Barbados has a unique, creative cuisine and some of the best restaurants in the Caribbean. It seems unfair to the rest of the world that a place with such a paradisal climate, safe atmosphere, beautiful sandy beaches, and numerous must-see destinations also offers such amazing food. According to the Guardian, it has something for everyone – “from flash fine dining to great street food.”
So what should you taste on your trip to Barbados? Here’s a quick rundown of its most popular dishes before we get into the details of the recipes and what restaurants to visit:
|Savory dishes to try
|Deserts you mustn’t miss
|Flying fish and cou cou
|Bajan fish cakes
|Pudding and souse
Are you planning a last minute trip to barbados? We’ve put together all the resources you’ll need for a fun & safe travel:
🛌 Best & Safest Places to Stay in Barbados:
👉 Little Arches Boutique (Serene environment for couples)
👉 Beach View Hotel (My recommendation for family trip)
👉 Oceanview Resort (My recommendation for Solo trip)
👉 White Sands Beach Condos (My recommendation for condo/apartment)
⛱️ Fun Activities & Tours in Barbados:
👉 Catamaran Sea Cruise and Snorkeling Experience (My favourite)
👉 Original Bajan Walking Food Tour
👉 Electric Bike Sightseeing Experience
🚗 Best & Safest Barbados Transportation Services:
👉 Airport Pickup Service – Welcome Pickups
👉 Rent a Car – DiscoverCars
🙏 Stay Safe While Travelling:
👉 Safetywing (for medical insurance)
👉 VisitorsCoverage (for trip insurance)
Barbadian or Bajan Cuisine?: A Brief Introduction
Barbadian or Bajan — as the native population of Barbados call themselves — cuisine is a creative mixture of different cultures and influences. It’s an almost perfect reflection of the equally complex and exciting history of the island.
At the base of the Barbadian cuisine is the culture of the African slaves that reached the island before the 18th century.
African cuisine was mixed with the cuisine of the Arawak and Amerindian, the people who lived in this part of the world before colonization.
Finally, the numerous European colonizers, like the Portuguese and the British (especially the Irish), left the final ingredient into the melting pot which is today known as the traditional Barbadian or Bajan Cuisine.
The typical Barbadian or Bajan dish is usually based on some kind of fish or meat, marinated with numerous spices and herbs. The meat and the fish are then combined with salads, and usually, at least one sauce on the side.
The result is unique dishes that possess sharp and bold tastes. There’s nothing bland or indistinctive in Barbados kitchens. Spices even make it to the vegetable side dishes!
Most of the island’s visitors usually expect fish and only fish on the menu. Fish plays a prominent role in Bajan cuisine, but so do many kinds of meat, like pork, beef, and chicken.
10 Most Famous Barbados Foods
Barbadian cuisine, like most of the cuisines from the Caribbean, is popular around the world. Some of their most famous recipes, mostly because of their spicy, bold, and unique tastes, easily travers overseas and make their way to restaurants around the world. Let us go through the ten most famous Barbadian or Bajan dishes.
Flying Fish and Cou Cou
The flying fish is without a doubt the most famous Bajan dish. Flying fish in combination with cou cou is the national dish of Barbados.
First, you prepare the Cou Cou – okra cooked with water and cornmeal (okra is a flowering plant typical for Barbados). The flying fish is a small fish with many bones that is often overlooked but delicious.
The dish is prepared with various spices, vegetables, and herbs such as sweet pepper, parsley, tomatoes, onions, and butter.
Bajan fish cakes are another Barbadian delicacy. They are usually made from deep-fried salted cod or whitefish, combined with a lot of different homegrown spices. They’re basically the chicken wings of the Caribbean. The Bajan variation has a distinctive taste due to the specific blend of herbs.
You can eat fish cakes in almost an infinite number of ways. They are a popular appetizer and finger food, served in plenty of restaurants, bars, and snack huts, savored with mayonnaise and hot pepper sauce. You can also eat them for breakfast.
Pudding and Souse
Pudding and souse can be prepared either in plain or spicy variations, so make sure you specify your preference to the waiter when you order this dish.
Pudding, in Barbados, doesn’t refer to the conventional Western desert. Rather, it’s a sweet potato prepared with onions, pepper, and salt.
Souse, on the other hand, is pickled pork, cooked with pepper, onions, and parsley. It’s usually made from the cheaper parts of the animal, like the snout, ears or tongue.
You may overhear that the locals are referring to the mahi-mahi fish as a dolphin, but don’t worry – they’re not talking about that beloved mammal. They are talking about one of the most populous sport fish in this part of the world.
Mahi-mahi is a great choice if you don’t want to be overwhelmed by new flavors. It usually comes with regular side dishes, like french fries, rice, and a fresh salad. The fish will probably come blackened, but again don’t worry: it’s the way of the Bajan cuisine.
Jug jug is the Barbadian version of haggis, the beloved Scottish dish, usually savored by locals during the holidays. If you have a strong stomach and an open mind, make sure to try this unexpected delicacy.
The traditional way of preparing jug jug is with ham, salted beef brisket, or other salted meat, guinea corn flour, onions, pigeon peas, and the usual herbs and spices. As we said, it is very popular with the Bajans. They usually like to prepare it upfront, freeze it, and then warm it up before serving.
Roti is basically the Barbadian version of burrito, and it’s quite popular all over the island. You can find it practically everywhere, and much like the Mexican burrito, it can be prepared in many different ways, inspired by hundreds of cuisines and traditions.
It’s a bread-like wrap served hot and on the go, filled with chicken, beef, or fish and potatoes and vegetables. The roti can also be filled with shrimp, pumpkin, pork, and even mango — as we said earlier, the possibilities are limitless.
If you’re looking for quick and tasty street food, pig tails are a great choice. As the name suggests, they’re made from that part of the pig’s tail which is full of meat. The tail is then heavily salted and roasted on a barbecue.
They are served in plenty of ways, with different sides, herbs, and vegetables, sometimes even with barbeque sauce. That’s why some American tourists compare pig tails with ribs. Like their American counterparts, they’re often served during festivals and other celebrations.
Pepperpot is a great choice for those who adore slow-cooked, home-cooked meals. One of its main functions in Bajan cuisine is bringing families together, either for a regular Sunday lunch or for an important holiday.
Pepperpot is a stew made with meat that comes from Guyana — once again proving the eclecticism of Barbadian food. The stew can be made from pork, beef, or mutton, and is seasoned with numerous spices and herbs. It’s usually served with bread or rice.
As you start exploring Barbados, you’ll notice that the island is full of this exotic fruit. Unsurprisingly, then, it plays an important role in the eclectic Bajan cuisine.
You can eat breadfruit boiled, roasted, baked, or fried. It’s a great side dish to all kinds of steamed fish or chicken, especially in chip form.
Finally, breadfruit — like most things in Barbados — can be pickled and combined with one of the island’s most beloved dishes, pudding and souse.
The Bajan version of macaroni and cheese is the equally cheesy and homey macaroni pie. This delicious comfort food is usually not eaten by itself, but served next to stewed meat or fried fish.
The Bajan macaroni pie is made with macaroni, cheddar and sometimes a second type of cheese, like mozzarella, ketchup, yellow mustard, onions, bread crumbs, and milk. The dish has a strong creamy and cheesy taste.
4 Most Famous Barbadian Desserts
Save some room for dessert – Bajan cuisine offers delicious yet healthy sweet dishes. Bajan desserts are often prepared using local fruits like coconuts or vegetables like sweet potato. In fact, most desserts have a prominent, sweet coconut base.
We wholeheartedly recommend that you try the following four desserts.
Conkies are both delicious and healthy.
This delicacy is made from coconut, pumpkins, raisins, corn flour, cane sugar, and spices. These tasty ingredients are then steamed inside a banana leaf. You just have to unwrap the banana leaf to enjoy the conkie warm.
The black cake recipe — also known as Bajan black cake — is basically a fruit cake soaked in the world-famous Barbadian rum. There are many variations in the recipe — since it’s usually passed within families from generation to generation — but the raisins, fruits, and the rum remain.
Black cake is usually compared to the British plum pudding, its colonial ancestor. The cake is usually served during Barbadian holidays , but you can try it in dessert shops, restaurants, and cafés around the island.
Bajan sweet bread is another trademark of Barbadian home cooking. This dessert also finds its way on dinner tables during the holidays, especially during Christmas.
Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, this sweet bread is made with cherries, raisins, and most importantly, coconut chunks. Yum!
Cassava is another vegetable that’s common on the island. It’s used in various dishes, including the well-known and beloved cassava pone. A cross between a pudding and a cake, this dessert strikes the perfect balance of flavor, texture, and sweetness. The cassava pone’s unique taste stems from the various spices in the recipe and its texture, which is sticky and gooey.
Cassava pone can be made using sweet potatoes, grated frozen cassava, coconut milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, cherries, and carrots.
5 Most Famous Drinks in Barbados (With and Without Rum)
Barbados is known as the “Rum island”, so you can assume what the locals’ favorite alcoholic drink is. It’s historically-rooted, too – for example, the Mount Gay distillery has been producing rum since the 1700s.
Of course, it’s not all rum and it’s not all alcohol.
Simply put, it’s hard to truly experience the island without trying this strong-yet-sweet rum-based cocktail. There’s nothing like watching the beautiful sunset at a beach with a rum punch in your hand.
This cocktail is made from rum, water or passion fruit juice, lime juice, a touch of bitters, and simple syrup. Some recipes add a bit of nutmeg in the drink, usually for decoration.
Unlike rum punch, mauby has everyone divided: you either fall in love with this bitter alcoholic beverage unconditionally, or you hate it with a burning passion.
It’s a drink (not a cocktail) made from mauby bark, nutmeg, and cinnamon. The locals also believe that mauby is healthy, helping with cholesterol, arthritis, and some other ailments.
Ginger beer is a non-alcoholic drink that is especially popular during the holidays, and particularly around Christmas time. It’s a great option if you don’t drink alcohol – or simply aren’t in the mood for it.
The Barbadian version of this tasty drink is made from ginger, water, sugar, and lemon juice. The water can be either carbonated or still.
Sorrel is another popular Christmas drink that also comes with a lot of scientifically confirmed health benefits. The beverage is made from the dried petals of a hibiscus plant, also known as sorrel flower, which lowers blood pressure and has many vitamins, like C, A and B6, and minerals, like magnesium, potassium, and manganese.
Sorrel can be found in many shops around Barbados, and not just around Christmas time.
Banks Beer is the most famous beer from Barbados, and an award-winning drink which is famous around the world. The brewery offers a variety of beers, including ales, lagers, IPAs, and even banana bread beer.
While cocktails are great, there’s nothing like sitting on the beach with a cold bottle of beer, and Banks offers enough variety for you to try a different type on each day of your vacation
Where to Dine: The 5 Best Restaurants in Barbados
Barbados has a lot of great restaurants and eateries throughout the islands, but especially in or near the capital, Bridgetown.
Here are the five best restaurants in Barbados where you can try the most famous Bajаn dishes:
- Champers Restaurant is so good, it was voted Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best. This upscale, luxurious restaurant not only serves delicious food, but also offers a delightful view of the ocean, as it’s located on the coastline near Bridgetown.
- Grandene’s Bar & Bistro is a great low-key place that’s very popular with tourists because of the affordable prices and wide range of traditional Bajan dishes served in a warm, welcoming atmosphere. If you’re in the mood for a macaroni pie, cou cou, different types of grilled fish, or rum punch, pay Grandene’s a visit.
- Salt Cafe is a great fish and seafood restaurant located on the coast near Needham Point, in the southern part of the island. It’s another small establishment with a warm atmosphere that serves tasty fresh fish and seafood, while also offering many vegan and vegetarian options.
- Island Plates is a traditional Caribbean diner that serves many traditional Barbadian specialties. If you want to eat authentic fish cakes and roti, this place is ideal. It also serves some of the best rum in Barbados.
- Nishi Restaurant’s fusion kitchen combines traditional Caribbean and Barbadian food with some elements of Asian cuisine. The eclectic take on the already versatile Bajan cuisine is why this inventive restaurant deserves a visit.
Barbados Food Recap!
Barbados is not only a gorgeous tropical island, but also a dreamland for foodies. The delicious, eclectic meals are full of flavor and surprise, making the best of ingredients sourced from the island. The blend of spices and herbs in both sweet and savory dishes is what makes the local cuisine a global phenomenon.
That’s why we say – get ready to unbutton your belt as soon as you take a seat in one of Barbados’s many great restaurants. The dishes will keep coming, and your belly will need room to expand!