July 25, 2013

Salt-Free DIY Dumplings


You better believe that a little soy sauce wouldn’t stop me from DIYing one of the most enviable bites around town: dumplings. Because if you’re like me, your relatives LOVE dim sum and as a result, you’ve spent a lot of time soaking in the sights and smells of these savory Asian bites. Dreaming of having a pile of salt-free dumplings to call your own.

I’ve spent years now waiting, watching, and researching all in the name of recreating these tastes at home. And recently, thanks to one of my favorite food site, theKitchn.com  (if you don’t go there regularly, you should, immediately), I finally learned how to make doughy pockets of warm meat and veggies at home. And guess what? It’s crazy easy. Like, “order takeout” level easy.

Now, I’m not saying it doesn’t take a little manpower to roll your own dough or that your first few dumplings won’t end up looking a bit misshappen. So let’s just remember that no one becomes an expert in a day. And that looks aren’t everything. Beauty (and flavor) are dumpling skin deep.

But what I am saying is that none of the dumpling directions require too much trouble or years of training, nor do they require too many ingredients or even soy sauce or salt. And once you get that dough making and rolling technique down, you’ll be making these dumplings all the time and freezing the leftovers (good luck with that) to have on-hand for future cravings.


Just in case I need to convince you more to try these dumplings this weekend, though, let me blow your mind. Thrice.

Mind blowing fact number one: the dough is made of water and flour. That’s it. Are you joking? No, this is for reals.

Mind blowing fact number two: you don’t have to cook the filling. You can, but that’s an extra step that is usually taken to reduce the amount of liquid in your dumpling. But because of my genius dumpling cooking method (coming up) it’s actually not necessary.

Mind blowing fact number three: instead of steaming the dumplings or boiling them or frying them, simply roast them in the oven. I KNOW! It keeps the inside moist and the outside crispy without any worry of the dumplings falling apart or getting too sticky. Which is what happened when I tried steaming them, boiling them, and frying them. Plus, with a little parchment, the clean up is ridiculously simple.


So now that I have your attention, make this a weekend project for yourself, for your friends, or for your entire family. Become the hottest dim sum spot in town. And enjoy some DIY dumplings without worrying about MSG or sodium. Or sharing with others.

Dim sum. Chow on.


Dumpling Dough

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup hot/just boiled water


  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1/2 pound fatty ground pork (chicken, beef, turkey, or two cups of chopped veggies)
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt-free garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • Sesame oil


You have two options when it comes to making the dough: the quickest way to make your dough is by putting the flour in a food processor and, with the machine running slowly, pouring the water in (1/4 cup at a time) until it forms a ball. Add more water if it is too dry and not coming together. And add more flour if it seems too wet. Once you have the right consistency, simply let the ball tumble around the processor for 30 seconds and then transfer it to another bowl.

Otherwise, if you like doing things by hand, you can also put your flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add in half the water and use your hand to slowly stir in and incorporate the flour (much like making pasta dough from scratch). Continue to work the flour into the wet dough, adding more water slowly and as necessary, until it comes together into a pliable ball. Again, if it is too sticky, add a bit more flour. And if it is too dry, add a bit more water. You’ll want to knead the dough for a few minutes. And then, no matter your dough making method, place the dough in a bowl and cover with a damp towel, allowing it to rest and rise for at least 30 minutes.

Dumpling Dough

To make your filling, put all the first six ingredients into the food processor and pulse until it has a nice paste-like consistency. Note: not glue, paste. Then transfer to a bowl and let it chill in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 275dg F.

Now for the fun. Cut your dough into four equal parts and then make 10 tablespoon size balls from each piece. Math: 40 dough balls. On a floured surface, flatten out one of the small dough balls with your hand and roll it with a dowel rolling pin (or a spice jar) to make a 3-inch diameter disk.


Rolling Out The Dough

Put a smudge-less than a tablespoon of filling in the center. Use water to moisten the edges of the dough and then flip one side over to join the other, forming a half moon shape, pressing down on the seem to close it. Or, draw the sides together towards the top, forming a purse shape, twisting it together to remove any gaps. (Folding tips and how-to’s found here). Repeat until you’ve used all the dough and filling.

DIY Dumpling Shapes

Oven Roasted Dumplings

Then, cover a baking pan with parchment paper. Place your finished dumplings on the parchment paper and using a pasty brush, give them all a good painting of sesame oil. Place the dumplings in the oven and let them cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until the dough is crisp and golden. This is also a great time to roast vegetables.

Serve hot and enjoy.


Homemade Salt-Free Dumplings

Ellen Lehn July 26, 2013 at 5:09 pm

You are such a genius!

jaye July 28, 2013 at 12:11 am

Heartfelt thanks for “Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook”. I was in desperate need of help and encouragement when I finally (duh) thought to google low sodium food blog, rather than continue searching on line for low salt recipes for various foods.

Within 24 hrs I’d acquired the book, pretty much consumed it and come away feeling as though I’d incidentally undergone a course of supportive therapy. You’ve been there (and *are* there), you get it and you’re doing something incredibly constructive in response . I feel much better as a result and I thank you.

Aside from the therapy, I’m delighted with your imaginative use of ingredients. Never crossed my mind any version or approximation of Pad Thai and such might be possible. Dare I wish sushi might be in our future?

Best Regards,

Mitch Parker July 28, 2013 at 5:03 am

I love oven baked dumplings! Your recipe is so tempting. I can’t wait to try this. Thanks a lot! 🙂

Jessie Bryant July 31, 2013 at 9:20 am

I love dumplings! This salt-free dumpling recipe is one of my favorites. I already did this recipe a few hours ago. It’s really delicious! 🙂

Thomas August 3, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Oh wow, they look amazing! I wonder if mine will turn out like that. It seems pretty simple and easy to do, although I seriously have no cooking skills.

Paleo Diet Food August 4, 2013 at 11:51 am

Awesome and really testy food.

Myprotein discount code August 8, 2013 at 11:53 am

My dumplings never look like that!

Tahnya Kristina August 8, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Dumplings are great. I never thought of making them by hand but this recipe looks good. Thanks for sharing!

Eleanor August 9, 2013 at 12:23 am

Seems like worth tasting…gonna try this one

Dary August 17, 2013 at 9:06 pm

It’s been a while since I had some dumplings and this look delicious! I never tried to make homemade dumplings, but i got to say those there look delicious! Yum! I just have to make them now.

Patrick Garvin November 9, 2013 at 4:21 am

What about the dipping sauce??

Emily November 25, 2013 at 6:13 pm

These look great! Love your recipes!!
Would I have to use the mushrooms? And what is the sodium count in one of the dumplings?
Thanks so much!! 🙂

Rose conklin August 29, 2014 at 5:26 am

Love your recipes any ideas for someone going on a cruise. I am very salt sensitive and must keep my salt intake very very low. I don’t cook with any salt at home. Any ideas for how to deal with kitchen staff who don’t get the concept that salt residue stays in pots they cook in etc. Last time I cruised my pressure shot up to 200/100 help
Love to cruise but don’t need a stroke or dialysis. Thanks

jessg23 August 29, 2014 at 10:41 am

Hi Rosalind? If you can get in touch with a cruise director or the actual head chef on the cruise, that is a great place to start. Go over your needs and even send them a list of what you can and cannot eat. And definitely bring a trusty laminated card like this one (with your specific dietary needs) that they can keep in the kitchen. Remember, the more you can communicate what works for you, the better the food will be.

Other than that, bring lots of non-perishables with you. Or even ask the cruise director if they can reserve a space in the kitchen where you can even make your own food. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know what is possible.

Best of luck and let us all know how it goes! Here are more travel tips!

Betty Ann Quirino @Mango_Queen February 26, 2015 at 1:54 pm

I am definitely going to make these salt-free dumplings. I’m on mission to find recipes with lower sodium especially for Asian recipes. So glad I found your blog and all the delish ideas you have here. Thanks for sharing this recipe !

Vanessa atkinson January 17, 2016 at 8:17 pm

Hello, I’ve enjoyed your recipes, and your cookbook. I had a recipe you wrote on one of the kidney or heart recipes which was wonderful. It was Asian sauce using orange marmalade I can’t find it anymore and it’s not in your new book . Could you please email that to me it is so good. Thank You for all your great makeover s

jessg23 February 5, 2016 at 9:41 am

Was it the peach jalapeno sauce here?

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