How to Make Caribbean Cornmeal Dumplings

  • 30 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4
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Cornmeal dumplings make a versatile accompaniment to just about any Caribbean meal. They're hearty and filling on their own, but they can be eaten with sautéed salt fish or a saucy stew. Make smaller dumplings and add them to your soup — there's no end to what you can do with them. This simple recipe will satisfy your whole family no matter how you decide to use the dumplings. 

What You'll Need

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 heaping teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Lukewarm water

How to Make It

  1. Add the dry ingredients to a bowl and thoroughly whisk them together.
  2. Add the water to the dry ingredients a little at a time, kneading the mixture together to make a dough, about 2 to 3 minutes. Knead for an additional 2 minutes after the dough forms. 
  3. Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes, then cut it into 8 equal pieces and shape the pieces into balls.
  4. Steam the balls in batches of 3 or 4 for 25 minutes each batch.
  1. Serve hot. 

Tips and Variations 

  • Unlike many recipes which can vary slightly from island to island, this cornmeal dumpling recipe is pretty much consistent and universal throughout the Caribbean. Dumplings are most often boiled in Jamaica, however, rather than added to soups and stews. 
  • You can coat your hands with a little additional flour if the dough becomes too sticky and difficult to handle while you're kneading it. 
  • Use several steaming pots and cook multiple dumplings simultaneously if you don't want to be standing over a hot stove for an extended period of time, steaming the dumplings in small patches. 
  • You can skip the steaming if you're using the dumplings in a soup or stew. Just make the balls smaller and drop them into the recipe about 25 minutes before it's finished cooking. Keep in mind that the dumplings will grow in size as they cook. 
  • You can boil the dumplings instead of steaming them. Add them to boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes. They're fully cooked when they float to the surface. You'll need about 8 cups of water for this recipe, seasoned with ½ teaspoon salt. Keep an eye on the pot so you can separate the dumplings if they begin sticking together or free them if they adhere to the bottom of the pot. 
  • Smoked herring works well in place of salt fish if you don't happen to have salt fish on hand. 
  • If you want to enjoy the dumplings on their own and you're not a fan of salt fish — or any kind of fish — just top them with a sliver of butter. Or toss the finished dumplings with butter, olive oil, and a little black pepper. 
  • Cornmeal dumplings are traditionally cigar-shaped, not round, except in Jamaica. Form them into a more oblong shape for a true island touch, but be prepared to watch them spiral around in the water like mini torpedoes if you boil them.