Jamaican Yellow Yam Stew

If you have been a long-time reader of my website, then you will know that I love a good stew. They seem to fulfill some sort of need for warmth and comfort, while also being nutritionally balanced. This Jamaican yellow yam stew is obviously no exception, and if you love a good stew recipe, also check out my White Bean Stew, Chickpea Stew, and Lentil Stew.

Why Are Stews Good?

Anyone who has to cook often, or for a lot of people, probably appreciates a good quick one-pot dish. Stews are usually quick to prep, and require very little attention while cooking, meaning they fit the bill. You can add a protein source, a carbohydrate base, and assorted vegetables, for a nutritionally balanced dish.

They make vegetables more palatable for kids or adults with picky tastes since they are soaked in a delicious broth. Also, they are usually made with economical ingredients such as beans and potatoes, and also store very well, meaning that you can have them for multiple meals. On the other hand, they can also function as a quick light lunch option.

Is Stew Healthy?

I think it goes without saying, but your stew’s healthiness will depend on the ingredients present. However, like I said, I find that it is very easy to make stew super healthy.

For instance, in this stew, I use Jamaican yellow yams instead of potatoes, which I love for variety and its vitamins and minerals. As a vegan, I use coconut milk instead of dairy milk; since coconut milk comes with its own or list of nutritional benefits, this ingredient adds creaminess, richness, and nutritional value.

yellow yam tubers on a cutting board

What Is Jamaican Yellow Yam?

Yellow yam, also known as Jamaican yam or Guinea yam, is a tropical root vegetable that originated in Africa and spread to the Caribbean by way of slaves.

It is a part of “ground provisions”, which is usually a pot of various boiled root vegetables and flour dumplings that is traditionally eaten with Jamaican meals.

They were nutritious and hearty, perfect to be energized to work hard in the fields while being cheap and easy to grow. Yellow yams are even boiled on their own, and the Jamaican yams or the ground provision mixture is eaten with curries, stews, etc. They are also added to most Jamaican soups to make them more filling.

What is normally known as yams in the US is really sweet potatoes, which is actually a separate plant. Yellow yams are a proper member of the yam family, which tastes similar to potatoes while being a bit starchier.

This makes the Jamaican yam better to accompany savory and spicy dishes since the flavor is more neutral.

Yellow yam’s nutrition makes it a great side for any meal. It is packed with vitamins and minerals, making it an easy and cheap way to acquire these vital nutrients that you may not be able to otherwise.

One of my favorite components is copper, which is vital for red blood cell production and iron absorption. Read All About Yellow Yam.

Is Coconut Milk Good For You?

Coconut milk is made from the inner meat of mature coconuts. It is a delicious milk substitute that is used traditionally in many cultures, especially in the Caribbean, Asia, and South America.

Coconut milk has quite a high but healthy fat content, making it perfect for adding to spicy dishes to mellow the flavor and as a base for desserts. Coconut milk is also full of various minerals and vitamins, antioxidants, and even some fiber and protein.

Note that people with allergies to tree nuts can consume coconut because botanically coconut is not a nut, it is a fruit. However, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has classified it as a nut. Coconut milk contains medium-chain fatty acids, these fatty acids are found to be good for cardiovascular healthRead More here.

yellow yam and ingredients for yellow yam stew in a saucepan

What Is Bay Leaf?

Bay leaves, as the name suggests, are the leaf from a tree, specifically various types of laurel trees. They are commonly found as dried whole leaves in the spice section of any major supermarket, and especially in international supermarkets. They are used in Indian, Latin, and Caribbean cooking, among others.

The laurel tree can also be found in many nurseries, so I have also begun to grow my own.

Fun fact: in many traditional Greek paintings and statues, one can see a laurel crown on the heads of the people depicted. These are bay leaf crowns, made from the laurel tree! Read More Here

What Does Bay Leaf Taste Like?

A commonplace where many of you may have seen a bay leaf is in the restaurant Chipotle’s rice. If you have ever wondered why they would put random leaves in their rice, keep reading.

The reason why they are left whole and added to stews, rice, and other dishes, it’s because the leaf never softens. You can cook your dish on the stove for an hour and the leaf will be nearly just as hard as when you added it in. This is why you won’t find ground-up bay leaves, and why they are removed from the food before serving.

However, when they are slowly being cooked, they release a subtle but important flavor. It is hard to describe, but usually, people say it’s a hint of pepper, with nearly a piney flavor. More importantly,  when added to other flavors it works as a great undertone to tie them all together.

The flavor is not one I can say that I can pinpoint in a dish, however, I can tell when it is missing. So I can’t tell you what about it is essential to cilantro lime rice, but you probably will feel like something is off if they forget it one day. Bay Leaf Substitutes

What Is In Jamaican Yellow Yam Stew?

yellow yam stew with spinach

How To Make Jamaican Yellow Yam Stew?

  1. Heat your coconut milk in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add onion, garlic, red bell pepper, dried thyme, and paprika. 
  2. Bring the coconut milk to a simmer, then add chopped yellow yam, vegetable broth, and bay leaf. 
  3. Bring to a boil, then cover the saucepan and reduce the stove to low heat. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and the yellow yam is tender. 
  4. Stir in spinach leaves and cook for another 5 minutes, then serve while hot.

Where To Find Yellow Yam Near Me?

Yellow yam can be purchased here in the United States in most Caribbean, Latin, or other international grocers, or some major supermarkets and possibly even Walmart. If you cannot find it, the white-fleshed yam is a more popular variety that can be substituted in this recipe.  

How To Store Jamaican Yellow Yam?

Store yam in a cool dry place, similarly to potatoes and other root vegetables. It can especially be stored like this if the yam is freshly harvested.

It can also be stored in the refrigerator. Usually, I peel, wash, chop, and store yam in the freezer, uncooked in freezer bags, for at least 3 months. 

Why Are Stews Better The Next Day?

In dishes with spices and complex flavors, eating them as leftovers or in a second meal is just as, if not more, enjoyable as when they are initially cooked. Something about sitting and slowly soaking up all of the flavors really will take your super stew to the next level. Also, if you reheat it on the stove this gives it extra cooking time with heat which even further will help all of the flavors to marry.

Other Yellow Yam Recipes 

yellow yam stew in a saucepan on a white background with black and white stripe napkin

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Overlay of yellow yam stew in a saucepan with a spoon on a white background

Jamaican Yellow Yam Stew

If you are looking for a new, exciting, delicious stew recipe, look no further than this Jamaican Yellow Yam Stew. I use hearty Jamaican yams in a coconut milk based broth for a perfect dinner.
5 from 15 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Entrée, Main Course
Cuisine: Jamaican
Keyword: Jamaican yellow yam stew
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 272kcal


  • 1 skillet


  • 1 pound yellow yam cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • ½ medium red bell pepper diced
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon ground paprika
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leafs
  • Handful of spinach leaves


  • Heat your coconut milk in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add onion, garlic, red bell pepper, dried thyme, and paprika.
  • Bring the coconut milk to a simmer, then add chopped yellow yam, vegetable broth, and bay leaf.
  • Bring to a boil, then cover the saucepan and reduce the stove to low heat. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and the yellow yam is tender.
  • Stir in spinach leaves and cook for another 5 minutes, then serve while hot.


Calories: 272kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 491mg | Potassium: 1153mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1061IU | Vitamin C: 43mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 3mg