There are so many varieties of dumplings in Chinese cuisine, each requiring a different type of dumpling wrapper. The most common types of dumplings you see at Chinese restaurants, such as wontons, potstickers, and shumai (or siu mai), are made with wheat-based wrappers.
More often than not, Mama Lin and I make dumplings with store-bought dumpling wrappers because it saves a lot of time. That said, I also like using fresh wrappers because they are better for making certain types of dumpling pleats. In addition, homemade dumpling skins have a softer, chewier texture when they’re cooked. That’s why it is well worth the effort to make the wrappers from scratch.
TIPS ON HOW TO MAKE DUMPLING WRAPPERS
WEIGHING THE FLOUR
If Mama Lin were in the kitchen, she would just throw flour and water into a bowl and adjust the amount of each ingredient based on feel. However, I like to be more precise and weigh the ingredients. For this dumpling wrappers recipe, you’ll need 320 grams of all-purpose flour.
I don’t like using measuring cups because I always end up with different amounts of flour each time. If you don’t have a scale, use the spoon-and-sweep method to measure out 2 2/3 cups of flour. You’ll also need 3/4 cup of very warm water.
TEMPERATURE OF WATER
For the water, I prefer the temperature to be somewhere between 110ºF to 130ºF—not boiling hot, not too cold. Dough made with room temperature water shrinks back too easily when I roll it out. On the other extreme, dough made with just boiled water has barely any elasticity left. It doesn’t feel right when I roll it out, and I don’t like the mouthfeel of the dough when it’s cooked.
Dumpling dough that is made with warm water strikes the perfect balance. The dough is pliable and supple, and it still has a considerable amount of elasticity.
To heat the water, I usually microwave the water in a jar on high for 45 seconds. Then, I use a thermometer to check the temperature. If it’s not hot enough, I’ll continue to microwave the water at 10-second intervals. Another method is to run very hot water in the kitchen faucet and measure 3/4 cup of water from there. Finally, you can also mix cold water and a bit of hot boiling water together.
Note that the humidity in the air may affect the amount of water you need. If you find the dough too dry, add another tablespoon of water and knead the dough (room temperature water is fine). If it is too wet, add another tablespoon of flour.
ROLLING OUT THE DOUGH
To ensure that the dumplings are uniform in size, I usually weigh each piece of dough before rolling it out. Aim for 9 to 10 grams per piece if you want dumplings with a thinner skin. For potstickers, I like the dough to be between 12 to 13 grams per piece for medium-sized dumplings. For larger potstickers, you may want the dough to be between 14 to 16 grams. If you are making vegetarian potstickers, where the filling is very loose, I recommend making the wrappers larger.
All of this is a matter of personal preference, so experiment with using wrappers of different sizes.
I like using a smaller tapered 11-inch rolling pin for the job. Unfortunately, the one I purchased is not longer available on Amazon. however, this one is a good alternative. You can roll out the dough in two ways. First, you can roll it out like pie crust: hold onto both ends of the rolling pin and roll over the dough forwards and backwards. Then, rotate it 90 degrees and repeat. Continue rolling and rotating until the dough is about 3 1/4 inches to 3 1/2 inches in diameter.
The other way of rolling is the traditional method, but it is more difficult to master. Essentially, you only use the right hand to roll out the dough while the left hand is constantly rotating the dough. The rolling pin stays in the right hand never lifts off from the dough surface. The wrapper is rolled out in a continuous motion.
HOW TO REFRIGERATE DUMPLING WRAPPERS
The wrappers are best when they are used the day they’re made. However, if you must refrigerate them, make sure to brush the wrappers with starch, like potato or tapioca starch. The starch prevents the wrappers from sticking together. All-purpose flour won’t work as the flour will just get absorbed into the dough. As a result, all the wrappers will stick together the next day.
Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of potato starch over a wrapper and brush it over the entire surface with your fingers. Make sure everything gets covered with starch. Then, stack another wrapper on top and brush it with potato starch. Continue stacking and brushing the wrappers with starch until you’ve stacked all the wrappers.
Wrap the dumpling wrappers pretty tightly in plastic wrap. Then, place everything in an airtight bag or container to refrigerate. You must wrap the dumpling wrappers with a layer of plastic wrap first.
I once made the mistake of placing the wrappers directly into a zip top bag without the additional plastic wrap. The next day, condensation developed inside the bag, causing all the wrappers to stick together.
Refrigerated dumpling skins should be used within 48 hours. The dough starts to turn gray when the dumpling skins are refrigerated for longer.
HOW TO FREEZE DUMPLING WRAPPERS
You can freeze the wrappers once they have been wrapped in a layer of plastic and sealed inside a freezer bag. Let the wrappers defrost on your counter and then use them as usual.
Because the wrappers are covered in starch, you will need to use water to help seal the dumplings together.
DUMPLING WRAPPERS VS DUMPLING SKINS
Often times, you’ll see some recipes refer to the dough for the dumplings as “dumpling wrappers” or “dumpling skins.” They both refer to the same thing. Dumpling skins is more of a literal translation of the Chinese phrase “餃子皮.” In my posts, I tend to use these phrases interchangeably.
- Pork & Cabbage Potstickers
- Vegetable Potstickers (vegan)
- Chicken Potstickers
- Red Curry Tofu Dumplings (vegan)
- Yellow Curry Wonton Soup (vegan)
How to Make Dumpling Wrappers
- 320 grams all-purpose flour, 2 1/4 cups using dip-and-sweep method; 2 2/3 using spoon-and sweep method (see note 1)
- 175 grams (3/4 cup/175ml) very warm water (anywhere between 110ºF to 130ºF) , (see note 2)
- Pour all the flour and water into a mixing bowl. Use chopsticks or a wooden spoon to stir everything together. Mix until all the water is absorbed and shaggy pieces of dough start to form.
- Then, use your hands to gather the dough together. As you do this, dig into the dough with your fingers in a claw-like motion. This helps to distribute the moisture inside the dough. (See note 3 for stand mixer instructions.)
- Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it on a surface for 2 to 3 minutes. The dough is slightly tacky, but not sticky. You shouldn’t need to flour the surface. If you find the dough is sticky, dust the surface with a little bit of flour and knead the flour into the dough.
- After several minutes of kneading, you should get a pretty smooth ball of dough. There may be some crags and dimples on the surface, but that’s okay. Place the dough into the bowl again, and cover the bowl with a damp towel or a silicone lid.
- Let the dough rest. If you are pressed for time, you can start rolling out the dough into wrappers after about 20 minutes. However, I prefer a longer resting period of at least 45 minutes. The dough feels more supple when it rests longer, making the wrappers easier to roll out. (See note 4)
- Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it a few times. Make a hole in the center of the dough with your finger. Then use your fingers to stretch out that hole in the center. Keep stretching out the dough and rotating it until you get a large ring. (See video below for reference.)
- Cut the dough with a sharp knife or a bench scraper. You should now have a thick dough rope. Keep rolling out the rope until it is about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
- Now, cut out 5 small pieces of dough, each weighing about 12 to 13 grams. This is about 1 tablespoon of dough. If you want larger dumplings, each piece of dough should be 14 to 16 grams. The dough dries out easily so put the dough rope back into the bowl and cover it again.
- Take each piece of dough and roll it into a ball. Using the fleshy part of your palm, flatten each ball of dough into a disc, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Lightly dust each disc with flour.
- Take your rolling pin into your right hand and roll it over the entire surface of the disc and then roll it off. Your rolling pin never leaves the surface. Use your left and to rotate the disc 90 degrees and roll over the entire surface again. Repeat this two more times until you have rolled out the dough for two revolutions. If the disc is sticking to the rolling pin, brush it with some flour.
- The third time around the wrapper, you will only roll over the wrapper halfway before rotating it. This ensures that the center is slightly thicker than the edges so the filling is doesn’t break through the wrapper easily. Do this for 1 to 2 revolutions around the wrapper.
- For the final revolution, you will only roll over the edges of the dough (about 1/2 inch into the wrapper). The wrapper should be somewhere between 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter. If you are making larger wrappers, the wrapper should roll out to about 3 3/4 inches in diameter.
- Brush some flour over the wrapper, set it aside, and cover it with a dry towel. Roll out the 4 remaining discs. Once you’ve rolled out 5 wrappers completely, use it to make dumplings.
- The dumpling wrappers form a crust easily. If you are working by yourself, you don’t want to roll out more than 5 dumpling wrappers at a time.
- If you want to store the wrappers for later use, roll out the dough. Brush potato starch (or tapioca starch) over all the wrappers before stacking them up. Tightly wrap the stack of wrappers with plastic wrap. Then, transfer them into an air-tight container. You can refrigerate these for up to 2 days or freeze them for up to a month, as long as no freezer burn develops around the wrappers.
- The dip-and-sweep method is where you fluff up the flour and dip the measuring cup directly into the flour. The spoon-and-sweep method is where you fluff up the flour, spoon flour into the measuring cup, and level off the top. You can read more about both methods of measuring flour here.
- You can microwave the water on high for 45 seconds and check to see if it has reached the appropriate temperature. If the water is not hot enough, continue microwaving at 10-second intervals. Alternatively, you can mix hot boiling water with cold water.
- Stand mixer directions: Add the flour and water to the bowl and mix on low speed with the dough hook attachment. Once all the water has been incorporated into the flour, increase the speed to medium-low. Continue mixing for about 2 minutes, until a dough forms and all the loose flour has been gathered into the dough. Turn off the stand mixer and transfer the dough onto a surface. Knead it by hand a few times, then shape into a ball. Place the dough ball back into the mixing bowl and cover it with a damp towel or a silicone lid.
- In my original recipe, I rested the dough twice. For the first rise, you let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Then, you knead the dough several times before letting it rest again for at least 30 minutes. I have simplified the recipe so that you only need to rest the dough once. I found that the dough made with a single resting period to be similar to the double resting method.
- If you don’t have time to roll out all the dough into wrappers, you can refrigerate the dough overnight. However, it is very difficult to roll out the dough when it is still cold. Let the dough sit on the counter and reach room temperature before rolling it out.