The Carribean is a very popular tourist destination, well-known for its warmth, fantastic ocean views, and outdoor activities. You might be looking to bring a slice of this tropical destination into your home with a Carribean-themed meal.
Trying to figure out what side dishes to include in your meal can be challenging, so we’ve curated this list specifically to help you out! Keeping things tropical and fresh is key.
We hope you find great inspiration from our list while curating your next Carribean-inspired meal. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the sunshine.
17 Caribbean Side Dishes
Caribbean life is all about taking it slow and giving yourself time to relax, so we recommend doing just that while looking through our list!
1. Bahamian Mac & Cheese
Macaroni and cheese are extremely popular and well-loved for their warmth, gooeyness, and comfort food. This take on this staple dish is inspired by Caribbean flavors.
This mac and cheese recipe includes onions, peppers, and different spices to give the dish some heat, while still retaining the classic comfort we all know and love.
If you want something that’s straight out of the Caribbean, try out some conkies. This is a spiced dish containing cornmeal, pumpkin, coconut, and a few other yummy ingredients.
The ingredient list in this recipe might sound a bit odd to you, but we assure you that it’s going to feel just like bringing a slice of the Caribbean straight into your home. It’s tasty, soft, and comforting- what more can you want?
3. Moro de Habichuelas
Popular in the Dominican Republic, this is a simple rice and beans dish. If you want to make this dish closest to its traditional method, you must use red or pinto beans. If you don’t have those on hand or don’t want to use them, many other kinds of beans can work just fine.
If you’re interested in a lighter side dish that won’t pack on the pounds in anticipation of swimsuit season, this one is up your alley. Plus, it’s simple and cheap to make.
4. Yellow Rice with Corn
Corn is a staple food in many cultures; it’s simple to grow and, although it doesn’t have much nutritional value, is filling to eat. The dominance of corn is certainly seen in Caribbean cuisine as much as any other.
This is another simple side dish that keeps things easy and cheap for you. These characteristics certainly don’t make a boring side dish, however; we’re sure this side dish will meet all of your taste expectations.
5. Stuffed Potato Balls
If you want something that’s certainly on the more filling side, stuffed potato balls are certainly for you. These fluffy delights are small as individuals, but certainly, pack a load when eaten in multiples!
Since you intend on using these as a side dish, we recommend making them on the larger side. The smaller, more traditionally-sized ones are better oriented towards appetizers or snacks.
This is by far the simplest suggestion on our list, but we fully understand that everyone wants to devote the most time possible to their main course, not to their side dishes.
Good old queso will do the trick in completing your Caribbean meal. Just make sure you pick up a giant bag of your favorite tortilla chips, or maybe even take on the task of making your own (although that would contradict the point of this side dish!).
7. Caribbean Rice
By now you’ve probably noticed that rice is a very popular food item in Caribbean cuisine. This take on rice traditionally uses coconut milk, cayenne, and pineapple juice, among other ingredients, to make a truly tropical rice dish.
If you want your meal to make you feel like you’re kicking back on the beach with a nice, cold drink, this side dish is the right one for you. It’ll take you away to an island destination in no time.
8. Yucca Fries
Yucca fries are made with cassava, a root vegetable that falls somewhere in between potatoes and sweet potatoes. Just knowing that, we figure you can guess why cassava is used for making fries!
Yucca fries are sweeter than regular fries, but not as sweet as sweet potato fries. They also have a nuttier taste to them. We strongly encourage you to give this unique side dish a try!
9. Caribbean Coleslaw
Caribbean coleslaw is a very interesting and dynamic dish that’s sure to have your family or guests talking! It actually takes a classic component of traditional coleslaw – mayo – and removes it completely.
You might think that this actually ruins the dish, but you’d be wrong! The ingredients in Caribbean coleslaw certainly make up for the lack of mayo; it certainly earns its spot on this list!
10. Steamed Cabbage
This is a pretty simple side dish that’s very common in Jamaica. Cabbage is fairly healthy, so if you’re looking for a side dish that’s robust in flavor yet still plenty nutritious, this one is for you.
Traditionally, when served for dinner, steamed cabbage is accompanied by white rice. That isn’t mandatory, of course, but it’s certainly something to consider when thinking about how you want your meal to be.
If you’re particularly ambitious and want to try your hand at making something really traditional, try out some bammy. Your guests will certainly take notice of your creativity!
Bammy is a cassava flatbread that is either fried, steamed, or baked. How you choose to cook it is entirely up to you and how you want your side dish to come out; you might have to experiment to find what works best for you and your Caribbean meal!
12. Arroz imperial
This Cuban side dish certainly wins the award for the longest list of ingredients on this list! Don’t let the laundry list of ingredients scare you away; Arroz imperial is a fantastic side dish worthy of your attention.
This side dish is heavy and hearty, so keep that in mind. It might not be the best side dish option to serve if your main course is already particularly heavy, or if you’re planning something elaborate for dessert.
13. Caribbean Sausage
While sausage is often incorporated into main dishes, we believe there are plenty of ways to turn it into a lovely side dish. Be creative and use your culinary imagination!
Caribbean sausage is a chicken sausage; the inclusion of ingredients like sweet potatoes and mangoes means that it will end up very tasty, colorful, and certainly reminiscent of a tropical paradise.
14. Barbadian Pickles
Unless you happened to try this while you were in the Caribbean, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ve ever experienced a pickle quite like a Barbadian one.
Barbadian pickles combine both sweet and hot flavors, meaning that every bite will introduce your mouth to an explosion of contrasting flavors. It’s certainly a unique experience and one that you shouldn’t go without if you’re looking to make your Caribbean meal particularly exciting.
15. Trinidad Callaloo
This creamy soup is made up of nothing but veggies, so it’s perfect for those of you who choose to abide by a vegetarian or vegan diet. Both of these styles of eating are increasingly popular, so it’s important to consider this when formulating a meal!
Don’t think that the absence of animal-based ingredients means this soup is boring! It’s packed with flavor and is sure to delight, even if you’re not a vegetarian or vegan yourself.
16. Roasted Breadfruit
Technically this is more of a starch than a fruit, meaning that it actually tastes closer to a potato than sweet tropical fruit. Breadfruit might be hard to come by if you live outside a certain area, but if you can get it, try this out!
Some people choose to fry their breadfruit, but we recommend just roasting it. Roasting breadfruit is the healthier choice, and it also brings out more flavor than just frying it.
This is certainly not a dish for the vegetarians or vegans in your life! This dish is chock full of animal products, and some amazing ones at that!
Mangú is a very filling and hearty side dish, so like some of the other options on this list, we recommend serving it alongside a lighter main course, or in the absence of a dessert. Of course, sometimes you must go big or go home, so do whatever you wish!
We hope that this list has helped you find the inspiration you need to have a relaxing, truly Caribbean-style meal. Remember that keeping things focused on Caribbean cuisine is critical here and that you have to consider how filling your side dishes will be. Happy cooking!