Caribbean Cornmeal Dumplings Recipe

A plate of cornmeal dumplings topped with salted fish

The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Rest: 30 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 8 dumplings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
175 Calories
1g Fat
37g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 175
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 322mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 37g 14%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 108mg 8%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 78mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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. 

"The dumplings were super easy to prepare and were perfectly cooked after 8 minutes in the steamer. I used a bamboo steamer with a sheet of perforated parchment paper. I really liked the hint of cinnamon in the dumplings. They would be good with beans, too." —Diana Rattray

Caribbean Cornmeal Dumplings
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal

  • 1 1/4 heaping teaspoon granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Pinch ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water, more or less as needed

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make cornmeal dumplins

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  2. Add the dry ingredients to a medium bowl and thoroughly whisk them together.

    A bowl of whisked dry ingredients

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  3. Add water to the dry ingredients a little at a time, kneading the mixture together to form a dough.

    A bowl of lightly kneaded dough

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  4. Knead for an additional 2 minutes in the bowl after the dough forms. Cover with a cloth and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

    A bowl of kneaded dough

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  5. Cut dough into 8 equal pieces and shape the pieces into balls.

    A baking sheet with eight pieces of round dough

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  6. Steam the balls in batches of 3 or 4, for 8 to 10 minutes per batch.

    A steamer with four dumplings cooking

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma


  • Using a two-tiered bamboo steamer to steam all eight dumplings at once.
  • Line the steaming basket with a sheet of perforated parchment paper.
  • Cornmeal dumplings are traditionally cigar-shaped, not round. Form them into an oblong shape for a true island touch.
  • Substitute smoked herring for the salt fish topping, if you don't have salt fish on hand. 
  • Dumplings can also be enjoyed topped with a sliver of butter (in lieu of salt fish) or toss them with olive oil and a little black pepper. 

Recipe Variations

  • In Jamaica, dumplings (spinners) are traditionally boiled, not steamed, like on the other islands. To boil, add the dumplings to 8 cups of salted, boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Separate the dumplings if they begin sticking together or to the pot.
  • 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 8 to 10 minutes before it's finished cooking. Keep in mind the dumplings will grow in size as they cook.
  • For more tender dumplings, work about 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of shortening or butter into the dry ingredients before you add the water.

How to Store

  • Transfer steamed dumplings to a zip-close bag and store at room temperature for one or two days or refrigerate for up to one week.
  • For longer storage, freeze the dumplings in a zip-close freezer bag for up to three months.