Mom’s Best 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!

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

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!

By the way, I just had an interview with Season with Spice and discussed the traditional celebration of Spring Festival (chun jie, 春节), or Chinese New Year. Hop on over to read the post and get a feeling of the big festival currently going on here in China!

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

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.

The recipe I’m introducing today is a part of my Mom’s Best collection, a series of family recipes handed down from my grandma. 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.

A few things to note

  • 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.

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’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!

Need a vegetarian dumpling filling? Check out my carrot dumpling recipe!Carrot Dumplings - An elegant vegetarian dumpling that uses carrots, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and eggs to create a fresh, moist, and rich filling.

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.

5.0 from 8 reviews
Mom’s Best Lamb Dumplings and Happy Year of the Sheep!
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main, Snack
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 70-80 dumplings
Ingredients
Instructions
To prepare the lamb filling
  1. 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).
    Mom's Best Lamb Dumpling Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Mom's Best Lamb Dumpling Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
  2. (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.
  3. 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.
    Mom's Best Lamb Dumpling Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Mom's Best Lamb Dumpling Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.comMom's Best Lamb Dumpling Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Mom's Best Lamb Dumpling Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
  4. 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.
    Mom's Best Lamb Dumpling Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Mom's Best Lamb Dumpling Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
  5. When you’re ready to start wrapping dumplings, add green onion, zucchini, and carrot into the ground lamb. Mix well.
    Mom's Best Lamb Dumpling Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Mom's Best Lamb Dumpling Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
To wrap dumplings

  1. {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).
    Mom's Best Lamb Dumpling Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Mom's Best Lamb Dumpling Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
  2. {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.
    San Xian Potsticker with Pork, Shrimp and Shiitake Mushroom cooking process | omnivorescookbook.com San Xian Potsticker with Pork, Shrimp and Shiitake Mushroom cooking process | omnivorescookbook.com (*see footnote 2)
  3. If you have trouble sealing the dumplings, reduce the amount of filling until you can seal it easily.
  4. Place the dumplings on the working surface, one finger’s width apart. Work with the rest of the wrappers in the same manner.
  5. 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
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
    Mom's Best Lamb Dumpling Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Mom's Best Lamb Dumpling Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
  4. 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
    San Xian Potsticker with Pork, Shrimp and Shiitake Mushroom cooking process | omnivorescookbook.com San Xian Potsticker with Pork, Shrimp and Shiitake Mushroom cooking process | omnivorescookbook.com
  4. Transfer the potstickers to a plate.
To serve dumplings
  1. Option 1: Serve with Chinese black vinegar and a few ginger slices.
  2. Option 2: Serve with Chinese black vinegar and a few drops fresh Chili oil.
To freeze dumplings
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

The nutrition facts are generated based on 1 of the 80 dumplings generated by this recipe.

Mom's Best Lamb Dumpling Nutrition Facts | omnivorescookbook.com

Related recipes:

How to Make Chinese Dumplings Thumbnail | omnivorescookbook.com
How to Make Chinese Dumplings from Scratch

Potstickers | omnivorescookbook.com
San Xian Potsticker with Pork, Shrimp and Shiitake Mushroom

Chinese chili oil | Omnivore's Cookbook
How to Make Fresh Chinese Chili Oil (辣椒油)

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Omnivore's Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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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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17 thoughts on “Mom’s Best Lamb Dumplings

  1. Shinee

    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!

    Reply
  2. Michelle @ Vitamin Sunshine

    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!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      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.

      Reply
  3. Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom

    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!

    Reply
  4. Helen @ Scrummy Lane

    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!!

    Reply
  5. Allie | Baking a Moment

    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!

    Reply
  6. Lokness @ The Missing Lokness

    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… 🙁

    Reply
  7. Kathleen | HapaNom

    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!

    Reply
  8. Charlene

    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!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      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 🙂

      Reply
  9. Ash

    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.

    Reply