Recipe: Ackee and Saltfish, Jamaica's National Dish

August 20, 2014

When visiting Jamaica, one of the must-try dishes is our national dish, Ackee and Saltfish. It is the most popular among our guests and is available as part of the taste of Jamaica dish during breakfast on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Ackee & Saltfish

What is Ackee?

Ackee is a pear-shaped fruit that is found in warm climates. As the ackee fruit ripens, it turns from green to bright red to yellow-orange, and splits open to reveal three large, shiny black seeds, each partly surrounded by soft, white to yellow flesh.
This national fruit of Jamaica was imported here from East Africa before 1725. Today, ackee fruit is canned and one of Jamaica’s major exports.

Akee fruit

Ackee and Saltfish

To prepare the dish, salt cod is sautéed with boiled ackee, onions, Scotch Bonnet peppers, tomatoes and spices. It is usually served as breakfast or dinner alongside breadfruit, hard dough bread, dumplings, fried plantain, or boiled green bananas. Ackee and Saltfish can also be eaten with rice and peas or plain white rice.


Serves 2-4

  • ½-pound salt fish
  • fresh ackee soaked, or tinned ackee
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small sweet pepper (yellow/red or green), julienned
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon scotch bonnet pepper, chopped finely (omit if you don’t want the dish spicy)
  • 2 stalks scallion, chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Put saltfish to soak in cold water for about 1 hour.
  2. Pour off water; add fresh water and boil until tender.
  3. De-bone and flake the saltfish.
  4. Heat oil and sauté onion, garlic, scallions, tomatoes, scotch bonnet pepper and sweet pepper until tender, about five to six minutes.
  5. Add flaked saltfish, fresh or canned ackee and black pepper.
  6. Toss lightly; cover and allow to stand over low heat for about 2 minutes.

Enjoy this most famous Jamaican dish!
Ackee & Saltfish Ackee and Saltfish served with fried plantains and breadfruit


  1. Jamaica Inn

    You’re most welcome Patrick!

  2. Patrick C

    I am trying to cook this today to share with my Mom. From the numerous great responses I am sure it will turn out fantastic but I will try to remember to update on how it turns out. Thank you for sharing this fabulous dish recipe.

  3. Reply

    Omg. I am totally trying it out. The last time I did it incorrectly so I’m glad I found this here.

  4. Chloe

    I’m vegetarian and want to cook this as a surprise for my Jamaican boyfriend (it’s his favourite so I don’t want to disappoint!) How can I make sure the saltfish is tender without tasting it as I don’t want it to be overcooked either?!

    1. Jamaica Inn

      Hello Chloe,
      You can boil the saltfish for 20 minutes, by then the saltfish should be tender and ready to be prepared.

  5. cindy

    Do you have to boil the fresh Ackee before you add it in or cook it at all?

    1. Jamaica Inn

      Hello Cindy,
      Yes you can cook the cleaned ackee 15-20 minutes on low heat. Be sure to remove before it’s too soft.

      1. Winston

        I can eat ackee and salt fish right through the night… breakfast and dinner…lovely

        1. Jamaica Inn

          We agree Winston:)

  6. Reply

    Been craving this for a year and a half since I had it at a Jamaican Xmas party. Been looking for ackee ever since and found it at one of my local supermarkets just the other day. I have been warned that it smells horrible when cooking, is that true? I don’t care either way, I AM making this!!! Now off to the fish monger for salt cod :). Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for posting this. I am super excited to get this made. I have only had it twice but both times I found it incredibly lovely. Also need to look for a fry dumpling recipe because that too sounds delish!

    1. Jamaica Inn

      You’re welcome Randy! Stay tuned for more great recipe posts.

  7. Kenneth

    Just cooked this for my first time and I’m blown away. The flavours where delicious. Was a bit dubious about the ackee and how it looks and tastes out the can but my lord they worked well together. Thank you

    1. Jamaica Inn

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it Kenneth. Keep posted for more posts on easy to make Jamaican dishes.

  8. Ashara senior

    Wow mouth is watering for it now

    1. Jamaica Inn

      We’re delighted you think so Ashara.

  9. Roma Farmer

    Well I was not lucky enough to visit Jamaica, however, this dish looks delicious and I am trying it as we speak. I will let you know what I think after dinner. Many thanks for the recipe. Going to try it with Rice and Kidney beans which I picked up at the store.
    Happy New Year.
    Roma Farmer

    1. Jamaica Inn

      Hello Roma,
      We’re so happy you were inspired to try our national dish! Do let us know how the dish turns out, it sounds like you’re off to a great start!

  10. Christine

    Absolutely delicious! I liked this recipe better than the ackee and saltfish I had a resort
    in Negril. THANK YOU!! A+++++
    I strongly recommend taking the time to make fried dumplings. Match made in heaven! 🙂

    1. Jamaica Inn

      Hello Christine,
      Lovely to hear the feedback on how much you enjoyed this dish! We will make sure we do a recipe for fried dumplings upcoming!

  11. Fragrant Fancies

    This looks great! If there are leftovers, can they be frozen? Or will the Ackee suffer?

  12. Reply

    You are fabulous, i ate this dish 3 years ago i never forgot the taste of it ; i asked many people to teach me how to do it but all not the taste i am looking for ;:until i just google it and it’s come out as it should come ; beautiful, thank you very much A+++++

    1. Jamaica Inn

      Dear Tagrid,
      Happy to hear you love our national dish so much! It definitely is a unique but delish dish! Keep enjoying and stay in touch!

  13. VivT

    This is the easiest and most tasty recipe I’ve ever tried, thank you

  14. Yolunda Silva-Frett

    My ackee and saltfish came out delicious!!! Thanks!!

    1. Jamaica Inn

      So happy to hear this! Chef gave us a wonderfully easy recipe here – glad you enjoyed it!

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