There is a surprisingly wide variety of Vegan Jamaican breakfast ideas to choose from as fruits, vegetables, pulses, legumes, and grains play a big part in the whole population’s daily meals. And naturally, a huge respectful nod has to be given to Jamaica’s Rastafarians that have made a huge impact on bringing ‘Ital’ plant-based food to the forefront of traditional Jamaican cuisine.
Non-vegan households regularly eat steamed vegetables as a quick and healthy Jamaican-style breakfast which is typically accompanied by a tantalizing variety of sides such as hard dough bread, dumplings, yam, green bananas, sweet potato, pumpkin, breadfruit, bammy, or plantain.
Plus, many traditional Jamaican breakfasts can easily be Veganized by omitting the meat or fish or subsidizing it with a plant-based alternative, so you won’t be missing out.
Jamaicans enjoy hot meals all throughout the day and if you want to start your day the right way you’ll be trying these delicious and nutritious Vegan Jamaican breakfast ideas.
Typical Jamaican Breakfasts
Home-cooked hot Vegan breakfasts are especially popular in rural areas where supermarkets are scarce, but field-grown foods are plentiful. This makes traditional Jamaican breakfasts hearty and filling and often interchangeable as a lunch or dinner option.
Whereas Jamaicans that live in the towns and cities, gravitate towards quick and easy convenience foods that are readily available from grocers and supermarkets. But don’t get me wrong you’ll always have your die-hard fans of typical Jamaican breakfasts that head straight to the food outlets to get their traditional hot breakfast made for them!
Some Vegan Jamaican families prefer to serve quick and easy breakfasts such as breakfast cereal, fresh fruits, or baked beans with hard dough bread, which are particularly popular choices for households with younger children.
Porridge is a breakfast option that comes in a wide variety of flavors that are popular with all ages. if you don’t have time to make your own it is readily available from street vendors across the island and it is served right up until lunchtime if the day is slow!
The hotels in Jamaica serve a wide variety of Jamaican and international breakfast options so you can try something different every day. You can expect to see all your favorites from home, alongside familiar and new dishes from all over the world. If the choice is limited you should be able to cobble together a selection of ‘sides’ to make a Vegan breakfast.
There are so many different Vegan breakfast options to try in Jamaica to keep you interested and satisfied, so let’s get into it and see what you’d like to try first!
1. Ackee with Fried Breadfruit
The irresistible combination of creamy ackee that has been sautéed with onion, garlic, tomato, sweet pepper, scotch bonnet pepper, and thyme is quite simply delicious, especially when you have some fried breadfruit on the side!
Ackee is actually a fruit and there are two main varieties available in Jamaica, known locally as ‘butter ackee’ and ‘cheese ackee’. Both of which have been described as having a slightly nutty, slightly sweet taste, dependent on whether they’re used in a sweet or savory dish.
Butter Ackee is pale and light in color, with a soft, creamy taste and texture, which makes it ideal for baking and desserts as it has a tendency to lose shape and mash down. Whereas ‘cheese ackee’ has a more pronounced yellow color with a firmer texture that has more bite to it, which is perfect for using in savory dishes or recipes where you want the ackee to remain whole.
Why not try ackee with fried plantain and dumplings, roast breadfruit and (avocado) pear, boiled dumplings, green banana, and yam, or slathered between two slices of Jamaican hard dough bread.
Ackee and Saltfish may be known as the national dish of Jamaica, but it’s just as iconic and delicious without the saltfish. If you visit Jamaica during the Ackee season you have to try this traditional and delicious Jamaican breakfast no matter which variety is available!
2. Jamaican Porridge
Jamaicans love to make porridge for breakfast as it comes together quickly, feeds many mouths, and is super filling and yummy. There are so many varieties of porridge that are typically eaten for breakfast in Jamaica, you could have a different flavor every day of the week and then some!
Locally grown Jamaican ingredients such as banana, plantain, peanut, and breadfruit, make unexpected but totally delicious porridge. Other firm Jamaican favorites include cornmeal, hominy corn, bulgar, rice, or oats porridge.
Jamaican Porridge is typically made by grating (banana or plantain) or adding the star ingredient to water, plant-based milk, or coconut milk. Which is simmered down with salt/sugar, vanilla, and warming spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, until it has come together to the perfect consistency.
Did you know, that no matter which variety of Jamaican porridge is made, it is typically served with a slice or two of bread?
3. Steamed Callaloo with Fried Dumplings
Callaloo is a locally grown vegetable from the same family as spinach, that is packed full of iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and dietary fiber. Although callaloo has larger leaves and the stems are thicker and more woody, so they are stripped of their outer skin before being chopped and steamed.
Widely available throughout the year in Jamaica, this vegetable is a kitchen garden favorite, as once sown it grows in abundance and is a cut and come again crop. To prepare this dish the Callaloo is sliced into shreds, using the whole leaf and stems. Once the onion, garlic, tomato, sweet pepper, scotch bonnet pepper, and thyme have been sauteed, the shredded Callaloo is added and steamed down for an earthy tasting, delicious meal.
If you want to order steam callaloo as a vegan option when dining away from home, always check that no (salt)fish has been added to the recipe, as it’s common to add saltfish to many steamed vegetable dishes in Jamaica.
4. Corn Fritters
Fritters are known as ‘flitters’ in Jamaica and can be made with any combination of sweet or savory ingredients. Corn fritters are enjoyed as a breakfast option for the family and are also popular at parties as they are the perfect handheld snack.
Corn fritters come together by adding flour, water, baking powder, finely chopped scallion, and scotch bonnet pepper. Mix thoroughly to create a thickish batter that can be easily poured. Some people also like to add diced sweet bell pepper, for a little extra crunch and variety.
Add a spoonful of the mixture to hot oil and fry on both sides until golden. Remove from the oil and drain before enjoying this delicious grab-and-go breakfast idea.
5. Steam Cabbage with Fried Dumplings and Plantain
The humble cabbage is elevated to the culinary heights in Jamaica by slicing it into thin ribbony shreds and steaming it with onion, garlic, tomato, sweet pepper, scotch bonnet pepper, thyme, carrots, french beans, and okra. Packed full of vitamins and minerals this Vegan-friendly breakfast option is surprisingly delicious and versatile.
The best part is that Steamed Cabbage can be served with all manner of traditional Jamaican sides, such as hard dough bread, bammy, fried dumplings, Johhny cakes/festival, fried plantain, pressed green plantain, roast n fry breadfruit, or a mixture of boiled food, such as dumplings, green banana, yam, and sweet or Irish (white) potato.
If you want to order steam cabbage as a vegan option when dining away from home, always check that no (salt)fish has been added to the recipe, as it’s common to add saltfish to many steamed vegetable dishes in Jamaica.
6. Steam Vegetables with Bammy
Jamaicans love to steam their veggies by shredding their greens, with onion, garlic, tomato, sweet pepper, scotch bonnet pepper, thyme, carrot, chocho, and okra. The combination of steamed vegetables nestled on a freshly made Jamaican Bammy is surprisingly satisfying and takes humble steamed veggies to the next level.
It is very labor-intensive to make Jamaican Bammy, but so worth it for the delicious crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside texture! Bammy is made from a root vegetable called Cassava, which is peeled and grated before being tightly wrung in cheesecloth to remove all the water.
Once all the water has been removed the cassava takes on a flour-like consistency. The dried cassava is slowly and skillfully sprinkled into a hot, greased pan to form the bammy, which is browned on both sides before serving. Simply delicious!
Did you know that Bammy descended from a simple flatbread recipe invented by the Tanio / Arawak, who were the first recorded inhabitants of Jamaica?
7. Banana Fritters with Steam Callaloo
Fritters are a popular Jamaican breakfast choice when time is short as, unlike traditional dumplings, they need no kneading. Banana fritters make use of overripe bananas and provide a hot, tasty, filling, and economical meal, especially when accompanied by some delicious steamed vegetables.
The combination of the earthy callaloo steamed down with flavor-enhancing onions, garlic, tomato, and thyme, perfectly contradicts the sweeter notes from the crispy-chewy banana fritters. You could also try substituting the banana for overripe plantain to make these fritters and steam pak choi or cabbage will work really well with the sweet fritters too.
You’ll be coming back to this delicious Vegan meal time and time again as it’s so easy to put together and surprisingly delicious and satisfying!
8. Fresh Tropical Fruits
Jamaica is blessed with an abundance of locally grown seasonal fruit that is often hand-picked straight from the garden. Enjoyed as a fresh and natural breakfast option, there are plenty of tropical fruits to choose from in Jamaica.
Depending on the time of year you visit you can enjoy mangoes, pineapple, papaya, melon, naseberry, soursop, sweetsop, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, starfruit, Otaheite apples, passionfruit, ugli fruit, guava, June plum and many more!
In supermarkets and hotels, you will also find popular imported fruits, albeit at a considerably high cost, such as grapes, kiwi fruit, raspberries, blueberries, goji berries, and apples.
Did you know that Ackee and (Avocado) Pear are actually fruits, despite being typically served as part of a savory Jamaican breakfast?
9. Steam Pak Choi with Festival
There is a great selection of leafy greens grown in Jamaica and the versatile and tasty Pak Choi / Bok Choi is one of the staples. When Jamaicans add pak choi to sauteed garlic, tomato, sweet pepper, scotch bonnet pepper, and thyme, and leave it to steam it starts to shine, which is further elevated by the addition of carrots, french beans, and okra.
Steamed pak choi is super healthy and tasty and makes a nice change from steamed cabbage or earthy callaloo, which is commonly offered as a Vegan Jamaican breakfast option.
Festival is the sweet cousin of regular Jamaican fried dumplings. With a little sugar, vanilla essence and spice added they are delicious with their crispy outside and soft and bouncy center. Festivals are often shaped like little sausages or knots which are super fun to pull apart and nibble on!
10. Banana Fritters
These crispy, fluffy, sweet, and yummy fritters are a firm family favorite and make a sweet change from their savory cousins, corn fritters. There is no need to throw away those overripe bananas when they make the perfect ingredient for these delicious banana fritters!
Add the mashed overripe bananas to flour, water, baking powder, and cinnamon/nutmeg and mix thoroughly to create a thick batter. Carefully add a spoon full of the mixture to hot oil and fry on both sides until golden.
Remove from the oil and drain before enjoying this delicious grab-and-go breakfast idea. Or try these delicious sweet breakfast fritters with some steamed cabbage or callaloo for a surprisingly satisfying sweet and savory combination!
11. Smoothies and Natural Juices
With an abundance of fruits and vegetables readily available in Jamaica, a smoothie or natural juice is becoming a popular choice for those who prefer a lighter, healthier, and more portable breakfast option.
Many Jamaicans have access to seasonal fruits and coconuts growing in their gardens, making natural juices very popular in Jamaica. Jamaican natural juices and smoothies are made by blending or juicing whatever fruits are in season and readily available, with water, coconut water, or sugarcane juice, finished with a splash of lime and ginger to give it that extra flavor zing!
While exploring Jamaica you’ll find there are lots of natural and exciting food outlets opening up, which offer natural juices and smoothies alongside international favorites, such as acai bowls and bubble tea.
12. Pressed Green Plantain with Steam Veggies
Pressed Green Plantain is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, with a slightly salty taste, which makes a savory change from Fried Ripe Plantain. The trick to making perfect pressed green plantain is to fry the plantain on both sides, before pressing it until it flattens, then give it a quick dip in salty water, before refrying until golden.
Teamed with your favorite steamed veggies and some roast breadfruit and you have a Jamaican Vegan breakfast plate of dreams! Jamaicans enjoy steaming a range of leafy greens such as callaloo, pak choi, or cabbage, with onions, garlic, tomatoes, and thyme. This helps to create a healthy and delicious balance to the fried sides, which some will argue are the best part of the meal!
13. Butter Beans with Boiled Ground Provisions
Butter Beans are widely available in Jamaica and marry together well with vegetables to create a filling and tasty Vegan Jamaican breakfast dish. The butter beans are super delicious when added to sauteed onion, garlic, tomato, sweet pepper, scotch bonnet pepper, okra, and thyme to make a slightly oily gravy with a deliciously light flavor profile.
This delicious and filling breakfast can be enjoyed with any combination of boiled ground provisions. Jamaican favorites include boiled green banana, boiled dumplings, yam, sweet potato, Irish (white) potato, or pumpkin, which are the ideal accompaniment for mopping up the gravy.
14. Baked Beans and Fried Plantain with Hard Dough Bread
For a fuss-free vegan breakfast with little prep work involved, you can’t go wrong with baked beans, fried plantain, and hard dough bread! Quick, easy, and filling this type of breakfast option is especially loved by parents and children alike.
Tinned baked beans in tomato sauce are widely available in Jamaica, with several Jamaican brand names offering their version of this household staple. It is common to ‘nice up’ the baked beans with the addition of onion, garlic, sweet pepper, scotch bonnet pepper, and thyme, which quite frankly are added to almost every Jamaican savory dish!
Fried ripe plantain adds the ultimate sweet accompaniment to this simple and tasty meal which comes together quickly and fills you up.
Hard Dough bread is a traditional Jamaican loaf bread that has a dense structure but is surprisingly soft and springy with a slightly sweet flavor. This delicious bread is sold islandwide and is available in sliced and unsliced, white, and wholewheat varieties.
15. Jamaican Oats (overnight oats)
Whilst overnight oats may not necessarily be a ‘thing’ in Jamaica, Jamaicans do love to conjure up their own variation of this delicious breakfast option which is usually served in a glass rather than a bowl.
Adding plant-based milk to porridge oats, with a little drop of vanilla essence, sugar, and spice creates a delicious cold Vegan Jamaican breakfast option that is simple but oh so delicious. Some Jamaicans will add raw peanuts for a little added pep in their step or a glug or two of Guinness for a little more punch! You can also blend in some bananas or add some soft fruit, such as berries to add a different flavor profile.
This Jamaican Vegan breakfast is super healthy and easy to take on the move. The addition of some Vegan protein powder makes it the perfect choice for a pre or post-workout meal.
15 Delicious Jamaican Breakfast Drinks
Now you have your Jamaican breakfast options sorted, you need some Jamaican breakfast drinks to wash it all down with!
Popular Jamaican breakfast drinks include the world-famous, Blue Mountain Coffee, hand-made Chocolate Tea (hot chocolate), all manner of herbal ‘Bush’ tea infusions (which have different healing properties), and cold and refreshing drinks made from tropical fruits.
- Blue Mountain Coffee (premium quality)
- Instant Coffee, lower grade Jamaican coffee, often blended with imported varieties of coffee
- Chocolate Tea (hot chocolate), made from hand-rolled chocolate balls
- Red Rose Tea, made from imported tea leaves
- Ovaltine, Milo, and Horlicks, imported hot flavored drinks – check for vegan-friendly versions
- Cerasse Tea, bitter herbal tea renowned for reducing blood pressure, treating worms and parasites, lowering cholesterol, cleansing the blood, and more
- Mint Tea, refreshing herbal tea renowned for its digestive qualities
- Ginger Tea, fiery herbal tea renowned for reducing nausea and aiding digestion
- Soursop Leaf Tea, herbal tea renowned for digestion, blood pressure, inflammation, and calming nerves
- Basil Tea, herbal tea renowned for aiding flu and cold symptoms by opening airways and improving breathing
- Mango Leaf Tea, herbal tea renowned for strengthening your immune system, gut health, and diabetes
- Coconut Water, known locally to ‘wash of your heart’ this super refreshing drink is loaded with vitamins and minerals
- Sugarcane Juice, despite the huge amount of sugarcane grown locally this surprisingly healthy drink, is not as widely available as coconut water as you need a special press to get the juice from the sugarcane
- Natural Fruit Juice
Did you know that hot beverages are collectively known as ‘tea’ in Jamaica? So don’t be surprised if you are offered ‘Coffee Tea’ (coffee), or Fish Tea (fish soup) in some locations!