There’s no better pairing for summer and sunshine than flavor-filled Caribbean appetizers.
The Caribbean chain of islands includes countries like the Bahamas, Jamaica, Haiti, and Puerto Rico. They encompass a wide range of culinary origins, from Spanish cuisine to African!
While Caribbean food takes root in many different cuisines, tropical flavors from the region are still dominant.
Fruits like mangos and plantains, and seafood from the surrounding oceans are a staple! What makes Caribbean appetizers so great for summer is they often include fresh, light ingredients while maximizing on flavor.
Looking for healthy, easy finger foods to serve at your next summer party? Try the spicy, fruity, and fresh melting pot of cultures that is Caribbean food.
Don’t forget to stock up the spice rack, because these appetizers don’t skimp on flavor!
01. Cassava Bread
A simple and tasty way to eat this nutty tasting root vegetable!
Most recipes for cassava bread only include two simple ingredients: cassava and salt. This staple food can be eaten on its own, or with a hearty Caribbean stew. As a bonus, it’s also fat-free and super fibrous!
Cassava bread is usually prepared in an earthen oven, so try frying this in a skillet for that smoky flavor.
02. Caribbean Shrimp Spread
Looking for that perfect pairing for cassava bread? Try this Caribbean shrimp spread.
It’s made using chopped shrimp, cream cheese and a hint of mango puree! It’s light tasting, with all those fresh Caribbean flavors you love. If you’re looking for a spicy appetizer, try adding finely diced red onion and jalapeno peppers.
This spread goes with any number of Caribbean breads, such as johnny cakes or bammy.
03. Jamaican Pumpkin Soup
A vibrant Caribbean soup that looks as good as it tastes!
While we normally think of pumpkin soup as a fall food, this recipe will have you dreaming of the beach! It’s spiced with coconut, ginger, orange and lime, with a hint of scotch bonnet pepper. Some variations even include beef and sweet potatoes for a more hearty dish.
04. Caribbean Salad
Give your everyday salad a burst of flavor with this appetizer’s sweet and tangy lime dressing!
By mid-summer your guests are bored of the same old Greek and Caesar salad. So spruce things up with this salad made with mandarin orange, pineapple, and dried cranberry! Use regular butter lettuce or field greens mixed with cilantro for a burst of citrus flavor.
The key to this salad is the honey lime dressing, which is perfectly zingy and ties together the tropical flavors.
05. Spicy Caribbean Shrimp Appetizer
This spicy shrimp appetizer is an absolute staple of Caribbean cuisine!
These shrimp are marinated in a tropical infusion of tangy tamarind, fresh lime juice, and rum. Make sure to char them on the grill to release all those delicious caramelized flavors! Then, serve on a crispy baguette slice, or with a tropical fruit dipping sauce.
These shrimp are so tasty, they’re also great just on their own as a finger food!
06. Caribbean Coleslaw
This Caribbean inspired coleslaw is light and fresh, with a satisfying crunch!
This no-cook appetizer is perfect for those hot summer days when you don’t want to use the stove. Instead of mayonnaise dressing, this coleslaw uses red wine vinegar, honey, and a touch of Caribbean hot sauce! For a sweet surprise, there are also mango slices mixed in with the cabbage!
07. Conch Fritters
Try this traditional snack from the Bahamas as your next party appetizer!
This fun finger food is deep fried and often served with a spicy mayonnaise sauce. The fritter itself is made with a mix of flour and spices such as bonnet pepper, parsley, and thyme. This one is easy to mix up and drop into the deep fryer for a last minute treat!
08. Caribbean Three Bean Salad
A fresh and flavorful dish that is healthy too!
Beans are a staple in Caribbean food, and what better way to serve them than in a tangy summer salad. You can use any beans you want, but make sure you include Caribbean red kidney beans. The beans are mixed with a juicy combination of tomatoes, red pepper, lime and chili and served chilled.
This bean salad tastes even better after it has time to marinate in the fridge.
09. Sweet Cornbread
Sweet cornbread is a staple in Jamaican cuisine, and goes with practically anything!
A touch of sugar brings out the sweetness of corn in this bread. It’s moist, with a slightly gritty texture which adds a bit of crunch! You can serve sweet cornbread on its own with butter, or as a side with barbecued meats.
For even more Caribbean flavor, try adding pineapple chunks to your cornbread batter.
10. Yaniqueques (Johnny Cakes)
This Dominican street food makes an excellent simple appetizer for any occasion!
Yaniqueques are often sold by the beach and are well-loved by adults and children alike. They require only a few ingredients: baking soda, flour, water, oil and more.
This crispy fried dough can be served on its own or sprinkled with salt or cheese. If you really want to pack on the flavor, try stuffing these yaniqueques with meats or vegetables!
11. Caribbean Shrimp Bruschetta
Spice up your typical bruschetta appetizer by giving it a Caribbean twist.
Caribbean spices like red pepper and thyme give this bruschetta a hint of heat and flavor. The addition of chopped shrimp not only gives it that island seafood flavor but also adds a satisfying meatiness. You can serve this appetizer on crackers, or thick slices of chewy French bread!
12. Baked Caribbean Jerk Chicken Bites
Flavors of Jamaican jerk chicken come through in this fun bite sized appetizer.
Jerk chicken is a Jamaican staple, and combines scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, and allspice. It’s smoky, spicy, and intensely flavorful! These chicken bites are made by deep frying bite sized pieces of chicken, then coating them in a hot jerk sauce.
This is a great way to enjoy jerk chicken without having to cook up entire chicken breasts.
This popular Trinidadian snack is the perfect switch up to crackers and dip!
Pholourie are made using split pea flour, seasoned with scotch bonnet spice and then deep fried. They’re served with a sweet and tangy chutney made from either mango or tamarind. These little fritters are a great treat to make beforehand and take with you anywhere, anytime!
Personalize your pholourie by adding your favorite vegetables or meats to the batter!
14. Cod Fritters (Accras de morue)
This is a classic French West Indies dish, often brought as a snack to gatherings and substituting perfectly chicken wings!
These bite sized fritters are a combination of salt cod, scotch bonnet, and flour. The outside is wonderfully crispy and the inside chewy, with a surprising heat from the scotch bonnets!
These cod fritters should be served straight from the fryer so they keep all their delicious texture.
To save time, make a batch for the freezer and then just pop them in the oven to reheat!
15. Fried Plantains
A sweet and simple treat made from a beloved Caribbean fruit: the plantain!
Although the plantain looks like a banana, it has a completely different taste and texture when fried! Make sure your plantains are ripe, then simply slice and fry them in olive oil. To contrast with their sweetness, sprinkle salt on top when you remove them from the fryer.
These plantains taste great on their own, or you can serve them with a cool and spicy yogurt dip!
16. Potato Balls (Papas Rellenas)
These potato balls are a great Caribbean appetizer for meat lovers!
Similar to a croquette, papas rellenas are made with mashed potatoes rolled in breadcrumbs and fried. The twist is that these potato balls are also filled with juicy spiced ground beef!
This appetizer takes a bit of time and preparation, but they’re a guaranteed crowd pleaser!
17. Pineapple Salsa
This versatile salsa can be served with any appetizer or main dish for a taste of the Caribbean!
Tomatoes, pineapple and red onion come together in this sweet and zesty salsa. If you like spicy foods, you can also add chopped jalapeno. This salsa is great to serve with chips for an appetizer, or use as a sauce for seafood!
18. Sorullitos de Maiz
Caribbean sweet cornbread is the ultimate party finger food!
These delightful little rolls are made with cornmeal, cheese and a touch of sugar! They’re shaped into cylinders and deep fried to create a crisp outside and a creamy inside. Some recipes even add pieces of cheese to the dough for melted gooey goodness!
19. Jerk Beef Patties
Recreate one of the most famous Jamaican dishes right at home with this recipe!
The highlight of these Jamaican patties is the scotch bonnet pepper seasoning. This pepper is mixed with ground beef and onion and tucked into half-moon shaped pastries. They’re great to eat with your fingers, and are packed with savory goodness!
In Jamaica these patties are usually served alone, but you can cool them down with a tangy sour cream dip!
20. Ham & Cheese Croquettes
Ham and cheese add a tantalizing saltiness to these crispy coquettes!
Aside from ham and cheese, the inside of these croquettes is also filled with milk, flour, and onions. When fried, the inside turns into a gooey bechamel full of cheesy flavor. Although ham is traditional, you can make these croquettes with any meat.
You can even replace the meat with vegetables to make them vegetarian!
21. Jamaican Coco Bread
This sweet bread can be served for breakfast, as a snack, or as an appetizer with dip!
As the name suggests, this bread is made using coconut milk. Coco bread is buttery, fluffy and ever so slightly sweet! This makes it a great pairing for spicy meats like jerk chicken.
These bread rolls also freeze well, and only take minutes to reheat in the oven!
If you need an appetizer for your vegan friends, bammy is a great choice!
This Jamaican flatbread is made using cassava and coconut milk. It’s pan-fried so it’s crispy outside and dense and chewy inside. Bammy is usually served with seafood like stewed fish because it soaks up the salty juices so well.
If you want to keep things 100% vegan, try this bammy with Caribbean dishes like steamed cabbage or vegetable stew.
22. Easy Caribbean Appetizers
- Cassava Bread
- Caribbean Shrimp Spread
- Jamaican Pumpkin Soup
- Caribbean Salad
- Spicy Caribbean Shrimp Appetizer
- Caribbean Coleslaw
- Conch Fritters
- Caribbean Three Bean Salad
- Sweet Cornbread
- Yaniqueques (Johnny Cakes)
- Caribbean Shrimp Bruschetta
- Baked Caribbean Jerk Chicken Bites
- Cod Fritters (Accras de morue)
- Fried Plantains
- Potato Balls (Papas Rellenas)
- Pineapple Salsa
- Sorullitos de Maiz
- Jerk Beef Patties
- Ham & Cheese Croquettes
- Jamaican Coco Bread
- Choose one of these delicious Caribbean appetizers.
- Gather your ingredients.
- Make a simple and tasty appetizer for your party guests.
- Serve with friends and enjoy–don’t forget the tropical cocktails!