This article will explore what to eat in Belize, explaining the basics of Belizian cuisine, street food, main dishes, soups, drinks, and desserts.
Belize’s cuisine is influenced by various cultures present in the country: Mayan, Creole, Garifuna, Mestiza, and East Indian. Due to its prolonged historical association with England, Belize has also been significantly influenced by English cuisine.
What should you know about Belize food?
As we said, Belize is a melting pot of cultures, and that is reflected in its cuisine. You will find the same dishes in Mexico and Guatemala in Belize but with a twist. It also has unique Kriol dishes like Boil Up and Garifuna, like Cassava bread.
Belize is a subtropical country with a warm climate and fertile soil. So, it has an abundance of fruits like mango, avocado, banana, and coconut. It also has an extensive coast and several islands, plus it is home to the second-largest coral reef in the world. Making it a paradise for seafood and fish lovers.
We also descovered that Belize has the finest breakfasts. Actually, we think it is the best meal to eat in Belize. It tends to be a savory breakfast, with eggs, refried beans, chicken, or bacon, served with Johnny Cakes or Fry Jacks. It is so satisfying that it will keep you full for the whole day.
Another ingredient that is frequently used and in which Belizians take considerable pride is Marie Sharp’s hot sauce; it is used with everything. Marie Sharp’s hot sauce is a hot sauce brand produced in Belize. It is made with habanero pepper sauces, so it is very spicy, and the Belizians love it.
Where to eat Belize food?
Traveling in Belize is expensive, and food in Belize is quite expensive compared to neighboring countries. The best way to save money with food is to use and abuse street food. You will find plenty of street food stalls in Belize with delicious things.
Plus, you will find various options, from BBQ chicken and lobsters to pupusas. You will have so many good dishes to choose from.
Investing in a good breakfast is also a good option in Belize. It is so satisfying and tasty, and you will be full nearly the whole day.
Besides the tips above, the best places to eat are in restaurants where the locals eat. They serve traditional food and are cheaper. And near the bus stops, there are plenty of food options.
Street food in Belize
Fry Jacks is one of Belizeans’ most famous foods. It is a puff pastry made of deep-fried wheat dough. It has the shape of a semi-moon or triangle.
They are especially good when hot. They are crunchy but soft and very airy. Normally you eat them with eggs and beans or can eat them as a sandwich. Either way, they are one of the best dishes to eat in Belize.
They are mainly eaten as breakfast but can be eaten at any time. You will find it all over Belize, mostly in breakfast restaurants. They are a staple dish used as bread to accompany other dishes.
Johnny Cakes are Belizian small bread rolls. They are made with wheat flour, coconut milk, baking powder, and shortening. They are savory bread eaten for breakfast and served with refried beans, eggs, meat, or cheese.
It is thought that the original name was Journey Cake, but that was changed with time to Johnny Cakes. It is one of Belizeans’ most popular foods. It is dense but soft with a light taste of coconut.
Although they are mainly breakfast dishes, you can basically eat them any time of the day. They are good for making sandwiches and taking to the beach. We ate them almost daily during our stay in San Pedro on the island of Ambergris Caye. A small coffee shop called Celi’s Deli makes amazing Johnny Cake sandwiches.
Meat pie is a Belizean dish influenced by English cuisine. It is a hand-sized pie made with a flaky pastry typically filled with minced meat and gravy sauce, but it can have a variety of fillings. They usually are baked in the oven.
It is crunchy and a mouth full of good stuff. You will find a variety of fillings, from beef to chicken, pork, vegetables, and curry. They are really good.
You will find minced pies in Belize everywhere: coffee shops, bakeries, and street vendors. They are such a good snack, you can eat them as breakfast or during the day when you want to grab a bite. They aren’t very big. They are the size of a cupcake, so you can eat one or two.
Pupusas are a popular street food in Belize. Cheap and delicious, they are made with corn massa (a dough made with corn flour processed by Nixtamalization) and stuffed with different ingredients, like cheese, chicharrones, and beans. They look like they have nothing inside but are full of good things.
Pupusas are originally from El Salvador, and it is their National dish. They are famous in Belize due to the many immigrants from El Salvador in Belize. And you will find them all over the country.
Tamales are also a frequent street food in Belize. They are a traditional Mayan dish; you will find them in all countries with Mayan heritage, like Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and other Central American countries.
They are made with corn dough called massa (as explained above), which is steamed in banana leaves. They can be savory or sweet. And have different fillings like meat, cheese, and vegetables.
Tamales don’t have a strong flavor. It depends on the taste of the fillings. It has a soft texture that melts in the mouth. It may feel strange initially, but with the subsequent bites, you will grow on it.
A conch is a sea snail with a very beautiful shell. It is indigenous to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. And abundant in Belize, especially in the Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye islands. The conch season is from October to June.
In Belize, the meat of Conch is used for cooking purposes. It is used in salads, soups, and fritters. Conch fritters are made with the meat of conch that is chopped and mixed with flour, garlic, hot peppers, and herbs. Molded in small patties and deep-fried.
We didn’t have the opportunity to eat them. They are appetizers or snacks, but we didn’t find them in street food joints. You have to go to a restaurant to eat them, or we heard that they are served in bars as a snack.
Salbutes are a typical dish in Belize despite originating in Yucatán, Mexico. They are made with maize tortillas fried in lard. This makes the tortilla inflated, puffy, and light. On top of the Salbut, lettuce, tomato, pickled onion, avocado, refried beans (called frijoles), chicken, or other meat are added. The toppings vary a lot.
They are street foods that you can find everywhere in Belize, and they are crunchy and delicious. As they aren’t very big, they are the size of your hand, and you will want to eat one or two.
Main Dishes in Belize
Rice and Beans
Rice and Beans are your staple food in Belize. You will eat it with everything: chicken, BBQ, beef, fish, and stews. But it isn’t your ordinary rice and beans. In Belize, it has the exotic taste of coconuts.
This is Belize’s national dish. It is made with white rice and red kidney beans cooked until soft. Usually, it is accompanied by coleslaw or potato salad and meat (chicken or beef).
This is a pleasant dish, it is a humble dish but with a twist. It is upgraded when you eat it with the gravy of the meat or hot sauce, as it can be a bit dry. You will have plenty of opportunities to try it, as it is served in every restaurant with almost anything.
Boil up, or Bil Up in Kriol is a traditional Kriol dish. It is made with boiled vegetables, cassava, yams, eggs, fish or pigtail, and tomato sauce. It is served with dumplings.
This isn’t an easy dish to find; during our trip to Belize, we didn’t find it. Maybe it is more of a homemade dish or is served in specific restaurants. Or maybe we were just unlucky.
Cochinita Pibil is a beloved Mexican Yucatecan delicacy, also adored in Belize. It is made with a succulent suckling pig known as Cochinita.
To create this dish, the meat marries in bitter oranges and annatto, imparting distinct and vibrant flavors. Finally, the marinated pork is enveloped in banana leaves before undergoing the slow-roasting process in an oven or pit over a fiery bed.
It is generally served in a taco, salbut, or accompanied with rice and beans. It is delicious, the meat is so soft and tender it melts in your mouth. You will find Cochinita Pibil in street food joints served with tacos or salbutes or in restaurants served as a main dish.
Belize is one of the best places to eat fish and seafood. It has an extensive coastline with several islands and coral reefs, making the country a fish and seafood paradise. It is also a significant fishing hub.
That being said, although ceviche didn’t originate in Belize (but in Peru), it is an ideal place to eat it. Ceviche consists of raw fish or seafood marinated in citrus juices like lime or lemon. The acidic marinade “cooks” the fish and gives it an intense and refreshing flavor. It is served with fresh onions, chili peppers, and cilantro.
There are different kinds of ceviche, a mixture of seafood, a particular fish, shrimp, or octopus. It is as your heart desires. The best places to eat ceviche in Belize are by the sea, where there are several excellent seafood restaurants.
As mentioned above, Belize is the ideal place to eat fish. And grilled fish is one of the best ways to eat fish. The fish is grilled as a whole on hot charcoal, it is crispy and humid at the same time.
The fish is served with rice and beans, coleslaw, or potato salad. Grouper, Snapper, Barracuda, King Mackerel, and Jackfish are the most common fish.
Belize has several restaurants by the coast and the islands that serve grilled fish. But if you wish for something more casual and less expensive, Belize has got your back. Several food stalls by the beach serve grilled fish.
Belize has fantastic lobsters and is one of the best places in the world to eat it. Besides being delicious, eating grilled lobster on the beach/street is possible for only 15 USD.
One of our best experiences in Belize was eating lobster on the beach in Caye Caulker. It is a delicious, fresh, and unforgettable meal, both for the location and the food.
The lobster can be cooked in different ways. Grilled on charcoal, boiled, and served in stews and soups. We ate it grilled and served with rice and beans.
BBQ Chicken in Belize is amazing. Grilled in hot charcoal, it is smoky and has an intense hot sauce flavor. It is the ultimate comfort food. The chicken is served with traditional rice and beans, coleslaw salad, and pickled onion.
It is delicious and exotic due to the secret hot sauce (it can be very spicy) and is usually cheap food. You will find plenty of food slats with BBQ chicken, each with a signature sauce. It is a dish that can’t go wrong. We ate BBQ chicken in Caye Caulker by the beach, which was a pleasant experience, and we loved it.
Coconut tarts are small, decadent Belize desserts. They are so good, with a strong coconut flavor, ideal for coconut lovers.
They are made with a shortcrust pastry filled with grated coconut, condensed milk, nutmeg, vanilla essence, and sugar. They are baked in the oven until golden.
You will find them in bakeries or street vendors.
Rum is the most popular drink in Belize. It is a distilled spirit drink made from sugarcane molasses, abundant in Belize. Rum has an alcohol percentage ranging from 40% to 60% but may vary depending on the brand.
In Belize and other Caribbean countries, the darker rums have a stronger and richer taste with more molasses flavor. Belize’s most famous rum brands are One Barrel Rum, Traveller’s Liquors, and Tiburón Rum.
Fresh fruit juice
Fresh fruit juice is the most common non-alcoholic drink in Belize. There are two types of fruit juice: simple and fresh fruit juice made with fresh cold water and aromatized with fruit. Fruit shakes of smoothies made principally with fruit and ice have a higher fruit concentration.
Belize has a tropical climate and an abundance of delicious sweet fruit. The most common fruits are mango, banana, papaya, pineapple, watermelon, guava, and coconut. So the fresh juices are simply delicious. You will find it everywhere in Belize; it is the staple drink.
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