Extra (Ap)petite // Chinese dumplings / potstickers recipe

I love exploring different cultures through food, and cooking at home is a way to stay in touch with my own. One of the first dishes I learned from Mom was dumplings. They’re ubiquitous in Asian cuisine, and traditionally eaten on Chinese New Year as they symbolize wealth and prosperity. I have the fondest childhood memories of perching around a table with my extended family, in a dumpling assembly line. My work product was easy to identify – they were always the most deformed…err, creative shapes.

I’ve received many requests via Instagram to post recipes, so am sharing this today in honor of Lunar New Year. I had an amazing time celebrating the holiday in Canton two years ago (see post), and will just be enjoying some home cooking today!

dumpling folding

I love this dish as it’s adaptable for vegetarians (see example veggie recipe) and other dietary preferences. I make these for friends, potlucks, you name it. It’s simple enough for beginners, and easy to freeze for enjoying later.

dumpling folding3

I’ll start with the basic core ingredients for 1 batch of dumplings, which can be altered to your desires. As with most Chinese cooking – it’s not necessary to measure “to a T.” It’s also ok if the filling is under-seasoned, since dumplings will be dipped in a sauce once cooked. My mom will usually wrap one dumpling and boil it for a taste test, then continue seasoning the filling if necessary.

Basic dumpling recipe:
– 1 package of dumpling skins/wrappers.*

– 1 lb ground meat**
– 1 packed cup of veggies chopped into small (~ quarter inch) pieces.***
– 2 to 3 tablespoons light soy sauce or 2 teaspoons salt; ideally a mix of the two
– 1 to 2 tablespoons sesame oil
See how short the list is? Easy peasy. Some notes:

* Dumpling wrappers are found at Asian grocery stores either refrigerated or frozen, or you can be very ambitious and make your own. I prefer the refrigerated white, round wrappers. Other varieties include yellow “Hong Kong style” which are super thin and best for steamed dim sum, or square shapes which are for wontons.
** You can use ground pork which is traditional, or healthier ground turkey but less fat content = less juicy dumplings.
*** You can adjust the meat : veggie ratio per your liking. For veggies, traditional dumpling fillings use either napa cabbage or garlic chive, which is my favorite by far. Garlic chives, as shown in the above photo, look like long blades of grass similar to a cross between scallions and leeks. They have wonderful garlic-y flavor starting at the white roots and throughout the blade. I’ve only been able to find these at Asian grocery stores.

Optional ingredients:
– Peeled and de-veined shrimp, cut into small pieces (however much shrimp you use, decrease the amount of ground meat by that amount)
– Chopped shitake mushrooms (either fresh or rehydrated dried ones), bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, or scallions
– Corn or tapioca starch sprinkled into the filling, to help bind it together
– Minced ginger or garlic
– Fish sauce
– White pepper

My favorite dumpling filling combo is simply shrimp and ground pork, with garlic chive, soy sauce, a little salt, and sesame oil. Delish! 

Filling directions: Mix all filling ingredients together in a large bowl. This can be done up to a day ahead of time and stored covered in the fridge.

Wrapping directions: Prepare a small bowl of warm water. This will be your wrapping “glue.”

To avoid running out of either filling or wrappers, I start by splitting my wrapper into quarters and also roughly segmenting the filling into the same. Be sure to keep the pile of unused wrappers covered, so they don’t dry out.

dumpling folding instructions

1. Put a wrapper in the palm of your hand and 1 spoonful of filling in the center. Start with less filling if it’s your first time wrapping!
2. Dab a finger on your other hand in the warm water, and “draw” the water liberally around the outer circumference edge of the wrapper.
3. Pinch the top and bottom centers together
4. Pinch together the lower right corner with your thumb and index finger.
5. Keeping your hand and thumb in place, use your index finger to fold down the bubble of skin between the two pinches made in steps 3 and 4.
6. Press firmly.

dumpling folding instructions2

7 – 8. Repeat the same process on the other side
9 – 10. Give your dumpling a few last pinches between your thumb and index finger to make sure it doesn’t come apart. Use more water as glue if necessary.

dumpling folding1

Line up dumplings on a lightly floured cookie sheet or piece of foil. I’m quite lucky that Nick eats everything I cook, plus is a fast learner in the kitchen!

dumpling folding2

Freezing directions: Put the entire cookie sheet or pan (lined with foil and lightly floured) of un-cooked dumplings into the freezer. Let freeze on cookie sheet until they’re semi-hard, then transfer into zip-loc bags. This is to prevent them from sticking into 1 big lump.

Cooking directions: You can either boil or pan-fry these as potstickers. Boiling fresh or frozen dumplings is easy and healthy – cook these in a large boiling pot of water until they float to the surface for 5-8 minutes, then strain.

Pan-frying is tastier in my opinion but has a few steps:
1) Coat bottom of a pan with vegetable oil. Heat on medium high until oil is hot.
2) Place dumplings in one by one so that they “sit” nicely upright in the pan. Cook for a few minutes until the bottoms start getting golden brown. I usually lift one up and tap the bottom to see if it’s getting crisp.
3) Pour cold water into the hot pan (will result in a loud sizzle & potentially some splatter!) until water level reaches ~1/4 of the way up the sides of the dumplings. Turn heat down to medium, and cover pan to let the dumplings steam.
4) Once the water is almost evaporated, remove lid to let the dumplings finish cooking and the bottoms finish browning. Cook uncovered until the water is completely gone and the dumpling bottoms become crisp (pick one up to check).

dumpling folding

For dipping sauce, start with a soy sauce base and add the following if you desire: black vinegar, sesame oil, hot sauce, chopped scallions and cilantro. And enjoy!

For those who celebrate – wishing you and your families a happy Lunar New Year! What have/will you be eating?


35 thoughts on “Extra (Ap)petite // Chinese dumplings / potstickers recipe

  • Reply Maggie Adofo January 31, 2014 at 2:00 am

    My absolute favorite! <3 Now I'm craving them lol.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I can't wait to try it.

    Maggie A

  • Reply Happiness at Mid Life January 31, 2014 at 2:02 am

    Happy New Year Jean! I have never learned to make dumplings from my parents. I think when I head home next time, I need to take some notes. Thank you for sharing this recipe!


  • Reply Dressed with soul January 31, 2014 at 2:09 am

    I wish you a Happy New Year! Although this is not a typical Bavarian food, I will try it, as I have the equipment to prepare this 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena


  • Reply Mei Fleming January 31, 2014 at 4:02 am

    Happy Lunar NY! The quintessential Chinese dish! Love it.




  • Reply Kyla Currier January 31, 2014 at 5:55 am

    I absolutely love asian dumplings! I cannot wait to try this recipe out! Thanks for sharing!


  • Reply Julie January 31, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Thanks for sharing, Jean! I had forgotten how much I liked your travel posts too, so it was fun to rediscover your travels to Canton through that link.

    My fiance and I love cooking, but we've never really tried any Chinese dishes. These seem fun to start with. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Anonymous January 31, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Hi Jean – I've been following you for 2 years now and this is the first time I'm actually leaving a comment 🙂 Thank you for your blog! It's such a breath of fresh air. I enjoy reading it and love your outfit posts as much as I love your food posts and everything in between. I cannot wait to try this recipe out as I am quite the food junkie myself.

    Happy Chinese New Year!


  • Reply Bela Anzu January 31, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Reading this post and looking at the dumpling photos made my mouth water. We learned a trick from a family friend when pan-frying the dumplings. For step #3, you can add a bit of white vinegar to the water before pouring it into the hot pan. It gives the dumplings a delicious taste.

    Happy Chinese New Year!

  • Reply Kari R January 31, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    You really surprise me how versatile you are! not only can we find fashion tips in your blog but also recipes! I love Chinese dumplings and I will definitely try it. Thank you very much for sharing!

  • Reply With Each Passing Day January 31, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Happy Chinese New Year! Thank you for the recipe. I'm looking forward to making these.

  • Reply Lynn January 31, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Yay, love potstickers! Did you see the DvF year of the horse dress? Love, but sold out in my size, of course. I just realized my daughter was born in the year of the dragon, which is supposed to be a good thing, I think, but I read the description and it seems pretty miserable to me. Oh well, I don't really believe astrology and such anyway!

  • Reply Kalena Cao January 31, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Happy Lunar New Year Jean!!! Thank you for the recipe. I will definitely try it!!!!

  • Reply Yoannita Lonas January 31, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    mmmm that looks good! i love love dumpling! Happy CNY and thanks for the recipe!

  • Reply Michelle R January 31, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Yay! Thanks for the recipe! The filling looks awesome! I really want to try cooking with garlic chive now…sounds amazing! There are quite a few Asian grocery stores to choose from around here, will have to give this a try.

  • Reply Juliet February 1, 2014 at 5:35 am

    Amazing Jean! Thanks for the dumpling cooking tips, they look simply mouthwatering 😉

  • Reply Casey Ray February 1, 2014 at 11:51 am

    I love making homemade dumplings – thanks for sharing your recipe! I'll definitely be trying out your dumpling folding technique next time I make them.

    Tip for vegetarians: use extra-firm tofu as a filling (chop into small bits and saute with garlic and ginger before adding to veggies). I've found this makes it a heartier filling, more like pork or shrimp. Plus, I usually despise tofu but love it in this recipe. Further evidence that dumplings can make almost anything delicious!

  • Reply Liana February 1, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Yum. I went to a restaurant in Beijing that specializes in dumplings… they had all different kinds of filling like fennel and walnut, and the dumplings came out in little shapes like swans and bunny rabbits.

    I view dumplings as a vehicle for the dipping sauce… my mom makes a delicious one with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar, kochukaru, sesame seeds and chopped green onions.


  • Reply katattack2000 February 1, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    These look delish 🙂 Happy new year 🙂

  • Reply Suzie Q February 1, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    I actually made home-made dumplings for the first time this past month. I love the freshness of homemade ones! You guys did a great job on the folding! Happy New Year to you too, Jean!

    Suzie Q

  • Reply pumpkinmommy February 2, 2014 at 7:25 am

    I read this post and had to make dumplings last night. When pan frying, I added some flour and Parmesan cheese (from the green can) to the water. I got super crispy edges!

  • Reply Loretta February 3, 2014 at 2:04 am

    Looks like how I make them too! Yum.

  • Reply Sofia Donatelli February 3, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Looks amazing.

    Hope you had a great weekend.


  • Reply Janki February 3, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    yum! Food is a wonderful way to share traditions. Have you ever noticed that even when 2nd or 3rd generations lose the language skills, it's the food that ties people to their culture?
    I have a request: can you (or your mom) make char siu bao? (pork buns, in case I spelled it wrong). It's my son's absolute favorite food and I hate driving the 45 mins to the closest dim sum restaurant.

    Happy New Year!

  • Reply Everygoodthingblog by Melissa February 4, 2014 at 12:16 am

    Happy Lunar New Year! My mom is Chinese and we would always make these wontons growing up, I haven't made them in a while but I definitely need to sometime soon, looking at these makes me want to!

  • Reply Steph @ Three Loud Kids! February 4, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    These look amazing!

  • Reply Victoria February 4, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Love homemade dumplings! I recently made Chinese style jerky (http://taketimeaway.com/chinese-pork-jerky/) Will have to try homemade dumplings next time!

  • Reply Jean February 4, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Both tips sound very interesting! I'll be trying!

  • Reply Jean February 4, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    I was not aware but just looked it up – how interesting for higher-end retailers to make specific items that appeal to a fast-growing consumer segment! i don't believe in astrology either, but being a dragon sounds pretty neat to me!

  • Reply Jean February 4, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Your son has great taste! Do you mean the white steamed ones or golden baked buns? My mom makes mean versions of either, so I'll be sure to glean some tips from her next time I visit. What's your kids' favorite Indian dish, I'm curious?

  • Reply Jean February 4, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Julie – you must be a longtime reader if you've seen the Canton post before! Thank you for stopping by over the years! Congrats on your engagement and I hope the two of you enjoy trying new dishes together – it's one of my favorite "night in" activities with my boyfriend.

  • Reply Jean February 4, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Thanks so much for saying hello, Maikue! I'm happy to hear you've enjoyed the various content on here over the years! Hope you have fun experimenting with this recipe.

  • Reply Jean February 4, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Yum! Thanks for the vegetarian tip! I absolutely love tofu, but have never tried it in dumplings.

  • Reply Jean February 4, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Aw thank you, Kari! Hope you have fun experimenting. It's hard to go wrong with the filling, and they're a family and crowd-pleaser for sure : )

  • Reply Audrey @ Putting Me Together February 8, 2014 at 2:43 am

    OMG. Totally salivating.

  • Reply Janki February 11, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    I've only tried the white ones. The golden ones are baked, do they taste different? I lived in Japan for a while and fell in love with the ones filled with red bean paste. YUM!
    Does your mom still do the food blog? I'd love to see a cross post with fashion and food.

    As for Indian food, there are the staples that most folks like (Chicken Tikka masala, biriyani). My sons also love dosas, which are like crispy crepes. They are a south Indian staple– usually not available in most Indian restaurants (since they are always north Indian). I make a mean chicken curry myself.
    I love how your BF is in the mix with the prep. My husband is always the default ambassador for Indian food at restaurants when he's with his coworkers.

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