Quick and easy Caribbean boiled dumplings

23.3.23 | Recipe by Renz

Boiled dumplings are a staple in Caribbean cuisine and are the perfect side dish for many traditional dishes including stewed meats and soups. It's a ball of goodness and so easy to make.
A plate of Caribbean boiled dumplings ready to be served.

It's a dish that is common across all the islands. These are not just "Jamaican dumplings" but are the same as any other island's boiled dumplings.

This quick and easy Caribbean dumplings recipe is not overly complicated to make, and once you know how to make them, you can add other ingredients to them and change up the flavors then pair them with what you like, like this steamed conch. 

But for now, I wanted to share with you this quick and easy way to make these plain flour dumplings with flour.


What are Caribbean dumplings?

Boiled dumplings are a popular type of dumpling commonly found in the Caribbean region. They are made by mixing flour, salt, and water to form a dough, which is then rolled into small balls and boiled in water until they are cooked through.

There are also "fried dumplings" but they are totally different from these boiled ones.

Boiled dumplings are an integral part of our food culture. They make up part of the traditional Afro-Caribbean food we love to make and enjoy.

They are typically made using flour, salt, and water. They are then boiled in water until they float to the top and are ready. They are soft but firm and slightly chewy in texture and have a slightly salty flavor that pairs well with a variety of savory dishes.

You can vary the shape and size of them depending on what you are serving these dumplings with. We even sometimes stuff our dumplings with some curry crab.

There are many variations of Caribbean boiled dumplings, and different Caribbean islands may have their own unique recipes and cooking methods.

Some recipes may call for additional ingredients such as cornmeal or baking powder to help the dumplings rise, while others may use different types of flour such as cassava or plantain flour for a different flavor and texture.

So if you would like to give boiled dumplings ago as an accompaniment to your dish then here is everything you need to know to make them.

Ingredients needed to make Caribbean boiled dumplings

Ingredients needed to make boiled dumplings separated out in bowls.

First of all, it is a good idea to ensure that you can get all of the ingredients together. Focusing on this first means that the cooking process will be simple. The simple ingredients you will need:

  • All-purpose flour - do not use self-raising flour for this. Stick to plain flour.
  • Water - the amount of water might vary a little depending on how stiff
  • Salt - needed for the dumplings themselves and for salting the water to boil the dumplings. You can use regular table salt or kosher salt.
  • Water for boiling.
  • Oil - you can add some vegetable oil to the water. This helps in making sure that the dumplings do not stick to each other while they are boiling. 

How to make the Caribbean boil dumplings

Now that you have all your ingredients to hand it is time to make these dumplings.

  1. First of all, gather all of your ingredients. Get a mixing bowl and add the dry ingredients of flour and salt to it.

    Adding water to the flour to make some boiled dumplings.

  2. You will want to make a well in the middle of the flour and add water. Start with ¼ cup but then increase a little if it is too dry. Combine everything together. You want a firm dough that is not too sticky but also not too hard.

    Combining water and flour to make a smooth dough.

  3. Make the dumpling dough into a ball and let it rest for 5 minutes while covered. While this is happening you can get the pot with water ready for boiling.

    A dough ball of uncooked dumpling dough combined smoothly.

  4. Put some water into a deep pot. You might want to put about 6 cups of water and a pinch of salt to boil. But you can judge how much is needed. You need enough water so that the dumplings fit and are covered by water. Boil on medium heat.

  5. Separate the dough ball into equal pieces (about golf ball-sized pieces) and make it into discs (flattened circles). The size can vary depending on how many you want to make and the size.

    Shaping out boiled dumplings from a dough ball into a flat disc.

  6. Drop the flattened dumplings into the boiling water and let it boil for about 5 - 7 minutes. Give it a stir with a spoon to ensure no sticking.
  7. You can also make the dough into thin logs (taking off about an ounce of dough and rolling them into logs). These are called spinners and are usually used in soups and stews.

    Making dumplings as spinners or logs which we use to put into soups.

  8. Once the boiled dumplings are floating to the top of the pot (about 8 - 12 minutes) you can strain them off of the pot of water and they are ready to be served. Enjoy!

Recipe notes and tips

When it comes to any recipe, it is always great to have some extra tips and advice to ensure you can make the most out of it. So here are some of the things that can help you to be successful with this recipe.

  • It is best to get the water up to a boiling point before you add the dumplings to boil.
  • Make sure you use a deep enough pan to hold both the liquid and the dumplings so that they fit in the pot properly.
  • I sometimes add a little oil (about a tablespoon) to the water when boiling. It helps the dumplings from sticking together when boiling.
  • Make sure you add more water to the dough if it is dry when mixing the flour mixture with the water. I recommended starting with about ¼ cup of water but it might even take up to 1 cup. Just add a little at a time till you get the consistency you want. If it's too wet then you can also add extra flour.
  • If you want perfect-looking dumplings, you can roll the dough out on a floured countertop. The dough will need to be on the firm side. Using a rolling pin, leave it out, then use a glass and cut out circles. Repeat this until all the dough is used up.


Variations to try

Like with a lot of recipes, once you have tried them out a few times you can look to make some changes and vary the recipe to suit your tastes and also any dietary needs you might have. Here are some of the very best options to enhance these boiled dumplings and change things a little. I have some recipes to share myself.

  • Pumpkin - Adding pumpkin is a great way to change the flavors of the boiled dumplings and an easy ingredient to incorporate into this traditional side dish.
  • Cornmeal - Ground corn can add to the flavor and you can use cornmeal in a dumpling recipe along with the flour to make cornmeal dumplings. Super tasty and work so well with many Caribbean dishes.
  • Wheat - You can also make dumplings with wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour to change the grain. It will change the overall flavor but it works nicely.
  • Cassava - Using grated cassava root you can add to the dumplings to get a sweeter flavor. It works really well with many dishes.
  • Coconut - Instead of using water, do half liquid of coconut milk and water.


Like with any recipe, there are often questions that need answering. I thought I would share some of the common questions here, but if you have any comments or questions please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.

How should I serve the boiled dumplings?

As I mentioned this is a staple item in our food landscape. It's the perfect side dish for all sorts of dishes. Most commonly you will find boiled dumplings served with stews and accompanied by ground provisions. My favorite pairings are:

We also place them in soups. I love a good set of dumplings in my cornsoup, or my pigeon peas soup.

There are some great variations of dumplings shared above as well, to add to the traditional recipe I have shared today.

How do I store the boiled dumplings?

The best way to store boiled dumplings is to put them into an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator. They will last up to four days this way. You can also freeze them.

Add them to a baking sheet and freeze them individually before adding them to a freezer bag for easy storage. They will last up to three months stored this way. Any longer, and they may become soggy and tasteless.

To reheat from the fridge, you can bring some water to boil again then place the dumplings into the water for about 5 minutes till warmed through. You can also put a steamer over the water and place the dumplings in the steamer.

Can you make them gluten-free?

You can make them gluten-free simply by changing the flour you use. I have used all-purpose flour for this recipe, but you can use your favorite equivalent gluten-free version instead. These dumplings are already vegan and dairy-free.

A plate of boiled dumplings paired with some stewed saltfish.

I hope you enjoy making and eating your boiled dumplings.


Some other delicious Caribbean side options: