Jamaican gizzada recipe

19.3.17 | Recipe by Renz

Are you on the lookout for something truly delicious that hails from Jamaica? If so, then you'll love Jamaican gizzada! This sweet and flaky pastry is full of flavor and can be enjoyed as a dessert or snack. Let's take a closer look at what makes this traditional Jamaican dessert so great, and how to make it yourself.

Individual Gizzadas on a wire rack set out too cool.

It's snack time!!

I realize that a huge area of Caribbean food is dedicated to desserts/snacks.

We do make a lot of things that are not main course related. And we use a lot of our natural resources, especially the coconut.

Today's snack/dessert is coming from Jamaica (by the way of Portugal based on what I learned about this) and is a yummy delight. A sweet open-faced tart that is packed with well-seasoned grated coconut that will surely have you reaching for me.

It's like the open cousin to TnT's coconut tart.


What is Gizzada?

Gizzada is a classic Jamaican pastry that’s perfect for all kinds of occasions. It’s essentially an open-faced tart with spiced coconut filling and is characterized by its pinched crust, which is why it’s also known as pinch-me-round.

The name comes from the Portuguese word guisada, brought to Jamaica by Portuguese Jews in the 1500s.

A traditional gizzada filling consists of water, brown sugar, ginger, mixed spice, vanilla extract, and salt. Then that coconut mixture is encased in a buttery baked crust.

It can easily be found in many Jamaican restaurants along with patties, bun, and coco bread.

Over head shot of gizzada with a cherry in the middle.

Ingredients for making gizzada

This is a simple and easy recipe that will require just a few ingredients.

  • Flour - as always all purpose flour is my go-to when making any dessert.
  • Salt
  • Water - We want to use cold water for this.
  • Shortening
  • Margarine
  • Dry coconut
  • Brown sugar
  • Nutmeg
  • Butter - I prefer to use unsalted butter since we will be adding salt. If you happen to just have salted butter
  • Maraschino cherries (optional)
  • Fresh ginger (optional)

How to make Jamaican gizzada

Making this sweet treat comes in sections.

Section 1: Get the coconut meat and make the filling.

Ah, the gizzada filling. This is what really makes this dish special!

To get started, you'll need to gather some fresh coconut. As mentioned earlier, it's best to use brown coconut for this recipe. You can find them selling at most Caribbean or Asian supermarkets.

First, we need to open the coconut, get rid of the water that's in there and remove the meat (flesh). It's not an easy task, but with a little bit of patience and a sharp rounded head knife or screwdriver and hammer, you can do it!

Once the coconut flesh is removed from the shell, it's time to start grating or using a food processor.

We want to get a coarse mixture that looks like shredded coconut. Now that you have your grated coconut ready, it's time to make the syrup for your gizzada filling.

To make the filling, start by combining the water, sugar, ginger, mixed spice, vanilla extract, and salt in a bowl over low heat.

Add in the grated coconut and continue to boil for another ten minutes. Add the butter and continue to heat the mixture until it becomes thick and syrupy. We do not want all the liquid evaporated.

Allow the mixture to cool before using it as your gizzada filling.

Now you have yourself an amazing gizzada filling.

Section 2: Make the shell for the gizzada

Making the crust is a cinch!

First, gather your ingredients – all you need is flour, cold butter, ice cold water, and salt (if using unsalted butter). Now let’s get started.

Take the butter and shortening and cut them up into smaller pieces to be used.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and the salt.

Cut in the butter/shortening into the flour mixture until incorporated. Then add in the water till a dough is formed. Now you have yourself a delicious buttery crust.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator. We will let it sit there for approximately 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from the fridge, then using a rolling pin on a floured surface, roll the dough until it's about 1/4 inch thick. Use a round cookie cutter to cut circles out of your dough. Or you can also use a mason jar.

Repeat this process with each of your remaining pieces of dough and place them all onto your baking sheet. Repeat this process on the excess dough until you cannot cut any more circles.

Gently pin the edges of the dough circles to make them into a cup. Or if you have tart pans, place them into the pans and make sure it comes up the side of the pans.

Bake the shells on an ungreased baking sheet in the pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes. Sometimes I like to brush some melted butter on the shells prior to baking. Helps give them a nice golden brown color.

Section 3: The assembly

Now that we have our gizzada dough and filling ready, it's time for the fun part: assembly!

Once the baking is completed spoon generous helpings of coconut filling into the shells and then you can place half a cherry, cut side down, in the middle of the coconut.

Bake for another 10-15 minutes minutes.

Serve warm with some extra syrup on top if desired! Enjoy!

Gizzadas are the perfect addition to any special occasion or just a sweet snack for any time of day.

Enjoy the delightful combination of sweet syrup and flaky pastry dough - your taste buds will thank you for this tasty Jamaican treat!

Side view of a gizzada with the coconut filling.


If you're looking to make this delicious pastry at home, you might have some questions about the process. In this FAQ section, we'll provide you with some answers to common questions about how to make Jamaican gizzada. Whether you're an experienced baker or a novice in the kitchen, we hope this guide will help you make the perfect gizzada every time.

Can these gizzadas be made ahead of time?

Yes, you can definitely make Gizzada ahead of time!

The great thing about this sweet treat is that you can make the dough and the filling separately before assembling them. To do this, simply prepare your dough according to the recipe and shape it into small circles. Then, prepare the coconut filling and store it in a sealed container in the fridge.

When ready to enjoy your gizzadas, simply assemble each one with a generous helping of filling in the center. Brush them with melted butter before baking and bake until golden brown.

You can even freeze the shells and filling separately for up to three months so that you always have some on hand when cravings strike!

Another option is to make as directed and freeze combined, then warm up in a pre-heated oven till warmed through.

Best way to store gizzada

If you're like me, you love to have Jamaican-style Gizzada on hand for quick snacks or special occasions. But like any pastry, they can be easy to go stale. So how do you store them so they stay crispy and delicious?

Well, first of all, make sure to store them in an airtight container on the countertop. They'll last up to about 3 to 4 days this way. If you want to keep them for a longer period of time, you can wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store them in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

Don't miss out on this delicious and crispy Jamaican-style Gizzada recipe. Be sure to try it out and let me know how you like it! In the meantime, stay tuned for more delicious recipes coming your way.

Holding up a gizzada to showcase the shell and the filling.

I don't have fresh coconut

I know for some people finding a fresh coconut might be hard, or you just have store-bought desiccated coconut readily available. You can use this also. Just give it a few whirls in the food processor to break it up a bit, because I find it a bit tough. It's also best to use unsweetened kind as you are going to immerse it into a sugary syrup.

Here are some more coconut treats:

If you would like to try more Jamaican food