My Dirty Little Jamaican Secret

I’m a big fan of authentic Caribbean food. Trini doubles; Bahamian conch salad; Puerto Rican mofongo; Anguillian crayfish: bring it on! But I have to confess to one distinctly counterfeit Caribbean culinary obsession: Jamaican KFC.


It all started in when I lived on the irie isle, where, as far as I’m concerned, they serve the best tasting KFC evah! And not only does it taste great, it sells well, too. So well, in fact, that there’s a Jamaican branch of KFC that sells the most chicken per capita IN THE WORLD! I have such fond memories of driving past the main Mo’Bay store on my way to work in the mornings, my senses being assaulted by the tempting aroma of frying chicken emanating from the A/C ducts. Irresistible! Little wonder that there’s often a line outside before the store even opens!

So what makes Jamaican KFC so good? Well, I had a secret source in management who told me that years ago the local franchise holders got permission from KFC HQ to modify the Colonel’s original recipe to include more salt to better suit the Jamaican palate. (No, I cannot confirm this; don’t sue me, Colonel). KFC also uses Jamaican chickens, which, being raised in one of the most beautiful Caribbean countries, simply must taste better than foreign ones, right? And Jamaica is one of the few countries in the world where you can get barbecue (battered, fried and rolled in a spicy/sweet sauce) KFC. Whatever the reasons, I can tell you that even if you’re not a fan of KFC Stateside (trust me, I never darken their doors here in South Florida), you simply MUST try it in Jamaica. No one ever believes me when I tell, them but just ask my photographer friend and sidekick Zach Stovall (who I dragged to the nearest branch on our first work trip to the island) and he’ll attest: That’s some GOOOOD chicken!

And don’t think for a moment that I haven’t done my research. Over the last seven years I’ve been performing an unscientific sampling of KFCs all over the Caribbean. Nassau: Kinda tasteless, with strangely pink meat. Grand Cayman: OK, but nothing special. St. Lucia: ditto. St. Kitts: Pretty good, but not quite up to Jamaican standards. Martinique KFC (as seen in the opening photo): Ce n’est pas mal.

trinikfcThe only Caribbean country that comes close to Jamaica, in my opinion, is Trinidad, where I’m told they have the Caribbean’s only 24-hour KFC. I sampled some at the airport kiosk and admit to being impressed. My original thigh was crispy, well-seasoned, and almost as good as Jamaican KFC. Almost.

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  1. Jamacan KFC is incoparable absolutly the best i have had and i have had it on most continent. BBQ and Original so good.

  2. I grew up in Kentucky but I married a Trinidadian whom I met in New York. Whenever we go to Trinidad, KFC is a must for him. During his first visit to Kentucky he badly wanted to try KFC FROM KENTUCKY itself! I felt bad for him because I know it just is not the same (he ended up agreeing). When I had KFC in Trinidad I felt like it was way fresher than in Kentucky and it tastes & looks way less processed as well. I felt as though that chicken had been running around just that morning. Caribbean KFCs do it best (we have been to the MoBay location). Also, I cannot handle pepper sauce (I wish I could, it would make my life easier!) but Trinidad KFC having KFC branded PEPPER SAUCE is pretty amazing!

    • JetSetSarah says:

      I tell you, there’s NOTHING like Caribbean KFC, Naomi! I rank Trinidad’s as a very close #2, but Jamaica’s will always be tops for me!

    • Sunshine Summinen says:

      I’ve had KFC all over the world. The Caribbean branches (Grenada, St. Vincent and Barbados) were good, but Vietnam was the best. It tasted like the KFC of my youth in western Canada. The chicken was fresh, not overly greasy and consistently appealing. Ironically, the worst place for KFC in the world is the country that introduced it: the USA.

  3. haha I loved reading this, it was fascinating! I did notice that fast food DOES taste different abroad! For example in Portugal they sell soup at McDonalds and let me tell you..! 🙂

  4. Well, I live in Jamaica and the KFC I’ve had is salty and it doesn’t taste very seasoned beyond that, but I’ll admit I’ve never had North American KFC. My Bahamian friend says you should NEVERRR get KFC from Nassau, its horrible.Get it from Freeport. (They give you jelly with your biscuits) lol.

    • JetSetSarah says:

      But it’s the salt that makes it taste so good, Ann! Trust me, if you ever taste US KFC you’ll understand why I think Jamaica’s is so good. NO comparison! And yes, I’ve had KFC in Nassau and found the flesh to be disconcertingly pink. I’ll have to put Freeport’s on my list!

  5. Jim Buerstatte says:

    At the Topps Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet in Mandeville in the early 1980’s is the first time I had the barbecue chicken. It was great then. I had it again last year in Montego Bay and it was still great. If only we could get this in the ATL. I tell people about it all of the time.

  6. I was just in Jamaica visiting relatives and I was first of all surprised to see my Canadian and American cousins also visiting eating KFC. What surprised me is we were in the rural area about 30 miles from Mo-Bay. I asked myself why would you eat KFC when you have delicious fresh food from mother nature just cooked. I thought they just missed it. A few days later my neighbor and I were speaking and he told me many of his friends black and white return to Canada with Jamaican KFC in their baggage to have their friends try it…lol. I never tried it but I think I will the next time I visit Jamaica and see what all the fuss is about.

  7. Hilarious comments!! yes, we all have our “dirty little secrets” when it comes on to fast-food…I love KFC wings and thighs too…..succculent, salty, fatty, golden fluffy batter!! thankfully, I am too far away to indulge.

  8. Haahahaha! You’re so right Jamaican KFC is soon much better than north American. But for me now that I’ve found some of the really out of the way places for fried chicken I can’t go back to KFC.

    Love the title of this post. It made me laugh.

  9. I’m not a great fan of KFC, but Trinis and Jamaicans LOVE their KFC with a passion that’s unexplainable, lol. Today I was speaking to my cousin in Tnt, and she’s busy complaining about her health and weight gain, all of a sudden I hear in the background, ‘yuh want ah wing or thigh? “Lol

  10. What is it with KFC in Jamaica?

    Seriously, someone needs to do an in depth study. I know people here in the States who refuse…refuse to eat KFC here…but when in JA….IT’S ON!!!!

    That is too funny that you got an inside scoop. Some of us had already guessed that it must be the fresh, local chickens, but more salt as well? Lawdy.

    • JetSetSarah says:

      That’s me exactly! I won’t go near KFC here, but I can’t leave Jamaica without my “original thigh!” Salt, fat, and batter – what more could you want?!

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