Caribbean desserts are rich, flavorful concoctions that traditionally feature ingredients like tropical fruits, coconut, and spices like cinnamon or ginger.
The following desserts are delicious and easy to make. If you’re in the mood for a sweet treat with origins in Caribbean culture, take a look at the list below.
This Dominican bread pudding is both easy to make and incredibly delicious. Although its name would suggest a more liquidy dessert, bread pudding is more like a cake. It has a dense, moist texture and is bursting with flavor.
Cubed bread pieces soak in a custard mixture of condensed, evaporated, and whole milk. Eggs, butter, and flour are all primary ingredients as well. You add them to the batter after the bread has soaked for approximately 1 hour.
Pudin de Pan traditionally has cinnamon, nutmeg, and lime zest spices. You can mix raisins in with the batter as well for a fruity touch that contrasts well with the caramelized exterior.
Sapodillas, also commonly referred to as dilly fruits, are famous in The Bahamas – and they’re the main ingredient in this Sapodilla crumble. The fruit has a pear-like flavor with the essence of brown sugar, which lends a crisp, tart flavor to this crumble.
The crumble is a creamy, zesty, and fruit-forward concoction with a delectably crumby crust. The recipe calls for cashews, toasted oats, butter, sugar, as well as cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Although Coconut Sugar Cake is now enjoyed worldwide, it originated in Trinidad. These sweet pink confections traditionally include freshly grated coconut and sugar, and they harden on a banana leaf.
To make Coconut Sugar Cake, it is necessary to first make syrup. The syrup is made from sugar, water, bay leaves, and ginger. Then, the shredded coconut is added to the syrup, creating a sticky mass that can be formed into mounds or cut into squares and left to cool on a piece of parchment paper.
Pineapple tarts are a favorite of Bahamian natives. This sweet dessert combines a syrupy, tropical pineapple mixture and a crisp, buttery crust, perfect for summer brunches, barbecues, or potlucks.
For a little extra pizazz in your presentation, layer the extra pastry dough on top of the crust and pineapple mixture in a lattice shape.
Bulla Cakes are a traditional Jamaican dessert that is comparable to a flat roll or donut. The dough is spiced with traditional spices like cinnamon and ginger before baking, although molasses is also often used.
Bulla Cake is a versatile dessert that can be either sweet or savory. Many Bulla Cakes come with cheese and avocado, but you can also stuff them with a buttery filling or slather them in jam, marmalade, or cream cheese.
Sweet Potato Pudding is a famous Jamaican dessert. The main ingredient in this dessert is the purple sweet potato. It is imperative not to use regular orange sweet potatoes.
The dessert recipe also calls for rum, shredded coconut, vanilla, cornmeal, and brown sugar. It is spiced with powdered ginger, ground nutmeg, and raisins.
You can also top it with thick, sweet custard, made from brown sugar, coconut milk, melted butter, and baking spices.
Traditionally, the recipe requires hand grating a large volume of sweet potato and coconut. However, you can do this more efficiently with a food processor or blender.
Once it has cooled and is ready to eat, the pudding can be sliced up and served with a scoop of ice cream.
Traditional flan originated in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Spain. It is a rich custard dessert made with eggs, cream, sugar, and sweetened condensed milk.
Flan de Ciruela Pasa is a variation of traditional flan, with the additions of prunes and a prune-infused caramel that you can drizzle over the top of the cooled custard. The result is a sweet treat with a hint of tartness from the prunes.
For a more fall-inspired flan dessert commonly enjoyed throughout Cuba, Flan de Calabaza, or pumpkin flan, is a great choice. The rich custard dessert is made with pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice. It is quite similar to pumpkin pie with its creamy texture and a sweet, crystalized caramel drizzle on the outside.
Another favorite Caribbean dessert is Coconut Sugar Caramelized Plantains. Plantains are similar in taste and texture to bananas, and they are a staple throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. However, they are bigger and have a higher starch content, which helps boost their flavor during the caramelization process.
For this recipe, the plantains should be almost brown to ensure the highest level of sweetness. You coat the cut plantains in coconut sugar, salt, and cinnamon and then toss them into a skillet with coconut oil to brown and caramelize.
The caramelized plantains should be served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or dollop of whipped cream.
Spanish Almond Cookies are common around the holidays, and they traditionally were a way to prove one’s Catholic faith. You make the cookies with a base of raw, peeled almonds, pork lard or butter, sugar, and flour. You then sprinkle the cookies with a thick coating of powdered sugar.
The result is a sweet, crumbly cookie that pairs well with hot cocoa and eggnog.
Jamaican Toto, also commonly referred to as Caribbean Coconut Cake, is a favorite dessert among locals. Traditionally, plantation slaves would make it by combining coconut, molasses, and flour to make a quick but satisfying meal at the end of the day.
The cake only has a handful of easy-to-find ingredients and is simple to make. Once baked, the cake is so sweet and flavorful that it doesn’t require any frosting or other topping to enjoy.
Bakeries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean serve Brazo Gitano around Christmas and New Year. This popular dessert is a light, rolled sponge cake filled with sweet guava jelly. The top of the cake is usually sprinkled with a thick coating of powdered sugar or cream cheese frosting for a delightful contrast between sweet and savory.
The Guava Swiss Roll also is made with citrus fruit, such as orange, lemon, or lime that helps lend the sweet dessert a tangy, tropical twist.
Anyone who is a fan of coconut will love this traditional Jamaican dessert. The drops have only six ingredients and are incredibly easy to make.
Simply combine freshly diced coconut, vanilla, salt, brown sugar, and ginger into a pot of boiling water and let the ingredients combine until sticky. You’ll know the mixture is ready when the water has boiled away.
Remove the mixture from the pot using an ice cream scoop or large spoon and let them cool on a sheet of parchment paper for bite-sized treats.
The Jamaican pastry known as Gizzada is a unique dessert with plenty of texture and flavor.
The flaky, buttery pastry shell is filled with a spicy coconut filling. The filling combines freshly chopped coconut, vanilla, ginger, and sugar that you simmer together for around 45 minutes before spooning it into the prepared crust.
To finish the dessert and make it look pretty, place the remaining pastry into a lattice pattern overtop the coconut filling.
Authentic Tres Leches Pastel is a yellow sponge cake made popular in Mexico. Once baked, the cake is soaked in three different kinds of milk, including condensed, evaporated, and heavy milk.
The cake is moist and sweet without being soggy. It is usually topped with a thick spread of homemade whipped cream and fresh berries, nuts, and cinnamon.
Caribbean Cream is a lovely no-bake dessert that takes almost no time to whip up. The dish is made with heavy cream, yogurt, and rum, whisked together until it forms a thick cream with a tropical essence.
To elevate the dish, top with sliced bananas and a dash of granulated sugar or shredded coconut. You can enjoy this light dessert on the hottest of summer days.
These elegant mango puff pastry turnovers are sure to be as popular in your home as they are in the Caribbean.
The outer layer is made with puff pastry and then stuffed with a mixture of chopped mango, cashews, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. If you can’t get your hands on cashews, other nuts like peanuts can be used. They typically come with a beaten egg wash and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.
Believe us when we say that each bite of this delicious dessert is fruity, sweet, buttery, and satisfying.
Besitos de Merengue is Spanish for Meringue Kisses. Although they take a bit of effort and patience to create, each bite of these light, airy desserts is a treat you’ll never forget.
The candies are made with a meringue made from egg whites, cream of tartar, citrus zest, salt, sugar, and water. Once the mixture has been prepared in a mixing bowl, the meringue is transferred to a piping bag. Using a star tip will allow you to create the signature swirled look of the dessert once the meringue is ready to be piped onto a sheet of parchment paper for baking.
Baking time can take up to 5 hours. Once they are a light golden brown color, they can be removed from the oven and sprinkled with any number of spices or cocoa powder. They are also quite delicious plain.
Another popular Jamaican pudding recipe is Cornmeal Pudding. This famous dessert uses yellow cornmeal, coconut milk, brown sugar, and butter to create a gorgeous brown dessert with a creamy texture.
For extra flavor, you can add a cup of raisins or a splash of dark rum to the mixture before baking.
We couldn’t put together a list of Caribbean desserts and not include Bahamian Rum Cake. This bundt cake is a popular island treat that is delicious, moist, and incredibly flavorful.
The base recipe calls for a vanilla bundt cake that is then topped with a rum-sugar glaze and sprinkled with shredded coconut.
Besitos de Coco, or coconut macaroons, are a simple and tasty Caribbean dessert. They combine a crisp, crunchy outer shell and a soft, chewy inside that makes every bite a delight for the senses.
To elevate the flavor of Besitos de Coco, dip them in melted dark chocolate. Let them cool in the fridge to harden the chocolate into a tasty shell before serving.
Peanut Drops, which hail from Jamaica, are similar to Coconut Drops in their look and presentation. They consist of roasted peanuts, ginger, and dark sugar boiled in a cup of water until the water is gone.
The resulting sticky mixture is then spooned into individual mounds and left to cool for at least 30 minutes. Alternatively, you could also lay out the mixture to cool and cut it into squares.
For a sweet bite-size treat, Tamarind Balls are a popular Caribbean dessert choice.
Tamarinds are a combination of sweet, sour, and tart. The recipe requires molding the fruit into a large ball, sometimes with added rum or black pepper, and then rolling it in granulated sugar. The result is a sweet, sour, and chewy delicacy that makes for a great snack.
Also known as Christmas Cake, Wedding Cake, and Black Cake, Caribbean Black Cake is a dense, moist cake that is used to mark major celebrations. People celebrate weddings, births, anniversaries, and baptisms with Caribbean Black Cake.
The cake’s recipe varies depending on the island and household it originates from. However, traditional Caribbean Black Cake consists of large amounts of butter, rum, dates, eggs, and flour in addition to dried fruit like cranberries, cherries, prunes.
The cake takes around 90 minutes to bake and should be served at room temperature.
Originating from the island of Mallorca are the sweet, flakey pastries called Ensaimada Mallorquina. The sweet spiraled dessert is commonly enjoyed at Easter.
People traditionally make the dough is traditionally with pork lard, although you can use butter or vegetable shortening as a slightly healthier alternative. Once ready, you roll the dough out into a long rope shape before being coiled into a tight spiral.
Then, you dust the freshly baked pastry with powdered sugar. Ensaimadas often come with a variety of fruit jams, nougats, and creams. It also pairs well with a morning cup of coffee or hot cocoa but can be enjoyed at any time of day.
This dessert takes about 2.5 hours to prep and requires baking for at least 30 minutes.
Jamaican Rum Cake is a dense, moist cake infused with boatloads of butter and rum, and typically served with hot coffee or tea.
The cake is traditionally thought to have originated from the bread pudding recipes that colonists brought to the island. Native peoples expanded upon the recipe with local liquor and other ingredients found on the island.
Jamaican Rum Cake is simple to make. The batter is poured into a bundt cake pan and baked for up to an hour. A syrup made with butter, sugar, plain or spiced rum, and vanilla extract is poured over the cake and soaks into the series of holes poked into the cake while it cools.
Bananas Flambe is similar to bananas foster that is particularly popular in the French-Caribbean. It consists of bananas browned in sugar and butter, spritzed with lime juice, and then soaked in rum and lit on fire before serving.
You can serve Bananas Flambe warm with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream for a sweet, caramelized treat. The recipe takes less than 30 minutes to put together and can be enjoyed from the comfort of home.
Arroz Con Dulce is a comforting Puerto Rican dessert frequently served around the Christmas holidays. The dessert was traditionally a savory dish found in rich households but has evolved over the centuries to include sugar and other baking spices.
The dessert is simple to make. It consists of rice cooked until tender in coconut milk until it takes on a slightly chunky, creamy texture. Raisins, cloves, coconut, ginger, and cinnamon sticks are added to the mixture to give it flavor.
There are plenty of variations throughout the Caribbean. In the Dominican Republic, the dish also includes lemon zest, while other areas add in star anise or brown sugar. The dish is commonly served both warm and cold, depending on personal preference.
Originating in Jamaica in the late 1960s, Hummingbird Cake is a fruity, spicy cake made with more oil than butter. Pineapple and bananas are the main ingredients, giving this tasty treat a largely tropical flavor.
You can also frost the hummingbird cake with a thick swath of cream cheese frosting, with some variations also topping the cake with a sweet and crunchy pecan brittle.
Hummingbird cake is a favorite dish at gatherings like birthday parties, anniversaries, and potlucks.
Cassava Pone originated in the islands of Tobago and Trinidad, although it is popular throughout the entire Caribbean.
Also known as Yuca Cake, Cassava Pone is a sweet dessert made with a base of root vegetables including sweet potato and cassava root. The traditional Caribbean dessert is also made with coconut milk, evaporated milk, butter, raisins, and baking spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.
The overall texture of Cassava Pone is both gooey and gummy. It is also incredibly dense and has slightly crispy, caramelized edges.
Easy Caribbean Dessert Recipes, Final Thoughts
The Caribbean is famous for incredibly rich and flavorful food. The desserts born from this part of the planet combine all the best ingredients and local flavors to create outstanding treats enjoyed throughout the world.