We cannot get enough of these Chinese dumplings. The filling is super-savory, and I'm just gonna leave the word CRAVE here rather than subjecting you some horrible adjective Frankenform of that term.
It's definitely a project to make your own dough and roll out each little circle before filling and cooking it, but sometimes you want a kitchen project, right?
Why we absolutely love these dumplings
I had a MOMENT one Chinese New Year, you guys. It was a dumplings-or-bust kind of moment, very early in the day, quite a few years ago now. If there were such a thing as too early in the day for dumplings, it would’ve been too early for dumplings. But I think we can all agree that there’s no such miserable thing as that.
There’s plenty of good Chinese takeout available in my life. A sane person with an insane craving for Chinese dumplings might take the hint. Dumplings are a bit of a project, to say the least, especially when you make the dough. But sometimes a bit of a project is exactly what you need.
These homemade dumplings are TOTALLY worth it. They're so much fresher, more savory, and more satisfying than takeout. I'm not saying make them on your average busy weeknight, but they make a rewarding project that benefits from many hands, even little ones. You can make a huge batch one weekend day if you like and freeze them for several months.
And they make a low-key entry point into teaching kids a little bit about Lunar New Year, if you like.
Homemade dumplings, delivered
That’s one of the beautiful things about food. It isn’t just for eating. It’s for learning and stretching and meditating and healing and loving. (And also for eating, and thank goodness for that — don’t get me wrong. Oh hi there, mortal.) I think I needed a lot from dumplings that day.
(Wait, is that a takeout pun? Sorry.)
Ingredients for pork dumplings
Here's what you'll need to make homemade dough, pork filling, and dipping sauce for these fabulous savory dumplings. There aren't any fancy ingredients, but they really come together into something special.
For the dough
- All-purpose flour
- Boiling water
- Cold water
For the savory pork filling
- Ground pork
- Napa cabbage
- An egg
- Minced fresh ginger
- Garlic cloves
- Low-sodium tamari or other good soy sauce
- Toasted sesame oil
- Plus some vegetable oil (we use safflower oil) for pan-frying
For the dipping sauce
- Tamari or other good soy sauce
- Rice vinegar
- Hot chili sesame oil
How to make Chinese dumplings from scratch
There's a little bit of an art to making dumplings, but you truly don't need any special skills to make totally respectable ones. (I'm no next-level expert on this topic, and yet we make fabulous dumplings on a regular basis.) You can peep at the step-by-step photos above to see how to knead the dough and then shape, roll out, and crimp it to make each dumpling. And your best bet is to watch the video that accompanies this post to see the process in action.
Here's what you'll do.
To make the dumpling dough
Dumpling dough uses only the most basic of ingredients. The trick, if there is one, is to take the dough from the wet and sticky state it starts out in to a nice, smooth, workable consistency before shaping the dumplings.
Exactly how much flour you'll need depends on the circumstances that day — heat and humidity, for example — so you'll have to trust your instincts a bit despite our best instructions on what to look for. Don't worry, though, the dough doesn't have to be exactly perfect to be really good.
- Stir together flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
- Pour in boiling water a little at a time and mix with a spoon until it's incorporated.
- Pour in cold water a little at a time and mix until you have a very wet, sticky dough.
- Sprinkle plenty of flour onto a work surface (such as a clean cutting board or stretch of countertop) as well as onto your hands. Scrape the dough from the bowl onto the work surface and knead it, adding more flour as necessary to prevent sticking, until the dough is smooth. You may need to add quite a bit of flour, and that's absolutely fine. Watch the video to see what the kneading process looks like, and what our dough looks like at the end of it.
- Place the dough into a clean bowl, cover it with a clean kitchen towel, and it let rest while you make the filling. Resting helps the dough to "relax" a bit so that it's easier to work with when you shape the dumplings.
To make the pork filling
This part is easy! Here's what you'll do:
- Place the ground pork into a medium mixing bowl
- Remove the white stems from the cabbage leaves by simply cutting them out with a knife. Finely shred the green leafy parts by cutting them crosswise into very thin ribbons with a knife. Add the cabbage shreds to the mixing bowl with the pork.
- Add the egg to one side of the bowl and lightly beat it with a fork.
- Add the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, and scallions (white and green parts thinly sliced) to the bowl.
- Use your hands to mix the filling thoroughly without compressing it.
To shape and fill the dumplings
This part of the process is really fun and satisfying. Here's how to actually MAKE those Chinese dumplings.
- Once the dough has rested for a little while, pinch off pieces of the dough by the approximate tablespoon.
- Roll that tablespoon of dough into a ball between your palms and place it onto your floured work surface.
- Roll out that little ball with a floured rolling pin into a 3- to 4-inch circle.
- Place a tablespoon of the filling into the center of the circle and fold the dough into a half moon shape around the filling.
- Use your fingers to press the edges of the dough together, and then to crimp the edges. You can refer to the step-by-step photos above, and the video is really useful here to show you what this process looks like.
- Repeat until you're out of filling and dough!
How to cook Chinese dumplings
There are two nice, easy steps to cooking these dumplings.
- You'll bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and add the dumplings in batches of about 8 at a time. Boil each batch on medium-high heat for four minutes.
- While the dumplings boil, you'll set a large frying pan with two tablespoons of safflower oil over medium heat. As you remove the dumplings from the boiling water, you'll carefully shake or blot the excess water from them and add the dry dumplings to the frying pan in batches, without crowding them. You'll cook them for a few minutes until the undersides are browned and then blot any excess oil by setting them on paper towels.
How to make dumpling sauce
Okay, last step, and it's SUPER easy. Here's how to make dipping sauce for these amazing dumplings.
- Stir together the tamari, rice vinegar, and hot chili sesame oil in a small bowl. That's it! If you don't want to buy a separate bottle of hot chili sesame oil (although it's SO good, and I totally recommend it), you can use regular toasted sesame oil and add some red pepper flakes to taste. Your dumplings are ready to serve!
Can you freeze dumplings?
You can, and dare I say you SHOULD. Since making these dumplings is a bit of an undertaking, we LOVE to make a double or triple batch and freeze lots of them for later. Here's what to do.
- Make a gazillion dumplings.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the dumplings on it as if they were cookies.
- Freeze until they're solid.
- Then place them in airtight containers with as many as you think you'll want to eat at a time.
- Keep them in a nice, cold freezer for up to six months.
- When you're ready to eat them, you can either let them defrost at room temperature for a few hours or just pop them right into the boiling water from frozen. In that case give them an extra minute or so in the boiling water. Cook and eat as usual!
What to serve with Chinese dumplings
To be perfectly honest, we typically like to feast on these beauties a la carte and just appreciate them to the fullest. But here are some other great ways to serve them:
- Especially if you've made them in advance and frozen them, pull some out for a buffet with lots of other apps. Maybe an epic veggie board, some chili salt edamame, and miso deviled eggs, for starters.
- To round out dumplings into a respectable meal, how about adding this simple slaw?
For the dough
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus plenty more for kneading
- 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- ¾ cup boiling water
- ¾ cup cold water
For the filling
- 1 pound ground pork
- 8 leaves Napa cabbage
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium tamari or other good soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 scallions, white and light green parts thinly sliced
- Safflower or other neutral-tasting oil meant for high-heat cooking
For the dipping sauce
- ¼ cup tamari or other good soy sauce
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon hot chili sesame oil
For the dough
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt.
- Pour in the boiling water a little at a time and mix with a spoon until incorporated.
- Pour in the cold water a little at a time, continuing to mix until you have a very wet, sticky dough.
- Sprinkle plenty of flour onto a work surface and your hands. Scrape dough from bowl onto work surface and knead, adding more flour as necessary to prevent sticking, until dough is smooth. (See video for visual cues here and throughout the recipe.)
- Place dough in a clean bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rest while you make the filling.
For the filling
- Place the pork in a medium mixing bowl.
- Remove white stems from cabbage leaves and finely shred the green leafy parts with a knife. Add shreds to mixing bowl.
- Add egg to one side of bowl and lightly beat with a fork.
- Add ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and scallions to bowl.
- Use your hands to combine the mixture thoroughly without compressing it.
To fill and shape the dumplings
- Pinch off dough by the tablespoon (approximately — don't stress).
- Roll into a ball between your palms and place onto a floured work surface.
- Roll out with a floured rolling pin into a 3- to 4-inch circle.
- Place a tablespoon of filling into the center and fold dough into a semicircle around filling.
- Use your fingers to press the edges of the dough together and then to crimp the edges. (Again, see video. It's not hard at all, promise, but a little imagery goes a long way.) This process takes a WHILE, and it's fun to have help.
To cook the dumplings
- Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil.
- Add dumplings in batches of about 8 and boil on medium-high heat for four minutes.
- Meanwhile, set a large frying pan with two tablespoons of safflower oil over medium heat.
- After boiling, carefully shake or blot excess water from dumplings and add dumplings in batches to frying pan. Cook for a few minutes until undersides are browned, being careful for splatters.
- Blot excess oil from dumplings before serving with dipping sauce.
To make the dipping sauce
- Stir together tamari, rice vinegar and hot chili sesame oil in a small bowl.
Serving Size:1 dumpling with sauce
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 77Total Fat: 2.4gCarbohydrates: 11.9gFiber: 0.9gProtein: 2g