Guyanese duff are light, fluffy steamed dumplings that make for the perfect side to soups, stews, and saucy entrees. Learn how to make Guyanese duff with helpful tips, multiple methods, and a gluten-free alternative.
I love duff! If you've ever had a soup or stew and felt like it was missing something, it probably would have benefited from a hearty helping of these Guyanese steamed dumplings. Duff is soft, fluffy, and delicious, and pairs perfectly with metemgee.
My dad makes the most amazing duff and he calls them tigers (tigah in Guyanese creole). Although I am not quite sure why he calls them this. They taste great but making them is an art and I'm here to teach you how to make duff for soup, stew, and anything else your taste buds desire!
Why You'll Love This Guyanese Duff Recipe
- Simple: These delicious dumplings are made with just a few pantry staples so you probably already have everything you need.
- Versatile: Although duff is simple to make, it's also easy to mess it up and end up with heavy, undercooked dumplings. Luckily, there's more than one way to make perfectly steamed duff, and I'll show you each method!
- A Family Favorite: Most Guyanese people eat it with soup and stews but in my household, we eat it with different dishes and even on its own. I'm sure this will become a go-to recipe for you too!
What is Duff in Guyana?
Guyanese duff is a type of steamed dumpling that is very similar to Chinese steamed buns. It is mostly steamed on top of metemgee. Although in many families it is made independent of metemgee and served with salt fish or fish stew.
The best way I can describe them is that they are the steamed version of Guyanese bakes.
Ingredients for Guyanese Duff
These 5-ingredient dumplings are so satisfying.
- Flour: Use all purpose flour or gluten free all purpose flour.
- Brown sugar: This enhances the taste.
- Baking powder: This ensures a light, fluffy texture.
- Butter: Use room temperature butter.
- Water: You will need ¾ cup warm water plus 4 cups of water for cooking.
See recipe card for quantities.
Different Ways to Cook Guyanese Duff
Duff is typically steamed on top of ground provision (starchy root vegetables) in metemgee or boil and fry. Since the ground provision provide a base that allows the duff to sit about the soupy liquid, it is perfect for steaming duff. Here are some other ways to steam duff, in case you want duff but are not making anything that requires ground provision:
Steamed in a shallow pot of water:
If you are making duff to eat with stew or salt fish, you can steam your duff in a shallow pot or a deep pan with a tight light. Add about 4 cups of water to your pot or pan, bring it to a boil and then add your duff.
Steamed in a coconut milk broth:
The most delicious version of duff without metemgee, is duff steamed in a coconut milk broth. Use the ingredients for the coconut milk base for my metemgee recipe, then when it comes up to a roaring boil add your duff. I promise you won't regret this.
Use a steamer basket:
If you have an Always Pan this makes duff making easy, whether you have the steamer basket add on or not. I steam my Guyanese duff directly in the pan or in the steamer basket and they are always perfectly cooked. Don't have an Always pan? Use this affiliate link to get get your first pan today!
Steamed then fried:
I recently discovered that some Guyanese people steam, then fry their duff. At first I thought why wouldn't you just make bakes instead of doing all of this? However after trying it for myself it really is a very different experience. The steamed then fried duff has a very crunchy exterior and soft airy interior. It is perfect for stews!
How to make Gluten Free Guyanese Duff
To make gluten free duff, simply swap out the all purpose wheat flour, for all purpose gluten free flour. There are two all purpose gluten free flours that I have tested with this recipe and both work really well: Caputo gluten free flour and King Arthur's measure for measure gluten free flour.
With the Caputo flour the duff looks, feels and tastes exactly like the wheat version. With the King Arthur's flour it is a bit more grainy in texture but the taste is spot on.
Tips for the Best Guyanese Duff
1. Do not overwork the dough.
Guyanese duff can be a little delicate, and sometimes it seems that anything can make them fall (not rise to their true fluffy potential). As much as you may want to knead the dough into a really smooth dough ball, try to resist this. The best duff has a textured exterior and fluffy inside. Knead your dough for 3 to 5 minutes then let it rest before separating into the individual duff.
2. Form your dough into all of the duff before adding it to the pot.
This step is very important for even cooking of all of the duff. Do not try to shape the dough ball pieces into duff as you drop them into the boiling water or metemgee. Shape all of them, then transfer them to the pot at the same time. The faster you can cover and steam the duff, the better the results.
3. Do not open the pot while the duff in steaming.
Changing the temperature and pressure of the pot, can cause your duff to fall, just like a cake falls. My mom warned me never to open the pot once the duff is steaming. Wait until the time is up and you are ready to remove the duff.
4. Remove the duff immediately from the pot or steamer.
Once the time is up, remove the duff immediately from the pot or steamer and serve or set aside. If you let the duff remain in the pot it will continue to steam and will eventually dry out, crust over or become stiff.
How to Serve Duff
Most Guyanese people only serve duff with metemgee or boil and fry ground provisions. However, in my family, we also serve duff on its own, with a side of sautéed salt fish or fish stew. Dipping pieces of duff in a delicious fish stew gravy is a mouthwatering experience.
- Mixing Bowl: This contains the dough.
- Shallow Pot/ Deep Pan: This is what the dumplings cook in.
- Steamer Basket: This is an optional tool for steaming duff.
Store leftover duff in the fridge for up to one week. Reheat them in the microwave, by wrapping them in a damp paper towel in order to retain moisture. Warm them up in 30-second increments.
Can you fry duff?
Yes. It is not the traditional Guyanese way of making duff but some people steam, then fry the dumplings and it is just as delicious! If you want to skip the steaming altogether, fried duff is very similar to Guyanese bakes. Check out the recipe here.
Why is my duff dense and not fluffy?
The dumplings more than likely were submerged in the water. To prevent the duff from falling, keep them covered until they are fully cooked.
Do you love this recipe? Have questions or suggestions? Let me know in the comments section. Then check out my YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram for more delicious recipes.
Printable Recipe Card
Guyanese Duff (Steamed Dumplings)
- Mixing Bowl
- Shallow Pot/ Deep Pan
- Steamer Basket optional
- 2 cups all purpose flour Use Gluten Free All Purpose Flour for gluten free option
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon room temperature butter
- 4 ¾ cup warm water
- Add the flour, sugar and baking powder to a mixing bowl, then mix together well. Then rub the butter into the dry ingredients using your hands.
- Form a well in the center of the mixture, add warm water starting with ¾ cup and then a bit more if needed. Knead for 3 to 5 minutes, into a soft dough. Then cover with a damp paper or kitchen towel and let rest for 30 mins.
- When ready to cook separate the dough into 6 even pieces, roll pieces into elongated balls, cover and set aside.
- Then add 4 cups of water to a shallow pot or a deep pan with a tight lid. Add the pot to high heat and bring to a boil. When the water comes up to a roaring boil, add the dough balls and cover the pot tightly. You may also use a steamer basket for this step if you have one.
- Reduce the heat to medium and steam the dough balls for 15 minutes. Do not open the pot while the duff is steaming.
- After 15 minutes remove duff from the pot and place in a serving dish. Serve with metemgee, soup or your favorite stews.
Love thi receipe, very easy a accurate to follow. My dumplins came out sofT and nice. Thanks.
Althea Brown says
So happy you tried it and thanks for sharing.
Patty P says
Wonderful receipe, and easy to follow, thank you!
I just wonder Upon your blog because I wanted to check online what metemgee recipies are like. this metemgee is epic! When you call the duff Tiger exactly what my dad would call it. Yesterday he told me he feel like eating tiger so I am going to make it . Like your blog Great recipes, exactly what I grew up with.
Happy birthday! Awesome recipes as per usual.
I found this recipe one day as I was craving metem & tried it. It was perfect! It gave me such good nostalgia and I’ve come back to it so many times, I’ve definitely mastered making it. Thank you!
Just curious have you tried steaming in an instant pot? Would love to know how to (length of time, amount of water etc)
What a load of old tosh, my mum makes this on less than 5 mins. I don't understand why we have to over complicate everything. I will stick to my mum's traditional recipe.
@Patricia This is how she makes them which is fine, if your mum makes them differently that’s fine too. No need whatsoever for you to leave a negative comment and only 2 starts just because your mum makes them in less time.
Maybe try them? The “over complicated” recipe might actually taste better than your mums recipe.
Amazing recipe. Thank you so much for sharing.
Great recipe! However, what should I do if the dumplings fall? Is there a way to save them? 🤔
Great recipe. So easy to follow and they came out great. However I would like to leave out the sugar next time. How would this affect the recipe? Any suggestions for substituting something else? Thank you.