Jamaican Callaloo

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Jamaican Callaloo is a popular local staple green leafy vegetable, cooked with onion, garlic, tomatoes, thyme and Scotch bonnet pepper. Perfect healthy side dish for a tropical breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Jamaican Callaloo

I enjoy visiting my homeland Jamaica and eating locally prepared foods.  Most locally prepared foods are mostly unprocessed and organic.

Jamaican Callaloo on white plate with ackee, yellow yam, dumplings and roast bread fruit

Eating callaloo (Amaranthus Viridis) is so reminiscent of my childhood where I enjoyed this dish prepared in a variety of ways. It is eaten here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Callaloo is traditionally cooked by itself with onion, tomatoes, green onions, and Scotch bonnet pepper and thyme or cooked with salt fish or served with steamed fish, rice or fried breadfruit.

It is also added to soups, and used as a filling for a savory pastry called patty like my Jamaican Lentil Patties and even made into a drink.

What is Jamaican Callaloo?


Callaloo has been consumed for thousands of years, it is an ancient green leafy vegetable also known as amaranth. It is similar to spinach but has a stronger flavor,

Jamaican Callaloo Greens

Farmers grow callaloo seeds in Jamaica and sell the plant in the local markets.  I love to grow my own, so I normally allow a few of my callaloo plants to seed. I then allow the seeds to dry and store them for after winter.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Jamaican Callaloo?

But this notorious weed is a valuable source of iron, calcium, folate, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, and Vitamin C. Purchase callaloo in the Caribbean, Asian, and /or International supermarkets.

Jamaican cooked callaloo in a silver saucepan with a wooden spoon on a white background

1 cup of cooked callaloo provides:

  • 90 kilocalories
  • 6.9 milligrams of iron
  • 1074 milligrams of potassium
  • 602 milligrams of calcium
  • 13 grams of fiber
  • 484 milligrams of sodium
  • 86 milligrams of vitamin C
  • 7.2 grams of protein

Scotch bonnet pepper is also a key ingredient in Jamaican cuisine, its similar to habanero pepper, which may be substituted. It is extremely hot therefore I use it whole just for the unique and authentic flavor it imparts to the dish.

Callaloo is delicious served with Ackee, Vegan Rundown, Dumplings or Festival, Breadfruit or Yam.

How To Cook Jamaican Callaloo

  1. To prepare callaloo, first remove dead leaves, debris, and any hard stalks. I like to fill a large pot of cold water and add salt to it and submerge the callaloo in the pot for about 10 minutes, the salt will help to remove debris.
  2. Discard the water and rinse the callaloo. Strip the outer thin layer of the callaloo stems. Finely cut leaves and stem of callaloo and set aside.
  3. Saute, onion, garlic, spring onion, thyme, tomatoes in oil. Add chopped callaloo, salt, and Scotch bonnet pepper, cover, and allow to steam. 
  4. you may add a little water at this time but not too much because the callaloo will ‘spring its own water’ (produce its own liquid as it is cooked).

Step by Step Photos of how to prepare callaloo

Other Gluten-Free Vegan Callaloo Recipes To Try

  1. Jamaican Callaloo Patty
  2. Jamaican Callaloo Fritters

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Below, I served my callaloo with Jamaican yellow yam, gluten-free, vegan boiled dumplings, Ackee, and roast breadfruit.

Overhead photo of Jamaican Callaloo served with ackee, boiled dumplings, yellow yam on white plate



(Per portion)
  • Energy: 54 kcal / 226 kJ
  • Fat: 1 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Carbs: 8 g

Cooking Time

  • Preparation: 10 min
  • Cooking: 10 min
  • Ready in: 20 min
  • For:
  • 3 Servings



  1. Peel outer membrane of each stalk of callaloo and remove outer old leaves. Place callaloo in a bowl and cover with cold water, place 1/2 tsp salt and set aside while preparing remaining vegetables. Discard water then rinse with water and drain. Chop callaloo
  2. Place oil in a large pot, add onion, garlic, spring onion, thyme, tomato, and scotch bonnet pepper on medium heat, saute; until onion is translucent. Add callaloo and water, allow to simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes or until tender.


Depending on how tender your callaloo is, it can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes to cook.

Jamaican Callaloo Pin

Recipe author's Gravatar image

Michelle Blackwood, RN

Hi, I’m Michelle, I’m the voice, content creator and photographer behind Healthier Steps. I share vegan and gluten-free recipes because of past health issues. My goal is to help you make healthier choices and show you how healthy eating is easy and delicious.

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  1. Les
    December 26, 2020

    I have become a believer and follower. The recipes sound great and I enjoy trying new things. I have some Jamaican friends who recently opened a restaurant and have exposed me to some dishes and flavors. But I love your Vegan approach and I am transitioning my diet. Thanks for the recipes, tips, flavor and nutritional values.

  2. candice
    November 21, 2020

    I make this at least once a week for my husband. He loves this dish so much. It’s so simple and healthy. I sometimes mix callaloo with collard greens. Love your recipes!

  3. Denise
    September 18, 2020

    May I use collard greens call my Callaloo Oh boy I can’t wait and I’m going to conch fritters.

  4. AM
    August 21, 2020

    I first tasted callaloo a few months ago; a Jamaican gent cooked some with fried dumplings and it was delicious. It reminded me of spinach and chard, the greens on top of beets.
    I did not care for the fried dumplings even though they smelled delicious, So, I made some hot water corn bread and it was fantastic with the calloloo, before viewing your recipe, and my delicious sorell that I made for the first time. I made the callaloo like your recipe, but I used red peppers vs tomatoes and not thyme. Next time I will add the thyme because I love that herb. I think the red peppers give a good fresh flavor, but the tomatoes don’t have flavor when cooked, in my opinion, only color, I look forward to making dishes from your website, like the curry cabbage and the Jamaican stew peas that I buy every Wednesday at the Jamaican restaurant down the street. Yum, Yum…

    • Michelle Blackwood, RN
      August 21, 2020

      AM, I hope you enjoy my recipe, yes it does taste yummy. I do make it sometimes with bell pepper, tomatoes even carrots and okra. Yes thyme is important, you can even use a bouillon cube.

  5. Fred
    August 1, 2020

    I was given some callaloo plants by the Jamaican gent who has the allotment next to mine. Followed this recipe today and wish I had tried this 50 years ago! Fantastic flavour and I will be growing a lot more next year. Five stars. Any tips on how to preserve it for use through our English winter please?

    • Michelle Blackwood, RN
      August 1, 2020

      Fred, that’s so nice of your friend. The good thing is you might now have to plant them again if you allow some of the plants to go to seed and let the seeds fall on the ground, you can collect some of the seeds to save for next year. More than like the seeds will lay dormant throughout the winter and start growing again next spring. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a greenhouse, then you will have to start sowing your seeds indoors about 8 weeks before the last frost then transplant outdoors as soon as it is safe to.

  6. Errol Collins
    July 29, 2020

    I do love callaloo and have tried growing my own but the plants seem to go to seed to early, maybe the climate in the UK is not right for this type of plant.

  7. Respect Brooklyn
    July 11, 2020

    Thanks, did a quick look for the wild amaranth we grow and used this as an idea to riff off, never soaked them in salt before. Best vegetable out there, so earthy. Used jalapeno instead of scotch but had a jar of jerk spices that has it in it.

  8. Adrienne
    April 30, 2020

    Hi, Michelle! I live in California. Besides possibly using spinach (might not be firm enough), do you have any recommendations for callaloo substitutions for this recipe? This looks tasty!

    • Michelle Blackwood, RN
      April 30, 2020

      Adrienne, Swiss Chard, Collard Greens, Kale, I basically cook all my dark leafy greens this way with amazing results.

  9. Karen Rollins
    December 26, 2019

    Tried this for Christmas – it turned out really nice – I just added red pepper.

  10. Beatrice Bunana
    December 9, 2019

    It’s so 😋, I need the seeds

  11. Mun
    November 3, 2019

    Can I use tinned callaloo