How to Make Soup Dumplings (Xiaolongbao) – Easy & Authentic!

by Ella

Steamed soup dumplings, also known as xiaolongbao, are a revered delicacy in Chinese cuisine that has gained international recognition for their delectable combination of delicate skin, flavorful filling, and the surprise of a warm, savory broth within. Originating in Shanghai, these dumplings require precision and skill to create the perfect balance of textures and flavors. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of making these delightful morsels in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Steamed Soup Dumplings

Making steamed soup dumplings, also known as xiaolongbao, requires a careful balance of ingredients and techniques to achieve the perfect combination of flavorful filling and savory broth encased in a delicate wrapper. Here's a simplified step-by-step guide on how to make steamed soup dumplings:
Prep Time10 minutes
Active Time30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Yield: 3
Cost: $3


  • 2 Mixing bowls
  • 1 Rolling Pin
  • 1 Steamer basket
  • 1 Parchment paper or cabbage leaves


  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shrimp
  • 2 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup chicken or pork broth
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • Salt and white pepper to taste


  • Prepare the Dough: In a mixing bowl, combine the all-purpose flour and a pinch of salt. Gradually add warm water while stirring until the dough begins to form. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it becomes smooth and elastic. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for about 30 minutes.
  • Create the Filling: In a separate mixing bowl, combine the ground pork, chopped shrimp, minced ginger, minced garlic, finely chopped scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil, and chicken or pork broth. Season the mixture with salt and white pepper to taste. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly until well combined. Place the filling in the refrigerator while you work on the dough.
  • Craft the Dumpling Wrappers: After the dough has rested, divide it into small portions and shape them into round balls. On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to flatten each ball into a thin, circular wrapper. Aim for a thickness of about 1/16 inch.
  • Assemble the Dumplings: Take a dough wrapper and place a spoonful of the filling in the center. Gently gather the edges of the wrapper, pleating and folding them together to create a sealed pouch. Pinch the top to ensure a tight closure.
  • Add the Broth: To prepare the flavorful soup within the dumplings, simmer chicken or pork bones in water along with ginger slices, green onions, and salt to taste. Strain the broth and let it cool down. Using a spoon, carefully pour a small amount of the cooled broth into each dumpling through the top opening. Be cautious not to overfill, as it might cause the dumplings to burst during steaming.
  • Steam the Dumplings: Line the steamer basket with parchment paper or cabbage leaves to prevent sticking. Place the filled dumplings in the steamer, leaving some space between each to avoid sticking during cooking. Steam the dumplings over high heat for approximately 10-12 minutes. The wrappers should become translucent and slightly glossy.

See Also: Homemade Dumplings Recipe: Step-by-Step Tutorial


Serve and Enjoy

1. Once cooked, carefully transfer the dumplings to a serving plate using a spatula.


2. Serve the steamed soup dumplings hot, accompanied by a dipping sauce made from soy sauce, vinegar, and a dash of sesame oil.


See Also: A Guide on How to Eat Soup Dumplings


What is the key to achieving the perfect dumpling wrapper texture?

1. Ingredients: The type of flour you use plays a significant role in determining the texture of the dumpling wrapper. All-purpose flour is commonly used for its balance of protein content, which contributes to both the flexibility and strength of the dough. Avoid using flour with too high of a protein content, such as bread flour, as it can result in a tougher wrapper.

2. Kneading Technique: Kneading the dough thoroughly is crucial to develop gluten, a protein that gives the dough its elasticity and structure. Proper kneading ensures that the dough will hold its shape while being rolled out and filled without tearing or becoming too sticky. To knead the dough, press and fold it repeatedly using the heel of your hand, until it becomes smooth and elastic. This process helps distribute the moisture evenly and aligns the gluten strands.

3. Resting Time: Allowing the dough to rest after kneading is essential. This resting period, typically around 30 minutes, allows the gluten to relax and the moisture to distribute evenly throughout the dough. As a result, the dough becomes easier to work with and will roll out more smoothly. Resting also allows the flour to fully hydrate, resulting in a more consistent texture.

4. Rolling Technique: When rolling out the dough, work from the center outward, rotating the dough as you go. This helps maintain an even thickness across the wrapper and prevents it from becoming too thin in some areas, which could lead to tearing. Aim for a thin, translucent wrapper while ensuring it’s still sturdy enough to hold the filling and broth without breaking during the steaming process.

How can I prevent the dumplings from sticking to the steamer?

Preventing dumplings from sticking to the steamer is essential to ensure that they maintain their shape and appearance during the cooking process. Here are some tips to help you prevent dumplings from sticking to the steamer:

1. Use Parchment Paper or Cabbage Leaves: Line the steamer basket with parchment paper or cabbage leaves before placing the dumplings. This creates a barrier between the dumplings and the steamer, reducing the risk of sticking. Make sure the parchment paper or cabbage leaves have holes or cuts to allow steam to circulate.

2. Space Out the Dumplings: Arrange the dumplings in the steamer with some space between them. This prevents them from touching each other and sticking together as they expand during cooking. The steam needs room to circulate and cook each dumpling evenly.

3. Lightly Oil the Steamer: Lightly greasing the steamer with cooking oil can help prevent sticking. Use a clean paper towel or a brush to apply a thin layer of oil to the surface of the steamer where the dumplings will be placed.

4. Flour the Dumplings: Dust the bottoms of the dumplings with a light layer of flour before placing them in the steamer. This helps create a barrier between the dumplings and the steamer and can prevent direct contact.

5. Use Silicone Steamer Liners: If you have access to silicone steamer liners, these can be excellent non-stick solutions. Simply place the dumplings on the liners and then put the liners in the steamer basket.

6. Avoid Overcrowding: Ensure that the dumplings are not overcrowded in the steamer. Overcrowding can lead to uneven cooking and increased chances of sticking. Cook the dumplings in batches if needed.

Can I customize the filling according to my preferences?

Absolutely, you can customize the filling of your steamed soup dumplings according to your preferences and creativity.

1. Protein Variations: Instead of or in addition to pork and shrimp, you can use other proteins like chicken, beef, or tofu as the base for your filling. Just make sure the protein is finely minced or ground to ensure even distribution and easy filling.

2. Seafood Selection: Explore different types of seafood beyond shrimp. Consider using crabmeat, scallops, or a mixture of seafood for a unique flavor profile.

3. Vegetarian or Vegan Fillings: If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can create fillings using ingredients like finely chopped mushrooms, tofu, cabbage, carrots, spinach, and other vegetables. Add seasonings like soy sauce, sesame oil, and various herbs for flavor.

4. Flavor Enhancements: Experiment with different herbs, spices, and aromatics to elevate the flavor of your filling. Ingredients like minced lemongrass, cilantro, basil, or even a touch of curry powder can add exciting nuances to the taste.

5. Texture Variation: Incorporate ingredients with varying textures to add interest. Consider adding water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, or crunchy vegetables for a contrast to the soft protein.

6. Sauce and Seasonings: Customize the filling’s flavor with sauces and seasonings that match your preferences. Play with different combinations of soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, and more to create a unique taste.

Can I freeze uncooked soup dumplings for later use?

Yes, you can freeze uncooked soup dumplings for later use. After assembling the dumplings, place them on a tray lined with parchment paper and make sure they are not touching each other. Freeze until solid, then transfer the frozen dumplings to an airtight container or freezer bag. When you’re ready to cook, steam the frozen dumplings directly from the freezer, adding a few extra minutes to the steaming time.

What’s the best way to avoid overfilling the dumplings with broth?

To avoid overfilling the dumplings with broth, it’s important to exercise caution and moderation when adding the broth to the filling. Start by adding a small amount of cooled broth, and then slowly increase the amount until you find the right balance. It’s better to slightly underfill the dumplings than to risk having them burst open during steaming. Remember that the broth will also expand slightly as it heats up.

Can I steam dumplings without a bamboo steamer?

Yes, you can steam dumplings without a bamboo steamer. While a bamboo steamer is a traditional and popular tool for steaming dumplings, there are several alternatives you can use to achieve the same results. Here are a few options:

1. Metal Steamer Basket: A metal steamer basket is a common alternative to a bamboo steamer. These are readily available in kitchen supply stores or online. Place the dumplings in the steamer basket and set it over a pot of simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the dumplings.

2. Steamer Insert: Many pots come with steamer inserts or perforated trays designed to fit inside the pot. You can use these inserts to steam your dumplings. Fill the pot with a few inches of water, place the steamer insert in the pot, and then add the dumplings.

3. Collapsible Silicone Steamer: Collapsible silicone steamers are flexible and can fit into various pot sizes. They have multiple layers for steaming different items simultaneously, which can be convenient if you’re making a variety of dumplings.

4. DIY Steaming Setup: If you don’t have any specialized steaming equipment, you can create a DIY steaming setup. Place a heat-resistant bowl or a small dish upside down in a large pot. Add water to the pot, making sure it’s below the level of the bowl or dish. Place a metal colander or another heat-resistant dish on top of the overturned bowl. Arrange the dumplings in the colander or dish, cover with a lid, and steam.

5. Steamer Rack: If you have a steamer rack that fits into a pot, you can use it to steam dumplings. Place the dumplings on the steamer rack over simmering water.

What can Soup Dumplings be eaten with?

Soup dumplings, also known as xiaolongbao, can be enjoyed on their own or paired with various accompaniments to enhance the dining experience. Here are some delicious options for what you can eat soup dumplings with:

1. Dipping Sauce: The most common way to enjoy soup dumplings is with a simple dipping sauce. Mix soy sauce with a small amount of black vinegar and a touch of sesame oil. You can also add minced garlic, ginger, or chili oil for extra flavor.

2. Ginger Strips: Freshly sliced ginger strips can be served alongside soup dumplings. The slight spiciness and zing of the ginger complement the savory flavors of the dumplings.

3. Black Vinegar: In addition to including black vinegar in the dipping sauce, you can serve it on the side for those who prefer a stronger tangy flavor.

4. Chili Oil: For a spicy kick, offer chili oil as a dipping option. This adds heat and complexity to the dumplings’ flavor.

5. Soy Sauce: If you prefer a milder flavor, you can use soy sauce as a dipping sauce on its own or mix it with a bit of black vinegar.

6. Sesame Oil: A drizzle of toasted sesame oil can add a nutty aroma and flavor that complements the filling of the soup dumplings.

7. Green Onions: Finely chopped green onions can be sprinkled over the dumplings or added to your dipping sauce for a fresh and aromatic touch.

8. Sliced Garlic: Thinly sliced garlic can be a flavorful addition to your dipping sauce. It imparts a rich, garlicky flavor that pairs well with the dumplings.

9. Steamed Vegetables: Lightly steamed or blanched vegetables, such as bok choy or Chinese broccoli, can provide a refreshing contrast to the dumplings’ richness.

10. Pickled Vegetables: Pickled vegetables, like kimchi or pickled cucumbers, can offer a tangy and crunchy accompaniment that balances the dumplings’ flavors.

11. Rice: If you’re looking to make a meal out of your dumplings, serving them with plain steamed rice can help balance the richness and provide a filling option.

12. Soup: Enjoy soup dumplings as part of a larger meal by pairing them with a clear broth soup or a hot and sour soup. The combination of flavors and textures can be quite satisfying.


Mastering the art of crafting steamed soup dumplings is a rewarding endeavor that combines culinary skill and cultural tradition. With patience, practice, and attention to detail, you can create these exquisite dumplings that captivate the senses with their tantalizing aroma, delicate texture, and burst of savory broth. As you experiment with different fillings and techniques, you’ll embark on a culinary journey that celebrates the richness of Chinese cuisine and the joy of creating something truly remarkable in your own kitchen. So gather your ingredients, roll up your sleeves, and dive into the world of steamed soup dumplings – a true masterpiece of flavor and craftsmanship.



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