Is Jamaican Food Spicy? How Spicy Are They?

Jamaican cuisine is a unique blend of African, European, Africa, and Indian flavors. And while not all Jamaican dishes are spicy, many of them do have a bit of a kick. So, Jamaican food is worth trying if you’re looking for something hot and flavorful.

Jerk Chicken, Jamaican Curry Chicken, Jamaican oxtail, and Jerk Shrimp are the top spiciest Jamaican foods. It is spicy because of a mix of chili, spices, and herbs. Jamaican cuisine uses Scotch bonnet, measured at 100,000 – 350,000 Scoville units. For references, a jalapeño chili is only 2,500-5,000 Scoville units. So Jamaican food can be pretty spicy!

It might be exciting cuisines to try for spicy food lovers. For those who don’t like spicy dishes, don’t worry; there are plenty of other Jamaican foods that are not spicy at all. So, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Jamaican cuisine.

This article will explore spicy food in Jamaican cuisines, How Spicy they are?, What spices they use, and Some non-spicy Jamaican food.

Spicy Jamaican Food You Must Try.

Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken

Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a spicy seasoning mixture called Jamaican jerk spice.

Jamaican jerk spice comprises a blend of allspice, thyme, scotch bonnet peppers, and other spices. The result is a fiery, flavorful chicken, one of the most popular dishes in Jamaican cuisine.

Jerk Chicken is served with rice and peas, a variety of side dishes such as plantains, corn on the cob, or green salad.

Jamaican Curry Chicken

Jamaican Curry Chicken

Curry chicken is another popular Jamaican dish packed with flavor and heat. Curry powder, ginger, garlic, scallions, and spices give this dish its characteristic taste and kick.

Many Jamaican restaurants prefer scotch bonnet or habanero peppers for an extra fiery kick.

Jamaican Oxtail

Jamaican Oxtail

Oxtail stew is a traditional Jamaican dish cooked with butterbean and flavored with browning sauce, pimento (allspice), ginger, thyme, and scotch bonnet pepper.

The oxtail is first seared on all sides before it is put to cook. Jamaicans use two methods to enhance the oxtail’s brown color: melted brown sugar in the pot before adding the oxtail or coating the oxtail with browning sauce before cooking.

Jerk Shrimp

Jerk Shrimp

It’s also like Jerk Chicken, but with shrimp. The same Jamaican jerk spice gives the shrimp its characteristic flavor and heat.

The dish is called jerk shrimp with sides such as rice, beans, and a variety of other dishes such as plantains, corn on the cob, or green salad.

Jamaican Manish Water

Jamaican Goat Soup

Manish water is a Jamaican soup with a goat’s head and belly. It is usually served with dumplings and spices such as thyme, scallion, ginger, and pimento (allspice).

The soup is generally quite spicy, so it might not be for everyone. But if you can handle the heat, it’s worth trying!

Spices in Jamaican Food

You might also notice that Jamaicans use many spices in dishes called Jerk. Jerk seasoning is a blend of spices that originates from Jamaica. It is a blend of allspice, thyme, nutmeg, onions, Scotch bonnet pepper, and brown sugar.

This combination of spices delivers a lively flavor often associated with jerk chicken. Jerk seasoning can be bought in stores as a powder or marinade, but it is also easy to make at home.

When making jerk seasoning at home, it is essential to experiment with the proportions of each ingredient to find the perfect balance of flavors. With practice, anyone can create their signature blend of jerk seasoning.


Allspice is the dried fruit of the Jamaican pimento tree and is used to flavor many Jamaican dishes. It has a taste reminiscent of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg and is used in jerk seasoning, curry powder, and other spice blends.


Thyme is a versatile herb that is used in many cuisines around the world, including Jamaican cuisine. It is used to flavor soups, stews, sauces, and jerk seasoning.

Scotch Bonnet Pepper

scotch bonnet

The Scotch bonnet pepper is a type of chili pepper that is commonly used in Jamaican cuisine. It measures 100,000 – 350,000 Scoville units. It is hotter like Habanero, Bird’s Eye, and Yellow Mushroom.


Nutmeg is the seed of the Jamaican nutmeg tree and is used to flavor many dishes. It has a warm, sweet taste that is similar to cloves.


Onions are a staple ingredient in many cuisines, including Jamaican cuisine. They are used to flavor soups, stews, sauces, and jerk seasoning.

Non-Spicy Jamaican Food

Not all Jamaican food is spicy. Many dishes are mild or even sweet.

Rice and Peas

Rice and Peas

Rice and peas are Jamaican classic side dishes made with kidney beans, coconut milk, and rice. It’s simple but so good. The dish is flavored with thyme, garlic, and onions. Beware, some restaurants might be cooked with scotch bonnet peppers. If you don’t like spicy, ask the waitress before ordering.



Bammy is a traditional Jamaican flatbread made from cassava root. It’s usually fried or baked and served with saltfish (cod) or jerk chicken. Bammy can be found in most Jamaican restaurants.

Sweet Fried Plantains

Sweet Fried Plantains

These are like candy. Ripe plantains are fried until they are soft and caramelized. 

They are sweet, sticky, and delicious.

Coconut Shrimp 

Coconut shrimp is a popular dish in Jamaican restaurants. The shrimp is coated in a mixture of flour, egg, and shredded coconut, then fried until crispy. It’s usually served with a dipping sauce like sweet chili sauce or mango salsa.

Jamaican Patties

Jamaican Patties

Jamaican patties are delicious pockets of flaky dough filled with beef, chicken, or veggies. They’re usually spicy, so if you don’t like heat, ask for a mild patty. You can find Jamaican patties at most convenience stores and supermarkets on the island.

Ackee and saltfish

Ackee and saltfish is a national dish of Jamaica. It’s made with ackee, a type of fruit, and saltfish (cod), which is simmered in onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes.

Final Thoughts

Jamaican food is delicious and full of flavor. You’ll love dishes like jerk chicken and curry goat if you like spicy food. If you prefer milder flavors, there are plenty of options like rice and peas, bammy, and coconut shrimp. No matter what your taste, you’re sure to find something you love in Jamaican cuisine.

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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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