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How to Make Steamed Dumplings from Scratch

4.92 from 12 votes
Everything you need to know about making fresh steamed dumpling dough from scratch, dumpling filling, the working process, and how to cook and store, with step-by-step photos and video.
Prep Time: 2 hrs
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 2 hrs 20 mins
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 40 to 45 dumplings
Author: Maggie Zhu


Dumplings dough

  • 3 cups (420 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup room temperature water
  • 1 teaspoon oil


Marinate dumpling filling

  • If you are using ground meat in dumpling filling add seasonings now to marinate the meat. Note, do not add vegetables at this stage. Cover the ground meat and marinate in the fridge for 1 hour to a day. Re-hydrate and prep dry ingredients if you’re making vegetarian dumplings.

Make dough with a mixer

  • Attach dough blade to your mixer. Add flour into mixing bowl. Pour 1 cup hot water in the middle. Mix on low until the water is mostly incorporated. Stop mixer and scrape flour from the wall with a spatula. Mix on low until water is fully incorporated. Add room temperature water along the edge. Stir with spatula to mix. Start mixer on low until it forms a dough. If the dough won’t come together, keep adding cold water, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, until a dough is formed. The dough should be a bit springy, not sticking to the bowl, and not too tender. Add flour if the dough is too soft and doesn’t hold its shape. Keep kneading until the surface becomes smooth, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a working surface and knead a few times to shape into a dough ball.

Make the dough by hand

  • Add flour into a large mixing bowl. Pour 1 cup hot water in the middle. Mix in a swirling motion to combine the flour in center of the bowl and leave some of the flour along the edge untouched. When the water is fully combined, add room temperature water along the edge in a swirling motion. Keep mixing until all the water is absorbed. Dust both hands with flour and start kneading to form dough. When dough has formed, dust the working surface with flour and dust hands again. Transfer the dough to the working surface and continue to knead it until its surface becomes smooth, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Rest the dough

  • Brush a thin layer oil in a bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and rest it for 30 minutes to 1 hour. If you don’t make the dumplings immediately, store the dough in the fridge for up to a day.

Mix the filling

  • Now it’s the time to finish up the dumpling filling. Adding vegetables to the marinated ground meat. Finish with sesame oil. Mix well.

Prepare steamer

  • Line a large steamer with napa cabbage leaves or a few layers wet cheese cloth.
  • If you’re going to serve the dumplings immediately, add water to a large skillet or a wok. Bring it to the boil.

Make dumplings wrappers

  • Divide the dough into 4 parts and roll into balls. Work on them one by one. Place the rest of the dough balls back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.
  • Shape and roll the dough into a long stick, about 20-cm (8-inch) length. Cut into 2-cm (2/3-inch) thick small pieces. You will get 10 to 12 pieces dough. I personally prefer to make large dumplings, so you can wrap in more fillings which are less work.
  • Lightly dust both sides of each small dough with flour, and shape them into a cylinder. Work on them one at a time. Cover the rest with a few layers of wet kitchen paper towel to prevent them from drying out.
  • Dust the working surface again. Take one dough ball and press it to a round disc. Roll with a rolling pin and rotate it a few times to thin out the dough. Then rotate the dough with one hand while rolling the dough with the other hand at the same time until it forms a round sheet (refer to the video to see how). Try to roll it so that that the edge is thinner than the center. The wrapper should be about 2 millimeters (1/16-inch) thick in center (i.e. almost same as the thickness of a CD), and paper thin on the edges. The diameter should be about 10 to 11-cm (4-inch). It is ok if the wrapper is not perfectly round.

Fold dumplings

  • Starting here, you should work as quickly as you can because the wrappers will dry out quickly. Cover the wrappers with a few layers of wet paper towel to l prevent them from drying out too fast. If they do, you will find it difficult to seal the dumplings later. If the wrappers dry out when you start to fold the dumplings, brush a bit of water over the edge so you can still seal the dough.
  • If you have a helper, they could start folding dumplings now, while you keep rolling the wrapper.
  • Scoop about 2 tablespoons (or less, so you can easily fold the dumpling) of 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 to see how to fold a dumpling). After folding, press edge again to seal well. You can use any way to fold the dumplings as long as you’re comfortable with it.
  • If you’re going to cook the dumplings immediately, place them into the steamer, about 1 finger apart.
  • If you’re going to cook the dumplings later, place them onto a baking tray and seal with plastic wrapper. Store dumplings in the freezer for up to 1 month. Once the dumplings are completely frozen, about a day, you can transport them to an air-tight container or a gallon bag to save freezer space.

Cook dumplings

  • To steam dumplings, prepare the steamer by adding 2" (5cm) water to the steamer. Place the dumplings onto the steaming rack, at least one finger apart each other (the dumplings will expand a lot after cooking). Place the steaming rack onto the steamer and cover. Heat over medium heat until the steam comes out. Leave to cook, without peeking into the steamer, for 10 minutes or until the dumplings are completely cooked through.
  • Serve immediately with dipping sauce. When the dumplings are just off the stove and still hot, carefully try one without any dipping sauce. The dumpling should have a lot of juice inside and be delicious and flavorful without any sauce.

Dipping sauce

  • I introduced 4 types of dumpling sauce recipes in this post.

Storage and reheating

  • The best way to store is to freeze uncooked dumplings immediately after wrapping. Steam frozen dumplings without thawing until they’re cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • If you have leftover cooked dumplings, store in airtight container in the fridge and consume within 1 to 2 days.
  • To reheat in microwave - Add dumplings into a bowl and sprinkle with a few drops of water. Cover and heat until warm.
  • To reheat by steaming - Just like steaming the raw dumplings, cook dumplings in a steamer until heated through, about 5 minutes.
  • To pan fry - Grease a nonstick skillet with a thin layer of oil and heat over medium heat. When skillet is hot, add dumplings. Swirl in a tablespoon of water, cover immediately, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.