Spice Cuisine: Caribbean Spices and Seasonings

Caribbean food has gone through a fusion process more intricate than many areas of the globe. Its role in the spice trade, and its location as a central stopping ground for Spanish, British, French, Dutch, African, Indonesian, and Chinese travelers, has shaped the current cuisine of the islands. Ingredients from surrounding areas (such as Jamaica, Mexico, and Cuba) are also woven into the dishes.

The islands were originally inhabited by the Arawaks and Caribs, two Native American tribes. The Caribs have been credited with introducing chile peppers to cooking to spice up their food. The Arawaks used native green sticks, called “barbacoa,” to grill food—and, thus, began modern barbecue techniques. These cooking methods were used with native and cultivated crops of yams, corn, cassava, peanuts, taro root, guavas, pineapple, black-eyed peas, and lima beans.

Later, Columbus introduced sugarcane (rum!), and was followed by other European colonists that introduced coconut, chick-peas, cilantro, eggplant, onions, garlic, oranges, limes, mangoes, rice, coffee, okra, pigeon peas, plantains, breadfruit, and ackee. Other regional additions include: potatoes and passion fruit from South America, and papaya, avocado, chayote and cocoa from Mexico.

Keeping these influences in mind, you can see how hard it is to define Caribbean cuisine. Through the years, most spices made their way through the islands and were incorporated into the food. Likewise, most fruits and chile peppers that grow in the Western hemisphere have been adopted. The following list includes many ingredients commonly used in Caribbean cooking.

Allspice Berries, Whole or Ground


Our premium berries from Jamaica have a sweet flavor reminiscent of cloves, cinnamon and a hint of nutmeg. Even though its name suggests a mixture o…

Annato Seeds


Annato seed is also known as achiote. This seed grows on the annato tree. It is used primarily in Mexican and Caribbean cooking to impart a rich ye…

Arrowroot Powder


Arrowroot is a wonderful, clear thickener used in gravies, sauces and pie fillings. It is also more easily digested than other thickening agents. Wh…

Salt Free Spicy West Indies Barbeque Seasoning


Salt-Free Spicy West Indies Barbeque Seasoning features the spices loved and grown in the Caribbean. They are a favorite blend mixed into a marinade…

West Indies Style Barbeque Seasoning Rub


Spicy West Indies Barbeque Seasoning features the spices loved and grown in the Caribbean. This is a favorite blend mixed into a marinade for spit…

Caribbean Calypso Seasoning


Caribbean Calypso Seasoning features the citrus flavors so loved on the islands: lemon, lime, and orange. In addition to the citrusy zing, we added …

Habanero Chile Peppers, Whole Or Ground


Prior to the discovery of the "ghost" pepper, Habanero peppers were our hottest chiles. While they won't scorch you quite as much as ghost pepper, th…

Jalapeno Chile Peppers, Diced Pieces Or Ground


Jalapeno peppers are probably the most popular of the chile pepper family, due to its flavorful heat. Our diced jalapeno has most of the hot inner s…

Scorpion Peppers, Trinidad Moruga


Meet the new record holder for World’s Hottest Pepper – this fiery morsel averages a mind-blowing 1.2 million Scoville Heat Units, with some pepp…

Garlic Powders, Granulated, Roasted or Very Fine Powder


These garlic powders, grown in California, are offered in 3 forms: regular granulated, roasted granulated, and very fine powder. Regular granulated …

China "Number One" Ginger, Whole Root Or Powder


Dehydrated Ginger root comes in whole and powdered form. It is very healthy and useful for baking, marinades and sauces. Once you find ginger creep…

Hibiscus Blossoms, Flor de Jamaica


Also known as flor de Jamaica, roselle or carcade, hibiscus has a tart, pomegranate-like flavor, and is usually steeped in hot water like tea. Hibisc…

Mace, Whole Blade Or Ground


Mace is the outer shell of the nutmeg fruit. It has a lighter, sweeter flavor. Should you open the small, plum-sized fruit of the nutmeg tree, ins…

Nutmeg, Whole Or Ground


Nutmeg has a flavor that is quite strong. In small amounts, it blends in with great subtlety. You will find it called for in many vegetable recipes …

Trinidad Lemon Garlic Marinade Seasoning


This Trinidad-style Lemon-garlic Marinade Seasoning recipe came to us from a Caribbean actor who was in Milwaukee on a tour. He claimed his mother …