Homemade steamed chicken dumplings can be incredibly comforting and flavorful! Yes, they are a labor of love, but most definitely worth it. And they taste so much better than store-bought frozen dumplings!
Learn how to make steamed chicken dumplings from scratch, with the juiciest chicken filling and silky dumpling wrappers
Since I first shared my homemade dumpling dough recipe in 2014, I’ve upgraded my chicken dumpling filling to be juicier and more flavorful than ever! So here I wanted to share all my secrets that I’ve learned in the last few years in making incredibly delicious steamed chicken dumplings with you.
How to make the best homemade dumpling wrappers
I shared my detailed recipe and tips on how to make homemade dumpling wrappers in this post here. I shared not only how to make dumpling wrappers in the classic and authentic way, but also a beginner method. So feel free to pick your desired method to make dumpling wrappers from scratch.
Here are some important points though,
- The dumpling dough for this steamed dumplings recipe should be made with boiling water.
- The dough should be “ear lobe soft”.
- Making homemade dumpling wrappers and dumplings will take time. So make an evening out of it!
- Use a pasta maker to roll out the dough for convenience (or if you’re a beginner).
But you can of course make these steamed chicken dumplings with store-bought dumpling wrappers as well!
How to make the juicy chicken dumpling filling
The first rule to making this juicy steamed dumpling recipe is to use a meat with higher fat content. For steamed chicken dumplings, you need to use the red meat like the thigh or leg.
You can use store-bought ground chicken as well. However, I prefer to buy skinless, boneless chicken thighs and make it into ground chicken myself. This can be done with a meat grinding attachment (if you have one), or in the food processor (which is what I used here).
If you’re using low fat ground chicken, mix in some fat to make it juicier. This can be lard, egg yolk, or my personal favorite – sesame oil.
I also like to add other flavors to the filling when I make steamed chicken dumplings. Ginger and chicken dumplings are one of my favorites. I add a generous amount of freshly minced ginger and finely chopped scallions.
Season the meat. You can add salt and pepper to season the chicken filling, but I also like to add light and dark soy sauce. Just a little sugar also helps to coax out more flavor from the filling.
If you’re adding vegetables to the chicken dumpling filling, substitute about 1/4 – 1/3 of the chicken with finely chopped vegetables. Mushroom, napa cabbage, carrots, water chestnuts are all great options. However, if you’re adding more vegetables, you will need something like an egg or starch to help bind the mixture properly.
Do I need to stir the filling in one direction?
That may seem like a strange question, but the answer is yes! You need to stir the filling in only one direction (either clockwise or counter-clockwise). I’m not sure why this is so, and I’ve never questioned it either.
Whether you’re making pork dumplings or chicken dumplings that are steamed, boiled, or pan fried, it’s important to get the right consistency for the filling.
The filling needs to be stirred in one direction until it has a sticky consistency. Like sausage filling. Stirring the mixture will make it stickier because of the myosin protein in muscle that is released when the meat is ground. When I “grind” meat in the food processor, this happens automatically. That’s because the blades in the food processor agitate the myosin as the meat moves rapidly in one direction. So you can use your food processor to mix the filling for convenience.
Having a sticky filling mixture is important because it helps hold the chicken dumpling filling together when you’re steaming the dumplings. Otherwise, the filling will be crumbly, and that’s not ideal for this steamed dumplings recipe.
How to fill and fold dumplings
The amount of filling that goes inside your dumpling wrapper depends on the size of your dumpling wrappers.
You want them to be nice and plump, but also be able to seal the dumpling properly. Too much chicken filling in your dumpling, and it won’t seal properly and will dry out when steamed. You will know how much filling each wrapper can handle once you fold and seal the first few dumplings.
There are several ways to seal dumplings, but I’ll just share two easy methods.
Bi-directional pleated dumplings
This is an easy way to make your steamed chicken dumplings look more traditional and “fancy” at the same time.
Place the chicken filling in the middle of the dumpling wrapper. If you’re using store-bought dumpling wrappers, you’ll need to moisten the edges of the wrapper to help with sealing. This is not necessary with homemade wrappers.
Fold the dumpling wrapper over and pinch to seal in the middle.
Make 3 – 5 pleats starting from the middle, going out towards one end. Repeat this step to make pleats going in the opposite direction as shown in the pictures below. Make sure there are no air bubbles inside the dumpling as well.
Then press the pleats to seal.
Easy fold and seal method
This method of folding and sealing dumplings is SUPER easy. When I want to make dumplings faster, this is how I seal them. The faster I fold the dumplings, the faster I get to eat steamed chicken dumplings, amiright?
Place the chicken filling in the middle of the wrapper. Moisten the edges of the wrapper IF you’re using store-bought wrappers.
Fold the dumpling wrapper in half and seal in the middle. Then, hold the dumpling in both hands, with the two ends of the wrapper pressed between your thumb and the base of your index finger on either hand. Press the ends together with your thumbs (against your index fingers), until the dumpling is sealed well.
Here is a video so you can see how it’s done.
How to store dumplings
Place the pleated and sealed dumplings on a dusted work surface or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Keep the dumplings covered, as you make more.
If you’re planning on making steamed dumplings or pan fried dumplings right away, they can be left at room temperature for about a couple of hours.
However, I prefer to make enough for several meals. So, I freeze the extra dumplings for later.
How to freeze dumplings
Place the dumplings on a lined baking tray. I prefer to use parchment paper, but wax paper is fine as well. Make sure the dumplings aren’t touching each other.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for about 4 hours, until the dumplings are almost frozen (or frozen through).
Place all the frozen chicken dumplings in a freezer bag or air-tight container and store them in the freezer until you’re ready to steam them.
Making steamed dumplings
Steamed dumplings are made in a bamboo steamer. You could use a steel steamer as well, but a bamboo steamer actually makes the dumplings taste better.
To prevent the steamed chicken dumplings from sticking to the bamboo steamer, I line it with perforated parchment paper. HOWEVER, I love to steam dumplings on lettuce leaves and banana leaves as well! Banana leaves impart more flavor to the dumplings, while lettuce leaves are a great zero waste alternative.
Traditionally, the bamboo steamers are placed on woks with boiling water. However, not every household has access to large woks. I have two bamboo steamers, one 8 inch and another 10 inch. So I use the bamboo steamers with pots that have the same diameter that can snugly fit the steamer on top.
The steaming time depends entirely on the size of the chicken dumplings that you made, and how much filling is inside the dumplings.
Usually, the chicken dumplings must be steamed for about 10 minutes. Resist all urge to open the steamer while the dumplings are cooking. Steam is what cooks the dumplings, and opening the steamer will cause the steam to escape.
Once the chicken dumplings are steamed, they are ready to be eaten! Just a simple dipping sauce of black vinegar and soy sauce is more than enough, but I like to add a little chili oil to my dipping sauce too.
Having said that, these steamed dumplings are incredibly juicy and flavorful, I could eat them by the bucketful without any dipping sauce.
Why I love this recipe
I looooove dumplings. Adore them. If I don’t always have homemade dumplings, then I have store-bought dumplings in the freezer.
These homemade dumplings are just so much better though. That’s just a fact. You can flavor them however you want, and make sure you get succulent chicken dumplings. Homemade dumpling wrappers make these silky and delicate.
Even if you make these with store-bought dumpling wrappers, the homemade filling is bound to make your steamed chicken dumplings extra special!
It is time-consuming, but I make enough for at least 2 or 3 meals. So it’s worth that time and effort I put in. That way you have frozen homemade dumplings in the freezer, that can be ready in less than 30 minutes!
Steamed Chicken Dumplings
Ginger chicken filling
- 800 g boneless, skinless chicken thighs or ground chicken
- 3 tbsp sesame oil
- 3 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1½ tbsp dark soy sauce you can leave this out if you prefer
- 1½ inch ginger root peeled and finely minced
- 3 green onion finely chopped
- ½ tsp ground white pepper or black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp honey
To make dumplings
- 1 batch dumpling wrappers or about 36 store-bought dumpling wrappers
- Perforated parchment paper liners or lettuce leaves to line the bamboo steamer
- Cut the chicken thighs roughly into pieces and place them in a food processor. Pulse a few times in the food processor, until you've got ground chicken that resembles sausage meat. You can also pass the meat through a meat grinder, if you own one. Skip this step if you're using already ground chicken.
- Place the ground chicken in a large bowl, along with all the additions for the filling (sesame oil, light and dark soy sauce, ginger, scallions, salt, honey, pepper).
- Stir the chicken filling in only one direction (either clockwise or anti-clockwise) until everything is well mixed, and the filling looks sticky. I use chopsticks, but you can also use a spoon or a fork.
- To check if the filling is seasoned enough – heat a small non-stick pan over medium high heat. Take a small portion of the filling (a chunk about 1 cm in diameter) and flatten it slightly. Cook this in the hot pan (both sides, until cooked through) and taste. If it needs more salt, add it to the filling and mix through.
Making the chicken dumplings
- Place a little of the filling in the middle of one dumpling wrapper. This amount depends on the size of your dumpling wrapper. With my homemade dumpling wrappers, I add about a generous tablespoon of filling per dumpling.
- Fold the wrapper over and seal the edge of the wrapper in the middle. With homemade wrappers, you will not need to use water to seal the wrapper, but make sure to firmly press the wrapper to seal. If you're using store-bought dumpling wrappers, you will need to moisten the edge of the wrapper on one side with water, and then fold it over and pinch in the middle to seal it.
Simple fold and seal
- The simple fold and seal method simply involves sealing the edges, making sure there is very little to no air inside the dumpling.
- Hold the folded dumpling in both hands, with the two ends of the wrapper pressed between your thumb and the base of your index finger on either hand. Press the ends together with your thumbs (against your index fingers), until the dumpling is sealed well. (See video.)
Bi-directional pleated fold
- Fold the dumpling wrapper over and pinch to seal in the middle.
- Make 3 – 5 pleats starting from the middle, going out towards one end. Repeat this step to make pleats going in the opposite direction. Make sure there are no air bubbles inside the dumpling. (See video.)
Storing the dumplings
- Place the dumplings on a parchment paper or cloth napkin, and keep them covered until you're ready to cook them.
- If you're making these for later, they should be frozen (see recipe notes on how to freeze dumplings).
Cooking the dumplings
- In a large pot or wok, heat about 2 – 3 inches of water over medium high heat. If you're using a pot, make sure your bamboo steamer fits perfectly on top of the pot. If you're using a wok, make sure the steamer is NOT touching the water at the bottom.
- Line the bottom of your bamboo steamer with perforated parchment paper or a few pieces of lettuce (make sure the steam can get through). Place the dumplings on the parchment paper or lettuce, making sure there's at least 2 cm of space between each dumpling.
- When the water is boiling, transfer the covered bamboo steamer onto the pot / wok, and let it steam for about 10 minutes. Do not be tempted to open the steamer during this time. If you haven't made dumplings before, and you have larger dumplings – you might not be sure if your dumplings are cooked through after 10 minutes. So cut the first dumpling to check if it's cooked through. If not, let them steam for a couple of minutes longer.
- If you're making another batch of steamed dumplings, make sure to top up the water in the pot / wok and allow it to come to a boil.
- Once the dumplings are steamed, serve them warm with a dipping sauce.
Tips & Tricks
Notes on yield and any leftover fillingThis recipe makes about 36 dumplings. But of course this depends on how much filling you add to the wrappers, and also how big the wrappers are. So you can either keep a few extra wrappers with you just in case, OR pan fry the leftover filling and mix it with leftover rice to make fried rice. Tastes like dumpling fried rice!
Notes on freezing dumplings for laterPlace the dumplings on a parchment paper lined baking tray (at least a finger width apart), and keep them covered. Then freeze your dumplings on the tray for at least a few hours, until the dumplings are mostly frozen (and hard on the outside). They can then be transferred into an airtight container OR a ziploc freezer bag. Put these in the freezer until you’re ready to cook them again.
Notes on cooking from frozenI usually add about 2 minutes to the cook time for frozen dumplings.
“This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.”