With family and friends coming into town this holiday season, it’s the perfect time to break out a new recipe or two for a festive meal. ‘Wow’ any guests with these authentic Caribbean holiday dishes that will taste great and keep your Caribbean culture at the forefront. So, if you’re bored with your usual lineup of holiday foods, check out our list of soon-to-be-favorites.

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Jamaican Escovitch Red Snapper

This dish is tangy from vinegar and spicy from Scotch bonnet pepper flavors that will delight as a Caribbean Christmas appetizer or main course.

Authentic Caribbean Holiday Dishes - Jamaican Red Snapper

What you need:

  • 4 medium fresh red snapper, scaled
  • lemon juice, to clean
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper
  • 12 pimento seeds
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • ½ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • vegetable oil, for cooking

What to do:

  1. Rinse the red snapper in water and lemon juice. Cut three to four diagonal lines across the sides of each fish to absorb the seasoning.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, paprika, sea salt and black pepper. Season the fish using this mixture.
  3. Add vegetable oil, pimento seeds and ½ of the Scotch bonnet pepper to a pan set on medium heat. When oil is hot, add the fish. Fry for five minutes on each side until brown and crispy.
  4. Once cooked through, remove from heat and place on a paper towel to absorb the oil.
  5. In a separate pan, heat ½ cup of vegetable oil on medium heat.
  6. Cut bell peppers into strips, add them to the pan and stir. Add the sliced onion, grated carrot and the other half of the Scotch bonnet pepper with seeds and saute.
  7. After about five minutes, add the rice wine vinegar and cook for another five minutes.
  8. Add the sauteed vegetables on top of the fish and serve.

Haitian Djon Djon Rice (Black Mushroom Rice)

A popular side dish with Turkey Roulade, this black mushroom rice is perfect for a holiday meal.

Authentic Caribbean Holiday Dishes - Mushroom Rice

What you need:

  • 1 cup parboiled rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup djon djon mushrooms (for broth)
  • 2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 tablespoons onions, small dice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1⁄2 cup green peas

What to do:

  • In large saucepan, add water and djon djon mushroom. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, then
    turn it down to a simmer for 6 minutes.
  • Strain the mushrooms and preserve the water.
  • Wash and rinse rice under cold water and set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil, then sauté onion and garlic for three minutes, until soft.
  • Add 1 1⁄2 cup of the reserved mushroom water to the pan. Season with salt, pepper, ground cloves and thyme, and bring to a boil.
  • Add rice. Let it cook for about 8 minutes or until 2⁄3 of the water has evaporated. Gently stir the rice and cover it.
  • Bring the heat down to low. Leave it covered for 10-15 minutes before checking. Cook until fluffy. If the rice is dry, add more mushroom water.

Jerk Ham With a Mango Orange Pineapple Rum Glaze

A Caribbean Christmas perhaps doesn’t feel quite complete without a traditional, beautifully glazed ham. This year, add a twist to your usual ham with a unique combination of tangy fruits and complex rum glaze with this recipe from food blogger Chris De La Rosa of Caribbeanpot.com.

Authentic Caribbean Holiday Dishes - Rum Glaze Ham

What you need:

  • 9-10 pound ham
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 inch piece ginger
  • 4 scallions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 8-10 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper
  • 1.5 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup rum


  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 lemon (juice)
  • 1 can pine apple tibits (14 fl oz)
  • 1 1/2 cup mango pieces
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup rum
  • zest of 1 orange

What to do:

  1. Cut crisscross incisions into the ham.
  2. To make the marinade, use a food processer and combine allspice, cinnamon, ground nutmeg, olive oil, orange juice, ginger, scallions, garlic, thyme and dark soy sauce. Once it thickens, add in scotch bonnet pepper, brown sugar and rum.
  3. Pour the marinade over the ham and work in with your hands into the incisions.
  4. Marinate overnight or at least 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Place the ham into your baking dish and loosely tent with foil to cover. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and set a timer for an hour and 15 minutes.
  7. To make the mango pineapple rum glaze, add all the ingredients except the orange zest into a sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 40-45 minutes on low.
  8. Turn off the heat and add in the orange zest.
  9. After the timer goes off, removed the foil on the ham and turn uo the temperature to 400 degrees and cook for another 15 minutes.
  10. Turn the heat to a broil and begin basting your ham with the glaze. Baste 2-3 times waiting 3-4 minutes between each application of glaze.
  11. Remove your ham from the oven after your final glaze and let cool. Serve with your preferred sides and enjoy!

Virgin Islands Coconut Tart

When it comes to more unique holiday desserts, you can’t go wrong with lattice-topped fruit tarts, like this delicious coconut version.

Authentic Caribbean Holiday Dishes - Coconut Tart

What you need:


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 8 ounces cold unsalted butter
  • 1 whole egg


  • 2 cups grated coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  2. For the crust, combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter using a knife and fork or pastry cutter.
  3. Add egg and stir together until ingredients form a soft dough.
  4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, flatten and let rest in the refrigerator for one hour.
  5. Unwrap from the plastic, roll out to 1/8-inch thickness and place half the dough into the tart pan. Save the rest of the dough for decorating the top of the tart.
  6. Bake crust for 5 minutes in oven. Set aside.
  7. For the filling, combine coconut, sugar and water in a saucepan. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 45 minutes, until mixture turns from milky white to clear.
  8. Add essence.
  9. Spoon filling into crust.
  10. Cut remaining crust in 3/4 inch strips and crisscross them on top of filling, lattice-style.
  11. Bake at 375 F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crust is a toasty brown.

Latin Coquito

This spiked Christmas dessert drink is famous in Puerto Rico for its creamy rum and coconut flavors. 

Authentic Caribbean Holiday Dishes - coquito

What you need:

  • ½ can of coconut milk, about 7 ounces
  • 5 ounces evaporated milk
  • 2 ounces sweetened condensed milk, or to taste
  • 5 ounces white rum
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • cinnamon stick, to garnish

What to do:

  1. Gather all ingredients except the cinnamon stick, place into a large blender and blend for about two minutes or until all ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is slightly frothy.
  2. Pour the mixture into an airtight container or mason jar and refrigerate until cold.
  3. Before serving, shake well to make sure the settled spices are incorporated.
  4. Serve the coquito in short glasses with sprinkled cinnamon and cinnamon sticks. Enjoy!

Looking for some amazing drinks to pair with these dishes? Check out some options HERE.


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