Dumplings are cooked balls of dough. They are based on flour, potatoes or bread, and may include meat, fish, vegetables, or sweets. They may be cooked by boiling, steaming, simmering, frying, or baking. They may have a filling, or there may be other ingredients mixed into the dough. Dumplings may be sweet or savoury. They can be eaten by themselves, in soups or stews, with gravy, or in any other way. While some dumplings resemble solid water-boiled doughs, such as gnocchi, others such as wontons resemble meatballs with a thin dough covering.
Fufu fit the definition of a dumpling in that they are starchy balls of dough that are steamed. Fufu are staples to the diet of many regions of Africa, although they may be known by several other names. The fufu originates in Ghana, where it is often eaten in soups, much like the matzo ball, or with a vegetarian or meat-based stew. An example of the variation of fufu is the banku and kenkey, dumplings formed from fermented cornmeal dough. Banku are boiled while kenkey are partly boiled then finished by steaming in banana leaves. There are several other versions of fufu in Africa and the Caribbean.
Souskluitjies are dumplings found in South Africa. They are a steamed sweet dumpling, sometimes made with plain flour and sometimes with the addition of dried fruits or other flavours. They are often served with a syrup flavoured with cinnamon or a custard sauce.
South Africa has another kind of dumpling known as melkkos. These dumplings are formed by putting milk, one teaspoon at a time, into a dry flour mixture. The flour clings to the milk and forms dumplings, which are then boiled in a mixture of milk and butter. They are served hot and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.
British and Irish cuisine
Savoury dumplings made from balls of dough are part of traditional British and Irish cuisine. Dumplings are made from twice the weight of self raising flour to suet, bound together by cold water to form a dough and seasoned with salt and pepper. Balls of this dough are dropped into a bubbling pot of stew or soup, or into a casserole. They sit, partly submerged in the stew, and expand as they are half-boiled half-steamed for ten minutes or so. The cooked dumplings are airy on the inside and moist on the outside. The dough may be flavoured with herbs, or it may have cheese pressed into its centre.
The Norfolk dumpling is not made with fat, but from flour and a raising agent. Cotswold dumplings call for the addition of breadcrumbs and cheese, and the balls of dough may be rolled in breadcrumbs and fried, rather than cooked in a soup or stew.
These dumplings, when sweetened and made with dried fruit and spices, can be boiled in water to make a dessert.
In Scotland, this is called a clootie dumpling, after the cloth.
Ravioli and tortellini fit the basic definition of a dumpling: these are pockets of pasta enclosing various fillings (cheese, mushrooms, spinach, seafood, or meat). Instead of being made from a ball of dough, the dough is rolled flat, cut into a shape, filled with other ingredients, and then the dough is closed around the filling. Gnocchi, widely adopted in Argentina is a different kind of Italian dumpling. The word gnocchi literally means “lumps”, and they are rolled and shaped from a mixture of egg with potato, semolina, flour, or ricotta cheese (with or without spinach). The lumps are boiled in water and served with melted butter, grated cheese, or other pasta sauces.
In Norway, dumplings have a vast variety of names, as the dialects differ substantially. Names include potetball, klubb, kløbb, raspeball, komle, kumle, kompe, kumpe, kodla, kudle, klot, kams, ball, baill, komperdøse, kumperdøse, kompadøs, ruter, ruta, raskekako, risk, klotremat, krumme and kromme. They are usually made from potatoes and various types of flour, and then boiled. Occasionally they contain pork meat, such as bacon, in the middle. In some areas it is common to serve the dumplings with syrup.
In Sweden, potato dumplings mainly have two names. In the northern parts they are usually called Palt, or Pitepalt, and are filled with salted pork and eaten with melted butter and lingonberry jam. In southern Sweden, and Öland, the potato dumpling is called Kroppkaka, and is usually filled with smoked pork, raw onions and coarsely ground pepper, usually served with cream and lingonberry jam. On Öland, the south-eastern coast and in the north the dumplings are made mainly from raw potatoes, whereas in the southern mainland boiled potatoes are mainly in use. Flour dumplings for use in soup are called Klimp.
Central European cuisine
Germany, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia boast a large variety of dumplings, both sweet and savoury.
A dumpling is called Kloßin Northern Germany, Knödel, Nockerl or Knöpfle in Southern Germany and Austria. These are flour dumplings, the most common dumplings, thin or thick, made with eggs and semolina flour, boiled in water. Meat dumplings (called Klopse or Klöpse in North-Eastern Germany, Knöpfle and Nocken in Southern Germany) contain meat or liver. Liver dumplings are frequent additions to soup. Thüringer Klöße are made from raw or boiled potatoes, or a mixture of both, and are often filled with croutons. Bread dumplings are made with white bread and are sometimes shaped like a loaf of bread, and boiled in a napkin, in which case they are known as napkin dumplings (Serviettenknödel).
Maultaschen are a Swabian (Baden-Württemberg) specialty food, consisting of an outer layer of pasta dough with a filling traditionally made of minced meat, spinach, bread crumbs and onions and flavoured with various spices. Similar in appearance to Italian ravioli, Maultaschen are usually larger, however, each Maultasche being about 8–12 cm across.
In Hungary, dumplings are called galuska o
r nokedli – small lumps cut from a thick flour and egg batter and dropped into boiling water, similar to the German Spätzle, Knöpfle, or Knödel. Sweet dumplings are made with flour and potato dough, which is wrapped around whole plums or apricots, and then boiled and rolled in hot buttered bread crumbs. Shlishkes or “Krumplinudli” are small boiled potato dumplings made from the same potato dough as the sweet plum dumplings, also rolled in hot buttered bread crumbs.
In Czech cuisine dumplings have two main forms:
- Knödel is called in Czech knedlík and in Slovakia knedliček. It can be either houskový (bread) or rarely bramborový (potato) knödel (dumpling). These dumplings are boiled in loaf shape and then cut in slices and are part of many Czech national dishes: together with pork and sauerkraut as Vepřo knedlo zelo or with beef as Svíčková na smetaně.
- Ovocné knedlíky (ball-shaped knedle) filled in with fruit: plums, strawberry, blueberry etc. Meal is completed on plate with grated cottage cheese, melted butter and icing sugar (powdered sugar).
Bryndzové halušky, considered the Slovak national dish, are small potato dumplings without a filling, served with salty sheep’s cheese on top. The same dumplings are also used to create a similar dish, strapačky. Also available are their related stuffed version called pirohy, usually filled with bryndza (bryndzové pirohy), quark cheese, potatoes, onions, cabbage, mushrooms, or meat.
Idrijski žlikrofi are Slovenian dumplings, regionally located in the town of Idrija. They are made from dough with potato filling and have a characteristic form of a hat. Žlikrofi are made by a traditional recipe from the 19th century, but the source of the recipe is unknown due to lack of historical sources. The dish may be served as a starter or a side dish to meat based dishes. Žlikrofi were the first Slovenian food to be classified as a traditional speciality guaranteed dish.
The only potato dumpling museum in the world, the Thüringer Kloßmuseum, is located in Germany, in the municipality of Heichelheim near Weimar
Eastern European cuisine
Pierogi of Poland, varenyky of Ukraine and Belarus, and pelmeni of Russia are ravioli-like crescent-shaped dumplings filled with savoury or sweet filling. They are usually boiled, and then sometimes fried before serving. They are often served with plenty of sour cream. Kluski are a different variety of Polish dumplings.
“Little ears”, variously called uszka in Poland, ushki (ушки) in Russia, vushka (вушка) in Ukraine, and vushki (вушкі) in Belarus, are folded ring-shaped dumplings similar in shape to Italian tortellini or Jewish kreplach. They are stuffed with meat or mushrooms and traditionally served in borshch or clear soup. In Romania, “little ears” are also served in dumpling soup (supă de găluşte)
Lithuanian dough dumplings are called koldūnai and virtiniai. Usually they are filled with meat or curd. One of the varieties is called Šaltanosiai and is made with blueberry filling. There are also potato dumplings called cepelinai or didžkukuliai, filled with meat or curd inside, served with soured cream. A similar dish exists in Belarus that is called klyocki (клёцкi).
In Russian cuisine, the most common type of dumplings is pelmeni, which are usually filled with meat, traditionally with a combination of pork, beef and mutton (or game meat). Fish pelmeni are also known.
In Siberia, especially popular with the Buryat peoples are dumplings called pozi. They are usually made with an unleavened dough, but are often encountered leavened. The traditional filling is meat, but the kind of meat and how it is processed varies. In Mongolia, mutton is favored, and is chopped rather than ground; pork and beef mixes are more popular in Russia. Unlike most other European dumplings, a poza is cooked over steam, not boiled.
Samsa (related to the Indian samosa), cheburiki, and belyashi are all popular imported dumplings.
Middle Eastern cuisine
Meat-filled manti in Armenia are typically served with yogurt or sour cream, accompanied by clear soup. Mantapour is an Armenian beef soup with manti. Dushbara (Azerbaijan: Düşbərə) is an Azeri soup with tiny lamb-filled dumplings. Khinkali are Georgian dumpling usually filled with spiced meat.
Boraki – a kind of Armenian fried pelmeni. The main difference between boraki and traditional pelmeni is that the minced meat is pre-fried, the boraki are formed as small cylinders with an open top, the cylinders are lightly boiled in broth and then fried. Boraki are served garnished with yoghurt and chopped garlic.
Shishbarak – a pasta or jiaozi dish made in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine that has been described as a kind of local variation on ravioli. After being stuffed with ground beef and spices, thin wheat dough parcels are cooked in yoghurt and served hot in this sauce.
Armenian Manti – distinctly different than manti of other cultures, as it is most often cooked rather than steamed and tends to be smaller in size. In Armenian cuisine, the manti are filled with minced lamb, or beef (less common), with finely minced onions and various other spices.
Asida – an Arab dish made up of a cooked wheat flour lump of dough, sometimes with added butter or honey. Similar to gruel or porridge, it is eaten in many Arab and North African countries.
Dushbara – a traditional Azerbaijani meal, a sort of dumplings of dough filled with ground meat and condiments.
Kubbeh – made of bulghur, minced onions and beef, lamb, goat or camel meat. The best-known variety is a torpedo-shaped fried croquette stuffed with minced beef or lamb. Other types of kibbeh may be shaped into balls or patties, and baked or cooked in broth. Kibbeh is considered to be the national dish of Lebanon.
Qatayef – an Arab dessert commonly served during the month of Ramadan, a sort of sweet dumpling filled with cream or nuts.
Kreplach – small dumplings filled with ground meat, mashed potatoes or another filling, usually boiled and served in chicken soup, though they may, rarely, be served fried.
Matzah ball – an Ashkenazi Jewish soup dumpling made from a mixture of matzah meal, eggs, water, and a fat, such as oil, margarine, or chicken fat. Matzah balls are traditionally served in chicken soup. For some they are a staple food on Passover.
Knish – an Eastern European and Jewish snack food made popular by Eastern European immigrants, eaten widely by both Jewish and non-Jewish people.
Manti (dumpling) – typically served topped with yoghurt and garlic, and spiced with red pepper powder and melted butter, and topped with ground sumac and/or dried mint by the consumer.
Several types of dumplings are popular in the United States. Bite-sized, hand-torn pieces of dough are cooked in boiling chicken broth along with a variety of vegetables to make the dish chicken and dumplings which is served as a thick soup. Dumplings are often used as part of regionally popular Burgoo (stew).
The baked dumpling is popular in American cuisine. These sweet dumplings are made by wrapping fruit, frequently a whole tart apple, in pastry, then baking until the pastry is browned and the filling is tender. As an alternative to simply baking them, these dumplings are surrounded by a sweet sauce in the baking dish, and may be basted during cooking. Popular flavours for apple dumplings include brown sugar,caramel, or cinnamon sauces.
Boiled dumplings are made from flour to form a dough. A pot of boiling chicken or turkey broth is used to cook this dough. The thickness and the size of the dumplings is at the cook’s discretion. The size does not affect the taste but the thickness does. It is optional to serve with the meat in the dish or on the side.
Dumplings can be made with eggs, milk, baking powder or even yeast, or just from flour and water. Rolled dumplings are rolled thin and cut into small pieces for cooking, while dropped dumplings are formed into small balls.
Tortilla dumplings are made by adding tortillas and fillings to a boiling pot of stock. Popular varieties of Southern dumplings include chicken dumplings, turkey dumplings, strawberry dumplings, apple dumplings, ham dumplings, and even butter-bean dumplings.
In the Allegheny Mountains of central Pennsylvania, pot pie is rolled dough made from flour and broth (usually ham), cut into squares, and boiled with the meat in the broth, usually with potatoes.
Central and South American cuisine
In addition, considering stuffed dumplings throughout Latin America, there are empanadas, whose stuffing, manufacture and types are numerous and varied. Empanadas differ from traditional dumplings in that they are deep fried and excess dough is not cut off.
Dumplings are either pan fried using a simple recipe including all-purpose flour, water, and salt made into a thick dough before frying on a pan until golden brown, or boiled in a soup. The fried version is usually served with breakfast codfish as a side. In Barbados, dumplings boiled into soup can contain sugar, differentiating them from other country’s varieties.
Dumplings come in three forms in Jamaica, fried, boiled, and roasted. All are made with flour, white or wheat, and the white-floured dumplings are often mixed with a bit of cornmeal. These foods are often served with a variety of dishes like ackee and saltfish, kidneys, liver salt mackerel, etc. and often taste better when refried. A refried dumpling is an already boiled left over from previous cooking it is fried, which gives it a slightly crispy outer layer and a tender middle. A purely fried white flour dumpling is golden brown and looks a lot like bammy, often substituting the boiled dumpling, but it is mostly consumed as part of breakfast.
In Chile, there are pantrucas, a type of flat, elongated irregular dumplings flavoured with fresh parsley and served in soup.
“Papas Rellenas” or stuffed potatoes consist of a handful of mashed potatoes (without the milk and butter) flattened in the palm of the hand and stuffed with a savoury combination of ingredients. The stuffing usually consists of sautéed meat (could be beef, pork or chicken), onions and garlic. They are all seasoned with cumin, aji, raisins, peanuts, olives and sliced or chopped hard boiled eggs. After stuffing a ball is formed, rolled over flour and deep fried in hot oil. The stuffed potatoes are usually accompanied by onion sauce consisting of sliced onions, lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and slices of fresh peppers. The same dish may also be made with seafood. In some countries, yuca purée is used as the starch component of these Latin American dumplings.
Puerto Rican cuisine
In Puerto Rico, dumplings are made of grated tubers such as yucca and malanga with added calabaza, unripe bananas and plantains mixed with flour. This dumplings are a traditional part in Puerto Rican style pigeon pea soup. Olive oil and annatto are usually added and help the mix from turning brown. The dumplings are formed in to small balls and are first cooked in olive oil before boiling. Once the dumplings are crispy on the outside, they are then boiled with added ingredients. Another dumpling that originated in Puerto Rico is the pasteles, a dumpling made of grated taro, potatoes, calabaza, unripe plantains, and unripe bananas. The masa is then mixed with milk and annatto oil, and they are stuffed with stewed pork, chick peas, olives, capers and raisins. They are then placed on a banana leaf, tied and then boiled. The origin of pasteles leads back to African slaves on the island who mainly work on cropping bananas. Pasteles are popular in the Dominican Republic, Hawaii, Trinidad and lately seen in Cuban cuisine.
The jiaozi (饺子/餃子) is a common Chinese dumpling which generally consists of minced meat and finely chopped vegetables wrapped into a thin and elastic piece of dough skin. Popular meat fillings include ground pork, ground beef, ground chicken, shrimp, and even fish. Popular mixtures include pork with Chinese cabbage, pork with garlic chives, pork and shrimp with vegetables, pork with spring onion, garlic chives with scrambled eggs. Filling mixtures vary depending on personal tastes and region. Jiaozi are usually boiled or steamed and remains to be a traditional dish eaten on Chinese New Year’s Eve, the evening before Chinese New Year, and special family reunions. Extended family members may gather together to make dumplings, and it is also eaten for farewell to family members or friends. In Northern China, dumplings are commonly eaten with a dipping sauce made of vinegar and chilli oil or paste, and occasionally with some soy sauce added in.
If dumplings are laid flatly on a pan, first steamed with a lid on and with a thin layer of water, then fried in oil after the water has been evaporated, they are called guotie (锅贴, sometimes called “potstickers”) or as the Maillard reaction occurring on the bottom of the dumpling make the skin crispy and brown. The same dumplings are called jiaozi if they are plainly steamed.
The wonton (馄饨/餛飩) is another kind of dumpling. It is typically boiled in a light broth or soup and made with a meatier filling. The skin wrapping for wontons is different—thinner and less elastic—than that used for jiaozi. Wontons are more popular in Southern China (Shanghai, Guangdong, Hong Kong etc.) whereas in Northern China, jiaozi are more popular. Jiaozi, wonton and potstickers are all wrapped differently.
Another type of Chinese dumpling is made with glutinous rice. Usually, the glutinous rice dumplings 粽子 zongzi are triangle or cone shaped, can be filled with red bean paste, Chinese dates or cured meat depending on region. Glutinous rice dumplings are traditionally eaten during the Duanwu Festival.
Chinese cuisine includes sweet dumplings. Tangyuan are smaller dumplings made with glutinous rice flour and filled with sweet sesame, peanut, red bean paste. Tangyuan may also be served without a filling. Tangyuan are eaten on the 15th day of Chinese New Year, or the Lantern Festival. There are also other kinds of dumplings such as har kao, siew mai, small cage-steamed bun (xiaolongbao), pork bun and crystal dumpling.
Refer to Dim Sum 点心 for descriptions of several other kinds of dumplings such as gau and taro root dumplings.
In Nepal, steamed dumplings known as momo (or momo-cha) are a popular snack. They are similar to the Chinese jiaozi or the Central Asian manti. The dish is native to Tibet, and was brought to Nepal by the Newar traders of Kathmandu who were trading goods in Tibet before 1930’s. Nepalese momo is different from Tibet momo. Many different fillings, both meat-based and vegetarian, are common. Currently Kathmandu Valley is the popular destination for momo, as it is one of the most desired fast food there. Along with time Kathmandu has developed its own essence for this food.
Subcontinental Indian cuisine features several dishes which could be characterised as dumplings:
Gujhia (Hindi) – a sweet dumpling made with wheat flour, stuffed with khoya.
Fara (Hindi) – also famous in North India which is very similar to dumplings. It is made of wheat flour with stuffing of lentils and similar delicacy.
“Karanji” (Marathi, Oriya) or “Kajjikayi” (Kannada, Telugu) are fried sweet dumplings made of wheat flour and stuffed with dry or moist coconut delicacies. They are a popular dish among the Maharastrians, Oriyas and the South Indians.
“Pitha” (Bihari, Oriya, Bengali, Assamese) are stuffed savouries either made by steam or deep frying.A wide range of pithas are available in eastern and north eastern India
Another dumpling popular in Western India and South India is the “Modak”(Marathi) or “Modhaka” (Kannada) or “Modagam” (Tamil) or Sugiyan (Malayalam), where the filling is made of fresh coconut and jaggery or sugar while the covering is steamed rice dough. It is eaten hot with ghee.
“Kozhakkattai” (Tamil) or “Kadabu” (Kannada), is another South Indian dish that can be sweet, salty or spicy. The outer shell is always steamed sticky rice dough. In the sweet version, a form of sweet filling made with coconuts, boiled lentils and jaggery is used, whereas in the salty version, a mixture of steamed cracked lentils, chillies and some mild spices is used.
“Ada” (Malayalam) is another South Indian dish from Kerala that is sweet. Scrapped coconut mixed with sugar or jaggery is enveloped between the spread rice-dough and steamed. Sweet version of “Kozhakkattai” is equally famous in Kerala.
Pidi (Malayalam) – another South Indian dish from Kerala that is usually eaten with chicken curry.
Samosa – Another popular savoury snack eaten in the Indian Subcontinent and Iranian Plateau. It is a fried dumpling usually stuffed with mince, vegetables (mainly potatoes) and various other spices. Vegetarian variants of “samosas”, without the added mince stuffing, are also popular and are sold at most eateries or roadside stalls throughout the country.
Indonesian fish dumplings served in peanut sauce is called Siomay. Other types of dumplings are called Pangsit (wonton), steamed, boiled, or fried, and often is used as complement of bakmi ayam or chicken noodle. Indonesian dumplings were influenced and brought by Chinese immigrants to Indonesia.
Tkoyaki (たこ焼き) – one of the common dumplings which are round shaped, made from flour, egg and water, flavoured with a piece of octopus (tako, たこ) and other ingredients. Often sauce is brushed on and garnished with aonori (shredded dried seaweed).
Gyōza (ギョーザ/餃子) – the Japanese version of the Chinese jiaozi.
Manti (also manty or mantu) is a steamed dumpling in Kazakh cuisine. It contains a mixture of ground lamb (or beef) spiced with black pepper, enclosed in a dough wrapper. Manti are cooked in a multilevel steamer and served topped with butter, yoghurt, sour cream, or onion sauce. These dumplings are popular throughout Central Asia, including Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Korean dumplings are called “mandu” (만두). They are typically filled with a mixture of ingredients, including ground pork, kimchi, vegetables, cellophane noodles, but there are very many variations. Mandu can be steamed, fried, or boiled. The dumplings can also be used to make a soup called mandu guk (soup).
Buuz – a type of Mongolian steamed dumpling filled with meat. An example of authentic Mongolian cuisine, the dish is traditionally eaten at home on Tsagaan Sar, the Mongolian New Year. These days it is also offered at restaurants and small cafes throughout the capital of Ulaanbaatar.
Khuushuur – a kind of meat pastry or dumpling popular in Mongolia, similar to Russian and other cuisines’ chiburekki. The meat, either beef or mutton, is ground up and mixed with onion (or garlic), salt and other spices.