Mom’s Best Pork Dumplings

My mom’s secret recipe for creating the best pork dumplings. The dumplings are juicy, tender and taste so good even without any dipping sauce!

My mom’s secret recipe for creating the best pork dumplings. The dumplings are juicy, tender and taste so good even without any dipping sauce!

Dumplings are one of the most important foods in northern Chinese cuisine. Unlike potstickers served in Japan and in the US, dumplings are a staple for us and we enjoy them as a meal instead of appetizer. The other difference is we always cook with freshly made dumpling dough instead of frozen dumpling wrappers. Even when you buy dumpling wrappers at a vegetable market you will certainly find small packs of freshly machine-made dumpling wrappers that come in small plastic bags.

I have been spoiled with great homemade dumplings ever since I was a kid. My grandma was a northern lady who loved cooking and sharing food. And, she was really good at it! Preparing and making dumplings was one of her favorite tasks, and my dad learnt all the secrets from her, passing the the skill to my mom.

My grandma’s secret weapon to making great pork dumplings was fresh shrimp. In traditional pork dumpling recipes, home cooks usually use rehydrated dried shrimps to increase flavor. But my grandma insisted on using fresh shrimp. Not only does it add umami and depth of flavor, the texture of the dumplings will be perfect when you use fresh shrimp, producing some of the best dumplings I’ve ever had.

My mom’s secret recipe for creating the best pork dumplings. The dumplings are juicy, tender and taste so good even without any dipping sauce!

I remember the first time my cousin tried dumplings at my parents’ place. He was astound how great a pork dumpling can taste. He was still in middle school. Back then it’ was a luxury thing to use expensive fresh shrimp in the dumplings because dumplings are considered a common daily staple, like rice, and should be cheap to make. When he went back home and insisted on using shrimps in the dumplings, my uncle scolded him saying it’s a crazy thing to do. When my mom told me the story, I suddenly realized how special these dumplings are, and I’ve been eating them all the time.

Today I’m sharing this family recipe with you. It is simple, elegant, and fresh. You can use store bought dumpling wrappers as well. But if you’re into Chinese food, I highly recommend you to make the dumpling dough from scratch. To make the task easier, you can make steamed dumpling dough instead of boiled dumpling dough. Either way, these dumplings will turn out juicy, tender, and with great texture.

Pork Dumplings with Cabbage Cooking Process

As I mentioned in my previous post, great dumplings emphasize the freshness of the filling and dough. By using homemade dumpling dough, not only do you create a soupy dumpling filling, you can make bigger dumplings that taste (and are more) satisfying. You’ll see my recipe has a very simple ingredient list. Once you’ve tried fresh dumplings, you’ll be surprised how flavorful they are. You’ll never go back ready made dumplings.

My mom’s secret recipe for creating the best pork dumplings. The dumplings are juicy, tender and taste so good even without any dipping sauce!

These dumplings are very satisfying and you can serve them as a main dish. You can add a simple appetizer, such as cucumber salad, wood ear mushroom salad, spinach salad, or you can serve the dumplings with millet congee and quick pickles. That’s exactly what we do in China.

For more filling recipes for dumplings, check out my favorite lamb dumpling recipe, vegetarian dumplings, and pork mushroom dumplings.

My mom’s secret recipe for creating the best pork dumplings. The dumplings are juicy, tender and taste so good even without any dipping sauce!

Cooking video

I recorded a short video to show you how easy it is to cook this dish. Find more videos to learn Chinese cooking on my YouTube channel!

Happy cooking!

5.0 from 7 reviews
Mom’s Best Pork Dumplings with Cabbage
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main, Appetizer
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 40 to 50 dumplings
Ingredients
Instructions
Prepare filling
  1. Combine ground pork, shrimp, ginger, light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, salt, and white pepper in a large bowl. Stir with a spatula until the ingredients are well combined and form a sticky paste. Thorough mixing is essential here, so your dumpling filling will stay together when you wrap dumplings. Cover with a plastic wrapper and allow to marinate in fridge until you’re ready to wrap the dumplings.
  2. Cut 6 to 8 pieces napa cabbage leaves (just enough to line the steamer) and keep for later. Cut the rest of the cabbage into small cubes and set aside.
  3. Sprinkle 2 pinches of salt onto the cabbage and mix well with your hands. Allow this to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Use a few layers of cheesecloth or paper towel to squeeze out extra water.
  4. Just before wrapping dumplings, add the napa cabbage, green onion, and sesame oil into the pork mixture. Stir to mix well.
Wrap
  1. Work on the dumplings one by one. You can watch this video if you're using frozen dumpling wrappers. Or watch this video if you're using homemade dumpling wrappers.
  2. Scoop about 1 to 2 tablespoons (depends on the size of dumpling wrapper you use) of dumpling filling and place it in the center of the wrapper. If you’re using pre-made dumpling wrappers, dip your finger into a small bowl of water and wet the outer edge of the dumpling wrapper. Fold both sides into a half-moon shape and pinch the middle points together. Hold the dumpling with one hand and start sealing the edges into pleats with the other hand. Once you have sealed the dumpling, firmly press the pleated side with your fingers to make sure the dumpling is well sealed. If you put in too much filling and have trouble sealing the dumpling, remove extra filling and fold the dumpling again.
  3. If you plan to cook the dumplings immediately, place dumplings onto a well-floured cutting board about a finger width apart.
  4. If you plan to freeze the dumplings, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place dumplings on top.
Cook
  1. Line the bamboo steamers with napa cabbage leaves. Place dumplings into the steamer a finger width apart. Add two inches of water into a wok or a large pan that can comfortably fit your steamer. Place the steamer into the wok making sure the water doesn’t touch the dumplings when it begins to boil. Cover the steamer and cook over high heat for 10 minutes.
  2. You can also check this post for boiled dumplings for this post for cooking potsticker.
  3. Serve immediately.
Store
  1. Store the wrapped, uncooked dumplings in the freezer for up to 1 month. To freeze properly, seal the baking sheet tight with plastic wrapper and allow the dumplings to freeze completely. To save freezer space, transfer the frozen dumplings into large containers or a gallon bag. Be careful not break them when you stack the dumplings and do not place other things on top of your dumplings bag.
  2. To cook the frozen dumplings, steam directly from the freezer without thawing. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to cook through.

The nutrition facts are calculated based on 1 of the 45 dumplings generated by this recipe.

Pork Dumplings with Cabbage Nutrition Facts

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Meet Maggie

Hi I'm Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking - including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my Austin, Texas kitchen.

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30 thoughts on “Mom’s Best Pork Dumplings

  1. Robyn @ Simply Fresh Dinners

    I’m heading over to watch your video on how to make dumplings! That looks like some serious skills.
    These look so beautiful I’d want to set them out for everyone but just let them admire them and not eat them! Love all the delicious ingredients.
    As always, your photos rock!

    Reply
  2. Pat C.Wilson

    can you share more videos and recipes of making Chinese foods, pls? they impressed me so much. I just want to bring my kids all the dishes from around the world. have a nice day, Maggie!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Will try to make videos for sure! It is quite time consuming but I found video is very helpful for readers who never cooked the dish before. Have a great week ahead Pat!

      Reply
  3. Sabrina

    these look wonderful! I’ve never tried making dumplings, I’ve only had them in restaurants that may not have been very authentic, anyway thank you for sharing this recipe, will try making them!

    Reply
  4. Khris

    WOW! I usually don’t leave web comments. But, WOW! I attempted to make dumplings for the second time. This time using your recipe. They were absolutely, positively delicious. I didn’t have any Shiaxong wine, which I know you said is an absolute must. So, next time I can’t wait to try them with the cooking wine. Thank you for taking time to share a family recipe with all of us, making a video, and detailing the instructions. Just like the dumplings, you can tell a lot of time and love went into it! Can’t wait to see your future recipes.

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Khris, thanks so much for taking time to leave a comment and I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe! It’s one of our family’s favorite dish and I’m happy to spread the love so more people could enjoy it 🙂
      Happy cooking and can’t wait to see what you’ll be cooking the next!

      Reply
  5. Bam's Kitchen

    You are making me really miss HK!!! Your mom’s pork dumplings are the best. I now have the perfect little roller to make my own homemade dumplings with!!! 🙂 Thinking of you as we near CNY… Take care

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Bobbi, I hope you enjoy cooking with the rolling pin. I really think it works way better for dumpling wrappers than the average wooden rolling pin. This is one of my family’s favorite recipe and I hope you enjoy it 🙂
      Happy New Year to you and your family!

      Reply
  6. Alice Cobbs

    Funny story about how I can across your page.. I was looking up avocado smoothie/milkshake recipes and your page page popped. I looked through a couple “You Might Also Like” and stumbled across this. And I am SO GLAD I did!! My grandma used to make these all the time when I was little. I can finally try to make them myself now!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Alice, I’m glad you find me page 😉 The pork dumplings are our family favorite and I highly recommend it.
      Happy cooking and can’t wait to see what you’ve cooked 🙂

      Reply
  7. Jennie Durren

    These look so amazing. I’m still a beginner when it comes to making Chinese dumplings, but my son (3 years old) really likes to help with filling and pleating the dumplings. They aren’t perfect but it’s a really fun family activity on a cold evening. I’m going to try these next time we make dumplings, along with making our own wrappers.

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Jennie, it’s amazing that your son would like to help out with the cooking! It makes the process much more fun isn’t it?
      Making dumpling wrappers require some effort but it definitely worth the time. I bet your son with be happy to play with the dough too 🙂

      Reply
  8. Alice

    Hi! I wanted to ask if you put any binder in your filling? Your dumpling filling looks so good, mine always comes out loose and doesnt have that ball of meat consistancy after its cooked. I usually put some cornstarch in my filling but its not really doing anything. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Alice, no I rarely add cornstarch in the filling (unless it’s for soften the meat). The trick is to mix the meat first, repeatedly, until they form a very sticky paste (almost like develop gluten from a bread dough). We use chopsticks to mix, a spatula works too. During this process the filling will become very tough (which is why you’d never do that for a burger patty). So we add a lot of liquid (soy sauce, water etc.) during this mixing process, to keep the meat “hydrated”. Eventually you will get a soft paste that is just sticky and just solid enough to shape. Also, the more vegetables you add, the filling tends to not hold together.
      So next time try to mix the meat a bit longer at first to form a paste first. Add a bit less cabbage will be helpful too.
      I hope your dumplings will come out better the next time 🙂

      Reply
      1. Alice

        Thank you!!! I tend to use more veggies than meat so it could be why mine always fall apart! I will def try the mixing method, i rememeber my mom doing that when she used to make steamed ground pork dishes for dinner when I was little!

      2. Maggie Post author

        Yes, more veggies will cause the problem. That’s why vegetarian dumplings are difficult to wrap. The filling is so loose. You can try to make slightly bigger wrapper, so the wrapping will be a bit easier.
        Anyhow, let me know if you make the dumplings again. I’m looking forward to hearing the result 🙂

  9. Martini

    I made these yesterday and i’ve tried to make dumplings before but this recipe, OMG they were soooo yummy! I added a beaten egg and some cornflour to the recipe too and it was awesome. My partner was very impressed! so juicy and the texture was great. I can’t wait to make them again soon! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply
  10. Bel

    Hi Maggie,

    We’re currently making your dumplings and wrappers from scratch! Just have a few questions:
    – Your cup measurements I’m assuming are US based?
    – I assumed that most good pork dumplings have garlic in them – just wondering if you ever add this into the recipe for extra flavour?
    – Do you finely chop the shrimp or how big do you chop them up as it doesn’t state specifically?
    – It says initially to mix the meat/shrimp, ginger etc and sesame oil. But then later on it says add the sesame oil to the mixture when you also add the green onion and cabbage. So when are you supposed to add it – at the beginning or at the same time as cabbage/green onion?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Bel, to answer your questions.
      – Yes the cup measurements are US based.
      – No, my family never add garlic into the dumplings. However it is possible to add more extra flavors into the dipping sauce by adding chopped garlic and ginger. You can see my dipping sauce recipes here: http://omnivorescookbook.com/dumpling-sauce/
      – For the shrimps, chop them to 1/3 to 1/2 inch pieces.
      – Sorry about the sesame oil part. I just updated the recipe. You should add the sesame oil at the very end, after cabbage and green onion.
      Not sure these answers are fast enough to help you. I hope your dumplings come out great!

      Reply
      1. Bel

        Hi Maggie, thanks for your reply and answers!
        – We had already put the sesame oil in, and don’t think this affected the mixture. Cut the shrimp as you said as we saw you chopping it in the video after we wrote the comment 🙂 The filling was so delicious! We loved it.
        – the only issue we had was with the dough. It was still a bit doughy when we ate them, rather than being silky, soft and thin like when we eat good dumplings. Also the dough broke on a few of them when we tried to pick them up to eat them and the filling – while it stayed together or separated from the dumplings…do you have any advice or suggestions to improve on these issues? We had them steamed.
        Thanks so much for a fantastic recipe! We also made your la mian which was great! We couldn’t believe how stretchy they were! It was so fun pulling the noodle into the pot of water! 🙂

      2. Maggie Post author

        Hi Bel, I’m glad to hear your first batch of dumplings turned out well!
        Re your question about the dumpling dough – next time you can try using 1/3 of pastry flour with 2/3 all-purpose flour. Lately I’ve learned that the regular flour in the US contains more gluten, and that is one of the reasons that causing the dough a bit tough. You can also add a bit more room temperature water, 1 to 2 tablespoons, when you’re mixing the dough. It also helps to make a tenderer and thinner dough.
        There are a few reasons that cause the dumpling skin break apart after cooking. It can be the filling is too watery (probably caused by the napa cabbage), the dumplings are too large, or the dumplings are slightly overcooked. I can’t say for sure… Next time you could try making slightly smaller dumplings, steam them immediately after wrapping a small batch (the cabbage in the filling will keep seeping out liquid after you made the dumplings, which causes the dough to break apart), and cook 1 to 2 minutes less. I hope this is helpful!

      3. Bel Kimson

        Thanks for the suggestions and tips! In the meantime, we have been making more of your recipes, the eggplant, the bang bang chicken, the biang noodles. All delicious!

  11. Blaise Jadoul

    Hi Maggie,
    Don’t you ever use starches (wheat starch and tapioca or corn starch) for the dough ?

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Blaise, we don’t use starches in this specific recipe because wheat flour is the only ingredient in northern style dumplings. However, I do make other types of dumplings using starches. That is more of Cantonese dim sum style, such as the shrimp dumplings that has a semi-transparent dough. Is there a certain recipe you’re looking for?

      Reply
      1. Blaise Jadoul

        Hi Maggie,
        Thanks for your answer.
        I don’t need any specific recipe, I was just wondering. Your mother’s best(s) are already delicious and tasty! 😉

  12. Shelley

    Hi Maggie, could you please clarify what “green onions” are? I’m from Australia, are they the same as what we would call shallots/ spring onions here? Thanks in advance!

    Reply