What's the most popular food in Haiti? Here are the best Haitian food and drinks to try. In this guide, you'll get a taste of Haitian desserts, dishes, and drinks.
24 Haitian Food and Drinks to Try
With colorful ingredients and big, bold flavors, Haitian food offers some of the best sizzle that Latin America has to offer.
Here are just a few meals that you can either try on your travels or whip up at home for a little beachside zeal!
11 Haitian Dishes
1. Poulet aux noix
Poulet aux noix is a mouthwatering dish that centers around chicken and walnuts. The meat is marinated and pan-fried until it's a deep golden brown with a honey-like glaze, and the nuts are boiled to softness and added to a bed of onions, peppers, and tomatoes.
You can eat it plain or with rice. Either way, it's amazing.
You'll never visit a Haitian restaurant without seeing pikliz on the table. It's a tart relish made with fermented vegetables such as carrots, onions, cucumbers, and shredded cabbage, and it's often served with fried meats to undercut some of their grease.
To prepare it, the veggies are thrown into a jar of vinegar with some garlic and onion and left to sit for a while. Pikliz comes from the French word piquer, meaning “to sting,” so it's definitely not for the faint of heart!
Joumou has a lot of meaning to Haitian people. It was reserved for their white masters back in the days of slavery, so when they finally gained their freedom and independence, they celebrated by serving joumou right there on the streets.
It's made with a squash puree and a mix of limes, onions, cabbage, celery and plantains. Bread is usually served to scoop up the soup. Here's more about joumou on eater.com.
4. Tassot kabrit
If you've never tried goat, here's your chance! Tassot kabrit is a Haitian favorite that combines the crunchiness of fried meat with the sweetness of a snack. To make it, strips of lean goat meat are marinated in orange juice and lemons before being pan-fried until they're crispy and brown.
They're a popular street food, but you can also find them in high-end restaurants when served with rice or stew.
5. Makawoni au graten
Makawoni au graten is the Creole spelling of macaroni au gratin, but it isn't your typical Kraft dish. This decadent casserole is made with pasta noodles like rigatoni and penne, and its fillings range from “ham and mayonnaise” to “chicken and mustard.”
Other common ingredients are onion, bell pepper, bread crumbs and lots and lots of cheese. Parmesan is considered a classic, but you'll also find recipes that include everything from cheddar to gouda.
6. Diri ak djon djon
One of the most extravagant meals in Haiti, diri ak djon djon is a specialty dish that's only made for holidays and other special occasions. It involves soaking a special kind of mushroom, the djon djon, until it secretes a black liquid that can be used for cooking rice.
Once the “black rice” is done, it's added to a spicy blend of shrimp, chicken, carrots, lima beans and other vegetables. The end result is visually stunning and scrumptiously delicious.
7. Haitian patty
Another staple dish of the region, the Haitian patty is a heavy pastry filled with savory meats and spices. The outer layers tend to be crisp and flaky like a buttermilk biscuit while the inner layers are softer and chewier like a sourdough bread.
Popular fillings include ground meat of every kind, including beef, chicken, turkey and cod.
8. Bouillon soup
Usually served on rainy days, bouillon soup is a warm, stick-to-your-ribs stew that can be made with a variety of meats and veggies. Bouyon beef is made with cow; bouyon poule is made with chicken. Fillings can include everything from sweet plantains to thick chunks of potato.
The only thing that never changes is the fact that it's served piping hot. Bouillon stems from the French word bouillir, meaning “to boil.”
Lambi is another dish with historical significance in Haiti. Its base, the conch, was often fashioned into a kind of rudimentary horn to warn slaves and revolutionaries of approaching danger.
But it's also quite tasty when it's cracked out of its shell, and you can find grilled, butter-soaked lambi on many seafood menus. It's also a frequent addition to cold salads and hot stews.
10. Riz national
Literally translated to national rice, this dish is one of the most popular and enduring dishes of Haiti. It's made with a foundation of rice and red kidney beans, but its toppings can be changed for color, flavor, texture and more.
Depending on the restaurant that you visit, you could see riz national topped with everything from a veggie medley to a whole fish!
Griot is pork that has been washed with orange juice before frying. It used to be done because of a lack of fresh water in Haiti, but today, it's simply a traditional way of cooking and a tasty way to add zest to a dish. Other citrus flavors can be used as well.
The final product is served with rice, bananas, sauce or pikliz.
Most Popular Haitian Foods (Video)
6 Drinks to try in Haiti
Haiti is famous for its rum, but few people realize that most of it is actually rhum. This is a special derivation that's made with sugarcane juice instead of molasses, resulting in a lighter, more flavorful liquor.
You can find all kinds of rhum in Haiti, including “white” and “dark” rhum that gets aged differently for different tastes.
Akasan is a cross between a milkshake and a smoothie. It's a thick, sweet beverage made with milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon, but it also throws in some of the corn flour that Haitians keep around for breakfast.
This gives it a savory component that often leads to it being a meal substitute instead of just a snack. It can be served either hot or cold depending on the season.
3. Cola Couronne
Cola Couronne is the Haitian equivalent of Coca Cola: a hugely popular soft drink that's available everywhere from vending machines to sit-down restaurants. This cola, however, is only found in glass or plastic bottles since Haiti lacks the aluminum to make cans.
It has a fruity flavor that includes oranges, pineapples and hints of bananas.
Also spelled kremas and cremasse, this alcoholic beverage lives up to its name with its creamy, milkshake-like consistency. The base is creamed coconut, and the kick comes from either white or dark rhum.
Milk and sugar are added for those who like it sweet; cinnamon and anise are added for those who like it hearty. Pastries are usually served along with it.
5. Jus grenadia
As you might imagine, juice is quite popular in a tropical destination like Haiti, especially when it's infused with fruit. Jus grenadia is one of the more famous varieties.
It's the pulp of a passion fruit mixed with sugar, water, orange juice and occasionally alcohol, and it's strained to remove all of the seeds and granules before being poured into a tall, frosty glass. Three cheers for a chilled drink!
6. Haitian coffee
If you're a java junkie, you'll love Haitian coffee. It boasts an ultra-smooth profile that makes it a hot commodity among specialty coffee importers worldwide. The taste is rich but deep; it's frequently described as chocolatey even though it has zero cocoa in it.
It has just that sweet tang that comes with a smooth, flavorful and low-acid coffee.
7 Haitian Desserts
Follow the honeybees in any Haitian street market and you'll be led straight to a fresco stand. It's basically shaved ice topped with different flavors of thick, colorful syrup, and its sweetness is an irresistible attraction to honeybees.
However, the buzz is worth it to enjoy the chill of fresco during a hot Haitian summer!
2. Pain patate
Alternately known as “sweet potato bread” or “sweet potato bread pudding,” this dessert can take several forms depending on how it's prepared, but it's always a treat. Its rich softness is almost more of a cake than a bread, and its flavor profile just bursts on the tongue with cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, brown sugar and molasses.
Like its name suggests, it's made with sweet potato rather than flour, so you could even argue that it's a somewhat healthy snack.
3. Gateau au beurre
Usually translated as “butter cake,” gateau au beurre is a simple dessert that looks a bit like a bundt cake. When you bite into it, however, you'll be surprised by the taste of rhum!
The plain butter-and-vanilla loaf is the perfect vehicle for the alcohol. Top it with coconut or chocolate shavings to give it even more oomph.
4. Tablet cocoye
You might mistake tablet cocoye for peanut brittle at first glance, but it doesn't have any peanut products at all. Its main ingredient is coconut! There's also cinnamon, ginger root, white sugar and lemon zest.
Everything is heated together in a pan until it forms a sticky mixture that can be parceled onto a baking sheet and cooled into bite-sized snacks.
Papita have a taste and texture that's similar to potato chips, but they're actually made from plantains. They're fried, flattened and covered with salt before being packaged in small bags and sold on street corners.
You can find them all over Haiti for around 10 gourdes (25 cents) per bag. You can also make them at home with nothing more than a skillet of oil and a salt shaker.
Interested in plantains? Here are more ways to prepare plantains.
6. Dous makos
Chocoholics, this one is for you. Dous makos is the Haitian version of fudge, and it involves several chocolate layers sandwiching other layers of vanilla, almond, rhum, peanut butter and whatever other flavors that your heart desires.
Just make sure that you harden your fudge before you cut it. Dous makos is distinctive because of its geometric, almost Neapolitan-like precision.
7. Blan manje
There's nothing like a glass of blan manje to make you feel like you're in a tropical paradise. With its fruity coconut flavor and its creamy, milky base, you can sip this dessert drink while sunbathing on the beach for a real taste of the high life.
These are just a few examples of Haitian food that will send your taste buds reeling. With its blend of French, Spanish and Caribbean influences, you never know what you're going to get with Haitian cuisine, which is exactly why it's so exciting to try!
Have you had one of these dishes? Which ones have you added to your culinary bucket list?