Here is what's awesome about making your own dumplings at home: they will taste better than anything you buy in the store (promise), you will have a freezer full of ready-made meals for the next several weeks (depending on your rate of dumpling consumption), and you will feel like a rock star when you gaze upon your dumpling bounty. Better yet, gather some friends for a dumpling-making fest and divvy up the profits. Everyone is a rock star! Want in on the action? Here's what to do.
You can make dumplings that are filled with everything from traditional pork and cabbage to things like kimchi, shrimp, and diced mushrooms — or you can go beyond Asian ingredients with beans, lentils, ground turkey, and roasted red peppers! If you're making your first batch of dumplings, try one of the recipes we list in the Recipe Notes section below. Once you find a recipe you like, it's a small culinary jump to start tweaking its ingredients and adding your favorite flavors.
Whatever filling you use, stick to about 1 tablespoon per wrapper. If you're very talented at pleating those wrappers closed, you can get away with a little more. I buy packages that contain sixty dumpling wrappers, and so I usually make about 3 cups of filling to use them all up. Adjust the amount of filling depending on the number of wrappers you have or the recipe you are following. You can also make your own dumpling wrappers from scratch, but that tutorial will have to wait for another time!
Making intricate pleats into your dumplings looks professional and makes you feel like you have super powers, but it is absolutely not required. Your dumplings will taste just as good if you simply fold the wrapper in half and press them closed without any fancy pleating. If you're feeling frisky and want a challenge, follow the images in the gallery below to make pleated dumplings. I find that it usually takes a few fumbled dumplings before I get into the rhythm of pleating. Be patient with yourself!
Dumplings definitely take some time to make. Set aside a solid two or three hours for prepping the filling and pinching all those wrappers closed. This is a great time to catch up on your favorite TV show or have a long chat with your mom on the phone.
Your determination and hard work will not go unrewarded. A tray full of sixty or more dumplings means easy weeknight meals, quick snacks, and crowd-pleasing appetizers for weeks to come.
Double Pleats: Fold the dumpling in half like a taco and press the very top closed. Using your thumb and first finger, fold a pleat into one side and then then fold an inverse pleat into the other side. Press firmly to seal.
How to Make Asian Dumplings from Scratch
Makes about 60 dumplings
What You Need
3-4 cups filling (See Recipe Notes for favorite filling recipes)
60 circular or square-shaped (4.5-inch) dumpling, wonton, or gyoza wrappers
→ Scale filling and wrappers up or down depending on how much of each you have; stick to 1 tablespoon filling per wrapper.
Small bowl with water
Skillet with lid or steamer baskets, for cooking
Prepare the filling: Mix all the filling ingredients together. Taste (if not using raw meat) and adjust seasonings to taste. Set the filling near your work station.
Prepare your work station: Clear a good amount of counter space. Set the filling, the dumpling wrappers, a small bowl of water, and a parchment-lined baking sheet nearby. The water will be used to seal the dumplings. The baking sheet is handy for holding the dumplings as you finish them. The parchment lining keeps the dumplings from sticking to the pan.
Lay several dumpling wrappers on your work surface: Start with laying 3 wrappers on your work surface. As you get faster, you can do more at once.
Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle of each wrapper: Stick to one tablespoon of filling per wrapper to start. Once you're feeling more confident in your dumpling-making abilities, you can add a little more filling.
Moisten the edge of the dumpling wrapper: Dip your finger in the water and run it around the edge of each dumpling wrapper before you seal it closed. This will help the wrapper dough to stick to itself and create a seal.
Make the dumplings:
• Basic Dumplings: Simply fold the dumpling into a half-moon (or a triangle, if using square-shaped wrappers) and press closed. No fancy pleating required.
• Double Pleats: Fold the dumpling in half like a taco and press the very top closed. Using your thumb and first finger, fold a pleat into one side and then then fold an inverse pleat into the other side. Press firmly to seal.
• Multiple Pleats: Fold the dumpling in half like a taco but do not press it closed. Starting at one end, use your thumb and first finger to fold pleats into the side of the wrapper closest to you (ie, the front of the taco facing you). After making each pleat, pinch it closed against the back half of the wrapper (the back of the taco furthest from you). In this way, zipper the dumpling closed.
• Gathered Pouch: Gather the sides of the dumpling around the filling and pleat the top closed like a pouch. Pinch the opening to seal, using extra water if necessary.
Freeze the dumplings: If not cooking right away, freeze the dumplings on the baking sheet. Make sure none of the dumplings are touching or they will stick together. Once frozen solid, portion the dumplings into freezer containers and freeze for up to three months.
Cook the dumplings:
• Steamed Dumplings: Line a steamer basket with parchment and steam for about 6 minutes if fresh, 8 minutes if frozen.
• Pan-seared Dumplings (a.k.a. Potstickers): Film a skillet with about a tablespoon of oil and warm over high heat. When the oil is shimmering, arrange the dumplings in the pan as close as they will fit without touching. Cook until the bottoms have turned brown and golden. Pour 3 tablespoons of water into the pan, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 3-5 minutes if fresh, 6-8 minutes if frozen.
• Boiled Dumplings: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the dumplings. Stir so they don't stick together. Add 1 1/2 cups of cold water and bring to a boil again. Add another 1 1/2 cups of cold water and bring to a boil a third time. Check one dumpling to make sure they are cooked through; boil another few minutes if necessary.
Here are a few favorite dumpling recipes:
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(Images: Emma Christensen)