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How to Wrap and Cook Dumplings: Three Methods and Recipes, with Video

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How to Wrap and Cook Dumplings: Three Methods and Recipes, with Video

Learn how to make dumplings using thanks to three delicious filling recipes and a video that shows different wrapping and cooking methods.

Beef, Shrimp and Vegetable Dumplings with Dipping Sauce

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure is at the bottom of the article.


Last weekend, as a belated nod to Chinese New Year, I decided to stock up on dumplings. Once in a while, I make a big batch of these bite-size wonders and freeze them for future use. It’s a time-consuming task, but I find it relaxing and I’m rewarded with many great meals to come. Whenever I want a quick & easy lunch, I take out exactly the number of bites I need, cook them from frozen and voilà, I enjoy their crispy and moist deliciousness. Industrially-made dumplings sold in the frozen section of Asian supermarkets are fairly popular and some brands are not too bad, but making them yourself is lots better, believe me. First, you control the thickness of the wrappers you’re using – nothing worse than biting a dumpling and discovering that it’s mostly made of dough, not filling. Second, you know exactly what you put in your dumplings: no fillers, no mystery ingredients, just goodness. And you can play around with the ingredients and invent a new recipe every time!

Another thing that I love about dumplings is that you can wrap them in many ways so they always feel different and new. The crescent shape is a classic so I always make some this way, but I also like to try new methods. This time, I tried a technique I first saw demonstrated by Chef Susur Lee which wraps shrimp filling in such a way that it makes the dumplings look like little gifts. I also used a dumpling press that I paid less than $3 at the Asian market. The gadget was quick to work with but I found the dumplings it produced the least attractive of the bunch.

If you’ve never made your own dumplings before, now is the time to try. I will guide you through making three different kinds of dumplings:

  • Bow dumplings filled with shrimp mousse
  • Traditional pleated crescent beef dumplings
  • Flat half-moon vegetable dumplings (made using a dumpling press)

Beef dumpling wrapped with classic pleated crescent method.

Dumplings can be cooked in different ways:

  • You can fry and steam them, which turns them into potstickers (my favorite cooking method).
  • You can boil and fry them, which also makes them potstickers. This method works especially well with classic crescent dumplings wrapped in thicker wrappers.
  • For a lighter alternative, you can steam them using a traditional bamboo steamer or more modern accessories like a double-boiler or an electric steamer.
  • I sometimes just throw them in a soup. Wontons are the meat-filled bites that are traditionally added to soups as they’re usually smaller and more delicate, but sometimes I just feel for a comforting soup so a handful of frozen dumplings added to hot broth make a hearty meal in a snap.

Dumplings are best served with a classic dipping sauce. My recipe for a scalable and super easy dumpling dipping sauce is at the very bottom of this post!

Beef, Shrimp and Vegetable Dumplings with Dipping Sauce

How to Prepare Dumpling Wrappers

You can find dumpling wrappers in the freezer section of all Asian grocery stores, and in most regular supermarkets too. Both Chinese dumpling wrappers and Japanese gyoza wrappers can be used, and the difference between the two is that the Chinese wrapper tends to be thicker. These wrappers can be used as is, but following the recommendation of chef Susur Lee, I’ve taken to rolling them out to make them thinner. This creates dumplings that become beautifully glistening and translucent after cooking. Thin dumpling skins also fry crunchier (yum!).

To flatten dumpling wrappers:

  • Sprinkle cornstarch on both sides of two (or up to four) wrappers and stack them precisely one on top of the other.
  • Use a rolling pin to flatten the wrappers until they become about 140% larger.
  • With a 3.5-inch round cookie cutter, cut out new wrappers. Discard the excess dough.
  • Stack the new, thinner wrappers on a plate and cover loosely with plastic wrap while you work on the rest of the wrappers to prevent them from drying and cracking.

If you want to try something new, make your own dumpling wrappers from scratch! They’re easier to make than you think. Get my go-to recipe for homemade dumpling wrappers.

How to Wrap Dumplings

There are several different ways to wrap dumplings, the most traditional of which is certainly the classic crescent shape. You can have fun and wrap them in many different ways; I like to use a different wrapping method per filling so that the different varieties are easy to recognize.

Because videos are tremendously helpful to learn new techniques in the kitchen (and because it was easier than trying to explain it in words!), I’ve put together a short video in which I show how to flatten dumpling skins, as well as three different wrapping methods: Susur Lee’s “bow” technique, the classic crescent shape and the flat half-moon shape.

Watch below or click here to view the video in HD quality on YouTube (instructions will be easier to read!).

Beef, Shrimp and Vegetable Dumplings Wrapped in Three Different Ways

Dumpling Filling Recipes

The following three recipes were inspired by Susur Lee but I heavily adapted them to use ingredients that are easy to find. Feel free to use these recipes as a guide and come up with your own variations. You can use a wide variety of proteins as a base, such as duck, chicken, pork, beef, fish, crab or shrimp, or you can go vegetarian by using tofu or only vegetables. Other classic ingredients in fillings include cabbage, green onions, leek and chives. Seasonings can include sesame oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, garlic, chopped hot peppers (or hot sauce), ginger, lemongrass, and lemon or orange zest.

Colorful vegetable dumpling filling.

Colorful vegetable dumpling filling.

How to Steam and Fry Dumplings (Potstickers)

This method works with any kind of dumpling. I like to fry flat half-moon vegetable dumplings on both sides: turn them before adding water to the skillet.

Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry dumplings until their bottom is golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Add ¼ cup water for every 10 to 12 dumplings, cover immediately, and steam for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover and let any remaining water cook-off. Serve very hot.

Dumplings cooked with the Fry & Steam (Potsticker) method.
Dumplings cooked with the Fry & Steam (Potsticker) method.

How to Boil and Fry Dumplings (Potstickers)

This method works best with thicker wrappers and crescent-shaped dumplings. I wouldn’t boil delicate bow-wrapped or flat half-moon dumplings.

Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Add dumplings (don’t overcrowd your pot) and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes. Heat up some vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry boiled dumplings until their bottom is golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Serve very hot.

How to Steam Dumplings

This method works best with thin wrappers.

Heat one to two inches of water in the bottom of a wok until it simmers. Place a bamboo steamer over the water (the bottom of the steamer must not touch the water). Place dumplings in the steamer and cover. Vegetable dumplings will be the quickest to cook (about 3 minutes), shrimp dumplings are ready after 4-5 minutes and beef takes about 8 minutes.
Follow the same instructions for a double-boiler. If using an electric steamer, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Beef dumpling wrapped with classic pleated crescent method.

How to Freeze Dumplings

If you intend on freezing dumplings, do so as soon as possible. With time, the filling’s moisture will get through the wrappers and make them all sticky and soggy. If you freeze them as soon as they’re made, they will keep their cornstarch coating and remain easy to manipulate.

As you make the dumplings, line them up on a baking sheet and as soon as one sheet is full, put it in the freezer. Once the dumplings are frozen hard (3 hours later minimum), transfer the dumplings to freezer bags and store until you have a craving for hot and crispy dumplings!

Frozen shrimp and beef dumplings.

Frozen dumplings, wrapped in freezer plastic bags for long-term storage.

 
Beef dumpling wrapped with classic pleated crescent method.

Shrimp Dumpling Filling

A tasty shrimp-based filling to use in dumplings.
Prep Time:15 mins
Cook Time:10 mins
Dumpling Folding Time:45 mins
Total Time:1 hr 10 mins
Servings 30 dumplings

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a food processor equipped with the paddle or dough attachment, combine all ingredients and beat the mixture on medium-high speed until it becomes pasty, about 2 to 3 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the dumplings.
  • The shrimp filling looks gray and pasty when raw, but cooks to a nice pink color.
  • Recipe Credit: Adapted from chef Susur Lee.

Did you make this?

Tell me how you liked it! Leave a comment or take a picture and tag it with @foodnouveau on Instagram.

Beef dumpling wrapped with classic pleated crescent method.

Beef Dumpling Filling

Delicious beef-based filling to use in dumplings.
Prep Time:15 mins
Cook Time:10 mins
Dumpling Folding Time:45 mins
Total Time:1 hr 10 mins
Servings 30 dumplings
Author Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a food processor equipped with paddle or dough attachment, combine all ingredients and beat the mixture on medium-high speed until it becomes pasty, about 2 to 3 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the dumplings.
  • Recipe Credit: Adapted from chef Susur Lee.

Did you make this?

Tell me how you liked it! Leave a comment or take a picture and tag it with @foodnouveau on Instagram.

Beef dumpling wrapped with classic pleated crescent method.

Vegetable Dumpling Filling (Vegan)

This colorful, veggie-packed filling creates extremely flavorful vegan dumplings.
Prep Time:15 mins
Cook Time:25 mins
Dumpling Folding Time:1 hr
Total Time:1 hr 40 mins
Servings 50 dumplings
Author Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a large nonstick saute pan set over medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil and warm until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until translucent.
  • Add all the remaining vegetables: cabbage, boy choy, carrots, corn, celery, mushrooms, and bamboo shoot. Cook, stirring from time to time, until the vegetables are soft but not mushy, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the Chinese cooking wine and soy sauce and simmer until the liquids are reduced by half. Add the ginger and sesame oil, stir well to combine, then stir in the cornstarch and water mixture, stirring vigorously to distribute it. Remove from the heat and stir in the coriander and green onions. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.
  • Cool the vegetable dunmpling mixture completely before filling in dumpling wrappers.
  • MAKE-AHEAD TIP: You can prepare the vegetable dumpling mixture up to 1 day ahead. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to fill dumpling wrappers.
  • Recipe Credit: Adapted from chef Susur Lee.

Did you make this?

Tell me how you liked it! Leave a comment or take a picture and tag it with @foodnouveau on Instagram.

Beef dumpling wrapped with classic pleated crescent method.

Classic Dumpling Dipping Sauce

An easy-to-make, versatile dipping sauce for dumplings. Scale as needed.
Prep Time:5 mins
Total Time:5 mins
Author Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients together.
  • Serve alongside steamed or fried dumplings.
  • STORAGE: Refrigerate the sauce in a jar for up to 1 week.

Did you make this?

Tell me how you liked it! Leave a comment or take a picture and tag it with @foodnouveau on Instagram.

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Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Dumpling Folding Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 10 mins

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  1. I loooove homemade dumplings! But I’ve been struggling with one BIG problem. Whenever I freeze my dumplings the skin always seems to crack on at least half of my batch. I noticed it the first time when I forgot to transfer them to a freezer bag and instead left them on a cookie sheet in the freezer over night. Since then it seems no matter what I do I always have this cracking problem. Is my freezer too cold or not cold enough? Should the cookie sheet be covered when it first goes into the freezer? Does this ever happen to you? Any ideas on a remedy would be helpful!

    • Springroll wrappers and dumpling wrappers are not exactly the same. Springroll wrappers are usually larger and thinner and destined to be deep-fried. Dumpling wrappers are smaller, round or square, thicker and destined to be steamed or fried.

  2. Thanks a lot for all these practical tips. Did I understand correctly that you use frozen wrappers and then freeze the dumplings ?
    I was afraid to do so because you’re not supposed to freeze again something that was frozen.

    Thanks a lot for your answer !

    • Hello Marie! You are raising a very interesting point. I know the refreezing rule, but I have to admit that I’ve never thought of applying it to dumpling wrappers! I’ve tried to research the question without finding a clear cut answer, but my feeling is that because dumpling dough only contains flour and water, the risk of it developing bacteria (the reason why refreezing is usually not recommended) is very low, if not inexistant.

  3. Do frozen dumplings need to be thawed before frying/steaming? What’s the best way to prepare the dumplings from the frozen stage?

    • Hello Liz, keep the dumplings frozen until you’re ready to cook them. Proceed with whatever cooking method you prefer, adding about 2 minutes cooking time.

  4. Thank you so much for this article – you have so much detail here! I found your site looking for info on how to freeze dumplings. I plan on making my first ever batch tonight but I know I’ll have too many… Your guidance is fantastic, thanks!

    • You can’t get through the trouble of making your own dumplings just for one meal! But that’s a great thing because they freeze really well and are a snap to cook when you crave for them! They make an impressive appetizer for a dinner with friends or family – no one will know you made them in advance! And they are pretty spectacular too. I find homemade dumplings have a great wow factor :)

  5. Wow, I love this post. I did one just like it a couple months back, sans the video. I am loving your content these days. I’m glad you’re back to posting frequently. I find myself being rewarded for coming back here every few days. Cheers.

  6. Oh, you made perfect dumplings Have you try to make dumpling wraps before? Thank you for celebrate Chinese new year. I like your blog.

    • No, I’ve never tried to make my own dumpling wrappers before! I just had my pasta machine and I figured I needed a little more practice before making them myself. I know you can roll them out with a rolling pin, but since they’re so thin and delicate, I figured the bulk of the job could be done with the help of the pasta machine. Did you every try it before?

      • Yes, I always make my own wrappers, never buy them. It’s not easy and takes a lot of practice. You just need to make them more often. I’m a Canadian Chinese, lived in Vancouver for five years before moved to us. I believe you can do it. Thanks

        • Would you be so kind to give me your recipe? Since you’ve made them so often, I’m sure following your advice would be a great starting point for me.