Jamaicans have such a fondness for dumplings that whether they be sweet or savory, boiled or fried, they are sure to pop up on the breakfast menu most days of the week. With all this love in the room for Jamaican breakfast dumplings, it’s no surprise that there are many different incarnations of this tasty and filling family favorite.
Basic dumplings come together with just flour and water and are one of the easiest Jamaican dishes to prepare as they have so few ingredients. Many Jamaicans will add vegetables, fruits, and even fish to their breakfast dumpling recipes, which make some of the most interesting variations of this versatile dish.
Whether your preference is for crunchy fluffy fried dumplings, sweet festivals, crispy-chewy fritters, or good ol’ boiled dumplings you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing the best Jamaican breakfast dumpling to have with your next meal!
If you’re still unsure of what Jamaican breakfast dumpling to try first, let’s get into our rundown of all the typical dumplings eaten by Jamaicans.
1. Jamaican Fried Dumplings
Fried dumplings are beloved in Jamaica and rightly so, with their irresistible crispy, crunchy outside, and soft, fluffy interiors. Delicious on their own, hot from the frying pan or nestled on the side of the plate with the star attraction, fried dumplings lend themselves well to all types of Jamaican breakfasts.
Jamaican fried dumplings are made from flour, water, salt, and baking powder which are kneaded together to form a stretchy dough. Pinched off and rolled into a round ball or biscuit shape they are carefully lowered into hot oil to lightly brown on all sides before serving.
Fried dumplings are the perfect Jamaican breakfast dumpling to accompany traditional breakfast favorites like steamed vegetables, ackee and saltfish, tinned mackerel, liver and onions, and more.
The beauty of fried dumplings is that they come together quickly and raise a smile when heaped up, steaming hot, and ready to eat.
2. Jamaican Boiled Dumplings
Boiled dumplings are the healthier cousin of fried dumplings, but they are just as well-loved as a Jamaican breakfast dumpling. Especially when paired with a breakfast dish that has a rich and delicious gravy to mop up.
Boiled dumplings are often prepared with ground provisions such as boiled green banana, yam, sweet potato, Irish (white) potato, and pumpkin. This delicious combination of accompaniments is locally known as ‘Hard Food’, and pairs irresistibly with all manner of Jamaican fish, meat and vegetable dishes.
Jamaican boiled dumplings are made from flour, water, and salt which are kneaded together to form a firm dough. Pinched off and rolled into a disc or sausage shape they are carefully lowered into boiling water to cook through before serving.
Most of the Jamaican favorite breakfasts will work with boiled dumplings and hard food, such as Red Herring, Liver, and Onions, Steamed Callaloo, or Ackee and saltfish.
3. Jamaican Saltfish Fritters
Fritters are known as ‘flitters’ in Jamaica and can be made with any combination of sweet or savory ingredients. Saltfish fritters, aka ‘Stamp and Go’ are enjoyed as a tasty breakfast dumpling option for the whole family and are also popular at parties as they are the perfect handheld snack.
Saltfish fritters are made by mixing flour, water, baking powder, finely chopped scallion, and scotch bonnet pepper with the precooked flaked saltfish. Mix thoroughly to create a thickish batter that can be easily poured. Some people like to add diced sweet bell pepper, for a little extra crunch and variety.
Add a spoonful of the mixture to hot oil and fry on both sides until golden. Remove from the oil and drain before enjoying this delicious grab-and-go breakfast idea. If you want a Vegan option, you can omit the saltfish and use sweetcorn instead for a delicious pop of flavor in every bite!
4. Jamaican Festival
Festival is the sweet cousin of regular Jamaican fried dumplings and is often served as an alternative or substitute when you’re craving something slighter sweeter for breakfast. Festivals are often shaped like long sausages or knots which are super fun to pull apart and nibble on the little pieces!
Jamaican festival is made by mixing cornmeal with flour, water, baking powder, sugar, vanilla essence, and spice. Once the dough is formed it is rolled into long sausage shapes that are oh so delicious with their crispy outside and soft and bouncy center. Some Jamaicans add other ingredients to their festival to spice it up a bit, but will never reveal their secret ingredients!
Festival pairs really well with steamed vegetables, as the sweet breakfast dumpling balances the earthy taste of the veggies. But it’s equally as delicious as a breakfast option with ackee and saltfish or baked beans and frankfurters.
5. Jamaican Banana Fritters
Fritters are a popular Jamaican breakfast choice when time is short as, unlike traditional dumplings, they don’t have to be kneaded to form a dough. Banana fritters make use of overripe bananas and provide a hot, tasty, filling, and economical meal, especially when accompanied by some delicious steamed vegetables.
Banana fritters are made by mixing mashed bananas with flour, water, and baking powder. Mix thoroughly to create a thickish batter that can be easily poured. Add a spoonful of the mixture to hot oil and fry on both sides until golden. Remove from the oil and drain before enjoying this delicious grab-and-go breakfast idea.
These types of fritters are really popular with children as the sweet taste of the mashed banana coupled with the crispy-chewy texture is irresistible and delicious.
6. Jamaican Spinners
Jamaican spinners are long thin bite-sized boiled dumplings that are traditionally added to soups and stews. Small in stature but mighty in taste these little dumplings make a pleasing addition that is eagerly anticipated when digging through the stew for the best bits to eat first!
Although not a typical Jamaican breakfast dumpling, if you have ‘stew peas’ on the breakfast menu, you can expect to get a taste of these delicious little morsels. If all else fails wait until mid-morning when the cookshops have the soup of the day ready which may have some Jamaican spinners added.
Jamaican spinners are made from flour, water, and salt which are kneaded together to form a firm dough. Pinched off and rolled into thin, long bite-sized sausage shapes they are carefully lowered into the boiling water to cook through before serving.
7. Jamaican Corn Fritters
Corn fritters make a delicious light and flavorful change from saltfish fritters, which are also the perfect choice for the Vegans among us. The combination of fresh sweet corn kernels nestled in the crispy-chewy fritters with a little escallion and scotch bonnet pepper is so totally moreish, that you’ll be eating them straight from the pan.
Corn fritters are made by whisking together flour, water, baking powder, finely chopped scallion, scotch bonnet pepper, and sweet corn kernels. Once thoroughly mixed a thickish batter is created that can be easily poured. Some people like to add diced sweet bell pepper, for a little extra crunch and variety.
Add a spoonful of the mixture to hot oil and fry on both sides until golden. Remove from the oil and drain before enjoying this delicious grab-and-go breakfast idea.
Some will argue that Corn fritters are a quick and easy way of getting a portion of veggies into picky eaters! But whatever way you want to look at it, it’s definitely a Jamaican breakfast dumpling that the whole family enjoys.
8. Cornmeal Dumplings
Another popular Jamaican breakfast dumpling is the super filling boiled cornmeal dumpling which has a slightly grainy texture. These dumplings are beloved for their firm and dense texture which fills you up and gives you slow-burning energy to last until lunchtime!
Cornmeal dumplings are made by mixing equal portions of cornmeal and flour with water and a little salt to create a firm dough. Pinched off and rolled into a disc or sausage shape they are carefully lowered into boiling water to cook through before serving.
As cornmeal is gluten-free some people prefer this half cornmeal, half flour mixture as it is said to be easier to digest than regular Jamaican boiled dumplings. Plus cornmeal is more nutrient-dense than wheat-based flour and makes for a filling Jamaican breakfast dumpling.
Cornmeal dumplings are delicious with saltfish and cabbage, steamed pak choi, and tinned mackerel, but can be enjoyed with any traditional Jamaican dish especially if it has gravy.
9. Pumpkin Dumplings
Another popular Jamaican breakfast dumpling is the colorful pumpkin dumpling which has a beautiful orange tinge and can be served both fried and boiled.
Pumpkin dumplings are made by adding pureed pumpkin to flour, water, and a little salt to create a firm dough. Pinched off and rolled into shape they are carefully lowered into boiling water or hot oil to cook through before serving.
As pumpkin is full of fiber and nutrients some people enjoy the addition of pumpkin to the flour mixture as it is said to be easier to digest than regular Jamaican boiled dumplings. Plus pumpkin has a multitude of vitamins and minerals and makes for a filling Jamaican breakfast dumpling.
Pumpkin dumplings are delicious with steamed veggies, or sauteed fish, but can be enjoyed with any traditional Jamaican dish.
10. Jamaican Wholewheat or Spelt Dumplings aka ‘I-plings’
Many followers of whole-foods based cuisine will make their boiled dumplings from wholewheat or spelt flour, which is healthier than regular white (wheat) flour. These Jamaican breakfast dumplings have a denser texture and nuttier taste to them but are just as delicious once you get used to the different flavor.
Rastafarians have popularized eating ‘Ital’ food, which derives from the word ‘vital’ or ‘vitality’ so naturally, their diet choices are on the healthier side than the regular way of cooking Jamaican dishes. Centering around a plant-based diet most ‘Ital’ restaurants will have a wholefoods menu on offer.
They also have a fondness for slightly changing the name of popular foods (and other words) by adding the letter ‘I’ to the spelling, which denotes that the food has been cooked in an ‘Ital’ manner without the addition of processed foods. So don’t be surprised if you see ‘I-plings’ on the menu at an Ital restaurant which is basically wholewheat dumplings!
11. Plantain Fritters
Plantain fritters are a delicious take on the classic banana fritter, that makes use of overripe plantain to great appeal. Perfectly fried crispy-chewy plantain fritters are simply delicious on their own but pair beautifully with earthy steamed vegetables.
Plantain fritters are made by mixing mashed overripe plantain with flour, water, and baking powder. Mix thoroughly to create a thickish batter that can be easily poured. Carefully, drop spoonfuls of the plantain batter into hot oil and fry on both sides until golden brown.
You’ll be coming back to this delicious Vegan Jamaican breakfast dumpling time and time again as it’s so easy to put together and surprisingly delicious and satisfying!