Jamaican Dumplings

Well to start, let me give you the usual names for Jamaican dumplings: Cartwheel, Jack, Johnny Cake or Fried Dumpling, Festival, dumpling.

Yes, all Jamaican dumplings are made with flour, and you can also add other ingredients when making dumplings to spice them up a little, you know...be creative.

The regular Jamaican dumplings, if there is such a thing, are boiled or fried. And, not too often, we roast them as well.

Roast dumplings are usually made by children playing around a fire and placing little dumplings on the heat source just to see the outcome...a curiosity thing.

However, I must admit that I ate roast(ed) dumplings many times when my friends and I 'run boat' on the canal banks behind my friend's yard.

Just to say this, no one would ever offer his or her guest a roast dumpling as part of any breakfast, lunch, or dinner...in addition to sending the wrong message, it's also an insult: it's cultural. 

Boiled Dumplings

½ lb. All purpose Flour

1 cup Water

½ tsp. Salt

Mix flour and salt together in a cooking bowl. Add half a cup of water to the mix, and then use your hand to knead the flour.

The flour will look like crumbs; when this happens add a little water each time, and knead until the dough is made and the water is finished.

If you need to add a little bit more water please do so, but do not let the dough get sappy and soft.

Now tear off pieces of dough about the size of a golf ball and place them in the same bowl for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, go ahead and do whatever else you have to do to past the time.

Come back and take the golf ball size pieces of dough and roll them between your palms to make them feel smooth. If you are right-handed, use the right heel of your palm to press the piece of dough until it is flat.

But you must leave a dent in the middle of the dough. (I don’t know why, it’s been that way forever) the Jamaican dumplings will cook faster I suppose.

Bring a pot of water to a boil; add the flat pieces of dough to the pot. Cook for 25 minutes and… Voila! Jamaican Dumplings are ready. To make a Cartwheel, make these same dumplings bigger…like a cartwheel (duh?)

Jamaican Fried Dumplings or Johnny Cakes

2 cups Self Rising Flour

1 cup cold Milk or Half and Half

1 oz. Butter

1 cup Cooking Oil

Mix ingredients together, except cooking oil, and knead to make dough. Make the dough pieces the same as explained above.

Heat the cooking oil in the skillet, and fry dough pieces for three minutes on each side.

It’s imperative that you keep the heat on low for these dumplings or they will be hard on the sides and soft around the edges.

You can serve these with eggs, fish, callaloo, ackee, or meat. I’ve even had them with corned beef hash.


To make Jack use the same ingredients as fried dumplings, except the butter. You will have to use half the amount of milk, make the dough pieces twice the size, and use a fork to press the dough while they are frying. That’s the fact Jack!


4 oz. Cornmeal

4 oz. All Purpose Flour

2½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp Salt

1 ½ tbsp Sugar

4 oz. Cold Water

Mix all ingredients together, except water. Add the water to the mix and knead to make soft dough. Make long and slender like spinners.

Now deep fry the long spinners in cooking oil until brown. Remove the festival and lay on a paper towel to drain the oil.

This dumpling is usually served with fish, or Jerk Chicken.

More dumplings:

Add a spoon of canned corned beef to the dough pieces and make them into golf size balls and deep fry them. You can also substitute the corned beef with cheddar cheese, or add both.

Cornmeal Dumplings are made with the same ingredients as Flour Dumplings, just add some cornmeal to the flour and experiment with it.

Jamaican Fried Fritters

A cousin to dumplings, Jamaican fried fritters, is another white flour treat that we enjoy.

Now you can add many different types of ingredients to the batter to vary the taste. Not like boiled Jamaican dumplings , which are made from a dough...like bread.Yah Mon!

My friends and I used to make all sorts fritters, especially during the rainy season in Jamaica--mainly because it is easier to make Jamaican fried fritters than Jamaican dumplings. This one is called Stamp & Go.

Here goes:

1 lb. Self Rising Flour

3 stalks Scallion (chopped)

1 tsp. Black Pepper

1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper (Optional)

1 Onion (Chopped)

1 Medium Tomato (chopped)

½ lb. Salted Codfish (Bacaloa)

1 tbsp. Margarine

¾ cup Water

1 cup Cooking Oil

Soak the salted codfish in water for an hour. In the meantime, add water to the flour, margarine, and black pepper in a cooking bowl.

Use a whisk or fork to beat these ingredients together. The batter must not be too thick, if this happens add more water to the batter.

Now fold in the rest of the ingredients into the batter, except the cooking oil.

Flake the fish and remove the bones. Add the fish to the batter and beat for another minute.

Heat the oil in a skillet on high and then turn the heat down to medium low. Use a spoon to scoop a spoonful of batter and drop it into the hot oil.

The batter should form itself into a round shape and begin to bubble around the edges.

Pay close attention to the fritter now. When the edge becomes brown, flip the fritter over to the other side and allow it to fry.

When it is ready, remove the fried fritter and place it on a paper towel to drain the oil. Wait a couple minutes until it is warm before you eat it.

If you would like curry fritters, fold in some curry powder into the batter. Fry as described above.

Ripe banana fritters is another breakfast favorite, and sometimes dinner too.

Ripe Banana Fritters

4 Ripe Bananas

¼ cup Self Rising Flour

2 tbsp. Sugar

1 Egg

Pinch of Nutmeg

Pinch of cinnamon

Pinch of Salt

½ tsp. Vanilla Flavoring

½ cup Cooking Oil

Beat ripe bananas and sugar together until smooth. Next beat the flour and egg together and then add the mixture to the banana and sugar mixture.

Beat both mixtures together for a minute. Fold in the rest of the ingredients.

Add cooking oil to the skillet, and turn the fire to medium and then turn it down to low.

Add a several spoonfuls of the batter to the oil and let them fry slowly. Repeat this process until you use up all the batter.

That’s it!!!

Jamaican dumplings and fried fritters are sometimes eaten at breakfast instead of bread, although they are very oily.

Yah Mon!