Jamaican cuisine is all about sweetness, warmth, and fun, and Jamaican appetizers are meant to give you a sneak peek of that island flavor before the main event.
And while appetizers are simply a meal ‘warm-up,’ there are just some dishes that capture your full attention and leave no room for entree competition.
We believe this will undoubtedly be the case with the recipes on this list.
Whether you’re preparing an island-inspired meal and bringing in influences from Jamaican and Caribbean culinary classics or just looking to give a little tropical flair to tired tropes in your recipe box, the appetizers below will more than get the job done.
We’ve done our best to provide you with plenty of options—dishes that can serve multiple purposes throughout the day or for a variety of events, as well as those that will satisfy every member of the family, young or old.
So go ahead and get started, in no particular order.
Just be sure not to pass up the Jamaican Jerk Salsa, Grilled Jerk Shrimp & Pineapple Skewers, or the Caribbean Mango Sauced Meatballs.
All we have to say is yum.
For the buffalo chicken dip lovers out there, this Jamaican version will quickly become a contender in the coveted ‘favorite dip’ slot.
There’s nothing not to love about this Jamaican jerk chicken dip.
It has everything a to-die-for dip should have: sweet and tangy flavor, rich, creamy consistency, three kinds of cheese, and plenty of succulently seasoned chicken.
Meatballs may not seem like traditional Jamaican fare (and they’re not), but that doesn’t mean you can’t transform them into a delicious island dish.
With some McCormick’s Jamaican Jerk seasoning and other Caribbean flavors like pineapple and lime, your meatballs will be the Jamaican appetizer of your dreams.
Shrimp is classic Jamaican party food, and this recipe, in particular, is sure to get the party started.
I mean, really, what’s more, festive than bite-sized seafood cooked in rum and lime, drenched in tropical flavors, and served with a coconut-pineapple sauce?
Nothing—which is precisely why these spicy Caribbean shrimp are a must for your next gathering.
We’re firm believers in the power of individually served appetizers, and these mini Jamaican beef bites in phyllo shells are our case and point.
They look elegant and extravagant, but this recipe is straightforward and accessible, containing ground beef, onions, potatoes, carrots, peas, and everyday seasonings.
The phyllo shells are pre-made and packaged, making this appetizer an easy yet scrumptious endeavor.
It doesn’t get much more Jamaican than ackee—the national fruit of Jamaica.
Pair it with saltfish, and you have the makings of a slam dunk Jamaican appetizer.
These ackee and saltfish pinwheels are simple yet sophisticated and packed with traditional island flavors that scream Jamaica.
We don’t mind telling you that we are big chips and salsa people, so it should come as no surprise that we snuck a Jamaican salsa recipe onto this list.
The roasted Roma tomatoes, garlic, habanero, onion, cilantro, myriad warm spices, and—get this—brown sugar make this salsa a truly unique indulgence perfect for any chip.
Fritters don’t have to be confectionary; in fact, you can ‘fritter’ just about anything (and yes, we just made ‘fritter’ a verb).
These Jamaican Saltfish Fritters are indeed a work of art, and the recipe holds your hand every step of the way with manageable instructions that leave you with heavenly homemade fritters.
The sweet and sour dipping sauce is an added bonus as the tang terrifically complements the savory saltfish.
We love guacamole in pretty much every variation—spicy, chunky, sweet, or all of the above.
This Caribbean-style guacamole accomplishes a complex and exceptional flavor profile with a lime-ginger mixture and fresh mango, but it also maintains the traditional elements of the dish.
It’s one of our new favorites, and you’ll understand why after just one taste.
Nothing beats an old-school Jamaican Meat Pie when it comes to Jamaican finger food.
This appetizer is reminiscent of an empanada but with a Caribbean twist.
The pie crust is light and flaky, the filling is savory and warmly spiced, and the seasoning is full of island influences.
Coconut drops have long been a beloved Jamaican dessert, but we’d like to advocate for bringing sweets to the pre-dinner menu.
These coconut drops have a unique flavor profile, containing ginger, vanilla, cane sugar, and nutmeg, and they’re easy to make as they require no baking.
Your guests will thank you for putting the sweet stuff first.
Chicken wings of the Jamaican jerk variety are a highly sought-after menu item, so being able to create them at home is a winning skill.
This recipe prides itself on being ‘super simple,’ but it’s also educational as it breaks down all the ingredients and what they contribute to the depth of flavor you’ll enjoy in these wings.
Jamaican appetizers for a party don’t have to be overly complicated; sometimes, all it takes to get the job done is a batch of spiced nuts.
This recipe takes raw mixed nuts and uses coconut oil, brown sugar, lemon, dried red peppers, allspice, sea salt, thyme, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and garlic powder to transform them into a jammin’ Jamaican snack.
13. Caribbean Corn
Though corn has traditionally been served as a side dish, this recipe would work well as an appetizer because of its lively flavor.
This Caribbean corn has a remarkable creamy quality that pairs extraordinarily well with the fresh, fruity flavors represented.
It’s a totally new way to experience corn.
Jamaican Jerk Chicken Tacos are an excellent addition to a party menu comprised of festive appetizers.
The key to this particular recipe is proper marination – this one uses orange juice – and grilling over any other cooking method.
Top it off with a pineapple orange salsa and a spicy cream, and your appetizer game will be on point.
Salad is a classic appetizer staple, but classic doesn’t have to equate to dull.
This salad is so delicious your guests might just fill up on it with no room to spare for the main course.
The sublimely spiced Jamaican jerk chicken atop fresh greens with pineapple, mango, cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocado might be the best salad you’ll ever have, and that’s not counting the homemade lime vinaigrette.
Caribbean culinary influences don’t stop at chicken and seafood; island flavors have officially infiltrated coleslaw, and we couldn’t be more excited.
Traditional cabbage, tropical fruits, slivered almonds, and plenty of spice make this Caribbean coleslaw a must on the Jamaican appetizer menu.
‘Jerk’ isn’t just for chicken.
Actually, ‘jerk’ fits the bill for any light meat or seafood—like shrimp—and it pairs phenomenally well with pineapple.
Perhaps that’s why these Grilled Jerk Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers are some of the best-grilled appetizers we’ve ever had.
Similar to the corn we highlighted earlier, this Jamaican Rice And Peas recipe is a traditionally prepared side but works wonders on the appetizer menu.
It’s technically rice and beans, but it’s spiced to Jamaican perfection and can be substituted in numerous ways, making it a convenient dish to whip up pre-meal.
Anytime we include two of one type of dish on a list, we are absolutely sure that they are both game-changing recipes.
These meatballs more than qualify, cooked in a delectable sauce that’s both sweet and spicy and highlighting mangoes as the star of the show.
Pulled pork is pretty typical for an American get-together, but if you’d like to incorporate some Caribbean influence into your gathering or even just try something completely new, this recipe is for you.
This Caribbean pulled pork recipe delivers a sweet, tangy, and tender meat suitable for appetizers or meals alike, but it also provides step-by-step directions for preparing the meat from start to finish.
We mentioned earlier that we’re advocating for sweets in the pre-meal lineup, and we want to hold true to that promise by ending our list with a recipe for Jamaican banana fritters.
This Caribbean finger food is great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and anything in between, and it’s super easy to make.
It also pairs well with a Nutella spread, and since we’re suckers for Nutella, this one really snagged us by the sweet tooth.
The bottom line
Jamaican appetizers are fun, delicious, and surprisingly simple.
Whether you’re looking to make a traditional Jamaican meal or spread some island love on some of your old favorites, this list can help you achieve your Caribbean cuisine goals.
- Jamaican Jerk Chicken Dip
- Jamaican Jerk Meatballs
- Spicy Caribbean Shrimp Appetizer
- Mini Jamaican Beef Bites In Phyllo Shells
- Ackee & Saltfish Pinwheels
- Jamaican Jerk Salsa
- Jamaican Saltfish Fritters
- Chunky & Spicy Caribbean Guacamole
- Jamaican Meat Pie
- Jamaican Coconut Drops
- Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings
- Jamaican Jerk Spiced Nuts
- Caribbean Corn
- Jamaican Jerk Chicken Tacos
- Jamaican Jerk Chicken Salad With Lime Vinaigrette
- Caribbean Coleslaw
- Grilled Jerk Shrimp & Pineapple Skewers
- Jamaican Rice & Peas
- Caribbean Mango Sauced Meatballs
- Caribbean Pulled Pork
- Jamaican Banana Fritters
- Have a look at our list of Jamaican Appetizers.
- Choose the appetizer you want to recreate.
- Start cooking your newly found recipe!
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