17 Caribbean Side Dishes That Will Turn Any Meal Into A Feast!

November 5, 2021
I’m often asked what Caribbean side dishes people can make that will complement their main dish, impress their guests, and generally turn dinner time into something special!

 
Compilation of Caribbean Side dishes



I have too many favorites to name just one or two, so I thought I’d create a list for you.

The list I’ve compiled here includes some of my favorite Caribbean side dishes to make, which I’ve taken from right here on HomeMadeZagat, as well as delicious recipes from friends who are as passionate about food as I am.

In traditional Caribbean cooking, it’s common to have a lot of different dishes on the table so that people can experience a variety of different flavors.

So if you want to make a Caribbean feast, I’d recommend making a few of these and seeing which ones you like the best.

   

1. Calypso rice


Calypso rice is a vibrant dish, which takes its name from Calypso music and evokes memories of the bright colors of the costumes at Carnival, a Caribbean festival known for its lively music and tasty food.

  
A spoonful of calypso rice in an orange pot


The bright colors will look amazing on your table, and it’s the perfect accompaniment to saucy dishes like curries and stews. Try it with this creamy fish in coconut curry sauce.

2. Trinidad macaroni pie


If you’re a fan of mac and cheese, you’ll love this Caribbean take on the classic dish! It’s traditionally made using “Trini cheese” which is incredibly creamy and full-flavored.

  
A casserole of trinidad macaroni pie in an orange pot


Trinidad macaroni pie works well with almost any meal, but it’s especially satisfying as part of a huge Sunday dinner. A typical Sunday plate in my house would include stewed meat like this Trinidad stewed chicken as well as peas, callaloo, and fried plantain (which are both featured further down this list).

3. Cornmeal coo coo


Coo coo is often referred to as the Caribbean version of polenta. It’s made by boiling cornmeal with coconut milk and okra to create a delicately flavored dish with a satisfying texture. Coo coo is one of my favorite Caribbean side dishes.

 
A completed bowl of cornmea coo coo on a brown plate


This dish is a representation of the African heritage that’s a massive part of the Caribbean islands.

Cornmeal coo coo is one of the most popular Caribbean side dishes, so much so that the national dish of Barbados is coo coo and flying fish! Coo coo is best when paired with any dish with good gravy, like Jamaican stew fish or tomato sauce from fried fish.

4. Jamaican callaloo


This callaloo recipe comes from my friend, Imma, whose blog is a great place to go if you’re looking for some serious soul food!

 
A white bowl of Jamaican Callaloo


Callaloo is a type of dark green leaf that belongs to the Amaranth family - but if you can’t find it, this recipe works just as well with kale or spinach. Imma uses garlic, bacon, and, of course, chili to create the deep flavors of this dish.

5. Tobago crab and callaloo


Growing up, the smell of simmering callaloo always made me hungry! My recipe is different from the Jamaican callaloo recipe because it is simmered in coconut milk, creating a more soup-like consistency.

 
A white bowl full of callaloo with crab


Adding crab takes the spicy, creamy flavors to the next level! Tobago crab and callaloo is excellent as a side, especially with your Sunday dinner, but you can also enjoy it on its own as a soup.


6. Ground provision pie


Ground provisions are what we call tubular root vegetables that grow below the ground. They include sweet potato (yam), Tania, cassava (yucca), eddoes, and dasheen root.

 
A slice of ground provision pie on a white plate


Ground provision pie is a deliciously satisfying layered pie made from sweet potato, cassava, tart tomato sauce, and topped with cheese—fantastic comfort food for a winter's evening.

7. Cassava salad


Cassava is a ground provision that’s similar to potato in texture; only it’s much tastier! It’s considered the “food of champions” and contributes to strong, healthy individuals.

 
A white bowl of Cassava salad with carrots


This salad is one of the best Caribbean side dishes for a holiday spread because it’s packed full of nutrients, but more importantly, it tastes fantastic! The carrots, garlic, and onion bring out the earthy, nutty flavors of the cassava.

8. Caribbean cornmeal dumplings


Dumplings are one of the most popular Caribbean side dishes because they’re so filling and so moreish! You’ll love these in soups and broths or to pair with stewed meats.

 


We often eat dumplings instead of rice, which is why there are so many different varieties! These are made with cornmeal and flavored simply with sugar and salt. You can make them flat so that you can use them to scoop up meat or round so that they sit nicely in a pot of soup or stew.


9. Jamaican fried dumplings



A YouNique Journey is all about making authentic Jamaican recipes easily. And these Jamaican fried dumplings are no exception.

 


These dumplings are fried rather than boiled like my cornmeal ones, which gives them a lovely crisp finish. They also have a little baking powder in them so that they puff up nicely. Delicious on their own or served with a curry or stew.


10. Curry channa and aloo (potato)



If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I LOVE a good curry. And nothing goes better with curry than more curry on the side!

  


This curry channa and aloo is creamy and flavorful, and it can be spicy (although you can alter the amount of chili depending on what you like). Chickpeas and potatoes are filling, so it’s satisfying and a great way to add some extra texture to your meal.

11. Jamaican steamed cabbage


Jamaican steamed cabbage is one of the easiest Caribbean side dishes to make; the main ingredients are cabbage, bell peppers, and carrots with a zingy dressing that brings it all together.

 



This recipe comes from That Girl Cooks Healthy, a great place to go if you’re looking for exciting gluten and dairy-free recipes.


12. Tobago black-eyed peas and rice



In Trinidad and Tobago, peas and rice are a staple that every household will always have in the cupboard, so you’ll find lots of recipes made using them! This dish is part of our New Years' tradition, as a symbol of new beginnings and prosperity.

 



We cook up a big pot of black-eyed peas and rice on Old Year’s Night (what we call New Year’s Eve), ready to serve up to family and neighbors. By sharing the pot of rice and peas, we’re creating a community of hope, goodwill, and joy for the future.


13. Jamaican rice and peas



When people think of Jamaican recipes, rice and peas is probably one of the first ones that come to mind. This dish is perfect when served with other Jamaican favorites like curry goat and jerk chicken.

 
A bowl of rice and peas


Even though it’s called rice and peas, the main ingredient is kidney beans. The beans and rice are cooked in coconut milk and delicately flavored with pepper.


14. Sweet and spicy fried plantain



Plantain is another ingredient that springs to mind when you think about Caribbean side dishes, and with good reason! The plantain is delicious, simply peeled and fried, because the heat brings out the sweetness.

 
A plate of spicy fried plantains

 
I’ve added a slight spiciness to counteract the sweetness in this recipe, creating a flavor combination that is like nothing else. Enjoy your plantains as a side dish, or eat them straight out of the pan as I do!


15. Split peas and rice


This split peas and rice recipe was created by Jehan, whose mission is to bring some of the authentic Guyanese recipes she grew up loving to the rest of the world.

 
A white bowl of split peas and rice


The fluffy rice and satisfying split peas are cooked in rich coconut milk and seasoned with garlic, thyme, and chili to create this simple side dish. It’s perfect on the side of meat dishes, like these jerk fried chicken wings.


16. Yellow Saffron Rice


If you’re looking for a rice dish that will take your meal to the next level, this is it. Yellow saffron rice is aromatic, flavored with warming spices, and packed full of sweet peppers and raisins.

 
A black cast iron pot filled with saffron rice


The combination of the sweet and savory flavors, as well as the varied textures, makes this a real treat. You could eat this on its own as a meal, but it also works brilliantly as one of your staple Caribbean side dishes.


17. Trinidad corn pie


Corn pie is a comforting dish that’s even more satisfying when it’s raining outside and you’re all cozy indoors. You’ll often find it on the table in Caribbean houses for Sunday lunch. The pie has a mixture of sweet and savory flavors that are completely irresistible. You definitely won’t have any leftovers!

 
A dish of Trini corn pie on a white background


The ideas of community and sharing are essential in Caribbean communities, and we demonstrate this by cooking and eating together. So I hope these ideas for Caribbean side dishes help you create a feast that you can share with your friends and neighbors!

Renz HomeMadeZagat
Renz HomeMadeZagat

Hi guys, I’m Renz. I am the chief cook and bottle washer here at HomeMadeZagat. I am here sharing Caribbean recipes that I grew up eating and new ones I’ve fallen in love with over the years. I just want to showcase the amazing diversity of Caribbean food and that everyone can recreate these dishes.

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