Jamaican Fried Dough ~ Festival

Jamaican fried dough, known as festival, is a cultural tradition that could be described as cornmeal fritters with a slight sweetness that’s ideal alongside jerk-seasoned meats.

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

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

CAN I MAKE ADJUSTMENTS TO FESTIVAL DOUGH?

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.

Jamaican Fried Dough | Festival

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

Prep 20 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 40 mins
Snacks
Caribbean
12 fritters
134 kcal
4.6 / 10 votes
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Ingredients 

  • 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
  • Enough cold water to make a soft dough
  • Oil for frying

Directions
 

  • Mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add just enough cold water to make a stiff dough.
  • 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.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1fritterCalories: 134kcal (7%)Carbohydrates: 19g (6%)Protein: 2g (4%)Fat: 6g (9%)Saturated Fat: 1g (6%)Trans Fat: 1gSodium: 133mg (6%)Potassium: 54mg (2%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Calcium: 22mg (2%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

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!


Originally published December 19, 2011

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Comments

  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 😊

  4. I’m a Jamaican. That’s almost the exact recipe I grew up using except we use 2tsp baking powder, 1 egg or a tablespoon of butter, cold milk or cold water is fine. Let sit for some time before frying. Came out perfect each time.

    1. Magnificent, Nicola! Love the similarities and appreciate you sharing your version. It’s hard to not like Jamaican fried dough but as you imply some are better than others. Looking forward to trying your tweaks!

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