How Do I Steam-fry Dumplings?

That’s a question I get asked a fair bit when I tell people that the Cherubs have dumplings for their school lunches and also on the weekends. I’m sure one day they’ll get sick of eating them, but I’ve got roughly 350 dumplings (down from 500 dumplings five weeks ago) in the freezer at the moment, so I’m hoping it’s not going to be one day soon.

Steam-frying dumplings means just that – you steam and fry them. But the best thing about it is all you need is a non-stick frying pan and a lid – and I promise it’s really, really easy to do.

Firstly though, my dumplings. I source mine from Chinese or Chinese-Russian grandmothers because they’re kind, loving and can make little dumpling parcels of totally amazing savoury deliciousness.

If you don’t have access to such a grandmother who’s willing to make it for you – they don’t even have to be your own – you can always make it yourself (I confess I’ve never made dumplings from scratch, but I haven’t had to because of my easy access to said grandmothers who are not my own), buy them frozen from a Chinese grocery store, or check with dumpling restaurants – they may sell them to you (I apologise, I can’t help with names because I’ve never bought them from an actual restaurant, due to my easy access to…).

Anyway, you can get any type of fillings in the dumplings – the Cherubs like the ones with the pork, ginger and (shhh! don’t tell them!) Chinese cabbage. I love the pork and garlic chive dumplings, but the flavour is too strong for the Cherubs’ palates and the fact that you can see the green of the garlic chives means they won’t touch them anyway.

How to Steam-Fry Dumplings

You need:

  • 14 frozen dumplings
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoons malt vinegar (you can buy special dumpling vinegar from Chinese grocery stores, but I find them too salty and the dumplings are so utterly chock-full of flavour anyway)

Lets Steam-Fry!

  • Put the non-stick frying pan onto the stove and turn the heat to medium
  • Put a tablespoon of oil into the pan and then the dumplings – it doesn’t matter if they touch each together


  • Pour water into the pan a quarter of the way up the side of the dumplings
  • Cover the pan with a lid and let it sit for about 15 to 20 mins for the water to evaporate
  • When the water has evaporated and the bottom edges of the dumplings are brown (you’ll know because you’ll be able to hear a reassuring ‘sizzling’ sound coming from the pan), flip the dumplings to brown the other sides. The best way is to use a wooden spatula and chopstick, as I find tongs are too rough on them


  • The dumplings are ready when they don’t look like they’ve been hibernating all winter – this should take about 5 mins

Serve the dumplings with the vinegar on the side. Just pick up a dumpling, dip it into the vinegar and enjoy!

Some other questions I’ve been asked:

How do I cook the dumplings if I’ve made them fresh?

Same method, but it won’t take as long to cook as it’s not frozen (I’ve never done this due to my easy access to…) and just put less water in. Let me know how you go!

Can I thaw the frozen dumplings first?

I wouldn’t recommend doing this – the dumpling pastry will get sticky, out of shape, will be harder to handle and stick to the other dumplings.

How many dumplings should I serve for each person?

Soccer Boy is 5 years old and eats 12 dumplings, 10 year old Panda only eats 7 and I eat about 15. So it really depends on your appetite for them : )


12 thoughts on “How Do I Steam-fry Dumplings?

  1. Love the instructions for steam-frying dumpling!
    I was wondering what sort of containers the kids use to transport these delicious morsels to school….


    • Great question! I put them in a thermos, and the dumplings stay warm until lunch time. Make sure you warm up the thermos with hot water for at least 5 mins (I do it for the duration of the cooking time), tip the water out, wipe the inside dry and then put the dumplings in. Oh, and don’t forget to put a fork in for them – I forgot that other day and Soccer Boy had some words with me at school pick up! Hope your kids enjoy them!


  2. What a great idea! Inspiration for our lunchbox & dinner menu next week! Yummy.


  3. What a great idea! Inspiration for my lunch box & dinner menu next week 🙂


  4. Something extra to add to your list : )


  5. Now that I have officially eaten my child’s 100 dumplings, I am officially requesting more dumplings on your next outing please 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When you “Cover the pan with a lid and let it sit for about 15 to 20 mins for the water to evaporate” where does the water go? Does it get absorbed by the dumplings or is the lid tilted to allow for steam to escape?


    • Hi! Good question! The lids I use have 3 little holes on the edge, so the steam escapes through them. Some of the water does get absorbed by the dumplings, and you need the steam to hang around a bit to cook them. If your lid doesn’t have steam vents, as long as the lid doesn’t seal tight around your pan, it’ll find a way to get out. If you do tilt your lid, don’t tilt it too much because if too much steam escapes, you’ll find that the dumplings may not cook through. Also, the dumpling skins won’t cook properly and won’t turn translucent (the skins will stay white and turn hard – it would still be edible though). Hope that helps! And happy dumpling eating!


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