50 Surprising Foods That Start with J (2023 edition)
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There are so many foods that start with j from all over the world? From famous dishes like jambalaya and jollof rice, to meals I bet you haven’t heard of like jook and junket, I’ve got them all covered in this list of foods that start with J!
I have split this list into 4 categories: savory food, sweet food, drinks, fruit and vegetables.
The savory food and sweet food categories cover any prepared dish ie. a main course, snack, dessert etc, usually made from more than one ingredient. The drinks, fruit and veg categories are pretty self-explanatory!
I’ve searched high and low to bring you a range of the most interesting and far reaching foods the world has to offer. I hope these help you boss pub quizzes, alphabet games or even scrabble!
Savory foods that starts with J
This is one for any Aussie readers out there! A jaffle is the Australian term for a closed toasted sandwich – a toastie.
This traditional English dish is made of eels boiled in a stock, which is then allowed to cool and set, before being served cold. It was invented in the 18th century, as eels were a cheap and easily available food source.
Jerky is made from lean cuts of meat trimmed into thin strips then dried, salted and dehydrated. It is eaten as a snack food across the United States and Canada. It can be made out of many different types of meat!
Jook, also known as congee, is an East Asian rice porridge. It is made by boiling jasmine rice with flavorful ingredients like dry shrimp, pork bones or shitaki mushrooms. It can be eaten at any time of day.
A johnnycake is a kind of cornmeal flatbread, like a mix between cornbread and a pancake. It is eaten across the Atlantic coast of the US and Canada right down to the Caribbean.
It was originally a Native American food. Other names for it include journey cake, johnny bread, shawnee cake or spider bread.
Jollof rice is a West African rice dish that consists of rice, meat, vegetables and spices cooked in a singular pot. The base consists of tomato, onion, red pepper, garlic, ginger and scotch bonnet chili peppers.
It is usually seasoned with curry powder and dried thyme. There are different ways to prepare jollof rice according to the different West African countries where it is eaten.
Jerk is actually a style of cooking and a seasoning mix. It refers to the Jamaican practice of dry rubbing/wet marinating meat with jerk seasoning and cooking it over a wood fire.
Jamaican jerk seasoning consists mostly of allspice and scotch bonnet peppers.
Jameed is a food from Jordan made from laban (essentially greek yogurt) which has been hardened and dried. It is dissolved to make a stock which forms the base of mansaf, Jordan’s national dish.
Jambalaya is a main dish originating in the Southeast USA, most famously New Orleans. There are two main categories of Jambalaya: Creole and Cajun.
Creole jambalaya has a tomato base in which the meat, onions, garlic and celery are cooked before the rice is added. Cajun jambalaya doesn’t use tomatoes, so it has a browner color and a smokier flavor.
Jocoque is a Mexican fermented milk product. Traditionally, milk was left in a clay pot near a fire where it would curdle. It has a texture that lies somewhere between cheese and yogurt, and it is popularly used as a dip.
This German dish is made of breaded and fried pork / veal cutlets in a mushroom, tomato and cream sauce.
Jota is a stew from Slovenia, Croatia and Italy. It is made of beans, sauerkraut, potatoes, bacon and/or spare ribs.
Jiaozi, also known as potstickers in US English, are Chinese dumplings. They are usually made of a minced meat or veg filling wrapped in a thinly rolled sheet of dough and sealed by pressing the edges together.
Jhalmuri is a street food that is popular in Bangladesh and neighbouring Indian states. It is made out of puffed rice with an assortment of spices and vegetables.
Jambon au madere
This French dish consists of cured ham covered in a delicious Madeira sauce. Madeira sauce is made using madeira wine.
Sweet foods that start with J
Jingbaijan are a traditional Chinese set of 8 pastries, each of which has a different meaning. ‘Jing’ refers to Beijing and ‘Baijan’ mean 8 pieces.They date back to the Qing Dynasty and are still eaten today.
They are frequently given as gifts on special occasions.
Jawbreakers, also known as gumstoppers, are a kind of candy. They are round, with multiple different coloured hard outer layers, and a piece of chewing gum in the middle.
They are usually large and can be up to 8cm in diameter! The name comes from the fact that they are very tough to bite through!
Jelly has two different meanings! In the UK, it is a gelatin based dessert, known in the USA as jello. In the USA, it refers to a smooth fruit preserve, known in the UK as jam.
We return to the jam/jelly/jello conundrum! Jam is the British term for a spread made of preserved fruits. Usually jam contains whole/crushed pieces of fruit.
Jamaican ginger cake
This is not actually a Jamaican cake, rather it is a British invention that takes its name from the fact that the ginger that was originally used to make it was grown in Jamaica.
It is a rich dense, moist cake, flavored with treacle, cinnamon and nutmeg.
A jesuit is a French pastry, made of flaky pastry filled with frangipane and topped with flaked almonds and powdered sugar. Its triangular shape is meant to look like a jesuit’s hat, hence the name.
Known as a dragée in French, Jordan almonds are almonds covered in hard sugar in pastel colors.
They are often served symbolically at weddings – the bitter almond is meant to stand for the bitterness of life, and the sweet taste of sugar is supposed to represent the sweetness of love.
Junket is a type of dessert, with the main ingredient being rennet and sweetened milk.
It was very popular in Medieval England and is thought to have developed from an earlier French dish called ‘jonquet’, made from the strained whey of curdled cream, sweetened with sugar.
Jelly beans are a candy made out of sugar and tapioca and corn starch, with a soft shell and chewy interior that come in a variety of colors and flavors. It is thought they were invented in the 1860s in the USA.
Who doesn’t love a jam donut! Deep fried sweet dough filled with sweet jam (or jelly!) in a variety of flavors, the classic being strawberry.
Jam roly-poly is a traditional British dessert. A dough is made out of suet, rolled into a square, then spread with jam. It is then rolled up like a swiss roll and either steamed or baked.
It also goes by the rather odd name of dead man’s leg!
These popular British biscuits are made from shortbread with a raspberry or strawberry jam filling, shaped in a circle with a small hole in the middle. They have been made by Burton’s Biscuit manufacturers for over 60 years!
Jalebi is a snack from south and west Asia, Africa and Mauritius, made by deep frying dough in thin spirals and soaking it in sugar syrup.
Drinks that start with J
A simple one – tea made out of jasmine flowers! This tea has a sweet floral flavor with a slightly bitter base.
Mint juleps are a simple whisky cocktail made from bourbon, mint leaves and sugar syrup!
Pretty straight forward this one! Juice is made by pressing/extracting the natural liquids from fruit or vegetables. Popular fruit juice includes orange juice and apple juice.
Vegetable juices are less popular – but some examples include carrot juice, or tomato juice.
Jigarthanda is a cold non-alcoholic drink which originated in the city of Tamil Nadu, in India. Fun fact! The name translates to ‘cold heart’ in English. It is made out of milk, almond gum, sasparilla syrup, sugar and ice cream.
Fruits that start with J
Jaboticaba is a Brazilian fruit that grows on the jabuticabeira tree. These small fruit are usually eaten raw as they do not last long once picked. They have purple/black skin and white flesh.
The scientific name for the jabuticaba tree is ‘Plinia cauliflora’.
Jackfruit are the biggest fruit in the world. They can grow up to 60 cm long and 18kg heavy! Their spiny flesh contains large white pods with a banana-esque flavor. Jackfruit can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.
In Brazil ripe jackfruit is often stewed with sugar and eaten with cheese. In European countries, jackfruit has begun to be used as a vegan meat alternative particularly for pulled pork, due to the stringy texture they can achieve.
The scientific name for jackfruit is ‘Artocarpus heterophyllus’.
Juniper berries are most famously used to flavor gin. However, they also have a history of being used for medicinal purposes as well – such as the treatment of diabetes, arthritis, and as an antiseptic.
Its scientific name is ‘Juniperus Comunis‘.
Jocote come from Central America. In English they can also be called ‘hog plums’. They are part of the plum family and have a similar structure and texture – soft juicy flesh and a single stone.
Their scientific name is ‘Spondias Purpurea’.
This fruit comes from Southeast Asia. The small berries are eaten and the bark, seed and leaf have been used for centuries as medicine for diabetes, inflammation and other things. They are also known as java plum.
Its scientific name is ‘S’yzygium cumini’.
Also known as the Brazilian cherry or stinking toe fruit, this fruit comes in a hard brown shell and has a smell similar to cheesy feet (hence the name!). However, if you can get past the smell, the pulp is great in smoothies and juices!
Its scientific name is ‘Hymenaea courbaril‘.
This fruit actually comes from China, not Japan! It also goes by the names loquat. Its yellow/orange oval fruit and fragrant leaves are used to make herbal tea. The tree is also grown as an ornamental plant.
Its scientific name is ‘Eriobotrya japonica‘.
A jostaberry is a fruit made by crossing the black currants, black gooseberry and European gooseberry.
Its flavor draws tartness from the gooseberry and sweetness akin to blackberries. In size it lies between gooseberry and blackberry.
It’s scientific name is ‘Ribes × nidigrolaria’.
Jujube comes from China and is also known as a Chinese date. It has been used as medicine for insomnia and anxiety for generations. Studies indicate that it maybe be very good for your nervous system and digestion.
Its scientific name is ‘Ziziphus jujuba Mill’.
June plums go by many names – ambarella and golden apple fruit, to name just two! They grow in Polynesia and Southeast Asia, where they are eaten raw or cooked into sweet and savory dishes.
Its scientific name is ‘Spondias Dulcis’.
Junglesop is another big fruit like jackfruit. They can weigh between 5 and 15kg! They grow across Africa and are a popular food source.
Their flavor has been described as somewhat peachy however it can vary massively from sour to sweet and some do not have a very palatable flavor.
Its scientific name is ‘Anonidium Mannii’.
Jelly palm fruit
These fruit from South America have an extremely fibrous texture which is hard to swallow, so most people chew their pulp and then spit out the fibrous flesh. They can be used to make jams and wine, or turned into savory cooking sauces.
Its scientific name is ‘Butia Capitata’.
You are probably familiar with jazz apples but did you know that they are a hybrid of Braeburn and Royal Gala? It’s true! They were invented in New Zealand but are now grown across the Europe, North America and South America.
It goes by the scientific name ‘Malus Domestica Braeburn x Royal Gala‘.
Java apples are not a type of apple. They are a tropical fruit with thin skin and spongy flesh, most commonly used as part of a salad, or eaten in pickle form.
Its scientific name is ‘Syzygium samarangense’.
Vegetables that start with J
I’m sure you’re familiar with jalapeño peppers! These small spicy green peppers come from Mexican and are very popular in Mexican dishes and Mexican-inspired cuisine, like jalapeno poppers.
They are usually used to add a kick of spice to a dish, however some jalapenos are milder/spicier than others. There is a way to tell how hot a jalapeno is – look for scars on the outside of the pepper!
The more scars it has, the spicier it will be. The scientific name for jalapeno is ‘Capsicum Annuum ‘Jalapeño’.
Jerusalem artichokes are not artichokes, nor are they from Jerusalem. They are a type of sunflower from North America. When we talk about them as a vegetable we are referring to the edible root of this specific sunflower.
Their scientific name is ‘Helianthus tuberosus.’
Jicama is a root vegetable that is described as having a similar taste to a cross between potato and pear. It comes from Mexico. It is most often eaten raw but can also be boiled, fried, sauteed etc.
Try cutting it into matchsticks and squeezing a little lime, salt and chili over! Delicious!
This type of eggplant is long, thin and often a slightly lighter purple than the eggplant you are used to. They are also a bit sweeter than regular eggplant. They are delicious when grilled with a miso soy glaze!
- Jellied eels
- Jollof rice
- Jerk chicken
- Jambon au madere
- Jamaican ginger cake
- Jordan almond
- Jelly beans
- Jam donut
- Jam roly-poly
- Jammy dodgers
- Jasmine tea
- Jaboticaba fruit
- Juniper berries
- Jocote fruit
- Jatoba fruit
- Japanese plum
- Jostaberry Fruit
- Jujube fruit
- June plum
- Junglesop fruit
- Jelly palm fruit
- Jazz apples
- Java apple
- Jalapeño Pepper
- Jerusalem artichoke
- Japanese Eggplant
I hope you enjoyed learning all these different foods that start with J (if you liked this, you can start at the beginning of the alphabet with foods that start with a and work through, or hop along in the alphabet to foods that start with k)! Let me know in the comments if I missed anything else that starts with the letter j! I am always updating the list, and would love your suggestions.