Learn how to make the best steamed chicken dumplings from scratch! All the secrets to making a succulent, flavorful chicken filling that doesn't dry out. Make these with homemade wrappers or store-bought wrappers, plus with tips for beginners. So much better than store-bought dumplings!EASY / INTERMEDIATE - This recipe is easy but time consuming. Making large batches is even more worth your time and effort, since these are very freezer friendly. You can make the process easier by using store-bought wrappers. I have included an easy and fast way to seal dumplings, so that you don't have to spend time making pleats. Prep time does not include making homemade wrappers. Please add extra time to the recipe if you're planning on making homemade dumpling wrappers.
Perforated parchment paper liners or lettuce leavesto 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.
Notes on yield and any leftover filling
This 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 later
Place 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 frozen
I usually add about 2 minutes to the cook time for frozen dumplings.