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Sweet Jamaican Festival Dumplings

 These sweet-tasting Jamaican festival dumplings are one of Jamaican’s favourites and will be yours once you try this recipe. Crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, and this sweet side dish is a treat for the whole family. You will love the sweet taste of festival dumplings once you try them. 

Jamaican festival dumplings

What’s the difference between fried dumplings and festival?

The main thing that distinguishes Jamaican festival dumplings from fried dumplings is cornmeal. Whilst fried dumpling is plain flour mixed with salt and water, festival dumpling mix flour and yellow cornmeal. The cornmeal makes the festival dumplings crispy on the outside, unlike the softer outsider of fried dumplings. Cornmeal also gives the festival dumplings a denser texture than fried dumplings. Sugar is a must in festival dumplings for the sweet taste. However, sugar is optional in the fried dumpling.

Jamaican festival food

Jamaican festival dumplings are made from plain flour, fine yellow cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and salt. Traditionally water was used to mix the dough. In recent years milk replaced water, which gives the dumplings a softer texture. I usually use unsweetened plant-based milk such as cashew or almond milk, but my favourite to use these days is oat milk.

You can’t make festival dumplings without cornmeal unless there is a cornmeal alternative. Cornmeal is what differentiates festival dumplings from other dumplings.

What you need to make festival dumplings

You don’t need much, just seven simply ingredients most you already have in your kitchen cupboard.

Festival dumpling ingredients
  • Plain flour: I’m sure you have plain flour in your cupboard right this moment. Don’t use self-raising flour.
  • Fine cornmeal: Refined and fine yellow cornmeal is the same, just make sure you are not using coarse cornmeal.
  • Brown sugar: The recipe calls for brown sugar. I’m sure you may get away with using granulated sugar, but I grew up using brown sugar to make festival dumplings, so it is what I use here.
  • Baking powder: We all know the importance of using baking powder, so don’t forget to use it.
  • Salt: For flavour.
  • Milk: mix the water and milk together before pouring it into the dry mixture.

Make Jamaican festival dumplings from scratch

You can have festival dumplings with a few straightforward steps in very little time.

how to make festival dumplings
  1. Dry ingredients: Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. It’s better to combine the dry ingredients before adding the liquid.
  2. Add milk: Gradually pour the milk into the dry ingredient mixture and knead to form a soft dough. Only add some of the milk at a time because the amount of liquid needed varies with each brand of flour. Knead into a soft but not sticky dough.
  1. Heat oil: Use a good amount of cooking oil so that the festival dumplings are swimming in the oil.
  2. Fry: Fry until the dough turns golden brown on all sides. Quick tip, constantly moves the festival dumplings around in the oil so that they cook on all sides.
Jamaican festival recipe

What to serving it with

Jamaican festival dumplings are best served warm, so have it straight after cooking or the same day you cooked it. After a day, the festival dumplings are a bit dry and chewy. These sweet festival dumplings are usually served with escovitch fish, any saltfish dish or jerk chicken.

Festival dumplings with escovitch fish
Jamaican festival dumpling

Jamaican Festival Dumplings

You will love the sweet taste of Jamaican festival dumplings.
4.37 from 72 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Snack
Cuisine: Jamaican
Keyword: Jamaican Festival Dumpling
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 10 dumplings
Calories: 119kcal
Author: Lesa


  • 2 Cups (250 g) Plain flour
  • ¼ Cup (39.75 g) Fine yellow cornmeal
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • 4 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • Cup (157.73 ml) Unsweetened milk (or water) I use oats milk
  • Cooking oil


  • Add the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and sugar to a mixing bowl and combine these dry ingredients well.
  • Gradually pour the milk into the dry ingredients and knead until you form a soft dough. (A soft dough but not paste-like).
  • Add enough oil to a deep frying pan and heat on medium to low fire.
  • Divide the dough into smaller portions (about 10-12 pieces) and roll it in the palm of your hands to form it into an oval-like shape.
  • Place the dough one at a time into the heated oil. Constantly turn dumplings so that it cooks on all sides.
  • Once the dumplings get golden brown, remove from the oil.


  1. You can use whatever milk you like for the recipe. I used unsweetened oat milk.
  2. Not all flour is made equal, and the amount of milk you need will change with each brand of flour. You may need more or less milk than given in the recipe.  


Nutrition Facts
Jamaican Festival Dumplings
Serving Size
214 g
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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  1. 5 stars
    I tried your version of the festival recipe yesterday. Came out great, thanks so much, my son loved it.

  2. I cannot find a corn meal that indicates fine? will quaker yellow corn meal work?

  3. Can you use cornflour instead of cornmeal

  4. Nathaniel Littlejohn

    How much milk or water should go in it

  5. Please what is the measurement in grams as I live in the UK. Cups are different when trying to convert. Thank you

  6. Tried this and put jerk chicken breast fillet inside. Absolutely delicious

  7. 3 stars
    not sure what i did wrong but they came put really hard i followed instructions but i used water didnt have any milk.

  8. Rhonda K Lynch

    How much milk should I use?

  9. I used about 3/4 – 1 cup of water to make the dough. Hope that helped

  10. 5 stars
    Delicious and so easy/quick to make!

  11. Crystal Douglas

    Thanks for sharing these ideas, Ms. Lesa. Your doing a great job. God bless you.

  12. Sapphire Ricketts

    3 stars
    Would mark it more but it’s so confusing as to why there is no measurement for the milk / water but measurement for the oil!!!

    • Hi Sapphire, thanks for sharing your thoughts. You’d be please to know the recipe is updated with better measurements

  13. Monica Hayes-Johnson

    5 stars
    Thanks for sharing the recipe! It was easy to follow and my festival dumplings were a great addition to the Jamaican curry ( I found the recipe on your site too) . Very delicious!

    • Hi Monica, thanks for stopping by the website, trying the recipes and sharing your outcome, very please to hear it turned out well.

  14. Thank you for your recipe

  15. 5 stars
    Always wanted to try making festival dumplings and finally did it following your recipe. Turn out great, just like the ones I add on my holiday in Jamaica. Thanks for sharing!

  16. 5 stars
    This is the best festival recipe I’ve tried yet. Thanks for sharing!

  17. 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing. Come out perfect! Been wanting to make these for the longest time.

  18. 5 stars
    Ashley D is right, this is the best festival dumpling recipe I’ve tried!

  19. 5 stars
    Was making Jerk pork for dinner and my husband asked if we should make festivals too and then came across this recipe, which was super delicious 😊

  20. 5 stars
    Thanks for your recipe,came out very nice.

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