Jamaican Festival Dumplings

Some Jamaican recipes, like the Johnny Cake, were handed down through generations. Others rose to fame rather quickly – Festival is one of these later additions.

Both are a type of fried dumpling. Johnny Cakes (originally journey cakes) have been around since the days of slavery, and have remained popular as a breakfast item, substituting for bread. They are easy to pack, and were often included in a working man’s packed lunch.

Festivals developed more recently on the beaches of Hellshire in St. Catherine and quickly made its name as an important sidekick to fried fish, and later to jerked chicken and pork. They were so popular that they soon began to be served throughout the whole island.

Jamaican festivals sweet cornbread

Jamaican Festival Dumplings

Festival dumplings are easy to make using readily available ingredients. They are an important side dish for fried fish, jerked chicken and pork dishes in Jamaica.
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Course: Bread, Breakfast, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Caribbean, Jamaica
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 24 Festivals
Author: My Hungry Traveler


  • Large heavy-bottomed skillet, deep fryer, or wok
  • Large bowl
  • wire scoop


  • 2 cups All-purpose flour
  • ½ cup Fine yellow cornmeal
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp White or light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Baking powder
  • 1 cup Whole milk (Sub: any other kind of milk)
  • 2 cup Cooking oil


  • Heat oil for frying over medium-low heat.
    Make Batter – Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and slowly pour in the milk a little at a time. Knead to form a soft dough. If dough seems to wet, add a little flour and knead again.
  • Make Festivals – cut dough into 24 equal pieces. Roll each piece in the palm of your hands to form an elongated oval shape about 1-inch by 3-4-inches. Pinch the ends into a football-like point. When oil becomes hot, place festivals in the hot oil 1 at a time. Deep fry them, rolling to cook on all sides. until they become golden brown. Do in batches so as not to overcook them. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot or warm as part of a breakfast or as a side to Jerked Chicken or fried fish.


  • Don’t pour the milk all at once. As you pour in the milk, begin kneading the dough along the way. You might not need to use all of the milk. 
  • Use dough as soon as it’s done. Festival dough does not do well stored in the refrigerator or even rested too long.
  • To reheat,  wrap in aluminum foil and bake in the oven for a few minutes


Calories: 194kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Sodium: 113mg | Potassium: 11mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 0.03g | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 1mg

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