Jamaican Fried Dumpling is a easy and delicious 4-ingredient bread style dumpling recipe that’s crispy on the outside with a soft, buttery and fluffy inside! They are made with only a few pantry staples and enjoyed during breakfast or anytime throughout the day for the perfect Jamaican appetizer, side dish, or snack.
Full recipe ingredients and instructions are available in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Table of Contents
Jamaican Fried Dumpling
These Caribbean style dumplings, bring me such joy and comfort. This traditional Jamaican dish is usually served with Ackee and Saltfish on a Sunday morning.
I recall, waking up the smell of this being prepared in our kitchen by my mom, and getting excited because I woke just in time to indulge while it was still hot! Many have come to love my mothers way of making these – and I’m glad that I’ve learned under her tutelage.
These Jamaican Recipes are more than just delicious Caribbean recipes, but a true symbol of great memories.
I’m honoured that my mothers’ legacy of cooking and allowing the kitchen to be a space of comfort, conversation and good eats lives on through me. Now let’s get into these dumplings!
You’ll Love This Fried Dumpling Recipe! Here’s Why…
- Simple Ingredients – this recipe, uses only four ingredients – flour, baking powder, salt and butter with water to bind it together.
- Good Anytime – eat these dumplings anytime throughout the day, from breakfast to lunch and dinner!
- Fun to Make with Kids – I’ve been making dumplings with my mothers since I was small. It get to get kids involved with making and forming the dough.
What is Jamaican Fried Dumpling?
It is a deep fried dough mixture of flour, salt, baking powder, butter, and water.
The dough is then divided into small pieces and formed into small round balls, which is then fried in vegetable oil until golden.
I would sum it up as golden dough balls of deliciousness. Some islands in the Caribbean call these Johnny Cakes or Bakes.
Other Names for Jamaican Fried Dumpling
Some my refer to Jamaican Fried Dumplings as Johnny Cakes or Bakes throughout the Caribbean islands. For example, Trinidad, Saint Lucia and Guyana refer to these as bakes.
One thing to note is, each Caribbean island has their unique way of making this recipe however the texture or shape my differ.
History of Jamaican Fried Dumpling
Fried dumplings also known as johnny cakes comes from the word “journey cakes”.
This is where plantation workers would pack these fried dumplings for snack and lunch to last the day or the long journeys ahead. They were cheap and quick to make, which made them a handy choice.
Ingredients and Ingredient Notes
All Purpose Flour – you can use other types of flour such as whole wheat, however you may need to adjust the amount of water.
Baking Powder – this is the leavening used to make a fluffier dumpling.
Butter – this adds richness and flavour to the dough. You can use margarine or vegetable-based butters as an alternative.
Salt – this is used to boost the flavour of your dumpling.
Vegetable Oil – this is used for frying. You can use any kind of neutral cooking oil such as vegetable, avocado or canola oil.
What You Need to Make Fried Dumpling
- Mixing Bowl – this is needed to mix the ingredients together.
- Dutch Pot or Heavy-Bottom Pot – needed to fry the dumpling.
See My Story Below for Step-by-Step Instructions!
How to Make Jamaican Fried Dumpling
- Combine Ingredients – in a medium sized mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Add butter to the dry ingredients and use your hands to mix in, evenly.
- Add Water – gradually add water, use your hands to knead and form the dough, add more water if needed.
- Roll Dough into Dumpling – pinch or cut off large golf ball size pieces. In the palm of your hand using a circular motion, form each piece into a ball, flatten slightly, and fold the edges of the dough into the center.
- Fry Dumpling – in a medium sized heavy bottom pot, heat oil over medium low heat. Add each dumpling to the heated oil and fry for about 8 to 10 minutes flipping at the halfway point.
- Rest and Set Aside – once golden brown and cooked through remove from pot, place on a wire rack to drain any excess oil and allow to cool.
My mom has finally made her debut on the blog (step five), we had the best time doing this recipe together!
How to Knead Fried Dumpling Dough: Techniques and Tips
This recipe is more about the technique, than the ingredients as they are quite basic. The goodness of this recipe is how you combine the ingredients, how you knead the dough, how you form the dumpling. It takes practice, so do not get discouraged if your first batch isn’t perfectly shaped – it’ll still taste amazing!
Here are some tips when kneading the dough:
- You may not need all the water to knead the dough.
- Gradually add in the water and mix it together by using your hand to form the dough.
- After kneading the dough, it will still be soft. This will make the dumplings soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.
How to Know When the Dumplings Are Cooked
These are a great indication that the dough is cooked through:
- When you tap the dumplings in the pan with a fork or spoon they should sound hollow.
- They start to float.
- When they turn golden brown.
Recipe Variations and Substitutions
Here are some variations to the fried dumpling recipe you can try next:
- Add Cornmeal – this will produce a denser dough that is more filling.
- Change Flour – you can substitute whole wheat flour or gluten-free flour as an alternative to all purpose flour.
- Add Sugar – for a sweet kick to the recipe, add about 2 tsps to the flour mixture.
What to Serve With Fried Dumpling
These dumplings are often served as a breakfast item alongside ackee and saltfish, the national dish of Jamaica. You can also serve these dumplings with the following dishes:
- Jack Mackerel in Tomato Sauce
- Salt Mackerel
- Steamed Cabbage (with or with saltfish)
- Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken
- Steamed Callaloo (with or with saltfish)
- Bacon and Eggs
- It can also be stuffed with Corned Beef
How to Make Ahead
You can make the dough ahead of time. When ready to serve, bring to room temperature and prepare as outline in recipe instructions.
How to Store
These fried dumplings are best enjoyed when they’re freshly made, but they can still make great leftovers if needed.
Once the dumplings have cooled completely, transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
How to Reheat
It’s best to serve these dumplings when fresh and warm. However, should you need to reheat; place in aluminum foil and wrap tighty. Warm in oven set to 375 degrees fahrenheit until full heated through.
Note, if you use a microwave it can result in dumpling becoming hard and chewy.
Recipe Notes and Tips for Best Results
Dough – Do not overwork your dough when kneading. As soon as all the ingredients are combined, stop kneading the dough. The dough will still be soft, this is how you want it to be. Dough should be soft but not sticky and wet. Remember not to over knead.
Half Cover Pot – to allow your dumplings to cook through without burning you want to half cover your pot. It is not necessary, but a technique my mama taught me.
Medium Low Heat – ensure your oil is hot, but not too hot. We want golden brown, not burnt to a crisp! Fry on medium-low heat, and ensure there are little sizzles of bubbles around each dumpling.
Slow and Steady – don’t rush the cooking process. To get golden and crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, you need to fry them slowly.
Work in Batches – fry dumplings in small batches as it will help them cook evenly and keep the oil from cooling down too much.
Test Fry – test fry one dumpling before frying a full batch to help determine if the oil is at the correct temperature. If it browns too quickly, the inside will be uncooked.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
Jamaican fried dumplings are made of flour, baking powder, salt, butter and water.
They are crispy on the outside with a soft, buttery and fluffy inside. They are similar to a biscuit, but with a denser texture.
Yes, you definitely can. The texture will differ, however you can air fry at 400℉/200℃ for about 8-10 minutes (depending on size) or until golden. Spray with olive oil and flip at the halfway point.
Yes, you can! The texture will vary from fried, however bake at 400℉/200℃ for about 10-12 minutes (depending on size) or until golden. Spray with olive oil and flip at the halfway point.
They are crispy on the outside with a soft, buttery and fluffy inside; similar to biscuits.
These fried dumplings are best enjoyed when they’re freshly made, but you can store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Interested in Jamaican Food? Try these Recipes Out Next!
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Jamaican Fried Dumpling
- Mixing Bowl
- Heavy-Bottom Pot for frying
- 2 cups All Purpose Flour
- 3 tsp Baking Powder
- 3 tbsp Butter or margarine
- 1/2 cup Cold Water may need to add 2-3 tbsp more or less
- 1/4 tsp Salt or to taste
- Vegetable Oil for frying
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Add butter to the dry ingredients and use your hands to mix in, evenly.
- Gradually add water, use your hands to knead and form the dough, add more water if needed. Dough should be soft but not sticky and wet. Remember not to over knead. You may not need all the water.
- Pinch or cut off large golf ball size pieces. In the palm of your hand using a circular motion, form each piece into a ball, flatten slightly, and fold the edges of the dough into the center. Set each dumpling aside.
- In a medium sized heavy bottom pot, heat oil over medium low heat. Add each dumpling to the heated oil and fry for about 8 to 10 minutes flipping at the halfway point – do not rush this process, be patient. Keep heat level at low to medium.
- Once golden brown and cooked through remove from pot, place on a paper towel to drain any excess oil and allow to cool. Enjoy while warm!