Jamaican Fried Dumplings
These authentic Jamaican fried dumplings are the real deal! They’re perfectly puffy, golden brown on the outside, with a crispy exterior—and you won’t believe how easy it is to make them.
Although my blog features globally-inspired vegan recipes, it’s always fun for me to share veganised versions of Jamaican favourites. In the past, I’ve posted recipes for Jamaican Jerk Tofu, Vegan Ackee and Saltfish, and Jamaican Rice and Peas, and now it’s time to share another traditional Jamaican recipe: fried dumplings!
What Are Jamaican Fried Dumplings?
Jamaican dumplings are a traditional Caribbean side dish (I grew up calling them Johnny Cakes in the Eastern Caribbean too) paired with everything from ackee to jerk chicken to fish. In fact, they go with almost everything because they’re simply deep-fried balls of dough made with flour, baking powder, butter, water, and salt.
Don’t let the simplicity of the ingredients fool you, though—this is the kind of recipe where the texture is the star of the show. You’ve got a crispy, golden exterior, which gives way to a pillowy soft inside. Think of Jamaican fried dumplings a little bit like how biscuits are served in Southern cuisine—they’re paired with other dishes for soaking up sauces, or they can be topped with jams and other spreads. You can use them for dipping too!
If you’ve ever made donuts from scratch, the process is quite similar. You’ll need to deep-fry the dough to get that perfect texture, but trust me: the results are worth it!
Notes on Ingredients
Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Granulated sugar – This is optional, but I recommend using it.
- Vegan butter – Use store-bought or homemade vegan butter.
- Cold water – Warm water is best. It gets the dough nice and soft, creating the best base for frying the dumplings.
- Oil for frying – You’ll need about 2 cups, although the exact amount will vary depending on the shape of your cooking vessel.
What Type of Oil is Best for Frying?
When making Jamaican fried dumplings or any other fried food, it is important to use an oil with a high smoke point. Canola or vegetable oil are the most commonly used and both work well. Peanut oil is another popular choice for deep frying, but avoid it if you or someone you’re serving has peanut allergies.
How to Make Jamaican Fried Dumplings
Making Jamaican fried dumplings isn’t just easy—it’s fun too! There’s something so satisfying about seeing the dough turn golden brown and crispy as it cooks. Here’s what you’ll need to do.
Start heating the oil. Add the oil to a medium saucepan set over medium heat.
Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl.
Add the butter. Use a fork to work the butter into the flour mixture, until it forms a sandy, crumb-like texture.
Add the water. Stir the water into the dough mixture a little at a time until it mostly holds together; it’s okay if there’s still some flour that’s dry.
Knead. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead until the dry ingredients are incorporated into the dough. Be careful not to over-knead; the outside should look a little rough, rather than looking smooth like a ball of yeasted dough. Let the dough rest for at least 10 minutes, but up to 30 minutes is even better,
Test the oil. You want to heat your oil to about 300F (no higher than 320F). Tear off a small piece of dough and place it in the oil. If the oil around the dough starts to bubble, it’s ready for frying. If not, try again in a few minutes.
Form the dumplings. Roll golf-ball-sized portions of dough into balls, until all the dough is used. Use your palm to slightly flatten each ball.
Fry the dumplings. Place a few balls of dough in the oil at a time; avoid crowding. Cook the dumplings for about 6 to 8 minutes, flipping at the halfway point, until they’re golden brown on both sides.
Drain. Transfer the cooked dumplings to a plate lined with paper towels and repeat with the remaining dough. Serve warm.
Tips for Success
Follow these simple hints and tips for perfect Jamaican fried dumplings.
- Don’t overwork the dough. It should be soft when you’re done kneading it, and it’s okay for it to be a little bit sticky too. What you don’t want is dough that feels wet.
- Don’t cook the dumplings until the oil is hot. When you put dough in oil that isn’t hot enough, it absorbs the oil and get greasy and soggy.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan. This will lower the temperature of the oil and your dumplings may stick together.
How Do You Eat Jamaican Dumplings?
Jamaican fried dumplings can be eaten as and served alongside traditional savory dishes. I love serving mine with Vegan Ackee and Saltfish, Jerk Tofu and pretty much any other savoury dish as a side. You can also serve them with hot sauce, ketchup, or chutney.
Another option is to make them sweet. Sprinkle them with sugar when they’re fresh out of the oil, or simply pair them with a sweet sauce or jam for dipping. I know this seems unusual, but it does work too!
How to Store Leftovers
Just like fried donuts, Jamaican fried dumplings are best eaten right away, but store well! I like to store them in the fridge, and then reheat them in my air fryer at 350F for about 5 minutes.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
You can freeze Jamaican fried dumplings for up to 3 months, but the texture upon freezing and thawing won’t be ideal. Alternatively, you can freeze the dough, let it thaw in the refrigerator, and then fry it up fresh when you’re ready to eat.
More Bread Recipes
- Vegan Japanese Milk Bread
- Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia Bread
- No Knead Bread (Dutch Oven Bread)
- Vegan Naan Recipe
Enjoy friends! If you make this Jamaican fried dumpling recipe, please snap a photo and tag #jessicainthekitchen on Instagram! We’d also love it if you would leave a comment below, and give the recipe a rating! Thanks so much!
Jamaican Fried Dumplings
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, 240 grams
- 1 tablespoon baking powder, 14 grams
- 1 ¼ teaspoon salt, 7 grams
- 4 teaspoons granulated sugar, 16 grams (optional, but recommended)
- ¼ cup vegan butter, softened (57 grams)
- ⅔ cup warm water, 160 grams
- Oil for frying, approximately 2 cups or 225 grams
- Add the oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- To a bowl, add the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt and whisk to combine.
- Add the butter to the flour mixture and smash it with a fork to combine. Continue to combine the butter and flour mixture until it has a sandy, crumb-like texture.
- Add the water, a little at a time, to the flour and butter mixture and stir it with a fork or your hand to form a dough. Knead for about 2-4 minutes. There should still be some flour that needs to be worked into the dough.
- Transfer the contents of the bowl to a clean, dry work surface and knead the dough until all dry ingredients are just combined. Do not over-knead the dough. It should still look a little rough on the outside and not smooth. Cover the dough with a wet paper towel and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes, ideally 30 minutes.
- Tear off golf ball sized amounts of dough and roll slightly into a ball. When all dough balls are rolled, gently flatten them in the centre only slightly before carefully placing them in the oil a few at a time. This helps them to fry evenly (they will form back into round balls in the oil). Cover your dough again while your oil heats up.
- Tear off a small piece of dough no larger than a 1⁄2 teaspoon and place it in the oil. If the oil around the dough starts to bubble all around it then it’s ready for frying.
- Cook the dough in the oil until golden brown on each side, flipping when needed (approximately 6 – 8 minutes).
- Place a few paper towels onto a plate. Carefully remove the dumplings from the oil and transfer them to the plate. Serve warm.
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