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Jamaica conjures up images of endless beaches, palm trees, and relaxation with cocktails. But there is much more to this Caribbean nation than coffee, coconuts, and vacations.
With a rich agricultural heritage, Jamaican cuisine is based on wholesome, homegrown ingredients, like cassava, corn, plantains, beans, yams, and fish, available for centuries.
However, the many cultural influences from colonizers, traders, and visitors have also helped mold Jamaican food into the vibrant, sumptuous feast it is today: you’ll find touches from African, English, Indian, Chinese, Portuguese, Irish, French, and Spanish cooking.
Many food enthusiasts are familiar with jerk seasoning but “jerking it up” is only one aspect of island cuisine. Several cookbooks explore the history and traditions of Caribbean food, while others offer cutting-edge innovations. Jamaican food has never looked so exciting.
Best Jamaican Cookbooks
- Original Flava: Caribbean Recipes From Home
- The Real Taste Of Jamaica
- 50 Favourite Jamaican Recipes: Taste The Islands Essentials
- Authentic Recipes From Jamaica
- Jerk From Jamaica: Barbecue Caribbean Style
- Ziggy Marley And Family Cookbook: Delicious Meals Made With Whole Organic Ingredients
- Provisions: The Roots of Caribbean Cooking
- Ainsley’s Caribbean Kitchen: Delicious Feelgood Home Cooking From The Sunshine Islands
- Jamaican Cookbook: Traditional Jamaican Recipes Made Easy
- Jamaican Recipes Cookbook: Most Treasured Jamaican Cuisine
Many people looking for Jamaican cookbooks want to replicate the familiar dishes cooked at home by parents and grandparents. Food represents family, warmth, culture, and belonging, and there are several recipe books below that deal with the history and tradition of Jamaican food.
However, food enthusiasts also love Jamaican food’s fusion of methods, ingredients, and approaches. You’ll find cookbooks below that play with tradition, innovating and adapting authentic ingredients for modern palates.
Let’s look at the top 10 Jamaican cookbooks:
Original Flava comes from a quest to bring Caribbean food and culture to readers, especially those with Jamaican heritage. The cookbook developed from a series of videos that gained a massive following on social media, where Craig and Shaun McAnuff’s warm, nostalgic stories and familiar home-style recipes found an audience.
With the motto EAT (Easy, Accessible, and Tasty), the authors present a series of recipes cooked by their own family, with Jamaican authenticity and vibrancy, but also a modern twist – there are several vegan recipes, for example.
The ingredients used are those accessible to people outside the Caribbean, especially the Jamaican diaspora, while the cooking techniques and approaches are simple enough for the beginner.
The brothers’ enthusiasm, quirky anecdotes, and passion for delicious food fill this delightful cookbook, making it a valuable introduction to the islands’ food.
About the authors: Craig and Shaun McAnuff grew up in London with Jamaican parents and created the Original Flava brand to share their love of Caribbean food. They are active on social media and TV and have published several cookery books.
The classic of Jamaican cookbooks, The Real Taste of Jamaica, was first published in 1993 and has been revised and reissued several times. Known for its comprehensive coverage of island food, ingredients, and culture, many foodies see this as the most authentic collection of Jamaican recipes.
Enid Donaldson explores the cuisine from Jamaican restaurants and kitchens, ranging from upmarket chefs to ordinary housewives and even street food from roadside “jerkies.”
She includes a section called “Ole Time Something,” a collation of memories of Jamaican kitchens in the past, contributed by journalist Barbara Gloudon. However, this is not just a book of nostalgia – modern innovations and updates are included, particularly if you want to add some fire to your daily cooking.
About the author: Enid Donaldson-Mignotte was the ground-breaking food writer for Jamaica Gleaner newspaper and writer of the classic The Real Taste of Jamaica. She died in 2013.
Based on the famous “Taste of the Islands” cooking series on Caribbean and West Indian cuisine, this cookbook covers Jamaican food culture.
The stunningly illustrated book hones in on 50 all-time favorite and traditional Jamaican recipes, presenting them in easy-to-follow steps and accessible language. The author includes information on each recipe’s background, unique ingredients (and simple alternatives), and cooking tips.
Apart from the recipes, you will find a detailed glossary of typical ingredients and a handy list of annual Jamaican culinary events to further whet your appetite for Caribbean food and travel.
About the author: Calibe Thompson is a Jamaican-American businesswoman working as a TV producer, director, public speaker, and writer. The internationally popular “Taste the Islands” series was her brainchild.
This beautifully illustrated and thoroughly researched guide to Jamaican cuisine explores the food that makes the island unique.
John DeMers and Norma Benghiat intersperse recipes from renowned Jamaican chefs and restaurants with fascinating essays on culture and history and investigations of the abundance of typical island ingredients.
This book is a revelation for those expecting only traditional recipes. It’s authentically Jamaican but offers innovative approaches to the native cuisine, alongside the treasured Johnny Cakes, Pepperpot, and Curry Lamb. Be prepared for surprising approaches to authentic ingredients.
The recipes are straightforward enough to recreate in your home kitchen, but keep this book next to your bed to dip into at night.
About the author: John DeMers is a renowned American cookery writer, having authored more than ten books on Caribbean food. He is also active in publishing and television broadcasting, sharing his passion for food.
This niche cookbook pays tribute to the jerk heritage, the indigenous Jamaican method of garnishing, seasoning, and cooking meat.
The book begins with a detailed introduction to jerk rubs, marinades, and seasonings, covers meat preparation and moves into a complete guide to backyard grilling and BBQ. You’ll find authentic recipes for barbecued meats of all kinds, as well as sides, drinks, and desserts, from locals and well-known writers, including the legendary Enid Donaldson.
The accompanying photographs are gorgeous, taken on location at food markets and jerk-pits, so you have a full-on island-style experience.
If you want a comprehensive introduction to all things jerk, Helen Willinsky covers what you need to know about seasoning and preparing meat, chicken, and fish in spicy style – even if you’re a rank beginner.
Enjoy this cultural experience, which will inspire you for every summer get-together.
About the author: Helen Willinsky is a Jamaican businesswoman, founder of Helen’s Tropical Exotics food exports, and a passionate lover of Caribbean food.
Inspired by his family’s Rastafari food and the Jamaican meals of his childhood, Ziggy Marley presents traditional cuisine with a healthy, organic spin. The cookbook draws on recipes from family members, renowned chefs, and his wife’s Israeli-Iranian background.
Many of the wholesome, family-friendly recipes are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free, evidence of his passion for nutrition. You’ll find his brand, Marley Organics, amongst the recipes, but you can use substitutes.
Try these simple and beautiful recipes if you’re looking for Caribbean food with a modern twist.
About the author: Ziggy Marley, son of iconic reggae artist Bob Marley, is a Grammy-winning musician, as well as an author and philanthropist. His family owns Ziggy Marley Organics, which produces and supplies a range of organic foods.
Although you might think vegetarian cooking is modern, Provisions pays respectful and loving homage to the market produce grown and sold and the meals prepared for centuries by Caribbean women.
The Rousseau sisters position themselves in a long line of matriarchs, feeding their families with wholesome, healthy food – many of them in challenging circumstances in the past. The book celebrates the ongoing legacy of ordinary household cooking to nourish families daily, with women as the backbone of the home.
However rooted in the past and a homey chic aesthetic, the recipes in Provisions are thoroughly innovative, offering exciting re-interpretations of regional ingredients. The inspiring vegetarian comfort food is accessible enough for the home cook to prepare.
This beautiful book combines heritage cooking and refreshing innovation, emphasizing that island food can be delicious and vegetarian.
About the authors: Michelle and Suzanne Rousseau are Jamaican celebrity chefs and entrepreneurs who have had their own cooking and travel TV shows. Their first cookbook won several awards, while their restaurant/gastro-pub offers modern Caribbean food.
Ainsley Herriot, whose parents are Jamaican, dives into Caribbean food in his TV show and now cookbook of the same name.
The book has the same bright cheeriness as the celebrity chef and offers vibrant and colorful versions of traditional favorites. The book is beautiful and appealing, with positive images reflecting the best of an island lifestyle.
Despite their innovative style, the recipes are not complicated and will appeal to novices and experienced chefs who want a taste of summer in their homes. There is a focus on Jamaican recipes because of his heritage. Still, the author covers most of the islands and their ingredients.
The ultimate feel-good Caribbean cookbook is waiting for you, whether you’re a cook or an armchair traveler.
About the author: Ainsley Herriot is a legendary celebrity chef who pioneered easy and accessible home cooking through his numerous TV shows. His warmth and curiosity have made his cookbooks popular as well.
This appealing title presents traditional Jamaican recipes in an accessible and straightforward way. Organized into sections on breakfast, main meals, soups, sides, and desserts, Jamaican Cookbook takes you on a journey through the flavors, textures, and aromas of Caribbean food.
This cookbook is ideal for those interested in Jamaican food, who have even bought ingredients and tried cooking, and need a guide to getting started.
A collection of traditional, authentic Jamaican recipes, “Most Treasured” tells the reader how passionate the author is about her food and island.
The cookbook aims to present beloved Jamaican signature dishes (rice and peas, anyone?) in a simple, reader-friendly way: it will definitely appeal to people who miss their granny’s cooking but never learned how to cook like her.
The author includes nuggets of information about Jamaican culture and cuisine, giving insight into the food’s background.
The recipes are well-organized, super-easy to follow, and produce tasty results. Although ingredients are as authentic as possible, the author has ensured they will be available at local grocery stores outside Jamaica.
About the author: Karen Reynolds-James is a Jamaican chef and prolific author of cookbooks on all aspects of West Indian cooking and culture. Her restaurant is the Cove in Barbados.