Enjoy Vegan Ackee, this amazing fruit reminds me of scrambled eggs. It is yummy and served at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. A vegan, gluten free version of the popular traditional Jamaican Ackee and Saltfish recipe. 

The popularity of vegan and vegetarian recipes has increased in recent years, with more and more people wanting to cut down on their meat intake. If you are a vegan and when want to get your protein (which is probably all the time), you may think that there are not a lot of options for vegans. That’s where I come in!

Vegan Ackee Recipe

I know that eating a vegan diet can be difficult sometimes but it doesn’t have to be like that. Especially if you have a recipe or two up your sleeve!  By finding ways to introduce some foods into your meals you can discover tasty alternatives which are very enjoyable. 

Ackee is a wonderful fruit, but it can be hard to find anywhere. However, it’s not unusual for us vegans to have to go through hell and high water (no disrespect to actual Hell or High Water) to get one of these fruits for our recipes.

You’ll be able to make this scrumptiously delicious dish with no problems at all. All you have to do is follow the recipe you see below and as long as you have a bit of cooking ability, you’ll be able to whip up a bowl of Vegan Ackee.

Also see Vegan Saltfish, Bammy,  and Jamaican Callaloo

Scroll down for the detailed recipe, but I suggest you don’t skip the information included in the blurb.

vegan ackee with yellow yam on a brown plate on grey background

What Is Jamaican Ackee And Saltfish?

Slave traders brought Ackee (Blighia Sapida) from Africa to the Caribbean on their ships during the eighteenth century. It became very popular in Jamaican as a cheap source of protein.

The national dish of Jamaica is ackee and saltfish, which are typically served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is customary to soak the salted cod overnight to remove their saltiness before serving it with the ackee.

The fruit is ready to eat when the red pod splits open naturally exposing 3-4 creamy yellow flesh topped by 3 shiny black seeds.

To prepare the ackee for cooking, discard the pod, black seeds, and red inner membranes, and rinse the remaining yellow flesh. The yellow flesh is now ready to be boiled.

The History Of Ackee And Saltfish In Jamaica

Both ackee and saltfish are not native to Jamaica, yet they strongly connect to Jamaica’s history. It is the union of these two cuisines that distinguishes them as distinctly Jamaican and symbolic of Jamaican cuisine. In the eighteenth century, the slave trade brought Ackee and saltfish to Jamaica and they became associated with it.

African Roots

Ackee arrived in the mid-1700s from Ghana, most likely on a slave ship. The name ackee is identical to its Ghanaian Twi equivalent, ankye.

The ackee coniferous tree grows here, reaching heights of 50 feet (15.24 meters) and bearing bunches of enormous red pepper-like fruit.

When the fruit is fully mature, it breaks apart to reveal three or four cream-colored arilli on top of a bed of enormous, lustrous black seeds.

Vegetable Brain is a common name for the arilli because they resemble a brain. This is the part you can eat.

Slave traders used it as an inexpensive source of protein for their captives. The slaves preferred fruit over meat, so it became a staple of their diet. Today, ackee is enjoyed around the world.

The slave trade brought saltfish to Jamaica at the same time as ackee as an inexpensive protein source that could endure the Atlantic crossing.

In Jamaica’s hot, humid climate, this way of preserving fish is incredibly practical, and it has completely revolutionized the native diet.

Breakfast typically consists of ackee and saltfish. Before serving, soak and sauté ackee arilli and saltfish with veggies and spices, and serve them with yam, plantains, and jonnycakes.

When done, ackee acquires a bright yellow color and mimics scrambled eggs in appearance (but not taste).

Close up vegan ackee on brown plate

Ackee Fruit Health Benefits

Here are some of the health benefits of ackee, which we’ll discuss in more detail.

Digestion Aid

Ackee’s potentially high fiber content makes it an excellent digestive aid, as dietary fiber aids in bulking up the stool and relieves constipation by stimulating peristaltic action in the colon.

This may aid in the movement of food, preventing bloating, constipation, cramping, and even colon inflammation, which can cause colorectal cancer. The fiber in the diet can help decrease cholesterol and improve heart health!

Lowering Blood Pressure

Ackee’s potentially high potassium content acts as a vasodilator, alleviating the pressure on your circulatory system and minimizing your risk of atherosclerosis and hypertension.

May Help Heart Health

Ackee contains many healthy fatty acids including stearic, palmitic, and linoleic acids. Unsaturated fats, such as those in these acids, are better for your heart and lower your hazardous levels of cholesterol.

Eliminating the most harmful saturated fats in your diet may protect you from atherosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, and coronary heart disease.

May Increase Protein Power

Protein is an important part of a healthy diet, and obtaining it from an amazing fruit such as ackee is an even better idea!

Protein is a necessary nutrient for our bodies since it is a building component for our cells, muscles, and other vital organs.

People do not always praise Ackee for its high protein content, but as a fruit, it may contain a significant amount.

Jamaican ackee benefits

May Strengthen Bones

Ackee has a variety of vital minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and Iron, all of which may lead to healthy bones and prevent the occurrence of bone loss and demineralization.

Consuming high amounts of minerals can slow down, stop, or even reverse osteoporosis, enabling us to lead healthier and stronger lives for a more extended period.

Immunity Booster

Many fruits and vegetables, including ackee, contain vitamin C, an essential vitamin. Ackee has a lot of ascorbic acids, which may help our immune system by encouraging the growth of white blood cells and its antioxidant powers for the prevention of cellular and chronic diseases.

The body requires vitamin C to form muscles, tissues, and blood vessels, as it is an essential component of collagen.

May Regulate Circulation

Anemia indicates that you are deficient in iron. It’s possible that ackee’s high iron content will help you prevent anemia’s adverse symptoms, including weakness, cognitive difficulties, lightheadedness, and stomach discomfort. Red blood cell production requires iron, an essential component of hemoglobin.

Without further delay, here’s our vegan, gluten-free version of the popular traditional Jamaican Ackee and Saltfish recipe.

Vegan Ackee Ingredients

The Fruit

  • Ackee – you can use fresh tree-ripened ackee, or canned ackee that has been drained. This tropical fruit comes from West Africa but is also present in Jamaica, the Caribbean, and other parts of the world. The fruit turns to a bright yellow color. It is typically boiled then fried and used in various dishes s. The ripe fruit is edible but the seeds and unripe fruit are toxic if consumed.
  • Coconut oil – A plant-based oil that is extracted from the meat of mature coconuts. People commonly use coconut oil with a nutty flavor for cooking, baking, and frying, as well as in various beauty and skincare products. Consider substituting it with avocado oil.

The Seasonings

  • Onion – a bulb vegetable that comes in various colors like white, yellow, and red. Onions are a staple ingredient in many cuisines worldwide, used in a wide range of dishes for their pungent flavor, aroma, and taste. Use, yellow or white onion, diced.
  • GarlicA bulb vegetable that is a close relative of the onion. Its strong and pungent flavor, valued for its aroma and taste, makes it a staple ingredient in many cuisines worldwide. Furthermore, it is believed to have several health benefits. I used 2 cloves garlic.
  • Red bell pepper – A sweet pepper that is a cultivar of the Capsicum annuum species. People commonly use it in various dishes for its taste and color, as it is characterized by its sweet and mild flavor. adds lovely color, you can use the color of your choice, diced
  • Spring onion or scallion – We harvest this type of onion early before the bulb has fully formed. It has a milder flavor than regular onions and is a common ingredient in salads, soups, and stir-fries.
  • Tomato -Many cuisines worldwide use this fruit as a staple ingredient in their dishes, such as stews, sauces, and salads, despite being commonly used as a vegetable in cooking.
  • Scotch bonnet pepper or 1 Habanero (for flavor optional)A type of chili pepper that is known for its heat and fruity flavor. Caribbean and Latin American cuisine frequently use scotch bonnet as a key ingredient in many dishes, such as jerk chicken, hot sauces, and stews. Black pepper is a key ingredient traditionally but I left it out of mine. 
  • Thyme –  an herb that is commonly used in cooking to add flavor to various dishes. It has a strong, earthy taste. You can use fresh thyme or dried. 
  • Sea salt, to taste

vegan ackee ingredients on a beige background

How To Cook Ackee Without Saltfish?

West Indian supermarkets in the USA only sell imported canned ackee, so I will provide instructions for preparing canned ackee. Using canned ackee reduces the prep time.

I first saute onion, garlic, bell pepper, green onion, thyme, and tomatoes. Open the can of ackee and add to the cooked vegetables, be very careful to gently stir ackee because they are very soft and delicate. Stir to coat, adding salt and scotch bonnet pepper, and allow to cook until flavors blend, about 3 minutes.

Preparing ackee vegan reminds me of scrambled eggs when cooked. I have always loved ackee and try to keep a supply handy. Fortunately here in Florida Publix and Walmart carries it.

For me, ackee evokes memories of home, and it is surprising that it is not as widely popular in other Caribbean islands as it is in Jamaica, despite being grown there.

I love to prepare it well seasoned and it is delicious served with roasted breadfruit, yellow yams, dumplings, callaloo, and fried plantain or baked plantains. or even these deep-fried  Puff Puff (Deep Fried Dough Balls) {Vegan}.

Other Delicious Jamaican Vegan Recipes

Jamaican Lentil Patties

Jamaican Rice And Peas

Vegan Ackee Quiche

Jamaican Ackee Pizza

yellow yam with Jamaican produce, ackee, plantain, green banana, dasheen on a marbled counter



Frequently Asked Questions:

What Does Ackee Taste Like?

The ackee, also termed achee, akee apple, or akee, is a lychee fruit with a soft, slightly nutty flavor. According to one food blogger, the flavor tastes like garden peas, with “just a tinge of sweetness” and a silky texture “like a fresh bean.”

Is Ackee A Fruit Or A Veg?

Ackee is a fruit-producing plant. The Caribbean, West Africa, Central America, and southern Florida are all home to it.  Jamaicans eat ripe ackee fruit as a mainstay of their diet. Unripe ackee fruit, on the other hand, is extremely poisonous.

What Is Ackee Made Of?

Unripe ackee is a tasty fruit with a thick red covering that forms a pod but opens up to reveal a lovely petal-like shape with 3 or 4 yellow prongs topped with a single black seed as the fruit ripens.

Who Eats Ackee?

Jamaicans commonly consume ackee, considering it as a national fruit and a key ingredient in their national cuisine, Ackee, and Saltfish.

Is Guarana The Same As Ackee?

The Sapindaceae family, commonly known as the soapberry, includes ackee. The tropical fruit longan, lychee, and guarana, as well as 2000 other species, are all members of this family.

Is Canned Ackee Already Cooked?

If you get canned ackee, ensure that you drain it completely before use, as it is usually preserved in brine despite being already cooked. After adding it to whatever you are cooking, stir the dish only once so as not to break up the flesh.

Why Fresh Ackee Is Illegal In Us?

Unripe ackee contains significant levels of a toxin called hypoglycin A. Vomiting, hypoglycemia, coma, weakness, and even death can occur after exposure to this toxin. Hypoglycin A toxin levels drop to “negligible” levels once the fruit is fully ripe. It is important not to eat the rind and seeds as they still contain a significant amount of the poison. Thus, the FDA has prohibited the export of raw fruit since 1973. However, canned and frozen versions of the fruit are still available.

The FDA monitors cans and frozen ackee, adding approved importers to a Green List that permits them to transport frozen and canned ackee to the US.

What Happens If You Eat Unripe Ackee?

Consuming unripe Ackee fruit may cause “Jamaican vomiting sickness,” an inflammatory metabolic condition. Frequent vomiting, hypoglycemia, and impaired mental status are all possible clinical symptoms. Seizures, coma, hypothermia, and death have been documented in severe cases.

How Healthy Is Saltfish?

It’s high in protein and low in fat, but it’s also high in sodium due to the processing. Researchers estimate that 100 grams (three ounces) of cooked salt fish contains 138 kilocalories, 32.5 grams of protein, 0.9 grams of total fat, and 400 milligrams of sodium.

Does Ackee Make You Gain Weight?

A widespread myth about ackee is that it is rich in cholesterol and harmful fats. This statement is completely incorrect.

If you like and enjoy this recipe, please leave a comment and a recipe rating to let me know your feedback… Have fun cooking!

If you enjoyed this post about Vegan Ackee and would love to see more, join me on YoutubeInstagramFacebook & Twitter!

Get discounted copies of my cookbook here.

Fortunately, because of the ads on our website, readers and subscribers of Healthier Steps are sponsoring many underprivileged families. Thank you!

Want to Save This Recipe?

Enter your email & I’ll send it to your inbox. Plus, get great new recipes from me every week!

Save Recipe

By submitting this form, you consent to receive emails from Healthier Steps.

Vegan Ackee

Enjoy Vegan Ackee, this amazing fruit reminds me of scrambled eggs. It is yummy and served at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. A vegan, gluten free version of the popular traditional Jamaican Ackee and Saltfish recipe. 
5 from 26 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast, Entrée, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Jamaican
Keyword: vegan ackee quiche
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2 servings
Calories: 186kcal


  • 1 can Jamaican ackee drained and set aside
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 cup onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper diced
  • 1 spring onion chopped
  • 1 sprig thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1 medium tomato chopped or 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes cut into halves
  • 1 whole Scotch Bonnet pepper or 1 Habanero (for flavor optional)
  • sea salt to taste


  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add onions and cook stirring occasionally until soft, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in garlic and bell pepper and cook for another minute. Add spring onions, thyme and tomatoes and cook stirring for 1 minute.
  • Add ackee to skillet with salt and Scotch Bonnet pepper stirring gently to coat with seasonings.
  • Cover skillet and reduce to simmer for 5 minutes. Delicious served with dumplings, callaloo and fried plantains.


Calories: 186kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 13mg | Potassium: 447mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1978IU | Vitamin C: 97mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 1mg