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Saltfish And Butter Bean Recipe

Saltfish and butter bean is one of my favourite Jamaican cuisines. Salty codfish cooked with butter beans and vegetables of your choice. This versatile meal is easy to make for midweek and goes with just about any of your favourite sides.

Saltfish and butter bean recipe

The Quickest and Tastiest Butter Bean and Saltfish Dish

Saltfish is one of the most popular and staple ingredients in Jamaican cooking.

It is one half of the National Dish. It’s cooked with callaloo, cabbage and other vegetables or on its own.

One quick and tasty saltfish recipe Jamaicans enjoy making is butter bean and saltfish. You might find it under a variety of names such as broad bean and saltfish, salt cod and broad beans, but it is still the same basic recipe.

You can even add your own twist to this butter bean and saltfish recipe and add your own choice of vegetables. Below I added bell pepper and okra, but sometime I would use carrot and string beans.

Saltfish with butter bean

In case you’re not familiar with salted fish, it is a dried and cured white fish using the salting method as a preservative. Traditionally, codfish was used, but now other white fish such as Pollock is used.

How To Remove Salt From Salted Fish

One of the things that you don’t want when cooking saltfish is for it to be too salty. Not only will it ruin the taste of the meal, but it’s also not good for you health-wise.

There are several ways to reduce the excess salt from saltfish when cooking, but I will share two that I use.

  1. Soak overnight: Soaking the saltfish overnight is a traditional method of reducing the salt from the saltfish. Rinse the saltfish to remove excess salt first, then pour cold water over it and leave for up to 8 hours.
  2. Boil 2-3 times: If the first method is not an option, wash the saltfish, then boil it for 15-20 minutes. Pour away the boiling water rinse, and repeat two more times.

I usually use both methods together. Soak the saltfish overnight, then boil it once. But if I forget to soak the saltfish and want to cook it that day, I would use method two.

*Just a quick tip, the boned saltfish is saltier than the deboned packaged saltfish and will take less effect to reduce the salty taste, so be aware as you don’t want to lose all the flavour when desalting the fish.

Jamaican butter beans recipe

Main Ingredients for Jamaican Butter Beans and Saltfish

For a quick and simple dish, here are the main ingredients to make this delicious saltfish recipe:

Jamaican saltfish recipe
  • Saltfish: To add that flavoursome salty taste to your dish saltfish is the perfect partner. I’m using boned saltfish because it’s what I am used to growing up. You may find it easier and a good time-saver to use the skinless and deboned saltfish. 
  • Butter bean: I use tinned butter beans as they are pre-cooked and already softened. Most Jamaicans have a can or two of butter beans in their kitchen cupboard, usually for that other popular Jamaican recipe oxtail and butter bean. You can use dry butter beans, also known as lima beans, and soak them overnight to boil the next day to make this recipe.
  • Okra: For a nice crunchy and extra healthy twist, I add sliced okra. Okra is a popular choice for this dish, but you can use other types of vegetables if okra is not to your liken.
  • Bell peppers: For flavour and colour, sweet bell peppers are a must.
  • Essential ingredients: You cannot do any Jamaican cooking without the essential seasoning of onion, thyme, scotch bonnet, garlic, and scallion, plus tomato for a more intense flavour. 

How To Cook Saltfish And Butter Bean (Jamaican Style)

Cooking saltfish
  1. Remove salt from fish: Give the saltfish a thorough wash, washing away the salt from the fish, which won’t get rid of the salty taste, so you will have to do more. After washing the saltfish, soak it in cold water overnight. The next day, pour away the water and wash the saltfish again.
  2. Boil fish to soften: Add the saltfish to a pot with fresh water and put to boil for 15 to 20 minutes. Boiling the saltfish softens it but also removes more of the saltiness. If you are using boned saltfish, this step is a must if you’re to debone and flake the saltfish.
  3. Flake saltfish: If you’re using boneless and skinless saltfish, all you need to do is wash the saltfish in cold water, then flake using a fork. But if like me, you’re using boned saltfish, remove the skin/scale and debone, then flake. To remove even more of the saltiness from the fish, give it another wash after you flake it.
How to cook Jamaican saltfish and butter bean
  1. Sauté the onion: Add the onion, garlic, scotch bonnet pepper and thyme to a frying pan with cooking oil.
  2. Other ingredients: There is no right or wrong way to do this. You can add the saltfish first, as I did, then add the bell pepper, okra, tomato and scallion. Or add the vegetable first, sauté for a bit, then add the saltfish.
  3. Simmer covered 15 minutes: Add a tbsp or two of water and ketchup, cover and let it simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes on medium to low heat. Ketchup is optional, but I like to add it for a hint of sweetness, and it also helps to reduce the salty taste.
Salted cod and butter bean

What To Serve It With

You can have this popular dish with different types of food such as rice, boiled or fried breadfruit, and also various starches or as we like to call it “hard food” or “ground provisions”. 

This includes foods such as boiled dumplings, boiled yam, green bananas, sweet potatoes, boiled cassava, and even pumpkin, and it’s great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Grace butter bean recipe

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Saltfish and butter bean recipe

Jamaican saltfish and butter bean recipe

This Saltfish and butter bean recipe is one of my favourite. Saltfish and butter beans, you couldn't ask for a better combination
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Jamaican
Keyword: Saltfish and butter bean
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 2 Servings
Calories: 215kcal
Author: Lesa


  • 1 lb (453.59 g) Saltfish (salted cod)
  • 8.5 oz (240.97 g) Butter bean
  • 5 oz (141.75 g) Bell pepper Chopped
  • 2 oz (56.7 g) Onion Chopped
  • 2 Cloves garlic Finely chopped
  • 3 oz (85.05 g) Tomato chopped
  • 4 oz (113.4 g) Okra Thinly sliced
  • 3 Sprig of dried thyme
  • ½ Scotch bonnet pepper Remove seeds and finely chopped
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp Ketchup


  • Wash and soak the saltfish overnight or for at least 2 hours. It's best to soak the fish overnight, as the longer the saltfish soak, the more the salty taste reduces.
  • Place the saltfish in a pot with fresh water and put to boil for 15 to 20 minutes. This helps to soften the fish and remove more of the salt.
  • Pour away the boiled water and wash the saltfish with cold water. Once the saltfish is cool, remove the fish scale/skin and bones (not necessary if you are using boneless and skinless cod). Flake the saltfish and set it aside.
  • Add oil to a frying pan on medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, scotch bonnet pepper and thyme to the pan and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until the onion softens.
  • Add the saltfish flakes, stirring continuously for 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the okra, bell pepper and tomato (you can add these before adding the saltfish, but I like to "fry" the saltfish before adding the vegetables).
  • Add the butter beans, a tbsp of water and the ketchup if you are using it. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables cook.


  1. Although I only added okra and bell pepper to the recipe, you can add whatever vegetable you like. Sometimes, I would add string beans or carrots, depending on my mood.
  2. In the instructions, I added the saltfish before the vegetables, but you can also add the vegetables before the saltfish.  
  3. Using ketchup is optional, but I like to use it because it adds a hint of sweetness and helps to reduce the tastiness of the fish. 


Nutrition Facts
Jamaican saltfish and butter bean recipe
Serving Size
250 g
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


  1. You didn’t add the butter beans, or have I missed it.

  2. 5 stars
    Love butter bean with saltfish, so easy to make and it goes with just about everything. Thanks for sharing the recipe

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