Authentic Jamaican Ackee and Saltfish Recipe

Ackee and Saltfish

Authentic Jamaican Ackee and Saltfish Recipe
Region / culture: Jamaica | Preparation time: 30 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes | Servings: 4


Ackee and Saltfish
Ackee and Saltfish

Ackee and Saltfish is a traditional Jamaican dish known for its unique combination of flavors and textures. It pairs the soft, slightly nutty taste of ackee, Jamaica's national fruit, with the salty, flaky texture of saltfish, or dried and salted cod. This dish is a staple in Jamaican cuisine and is often served for breakfast or brunch, but it can also make a delightful dinner. The recipe we're exploring today brings together the rich cultural heritage and the vibrant flavors that characterize Jamaican cooking, offering a taste of the island's culinary tradition.


The history of Ackee and Saltfish is deeply intertwined with the history of Jamaica itself. Ackee was brought to Jamaica from West Africa in the 18th century, while saltfish was introduced by colonial powers as a cheap source of protein for slaves. Over time, these two ingredients were combined, and Ackee and Saltfish emerged as a beloved national dish. It symbolizes the fusion of different cultures and influences that have shaped Jamaican history and cuisine.


How to prepare

  1. Soak the saltfish in warm water to taste.
  2. After soaking the saltfish (codfish), place it in cold water and boil.
  3. Clean the ackee by removing the seeds and all traces of the interior red pit.
  4. Wash the ackees five times.
  5. Cover and boil the ackees until moderately soft.
  6. Drain the ackees, cover, and set them aside.
  7. Pick up (flake) the saltfish and remove all bones.
  8. Sauté thinly sliced onions and sweet pepper rings.
  9. Remove half of the fried onions and peppers.
  10. Add the saltfish and the ackees, and turn the fire/stove up slightly.
  11. Add black pepper.
  12. Pour the mixture onto a serving plate and garnish with the remaining onions and pepper slices.


  • Vegan Ackee: Replace saltfish with sautéed vegetables or tofu for a vegan version.
  • Spicy Ackee and Saltfish: Increase the amount of Scotch bonnet pepper for a spicier dish.
  • Ackee and Saltfish with Bacon: Add crispy bacon bits for an extra layer of flavor and texture.
  • There are several ways to vary the traditional Ackee and Saltfish recipe:
  • Add bacon or salt pork for extra flavor.
  • Include tomatoes for a slight acidity and a burst of color.
  • Use canned ackee when fresh is not available, but be sure to drain and rinse it well.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure your Ackee and Saltfish turns out perfectly, consider the following tips:

- Soak the saltfish overnight to reduce its saltiness. Change the water several times during soaking.

- Be gentle when mixing the ackee with the saltfish to avoid breaking the ackee too much, as it should remain in large, soft chunks.

- Use a non-stick pan to prevent the ingredients from sticking and to make the sautéing process easier.

- Adjust the amount of scotch bonnet pepper according to your heat preference. Remember, a little goes a long way!

Serving Suggestions

Ackee and Saltfish is traditionally served with boiled green bananas, fried dumplings, or hard dough bread. For a lighter option, serve it alongside a fresh garden salad or steamed vegetables to complement the flavors of the dish.

Cooking Techniques

The key techniques in making Ackee and Saltfish include soaking and boiling the saltfish to remove excess salt, gently sautéing the onions and peppers to bring out their flavors, and carefully combining the ackee with the other ingredients to maintain its texture.

Ingredient Substitutions

If saltfish is not available, you can substitute it with another type of salted fish, or for a less salty option, use fresh cod or another flaky white fish. Adjust the seasoning accordingly to compensate for the reduced saltiness.

Make Ahead Tips

You can soak and boil the saltfish a day in advance to save time. Additionally, the sautéed onions and peppers can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Presentation Ideas

Serve Ackee and Saltfish on a platter garnished with fresh herbs like thyme or parsley. Use colorful side dishes to create an appealing visual contrast and enhance the overall presentation of the meal.

Pairing Recommendations

Ackee and Saltfish pairs well with acidic beverages like lemonade or tropical fruit juices, which can help cut through the richness of the dish. A light, crisp white wine also complements the flavors nicely.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. To reheat, gently warm the dish in a pan over low heat to prevent the ackee from becoming mushy. Add a little water or oil if necessary to keep it moist.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A serving of Ackee and Saltfish contains approximately 200-300 calories, depending on the amount of cooking oil used and the serving size. This makes it a relatively low-calorie option, especially if served with a side of vegetables instead of starchy sides.


Ackee and Saltfish is relatively low in carbohydrates. Ackee itself contains about 9 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams, while the saltfish contributes minimal carbohydrates to the dish. The primary source of carbs in this recipe would come from any side dishes served with it, such as fried dumplings or bread.


The fat content in Ackee and Saltfish primarily comes from the cooking oil used in sautéing and any fat naturally present in the saltfish. Ackee is very low in fat, containing less than 1 gram per 100 grams. To keep the dish healthier, use a minimal amount of oil or opt for a healthier oil option like olive oil.


Saltfish is an excellent source of protein, providing about 18 grams of protein per 100 grams. Ackee, on the other hand, contains about 2 grams of protein per 100 grams. Together, they make Ackee and Saltfish a dish with a good protein content, essential for muscle repair and growth.

Vitamins and minerals

Ackee is rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and iron. Vitamin C boosts the immune system, potassium supports heart health, and iron is crucial for blood production. Saltfish also contributes vitamins and minerals, particularly B-vitamins and phosphorus.


The main allergens to be aware of in Ackee and Saltfish are fish (cod) and possible cross-contamination with other seafood in the saltfish. Additionally, ackee must be properly prepared, as unripe ackee contains toxins that can be harmful if ingested.


Overall, Ackee and Saltfish is a nutritious dish that provides a good balance of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. It's relatively low in carbohydrates and calories, making it a healthy option for those monitoring their intake. However, it's important to be mindful of the salt content due to the saltfish and to ensure ackee is ripe and properly prepared to avoid toxicity.


Ackee and Saltfish is a flavorful and nutritious dish that embodies the heart of Jamaican cuisine. With its rich history, versatile serving options, and health benefits, it's a meal that can be enjoyed at any time of day. Whether you're a seasoned cook or new to Jamaican dishes, this recipe offers a delicious way to explore the flavors of the island.

How did I get this recipe?

The first time I saw this recipe, I was drawn to it like a magnet. It was a warm summer day, and I was visiting my friend Maria in Jamaica. As we sat in her kitchen, sipping on freshly brewed coffee, she began to tell me about a traditional dish called Ackee and Saltfish.

Maria explained that Ackee is a fruit that grows on trees in Jamaica and is often compared to scrambled eggs when cooked. Saltfish, on the other hand, is dried and salted cod that is rehydrated and cooked with various seasonings. The combination of the two creates a savory and satisfying meal that is enjoyed by many Jamaicans.

Curious to learn more, I asked Maria if she would teach me how to make Ackee and Saltfish. With a smile, she agreed and we immediately set to work gathering the ingredients. Maria showed me how to properly desalt the cod and prepare the Ackee fruit, carefully removing any inedible parts.

As we cooked, Maria shared stories of her own grandmother who passed down the recipe to her. She explained that each family in Jamaica has their own version of Ackee and Saltfish, with slight variations in seasonings and cooking methods. It was clear that this dish held a special place in her heart, just as it was beginning to in mine.

The aroma of the cooking fish and fruit filled the kitchen, making my mouth water in anticipation. Maria and I worked together, stirring and tasting, adjusting seasonings until the flavors were just right. Finally, we sat down to enjoy our creation, savoring each bite and reminiscing about our day together.

From that moment on, I was hooked. I couldn't get enough of Ackee and Saltfish and began experimenting with different recipes and techniques. I asked friends and family for their versions, incorporating new ideas and flavors into my own dishes.

Over the years, I perfected my recipe for Ackee and Saltfish, blending the traditional flavors of Jamaica with my own unique twist. I shared this dish with anyone who would listen, passing down the recipe to my children and grandchildren, ensuring that this tradition would continue for generations to come.

As I look back on that fateful day in Maria's kitchen, I am grateful for the experience and the knowledge she shared with me. Ackee and Saltfish has become a staple in my household, a dish that brings us together and reminds us of the rich culinary history of Jamaica.

I am proud to carry on the tradition of Ackee and Saltfish, knowing that each time I cook this dish, I am honoring the legacy of those who came before me. And as I sit down to enjoy a plate of this delicious meal, I am filled with gratitude for the friendships and memories that have been created through the sharing of food and culture.


| Jamaican Meat Dishes | Jamaican Recipes |

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