What Is Callaloo? And How Do You Like It?



Updated on 7/17/2024
Martin AlvarezBy Martin Alvarez
Nutritionist/Dietitian Professional Guide
Learn More about Martin Alvarez

A callaloo is a green leafy vegetable that is a common staple food in Jamaica. It is traditionally prepared by cooking it with onion, garlic, tomatoes, thyme, and Scotch bonnet pepper. A delicious and nutritious option for a tropical breakfast, lunch, or supper side dish.

When I return to Jamaica, one of my favorite things is to try the food that is made there. The vast majority of meals cooked locally are organic and unprocessed.

Callaloo, also known as Amaranthus Viridis, brings back so many fond memories of my childhood when I used to enjoy eating it prepared in a variety of different ways. It is served throughout the day, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

How To Prepare Callaloo, A Native Dish To Jamaica



Traditionally, callaloo is either prepared by itself with onion, tomatoes, green onions, Scotch bonnet pepper, and thyme; alternatively, it can be prepared with salt fish; alternatively, it can be served with steamed fish, rice, or fried breadfruit.

In addition to being put into soups, it is also used as a stuffing for savory pastries known as patties, such as my Jamaican Lentil Patties, and it can even be brewed into a beverage.

What Exactly Is This "Jamaican Callaloo"?

How To Prepare Callaloo, A Dish Native To Jamaica

A green leafy tasty vegetable that dates back thousands of years and is also known as amaranth, callaloo has been consumed by humans for a long time. It is comparable to spinach but has a stronger flavor.

Farmers cultivate callaloo from seed in Jamaica and sell the resulting plant at several local markets. Because I really enjoy cultivating my own food, I usually let some of my callaloo plants go to seed. After that, I wait for the seeds to get dry before putting them away till spring.

What Are The Positive Effects Of Eating Jamaican Callaloo On One's Health?



However, despite its notoriety, this noxious weed provides an excellent source of the nutrients iron, calcium, folate, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A and C. You can find callaloo in supermarkets that serve the Caribbean, Asia, and/or international cuisine.

On a white background, a silver pot containing cooked callaloo from Jamaica, complete with a wooden spoon.

1 cup of cooked callaloo contains all of the following:

  • 90 kilocalories.
  • The iron content of 6.9 milligrams.
  • There is 1074 mg of potassium in total.
  • calcium in the amount of 602 milligrams.
  • 13 grammes of fibre in total.
  • salt content equaling 484 milligrams.
  • Vitamin C in the amount of 86 milligrams.
  • 7.2 grams of essential amino acids.

Scotch bonnet pepper is also an important element in Jamaican cuisine and is comparable to habanero pepper, which may be substituted. I use it on its whole despite its very high heat level because the dish benefits from the distinctive and genuine taste it brings.

Ackee, Vegan Rundown, Dumplings or Festival, Breadfruit, or Yam are all fantastic accompaniments to callaloo when eating it.

How To Prepare Callaloo, A Dish Native To Jamaica



  • In order to prepare callaloo, first clean it thoroughly by removing any debris, dead leaves, and tough stalks. I like to get the debris off the callaloo by filling a large pot with cold water, adding some salt to the water, and then submerging the callaloo in the pot for about ten minutes. The salt helps out get rid of the debris.
  • Throw away the water and give the callaloo another rinse. Remove the callaloo stems' outermost layer, which is quite thin. Callaloo's leaves and stems should be sliced very thinly and kept aside.
  • Onion, garlic, green onions, thyme, and tomatoes should be cooked in oil until translucent. After adding chopped callaloo, salt, and Scotch bonnet pepper, let the mixture steam while it is covered.
  • You can now add some water to the callaloo, but be careful not to use too much because the callaloo will "spring its own water" later (produce its own liquid as it is cooked)

I served my callaloo with roasted breadfruit, Jamaican yellow yam, gluten free and vegan boiled dumplings, and ackee.

CategoriesNutrition (Per portion)The Time To Cook

Categories: Gluten-Free, Vegan.

Course: Side Dish.

Cuisine: Jamaican.

Energy: 54 kcal / 226 kJ

Fat: 1 g

Protein: 3 g

Carbs: 8 g

Preparation: 10 min.

Cooking: 10 min.

Prepared to go: 20 min.

For: 3 Servings.


  • 4 cups of callaloo, finely diced and packed in a tight space.
  • One single tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil.
  • One onion, diced, tiny in size.
  • Two garlic cloves, chopped or minced.
  • Two green onions, chopped.
  • Two little sprigs of thyme.
  • One medium tomato, chopped.
  • Salt to taste.
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet pepper, whole, or the equivalent in cayenne, one-fourth of a teaspoon.
  • Two measuring spoons of water.



Callaloo stalks have an outer membrane that can be peeled off, and the outermost, most wilted leaves should be removed. Callaloo should be placed in a bowl, covered with cold water, and seasoned with a half teaspoon of salt before being set aside while the remaining veggies are prepared. Drain the remaining water, then rinse thoroughly with more water. Cut up some callaloo.

Put some oil in a large pot, then add some onion, garlic, spring onion, thyme, tomato, and scotch bonnet pepper. Saute these ingredients over medium heat until the onion becomes translucent. After adding the callaloo and the water, allow the mixture to simmer over low heat for an average of five to ten minutes or until the leaves are soft.




Cooking time for callaloo can range anywhere from five to ten minutes, depending on how tender the leaves are.