Vegetarian Dumplings

Delectable on the palate and pleasing on the eyes, pan-fried vegetarian dumplings are filled with vegetables and resemble vegetables. A perfect treat for festive gatherings.

As Chinese New Year approaches, we are entering the dumpling feast season. According to Northern Chinese tradition, dumplings are served on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and the fifth day of the New Year. Today I’m sharing a recipe of pan-fried vegetarian dumplings/potstickers. Super tasty and resembling Pak Choi, these cute dumplings are truly delightful both on your palate and on your eyes.


I love food with vibrant colors but I’m not a fan of artificial food coloring. It’s unnatural and (in most cases) unnecessary. Spinach is an ideal ingredient to dye dough for making dumpling wrappers or noodles. It provides a beautiful green color yet doesn’t change the taste or texture of the dough. This is how you make the green dough:

  1. Blanch spinach briefly in boiling water.
  2. Use a food processor to puree.
  3. Extract the juice through a sieve.
  4. Use the same amount of spinach juice to make the dough as you normally do with water.

Note: Don’t discard the leftover spinach puree, add it to the filling instead.


To achieve the Pak Choi (Bok Choy) look of these vegetarian dumplings, you will need to combine the white & green dough. 

  1. Roll the white dough into two ropes.
  2. Flatten the green dough into two rectangle pieces (same length as the ropes).
  3. Wrap each white rope with a green piece. Seal all around to form a thicker rope.
  4. Cut the combined dough into small sections then flatten each piece into a wrapper with a rolling pin.

Here you are! White in the middle and green all around the side,  a two-color wrapper is done! 

For detailed instructions, please read my recipe on Homemade Dumpling Wrappers to learn how to make them from scratch. Also, I’ve shared a post on “Ten Ways to Fold Dumplings“. Check it out if you are keen to sharpen your dumpling skills.


Nice dumplings should have a moist filling. However, it’s very difficult to assemble dumplings if the filling is too wet. This is a common issue when preparing vegetable filling as the cutting process and the addition of salt will draw extra liquid out of the vegetables. I have a few tips to help you minimize this problem.

  1. Vegetables like Pak Choi (Bok choy) or Chinese cabbage have a high content of water. After mincing, remember to squeeze out any excess water. Do the same to the rehydrated shiitake mushroom.
  2. Mung bean vermicelli noodles make a great addition to vegetarian dumpling filling. Not only does it provide a springy texture, but it’s also a great agent for soaking up liquid.
  3. Don’t add salt to the filling until you’ve rolled some wrappers and are ready to assemble.
  4. If the filling does get too wet, tilt the bowl that holds the filling to allow the liquid to flow to one corner. Use a spoon to squeeze the filling before placing it onto the wrapper.
  5. Do not leave assembled dumplings to sit for too long. If you are not cooking them straight away, freeze them immediately for later use. Otherwise, the excessive moisture from the filling would make the wrappers wet and therefore easy to tear.

The Ultimate Dumpling Guide on my blog includes a separate post on “How to make great dumpling fillings“. You can find more tips there.


It’s super easy to pan-fry dumplings. Preferably, choose a frying pan that has a thick base and delivers heat evenly.

  1. Coat the pan with a little oil and brown the bottom of the dumplings.
  2. Pour in water then cover with a lid to keep the steam in.
  3. It’s done when the water evaporates completely.
  4. Enjoy immediately for best taste.


My vegetarian dumplings are very tasty on their own, but if you wish, serve them with a dipping sauce. Be creative! Mix and match any seasoning you like (Chinese chili oil, black rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, spring onion, fresh chili, coriander, etc.). Check out my Dumpling Dipping Sauce Guide which includes six different dipping sauce recipes.

Vegetarian Dumplings


  • 8 ounces firm tofu
  • 4 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1 cup chopped cabbage (chopped small)
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots (peeled first)
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

Dipping sauce

  1. 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  2. 1 green onion, sliced thin
  3. 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  4. vegetable or grape seed oil
  5. 1 package round dumpling or gyoza wrappers


  1. Remove tofu from packaging and pat dry. Place tofu in a shallow dish. Place a plate on top with a heavy can or two on top. You want to press the moisture out of the tofu. Set aside while prepping the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Prep the vegetables. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, crumble the tofu. Add the four sliced green onions, grated carrots, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Mix together with a rubber spatula. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper and mix again.
  3. In a nonstick skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon of oil on medium heat for 3 minutes. Add tofu mixture into the skillet and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, staring continuously.
  4. Move the mixture to the sides of the pan. Add the garlic and ginger mixture you made earlier. Use your rubber spatula to press down on the garlic-ginger mixture. Cook for 90 seconds.
  5. Then, mix the garlic and ginger with the rest of the tofu mixture and cook for another 2 minutes.
  6. Once the filling is cooked, season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from pan and place on a small baking sheet. Putting the filling in a thin layer on the baking sheet allows it to cool quickly.
  7. Open the dumpling wrappers and place a wet paper towel that has been wrung out on top of it (to keep the wrappers from drying out).
  8. Add one teaspoon of filling to the middle of one wrapper. Put water on the top half (edges) of the wrapper and then wipe your fingers dry. Fold in half and pleat.
  9. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. You can freeze the dumplings ahead of time!

Cook the vegan potstickers

  1. Add 1/2 Tablespoon oil to a nonstick skillet (you can use the same pan, just wipe it clean with a clean paper towel). Heat at medium high for 3 minutes.
  2. Add dumplings to the pan, about 10 to 15. Cover the pan and allow to cook for 3 minutes. Then, add 1/4 cup of water to the pan and recover.
  3. Serve with soy sauce mixed with 1 teaspoon minced ginger and one sliced green onion.

Cooking instructions for frozen dumplings
Add more minutes of cooking time if you’re cooking frozen dumplings. One extra minute after putting oil into the pan and covering. Add 1/3 cup of water instead of 1/4 when you’re ready to steam them covered. And then one more minute of cooking with the water with pan covered.

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