For many Jamaicans, no morning routine is complete without a steaming bowl of velvety cornmeal porridge. This traditional delicacy, bursting with aromatic spices and a delightfully creamy texture, is more than just a meal – it’s a cherished culinary experience that connects generations. Imagine the inviting aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice wafting through the kitchen, beckoning you to savor the comforting flavors of your homeland.

As a beloved staple in Jamaican households, cornmeal porridge holds a special place in the hearts and stomachs of islanders. It’s often the first “solid” food introduced to infants during the weaning process, establishing a lifelong love affair with this hearty breakfast. Even as adults, Jamaicans crave the nostalgic warmth and nourishment that a bowl of cornmeal porridge provides, making it a go-to choice for kickstarting the day on the right foot.

The Cornmeal Conundrum: Fine or Thick?

At the heart of this delectable dish lies a key ingredient: cornmeal. But not just any cornmeal will do – the type you choose can make or break the porridge’s texture. Traditionally, finely ground cornmeal is preferred for achieving a velvety smoothness that melts in your mouth. However, some culinary rebels have embraced the use of thickly cut cornmeal, imparting a delightful grittiness that adds an intriguing dimension to the porridge’s mouthfeel.

The great cornmeal debate rages on, with loyalists on both sides passionately defending their preferred grind. Whether you opt for the silky finesse of fine cornmeal or the rustic charm of its thicker counterpart, the beauty of this dish lies in its ability to adapt to personal preferences. After all, the true essence of Jamaican cornmeal porridge transcends the granularity of its star ingredient.

The Art of Lump-Free Perfection

Achieving a velvety, lump-free porridge is a skill that every Jamaican cook prides themselves on mastering. The secret lies in a simple yet crucial step: thoroughly mixing the cornmeal with water before introducing it to the simmering liquid. This technique, often passed down through generations, ensures a smooth, consistent texture that will have you savoring every spoonful.

As the porridge simmers, diligent stirring becomes the key to maintaining its creamy consistency. Frequent whisking not only prevents lumps from forming but also allows the cornmeal to fully incorporate with the liquid, resulting in a harmonious blend of flavors and textures.

The Coconut Conundrum: Milk or No Milk?

One of the most contentious debates surrounding Jamaican cornmeal porridge is the inclusion (or exclusion) of coconut milk. For some, the rich, tropical essence of coconut milk is an essential component, adding an extra layer of creaminess and depth to the dish. Others, however, prefer to stick to the traditional dairy milk, allowing the pure flavors of the cornmeal and spices to shine through.

Whichever camp you find yourself in, the beauty of this recipe lies in its versatility. Whether you opt for the indulgent creaminess of coconut milk or the classic richness of dairy, the end result is a comforting bowl of porridge that will leave you feeling satisfied and nourished.

Sweetness Personified: The Condensed Milk Dilemma

No Jamaican cornmeal porridge is complete without a touch of sweetness, and this is where the debate over condensed milk comes into play. For some, the caramelized flavor and luscious texture of sweetened condensed milk are essential components, adding a decadent richness that perfectly complements the warm spices.

However, for those seeking a dairy-free or vegan alternative, the world of plant-based condensed milks has opened up a whole new realm of possibilities. From creamy coconut condensed milk to the increasingly popular oat-based varieties, the options are endless.

Whichever path you choose, the key is to strike the perfect balance between sweetness and spice, creating a harmonious symphony of flavors that will have you savoring every bite.

Spice Up Your Life: The Flavor Fiesta

Jamaican cornmeal porridge is a true celebration of spices, with each household boasting its own unique blend of aromatic seasonings. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice are the holy trinity of flavors, adding warmth, depth, and a touch of exotic flair to the porridge.

But why stop there? Adventurous cooks have been known to experiment with a pinch of cardamom, a dash of ginger, or even a hint of cloves, taking the porridge on a flavor journey that transcends borders and cultures.

Whether you stick to the tried-and-true spice trio or venture into uncharted territory, the beauty of this dish lies in its ability to embrace and showcase the vibrant flavors that make Jamaican cuisine so beloved worldwide.

Toppings Galore: Elevate Your Porridge Game

While the porridge itself is a masterpiece, the toppings and accompaniments are what truly elevate this dish to new heights. Imagine a bowl of steaming porridge adorned with a vibrant array of fresh berries, sliced mangoes, or even a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.

For those seeking a more savory twist, a side of crispy bacon or a sprinkle of crumbled saltfish adds a delightful contrast to the sweet and creamy base. And let’s not forget the beloved Jamaican tradition of dipping hard dough bread into the porridge, soaking up every last drop of flavor in the most satisfying way.

Fuel for the Day: The Nourishing Power of Cornmeal

Beyond its delectable taste, Jamaican cornmeal porridge is a nutritional powerhouse, providing sustained energy and nourishment to kickstart your day. Cornmeal is a rich source of complex carbohydrates, ensuring a slow and steady release of energy that keeps you feeling full and focused for hours.

Additionally, this humble grain boasts an impressive array of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, which supports the healthy function of vital organs like the kidneys, lungs, and heart. With its low-fat and gluten-free properties, cornmeal porridge is a guilt-free indulgence that caters to a wide range of dietary preferences and needs.

Leftovers? No Problem! Storage and Reheating Tips

While a freshly prepared bowl of Jamaican cornmeal porridge is undoubtedly the pinnacle of culinary bliss, leftovers are an inevitable reality. Fear not, for with proper storage and reheating techniques, you can enjoy the same delectable flavors and textures the next day (or even the day after that!).

The key to preserving the porridge’s velvety consistency is to store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it will happily await your next craving for up to three days. When the time comes to indulge once more, simply reheat the porridge on the stovetop, adding a splash of milk or water to restore its creamy texture.

Beyond Breakfast

While Jamaican cornmeal porridge is traditionally enjoyed as a breakfast staple, its versatility knows no bounds. In times of illness or discomfort, a warm bowl of this comforting porridge can soothe even the most unsettled stomachs, providing gentle nourishment and relief.

But why stop there? This delectable dish can also make a delightful dessert, especially when adorned with a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk, a sprinkle of cinnamon, or even a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Embrace the porridge’s chameleon-like nature and let your culinary creativity run wild!

Sharing the Love: Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge for All

Jamaican cornmeal porridge is more than just a dish; it’s a culinary tradition that brings people together, fostering a sense of community and shared heritage. Whether you’re a born-and-bred Jamaican or simply a lover of authentic flavors, this porridge has the power to transcend borders and unite taste buds from all walks of life.

So why not invite friends and family to gather around the table and share in this delectable experience? Swap stories, exchange cooking tips, and revel in the joy of breaking bread (or in this case, porridge) together. After all, food is the universal language that connects us all, and Jamaican cornmeal porridge is a delightful dialect that everyone should learn to speak.

Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge Recipe

Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge Recipe Card


  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk or dairy milk
  • 1 cup fine or thick-cut yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (or dairy-free alternative)
  • Optional toppings: fresh berries, sliced mangoes, honey, maple syrup, crumbled saltfish, crispy bacon


  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, bring 2 1/2 cups of water and the can of coconut milk (or dairy milk) to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 1/2 cups of water and the cornmeal until smooth and lump-free.
  3. Once the liquid in the pot starts to boil, gradually whisk in the cornmeal mixture, ensuring there are no lumps. Continue whisking for about 1 minute.
  4. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and let the porridge simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. When there are about 5 minutes left, stir in the vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
  6. Remove the porridge from heat and sweeten it with the desired amount of sweetened condensed milk (or dairy-free alternative).
  7. Serve hot, garnished with your favorite toppings, such as fresh berries, sliced mangoes, honey, maple syrup, crumbled saltfish, or crispy bacon.


  • For a vegan or dairy-free version, use coconut milk and a dairy-free sweetened condensed milk alternative.
  • Adjust the consistency of the porridge by adding more water or milk if it becomes too thick, or simmering longer for a thicker texture.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and reheated on the stovetop with a splash of milk or water to restore its creamy consistency.


Enjoy this delectable taste of Jamaica, and savor every spoonful of this creamy, comforting, and authentically flavored cornmeal porridge!

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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