A typical Belizean lunch with salad, stew chicken and beans and rice

Six traditional foods to try in Belize

Maysie Dee

Contributing writer

The little Central American country of Belize has a fascinating history that formed its melting pot society. The population includes Mestizo, Creole, Garifuna, British, East-Indian and Chinese members, plus a significant traditional Mennonite farming community.

Today the country is primarily English and Spanish-speaking, with local Belizean Creole thrown into the mix. That’s quite a variety, for a tiny sliver of a country, just slightly smaller than the USA state of Massachusetts!

There are several Belizean culinary specialities, the “must-try” dishes that you don’t want to miss. Here’s a short list, so you can make sure to seek them out.

Belize-style stew chicken made with chicken and tomatoes

1. Stew chicken or beef

This Belizean classic is a definite must – it manages to beautifully encapsulate the real flavour of Belize! The meat is stewed in a rich, flavorful sauce until it literally falls off the bone.

There are many “secret” stew meat recipes in Belize, most of them including spices, such as cumin, oregano and thyme, cinnamon, clove and annatto, with lots of garlic, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and other goodies.

The result is so satisfying and provides the necessary liquid to sop up the before-mentioned red beans and rice.

A Belizean-style breakfast with eggs, bacon and fry jacks

2. Typical Belizean breakfast

Breakfast is one of the best meals of the day in Belize and a typical full breakfast is huge! It usually comes with some variety of eggs, sausage, bacon, refried beans, sauces, and the ever-popular fry jacks or johnny cakes, and juice.

Occasionally, you might even find stew chicken making an appearance on the breakfast plate.

If you’re short on time, street vendors offer quicker alternatives like breakfast tacos, burritos, or meat pies. These pies are small pastries filled of stewed chicken or beef, making them a favourite among locals and tourists alike.

Hint: A unique twist to try is chaya eggs, where eggs are scrambled with fresh chaya leaves. This vegetable, reminiscent of spinach, is a staple in both Mayan and Belizean cuisines.

A bowl of fry jacks dusted with icing sugar

3. Fry jacks

Fry jacks, a signature Belizean breakfast treat, are scrumptious puffy triangle or moon-shaped fried savoury breads. As with any fried food, when they’re done right, they are decadently delicious, so you want to find the best!

A breakfast in Belize would be incomplete without Fry Jacks. Resembling triangle or moon-shaped fried breads, these delightful puffy treats are a savory indulgence. When fried to golden perfection, they boast a crispy exterior that gives way to a soft, airy centre.

You can have them plain, drizzled with honey, or paired with eggs and beans, they offer a taste that's both comforting and decadent.

Hint: For an authentic Fry Jack experience, consider visiting Ho’k ol K’in Guesthouse restaurant, where they are known to serve some of the best in the region.

A bowl of Belizean red beans and rice

4. Belizean red beans and rice

A staple in Belizean cuisine, you’ll find this comfort-food dish made with exotic coconut milk, in every local-style eatery. Tender red beans are simmered with garlic, onion, and local spices.

But what sets the Belizean version apart is the addition of creamy coconut milk, which infuses the rice with a subtle sweetness and rich aroma.

The dish is often served as part of a "plate of the day," which might also include stewed meats, fresh vegetables, and fried plantains. However, its versatility means it can also be enjoyed as a standalone dish or a hearty side.

A basket of Johnny cakes

5. Johnny cakes

These leavened baked breads are reminiscent of biscuits but carry a distinct Belizean touch. Often prepared using rich coconut milk, Johnny Cakes have a slightly sweet undertone that complements their buttery texture.

They can be enjoyed split open with a smear of butter, or taken up a notch by stuffing them with savory fillings like ham, cheese, or beans. Their dense yet soft texture makes them a popular choice for breakfast, often paired with a hot beverage.

Hint: Try them at Jo-Mel-In Restaurant in Corozal

Close up of chicken and salad in Belizean salbutes

6. Garnaches and salbutes

These little fried corn tortilla snacks are similar; both delicious! Garnaches are fried corn tortilla rounds, generously topped with cheese, beans, onions, and sometimes avocado and tomatoes, offering a burst of flavours with every bite.

Salbutes, on the other hand, are tiny fried corn tortillas crowned with a special mix of shredded chicken, thinly sliced cabbage, and avocado, all brought together with a dash of spicy chilli sauce.

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Maysie Dee

Author - Maysie Dee

Maysie Dee is a freelance writer, content editor, and recipe creator. She and her husband have travelled across the world for decades as natural product consultants, collecting stories along the way.

Last Updated 19 January 2024

A small islet in the Carribean Sea in Belize


Belize is a Central American country known for its diverse culture, rich history and stunning natural scenery