16 Caribbean Desserts

Guava Swiss Roll (Brazo Gitano)

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

The Caribbean, a region beloved for its beautiful beaches and rich culture, is made up of 16 separate countries and over 700 islands, islets, and cays. Each island nation has its own culinary heritage, with Spanish-speaking islands taking much of their influence from Spain and Latin America while others have European, Asian, and African influences.

Regardless of how their cuisines developed, the Caribbean has lots of delicious food to offer, including dessert. Even if you can't take an island vacation anytime soon, you can enjoy a taste of the Caribbean with these sweet dessert recipes.

  • 01 of 16

    Tembleque de Coco: Coconut Pudding

    Cups of coconut pudding topped with toasted coconut

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    Just four simple ingredients are needed to make this silky smooth and creamy coconut pudding. Especially popular in Puerto Rico, tembleque mean "wiggly or shaky" in Spanish. Mix up the pudding at least an hour before serving so it has time to set up.

  • 02 of 16

    Caribbean Bacardi Rum-Soaked Cake

    Caribbean Bacardi Rum-Soaked Cake

    The Spruce / Sabrina Russo

    Rum is made from sugar cane, a crop with a long and complicated history in the Caribbean. The best rum is still made there, and this Bundt cake celebrates Caribbean rum in all its glory with dark rum in the batter and the glaze. Note that the glaze includes uncooked rum, so it's not kid-friendly.

  • 03 of 16

    Easy Mango Puff Pastry Turnovers - Pastelillos de Mangos

    Mango puff pastries on parchment paper

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    Guava pastries are a popular treat throughout the Caribbean, and it's easy to swap out the guava for another tropical fruit like mango. This mango turnover recipe uses puff pastry and mango preserves for an easy dessert.

  • 04 of 16

    Arroz Con Dulce: Puerto Rican Rice Pudding

    Arroz Con Dulce: Puerto Rican Rice Pudding

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    Arroz con dulce is a creamy, spiced coconut rice pudding studded with sweet raisins and coconut flakes. It's a great option for vegan diets since coconut milk stands in for dairy milk and the recipe is egg-free. Make it ahead of time to serve cold.

    Continue to 5 of 16 below.
  • 05 of 16

    Red Grout Dessert from the US Virgin Islands

    St. Croix Red Grout Dessert

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    Red grout, a guava tapioca pudding, is a melding of food cultures—Danish and Caribbean. It's often eaten on Transfer Day, the holiday commemorating the Virgin Islands changing hands from the Danish to the U.S. in 1917. It's often served with vanilla custard sauce.

  • 06 of 16

    Caribbean Black Cake Christmas Cake

    Caribbean Black Cake Christmas Cake

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    A popular holiday dessert throughout the Caribbean, black cake is also known as Christmas cake and great cake. This version folds aged rum-soaked dried fruits into a moist cake batter for an island take on fruit cake.

  • 07 of 16

    Puerto Rican Coconut Kisses

    Puerto Rican Coconut Kisses

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    This macaroon-like cookie has a little flour and butter added for more structure and flavor. The chewy coconut kisses are tasty on their own or you can add chocolate chips, nuts, or drizzle or dip them in melted chocolate.

  • 08 of 16

    Easy Bananas Flambé

    Easy Bananas Flambe

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

    Similar to bananas Foster, bananas flambé is a popular dessert on French Caribbean islands. The bananas are brown in butter and sugar and flambéed with rum for an impressive display. Serve with vanilla ice cream for a nice mix of hot and cold.

    Continue to 9 of 16 below.
  • 09 of 16

    Caribbean Bread Pudding (Pudín de Pan)

    Caribbean Bread Pudding (Pudín de Pan)

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

    Known as pudín de pan in Spanish-speaking islands, bread pudding is a great way to use up stale bread and turn it into a delicious dessert. For a little more Caribbean flavor, soak the raisins in aged rum beforehand. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.

  • 10 of 16

    Meringue Candy Kisses (Besitos de Meringue)

    Meringue candy kisses

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    Delicately flavored with citrus zest and vanilla, meringue candy kisses are perfectly crisp, sweet, and melt in your mouth. They also happen to be gluten-free and low-fat since there's no flour or butter involved. Use a star tip and piping bag if you have it for the prettiest candies.

  • 11 of 16

    Guava Swiss Roll (Brazo Gitano)

    Guava Swiss Roll (Brazo Gitano)

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    Sweet guava paste and orange make this tropical Swiss roll special. The key to a successful spiral is to roll up the cake in a damp, powder sugar-dusted towel while it's still warm. Once cooled, unroll the cake, add the filling, and roll it back up again. A sprinkling of powdered sugar makes it extra festive.

  • 12 of 16

    Easy Caramel Flan

    Caramel flan recipe

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

    Flan is a beloved dessert in Spanish-speaking countries around the world, including the Caribbean. While there are some variations, flan should be a firm but silky smooth custard cooked atop caramel which forms a rich, runny sauce upon serving.

    Continue to 13 of 16 below.
  • 13 of 16

    Tres Leches Pastel

    Tres Leches Pastel

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    Tres leches cake is a very popular dessert in Latin America and on Spanish-speaking islands. Named for the three milks in the soaking sauce—often sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream—the cake is extremely moist. A light whipped cream topping helps keep the dessert from getting too heavy.

  • 14 of 16

    Spanish Almond Cookies (Polvorones de Almendra)

    Crumbly almond cookie recipe

    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

    Toasted almond and wheat flour are used to make these lightly sweet and tender almond cookies that are especially popular at Christmastime. Polvorones originated in Spain but are also popular in Cuba and Latin America. Anise and cinnamon add a bit of spice.

  • 15 of 16

    Ensaïmada Mallorquina (Mallorcan Spiral Pastry)

    Ensaïmada Mallorquina (Mallorcan Spiral Pastry)

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

    Beautiful spirals of sweet bread, ensaïmada originated on the Spanish island of Mallorquina and are now enjoyed in various countries, including Puerto Rico. While the recipe isn't too complicated, you'll want to start the day before since the dough needs to rise several times.

  • 16 of 16

    Hummingbird Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

    Classic hummingbird cake recipe

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

    Hummingbird cake was developed in the 1960s as part of a Jamaican tourism campaign and is named after the island's national bird. The cake combines banana, pineapple, and pecans for lots of flavor and a moist texture. Cream cheese frosting makes the already excellent cake even better.