Caribbean Cornmeal Dumplings Recipe

A plate of cornmeal dumplings topped with salted fish

The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
160 Calories
4g Fat
29g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 160
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 1g 4%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 542mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 11%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Protein 3g
Calcium 156mg 12%
*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. 

Ingredients

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

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 the water to the dry ingredients a little at a time, kneading the mixture together to make a dough, about 2 to 3 minutes.

    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. Let dough rest for 10 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 25 minutes per batch.

    A steamer with four dumplings cooking

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

Tips

  • Coat your hands with additional flour if the dough becomes too sticky and difficult to handle while kneading. 
  • Use several steaming pots and steam the dumplings in small batches, so you're not standing over a hot stove for an extended period of time.
  • 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 15 to 20 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 25 minutes before it's finished cooking. Keep in mind the dumplings will grow in size as they cook.