Jamaican Callaloo is a very nutrient rich, green leafy vegetable that is most commonly served for breakfast with saltfish and alongside many other classic Jamaican dishes. It’s made in a dutch pot, or sauté pan with onions, garlic, tomatoes, scotch bonnet pepper and is the perfect healthy start to your morning!
Looking for something to serve with this Jamaican Callaloo recipe? Try my reader fave, Jamaican Fried Dumpling or this Jamaican Festival Recipe and definitely these Jamaican Saltfish Fritters (Stamp & Go) for the best ways to compliment the greens! But if you’re looking for a simple flavoursome vegetable side dish, try this Jamaican Steamed Cabbage.
Growing up Jamaican, this was the number one greens we ate in our household. No, it wasn’t broccoli, or beans, it wasn’t spinach or collard greens, it was callaloo.
Pronounced [KAH·LA·LOO], this leafy green is a staple side dish in Jamaica cuisine. It’s flavourful, its healthy and nutritious, and very quick and easy to make and can be served for breakfast, lunch, dinner or anytime throughout the day.
Here’s Why You’ll Love This Recipe:
- Nutritious – this green leafy vegetable is rich source of iron, fibre, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B and vitamin C.
- Quick and Easy – once your callaloo is washed and prepared it takes about 10 minutes to finish this recipe!
- The Perfect Side Dish – serve this recipe with more Jamaican classics such as salt fish, salt mackerel or steamed fish, Jamaican Fried Dumpling, Jamaican Festival Recipe or fried breadfruit.
What is Callaloo?
Callaloo is a very nutrient rich, dark green leafy vegetable that is very popular in the Caribbean. It is comparable to collard greens, kale or spinach and is served mainly as a breakfast item. It can however, can be eaten anytime throughout the day.
What Does Callaloo Taste Like?
Jamaican Callaloo has a slight mild flavour that is very similar to spinach, but with a little more texture. It is sautéed with aromatics and veggies such as onions, garlic, tomatoes, thyme sprigs and scotch bonnet pepper which infuses the greens with island flavour!
Is Spinach and Callaloo the Same?
Spinach and callaloo are similar but different, they are both from the amaranth family. However, spinach has a more mild taste than callaloo with a softer texture and also is prepared much quicker compared to callaloo.
What is Callaloo Comparable to?
Any leafy green with a milder taste and firmer texture/appearance such as collard greens, swiss chard, spinach etc.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Jamaican Callaloo?
Similar to many dark leafy greens, Jamaican Callaloo is a rich source of iron, fibre, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B and vitamin C. Fresh callaloo of course packs the most nutritional punch, however if you can find frozen that’s a great option as well!
Where Can I Find Callaloo?
Typically, you can find these nutrient rich, green leafy vegetables at Caribbean or West Indian food markets, as well as some Asian food markets may carry them as well.
What You Need to Make this Recipe (Equipment and Tools)
You don’t need much to make callaloo, however here are some items that will help with the process:
Cutting Board – this is helpful for chopping the callaloo with ease. You can place a damp piece of paper towel to prevent the cutting board from slipping.
Large Chef or Butcher Knife – the bunches of callaloo can be thick, using a sharp chef or butchers knife will aid in thoroughly cutting through each piece.
Paring Knife – this is a small chef’s knife, which is beneficial in peeling the outer membrane/skin of each stalk of callaloo during the preparation process.
How to Prepare (Peel and Clean) Callaloo
1. Strip and Remove Old Leaves/Stem – using a knife, peel the outer membrane/skin of each stalk of callaloo starting from the tip of the stem. Then, remove any old and withered leaves, leaves with too many holes or thicker more tough parts of the stem and rinse well with cold water.
2. Wash with Salt and Thoroughly Rinse – place in a bowl filled with cold water and 1 tbsp of salt; ensure the callaloo is fully submerged. Discard water, thoroughly rinse with fresh water once again and drain well.
3. Chop – using a large knife chop callaloo and set aside; see notes section for tips.
See My Story Below for Step-by-Step Instructions!
Ingredients and Ingredient Notes
- Fresh Callaloo – use fresh callaloo that has been cleaned, chopped and tightly packed to make up the 5 cups. You can also use frozen callaloo.
- Onion – you can use yellow or cooking onions, sweet onions or white onions.
- Tomato – juicy, plump tomatoes that has been cooked down provide freshness and added flavour.
- Garlic – crushed, thinly sliced or minced work just fine in this recipe.
- Scotch Bonnet Pepper – depending on the pepper this can be VERY spicy, but also VERY flavourful. Even if you use a little piece, it will still do the job. Alternatively, you can use habanero peppers finely chopped.
- Fresh Thyme Sprigs – this fresh aromatic and flavourful herb is essential in many jamaican dishes, and definitely great in this one as well.
- Butter – this adds a flavour to the recipes and helps meld all the ingredient notes together.
- Salt and Pepper – season the greens to taste, you don’t need much.
- Olive Oil – used for sautéing the aromatics, veggies, and herbs before adding the callaloo. Any neutral oil would work well in this recipe.
- Chicken Stock – this helps the callaloo to steam or “cook down” while adding flavour. Alternatively, you can use water or vegetable stock.
How to Make Jamaican Callaloo
1. Sauté Aromatics and Vegetables – heat olive oil in a dutch pot or sauté pan over medium heat, then add onion, tomato, garlic, scotch bonnet peppers and sauté until they have softened a bit.
2. Add Callaloo and Season – then add chopped callaloo, thyme sprigs, butter, salt, pepper, and chicken stock.
3. Steam/Cook and Serve – reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes or until callaloo has softened and is tender. Then, remove from heat, and enjoy!
Recipe Variations and Substitutions
Here are some great variations to this recipe:
- Bacon/Ham – add bacon or ham to the recipe for added flavour, protein and variety in the dish.
- Peppers – if you prefer a non-spicy dish, leave the scotch bonnet pepper out. You can substitute it with a sweet bell or banana peppers.
- Saltfish – add saltfish (salted cod fish) to this recipe, by boiling out the salt to your desired taste and add the to callaloo.
- Green Onion – use green onion as a substitute to regular onion or simply add it by crushing with the back of a knife to release the flavours.
- Patty – use this filling in Jamaican patties as a great vegan alternative to beef patties.
Recipe Notes and Tips
- Fresh is Best – use bright green, crisp and fresh callaloo for the best taste. However, you can also use callaloo that has been frozen (especially during the winter months when they are not as easily accessible.)
- Strip Well – you want to ensure you remove as much of the utter membrane/skin from the stalk of the callaloo for easier more enjoyable eating.
- Soak and Rinse Well – it is imperative you wash and rinse your callaloo well to rid any dirt, debris, or little garden critters from your greens.
- Let the Greens, Stay Green – over cooked callaloo will begin to turn brown. Once cooked, it should still have a vibrant green colour.
What to Serve With Jamaican Callaloo
Serve Jamaican Callaloo with the following dishes:
- Jamaican Fried Dumpling
- Jamaican Festival Recipe
- Boiled Green Banana
- Roasted or Fried Breadfruit
Storage and Reheating Instructions
How to Reheat – the best way to reheat callaloo is on the stovetop, over medium heat until warmed through. Alternatively, you can use the microwave.
To Store Leftovers – store leftovers in an airtight container, in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.
How to Freeze Callaloo
If have large quantities of callaloo you can store in your freezer for around 3 to 4 months. Do so by prepping the callaloo as outline, and once chopped place in Ziploc® Freezer Bags, or anything comparable to prevent from freezer burn.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
Callaloo can often be very hard to find, especially depending on your location. However, it is very easy to grow. You simply need seeds, sun, soil and water occasionally.
It’s a green leafy vegetable from the amaranth family. It is comparable to collard greens, kale or spinach and is served mainly as a breakfast item in Jamaica.
Callaloo is a superfood that is a great source of vitamins and minerals such as iron, fibre, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B and vitamin C.
To be quite honest, I have never used canned callaloo. However, I believe it may work as long as you adjust the ingredient ratios to prevent things from turning into a soupy disaster.
Amaranthus Viridis is the more technical or scientific term for green or garden callaloo.
It is similar, but not the same.
Callaloo is also referred to by the name bhajgee (bah-gee), mainly by those from Trinidad and Tobago.
Watch How to Make It
Interested in More Jamaican Food? Try these Recipes Out Next!
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- 5 cups Fresh Callaloo chopped and tightly packed
- 1 small Onion
- 1/2 medium Tomato
- 2 cloves Garlic crushed or minced
- 1/2 Scotch Bonnet Pepper finely chopped
- 2 sprigs Fresh Thyme
- 1 tbsp Butter
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1-2 tbsp Chicken Stock or Water
To Prepare Callaloo
- Using a knife, peel the outer membrane/skin of each stalk of callaloo starting from the tip of the stem. Then, remove any old and withered leaves, leaves with too many holes or thicker more tough parts of the stem and rinse well with cold water.
- Place in a bowl filled with cold water and 1 tbsp of salt; ensure the callaloo is fully submerged. Discard water, thoroughly rinse with fresh water once again and drain well. Then, using a large knife chop callaloo and set aside; see notes section for tips.
- Heat olive oil in a dutch pot or sauté pan over medium heat, then add onion, tomato, garlic, scotch bonnet peppers and sauté until they have softened a bit. Then add chopped callaloo, thyme sprigs, butter, salt, pepper, and chicken stock.
- Reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes or until callaloo has softened and is tender. Then, remove from heat, and enjoy!
Note, the nutritional information is calculated using a nutrition facts calculator. It is a rough estimate and can vary based on products used.