How to Make Homemade Dumplings for Lunar New Year—or Any Day

February 3, 2021 Updated: February 3, 2021

In many Chinese homes, dumplings are a traditional, must-have dish to celebrate the Lunar New Year, the most important holiday of the year. Families get together on New Year’s Eve to roll, fill, and wrap a feast’s worth of the plump, ingot-shaped parcels, an auspicious—and delicious—way to ring in the coming year.

Across China, the components of the lucky new year’s feast vary widely; dumplings are rooted in northern China, where wheat was historically the staple crop. From region to region, household to household, and person to person, everyone makes and wraps dumplings a little differently. This family recipe is but one way of many. (And unless you’re a Chinese grandma, or have equivalent skills, each of your individual dumplings might look a little different, too. Embrace their homemade charm!)

Start by making the wrappers, from a simple dough of flour, water, and salt. This recipe calls for room temperature water—though others swear by using hot water first—and salt for a chewier “Q” texture—though you can add cornstarch if you prefer a softer bite. The dough will be firm; two rounds of resting will help it relax and come together smoothly, but it shouldn’t be too soft.

Epoch Times Photo
Dumpling wrappers made from scratch. (CiCi Li)

Northern Chinese typically roll out their wrappers by using one hand to hold and constantly rotate the dough, and the other hand to swiftly flatten the edges with a rolling pin. This technique results in circular wrappers that are thinner around the edges and thicker in the center, better for holding the filling. Try your hand at it, or opt for two easier methods also included below: straightforward rolling, or a creative, albeit untraditional cookie-cutter hack.

Next comes the filling, a mix of ground chicken, mushrooms, and cabbage, with a few secrets for guaranteed juiciness: add a generous 1/2 cup of water, and toss the minced cabbage with oil before adding it to the rest of the filling, to trap its water content inside.

Fill and seal your wrappers, boil your dumplings, and enjoy your hard-earned feast. The process is time-consuming, but the results are worth it—especially if you gather a team of helpers.

Epoch Times Photo
Filled and wrapped, ready for the pot. (CiCi Li)

Homemade Dumpling Wrappers

Rest Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Prep Time: 40 minutes

Makes 30 wrappers

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2/3 cup water (or a little more or less, depending on the humidity level)
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

To make the dumpling dough: Add the flour to a large mixing bowl. In another smaller bowl, mix together the water and salt.

Pour the water mixture into the flour. Mix with a pair of chopsticks until it starts to come together into a shaggy dough, then knead until it becomes a firm, cohesive ball of dough, about 5 minutes. Wrap with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Knead the dough again until it becomes smooth, another 3 minutes. Rewrap with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.

Cut the dough in half. Work with one half at a time; keep the other wrapped in plastic wrap until ready to use.

To roll the wrappers:

Method 1: Roll, Rotate, Repeat

On a floured flat working surface, use your hands to roll the dough into a log. Cut the log into about 15 1-inch pieces. Lightly toss the pieces in flour and loosely cover with plastic wrap.

Epoch Times Photo
Roll the dough into a log. (CiCi Li)
Epoch Times Photo
Cut the log into 1-inch pieces. (CiCi Li)

Working with one piece of dough at a time, use your palm to gently pat the dough into a flat disc.

Use your non-dominant hand to slightly lift the top half of the disc from your work surface, with your thumb on top and your middle three fingers on the bottom; the bottom half of the disc should still be touching the work surface. With your dominant hand, roll your rolling pin over the bottom half of the disc, from the bottom edge into just shy of the center (where your fingertips are) and then back out. Then, use the fingers of your non-dominant hand to slightly rotate the disc, keeping the tip of your middle finger in the center as an anchor, and repeat the rolling motion with your dominant hand and rolling pin. Keep rotating and rolling until the disc is thin, about 3 inches in diameter. The center should be a little thicker than the edges.

Epoch Times Photo
Method 1: Use one hand to hold and rotate the dough, and the other to use the rolling pin. (CiCi Li)

Dust the wrapper with flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap while you repeat with the rest of the dough.

Method 2: Regular Rolling

On a floured flat working surface, use your hands to roll the dough into a log. Cut the log into about 15 1-inch pieces. Lightly toss the pieces in flour and loosely cover with plastic wrap.

Working with one piece of dough at a time, use your palm to gently pat the dough into a flat disc.

Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a thin disc, about 3 inches in diameter, rotating the dough as needed to keep it a uniform circle.

Epoch Times Photo
Method 2: Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into an even circle. (CiCi Li)

Dust the wrapper with flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap while you repeat with the rest of the dough.

Method 3: Cookie Cutter

On a floured flat working surface, use your hands to pat the dough into a flat disc. Then use a rolling pin to roll into a large, thin sheet, about 18 inches in diameter.

Use a round 3-inch cookie cutter—or anything round in your kitchen—to cut wrappers out of the sheet of dough. Combine and re-roll the scraps.

Epoch Times Photo
Method 3: Cut out wrappers from one large, thin sheet of dough. (CiCi Li)

Dust the wrappers with flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap while you repeat with the rest of the dough.

To store: If you don’t plan to use the wrappers right away, dust them with flour, transfer them to a Ziploc bag, and store them in the freezer. They will stay fresh for a few weeks.

Chicken and Cabbage Dumplings

Prep Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Makes 36 dumplings

For the Filling

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 4 fresh shiitake mushrooms, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons extra-light olive oil (or other cooking oil), divided
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 3/4 pound flat cabbage, minced (about 3 cups) (or other green cabbage)
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 4 tablespoons minced cilantro stems

To Assemble

  • 36 dumpling wrappers

For the Dipping Sauce

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

To make the filling: In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken, shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, five-spice powder, white pepper, cornstarch, water, 4 tablespoons extra-light olive oil, and sesame oil. Mix well.

In another large bowl, add in the flat cabbage, scallions, cilantro stem, and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Add the cabbage mixture to the meat mixture. Mix well.

To wrap the dumplings: If using frozen wrappers, defrost the wrappers at room temperature for 2 hours. (Skip this step if you are using fresh wrappers.)

Lightly flour a cutting board, baking sheet, or other flat surface to hold your finished wrapped dumplings. If using frozen wrappers, prepare a small bowl of water.

To make each dumpling, use your finger to brush a ring of water around the edge of the wrapper (skip this step if you are using fresh wrappers) and place about 2 teaspoons of filling in the center of the wrapper. Fold in half into a half-moon shape, and pinch the edges together first in the middle, then all along both sides to tightly seal. Place the dumpling on the floured surface. Repeat with the rest of the wrappers and filling.

Epoch Times Photo
Add the filling to the center of the wrapper. (CiCi Li)
Epoch Times Photo
Seal and pleat the edges. (CiCi Li)

To make the dipping sauce: In a bowl, mix together the garlic, soy sauce, Chinkiang vinegar, and sesame oil. Set aside.

To boil the dumplings: Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. (Note that you will be adding an additional 1 1/2 cup water during the cooking process, so be sure not to overfill the pot.) Working in batches if needed, to not overcrowd the pot, add the dumplings. Stir gently with the back of a ladle, so the dumplings don’t stick to the bottom and sides of the pot, or each other. Cover and bring back to a boil.

Epoch Times Photo
Boil the dumplings. (CiCi Li)

Once it’s boiling again, uncover and add 1/2 cup water to the pot. Bring back to a boil, then add another 1/2 cup water to the pot. Bring back to a boil, then add another 1/2 cup water to the pot. Bring to a boil once more, and the dumplings are ready. Serve with dipping sauce.

Recipes by CiCi Li, the producer and presenter of “CiCi’s Food Paradise” on NTD. Join her in discovering the world of Asian home cooking at CiCiLi.tv