Caribbean cuisine has a rich history — it’s an amalgamation of local ingredients from the island paired with the culinary practices of those who emigrated there. This combination has resulted in a perpetual feast for the senses, one that always leaves us craving for more.
So, if you’re hosting a Caribbean-themed dinner night, try complementing your dinner menu with these Caribbean side dishes. They range from simple soups and fries to traditional cou-cou and some incredible dipping sauces. They’re guaranteed to keep your guests happy and full!
1. Calypso Rice
This vibrant side perfectly complements the delicious flavors of curries, soups, and other liquid-based recipes. Make it by seasoning white rice and a generous amount of veggies with onion, scotch bonnet pepper, and garlic. It’s great for your health and incredibly delicious!
This dish may look identical to calypso rice, but trust us when we say they are as different as night and day. Both dishes share a similar nutty aroma and fluffy texture, but confetti rice also contains tangy and tart pineapple bits in addition to spices, seasonings, and veggies. Serve it with your choice of protein for a filling meal.
This cornmeal and okra recipe comes together with just 10 ingredients, but it takes its sweet time to cook. A wonderful slow-cooked traditional recipe, this dish offers some amazing flavors in a porridge-like form. You can serve it with meat, fish, or your favorite main dish to enjoy rich, creamy goodness in every bite.
Cornmeal dumplings go well in soups, stews, and several other Caribbean mains. Make this hearty, filling side by combining all the ingredients to make the dough, then form ball-shaped pieces, and steam for 8-10 minutes. And there you have it, a versatile side dish that you can serve with any Caribbean dish you like. You can also store leftovers in a zip-lock bag to enjoy later.
This healthy mixed bean salad is pretty substantial, so it will keep you fuller for longer and can even double up as a light supper. The salad uses beans, peppers, red onion, tomato, coriander, lime, EVOO, garlic, and chili pepper to create the perfect balance of flavors and textures. Serve with roasted pork to make dinner the highlight of your day.
Fries are a popular side dish, but make them with sweet potatoes and serve them with a creamy dipping sauce and you’ve got something special! The sweet potato fries are seasoned with Caribbean seasoning and baked until golden brown. And paired with creamy and cooling yogurt-based dipping sauce, you’ve got a burst of flavor in every bite!
Taking inspiration from traditional Caribbean cuisine, this side dish is as healthy as it is flavorful. The salad is made with cassava instead of potatoes and includes grated carrots as well as seasonings and butter to make a flavorful and creamy side dish. Serve it with creole fish or BBQ jerk chicken to satisfy your savory cravings.
Infuse your regular coleslaw with robust Caribbean flavors in this vibrant side dish. You can make this sweet-spicy hot and fruity Caribbean coleslaw by combining Savoy cabbage, white cabbage, red onion, and small mango with a French mustard-based dressing featuring mustard, hot sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Serve it with BBQ mains to enjoy a lovely contrast in flavors and textures.
If you’ve never had Callaloo, a type of indigenous Caribbean leaf vegetable, this recipe is a great place to start. Learn all about the best ways to use this leafy green and master this traditional Jamaican dish. Keep in mind that Callaloo is easy to prepare, but hard to clean, so do it the night before to speed things up a bit the morning after.
When you’ve spent too much time preparing the main dish and have no time (or energy!) to put a side dish on the table, you can always turn to Jamaican cucumber salad. It uses everyday kitchen essentials, comes together in just 15 minutes, and goes well with every Caribbean main you can think of!
This elite combo of rice and beans is light yet filling, perfect as a side as well as on its own. The dish is flavored with fresh thyme, chicken stock, and coconut milk, which gives it a wonderful creamy richness while the Scotch bonnet pepper adds a nice hint of spice. Serve it with jerk chicken to add a boost of protein to your meal.
Veggie fritters are amazing, don’t get me wrong, but saltfish fritters are absolute game-changers! They come together with a handful of ingredients to produce a delightful treat that is golden brown and crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. You can serve it by itself or with a mouthwatering dip like mango pineapple hot sauce!
This simple recipe gives new life to boring veggies. To prepare this side dish, all you have to do is cook carrots, cabbage, and bell pepper together with sautéed garlic and seasonings until softened. This side dish is easy to make and super versatile, so you can enjoy it with rice or any other Caribbean-inspired main dish.
The Caribbean version of mac and cheese, this pie is irresistibly good! It is made with layers of macaroni, cheeses, eggs, and various seasonings like dill, mustard, and onion and garlic powders. It also contains evaporated milk, which gives it a rich creaminess! It’s the perfect dish to serve at family dinners and goes well with any Caribbean mains like stewed meat or orange ginger chicken.