Mom’s Best Lamb Dumplings

5 from 13 votes
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These soupy lamb dumplings are irresistible! The lamb meat is seasoned with soy sauce, Sichuan peppercorn, and ginger to create a savory umami. The minced carrot adds a hint of sweetness. The zucchini adds some moisture to the filing, so that the hearty, flavorful broth fills up the whole dumpling!

Homemade lamb dumplings

Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! As part of a traditional New Year’s celebration, we cook and eat dumplings on New Year’s Eve. This is a northern Chinese custom and my family has been practicing it for generations. This year, we’re cooking lamb dumplings to celebrate the year of the sheep!

In addition to representing luck and wealth, dumplings with different fillings have their own special meanings. As for lamb dumplings, the Chinese pronunciation of “lamb” sounds like “ocean”. So lamb dumplings will bring you money as vast as the sea in the coming new year. Hop on over to read the post and get a feeling of the big festival currently going on here in China!

Water boiled lamb dumplings

Since I started posting lamb recipes this year, I have had so many people tell me that they don’t associate lamb with Chinese cuisine. This might be true for southern Chinese cooking, but in the northern, western, and central part of the country, lamb is an important source of protein and one of the most popular meats. If I had to guess, I’d say that the rank of popularity for various meats in northern China would be: pork, lamb, chicken, then beef.

I am really proud of this recipe, because the finished dumplings are so tender and soupy. Have you ever tried Shanghai soup dumplings (xiao long bao, 小笼包), the one filled with a savory broth that tastes even better than the filling itself? The recipe here can create a very similar texture to that of xiao long bao!

Mom's Best Lamb Dumpling - These soupy lamb dumplings are irresistible! The recipe can be used for cooking boiled dumplings and potstickers | omnivorescookbook.com

If you read my last post, you already understand why boiled dumplings are so important to us, and why we prefer them to any other type of dumpling. However, if you prefer to cook potstickers or even meat pies, you can use this filling for those as well.

Cooking notes

  • Choose a tender cut of lamb with 20-30% fat. This will keep the filling tender and moist.
  • Sichuan peppercorn is a must. It brings out the greatness of the lamb.
  • Cook the carrot beforehand, so it will be tender and release a sweet flavor.
  • Do NOT squeeze the water out of the zucchini. We will utilize its moisture to create a soupy filling.
  • Blend in the zucchini at the end. The zucchini will start to lose water and make the filling watery if mixed in too early.
  • Wrap and cook (or freeze) dumplings as soon as possible. The moisture will start to seep into the dough, which will cause the dumplings to fall apart during cooking. If you are cooking a big batch of dumplings, you can wrap the dumplings in small batches and freeze them immediately after wrapping. You can cook them whenever you want, before serving the meal.
  • Take extra care to seal the dumplings tightly if you’re planning on boiling the dumplings. Refer to this post to get more information on how to deal with boiled dumplings.

How to make lamb dumpling filling

Homemade lamb dumplings

If you’ve never heard of Sichuan peppercorn, it is one of the most important ingredients in authentic Sichuan cooking. It has a pungent, lemony, and numbing flavor. It goes great with lamb dishes, as it eliminates the raw flavor of the meat and brings out its great taste.

If you cannot find Sichuan peppercorns at your local grocery store, you can purchase them from my partner’s store – The Mala Market. They sell the freshest Sichuan peppercorn and they truly makes your dish stand out.

I wish you all a Happy Chinese New Year!

Homemade lamb dumplings close-up

More delicious dumpling recipes

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

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Homemade lamb dumplings with dipping sauce

Mom’s Best Lamb Dumplings

5 from 13 votes
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Main, Snack
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 70 to 80 dumplings

Ingredients

Instructions

To prepare the lamb filling

  • Combine ground lamb meat, Shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, and dark soy sauce in a large bowl. Mix well until the mixture becomes a sticky paste. Add ginger. Sprinkle evenly with Sichuan peppercorn powder and salt (if you’re using it). Mix thoroughly. Add peanut oil and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside (or in the fridge if you’re not planning to make dumplings within an hour).
  • (option) If you are making your own dumpling wrappers, mix the ground lamb with the seasonings first, and set aside at room temperature for up to 1 hour (or in the fridge for up to a day). Do not add any vegetables to the meat at this point, because the veggies will be dehydrated by the salt, and the filling will become watery.
  • Right before you wrap the dumplings, prepare the vegetables. To mince the carrot and zucchini, you can use a mandoline to slice them into strips first, then chop them into small bits. You can also use a food processor to mince them.
  • Cook carrot. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok (or a nonstick skillet) over medium high heat until warm. Add carrot, stir, and saute until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  • When you’re ready to start wrapping dumplings, add green onion, zucchini, and carrot into the ground lamb. Mix well.

To wrap dumplings

  • {If you are using fresh homemade wrappers} Scoop about 1 tablespoon (or slightly less) of the dumpling filling and place it in the center of the wrapper. Hold the dumpling with one hand and start sealing the edges with the other hand (refer to the video or this post to see detailed information on how to fold a dumpling).
  • {If you are using pre-made wrappers from the store} Scoop about 2 teaspoons (or 1 tablespoon, depending on the size of the wrapper) of the lamb filling and place it in the center of the wrapper. Gently press the mixture into a round shape, so it will be easier to wrap. Wet your finger or a pair of chopsticks with water and gently brush water onto the edge of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper into a half moon shape. (*see footnote 2)
  • If you have trouble sealing the dumplings, reduce the amount of filling until you can seal it easily.
  • Place the dumplings on the working surface, one finger’s width apart. Work with the rest of the wrappers in the same manner.
  • You should wrap the dumplings in small batches, 20 to 25 at a time. After the dumplings are wrapped, cook or freeze them within 30 minutes. Otherwise, the dumplings will start to lose moisture. For more information on cooking frozen dumplings, refer to this post.

To boil dumplings

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Carefully add dumplings into the water, one at a time. Use a big ladle to stir the water gently and continuously, until the water starts to boil again, so the dumplings won’t stick to the bottom, for about 1 minute. Adjust the heat so the water is at boiling point, but isn’t bubbling too fiercely.
  • When the dumplings float to the surface, continue boiling until the dumplings are filled with air and swollen, and the dough starts to become transparent, about 1 minutes. Immediately transfer all the dumplings to a plate.
  • Be careful, the dumplings cook quickly and you should always stand beside the pot throughout the boiling process. When the dumplings are cooked, they will start to fall apart within seconds, so transfer them as soon as possible.

To cook potstickers

  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot, place potstickers in the skillet, pleat side up.
  • Swirl 2 tablespoons water in the skillet, cover immediately, and turn the heat to medium. Cook covered until the water is evaporated and potstickers are cooked through, about 3 minutes.
  • Remove the cover and flip one potsticker to see whether the bottom side is charred. If not, turn to medium high heat and cook until the bottom side turns golden brown.
  • Transfer the potstickers to a plate.

To serve dumplings

To freeze dumplings

  • If you plan to store dumplings or won't serve them immediately, always freeze them uncooked. It won’t affect the texture or flavor of the dumplings.
  • Dust the bottom of a big airtight box with a thin layer of flour. Place the dumplings, one finger’s width apart. Store in the freezer for up to 2 months.

*To get more information about dumpling storage, how to cook frozen dumplings, and how to reheat leftovers, refer to this post.

    Notes

    1. Add salt if you like a strong flavor. If you find the finished dumplings are not salty enough, add a few drops of light soy sauce to the dipping sauce, and you’ll be all set.
    2. If you're using pre-made dumpling wrappers from the store, I highly suggest you to cook potstickers instead of boiling them. Pre-made wrappers don't seal as well as the homemade ones, and are tend to fall apart during boiling.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1dumpling, Calories: 41kcal, Carbohydrates: 5.3g, Protein: 0.8g, Fat: 1.3g, Cholesterol: 5mg, Sodium: 63mg, Potassium: 25mg, Vitamin A: 450IU, Vitamin C: 0.8mg, Iron: 0.4mg
    Did You Make This Recipe?Don't forget the last step! Tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!
    Homemade Lamb Dumplings | These soupy lamb dumplings are irresistible! The lamb meat is seasoned with soy sauce, Sichuan peppercorn, and ginger to create a savory umami. The minced carrot adds a hint of sweetness. The zucchini adds some moisture to the filing, so that the hearty, flavorful broth fills up the whole dumpling!

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    Reader Questions and Reviews

    1. Marissa | Pinch and Swirl says:

      5 stars
      Fabulous, Maggie!!! I want to be your neighbor so that I can enjoy the cooking smells wafting from your house. 🙂 Definitely going to try these!

    2. Farah @ The Cooking Jar says:

      5 stars
      Oh wow, I’m drooling. Lamb happens to be one of my favorite meats! And I love pan-fried potstickers, especially with their sauce.

    3. Thalia @ butter and brioche says:

      5 stars
      Happy Chinese New Year to you Maggie! I celebrated CNY this year by going to yum cha.. but after seeing this post I am inspired to make some of your lamb dumplings too. They look awesome!

    4. Shinee says:

      To celebrate Lunar New Year, I always make dumplings too, but since I was traveling this year, I missed out! 🙂 These lamb dumplings look delicious. I’ll make some to satisfy my cravings!

    5. Michelle @ Vitamin Sunshine says:

      5 stars
      I wanted to make dumplings this weekend, but didn’t get myself organized in time– no wrappers left at the store, and I’m just not going to make them myself at this point 🙂

      Perfect recipe for the Year of the Sheep– why am I hearing Ram/Sheep/Goat? I understand calling it both ram and sheep, but a goat is an entirely different animal!

      • Maggie says:

        Actually I have the same question myself! We don’t specify the gender in Chinese, so to us, it’s the same animal. I always hope it’s sheep though, sounds cute 🙂
        I understand it’s a bit difficult to dumplings when you’re busy. It’s quite time consuming! I think the best way is to make a big batch when you’re free, while watching some TV shows. You can then freeze them and cook whenever you want.

    6. Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom says:

      Maggie, love that you will be starting a new series here on the blog! and love that you will be sharing family recipes handed down from your grandma. that’s so awesome! I love dumplings!! Hope you had a fabulous Chinese New Year!

    7. Helen @ Scrummy Lane says:

      I would always order dumplings in a Chinese restaurant … I love them, and I also love that this recipe makes me feel confident that I could make some for myself. Love the idea of having some frozen and ready to cook up!
      Happy New Year and year of the sheep, Maggie!!

    8. 5 stars
      I love dumplings and eat them all the time but never had lamb and I love lamb. I think I need to make these as soon as possible.

    9. Allie | Baking a Moment says:

      How cool! I literally just got done eating a big plate of Szechuan dumplings in a spicy sauce. Mine were takeout but it was the first time I had ever ordered the dish and I LOVED it! I have no doubt that your homemade lamb dumplings are probably even way better; you have every right to feel proud! This post is so beautiful and well done!

    10. Lokness @ The Missing Lokness says:

      Hope you are having a great new year celebration! I can hardly recall when I had my last lamb dumplings. They were sooo good in my memory. But they are usually less likely to be found. I miss them. Yours are absolutely juicy. I wish I can eat some now… So hungry… 🙁

    11. Kathleen | HapaNom says:

      5 stars
      Happy New Year, Maggie! I was born in the year in of the sheep, so I’m tickled by this recipe! I love lamb and I’m always amazed at all of your lamb recipes, as I never knew it was so prevalent in Chinese cuisine! I could eat dumplings all day long… especially these!

    12. Charlene says:

      5 stars
      Just made these tonight, and they were FABULOUS. The sweetness of the carrot and zucchini and the aroma of the Sichuan peppercorns worked so well with the lamb, and I couldn’t get over the amazing texture… so succulent. Thank you for sharing!

      • Maggie says:

        I’m so happy to hear you tried my recipe and liked it Charlene! I consider this one a “hardcore recipe”, so I’m really really glad that you’re willing to follow it through! It’s a family recipe and it’s one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing your cooking result. You just made my day 🙂

    13. Jennifer says:

      Can these lamb dumplings be steamed, or must they be boiled and fried? Thanks!

      • Maggie says:

        Hi Jennifer, it depends on the dumpling wrappers you use. If you used my homemade Chinese dumpling dough, you should boil or fry the dumplings. For steaming, I recommend using my steamed dumpling dough: https://omnivorescookbook.com/steamed-dumplings/ The dough is made with hot water and stay tender after steaming.
        Happy cooking!

    14. Ash says:

      5 stars
      Making dumplings is so therapeutic. I made these yesterday and they were outstanding, everyone agreed. I couldn’t get my hands on the Sichuan pepper in time, so used Kampot. Be interesting to see how the flavour might change when I use it in the next batch. Thanks for sharing this fantastic recipe with the world.

    15. Christine says:

      5 stars
      We made this filling for our dumplings tonight after my son told me he wanted to make homemade dumpling dough… and loved them! They were so juicy. I didn’t pay close enough attention and didn’t end up precooking the carrots, but honestly didn’t notice it, so I’d say we saved ourselves a step! What a great way to sneak some of the last of the zucchini from my parents garden!

    16. amanda wong says:

      Hi Maggie,
      I would like to cook this recipe on Monday and love the vegetable component of this one. Unfortunately, I live in Thailand where lamb is horrifically expensive. Would this recipe also work if I substituted lamb with pork mince and the sichuan pepper with black pepper? I would make your pork, prawn, mushroom recipe but my family don’t trust the seafood here in Bangkok.

      Thanks!

      Amanda

      • Maggie says:

        Hi Amanda, yes, the recipe will work if you replace the lamb with pork. Happy cooking and hope you enjoy the dumplings! 🙂

    17. Christina says:

      5 stars
      Hey! I went on a dumpling-making extravaganza last night (these, traditional pork and cabbage with a little jiucai, and Sichuan peppercorn beef and celery). These were by far the best, and my only regret is that I only made a half recipe. Next time, I might cook the carrots until the edges brown a little bit for added complexity.

      Thank you for sharing!

    18. Nick says:

      5 stars
      I made these with a couple friends tonight and they turned out fantastic! Because the lamb is quite rich, we had some pak choi on the side, which made for a great combination of savoury and fresh/healthy.

    19. Bulka says:

      Can I steam these dumplings instead of boiling? If so, for how long ?

      • Maggie says:

        Hi Bulka, you can steam these dumplings if you used store-bought wrapper or the dumpling dough for steamed dumplings. I do have another dough for boiled dumplings, which will come out a bit tough if you steam them.
        The steaming time depends on the size of your dumplings. I usually steam for 10 minutes for dumplings made with homemade dough (they are slightly larger in size than dumplings made with store-bought wrappers).

    20. Julia says:

      5 stars
      Yum! Thank you. Such great recipe and so helpfully written. Finally after trying lots of recipes over the last year, these taste right!

    21. Mikko says:

      I was looking for something different to do with my ground lamb and found this recipe. Wow! These were delicious and so easy to put together. My pantry didn’t have any Chinese rice wine, or light and dark soy. Subbed Sake for the rice wine, and Bragg’s Liquid Amino for both soy sauces. It worked out fine! I also forgot to cook the carrots. But still tasty! Next time I will make sure to cook the carrots. Great recipe, thank you!! Will definitely make again!

    22. Nathaly says:

      Hi Maggie! I know you mentioned using a fatty cut of lamb, which part is best to use?
      Thanks!

      • Maggie says:

        Hi Nathaly, lamb shoulder, neck or flank will work!

    23. Cynthia Wang says:

      5 stars
      Made once and it was delectable. Want to make again but I don’t have zucchini. only squash. Can i substitute squash instead of zucchini?

      • Maggie says:

        Yes you can 🙂

    24. Nathaly says:

      Hello! I’m planning on making this these soon and I have a quick question on substituting. I like to make peppercorn oil when I make pork dumplings. Is this something I can do with this recipe as well?

      • Maggie says:

        Yes! It will work very well with the lamb.

    25. Lisa Wolf says:

      I really want to make these dumplings but I can’t see anywhere how to cook the Minced lamb.. Am I missing something? 🤔

      • Maggie Zhu says:

        The lamb is raw when you wrap them in and they will be fully cooked through when you cook the dumplings.

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