African Fufu Recipe

African Fufu Recipe, in a white bowl

The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
273 Calories
1g Fat
62g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 273
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 18mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 62g 23%
Dietary Fiber 9g 32%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 27mg 137%
Calcium 32mg 2%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 1520mg 32%
*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.)

Fufu, an essential food in most of West Africa, was brought to the Americas by enslaved populations who adapted it to Caribbean cuisines according to what was available. There are many versions of fufu, with each West African country featuring its own favorite recipe. In general, fufu refers to a dough made from boiled and pounded starchy ground provisions like plantains, cassava, or malanga—or a combination of two or more. Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico have their own versions, too, with sweet plantains and added animal fats like butter, bacon, or lard.

Our recipe for fufu uses true yams, first boiling them and then pounding in a wooden mortar and pestle until they're smooth and sticky like dough. The tart and sour flavor of pounded starches pairs really well with full-bodied and well-seasoned meat and vegetable dishes, and it's especially good served with a Caribbean soup or stew. For this recipe, you can set aside the traditional mortar and pestle and use a food processor instead, which cuts down on the amount of work and time needed.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds white yams

  • Salt (to taste)

  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (butter or margarine)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for making African fufu

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  2. Fill a medium-sized pot halfway with cold water. 

    Pouring water into a pot

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  3. Carefully peel the yams; their slippery quality can make them hard to peel.

    Yams peeled and cut on a wood cutting board

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  4. Cut the peeled yams into chunks and place them in the cold water.

    Yam chunks in a pot with cold water

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  5. Bring the yams to a boil over high heat. Keep a rapid boil until the yams are soft, about 25 minutes. 

    Boiling the yams in a pot

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  6. Remove the yams, drain, but reserve about a cup of the cooking water. Allow the yams to cool off.

    Yams draining in a metal colander

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  7. Place the cooled yams in a large bowl along with the salt, pepper, and olive oil.

    Yams in a bowl with salt, pepper, and olive oil

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  8. Mash and mix the ingredients using a potato masher. The mixture will be uneven and lumpy.

    Yams mashed in the bowl with a potato masher

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  9. Place the fufu mixture in a food processor or blender. Pulse briefly at low speed to remove any lumps, but do not puree.

    Fufu mixture in a food processor

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  10. Place the yam mixture back in the bowl and beat it with a wooden spoon until it becomes smooth. The mixture should become sticky and slightly elastic. It's perfectly fine to use your hands to get it to the desired texture. Add some of the reserved water, starting with 1/4 of a cup, and work the dough. You might need to add more water, but it depends on how moist the yams were to begin with. Keep working and adding water until you have a springy dough that comes away from the bowl, is pliable, and is easily shaped.

    Yam mixture beaten until smooth using a wood spoon

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  11. Shape the fufu into balls of equal size.

    Fufu shaped into balls and placed in a wooden bowl

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  12. Enjoy.

How to Pair and Eat Fufu?

In African tradition, fufu is served family style in a big round dough-like form. The dough is hand pulled by each guest who uses it to soak up the juices in stews or soupy preparations. Thus, it's customary to eat fufu with clean hands as this is finger food in the truest sense of the term: By pulling off a pinch of dough about the size of a quarter, rolling it into a ball in your hand, and then making an indentation in the ball with your thumb, you can then scoop up some stew or sauce and enjoy the whole bite.


Because fufu is used as a vehicle to bring bites of juicy foods into your mouth, any stew or soup preparation is a great dish to serve with fufu.


Think of West African palaver or peanut butter soup. Or try serving it with recipes you are more familiar with like stews (osso buco, lamb, or chicken) or traditional soups.