Slightly sweet and very moreish fried dumplings, called festival, from Jamaica, these are traditionally served with jerk meats. [Editor’s Note: The term “moreish” means, quite literally, something that’s so darn good, it makes you want more.]–Virginia Burke


Keep in mind, there are about as many different approaches to festival as there are home cooks who make them, so this version may be slightly more or less sweet than what you’ve had in the past. If these seem heavier than what you’re used to, they may have a slightly different proportion of cornmeal to flour. In fact, in some recipes, we’ve seen an added teaspoon of vanilla extract. Subtle differences like these are common, especially in a dish that’s as popular and widespread as Caribbean fried corn dough. Feel free to use the recipe as a blueprint, making it once and tweaking accordingly if the festival of your memories is slightly different.

Two metal baskets lined with paper, each with three Jamaican fried dough fritters, or festival.

Jamaican Fried Dough | Festival

4.60 / 30 votes
They’re also known as Jamaican fried dumplings, fried dough, cornbread fritters, or fried cornbread. In Jamaica, they’re simply known as festival. They’re best eaten right after it’s made, while still hot.
David Leite
Servings12 fritters
Calories134 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time40 minutes


  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 to 1 cup cold water
  • Oil for frying


  • Mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add 3/4 cup water and mix the dough. You should have a stiff dough. If the dough is dry, continue adding water, 1 tablespoon at a time just until the dough comes together stiffly.
  • Flour your hands well and knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for just a minute or so. Divide the dough into 12 portions. Roll each portion into a small cigar or sausage shape that’s somewhat tapered at the ends.
  • Pour enough oil into a skillet to reach about 1 inch deep. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking (about 350°F | 176°C).
  • Carefully slide a few of the dumplings into the oil, being careful not to crowd the skillet. Fry, turning as necessary, until golden brown on each side, adjusting the heat if necessary, about 8 minutes total. Move them to paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining fritters. Eat 'em hot.
Eat Caribbean Cookbook

Adapted From

Eat Caribbean

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Serving: 1 fritterCalories: 134 kcalCarbohydrates: 19 gProtein: 2 gFat: 6 gSaturated Fat: 1 gTrans Fat: 1 gSodium: 133 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 1 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2005 Virginia Burke. Photo © 2021 Dani. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I really enjoyed these fritters, and they were a snap to make. I needed a half cup of water to bring the dough together, and they came out crisp on the outside but dense and soft on the inside. They’re quite plain, making them a great accompaniment to strongly flavored jerk chicken—keep some sauce aside for dipping. Don’t try to use a knife and fork on them—better to use your fingers!

The few ingredients and very simple preparation caught my eye with this Jamaican festival recipe. The dough is prepared very quickly, as are the cigar-shaped dumplings, and the frying step was done in batches of four, about 8 minutes each.

The dumplings are golden brown and crispy on the outside, the inside is soft but dense. I liked the flavor, although it wasn’t surprising. In the Jamaican tradition, from what I’ve read, they can be served as a snack or as an accompaniment to meat dishes. It’s the latter that I find more interesting, especially in dishes with a sauce in which you can dip the dumplings.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Pretty much novice at fried foods and I have a big family so I doubled the recipe and added more sugar, cause we like it sweet. They were really dense, but when I asked my kids, they gave it 2 thumbs up. I will definitely make this again when I make Jerk chicken.

    1. I’m so pleased you gave this a try, Kate, and that your kids loved it so much! Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know.

  2. Totally agree with Mandy. Too much cornmeal. It should be about a quarter cup to a half cup cornmeal to one cup of flour. In addition you need to add a teaspoon butter and spices such as mixed spice, vanilla, cinnamon about a 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of each.

  3. This recipe is okay, but did not result in the taste and texture of a traditional Jamaican ‘festival’.

    The ratio of ingredients is off: too much cornmeal, and not enough sugar/vanilla/spice maybe?

    Otherwise thank you for providing your take ?

    1. Thanks, Mandy. There are as many versions of this as there are cooks!! How much cornmeal do you usually add?