Bahamian Cuisine: What to Eat in The Bahamas

As you cruise into The Bahamas, you’ll be surrounded by tranquil inlets, gorgeous beaches and welcoming smiles on the shore. With more than 700 islands and cays to its name, The Bahamas archipelago definitely deserves multiple excursions to explore such beauty.

Depending on your preference, you can cruise for anywhere from two to nine days, heading into numerous ports of call. And while you’ll have plenty of stunning sights to ogle as you travel to The Bahamas, you’ll also discover abundant food options. There are plenty of excellent meal choices onboard, which means you don’t need to make daily lunch and dinner plans. However, if you’d like to explore more of The Bahamas, you’re encouraged to step on shore, soak up the sun and sample the delicious local cuisine. Here are 10 beloved Bahamian dishes you’ll be eager to try on your next cruise vacation.

1. Conch

Locals love the subtle flavor and tender texture of the conch mollusk, with none more sought-after than the Queen conch. This sea snail has white meat with a slight orange tinge, and it offers countless ways to tuck into a hearty meal. Try conch fritters, which have finely chopped meat combined with onions and red peppers that are then deep fried until golden. Then there is cracked conch: pounded meat that’s lightly battered or breaded and then deep fried. Ceviche-style conch salad is another favorite, with raw conch meat added to tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and cucumbers and heavily sprinkled with lime juice and chilies.

plate of conch fritters

2. Souse

Another favorite in The Bahamas, souse is halfway between a soup and a stew, with a rich medley of onions, bell peppers, carrots, celery, potatoes and a heavy dose of lime juice. It also has large chunks of flavorful meat, most often chicken but also pig’s feet or sheep’s tongue. Once cooked up, the aromas will draw you up from the beach in no time.

3. Guava Duff

Have a sweet tooth? You’ll love this dish. Guava duff is a staple dessert that makes good use of the local guava crop. Fresh guava jam is spread onto the sweet dough and rolled up, making a pretty spiral when sliced. To complete, the guava duff is placed in a cotton bag and boiled in water until cooked. Drizzled with rum or brandy butter, this dish is sure to be a hit.

4. Fried or Seared Grouper with Grits

Staying true to the sea, grouper is another popular dish in The Bahamas. Grouper fillets are fried or seared and seasoned with tomatoes, garlic and a vegetable gravy. Flavorful grits often have a sprinkling of cheese.

delicious fried grouper

5. Rum Cake

Those who love rum will surely love rum cake. This rich dessert, often baked in a bundt pan, features a generous amount of rum in both the cake itself and the drizzled sauce. Whether you’re pulling into Freeport or winding down your cruise at Half Moon Cay, you’ll likely find abundant eateries with rum cake as a menu staple.

rum cake with a slice already eaten

6. Peas ‘n’ Rice

From a filling main dish to a tasty side dish, Bahamian peas ‘n’ rice is always a favorite. Pigeon peas are cooked up in spiced water and then added to rice, fresh stock and a medley of fresh veggies, including thyme, bay leaves, tomatoes and onions. Occasionally, salted pork or bacon is added to the mix. Delicious!

bowl of peas and rice

7. Johnnycake

A longtime tradition throughout The Bahamas, Johnnycake is cornbread baked in a cast iron pan. These flavorful cakes have just the right crumble, and they are perfect combined with coffee or tea. Whether straight out of the oven or fresh baked that morning, Johnnycakes should definitely be on your Bahamian “to-taste” list.

8. Bahamian Macaroni and Cheese

Mac ‘n’ cheese in The Bahamas? You bet. In The Bahamas, this dish is a popular comfort food with a kick. The elbow noodles are combined with plenty of cheese, butter, evaporated milk, onions, bell peppers and abundant spices. Spicy goat pepper or jalapeños add some fire to the mix, which locals just can’t get enough of. This popular dish often makes a showing at holidays, family milestones or large celebratory feasts. While touring Nassau, the most populated island of your Bahamian cruise, you might come across a party or two featuring none other than fiery mac ‘n’ cheese.

9. Bahama Mama

The Bahama Mama is one of the most popular drinks in the Bahamas. Consisting of rum, coffee-flavored liqueur, and fresh-squeezed pineapple and lemon juice, this refreshing drink is the ideal accompaniment to anything and everything all the way from Nassau to Princess Cays. Cheers!

bahama mama drink with a view of the beach

10. Bahamian Hot Patty

These snacks go by many names and are beloved throughout The Bahamas and the greater Caribbean area. Many are filled with a mixture of minced beef and veggies, but some are also purely vegetarian. They often have a notch of heat, owing to the local love for spicy foods. The shortcrust pastry is cut in a circle, topped with the mixture and folded over to form a sealed patty. Baked until golden brown, these patties are handy for a snack on the go. Pick up a few on your shore excursion, but don’t be surprised if they’re gone before you reach the dock.

Bahamian hot patty cut in half