Ackee & Saltfish with Johnny Cakes


A Jamaican delicacy that's simple to make and tastes like nothing you've had before



A savory breakfast with an uncommon primary ingredient graced my latest “5 Countries Tell Us What They Have for Breakfast” series, and this Jamaican delicacy is extremely unique and mouthwatering. Centered around saltfish, this breakfast includes dumpling dough called johnny cakes, fried plantain, a slice of avocado (when in season), and a yellow fruit called ackee. The plating of this dish is simply colorful and beautiful, but the taste is even better.

This ackee and saltfish with johnny cakes recipe comes from Gabriella, who is from the island of Jamaica. This fresh, savory breakfast always satisfies, and it is the national dish of Jamaica. As something very special to Jamaicans, Gabriella was one of many who grew up eating ackee and saltfish with johnny cakes every Sunday alongside other breakfast foods like callaloo, rundown mackerel, and breadfruit.

Saltfish was very popular in Jamaica back when refrigeration wasn’t a given, and the ackee itself was brought over from Ghana during slavery times. These components came from different origins and formed what we know today as ackee and saltfish with johnny cakes. Nowadays, families like Gabriella’s make this traditional breakfast every Sunday—or they send her dad out to the local cook shop to get it for them! Throughout her childhood, Gabriella’s grandmother would make it often. This dish has been passed down through generations, and it now reminds Gabriella of home.

Although my ackee and saltfish with johnny cakes looked like scrambled eggs, it tasted nothing like that; in fact, I’ve never had anything like it. It was sweet and somewhat creamy, and the johnny cakes were a delicious spin on fried bread. I’ve worked with saltfish before when making Jamaican saltfish fritters, so I knew to boil it to get rid of the extra salty taste. Overall, it turned out beautifully mild and was very simple to make!

This truly was one of my favorite breakfasts I’ve had in a while. If you can get your hands on these ingredients, I highly recommend trying this yummy piece of Jamaica!

Watch the Video

Ackee & Saltfish with Johnny Cakes


  • 1 can Ackee or 1/2 lb picked (seeds out) fresh ackee 
  • 1/2 White Onion sliced
  • 1 Bell Pepper sliced
  • 1 Tomato cubed
  • 1 Green Onion sliced
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper whole
  • Black Pepper
  • 3 sprigs Thyme
  • 1/2 lb Saltfish

Johnny Cakes

  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2 tbso Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Baking Powder
  • 2 tbso Cold Butter
  • 1/8 cup Cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup Milk or milk
  • 1/2 cup Oil


  • The preparation depends on if you’ll get dry saltfish or canned saltfish. If it’s dry and salted you’ll need to boil the salt fish in water at least 2 times, wash it off with cold water and check to see if the salt level. It should be a bearable salt level.
  • Then you have to remove the skin and bones. You should end up with small flakes of salt fish. If it’s canned just pour off the water and use. 
  • On a medium flame, heat up some oil. Sautée the veg.
  • Add flaked saltfish. Saute for a minute or 2. 
  • Gently add the ackee (the key is not to mush the ackee, you want it as much as possible in whole pods). Stir gently with a fork to combine. Sprinkle it with black pepper and salt. 
  • Add whole scotch bonnet and thyme (still on stalk). Cover and let simmer on low for 5 mins. 
  • Serve with johnny cakes, sliced fried plantain, and slices of pear (avocado).

Johnny Cakes

  • Mix all the dry ingredients together. 
  • Cut in finely diced cold butter and mix with a fork. 
  • Slowly add water and stir until dough forms. 
  • Knead dough until smooth. If it's too sticky add a little more flour. Let rest for 10 mins. 
  • Shape into small 2-inch disk shapes. 
  • Fry in 1/2 cup of oil (oil should come at least 1/2 way up the dumpling) on medium. Flip when one side is golden brown. 
  • Serve hot! (If you make the dumplings too big and they don't cook though when browned you might have to turn them on their sides and "let them soak" more.)
Course: Breakfast
Region: North America
Keyword: Comfort food


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