Jerk chicken, a quintessential Jamaican delicacy, is a flavor-packed dish that tantalizes taste buds with its unique blend of allspice, Scotch bonnet chiles, thyme, nutmeg, and a medley of aromatic seasonings. While this grilled masterpiece can undoubtedly stand on its own, pairing it with the perfect side dishes elevates the dining experience to new heights. Prepare to embark on a culinary journey through the vibrant flavors of Jamaica, where each bite is a celebration of the island’s rich culinary heritage.

1. Jamaican Rice and Peas: A Staple Companion

No Jamaican meal would be complete without the iconic rice and peas dish. This beloved staple is a harmonious blend of fluffy rice, kidney beans (or pigeon peas), and a symphony of flavors derived from thyme, scallions, garlic, and the unmistakable pimento seeds (allspice berries). The addition of a Scotch bonnet pepper lends a subtle heat that perfectly complements the woodsy undertones. Jamaican rice and peas is a true testament to the island’s culinary ingenuity, seamlessly marrying flavors and textures into a comforting and satisfying accompaniment.

2. Callaloo: A Nutrient-Rich Powerhouse

Best Popular Foods & Drinks to Try on Vacation in JamaicaCallaloo, a beloved Jamaican dish, showcases the island’s vibrant culinary traditions while packing a nutritious punch. This verdant concoction features protein-rich leafy greens cooked until tender and infused with the robust flavors of peppers and tomatoes. Kwame Onwuachi’s rendition, as featured in his book “My America,” is a standout example of this iconic dish. Callaloo’s versatility allows it to seamlessly complement the bold flavors of jerk chicken, providing a refreshing counterpoint to the fiery spices.

3. Jamaican Hot Sauce: A Fiery Fusion

Best Jamaican Side Dishes for Jerk ChickenFor those who crave an extra kick of heat, Jamaican hot sauce is an absolute must-try. This fiery concoction packs a punch with its hefty dose of Scotch bonnet peppers, delivering an intense yet flavorful heat that will set your taste buds ablaze. Drizzle this vibrant sauce over your jerk chicken or use it as a dipping accompaniment for a truly authentic Jamaican experience. Brace yourself for a flavor explosion that will leave you craving more.

4. Snapper Escovitch: A Tantalizing Seafood Delight

Best Jamaican Side Dishes for Jerk ChickenCrafted by Nina Compton, the F&W Best New Chef of 2017, Snapper Escovitch is a tantalizing fusion of crispy pan-fried fish and a sweet, spicy pepper sauce. This Jamaican delicacy perfectly encapsulates the island’s love for bold flavors and showcases the versatility of escovitch, a traditional method of preserving fish in a vinegar-based marinade. Each bite is a harmonious blend of textures and flavors, making it an ideal accompaniment to the smoky and spicy notes of jerk chicken.

5. Jamaican Chicken and Potato Curry: A Comforting Classic

Jamaican curry powder is a unique blend of spices, including turmeric, cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, anise seeds, allspice, and fenugreek. This flavorful concoction forms the backbone of the beloved Jamaican chicken and potato curry dish. With minimal hands-on prep time, this comforting dish is a perfect choice for those seeking a hearty and satisfying accompaniment to their jerk chicken. The fragrant spices and tender potatoes create a harmonious symphony of flavors that will transport you to the heart of Jamaica.

6. Kwame’s Pepper Shrimp: A Fiery Fusion of Heat and Flavor

Inspired by beloved Jamaican street food, Kwame Onwuachi’s pepper shrimp is a testament to the island’s love for bold and fiery flavors. Infused with layers of heat from Scotch bonnet chiles and fresh ginger, these succulent shrimp are a true delight. By leaving the shells on, Onwuachi ensures that the shrimp remain perfectly cooked and bursting with flavor. Serve these fiery morsels alongside your jerk chicken for a truly unforgettable dining experience.

7. Jamaican Jerk Pork Patties: A Handheld Delight

Best Jamaican Side Dishes for Jerk ChickenJamaican jerk pork patties are a convenient and delicious twist on the classic beef hand pie. Utilizing frozen empanada pastry as a non-traditional shortcut, these handheld delights are filled with a savory blend of jerk-spiced pork, creating a portable and satisfying accompaniment to your jerk chicken. Whether enjoyed as a side dish or a snack, these flaky pastries are sure to delight your taste buds with their unique flavors and textures.

8. Jamaican Coco Bread: A Sweet and Coconutty Indulgence

Best Jamaican Side Dishes for Jerk ChickenJamaican coco bread is a delightful departure from the bold and spicy flavors that characterize many Jamaican dishes. This delicately sweet bread boasts an ethereally moist crumb and a delightful coconut flavor, thanks to the use of coconut oil in place of traditional butter. The bright and complex flavors beloved throughout the Caribbean islands take a backseat in this delightful treat, allowing the subtle sweetness and coconut essence to shine. Serve it alongside your jerk chicken for a delightful contrast of flavors.

9. “Festival” (Jamaican Cornbread Fritters): A Festive Treat

Best Popular Foods & Drinks to Try on Vacation in JamaicaAccording to legend, these light Jamaican cornbread fritters earned their name “Festival” because eating them is akin to a celebration. Whether the story is true or not, these barely sweet fritters are a beloved street food in Jamaica, sold from carts by the roadside or at the beach. Similar to hush puppies and cornbread, these fluffy treats are lightly fried to achieve a beautifully crisp exterior. Serve them warm alongside your jerk chicken for a truly festive dining experience.

10. Jamaican Style Steam Cabbage: A Vibrant and Healthy Option

Best Jamaican Side Dishes for Jerk ChickenJamaican Style Steam Cabbage is a delightful and healthy side dish that showcases the island’s love for fresh, vibrant flavors. This dish features a medley of cabbage, carrots, onions, garlic, scallions, tomatoes, and a touch of Scotch bonnet pepper for a subtle kick. Seasoned with salt, pepper, and thyme, this colorful and nutrient-rich side dish provides a refreshing contrast to the bold flavors of jerk chicken, making it a perfect addition to any Jamaican-inspired meal.

11. Jamaican Mac and Cheese: A Cheesy Indulgence

Jamaican Macaroni and Cheese RecipeJamaican Mac and Cheese is a true feast for the taste buds, combining the comforting familiarity of macaroni and cheese with a unique twist of island flavors. This indulgent dish features a creamy blend of sharp cheddar cheese, onions, eggs, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, red bell peppers, and a hint of Scotch bonnet pepper for a subtle kick. Baked to perfection, this cheesy masterpiece is sure to become a favorite accompaniment to your jerk chicken, adding a touch of richness and indulgence to your meal.

12. Fried Ripe Plantains: A Sweet and Caramelized Treat

Best Popular Foods & Drinks to try on Vacation in St. LuciaFried ripe plantains are a beloved Jamaican delicacy that perfectly balances sweetness and crispiness. These sliced plantains are fried until golden brown, allowing the natural sugars to caramelize and create a delightful crust. Sprinkled with cheese or served plain, these sweet and savory treats make an excellent accompaniment to jerk chicken, providing a delightful contrast to the spicy and smoky flavors. Whether enjoyed as a side dish or a snack, fried ripe plantains are sure to become a new favorite.

13. Fried Green Plantains: A Crispy and Savory Delight

Best Jamaican Side Dishes for Jerk ChickenWhile ripe plantains offer a sweet treat, fried green plantains provide a savory and crispy alternative. These unripe plantains must be cooked before consuming, and the process of frying them until golden brown creates a delightful texture. Sliced thinly and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a pat of butter, or served with a flavorful dip, fried green plantains are a versatile side dish that perfectly complements the bold flavors of jerk chicken.

14. Fried Bammy: A Traditional Cassava Flatbread

Best Popular Foods & Drinks to Try on Vacation in JamaicaFried bammy, a traditional Jamaican cassava flatbread, is a unique and delightful addition to any jerk chicken meal. These round breads boast a crisp exterior and a tender interior, achieved through frying in minimal oil until golden brown. The unique texture of fried bammy provides an interesting contrast to the smoky and spicy flavors of jerk chicken, making it a must-try for those seeking an authentic Jamaican dining experience.

15. Roast Corn: A Simple and Satisfying Side

Best Jamaican Side Dishes for Jerk ChickenSometimes, the simplest dishes can be the most satisfying. Roast corn, a backyard BBQ staple, is a perfect accompaniment to jerk chicken. Grilled to perfection with a touch of butter and salt, these charred and juicy corn cobs provide a sweet and smoky contrast to the bold flavors of the jerk chicken. Whether served on the cob or removed from the husk, roast corn is a crowd-pleasing side dish that celebrates the simplicity of fresh, seasonal ingredients.

16. Coleslaw with a Jamaican Twist

Best Jamaican Side Dishes for Jerk ChickenColeslaw, a classic side dish, receives a Jamaican twist with the addition of vibrant flavors and tropical accents. Shredded cabbage, onions, and carrots form the base, while the inclusion of mangoes and nuts adds a delightful sweetness and crunch. Drizzle with dressings like honey, hot sauce, olive oil, or vinegar to create a tantalizing blend of flavors that perfectly complements the spicy and smoky notes of jerk chicken.

17. Refreshing Jamaican Beverages

Best Cocktails to Drink on The Caribbean Beach or at an All Inclusive ResortNo Jamaican meal would be complete without a refreshing beverage to quench your thirst and complement the bold flavors of the cuisine. Ginger beer, available in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties, is a light and refreshing option that perfectly balances spicy and sweet notes. For those seeking a more traditional pairing, Red Stripe® Beer, an award-winning pale amber lager, has become synonymous with Jamaica’s rich brewing heritage. And for a touch of tropical flair, Ting Grapefruit Drink, a tart yet sweet carbonated soft drink, can be enjoyed on its own or mixed with vodka to create a delightful cocktail called Ving.


With this diverse array of mouthwatering side dishes, you can create a truly authentic Jamaican dining experience that celebrates the vibrant flavors and culinary traditions of the island. From the comforting and familiar to the bold and adventurous, these dishes are sure to delight your taste buds and transport you to the heart of Jamaica’s rich culinary heritage. So, gather your loved ones, fire up the grill, and get ready to savor the flavors of this Caribbean paradise.

For recommendations on some of the best times to visit Jamaica, you can check out our guide here.

If you’re traveling to Jamaica alone, ensure you take all the necessary measures to keep safe. Read about how you can stay safe while visiting Jamaica. If you decide to visit any resort, be sure to tag us in your photos and videos @resortcaribbean, and follow our socials: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube.



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