When you think of Jamaica, what comes to mind? White sand beaches, palm trees, and reggae? While these are all undeniably Jamaican (and a lot of fun!), Jamaican desserts are another item to add to your list!
New to Jamaica and want to try some amazing desserts? Known for their tropical food and beautiful weather, Jamaican desserts are truly one-of-a-kind and will have even the fussiest eater coming back for more.
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Jamaican Sweets And Desserts To Eat In Jamaica
Jamaican food is known for being spicy, sweet, and incredibly comforting – and desserts are no exception. In fact, throughout many Caribbean countries such as the Dominican Republic desserts are not to be missed. Due to the locals’ love of fresh fruit, rich spices, and sugar, Caribbean desserts are full of flavor, and won’t leave you unsatisfied!
Some common ingredients feature in many Jamaican puddings and desserts. Look out for coconut, bananas, and of course, ginger. The best way to enjoy these flavorful foods is with a Red Stripe beer, or classic Jamaican ginger beer and rum cocktail – preferably while watching a sunset!
Want to know more? Let’s take a look at 9 must-try Jamaican desserts for you to try!
Learn more about Jamaican food here:
Jamaican Sweet Potato Pie
If there is one Jamaican dessert you have to try, it’s Jamaican sweet potato pie! Affectionately known as ‘hell a top, hell a bottom, and hallelujah in the middle,’ sweet potato pie is one of the most popular desserts in Jamaica and will have you coming back for more after the first mouthful.
This layered Jamaican dessert combines textures from the crunchy top and bottom crusts and creamy, moist center. Sweet potato is mixed with sugar, vanilla, and rum, then poured onto a coconut crust and baked on hot coals. Jamaican sweet potato pie can be found all over the island and is usually a regular feature on the menus everywhere from jerk chicken shacks to upmarket beach resorts. Enjoy with a delicious rum-based cocktail, or just on its own with coconut cream on top!
Jamaican Ginger Cake
It has to be said that Jamaicans love their ginger, and nothing is better than a Jamaican ginger cake for brightening up a sunny afternoon! Made with coconut, sugar, and of course, ginger, this moist Jamaican dessert has a similar taste to English gingerbread and makes a perfect addition to Christmas celebrations.
Because of the warm climate, key ingredients like sugar cane and ginger grow easily and feature heavily in many Jamaican recipes. Jamaican ginger cake is usually served warm by itself, though whipped coconut cream or syrup add to the already decadent flavors. Get a slice from the local bakery in Kingston, or create your own variation at home with spiced custard and rum for a truly Jamaican experience!
Black Jamaican Cake & Jamaican Rum Cake
This Jamaican pudding is a special occasion cake – and it tastes like a celebration! Whether it’s Christmas, a wedding, or a birthday, there is no party without a black Jamaican cake at the center. While it’s commonly found in Jamaica, this delicious dessert is also a staple across other Caribbean islands, with each place taking its own twist on the unique treat.
Known also as Jamaican rum dessert or Jamaican fruit cake, black Jamaican cake is made using rum-soaked dried fruit that is blended and added to a flour-based batter. More rum, or sometimes wine, is poured over the top of the cake after baking in order to keep it moist. Spicy, sweet, and chewy, this Jamaican delicacy is easiest to find around Christmas, though you can sometimes get slices of the fresh fruit cake from bakeries and grocery stores year-round.
Cheap and easy to grow, coconut is a common feature in many Jamaican desserts – and grater cake is no exception. Crunchy and chewy, this Jamaican cake is more like a candy and can be found all over the island. The coconut base makes for a rich and creamy treat that is enjoyed at any time of day – yes, even at breakfast!
You may see street vendors or cafés selling ‘pink on top’ – this nickname refers to grater cake’s classic pink-and-white layering, which is as distinctive and fun as the taste. The hint of ginger, as well as copious malt syrup, make for a perfect Jamaican snack with a warm cup of tea.
Jamaican Bread Pudding
While you may not immediately think that bread pudding is a Jamaican dessert, it’s important to remember that British colonies played a huge part in the island’s culture for many years. However, a few key differences make Jamaican bread pudding different from its UK counterpart.
Firstly (and most importantly) – the rum! Rum is mixed with butter and sugar, then poured over stale bread and coconut before baking. The result is a chewy, spicy Jamaican rum dessert that is sure to have you asking for seconds. Toasted coconut flakes and fresh tropical fruit are usually scattered on top, to add texture and flavor to the already rich Jamaican sweet. Look for it in smaller cafés around Kingston, or try making it yourself at home – trust us, it’s easy enough!
Another coconut-based dessert, Jamaican toto, is a crumbly, nutty cake that has become a staple of island cuisine over hundreds of years. Soft, sweet, and overall delicious, toto melts in the mouth and isn’t one you’ll forget in a hurry!
The origins of this classic Jamaican cake are rather somber, dating back to enslaved people using cheap and easily accessible ingredients to create tasty, high-calorie food. Once seen as a poor people’s food, toto is a favorite amongst locals and tourists, and is undeniably addictive. If you visit a beachside market, you’ll find vendors with stacks of the crumbly Caribbean coconut cake – grab a warm slice, then head down to the sand and enjoy a slice of island life.
Shaped like the sun, gizzada are open-faced tarts that bring joy to anyone who bites into one. The sweet, coconut filling works in perfect harmony with a brown sugar and spice coating, and is a great pick-me-up when you’re running low on energy!
The best part about gizzada is how easy they are to create. The coconut filling doesn’t require baking, though many chefs will melt the brown sugar on top to create a crunchy crust. Unlike many other Caribbean coconut cakes, gizzada can also be made with fresh or store-bought coconuts, making it much easier for cooks on a time-crunch!
Decadent and sweet, hummingbird cake is a true Jamaican delicacy, and one you’ll be talking about to friends back home! As beautiful as it is tasty, this is considered the king of Caribbean desserts for many reasons – you’ll soon see why.
Instead of coconut (we know!), hummingbird cake gets its sweet flavor from overripe pineapples and bananas, with cream cheese-making up the base. While the combination may sound strange, the acidity and sugar work perfectly with the creamy cheese and crunchy pecans to create a deliciously rich, moist treat.
Hummingbird cake is a popular treat in Jamaica, and many restaurants and fancy cake stores will have this beautiful colorful dessert on their shelves. Do yourself a favor and grab a slice – alongside a Jamaican ginger beer, of course!
Jamaican Coconut Drops
By now, you may have guessed that Jamaica is a coconut lover’s dream, and Jamaican coconut drops are the best way to experience the tropical fruit in a whole new way.
Made from fresh diced coconut, these Jamaican sweets are boiled, then coated in a vanilla and ginger syrup, and cooled until crunchy. You may even find versions with chocolate or mango, though the simple syrup is the original variation for this island nation. Easy and straightforward, Jamaicans know how to make a good dessert.
Coconut drops are usually sold by the bag, and you’ll see rows of colorful plastic packets lining the shelves of grocery and convenience stores in Jamaica. If you don’t manage to find any, Amazon and other online retailers sell them for international purchase – however, they’re best enjoyed fresh on the island!
Try Some Delicious Jamaican Sweets!
So there you have it – 9 amazing Jamaican desserts to try during your visit! With a great mixture of tastes, spices, and textures, the cuisine is never boring, and will definitely stay with you for years to come.