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.
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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Heat oil: Use a good amount of cooking oil so that the festival dumplings are swimming in the oil.
- 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.
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.
Jamaican Festival Dumplings
- 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
- ⅔ 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.
- You can use whatever milk you like for the recipe. I used unsweetened oat milk.
- 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.
Let’s stay connected! Find me on:
- Also subscribe to my newsletter for recipe updates!
THANK YOU for all of your support, for visiting my blog, commenting, and sharing my recipes with your friends and family. I am SO thankful for you!
If you make this festival dumplings recipe or any of my recipes, then don’t forget to rate it and leave a comment below.
I would LOVE to hear about your experience and your comments just make my day!