Drawing from Mexican, African, Spanish, Caribbean and English roots, Belizean cuisine is a colorful mash-up of flavors and styles. Kriol, Garifuna and Mayan cultures influence Belizean cuisine with individual traditions that combine to provide a distinct culinary style. Enjoy these Belizean favorites during your next visit.
Rice and Beans
Perhaps the closest thing to a national dish, rice and beans is a widespread staple that can be found as part of many Belizean meals. Traditionally cooked with coconut to give the rice a sweet aroma, texture and flavor, the dish is most often served using red beans.
The Belizean version of a sopapilla, these fried flour-dough treats are a popular breakfast item. Often dusted with powdered sugar and a dollop of jam or honey, the crisp, puffy bread can start many a day with a smile.
Mayan recado spice, or achiote paste, is used in this traditional Belizean dish often served with rice and beans, potato salad and fried plantains. The spice gives the meat a deep reddish color and an exotic flavor when slowly stewed in broth.
A traditional seafood dish emanating from the Garifuna center of Dangriga, hudut is most often comprised of red snapper cooked in a savory coconut milk broth spiked with habanero peppers. Mashed plantains are stirred in to thicken the dish and provide a balance to the fiery heat of the peppers.
A fried cornmeal pastry stuffed with beans or shredded fish and topped with an onion sauce is a favorite street food in the coastal villages and cayes of Belize. Typically served as a lunchtime snack, one is never enough.
Another popular street food is served on a flat corn tortilla which has been fried crisp and topped with beans or meat and cheese. Similar to a tostada, garnaches are served throughout Belize at lunchtime.
Drawing from the country’s Kriol culture, boil up (or bile up) is a hearty combination of boiled eggs, fish and sometimes pig tail, boiled together with mashed ingredients such as plantains, yams, coconut and cassava. The dish is covered with a tomato sauce made with onions and green pepper.
A Belizean delicacy, gibnut is a nocturnal rodent found in the jungles that is prized at community celebrations throughout the country. Not typically served in restaurants, the gibnut is sometimes referred to as the “Queen’s Rat” after famously being served to Queen Elizabeth of England during a visit. The meal met with finger-licking approval.
Seafood reigns supreme in Belize. Fresh lobster is available from June 15th to February 15th each year. Conch is another seasonal favorite available anytime except July through September. Conch fritters are the premier Belizean appetizer. Red snapper, grouper and barracuda are grilled, stewed, and fried year-round.
The Belizean nickname for green iguana, the meat is marinated with lime, seasoned with paprika, garlic and pepper sauce, and then barbecued on the grill. Ask any Belizean what it tastes like and the standard smiling response will be “chicken.”