As the winter months approach, treat your taste buds with a piping-hot plate of steamed dumplings. As they say, happiness is a basket full of dumplings.
Embark on a gastronomic journey with the best steamed dumpling recipes that are easy to make and low in calories. Making these Chinese delicacies is surprisingly easy. Read on for a steamed dumpling dough recipe that forms the foundation for a dish that’s both light and satisfying. Explore the easy techniques and steamed dumpling ingredients to effortlessly create a wholesome meal.
Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned chef, our guide has every aspect covered, from mastering the art of folding to creating a feast-worthy spread. Dive into the world of steamed dumplings and discover an out-of-the-ordinary culinary adventure. Say goodbye to the usual and embrace the extraordinary with this guide to creating the perfect steamed dumplings, which will elevate your dining experience.
What Is a Steamed Dumpling?
Steamed dumplings, a universal favorite in Chinese cuisine, are known for their intricate preparation and mouth-watering flavors. Prepared using an easy-to-shape dumpling dough, these culinary delights are a great starting point for those who are making fresh dumplings for the first time.
Distinguished from fried dumplings, steamed dumplings are appreciated for their light texture and reduced Chinese food calories. The variation in dumpling folds, the most noticeable aspect when they are presented on a plate, contributes to the unique taste of each dumpling.
These delicious bundles of joy can be served together with a selection of dumpling dipping sauces. Steamed dumplings can be enjoyed as a snack, an appetizer, or a whole meal.
If your go-to food is Chinese cuisine, we have shared more about Chinese herbs for weight loss claims and how a 5-day Chinese diet meal plan may help reduce belly size.
If you tend to let yourself off the hook, raise the white flag when things get tougher than you expected, send yourself on an unconscious binge-eating trip – BetterMe app is here to help you leave all of these sabotaging habits in the past!
How to Make Steamed Dumplings at Home
It is a common misconception that making steamed dumplings is solely for the professionals. Sure, the Head Chef at your favorite Chinese restaurant may outdo you, but making them at home doesn’t need to be difficult. All the steamed dumpling ingredients can be found at regular supermarkets or grocery stores.
There are several ways to make your steamed dumplings healthier and showcase the harvest of the season with vegetable fillings, lean proteins, low-calorie, and wheat-based or gluten-free doughs. Check out our top tips to help you get started making steamed dumplings:
1. Put Together Your Ingredients
The first step is to go to the store and gather dumpling wrappers, your preferred filling ingredients (such as ground meat and vegetables), and the ingredients for a lip-smacking dipping sauce. Traditionally, dipping sauce choices include soy sauce, chili oil, or sesame sauce.
2. Have Fun with the Filling
A great dumpling filling has a balanced lean-to-fat ratio. The rule of thumb for creating a flavourful filling is three parts lean meat to one part fat (9). This ratio is incredibly flexible and you can add more or less fat depending on your taste and dietary requirements. Whether it’s a classic pork and prawn filling or a vegetarian version, you can make sure your dumpling filling is well-balanced by including all the essential aromatics such as ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil (12).
3. Master the Dough or Go for Store-Bought
Depending on whether you’re making a quick weeknight meal or a lazy Sunday lunch, you can choose between making your own dumpling dough or using store-bought dumpling wrappers.
If you want to save the time it takes to knead and proof the dough, you can go for commonly available pre-made dumpling wrappers at the grocery store. Any unused dumpling wrappers can be frozen in an airtight sealed plastic bag for later use. To make the dough from scratch, you require all-purpose flour and water. More detailed recipes follow later in this post.
4. On to the Folding!
The most daunting challenge of making the dumpling is the folding, but here, we’re going to demystify the process.
- All you need to start folding your dumplings is a bowl of water, a tablespoon, and the filling.
- Place the wrapper in one hand and dampen the edges, and then place a tablespoon of filling in the middle.
- If this is your first time folding dumplings, the half-moon shape is the easiest and fastest – simply fold the edges together to form a semi-circle. (13)
If you’ve done this before and want to experiment with other folding techniques, check out the ‘How to Fold Steamed Dumplings’ section below.
5. Steam And Serve Hot
The go-to way for steaming dumplings is to use a metal or bamboo steamer with a flat bottom. Before you place the dumplings inside, line the steamer with Napa cabbage leaves or parchment paper to prevent the dumplings from sticking to the bottom.
If you’re using a bamboo steamer, place it in a pan with an inch of water. You can skip this step if you’re using a stainless steamer. Arrange the filled dumplings in the steamer and steam for 15-20 minutes (4).
6. Sauce it up!
While the dumplings are steaming, prepare a quick dipping sauce with soy sauce, rice vinegar, minced garlic, and sesame oil. Once they are steamed to perfection, serve your dumplings with the dipping sauce and garnish with green onions or sesame seeds.
What Is Steamed Dumpling Dough Made of?
A steamed dumpling dough is different from a boiled dumpling dough.
- The dough for boiled dumplings uses cold water and is sturdier so it remains sealed during the cooking process.
- However, a steamed dumpling dough uses hot water and is much easier to work with and roll out thinly.
The two staple ingredients for a steamed dumpling dough recipe are flour and hot water. The original choice of flour is all-purpose flour or dumpling flour, but bread flour or gluten-free flour options are also widely available. The hot water helps cook the flour and make the dough more tender and easier to roll out (5). Using hot water produces dumpling wrappers that are delicate and can be rolled out thinly.
The best steamed dumpling recipes are those with a thin melt-in-your-mouth wrapper. To achieve this beloved texture, the flour-to-water ratio must be adjusted according to the type of flour that is being used for the dough.
An approximate measurement is 2 cups of flour to 1 cup of water. The water can be 2 parts boiling to 1 part room temperature. Ideally, you’ll add the boiling water first and then as much room temperature water as it takes to get the right consistency. To make the dough more moist and smooth, some recipes also add a little bit of sesame oil (8).
How to Make Steamed Dumpling Dough
Homemade dumpling doughs are a labor of love. There are a few ways to make steamed dumpling dough, depending on the type of dumplings you’re aiming for. Here are some recipes you can try:
- Dumplings with non-transparent skin: This method uses a dough that is made using all-purpose flour, boiling water, and room temperature water. This dough is soft, easy to knead and roll, and produces opaque white wrappers (8).
- Crystal dumplings with translucent skin: This method uses a starchy dough made with wheat starch, tapioca starch, or cornstarch, combined with boiling water. This dough is gluten-free. It is commonly used for seafood-based fillings. They’re called crystal dumplings because they become translucent after steaming (7).
- Quick and easy steamed dumpling dough: This method of preparation uses a drop biscuit dough that is made with flour, baking powder, salt, milk, oil, green onion, and ginger. The dough is moist, fluffy, and savory. Simply drop the dough into a steamer basket using a tablespoon and steam for 10 minutes (8).
- South African steamed dumplings: This method utilizes a yeast dough that is made with flour, yeast, sugar, salt, butter, and water. It is a rich, fluffy, and slightly sweet dough. The dough can be placed in a bowl and steamed for 60 minutes (10).
Delve deeper into Chinese herbs for weight loss claims. A 5-day Chinese diet meal plan may help you reduce belly size or practice Chinese food calorie management with our dedicated article.
How to Fold Steamed Dumplings
Now comes the most exciting part of making your own dumplings. You can get creative with folding your dumplings and experiment with new shapes, and not only the traditional half-moon. But before we look at folding patterns, let’s brush up on the basics of dumpling folding:
- Always seal: The cardinal sin of dumpling making is not sealing the edges, which can cause the dumpling to burst or disintegrate during cooking
- Don’t over-flour: While it is recommended that you lightly dust the dough while rolling the wrappers, over-flouring can lead to problems with the edges of the wrapper sticking together
- Start simple and fill less: Don’t be too ambitious if it’s your first attempt at making dumplings at home, and start with one of the simpler patterns and relatively less filling
- Homemade is better: If the dough is made at home, it’ll be more moist and stretchy, which will allow you to experiment with different dumpling folding patterns
- The pattern must match the method: To illustrate, consider that if the dumplings are to be boiled, they are less likely to retain their original shape – steamed dumplings allow for more intricate patterns
- Dumplings can be frozen: Homemade dumplings freeze well – place the assembled dumplings on a flat tray lined with parchment paper, and transfer to an airtight bag once frozen (11)
While there are no set rules for folding dumplings, this guide shows you 10 easy ways to fold your steamed dumplings. Choose the one you prefer or try them all!
- Simple moon: Fold the wrapper in half and seal the edges – the easiest and fastest method, most preferred for boiled and steamed dumplings.
- Pleated moon: Fold the wrapper in half, join the middle to make two pleats on the left and two pleats on the right – this fold resembles a crescent moon.
- Triangle: First fold the wrapper in half, then fold the two corners towards the center to form a flat base on your triangle.
- Rosebud: Now we’re getting creative! For this method, fold the wrapper in half to form a triangle, then fold the two corners in the opposite direction to create a flower and four petals.
- Big hug: Fold the wrapper in half, then bring the two ends together and press to seal, creating a circular shape that resembles a hug.
- Standing pouch: Fold the wrapper to form a semi-circle, then overlap the two ends toward the center to create a pouch that can hold its own shape.
- Purse: Fold the wrapper in half, then gather the edge and twist to seal with a pointed top (11).
- Nurse’s cap: Fold the wrapper in half, then fold one end over the other and press to seal. This creates a hat-like shape with a flap (13).
- Pleated fan: Fold the wrapper in a semi-circle, then make small pleats along the edge on one side only, creating a fan with a flat side.
- Star: Fold the wrapper in half to form a semi-circle, then make five pleats along the edge and press the ends together to create a shape with five points (1).
BetterMe app is a foolproof way to go from zero to a weight loss hero in a safe and sustainable way! What are you waiting for? Start transforming your body now!
How To Make Steamed Dumpling Dipping Sauce
A dipping sauce can make or break your dumplings. The sign of a great dipping sauce is when people continue to savor it long after they’ve polished off the dumplings. Here are the best steamed dumpling dipping sauce recipes you can try at home:
- Easy vinegar sauce: Combine black rice vinegar with thin slices of ginger – this goes well with soup dumplings or steamed dumplings
- Spicy soy sauce: The ingredients for this include soy sauce, hot water, sugar, rice vinegar, chili oil, and minced garlic – perfect with fried dumplings or boiled dumplings
- Sesame sauce: This is a rich nutty sauce made by combining soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and scallions that pairs well with vegetarian dumplings or fried dumplings
- Doubanjiang sauce: This spicy sauce uses a special ingredient called doubanjiang (a spicy fermented bean paste), chili oil, sugar, vinegar, and sesame oil to make a sauce that is perfect with meat dumplings or seafood dumplings
- Garlic and vinegar sauce: This is another spicy number that is made with black rice vinegar, hot oil, minced garlic, fresh chili, and cilantro.
Are Steamed Dumplings Healthy?
Health-conscious dumpling lovers are often concerned about whether dumplings are healthy. What is healthier – boiled or steamed dumplings? How can you reduce the calorie count of a dumpling?
Dumplings are made using a combination of meat, vegetables, and seafood, so they can be rich in nutrients (2). They are generally a high source of energy, but steamed or boiled dumplings are arguably healthier than fried dumplings or potstickers simply because they eliminate the use of oil for cooking.
Steamed dumplings are the most popular Chinese food, and they’re enjoyed for their delicious taste and variety of fillings. But are they healthy? The answer depends on variables such as:
- Filling used
- Amount of oil
- Quality of the meat
- Percentage of fat
- Serving size (3)
Traditionally, steamed dumplings are considered to be healthier than fried dumplings as they use less oil, so they contain fewer calories. However, they may still contain quite a bit of sodium, such as if they’ve been dipped in soy sauce.
Therefore, portion control is essential. We all know it can be difficult to stop when it comes to dumplings, but it is important to balance them with vegetable sides and other nutritious foods.
If you regularly enjoy a portion of dumplings, here are some top tips to make them healthier:
- Boil or steam your dumplings: In addition to reducing your fat intake, these methods preserve the natural flavor and texture of the dumpling wrappers and fillings
- Choose lean and grass-fed meat or seafood for your dumpling filling: Lean or grass-fed meat and seafood contain less saturated fat and cholesterol and more healthy fats
- Add more vegetables to your dumpling filling: Make them rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, using vegetables such as cabbage, carrot, mushroom, spinach, kale, or bok choy
- Make smaller dumplings: Adding approximately one tablespoon of filling per dumpling is an effective portion control strategy
Should you cook the dumpling filling before steaming?
No, you do not necessarily need to cook the steamed dumpling ingredients. The filling will be cooked through when the dumplings are steamed. However, if you’re worried the filling may remain undercooked in the steamer, you can sauté, microwave, or bake the filling ingredients before you wrap them in the dumpling wrappers
How do you cook dumplings in a frying pan?
Dumplings can be fried, depending on whether they are fresh or frozen and whether you prefer them crispy or soft. They can be pan-fried with a crispy bottom layer. They can be steam fried with oil and then you can add water to the pan once the bottom is golden and cover with a lid. Lastly, classic deep-fried dumplings are cooked in oil until they float up and turn golden.
Do you need baking paper to steam dumplings?
This is not mandatory, but it prevents the dumplings from sticking to the steamer. Some alternatives to baking paper include oil, cabbage leaves, or perforated paper liners.
How long should you steam raw dumplings?
The steaming time for dumplings is dependent on the size, dough, and filling of the dumplings. However, 8 to 10 minutes is the standard amount of time it takes for steamed dumplings to be cooked through.
The Bottom Line
While we would love to eat dumplings every day of the week, they are not a complete meal by themselves. To avoid overeating, you should limit yourself to four to six dumplings per serving and pair them with a salad, soup, or stir-fried vegetables.
If your go-to food is Chinese cuisine, we have shared more about Chinese food calories, Chinese herbs for weight loss, and how a 5-day Chinese diet meal plan may help reduce belly size.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 7 Ways To Fold Dumplings: A Step-By-Step Guide (2023, kitchenmisadventures.com)
- Are Dumplings Healthy? (2022, healthyfoodforliving.com)
- Dumplings: Are They Healthy Or Not? (2016, huffingtonpost.co.uk)
- How to Steam Dumplings: 3 Ways to Cook Dumplings (2021, masterclass.com)
- How to Make Steamed Dumplings from Scratch (2022, omnivorouscooks.com)
- How To Make Steam Dumpling Dough (2022, everesthimalayancuisine.com)
- HOW TO MAKE STEAMED DUMPLINGS, TWO METHODS (蒸饺) (2022, redhousespice.com)
- Perfect Dumpling Dough (For Beginners) (2022, theflavourbender.com)
- Pork & Chive Dumplings (2015, thelocalbutchershop.com)
- Steamed dumpling (idombolo) (2019, food24.com)
- TEN WAYS TO FOLD DUMPLINGS (ULTIMATE DUMPLING GUIDE PART 3) (2019, redhousespice.com)
- The only dumpling recipe you’ll ever need (2023, thewoksof life.com)
- Wrap and roll: how to fold dumplings like a pro (2022, marionskitchen.com)