Top 15 Most Traditional Dishes in Haitian Cuisine

The intense flavor of Haitian cuisine characterizes it as moderately spicy, prepared with aromatic herbs typical of the region. Located in the central zone of the Antilles, Haiti’s cuisine is strongly influenced by French, African, and Spanish cultures.

The attractive geography of Haiti is perhaps the most striking feature of this country, which occupies the western side of the island of Hispaniola and shares it with the Dominican Republic.

Also, check out the best Haitian breakfasts or Top Best Dominican Republic Breakfasts!


The French took possession of Haiti a quarter of a century after the arrival of Columbus. Among the essential food products from Haiti are rice, pork, seafood, fish, local vegetables, and tropical fruits with which they make delicious desserts.

Stews and soups are among the island’s most consumed typical Haitian cuisine. The latter has a strong patriotic link in the Joumou soup, a symbol of independence that makes Haitian culture proud.

Haitian cuisine, local market

The Spanish took the eastern part of the island. Subsequently, Africans arrived on the island as enslaved people who contributed their culinary customs to this mixture of four nations. This is the origin of the particularity of Haitian food, the centuries-old confluence of European and African cultures combined with the customs of the Taino Indians, the first inhabitants of Haiti.

Below, you will find 15 of the most traditional dishes of Haiti, a compendium of the most iconic meals that should not be missed when you visit this wonderful island.

1. Lambí Guisado (Stewed Conch)


Lambí guisado (stewed conch) is a traditional Haitian seafood and mollusk dish. To prepare this delicacy, it is necessary to soften the meat of the queen conch, which is then fried, grilled, or stewed in various spicy sauces.

The lamb is a marine mollusk generally found in Caribbean waters. In English, it is known as Queen Conch. Few restaurants serve this dish, which symbolizes Haiti’s struggle for Haitian independence day.

Preparing the lamb takes some time, so be patient, but it is worth the wait. It is traditionally served with rice or sweet potato pudding, and fried plantains.

2. Pork Griot

Haitian cuisine: Pork Griot

Pork Griot is a popular Haitian cuisine, spicy, sweet, sour, easy to prepare, and addictive. It consists of marinated pieces of pork, which are boiled and finally fried pork or grilled.

The secret to preparing a perfect Pork Griot is overnight marination and simmering in a pot.

Haitian Griot is one of the most common dishes in Haitian homes. It is very affordable and can be found in almost any Haitian restaurant throughout the island. There is an excellent variety of possibilities to accompany this popular dish, the most common being banana pesée (a dough made with fried plantain), Accra (fried malanga), Riz collé (rice), and Paté Kode (fried pasties with fish filling).

3. Legim or Haitian Légume

Legim or Haitian Legume

Legim or Haitian Légume is a stew of beef and various simmered vegetables. Fish can replace beef, or you can have a vegetarian version with only vegetables.

This Haitian cuisine usually accompanies diri kolé (rice with red grains) or simply rice in Haiti. It is a light dish, very affordable, with many vegetables. The stew is a slow-cooked meal, so patience is required, although the result is worth it.

In addition to white rice, legim can be accompanied by ground corn, called mayi moulen. The choice of vegetables is key as some tend to fall apart due to the long cooking time. However, this can be remedied with larger pieces of vegetables that will give the stew a firmer texture.

4. Joumou Soup

Haitian cuisine: Joumou Soup

Joumou Soup promotes the patriotic feeling of Haitians because of its outstanding historical significance. According to historians, the French colonizers prohibited Haitians from consuming soup until General Jean-Jacques Dessalines, at the head of the independence troops, achieved Haiti’s emancipation.

Dessalines invited the liberated people to prepare the soup to celebrate the feat. Since then, every January 1st, this dish has been prepared and has become synonymous with independence and freedom. The Independence soup is composed of turban squash from the West Indies.

To prepare this Haitian cuisine, the meat must be marinated with a mixture of spices, which the locals call tout trempé. Ingredients such as parsley, lemon juice(lime), cloves, chili, thyme, or shallot are also added. The meat must be marinated for approximately three hours, then cooked with carrots, leek, celery, potato, onion, malanga, and cabbage.

A pumpkin is cooked separately and then mashed before adding to the vegetable and meat mixture. Add diced pasta, noodles, sweet potatoes, spaghetti, or according to taste as the last ingredient.

5. Diri ak Djon Djon (Black Mushroom Rice)

Diri ak Djon Djon

Diri ak Djon Djon (Black Mushroom Rice) stands out among Haitian dishes for its extravagance. Djon djon is one of the most expensive dishes of Haitian cuisine. It consists of various mushrooms from the north of the country and usually sells for just over $60 per kilo.

To prepare this dish, the mushrooms are submerged in hot water, from which a black liquid comes out and is used to cook the rice with the beans, peas, and the rest of the condiments. Djon djon is a traditional delicacy for special occasions such as weddings or birthdays.

The final taste may vary according to the amount of djon djon added. It can be bitter if too much is used.

6. Pâté

Haitian cuisine: Pate

These stuffed snacks are evidence of the mixture of African, French, and Haitian cuisine. The French method is used to make the dough, while lard (popular in African dishes) replaces butter, considered a luxurious ingredient. Haitian puff pastries are called pâté.

Ground beef, turkey, ground chicken, or smoked herring can fill this Haitian empanada. The filling is seasoned with shallots, onion, garlic, lime, aromatic herbs, and chili.

They can be cooked in a deep fryer with oil, or, if desired, they can be baked in the oven. In both cases, the result is a crunchy and delicious pie.

7. Makawoni au graten

Makawoni au graten

Makawoni au graten is the Haitian version of macaroni and cheese. For its preparation, macaroni or pasta is mixed with condiments such as Worcestershire sauce (or you might prefer a spicy sauce) mayonnaise, bell peppers, and mustard.

The ingredients are placed in a casserole, together with grated cheese, cheddar, or parmesan. You can also add ham or shredded chicken. Everything is then cooked until ready to serve. 

Another peculiarity of Haitian macaroni is that it contains evaporated milk instead of pasteurized milk. Generally, Makawoni au graten is used as a main dish but also as a side dish. 

8. Bouillon Soup

Haitian cuisine: Bouillon Soup

Haitian Bouillon Soup is a hearty, thick beef stew that is very popular in Haiti. It contains potatoes, seaweed, meat, root vegetables, scotch bonnet peppers, tomato paste, cabbage, and celery. It is sometimes typically served with fried plantains and meatballs prepared with part of the broth and wheat flour.

When preparing the bouillon, it is advisable to cook the meat first since it takes longer to soften. The vegetables are prepared in a separate pot with the meatballs and spices. Then, everything is mixed and cooked until ready to serve.

The time this Haitian cuisine takes for preparation depends on the vegetables used and how long it takes them to soften; that is why it is necessary to be attentive at all times. If desired, the meat in this dish can be replaced by seafood.

9. Tchaka


Tchaka is one of Haiti’s favorite hearty stews. It consists of corn, smoked pork, pumpkin, red or green beans, and pig’s feet. Its preparation is simple, but it takes time since it is simmered to ensure that all the flavors amalgamate. You can add a boiled egg or Haitian patties to this one!

Variations depend on the Haitian region where the soup is made; for example, lamb, beef, or crab may be used instead of pork. Some recipes include coconut milk to increase its texture and creaminess. It is also expected to use malanga or yam.

Haitians usually prepare this dish on special occasions due to the time to prepare it. For this reason, it is often served at family gatherings and on certain commemorative dates, such as Labor Day.

10. Beef Tassot

Haitian cuisine: Beef Tassot

Beef Tassot is a Haitian cuisine that consists of marinated, boiled, and fried meat, usually beef.  The secret for the tassot is the marinating time of the meat, which must be more than 30 minutes. In addition, you have to add lemon juice, spices, scotch bonnet peppers, fresh ginger, and herbs. Before adding water, the meat is allowed to cook in the marinade.

The type of meat and the cut will determine the soup’s cooking time. For example, goat meat is delicious but takes longer to cook. For this reason, beef is the most commonly used meat in restaurants and Haitian homes.

The veal loin is the most tender part of the beef, so it is most often used to make tassot. This dish is usually served with sauce or gravy because it tends to dry out quickly when cooked for a long time. It can be served with other fritters or as an accompaniment to the main course.

11. Pwason Boukannen (Smoked Fish)

Haitian Pwason Boukannen

Pwason Boukannen is a culinary gem from the vibrant culture of Haiti that beckons with an intoxicating smoky aroma and a rich, flavorful taste. This traditional smoked fish dish embodies the essence of Haitian cuisine, offering an exploration of gastronomic delight that starts from the moment the fresh, succulent fish is chosen for its preparation.

Preferred fish for this dish often include mackerel or tilapia, known for their tender and firm texture, able to hold the intense flavors that will be imbued in them.

The smoking process that follows is an art in itself, carried out traditionally over an open flame. This imparts the fish with a distinctive smoky flavor, adding a layer of complexity and depth to its taste profile.

The result is a stunning gastronomic masterpiece – Pwason Boukannen, whose smoky allure, enlivened by the tang of the seasonings, has a unique ability to enrapture the palate, making it a standout in the rich tableau of Haitian cuisine.

12. Banane Peze

Haitian Banane Peze

Banane Peze, often referred to as twice-fried plantains, holds a unique place in Haitian cuisine, showcasing the island’s culinary ingenuity and cultural richness. This dish, celebrated for its golden, crisp exterior and tender, sweet interior, embodies simplicity yet delivers on taste and texture.

To prepare Banane Peze, green plantains are peeled and sliced, then fried until they attain a light golden hue. These slices are subsequently flattened, often using a plantain press known as a ‘tostones,’ and fried again until they become wonderfully crisp. The result is a delightful snack or side dish that is both hearty and addictive. Also, check out my version of Tostones.

13. Pikliz (Pickled Vegetable Relish)

Pickled Vegetable Relish

Pikliz, an integral part of Haitian cuisine, is a vivid, fiery pickled vegetable relish that is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the palate. It’s a blend of brightly-colored vegetables like onions, bell peppers, carrots, cabbage, and the spicy heat of Scotch bonnet peppers, all pickled to tangy perfection.

This kaleidoscope of flavors and textures serves as a sharp, refreshing counterpoint to rich Haitian dishes.

More than a mere condiment, Pikliz is a culinary experience that showcases the Haitian fondness for vibrant flavors and zest. Its zingy taste and fiery kick make it a versatile accompaniment, heightening the flavors of hot Haitian patties, sweet potatoes, succulent pork meat, and an array of fried delights.

14. Diri Shela, Poul Fri (Fried Chicken)

Haitian Fried Chicken with Brown Rice.

Diri Shela, Poul Fri, or Fried Chicken with Brown Rice, is a cornerstone of Haitian cuisine, a wholesome, comforting meal that resonates with the robust flavors of the island. This dish paints a picture of simplicity yet offers a depth of flavor that makes it a timeless favorite.

The fried chicken, crispy on the outside yet succulent and flavorful on the inside, is an absolute delight. The brown rice accompanying it, with its chewy texture and nutty flavor, complements the chicken perfectly, creating a well-rounded, hearty meal.

The beauty of Diri Shela, Poul Fri lies in its versatility. Whether savored standalone or accompanied by sides like spicy Pikliz, sweet fried plantains, or a fresh side salad, each variation brings forth a new, delightful culinary experience.

This Haitian fried chicken with brown rice is not merely a dish; it’s a narrative of the island’s cultural and culinary richness served on a plate.

15. Kremas

Haitian Kremas

Kremas is a cherished Haitian beverage that is synonymous with celebration and camaraderie. Rich, creamy, and sweet, it’s a veritable treat that encapsulates Haiti’s cultural and culinary heritage vibrancy.

This decadent drink marries the richness of evaporated and sweetened condensed milk with the tropical flavors of coconut milk. The addition of dark or spiced rum lends a warming note, infusing a sense of festive spirit into every sip. The aromatic whispers of vanilla extract, with the added warmth of nutmeg and cinnamon, further enhance its flavorful profile.

Kremas is not just a drink; it’s an experience. Each sip of this creamy concoction unveils a layer of flavors that captivate the senses and enthrall the palate. Its creamy texture, balanced sweetness, and exotic undertones make Kremas a timeless classic of Haitian cuisine, a must-try for those seeking an authentic taste of the Caribbean.


Haitian cuisine is a captivating culinary diversity of French, African, and Spanish influences. The vibrant flavors of Haiti, with its aromatic herbs and spicy palette, appeal to culinary enthusiasts.

The 15 traditional dishes offer a sensory journey through Haiti’s culinary landscape. Each dish showcases the artistry of stews and and highlights the mastery of seafood and plantains.

In every bite, Haiti’s culinary excellence invites all to savor each dish’s history, heritage, and hospitality. Let Haiti cuisine’s enticing aroma and taste captivate your senses and transport you to the heart of this Caribbean gem.

Haitian cuisine

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  1. Hi j ai visionne avec succès ce blog sur mes plats . Pour une fois quelqu un parle de mon pays en bien et arrive à reconnaître les valeurs culinaire de ce pays qui traversent un enfer depuis quelque temps. Merci du fond du cœur. Mon pays me manque bcp. ” Haiti la perle des Antilles. “

  2. I love this article,it was amazing to read, as a Ayitian Man I feel proude in our culture and the way you put it all together.

    1. Ce commentaire me fait chaud au cœur.🙏🏼

      1. Haitian food yumyumy is the best 👌 Big Up to my people 😘😘😘😘😘😘

  3. Petithomme says:

    This article was amazing and put together extremely well. My husband is Haitian American and I’m American. He has made all of these dishes for me and I think at this time Griot and pickles 😋 are still one of my favorites because of course the pickles are on top so it’s know longer two different dishes for me.

  4. Betsy Laurore says:

    It’s good to see our food are being showed around the world. People are starting to see the Haitian people have great foods with great taste. Keep up the good work 💯

    1. Gina Jeannis-Homere says:

      Thank you for sharing the savory of Haitian foods. We as Haitians have been through a lot. I am praying that God gives and shows favors towards us. Praying that Haitians one day can reunite and save our beautiful lands, to show the beautiful we can display toward and with one another. I love my peopl . I love my country and love the foods. ONE LOVE. Let’s rebuild our Haiti 🇭🇹 ♥️