Are Dumplings Vegan? Here Is What You Should Know

Dumpling is a recipe where pieces of dough made from either bread, flour, or potatoes are wrapped around a filling.

In hindsight, you can eat a dumpling without a filling, and that would make it 100% vegan, as long as the dough is made from starch sources. Usually, what makes it vegan (or non-vegan) is the filling used to make the dumpling.

There are a variety of fillings that are typically used:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Cheese
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Or Sweets.

When you think about dumplings, you may regard China or Japan as the powerhouses.

However, dumplings exist all across the world. They may not be called “dumplings”, but there’s a variety of dumplings in different countries. Each one is prepared differently and with its peculiar shape and filling.

Bottom line: You can find dumplings in many places, including European countries. What makes a dumpling vegan, is the filling, because usually the dough is made from plant-based sources. To be on the safe side, you can always ask the waiter/restaurant if the dough is suitable for vegans.

Non-Vegan Dumplings

While the dough is certainly vegan most times, there are methods where eggs (or even milk) are used to create the dough. In American cuisine, that may happen with baked dumplings. Using animal-based ingredients makes the dough more durable, and capable of withstanding the rigors of baking.

What’s also common in American cuisine is cooking dumplings inside boiling chicken broth, and serving it with vegetables, chicken chunks, and spices in a mix.

So even though a dumpling is vegan in its crude form, people have found different ways to make it taste differently by including animal-based ingredients or introducing it in different dishes.

Ravioli (an Italian dumpling) is typically made with eggs and can be stuffed with meat, vegetables, or more cheese.

ravioli
fugzu from Pistoia, Italia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pierogi (Polish dumplings) although made from plant-based starches, are pan-fried using butter with onions.

pierogi
Piotrus, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Gnocchi is also a type of dumpling that can be vegan or non-vegan depending on where you eat it. It can be made from semolina flour, potato, flour, eggs, cheese, or a combination of those.

gnocchi
Marco Verch, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

As you can see, everything depends on the recipe. If you want to eat vegan dumplings, perhaps you should stick to traditional Asian dumpling recipes. While most dumplings come stuffed with meat or fish, you can choose a plant-based filling when you visit a restaurant.

To be safe, just ensure the dough is made from starches.

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Choosing Vegan Dumplings

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I usually associate dumplings with Asian culture. But even though it’s more than that, I can’t help but feel like real dumplings come from places like China, Korea, Japan, or India.

Frankly, I may be incorrect on this one (given the definition of dumpling), but I have my reasons.

For your dumpling to be vegan, you must consider a few things:

  1. The dough must be purely made from bread, potato, or flour. (In other words, it must not contain eggs, which is generally used to give the dough its structure.)
  2. It must be stuffed with plant-based ingredients like vegetables or tofu. (Or have no stuffing at all)

Let’s look at a few examples in each of the countries I’ve mentioned.

Jiaozi (Chinese Dumpling)

jiaozi

Jiaozi is the most popular type of dumpling you can find in China. If you go to any Chinese restaurant and ask for dumplings, this is what you’ll most likely find. Just make sure you ask for a vegetable filling, instead of meat.

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Mandu (Korean Dumpling)

mandu

As you can see, Mandu is quite similar to Jiaozi. That’s because it uses the same ingredients, and it can also be steamed, boiled, pan-fried, or deep-fried. But the logic remains the same.

If you want to eat Mandu, ask for a vegetable or tofu filling, and avoid the meat. Another thing you can do is inquire about the way they pan-fry the Mandu, to assure they’re not using animal-based butter.

Dango (Japanese Dumpling)

dango

Dangos are very unique. They’re typically served on a skewer and are very sweet since they’re made from sweet rice flour.

This delicacy is a dessert, and it’s available in different forms:

  • Mitarashi: This Dango is typically found in convenience stores and supermarkets. It comes coated in a sweet & sour syrup made from soy sauce, sugar, and starch. (See the picture above)
  • Bocchan: This version comes in three different colors. A green Dango made from Anko (red beans), a yellow Dango made from eggs, and a green Dango made from green tea. (This is one you should avoid since it contains eggs)
  • Denpun: If you visit Hokkaido (Japan), you’ll come across Denpun Dangos. This version of Japanese dumplings is generally made from sweet potatoes and beans. Besides, you can find variations made entirely from one ingredient (red beans, soy, green tea, kinako, etc).

Samosa (Indian Dumpling)

samosa

I think it would be unfair to the Indian culture to only mention the Samosa since the Indian cuisine features several dishes that can be referred to as dumplings. However, the Samosa is a snack that is close to my heart, and one that I love dearly.

Not only that, it’s probably considered the most popular Indian snack in other parts of the world, other than India.

Here in Portugal, Samosas are sold in various coffee shops and restaurants, given the historical connection that exists between both countries. I love spicy samosas, and I love that you can stuff it with almost any vegan ingredient from sweet potatoes to lentils, beans, vegetables, and even tofu.

Eating out in another country can be troublesome due to the language barrier, and I don’t know how trustworthy restaurant and shop owners are in certain countries. In which case, you may want to consider eating dumplings at home, by cooking your homemade vegan recipes.

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Homemade Vegan Dumpling Recipes

Here is a list of vegan dumpling recipes you can make at home.

Vegan Gyoza Recipe

vegan gyoza
Vegan Gyoza.

These are the Japanese version of the Jiaozi dumplings. They’re made with simple store-bought vegan gyoza wrappers and stuffed with a healthy amount of stir-fried vegetables.

The vegetables combined with the crispiness of the gyoza wrappers and a pot of soy sauce make for a wonderful mid-afternoon snack! Visit this page for the recipe.

Homemade Vegan Dumplings (That’s the name ~)

homemade vegan dumplings ~

This recipe was developed by Maggie, the person behind Omnivore’s Cookbook. Since she specializes in Chinese recipes, she decided to create a vegan dumpling recipe that wouldn’t rely on sauces to taste good.

As a result, she created a dumpling filling with a well-balanced texture using veggies, tofu, and rice vermicelli. In addition, she seasoned the filling with aromatics, soy sauce, and a dash of curry powder to enrichen the flavor.

If you’re interested in the recipe, check her website right here.

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Simple Vegetable Dumplings

Simple vegetable dumplings.

Here is another simple dumpling recipe packed with mushrooms, cabbage, onions, and carrots. I wish it were simple to make, but I don’t think I have the manual expertise to do ’em. 

However, to make things easier, you can use store-bought wrappers instead of using your own.

The Wifemamafoodie blog makes it easy for you, by giving you simple step-by-step instructions.

Doing your recipes at home is the easiest way to GUARANTEE that the dish is vegan. It takes time, but it’s definitely worth it if you want to break the regular eating routine.

Our Recommendation For Vegans

Future Kind’s Essential Vitamins: This is our favorite multivitamin. It’s not the typical multivitamin because it was formulated to specifically address potential shortcomings in the vegan diet. It contains the essential vitamin B12, vitamin D, and Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA & EPA) delivered in necessary doses so you don’t have to worry about potential deficiencies. Want to learn more about it? Check out the review we did on it.

Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than three years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

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