There are plenty of reasons to enjoy a holiday in the Caribbean and one of our favourites is the cuisine.

The many islands spread across the region offer huge variety when it comes to the dishes you can enjoy, which reflect the varied influences and cultures that have shaped the Caribbean’s rich history.

Here, we take a look at some of the traditional dishes that await on a selection of islands, although there are plenty more besides…


When visiting Antigua, a staple meal on the menu is likely to be Fungee and Pepperpot, which is widely regarded as being the island’s national dish.

Despite the suggestion, there are no mushrooms involved in the creation of the Fungee element, which is similar to a bread roll made using cornmeal mixed in with okra boiled in salt water.

The Fungee is then served alongside the Pepperpot, which takes the form of a hearty stew that will contain whatever meat is readily available.

It’s a dish that can trace its roots back to the days of slavery, when people required a hearty meal during busy days working.


The national dish of Aruba is another that can be linked back to the days of slavery, with Keshi Yena also showing off the influence of the Dutch on the island.

The original dish would have seen the rind from cheeses such as Edam and Gouda stuffed with scraps of meat from the table and various vegtables, which would then be steamed in order to create a filling meal.

Although some people will still use the rind of the cheese as the base for the meal, it isn’t uncommon to see sliced cheese now used instead. These slices are placed into small dishes which will then be filled with shredded chicken and vegetables (or an alternative) before being baked in the oven.

Think along the lines of a small pie with cheese replacing the pastry and you’ll be on the right lines.


Seafood is a popular feature of dining across the Caribbean and the national dish of the Bahamas is one that comes from the sea in the shape of conch.

The mollusk is found in the waters around the Bahamas and can be served in a variety of different ways, ranging from soups to salads.

One of the most popular ways is for the conch to be 'cracked' - whereby is pounded with a meat mallet to make it as tender as possible before being deep fried and served with rice and peas.


A recipe passed down from one generation to the next, cou-cou and flying fish is the national dish of Barbados and one loved by old and young alike.

The cou-cou element is effectively the fungee you would enjoy in Antigua under another name only this time, it is served alongside flying fish - a delicacy that you are unlikely to find in many areas outside the Caribbean.

The freshly caught fish is seasoned with traditional herbs and spices before being either fried or steamed, and is then served up in a rich gravy alongside the cou-cou.

Cornmeal is again the key ingredient in the creation of cou-cou, which also features okra and onion that is all mixed together to


There are various dishes that could lay claim to being the national dish of Cuba, but arguably the most widely recognised is ropa vieja, which originates in Spain and is now popular across Latin America having been introduced into the region by immigrants from Europe.

The Cuban variant is packed with flavour and traditionally uses shredded flank steak that is cooked alongside vegetables in a rich tomato sauce before being served with rice and black beans.

Fried plantains are another popular accompaniment.

Dominican Republic

La Bandera is one of the most common dishes you’ll find on a trip to the Dominican Republic and once again, is a meal that takes the form of a rich stew made using whichever meat is available.

Beef and chicken are both popular choices, but you may also find La Bandera made using fish, pork or even goat. The meat will be cooked slowly alongside tomatoes, onions and traditional red beans before being served up with white rice.

A small side salad adds further colour to the dish.


It’s another stew that is waiting for you if you travel to Grenada on your Caribbean adventure in the shape of oil down.

There is no real recipe as such for the national dish, which would traditionally be made in bulk by a group of friends or neighbours who would all bring something to throw into the pot.

Expect to find breadfruit, salted meat, vegetables and spices combined in the pot with dumplings before being cooked in coconut milk. The oil from the milk will be absorbed during the cooking process, which is where the name comes from.


Jerk chicken is a popular dish in Jamaica but if you want to sample something unique on the island, then a helping of ackee and saltfish will be right up your street.

Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica and is served alongside your saltfish in a sauce the includes onions, bell peppers, scotch bonnet, garlic and tomatoes to create a dish that is packed with fragrant flavours.

Usually served as breakfast, ackee and saltfish may also be enjoyed alongside rice later in the day.