Barbados is known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean, thanks to the island having a whole host of restaurants in a variety of styles, from fine dining to waterside shacks. Not forgetting that Barbados food is a delight to be savoured.

With Barbados having such a rich history, the cuisine is a combination of flavours from all over the world, such as African, Creole, Indian, Portuguese and more. There’s a real emphasis on fresh, local ingredients, with no dish being finished without home-grown herbs and spices.

Top foods to eat in Barbados

So, of course, no holiday to Barbados is complete without sampling some of the amazing Bajan cuisines this island has to offer.

Here are some of our favourite things to eat on the island…

1. Flying fish and cou cou

The first thing any Bajan will tell you to try is flying fish and cou cou – the national dish of Barbados.

They’re so important to the country they are even depicted on Bajan one-dollar coins.

Flying fish is usually soaked in lime juice and coated in Caribbean spices. Next, it’s breaded and deep-fried, or freshly fried on a barbecue.

Traditionally, flying fish is served alongside cou cou. This is a delicious stodgy mix of cornmeal and okra that resembles a Caribbean version of polenta or grits. It’s common to have a mixture of steamed vegetables, plantain and a rich spicy sauce on the side.

Served most often on Fridays and Saturdays, this classic dish tastes just like home to many Bajans. Therefore, it provides a delicious introduction to the nation’s cuisine.

"Of course, for local cuisine we have all the daily-caught fresh fish. Our Flying fish sandwiches are tasty but there is daily seasonal fish, barracuda, snapper, swordfish too, which can be enjoyed with breadfruit - one of our main dishes which can be pickled and eaten with the fish. Of course, we always recommend a Banks beer or our local rum punch to accompany your meal." Kerin, Barbados Destination Manager

2. Pudding & souse

The second national dish of Barbados is the famous pudding and souse. Though, pudding is not what you would expect on this Caribbean island. In Bajan cuisine, pudding actually refers to steamed sweet potatoes with onions, salt and pepper. The souse is essentially pickled pork.

This authentic food of Barbados is traditionally eaten on a Saturday lunchtime, though with the food being so loved, you can enjoy it any time. In fact, many of the locals have their favourite dining spot to enjoy this delicious dish.

Whilst your holidaying in Barbados make sure to try the many variations of the dish, from sweet to spicy versions of the delicacy.

3. Bajan macaroni pie

This Barbados food might sound like you’re going to get pastry filled with pasta, but ‘pie’ is actually what Bajans call baked macaroni and cheese.

This creamy bake is typically served on Sundays but is enjoyed all throughout the week, and commonly paired with fish, meat or chicken as a side dish.

Though you might recognise the dish’s crusty, bread-crumbed top, Bajan macaroni pie is renowned for its unique flavour. Usually prepared with a mixture of Bajan spices, mustard, evaporated milk, ketchup and sometimes even tuna, this dish has a unique flavour that’s guaranteed to have you coming back for more.

4. Conkies

If you’re in Barbados in November, you might notice little steaming parcels of neatly-folded banana leaf being sold on the street. Enclosed within each you’ll find a conkie – a dense and doughy cornmeal cake that’s stuffed with pumpkin, coconut, cherries or raisins.

If you’ve ever tried a tamale, conkies will feel familiar; however, with Bajan spices thrown into the mix, the taste is something that’s undeniably Bajan.

Although they’re enjoyed throughout the year, they’re traditionally prepared and sold in the lead-up to Barbados Independence Day on November 30, becoming both a well-loved snack and a mark of the country’s independence in the process.

5. Bajan Black Cake

If you’re lucky enough to be in Barbados over Christmas you’re sure to have the chance to try Bajan Black Cake. Also known as Rum Cake or Great Cake, this dense, rum-soaked fruit cake is an essential part of any Bajan Christmas celebration, but is also made to commemorate other events such as weddings and birthdays.

Preparations begin two or three weeks before the big day when dried fruit, orange peel, pineapple jam, chopped nuts and a blend of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg are mixed with eggs and flour to form a thick cake batter that is then soaked with lashings of Bajan Rum, before leaving to soak right up until it’s ready to be eaten.

The result is similar to our own Christmas pudding but with a distinctly Bajan twang.

6. Tostones

By virtue of their sheer simplicity, Tostones don’t typically grace lists of the top food in Barbados.

They’re made out of plantain, a starchy relative of the banana that is a huge part of Bajan cuisine. Though the combination of sweet ripe plantains with savoury dishes can be a bit like marmite, tostones are made out of unripe plantains when they’re green, hard and slightly bitter to create savoury snacks that resemble the humble potato chip.

To prepare, thick chunks are plantain are fried, smashed, deep-fried a second time and then simply served with a dusting of Bajan spices, salt and lashings of hot sauce.

Also known as patacones elsewhere in the Caribbean or Latin America, plates upon plates of these irresistible snacks are sure to disappear in seconds.

Not sure where to try all these delicious dishes? We’ve rounded up the top restaurants in Barbados that shouldn’t be missed!

Top drinks to try in Barbados

Whilst the dishes in Barbados are all scrumptious, the Barbados drinks are just as unique and delicious! Here are the top four drinks you must try on your Barbados holiday.

1. Rum

You don’t need to have been to Barbados to associate rum with its sandy shores. But, did you know that the island is actually the birthplace of rum?

It is certainly an experience not to miss in Barbados. You might be familiar with rum from sipping mojitos and piña coladas. However, trying rum in its home country is a different experience entirely. In fact, many who claim to dislike it have been known to return with a new love for the liquor.

To gain an understanding of what makes rum so special, visit Mount Gay Rum Distillery in Bridgetown. Here, see how molasses are transformed into rum. Additionally, learn why some rums give a burn and why others are sweet. You’ll also – most importantly – discover why Bajans say that “time flies when you’re having rum”.

2. Mauby drink

This Bajan drink is made by boiling the bark of the mauby tree with cinnamon and nutmeg, then served over ice for a refreshing drink. Locals believe the drink to have several health benefits, such as treating arthritis.

The drink tends to be a little bitter, so you’ll either love or hate a Mauby drink. But, no trip to the island is complete without sipping on this authentic drink. There’s now even a mauby syrup, which makes an appearance in a lot of tasty cocktails.

3. Sorrel

Sorrel is a spiced floral drink, its dark red colour lends itself to the season it’s most often consumed around - Christmas. However, it can be enjoyed all year round, so if you’re not in Barbados at Christmas, you can still try this unique beverage.

The Barbados drink is made using sorrel flower (hibiscus) buds, ginger, cinnamon, lime, cloves, orange zest, and sugar. Which makes sorrel a tasty drink that’s tart and citrusy. The beverage might even have some health benefits too, with it being rich in vitamins A and C.

4. Banks beer

Banks beer is the unofficial national beer of Barbados. It’s become so popular, that many consider it to be a national symbol of Barbados. It’s locally produced on the island, which makes it the beer of choice. It’s a versatile Barbados drink and can be consumed just as a refreshing drink on a warm day, or perfectly paired with one of the many tasty Barbados foods.

As you can see, Bajan cuisine is an amazing mix of Cajun, British, Indian and African influences, and it makes for dining experiences like no other. When you’re looking for what to eat in Barbados, you can’t go wrong with any of our picks above.

There’s nothing quite like eating like the locals on holiday, and on this Caribbean island that means plenty of fresh seafood, tropical flavours and perhaps the odd glass or two of rum.

Combining some of the world’s best beaches, a famously laid-back culture, amazing luxury hotels, plenty of fun and all this fantastic cuisine… Barbados really is a one-of-a-kind destination.

Want to fine dine on the coast of Barbados?

Barbados truly earns its title as the culinary capital of the Caribbean, offering diverse food and drink options from upscale establishments to charming shacks. It’s a must-go for foodies, celebrating global flavours and fresh, local ingredients.

Our Travel Specialists can help you create an incredible summer retreat to Barbados, making sure to send you to the best food and drink spots on the island. Speak to us today to start planning your tasy getaway.

Why we're the Barbados experts
  • Airport meet-and-greet for immediate post-flight assistance
  • Escort through to your private transfer for a seamless arrival
  • Direct line of contact to Kerin's team for any requests or assistance
  • In-resort support for booking taxis, excursions and restaurants
  • Barbados lounge passes included on return

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