5 Best Jamaican Cookbooks for your Kitchen


Every country has its own little drops of heaven when it comes to food and Jamaica is not excluded from that. Whenever I think about Jamaica, all I can imagine is Soca music and a variety of culture which is not much different from my very own India. However, the first words that come to mind when we discuss Jamaican cuisine are jerk chicken – and that is not only my opinion.

Jamaican cuisine is, however, not only restricted to jerk sauce. Their items will explode in your mouth with tons of flavors. For that, you might need some guidance which is why we have the top five Jamaican cookbooks for the happening cuisine that you could include in your collection.

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Now that you’ve seen our top 5 recommendations, we’ll give you more detail on each of them, including why we liked them. When you’re ready, click the yellow button to get the best price on Amazon!

#1 – 50 Favorite Jamaican Recipes: Taste the Islands Essentials

50 Favorite Jamaican Recipes Taste The Islands Essentials

This little old cookbook is a part of the Taste the Islands TV series which focuses on Caribbean and West Indian cooking nuances. You have a host of delicious recipes in this Jamaican cookbook with detailed but extremely simple steps so that you can make the best version of the Jamaican dish. There are 50 of the most popular recipes in the cookbook which include fluffed up fried dumplings, tender oxtail, brown stew chicken covered with sauce, curried goat, cornmeal porridge and the age-old jerk chicken. You can also check out the glossary of typical ingredients that are used in the Caribbean items.

Surprisingly, the book provides some easy, home alternatives to any of the ingredients that would be hard to find at your supermarket. There are full page pictures so that it can be easier for you to plate up your dish as well as astounding, beautiful pictures of the Jamaican culture and topography. Caliber Thompson has put together this Jamaican cookbook in a beautiful, thought-out manner so that all that you need to add some variety to your home meals is there in the package. Easy language and accessible recipes are the key points to liking this cookbook. You will definitely not regret including this cookbook in your collection because these are those recipes that Jamaican kids have always seen at their table.

What we like about it:

The best part we liked about this cookbook is the fact that they have not only given a glimpse of the Jamaican cuisines but they have also included stories and images about the country. There are background stories and notes for every recipe in the book. Filled with pictures and information about the flavors as well as the dishes, this book is the gateway to you tasting a slice of Jamaica right in your home.

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#2 – Jerk from Jamaica: Barbecue Caribbean Style

Jerk From Jamaica Barbecue Caribbean Style

You might have guessed from the name of the Jamaican cookbook but this book is loaded with techniques to properly prepare your meats the Jamaican jerk way. Jerking is a method of garnishing and seasoning your cooked meats as well as involving several ways to grill your meats for bringing out the Caribbean taste in it. Jerking originated in Jamaica and this book pays a tribute to this amazing indigenous method of Jamaica. Helen Willinsky has put together all the little ways to rightly season your meats so that your palette cannot get enough of the fire and spice these ways will bring out in the finished dish. You will get simple recipes to original Jamaican food, starters, and drinks in this book.

The number of recipes included in this cookbook is more than 100 which includes most of them from the author but others from food aficionados like Enid Donaldson and more. If you want the numbers to speak for themselves, this little Jamaican cookbook has sold more than 75,000 copies worldwide. If you are a fan of the photos, you have more than 50 full pages of the finished items which consist of shots from the Jamaican market and jerk pits as well. This book is a cornucopia of knowledge about Jamaica’s oldest heritage privilege, jerk seasoning and I can bet this will addict your tastebuds to the Jamaican culture.

What we like about it:

We love the fact that Helen has written this book for a complete noob. And by noob, I mean a layman who has never heard anything about the Jamaican cuisine. She starts off from the basics like what is a jerk and how it can be prepared to entire chapters of how it can be integrated with chicken, lobster, beef, and other sorts of meats. She adjusts the recipes so that the island flavor can be brought out by the simplest backyard grilling equipment.

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#3 – Authentic Recipes from Jamaica

Authentic Recipes From Jamaica

This amazing cookbook has occupied the third best position in this Jamaican cookbook list. It deserves the high ranking with its vast and fluid accumulation of the most treasured and original recipes of Jamaica. This cookbook has new and old recipes from the most famous in-house chefs of Jamaica from Norma Shirley of Norma at the Wharfhouse, Everett Wilkinson heading the Sans Souci Loud and the head chef of Strawberry Hill, James Palmer. Some of the tasty but authentic dishes you can make with this cookbook are Pepperpot, Baked Plantains, Ginger Tamarind chicken, Jamaican Limeade and so on.

Author John DeMers has successfully doctored quite a nifty guidebook on how to recreate the Jamaican taste, right at your home kitchen. Eduardo Fuss has added elegance to the words by putting in full photos that have been taken on location and beautifully so. This cookbook also holds some lively essays written by the author on the background of the Jamaican cuisine and explanation of some unique ingredients from Jamaica with alternatives we could use in our home. This cookbook would honestly be a great addition to your collection and even if you do not successfully recreate some of the dishes, you can always get to learn more about this exotic Caribbean island and its history along with several full-page pictures to lighten up your mood with.

What we like about it:

The most enjoyable point about this little Jamaican cookbook is that the author has simplified the recipes that are available in the most elite kitchens of Jamaica headed by the dynamic and fiery chefs of the small island. With easy instructions given, you could recreate any of these Jamaican trademarks at your home. You can trust me in the fact that you won’t regret buying this colorful edition of one of the most renowned Jamaican cookbooks.

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#4 – Jamaican Recipes Cookbook: Over 50 Most Treasured Jamaican Cuisine Cooking Recipes

Jamaican Recipes Cookbook Over 50 Most Treasured Jamaican Cuisine Cooking Recipes

Karen Reynolds James has simply knocked it out of the park with this Jamaican cookbook. The cookbook contains the simplest but signature Jamaican dishes like pigeon peas and rice, rice and peas, Black Cake, Easter Bun, beef patty and more. Karen has included drinks in this book as well. This cookbook has been divided into parts like breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks which have a diverse variety of items in them as well. Super easy recipes with step by step instructions and ingredients that could be available in any super-market make the charm of this book come out like no other element would be able to.

To look at the sheer number, 50+ recipes have been written down in this book – 50 of the most delicious, mouthwatering pieces of Jamaican heritage. You would be the belle of the ball and your neighbor’s envy once you give them a taste of Jamaica at your own home with ingredients that are easy to collect. In between the recipes you would find images covering the entire pages – the dishes in the full glory with the background of the island, serving them up dipped in Jamaican culture and cuisine. You can find recipes from every corner of the small Caribbean island – some are as spicy as the people itself but all of them depicting the true flavor of Jamaica.

What we like about it

We love that this book is as simple as it could possibly be. Karen offers nuggets of history and special notes about the Jamaican cuisine, making this an edge different from the ordinary cookbooks. We admire that she has put up some of the most popular recipes into one cookbook which includes some you can take to work for your lunch or others that you could enjoy with at your home. You would not regret getting this book to be a part of your collection.

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#5 – The Real Taste of Jamaica

The Real Taste Of Jamaica

The most intensive book that could be there in Jamaican cuisine, this cookbook has been authored and edited by Mrs. Donaldson. Enid Donaldson has updated this book to include the fiery and spicy colors of the island itself. You will find more than two hundred recipes, straight from housewives to roadside jerky stalls and authentic Jamaican restaurants. In the new edition, a section has been added by Barbara Gloudon (one of TV’s best talk show hosts and world-renowned journalist) known as the “Ole Time Something” which pays a tribute to the creations and history of old-time Jamaica.

If you want to add a bit of spice in your kitchen or just want to cook up the taste of your childhood, this is one of the best Jamaican cookbooks that you could add to your collection. You can see it all in Mrs. Donaldson’s book – curries, scotch bonnet peppers (a typical Caribbean ingredient that is used in jerk seasoning sometimes), pimento, nutmeg, rum, and jerk sauce. The most notable point of this book is that you have both old and new Jamaica at your fingertips – traditional recipes like the age-old jerked chicken and newer ones. You will not be able to get more Jamaican than this cookbook – the most comprehensive book to have bought all the various flavors of Jamaica together under a single banner.

What we like about it:

We like the cookbook for its explicit content. Mrs. Donaldson has not been afraid to increase the pages and give as many as more than two hundred recipes in this book. We love the fact that we get food from the local homes as well as the ones from the posh restaurants up there. She brings street food and the sophisticated items together so that we can see what a colorful culture the Jamaicans have and are proud to show off.

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How do we choose the top Jamaican cookbooks in our list

You must be wondering that there are so many cookbooks dedicated to the Jamaican cuisine but why haven’t any of them made the list. This is the part where I tell you about what we look for in our top Jamaican cookbooks.

  • Ease of use – By the ease of use, I do not only mean that the recipes should be explained step-to-step and the instructions should be as simple as it is humanly possible. Ease of use also means how we can bring out the perfect taste in our dish which includes throwing in alternatives for typical Caribbean ingredients that you would not possibly find in your local supermarket.
  • An Increased number of recipes – When you are buying a cookbook, you want to make sure that you get the better end of the deal. You measure this by seeing the number of recipes in that book. Our top five cookbooks are the most comprehensive books on the Jamaican cuisine you would find in the market.
  • Come in touch with Jamaica – Our top 5 cookbooks give you a glimpse of the Jamaican lifestyle as well as the heritage apart from giving you pointers on the flavors of the cuisine.

Why You Need The Best Jamaican Cookbooks in Your Kitchen

Cooking is more than a hobby. It is a time when the whole family comes together or where you come and detox after a long day at work, worrying about nothing other than the aroma of the spices. Every cuisine has its own special taste and Jamaican cuisine is one of those cuisines that makes your palette explode with tons of flavors. You would love to have this variety on a normal Sunday or during a large family fiesta. For these times, you need to have Jamaican cookbooks in your book collection.

Explore and let your tastebuds come alive with pleasure as you dig into a plate of jerked chicken or pepperpot. Learn the beautiful art of finishing up your chicken, meats or seafood the Jamaican way or should I say “jerking it up”. When you sit down with your family and a full Jamaican meal in front of you, you see your daughter munching on the plains and your husband smiling at the perfectly grilled chicken – you would agree that investing money on the cookbooks is the best decision you have ever made. I can bet your cookbook collection is not complete without these legendary Jamaican cuisine guides.

While you’re here, check out some of our other cookbooks and kitchen product reviews!


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