The ONLY Dumpling Recipe You’ll Ever Need


Recently, we got a question from one of our lovely readers inquiring as to why there hadn’t been a recipe posted that matched the little photo in our Welcome message. And because we’re totally against false advertising (I’m talking to YOU, Siri)…we present: our family’s dumpling recipe.

That little overexposed photo in the sidebar there is actually a picture of some amazing dumplings, or jiaozi, that we got from a street stall in Shanghai. I’m of the opinion that the Shanghainese are the Botticelli’s—the Michelangelo’s, Velasquez’s, and Van Gogh’s—of dumpling making. No one does it quite like they do. Luckily, I have a very loud, dumpling-making Shanghainese side of the family.

We’ve been making this dumpling recipe for a long time. A LONG time. I remember sitting on a stool in my grandmother’s kitchen on 161st Street in Queens, learning to fold these…my seven-year-old fingers clumsily stumbling over everything…getting the wrappers way too wet, putting in too much filling, and crossing my fingers by the stove in a futile attempt to keep them from opening up while they cooked. It was a time when my only cares in the world were how I was going turn my weekly $5 allowance into a new puppy, staying in Mrs. Alercio’s (Gregory Elementary school’s most feared second grade teacher) good books, and making sure I kept up with the latest episodes of Boy Meets World. Nowadays, my grandmother, my mom, my sister, and I get all Joy Luck Clubby about it and sit down at the kitchen table every so often to make an enormous batch for the freezer.

We’ve been making some variation of this same recipe for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been eating them and sharing them for just as long—a quick meal on a lazy weeknight, an appetizer at one of my parents’ dinner parties, a well-deserved after school snack, or a taste of home at college. One of Kaitlin’s high school friends can literally devour them by the plateful.

We’ve eaten a lot of dumplings in Beijing, but somehow, we always come back to these.

If maybe this isn’t the only dumpling recipe you think you need, also check out our recipes for pork & chive dumplingseasy pork cabbage potstickers, and Shanghai soup dumplings.

You’ll need:

  • 3 lbs green leafy vegetable (like shepherd’s purse, baby bok choy, napa cabbage, or Chinese chives)
  • 1 ½ pounds ground pork (or ground chicken or beef, as long as they aren’t too lean)
  • 2/3 cup shaoxing wine
  • ½ cup oil
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • 2/3 cup water, plus more for assembly
  • 3-4 packages dumpling wrappers


Let’s talk veg.

In the photos, you’ll see these little green leafies that look kind of like a cross between dandelion greens and arugula. It’s actually called jicai or “Shepherd’s Purse.” In the US, you’ll only find it in the frozen foods section of a well-stocked Chinese grocery store. If you can get it, then grab those babies out of the freezer section and never let go. It’s so much more convenient to use than the fresh stuff, which is all we get here in Beijing.



But…if you find yourself in a place where one could never hope to locate an obscure Chinese vegetable, we also encourage the use of vegetables that you don’t need to tear your hair out to find. You can go with baby bok choy (the tender little green ones. Not the giant, stringy monstrosities you find at Stop & Shop), napa cabbage, or Chinese chives. If using fresh, all of these vegetables need to go through a blanching process, with the exception of the Chinese chives (which can just be chopped finely and then thrown in with the meat).

So first thing’s first. Wash your veg to get them really clean. No one likes a sandy dumpling. Blanch them for a minute and throw them in an ice bath.

If using frozen jicai, just defrost the veg, rinse it well under cold water, and praise the Gods for making it easy on you. (Washing fresh jicai is a slow, tedious, finger-numbing task that I’m sure they would have in Tartarus if the Greeks had jicai).


Then, ring out the veggies like you’re squeezing a washcloth. Get all the liquid you can out of them.


Get out the chopping block and chop the veggies VERY finely. As finely as you possibly can, or the filling will be overly stringy. Not the adjective we’re looking for in this instance.


Throw it in with your meat. You can change the ratio of meat to vegetable however you like. We like a lot of veg with less meat, but you can replace some of the veg with more meat if you like. We suggest NOT going all vegetarian with these, though. Vegetarian dumplings are tricky little things. One needs a whole new plan of attack (we’ll post a separate recipe). Your meat should also be relatively fatty. Too lean, and the poor things will be dry and lifeless.


Add the shaoxing wine, oil, sesame oil, salt, soy sauce, white pepper, and water.






And mix.

And then mix some more.

What you’re doing here is creating a very soft, smooth texture for the filling. It’s really important to mix your filling until it almost looks like a paste. We find that grabbing two chopsticks in one’s fist, followed by 6-8 minutes of exuberant stirring yields the best filling consistency.


And now…the wrapping. Don’t be afraid! It’s not as hard as it looks. You, dear reader, are probably not a seven-year-old with clumsy hands, and you’ll probably figure it out faster than I did in my cartoon-watching days. (Okay, let’s be real. I still watch cartoons. I’m a major dork for anything having to do with airbending, 90s-era Nickelodeon, and Pixar. I have the emotional maturity of a twelve-year-old, apparently).


Anyway, you can buy dumpling skins at the Asian grocery store. You’re looking for the white round ones. If left out in the open air for too long, you may find that the edges start to dry out. If that happens, wrap them in a damp paper towel and put them in a sealed plastic bag for a couple hours to soften back up. You can freeze any unused dumpling wrappers in an airtight sealed plastic bag for later.


To the wrapping! Get yourself a little bowl of water and dampen the edges of each wrapper.


Then place a little less than a tablespoon of filling in the middle.


There are several ways to do this next wrapping step, but the easiest way for first timers is to pinch the wrapper in half at a point in the middle…


…and then fold the skins over twice on each side.




At the end, it will look kind of like a little fan.

An adorable, tasty fan.


And that’s it!

Boil a test dumpling and taste it for salt and flavor. Perhaps you added a little more meat than the recipe called for. Perhaps your salt isn’t as salty, or your soy sauce is a different brand than we use. It’s not an exact science, but the only way to figure out how to get the flavor right is to test and taste. Add a little of this or that…sesame oil, soy sauce, salt, pepper, wine, water…if you think it needs it. Once you’ve got the perfect filling, go through the dumpling folding steps.

Keep doing that…for the next 2 hours, or until all your filling is gone. Put on the TV, grab a dumpling buddy, and get to work. If you plan to eat them fresh, just place them on a floured surface to keep them from sticking. If you plan to freeze them for later, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, making sure that none of the dumplings are touching.


It’s an art in and of itself to try to adjust the filling amounts you put in as filling and wrapper supplies deplete–to try and use all of both. If we have more wrappers, I reduce the amount of filling I put in a bit. If we don’t have enough, then I make bigger dumplings. But if you end up with leftovers, don’t sweat it. You can wrap up extra dumpling wrappers for later, and make the filling into little meatballs and fry them up.


Aren’t they prettyyy?


Time to taste the fruit of our labors!

Here’s how you cook them. You have a couple choices.

To boil: just bring a large pot of water to a boil and throw the dumplings in there. If using fresh, they’re usually done when they float to the top and start to look transparent. If using frozen, they may need a bit longer to cook through.


To pan-fry:

Heat a non-stick pan or cast-iron skillet over medium high heat and add a couple tablespoons of oil. Add the dumplings in a circular formation around the pan and allow them to fry for a couple minutes.


Then, pour a thin layer of water into the pan.


Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Steam until the water has evaporated.


Check the dumplings. If they still look a little raw, put in some more water, cover the pan again, and steam them for a little longer.

Once all the water has evaporated and they look cooked through, raise the heat to medium high and allow them to cook uncovered until the bottoms are golden brown and crisp.

And finally…serve the little darlings! Here’s the boiled version:


And the pan-fried version. These are little pockets of light, joy, and deliciousness.


P.S. We like to eat our pockets of light, joy, and deliciousness with chili sauce and Chinese black vinegar.


P.S.S: If you’d like to freeze them, wrap the baking sheets tightly with plastic wrap and put the pans in the freezer. Allow them to freeze overnight. You can then take the sheets out of the freezer, transfer the dumplings to Ziploc bags, and throw them back in the freezer for use later.

P.S.S.S. Phew. This was a long one. I feel I need this last P.S. to decompress. Generations of acquired knowledge, all rolled into one tidy post, without skimping on detail. For those of you who don’t like reading as many words as I’ve written here, here’s a condensed, printable version of the recipe:

The ONLY Dumpling Recipe You’ll Ever Need

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

The ONLY Dumpling Recipe You’ll Ever Need


3 lbs green leafy vegetable (like shepherd’s purse, baby bok choy, napa cabbage, or Chinese chives)
1 ½ pounds ground pork (or ground chicken or beef, as long as they aren’t too lean)
2/3 cup shaoxing wine
½ cup oil
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ teaspoon white pepper
2/3 cup water, plus more for assembly
3-4 packages dumpling wrappers

Wash your vegetables thoroughly and blanch them in a pot of boiling water. Transfer them to an ice bath to cool. Ring out all the water from the vegetables and chop very finely.

In a large bowl, stir together the vegetable, meat, wine, oil, sesame oil, salt, soy sauce, white pepper, and 2/3 cup water. Mix for 6-8 minutes, until very well-combined.

To wrap the dumplings, dampen the edges of each circle with some water. Put a little less than a tablespoon of filling in the middle. Fold the circle in half and pinch the wrapper together at the top. Then make two folds on each side, until the dumpling looks like a fan. Make sure it’s completely sealed. Repeat until all the filling is gone, placing the dumplings on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Make sure the dumplings aren’t sticking together.

If you’d like to freeze them, wrap the baking sheets tightly with plastic wrap and put the pans in the freezer. Allow them to freeze overnight. You can then take the sheets out of the freezer, transfer the dumplings to Ziploc bags, and throw them back in the freezer for use later.

To cook the dumplings, boil them or pan-fry them. To boil, simple bring a large pot of water to a boil, drop the dumplings in, and cook until they float to the top and the skins are cooked through, but still slightly al dente.

To pan-fry, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Place the dumplings in the pan and allow to fry for 2 minutes. Pour a thin layer of water into the pan, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow dumplings to steam until the water has evaporated. Remove the cover, increase heat to medium-high and allow to fry for a few more minutes, until the bottoms of the dumplings are golden brown and crisp.

Serve with soy sauce, Chinese black vinegar, chili sauce, or other dipping sauce of your choice!

Find the dumpling skins fresh at the Asian grocery store. Look for the white, round ones. If they start to dry out, wrap them in a damp paper towel and put them in a sealed plastic bag for a couple hours to soften back up. Freeze any unused dumpling wrappers in an airtight sealed plastic bag for later.



  1. T says

    Hey there, I know you already sort of addressed the question of “How many dumplings does this make?” but I’m trying to make dumplings for 30-40 people and need to get the numbers right! If I make about 6 dumplings per person I’d need around 200 dumplings. Are you thinking your recipe made about this many? Should I double it? Thanks!

  2. chai says

    Hi there guys!

    You’re such a cool group of friends! I can imagine what fun eating sessiobs you must experience.

    I am definitely going to try your recipe out cos you make it look so easy and yummy, and its sure to comfort my ‘Winter’ SOUL.

    KEEP UP THE GREAT COOKING, FELLAS, and thanks for the recipe.

    Catch up with you again sometime.

    with appreciation,


  3. Gabriel Bordeleau Gervais says

    Hey ! i have a story to tell, its a tale of heroism, a tale like no others. Once upon a time a young philosophy grad student had to wait wile his thesis were under scrutiny. This grad student, wile pondering upon his world domination scheme, stumbled on this great cooking blog and wile cooking tasty treat after an other he completely forgot the stress of the wait for the acceptance of his research (and also choose to not unleash great darkness upon the world).

    So tank you for all those amazing recipes !

    ps : I added some coriander to the recipe. I sure hope its not a sacrilege.

  4. says

    Hello! I am so excited to make this! There is an Asian Market in the next city, and I am hopeful that I can find all the ingredients. However, I have a few questions. Does the Chinese wine cook out of the dumplings? If not, could I substitute with something else? Lastly, when prepping the mixture, should the meat be left raw before cooking the dumplings? Thank you all so very much!

    • says

      Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for your comment! So excited for you to try the recipe. To answer your question, when the dumplings are cooked, the wine will lend the dumplings a very subtle, amazing flavor (I’m of the opinion that you shouldn’t really substitute anything for it), but you will not taste “alcohol.” Also, yes, the meat in the filling mixture is raw when you fold it into the dumplings. It will cook through after you boil or pan-fry them!

  5. Mandy says

    I just returned from my first trip to China. At Xian we visited a local family and had lunch. She made the most amazing boiled dumplings ( far superior to any we had in restaurants). So i wanted to make them as soon as I got back. I tried a recipe from another website (not dissimilar to yours), but had much less leafy veg than yours. It used napa cabbage which was not blanched. Also no extra oil other than a little sesame oil. The filling turned out too firm. I just stumbled upon your website now, so added more cabbage to the left over meat filling. Result was better but still not as soft as I would have liked. How do you get the superset filling?

  6. Shannon says

    I am so excited to have found your blog… I have added so many of your recipes to my to-do list! Do you have a recipe for har gow? Also, do you have a basic congee recipe? Thanks!

  7. Annie says

    so so so good. loved the recipe. sat down one afternoon and just knocked it out. couldn’t find any dumpling wrappers so I had to make my own, but still turned out ok!

  8. Joanna says

    I’d never made dumplings before, even though I love them. This recipe was so easy, and made the most delicious dumplings I’ve ever had, I’ll never buy the bagged, frozen kind from the store again! I used Chinese chives for the vegetables, and otherwise made the recipe as directed. The only thing I didn’t quite do right was give myself enough time to fill the dumplings. After an hour of filling dumplings by myself, I put a lot of meat mix in the freezer for when I have reinforcements. Thanks for a terrific recipe! I can’t wait to try more.

  9. samantha says

    Hi there.

    Just found your website. If you freeze the dumplings, do they need to be thawed to cook? What is the preparation?

    Samantha Hall

    • says

      Welcome to our site, Samantha. No need to thaw the dumplings to cook; they are much easier to handle when they are frozen. You can cook frozen dumplings for both the boiled and the pan frying methods. Just follow the cooking steps mentioned in the post. Cheers!

  10. Rebecca says

    Love your website and the commentaries! The recipes taste just like the food we had in China, and the recipes are explained so nicely with easy to understand instructions. Just one question – about the amount of wine – 2/3 cup – I am sure it is correct but just wanted to confirm.

    • says

      Thank you so much, Rebecca. This is a large recipe, we like to make a large batch and freeze a big portion as appetizers and Sunday breakfasts. So yes, all the information is correct.

  11. Karen says

    I live in the UK and often crave the taste of HongKong where I lived for a couple of years. I can’t easily get hold of any of the vegetables and I wondered if spinach would do the job? I’m looking forward to giving the recipe a try!

    • says

      Hi, Karen, spinach is unique in its only way, definitely would work for this recipe. Same thing, blanch and squeeze out the water. Let us know how you like it :-)

  12. Phillip says

    Approximately how many dumplings would this recipe yield? I’m trying to figure out how many wrappers to have on hand. Thanks again for sharing it!

    • says

      Hi, Phillip, we buy the pre-made wrappers (16 oz per pack) from a Chinese grocery store. This recipe requires about 3 – 4 packs. You’ll have A LOT of dumplings. We like to freeze whatever we don’t cook on the first day for Sunday morning breakfasts, party appetizers or a quick mid-week meal. Here is how to freeze them: line a flat surface (like a baking sheet) with a piece of parchment paper or clear plastic wrap. Freeze them until hardened (usually overnight), then store in a zip-lock freezer bag in the freezer. They’re good for up to a month. :-)

    • says

      As someone whose been eating these all her life…I would say…yes. It is pretty essential. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve boiled a test dumpling, tasted it, and I’ve said, “needs more wine.” That said, you don’t necessarily have to use shaoxing wine. You can try using any rice wine you can find. But Shaoxing wine is probably the best for this particular situation. Thanks for the great question, Lee!

  13. says

    Hi Dianna, Shepherd’s purse is hard to describe but it has a delicate aromatic taste and all of our friends who have tried it just love it. The explanation for the technique is two-fold. First, you want to draw the natural water out of the vegetable by blanching and squeezing it dry. Second, once you combine the pork and vegetable, you add the water and oil back to the mixture to hydrate the pork and moisten the vegetable. Finally, mixing it very thoroughly forms a nice soft and juicy filling.

  14. Dianna says

    What does the shepherd’s purse taste like? I’ve heard of it before but never heard of using it in dumplings. I’ve used Napa cabbage in the past but hadn’t heard the tip to blanch it. That will make everything a lot easier! But I’m going to check at my Asian grocery store to see if I can find the shepherd’s purse to try it out. One more pressing question…haha! I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a recipe that includes adding all that oil and water to the meat mixture. Does that make the dumpling more tender? I can’t wait to try your version!

  15. Tracee says

    I found this just now and have made my grocery list so we can have them for dinner! My question is about the dipping sauce. Do you have any idea which is most prevalent in US restaurants? We love the sauce at most places and have no idea which one it is nor how to make it! We adopted our daughter from China when she was 6 months old. She is now 12 and loves dumplings! We always order take out but I really want to be able to make them for her. Thanks!!!

    • Sarah says

      Hi Tracee, Hmm good question. Well, in Beijing, Chinese black vinegar is the most popular dipping sauce for dumplings. What I’m guessing you might have had in a US restaurant is soy sauce, mixed with a little water, a touch of sugar, and maybe some chopped scallion and toasted sesame seeds? Am I close?

  16. says

    These are so impeccably pleated! I’m amazed. They look wonderful — I just happened across your site after seeing you comment on Mandy’s ramen on Lady and Pups (omg, so dying to make that…) and after reading your About page, just had to say how wonderful I find your blog. The whole endeavor is so heartwarming and unique. (Also, LOVE all the Shanghainese recipes! My family is Shanghainese too, and hongshao rou is my jaaam.) So glad I found you all and excited to keep following you!

    • Sarah says

      Thanks so much! We’ve been blogging for a while and sometimes it’s hard to tell whether there’s anyone really out there reading our stuff! Your comment has buoyed our spirits for another day.

      And hongshao rou is tootttally our jam too. : )

  17. ed201 says

    interesting, so you blanch the veggies? usually i don’t, so the meat gets that little extra moisture. or maybe i’m confusing it with wonton :) I’ll have to give that a try!

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