When the temperature falls, traditional Caribbean winter comfort foods come to the table. From drinks to entrees, these recipes are perfect for your winter island-inspired meals alone or with friends and family.

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Latin Coquito

This spiked dessert drink is famous in Puerto Rico for its creamy rum and coconut flavors making it perfect for our winter comfort foods list. For those who are vegan, try this dairy free version instead!

Delicious Winter Comfort Foods - Latin 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!

Jamaican Escovitch Red Snapper

This dish is tangy from vinegar and spicy from Scotch bonnet pepper flavors that will delight as an appetizer or main course. Winter comfort foods with a healthy serving of spice will always make our list.

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
Delicious Winter Comfort Foods - Jamaican Escovitch Red Snapper

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.

Trinidadian Pastelles

These classic snacks are meat-stuffed, savory cornmeal pies prepared in banana leaves. Winter comfort foods that are also fun to unwrap? Sign us up!

Delicious Winter Comfort Foods - Trinidadian Pastelles

What you need:

  • store-bought banana leaves
  • strings, to tie

For the filling:

  • 1 pound lean minced beef or lamb
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper 
  • ½ stalk celery, chopped
  • ½ cup olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon capers 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

For the dough:

  • 2 cups corn flour 
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or coconut oil

What to do:

  1. Add the meat to a pan on medium heat and saute until browned. Add the seasonings and stir until combined and the meat is brown and cooked through. Remove the filling from the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. To make the dough, combine the corn flour with the hot water, salt and sugar and knead until pliable. Divide into a dozen small dough balls.
  3. Dip one of the dough balls in the olive oil and flatten it out into a rectangle on top of a piece of banana leaf. 
  4. Add about three tablespoons of filling to the center of the flattened dough and fold over to gently seal the sides. Fold the leaf around the pastelle to seal and tie it shut with a piece of string.
  5. Boil in a pot of hot water for 18 to 20 minutes. Drain the water, unwrap and serve hot.


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