22 Traditional Jamaican Appetizers

Spice it up with delicious Jamaican appetizers!

Claire Onidi By
Claire Onidi
Passionate about food and pastries since always, Claire spends most of her time in the kitchen to develop new recipes. She is French but lived many years abroad.
Learn more about me
Updated November 7, 2022

With succulent seafood, spicy meat, and crispy plantains, there’s a lot to love about Jamaican food. Plus, traditional Jamaican appetizers aren’t hard to make.

Let the fun flavors of Jamaica transport you and your guests to the Caribbean. With recipes like banana fritters, beef patties, and fried dumplings, you’re sure to please everyone at your festivities.

And don’t forget the classic jerk chicken recipes!
Traditional Jamaican Appetizers

Jamaican cuisine is bursting with spice and other delicious flavors. So, it’s guaranteed to get your party started!

01. Shrimp Crostini with Pineapple Chutney

You can put jerk seasoning on just about anything — and seafood is a great option. These elegant crostini are crunchy, salty, spicy, and sweet: the perfect balanced combination!

The orange juice and zest add a bit of sweetness, but you can swap in lime instead if you’d like a bit more sourness. You may just want to add a touch of sugar or honey if you do that.

02. Jerk Chicken Bites

Rum isn’t just for pirates and piña coladas. Mixed with lime juice, cider vinegar, and molasses, rum adds the perfect zing to this jerk chicken.

Don’t let the ingredients list of this recipe scare you — the spices are easy to find at the grocery store and cooking is simple.

And if you can’t handle too much heat, use the jalapenos instead of habaneros, or skip the peppers altogether.

03. Jerk Chicken Dip

With canned chicken and 4 cheeses, this simple recipe is extremely easy but very delicious. All you need to do is layer the ingredients in a casserole dish and bake it for about half an hour.

You could also use leftover or rotisserie chicken if you don’t want to use canned. And as a variation, you could add chopped tomatoes, bell peppers, or frozen peas.

Don’t forget the tortilla chips!

04. Spicy Shrimp

If you have any rum left over from the jerk chicken bites, throw it on these sweet and spicy shrimp!

Make sure to serve them with the pineapple coconut dip. The creamy dip provides the perfect contrast to the spicy seafood.

These succulent cooked shrimp are also great on slices of toasted baguette or just served with toothpicks. And you can also use them in tacos for your Taco Tuesdays or on salads.

05. Saltfish Fritters

Want a taste of the national dish of Jamaica? These deep fried saltfish fritters will bring you right to the island.

To keep these fritters crispy, remove excess oil by draining them on a napkin or paper towel after frying.

Leave yourself plenty of time to make this because you need to soak the fish for 1-3 days beforehand. Otherwise, your appetizer will be so salty it’ll be inedible!

06. Beef Patties

These meat patties are little bites packed with a whole lot of flavor! The spices add zing to the rich ground meat.

Cooked with frozen puff pastry, these delicious meat parcels come together with less than 30 minutes of prep time.

But be careful when handling the scotch bonnet pepper, and don’t touch your eyes. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with dish soap afterward, or wear gloves.

07. Patty Pops

Looking for a new way to pop meat patties in your mouth? These are classic golden beef patties — on a popsicle stick!

The garlic, mushrooms, and green onions add some depth to the filling, and the curry and allspice bring the flavor.

You can also make full-sized meat patties for dinner. Just skip the sticks.

And you can even double the recipe because the leftovers reheat perfectly in the oven.

08. Green Chile Cheese Bites

These golden brown bites are the perfect way to satisfy your vegetarian guests. The mini quiches have crisp tart shells and fluffy egg filling – infused with Jamaican heat.

If you can’t find phyllo shells, you can use pie crust. Just cut out 2-inch circles and press them into your mini-muffin tray.

And you can add mix-ins like chopped onions or bell pepper for a little bite.

09. Jamaican Jerk Salsa

Take your salsa adventures out of Mexico with a cup of this beautifully seasoned dip.

Roasting the tomatoes first caramelizes them and adds a sweetness to the salsa. Combined with the heat of the spice mixture, this tastes incredible.

This is a great recipe to make ahead of time because it gives the flavors time to meld. Plus, you don’t have to cram at the last minute.

10. Jamaica Banana Bread

What do you do with overripe bananas? Make banana bread!

This recipe is incredibly moist from the yogurt, and you can add whatever mix-ins you like. And the optional rum gives it a Jamaican kick.

Sprinkling demerara sugar over the batter before baking gives you a delicious crispy exterior.

Once it’s baked and cooled, slather it with butter and enjoy!

11. Fried Dough

Made with a couple of pantry staples like flour, cornmeal, and baking powder, these deep fried balls of cornbread are scrumptious.

Called “festival” in Jamaica, they’re the perfect companion to marinated meat or seasoned chicken. The golden fritters are just a bit sweet, which pairs well with spice.

You could roll them in sugar as a dessert too. Just make sure to eat them when they’re hot so they’re still crispy!

12. Oven-baked Sprats

These tiny seasoned fish are a perfect bite-sized dish.

Plus, you bake instead of fry them, so they’re very healthy. But the seasoning will still turn crunchy in the oven even without added grease, thanks to the omega oils in the fish.

Remember to clean the sprats before you cook with them. And once they’re clean, make sure they’re as dry as possible so they’ll crisp in the oven.

13. Avocado Dip

This guacamole takes a trip east with delicious jerk seasoning. And serve it with plantain chips for a real Jamaican dip.

Make sure you add enough salt so the flavors pop, but not so much that it tastes “salty.” Just keep tasting as you go — yum!

This appetizer isn’t cooked, so you won’t spend hours in the kitchen. But make it right before serving so that it doesn’t turn brown.

14. Banana Fritters

How do you jazz up banana bread? Make banana fritters instead.

They have the same sweet banana flavor, but you get a delicious crunchy exterior. And you fry them just like pancakes.

They work well as mini appetizers, but make sure you serve them fresh from the pan. For extra decadence, you could sprinkle them with powdered sugar or drizzle with honey.

15. Jamaican French Fries

Don’t want to eat bland french fries anymore? Spice them up with jerk seasoning for a fun appetizer!

And don’t forget the extremely easy salsa. With just 2 ingredients, you’ll have your guests begging for more.

You could make these french fries in a pan, but in the air fryer, you use less grease. And you can keep the skin on the potatoes or peel them — whichever you prefer.

16. Roasted Chickpeas

These roasted chickpeas are one of the healthiest Jamaican appetizers on this list. And without any meat, they’re perfect for vegetarians!

It’s also one of the easiest recipes. Just add spices to the peas and oil and put them in the oven.

With just a little oil, they get a perfect crunch in the oven. And there’s no shame if you eat a few before they go on the table!

17. Fried Plantains

This is also a very simple recipe with only 3 ingredients: plantains, oil, and salt.

You fry the plantain pieces until golden brown. Then you can add any seasonings you like.

For a savory appetizer, use a little extra salt and perhaps some jerk seasoning. For a sweet appetizer, add powdered or cinnamon sugar.

With these plantains, you get lots of recipes from one simple dish!

18. Chicken Wings

Even though jerk chicken isn’t the national dish of Jamaica, it should be!

These chicken wings are a fun twist on a classic recipe. The garlic, jalapeno, orange juice, and spices give these wings an extra kick.

You can make these chicken wings in the oven, but the grill gives them a smoky charred flavor. You’ll want to eat them hot off the coals — and then lick your fingers!

19. Jamaican Fried Dumplings (“Johnny Cakes”)

Just a few pantry staples cooked in oil give you the perfect crunchy appetizer: johnny cakes!

Johnny cakes are simple to both make and eat: the sign of a great appetizer. These fried dumplings have a tender center and crispy exterior.

You can eat them fresh out of the pan or with your favorite dipping sauce. They also look elegant sprinkled with powdered sugar for friends with a sweet tooth.

20. Salmon Patties

These fried patties are a great balance of crispy batter and salty fish. The jerk seasoning, garlic, and onions liven up the canned salmon.

Since there’s no wheat flour in these patties, they’re super tender. And they’re great for gluten-free folks!

Be sure to shape these fried patties into small pieces so that they’ll cook through and flip easily. And top them with lemon juice or your favorite sauce!

21. Jamaican Coleslaw

For your next barbecue, make your sides Jamaican-style! This coleslaw is a sweet and tangy alternative to mayonnaise-based slaws.

You can make this salad ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. In fact, the flavors improve over time!

Plus, it’s easy to make a big batch. With just a cheap cabbage, a couple of carrots, and some vinaigrette, you can feed an army on a couple of dollars!

22. Jamaican Pumpkin Soup

This hearty, warming pumpkin soup is extremely versatile. A perfect autumn appetizer!

You can serve it chunky or blended — and it’s scrumptious both ways. And you can sprinkle it with your favorite toppings, such as bacon bits, coconut milk, or fried plantain chips.

This is also a great starter for vegan and gluten-free guests.

22 Traditional Jamaican Appetizers


  1. Read through the recipe descriptions.

  2. Find your favorite ones.

  3. Try them out in your kitchen.

  4. Wow your friends and family!

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