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.
Table of Contents
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!
Pineapple Jerk Chicken and Shrimp Skewers
Jamaican Coconut Curried Salmon
Jerk Chicken Cobb Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing
Traditional Jamaican Pumpkin Beef Soup
Jerk Burgers with Pineapple Mango Salsa
I’d greatly appreciate if you left a star ★ rating (located below), as well as leave a comment if you found this blog post helpful and tasty!
Also, don’t forget to keep up with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!
Lastly, sign up to our monthly newsletter for all TSS updates straight to your inbox!
- 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!
Kim RSeptember 29, 2022 at 9:27 pm
I LOVE Callaloo. Canned Callaloo is very bland and mushy. Fresh Callaloo is very hard to find here in NJ. I ordered seeds from Jamaica & planted them this year but the plant definitely looked different. I will definitely try your recipe as soon as I can find fresh plants.
Taneisha MorrisSeptember 29, 2022 at 10:19 pm
Hey Kim! That’s the only difficulty at times – finding fresh callaloo!! I definitely agree, canned is just a no no (personally for me)!! Once you get your hands on fresh ones, prep and freeze so you’ll have for a while! Can’t wait for you to try!!
PauletteSeptember 29, 2022 at 10:38 pm
SO GOOD. SO SO SO GOOD! We had frozen that was fresh from the garden this summer and it was the perfect recipe…turned out exceptional just like when we visited Jamaica and got it there..I’ll be using this recipe forever until its memorized. TY
Taneisha MorrisSeptember 30, 2022 at 8:51 pm
I’m so happy to hear that! Yayy! You’ve made my day with this! My freezer is currently full to the brim from this summers crop!
Shani WhisonantOctober 13, 2022 at 9:04 am
Had callaloo several years ago during a vacation trip, and the flavor stayed with me. But my own attempts fell flat until I found this recipe! I printed it, and I can tell it’s about to become dog-eared and loved very much! Amazing recipe!
Taneisha MorrisOctober 23, 2022 at 9:08 am
Hahah! Awee man, this is the best comment and feedback! Thanks so much for trying it out and loving on this recipe! Thanks a million!
MartaOctober 13, 2022 at 10:08 am
I used to LIVE off of callaloo when I was a Rasta. Now that I’m no longer eating ital, I think I like the chicken stock better than the vegetable stock I used to use. So good.
Taneisha MorrisOctober 18, 2022 at 9:34 am
Yes!! Jamaican Ital food for the win! Chicken stock definitely adds depth of flavour – I love using it too!
KrysOctober 13, 2022 at 10:35 am
Delicious! I made this recipe using habanero and water + roasted chicken base (demi-glace) instead of chicken stock. If you’re a fan of callaloo, this recipe is the real deal! Packs of a ton of flavor in every bite. Definitely going to be making this again.
Taneisha MorrisOctober 18, 2022 at 9:44 am
Whew! This sounds ABSOLUTELY delicious and you most certainly killed it I’m positive! Thanks so much for such a great review!
KanyiOctober 13, 2022 at 2:27 pm
Thanks for sharing this recipe! Callaloo reminds me of a dish I used to make in Kenya called sukuma wiki.
Taneisha MorrisOctober 18, 2022 at 9:42 am
Love that this brought you back to cooking in Kenya! Food is such a beautiful thing that brings us all together!
RobinOctober 16, 2022 at 2:37 pm
I am so happy I found this recipe! I hadn’t had callaloo this good since my teen years when my best friends’ mother who was from St. Thomas made it. Now I can make it any time I have the craving which will be often.
Taneisha MorrisOctober 18, 2022 at 9:35 am
Hey Robin!! Yess!! You sure can!! Whenever you have that craving the recipe will always be here! Thanks so much!!
ShaiOctober 16, 2022 at 8:40 pm
I love Callaloo I had a friend that grew these greens in her back yard , she would me some every time I would come to her home. I have since lost touch with her, and I have not been able to find this veggie, would you so kindly direct me to where it can be found? I would really appreciate it! Thank you.
Taneisha MorrisOctober 23, 2022 at 9:13 am
Hi Shai! Yes! We grow callaloo in our backyard garden as well and it’s the best because we can enjoy it fresh all summer long then store for the winter months. However, depending on where you’re located – I would always have the best luck at caribbean/west indian/african food markets, and also, asian food markets as well. Alternatively, I did see they were selling seeds on Amazon if you want to grow your own. I definitely don’t recommend the canned callaloo as the texture and taste is completely off. Hopefully this is helpful!
JessicaOctober 18, 2022 at 12:20 pm
I used to eat this growing up at my Jamaican friend’s house. I saw fresh callaloo in the market here and grabbed some to make this recipe. Absolutely phenomenal. Can’t wait to make it again!
Taneisha MorrisOctober 23, 2022 at 9:05 am
Yes! Jamaicans always seem to have callaloo in the rotation!! So glad you were able to find them at the market and make them at home!
ChenéeOctober 19, 2022 at 12:55 am
This was my first time making callaloo and we all loved it! It was pretty quick to make and so full of flavor!
Taneisha MorrisOctober 23, 2022 at 9:04 am
Yay! So glad this could be your first experience! It’s definitely a flavourful green!
BritneyOctober 19, 2022 at 9:22 am
It’s so hard finding a good callaloo recipe! This one was beyond delicious and I’m SO happy that I found it! Admittedly, I’m sensitive to spice so I used about a 1/4 of the scotch bonnet but this recipe was everything – flavorful, healthy, and so easy to make! Thank you for this recipe!
Taneisha MorrisOctober 23, 2022 at 8:52 am
Woohoo!! This is what I like to hear!! So happy you enjoyed and yes scotch bonnet pepper can be extremely spicy especially for those sensitive to spice…but it also packs such good flavour…that was a great idea to use only a 1/4!!
JazzOctober 19, 2022 at 11:21 am
I love this callaloo recipe! Jus the right amount of heat and everything came out nice and tender.
Taneisha MorrisOctober 23, 2022 at 8:50 am
Absolutely perfect! Tender, flavourful with just a touch of heat – that’s how I like it too!
MichelleOctober 22, 2022 at 8:47 pm
Great recipe and I add okra sometimes. The instructions to strip the stalk is really helpful for newbies.
Taneisha MorrisOctober 23, 2022 at 8:47 am
Hi Michelle! I’m so happy for this feedback, and even happier that you enjoyed! Okra sounds like a great addition – give me all the greens please! Hahaha!