20 Fun-Loving Caribbean Favorites to Brighten Your Day
In the mood for an island getaway right about now? We hear you, and we say let's set virtual sail for the tropical waters of the Caribbeans to enjoy some much needed island time. We'll share twenty of our favorite Caribbean-inspired recipes — from snacks and cocktails to spicy main dishes and all the sides to go with them. You'll soon be lost in the pleasures of sandy beaches and blue skies, no matter how land-locked or home-bound you might actually be.
Caribbean Holiday Shrimp
Cooked shrimp go for a long soak in a sweet/salty garlic and ginger marinade to make an appetizer that practically makes itself. Serve it up in a big bowl with appetizer toothpicks and let everyone dive in. Home cook Mariell says, "Simply divine! I made these for a large potluck this week, and people were asking around, 'who brought the shrimp — I have to get the recipe!'"
Okay, so this isn't authentic Caribbean fare — but with all the cultural mash-ups we're loving these days, who really cares when they're this fun to eat? Katzy says, "I have made this twice in the last two weeks for different events. Every one loved it! It is a very unusual combination, and it presents beautifully!"
Puerto Rican Meat Patties
Recipe creator Vicky says, "These little parcels are made with seasoned ground meat sealed in egg roll wrappers; they are then deep fried. Serve with salsa and guacamole if desired, but plain they are a dream. This recipe was handed down from my grandfather to my mom, from her to me, and now I'm passing it on to you."
Jerk Chicken Wings
You can't have a Caribbean party without some jerk showing up. Jerk flavoring, that is. Hot, spicy, and attention-getting, these jerk chicken wings are going to seal your reputation as a party boss.
Instant Pot® Cuban-Style Black Beans
A big pot of black beans would go perfectly with whatever else you have on your Caribbean party menu. This one cooks up quickly in your Instant Pot, or you can do what home cook Marcy did and simmer it on low in your slow cooker all day. For the most flavorful results, don't leave out the sazon seasoning packet.
Cuban-Style Yellow Rice
Recipe creator Mombabe says, "Yellow rice is a staple in the Caribbean because of its beautiful color and flavor. Being Cuban, our household often served yellow rice. It's traditional to garnish yellow rice with pimentos, but I don't like them so I don't. Serve yellow rice with Cuban-style roast pork, or add cooked chicken pieces while cooking the rice to make Arroz con Pollo."
Puerto Rican Tostones (Fried Plantains)
Deep Fried Corn Meal Sticks (Sorullitos de Maiz) with Dipping Sauce
Marisa Nicholls shares this recipe and says, "Also referred to as Latin or Spanish Corn Fritters, can be prepared with or without cheese. This version is Puerto Rican-style. These deep fried corn meal sticks are crunchy on the outside and buttery sweet on the inside and are great for brunch, as a dinner appetizer, or as a snack at anytime of the day. These can also be prepared cheese-filled; just add a little piece of your favorite cheese inside your shape before frying. Yum!"
Classic Cuban Midnight (Medianoche) Sandwich
Make a batch of these hearty sandwiches and slice them up into two-bite pieces to serve slider-style. "This is one of the more famous sandwiches straight out of the island of Cuba. This recipe came from my uncle who used to work at a restaurant in Pinar del Rio, Cuba and now works at a Cuban cafeteria here in Miami. This sandwich is best served with fried plantain chips and a cold mamey milkshake!"
Serve this piquant stew in bowls heaped with beans, rice, and fried plantains. "Just like my Cuban mother and sisters in law make!" says Jennifer. "Followed the recipe exactly - but doubled it! Only thing different is I added a little bit of rice wine vinegar (cuz I like the tang and I made empanadas with some of it), and added slivered almonds, cuz that's how my husband's family makes it! Delicious and the perfect filling for the empanadas!"
Daddy Eddie's Roast Pork (Pernil), Puerto Rican-Style
This crowd-pleasing recipe will fill your home with mouth-watering aromas that signal to your guests they're about to eat well. Start this recipe the night before to let it properly steep in the flavorful marinade, then roast it low and slow until it's fork tender.
Bahamian Style Peas and Rice
"Peas and rice, often served under a tropical sun," says recipe creator Danielle2877. "You may have had it last while sitting on soft white sand, and looking at a clear blue sea. Goes excellently with other traditional Caribbean fare, such as chicken curry or souse."
"Refreshing tiki flavors mingle in this delicious reinterpretation of the classic daiquiri," says recipe creator Matt Wencl. Don't skip the orgeat syrup (prounounced or-ZHET), which gives this cocktail a double hit of orange and almond notes.
The Real Mojito
"This is an authentic recipe for mojito," says recipe creator Brandy. "I sized the recipe for one serving, but you can adjust it accordingly and make a pitcher full." Making a big batch of cocktails is the best way to go when you're serving a party crowd.
Arroz con Leche
"This Arroz con Leche is the Cuban version of rice pudding," says recipe creator gator10. "It's richer and sweeter than regular rice pudding. Being Cuban myself, I prefer this version of this delicious dessert to any other. Before serving, sprinkle with cinnamon or garnish with a cinnamon stick, for flair." You can make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge in individual servings or in a big serve-yourself bowl.
Coconut-Lime Cheesecake with Mango Coulis
"This tropical-inspired cheesecake features a ginger-coconut crust and two divine layers topped off with a fresh mango coulis," says recipe creator CC<3's2bake. "I like to make a coconut cream by adding coconut extract to whipped cream for topping the cheesecake. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of toasted coconut, for even more flavor."
Boscobel Beach Ginger Cake
"Wow. I followed the recipe exactly, this is a moist, delicious cake," raves reviewer RUBY2. "Do include the fresh grated ginger, it adds a unique and wonderful flavor. My Jamaican friend says to make this really authentic use dark brown sugar, preferably Demerara - I'll try that next time."
Mango Pudding (Flan de Mango)
"Made it, love it. Followed LatinaCook's recommendation to 'add 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup water to the Pyrex dish and heat on high until it turns an amber color. Do not let it get too dark or it will taste burnt. This usually takes about 7-10 minutes. Pour that caramel in your pan and distribute it evenly in the bottom and sides of the pan. Do it fast as it will harden, but that's ok' but warmed my pan on very low burners on the stove which made it amazingly easy to distribute.' THANKS FOR THE TIP LatinaCook! Other than that followed the recipe - it was a hit!" — Jan