a snack.
17. Coco Bread
Jamaican coco bread is anything but ordinary. This popular Jamaican snack is what dinner rolls are to Americans.
And it has been staple bread for breakfast, lunch, snacks and even dinner in Jamaica.
No one knows exactly who invented coco bread in Jamaica.
Because this bread is buttery, soft on the inside and firm on the outside to hold whatever filling you’d like to add to it.
In fact, the Jamaican coco bread is shaped like a folded bread or pocket. It’s meant for you to add ham, vegetables and other fillings on it.
I had it with a Jamaican patty inside, it was devastatingly good but WAY too filling.
Those who’ve tried it can easily say that it is the most delicious sandwich bread. So you should not miss this delicious Jamaican snack.
It’s easy to find coco bread in Jamaica. It’s sold at a lot of bakeries and stores around the country.
18. Grapefruit and Milk
It’s probably the easiest Jamaican snack to make on this list, but the classic grapefruit and condensed milk combination has always been a favorite among Jamaicans.
Grapefruits originated in Barbados but have since been grown in Jamaica and other Caribbean countries.
Because of its sweet taste, beautiful pink hue and many health benefits, grapefruit is usually eaten raw.
Or it’s also part of one of Jamaica’s most popular summer snacks, grapefruit with condensed milk.
To make this sweet combination, you simply need to peel and cut the grapefruit. Just as you would prepare an orange, remove the seeds and add condensed milk.
Some locals also like to add star apple and other Jamaican fruits to the mix. This makes it into the Jamaican fruit salad or matrimony.
The condensed milk counteracts the acidity and sometimes sour taste of the grapefruit.
This delicious treat also gives you a lot of nutritious benefits like vitamin A, B and C. As well it has iron, phosphorus, dietary fiber, copper, calcium, and potassium electrolyte.
19. Cосоnut Drops
Cосоnut drops or just plain drops are a traditional snack that’s very popular with Jamaicans of all ages.
The name is a reference to how these sweets are made. These Jamaican snacks are created by dropping a hot mixture of diced coconut, spices and sugar onto a banana leaf to cool.
20. Peanut Drops
Such a simple but delicious Jamaican sweet!
Roasted peanuts are combined with fresh ginger, sugar, vanilla and water. It’s boiled down to a sticky syrup that leaves sweet peanut treats.
21. Jamaican Fruit
It’s not just about grapefruit and milk. Fruit are some of the most delicious Jamaican snacks.
And that’s why when Jamaicans immigrated to countries like Costa Rica to help build the railway they also brought their fruits.
And so today many of the Costa Rican fruit we know are not native to the country, but lovingly brought by Jamaicans.
22. Tamarind Balls
Thanks to a commenter below for reminding me that these are the most popular Jamaican snacks.
You can find tamarind balls all over the Caribbean, but they originated in Jamaica. They are one of the most popular snacks in Jamaica because it’s also the country where most of the Caribbean’s tamarind fruit are grown.
These fruit trees are native to Africa and are used for their sweet, ripe pulp.
Probably one of the easiest snacks or desserts, the tamarind pulp is combined with brown sugar to make a type of dough.
You can then roll it into a ball in your hands and toss with sugar before putting in the fridge.
Some may also include hot pepper or Jamaican rum. They are very versatile.
A common Jamaican recipe, look for them in shops or markets where you’ll find homemade sweets.