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Making Dough for Dumplings - what did I do wrong?

Tried making dumpling dough for the first time today and what a disaster! The dough just never seemed to get to the "elastic ball" consistency the recipe called for. Was too wet regardless of how much more dough i added to it.

what I did:
1. mixed 3 cups all purpose flour with tspn salt in a bowl
2. slowly mixed in 2 cups of boiling water in increments, whiles stirring the dough mixture.
3. Added a cup of cold water and continued to mix.

dough just never came together. What'd I miss?

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  1. It sounds like too much water. I use 1 cup boiling water to 2 cups maybe 2 1/4 cup flour.

    1. the dough i made with great success from the first time i tried is was andrea nguyen's basic dumping dough.

      10 oz flour (~ 2 cups)
      3/4 cup just boiled water

      make in fp in like 10 seconds.

      1. Sounds like way too much water.

        I always use a Delia Smith recipe for dumplings:

        100g self-raising flour
        50g suet

        Only needs about 3 - 4 tablespoons of water to bring it together.

        1. What kind of dumplings are you making?

          ETA and whose recipe?

          4 Replies
          1. re: sr44

            Sounds like soup dumplings! Heh...

            1. re: sr44

              Same question...what kind of dumplings are you trying to make?

              1. re: Springhaze2

                Let me also repeat: What kind of dumplings are you trying to make? :)

                American dumplings?


                Chinese dumplings?

            2. This looks more like a recipe for papier mache paste than dumplings - it's got as much water as flour in it!

              I'm assuming you're trying to make Asian style dumplings - I came across a recipe similar to this in a dumpling cookbook, and it was equally disastrous - I ended up with three times the amount I wanted by the time I had added enough flour.

              1. Assuming Chinese Dumplings ...

                Avoid measurements.

                All you need is water and flour. Add the first to the latter. Combine.

                Strive for the consistency and texture of wet playdoh.

                Let it rest, covered, for a couple of hours.

                Then you're ready to go.

                28 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Yes, i was making Asian/Chinese style dumplings (sorry I didnt know if there was a difference between).

                  Does the water have to be boiling or not so much?

                  1. re: cryssy

                    <Does the water have to be boiling or not so much?>

                    You don't need boiling water to make your dumpling, but you should cooking your dumplings with boiling water.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      ha - i know that much! The original recipe I used said the water had to be boiling (which I thought was odd, but what do I know). Obviously, that recipe was wrong in more ways than one!

                      1. re: cryssy

                        <The original recipe I used said the water had to be boiling (which I thought was odd, but what do I know).>

                        Well, there are many Chinese dumplings. Most of the ones I know do NOT require hot water. However, some do, but I don't think you are making those. If you are to make these delicate "Steamed shrimp dumplings", then you do need boiling water.


                        My guess is that you are not making these anyway. They are quiet different than other dumplings. They require wheat starch instead of flour.

                        Rather you are probably making the more common thick dough dumplings like these:


                        These ones should not need hot water.

                    2. re: cryssy

                      More specifically, what kind of Asian/Chinese dumplings are you making?

                      1. re: sr44

                        since its my first time, i'm using pretty traditional flavors. pork with some sliced carrots, green onions, cilantro....

                      2. re: cryssy

                        boiling water completely changes how the flour comes together. . . . I'd have to re-research exactly what is happening with the starches and gluten with boiling water but boiling water and cold water do not result in the same type of dough . . . .

                        1. re: thimes

                          Andrea Nguyen, for the dough for har gow, uses "just boiled" water. So you bring it to a boil, turn it off and then add a tablespoon at a time to the dough. But this is a wheat and tapioca starch dough IIRC. Definitely not just plain flour.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            Here's the recipe:

                            4-1/2oz (1C) wheat starch
                            2-1/4oz (1/2C) tapioca starch
                            1/8 t salt
                            About 1C just boiled water
                            4 teaspoons canola oil

                            Combine the starches and salt. Make a well in the center and add about 14T of the water. Mix by hand til well incorporated and somewhat translucent.. Then add the oil and work that in.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Tell that to Andrea Nguyen and see her Asian Dumpling cookbook, page 132. There are many types of Asian dumplings.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    Yes, well, I took a class from her and this was a dumpling she taught us. Perhaps your definition differs but that doesn't make others of us wrong.

                              2. re: c oliver

                                <for the dough for har gow, uses "just boiled" water.>

                                I also mentioned this above when I talked about steamed shrimp dumplings. Har Gow (steamed shrimp dumplings) definitely require boiling water, but they are really the one of the few exceptions. Most of the other Chinese dumplings are based on flour and will do better with regular water instead of boiling water.

                                Based on what the original poster said, he/she is working on regular typical Chinese dumplings.

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  Actually of the ten or so doughs she describes, the majority have the "just boiled" water.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Interesting. They must be a collection of less common dumplings. Afterall, the only dough which need boiling waters are dough made from wheat starch or tapico starch or rice starch.... basically starch with little or not gluten.

                                    Can you imagine using boiling water in flour (with gluten)? It will be a sticky mess?

                                    Yet, most of the Chinese dumplings are made from flour, so I think she have a specialized recipe collection.

                                    *Are these from her books or in class lessons?

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      From her book. I can elaborate tomorrow but it's time for dinner now :)

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        No, no. It is fine. Meanwhile, let me guess. She also included TangYuan?


                                        I think I know exactly what she was after. She didn't go after the most popular dumplings. She went after a diverse recipes.


                                        If you and I were to survey the 10-20 most popular dumplings in China, they will be mostly made with flour and therefore require no boiling water. If you were to collect recipes of unique and diverse dumpling recipes, then you will run into a lot of these "boiling water" requirements.

                                        Peace out.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Tang Yuan isn't listed in the index.

                                          Based on the dim sum I've eaten, I'd say most of what she writes about are pretty 'normal' dumplings.

                                          I find that particular dumpling recipe to be a great 'carrier' for all sort of ingredients.

                                          Also, we really don't know what the OP is looking for.

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            I see. Yeah, a lot of dim sum (Cantonese) use the translucent dough which does not contain flour (or very little flour).

                                            Just to give you one nice example. The Cantonese chive buns (which you may have seen in Dim Sum) use the translucent dough -- mostly wheat starch:


                                            whereas the Northern Chinese chive buns use the flour version:


                                            <Also, we really don't know what the OP is looking for.>

                                            Considering the original poster's recipe is based on flour, I am pretty certain that it should not need boiling water.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              I don't think hot water is needed, but hot water dough comes together really easily. The OP's recipe looks like too much water.

                                              I have made pot sticker skins with 3/4 cup hot water to 2 cups of flour.


                                              1. re: gnomatic

                                                Oh well. You got me. It seems there are several recipes call for hot water. I guess some people use hot water and some use room temperature water for flour dough. Thanks for pointing this out.

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  To be fair, I think both would work, the texture might be slightly different. My mom makes her dough with room temperature water (she told me I was doing it wrong with hot water), it's chewier then the version I made with hot water.
                                                  I grew up helping my mom make jiaozi, and though I never made the dough, I helped wrap. My mom's dough just seem more sticky, and needed more flour to keep separate.
                                                  The hot water dough was really easy, I just mixed flour and hot water in the bowl, until it was mixed, and cool enough for me to knead into a ball with my hands (all in the same bowl). Wrapped it up and let it sit for awhile and it was ready for rolling with very little extra flour. I got really lazy, and used a big cookie cutter instead of rolling individual balls.

                                                  It was much easier then making/rolling out pasta.
                                                  Attached are the pictures from my first attempt ever at making jiaozi dough..which I think it turned out pretty good.

                                                2. re: gnomatic

                                                  Nguyen's dough for potstickers calls for 10oz (2C) flour and 3/4C "just boiled" water.

                                  2. re: c oliver

                                    i know we've had a lovefest for this book before. but i love another opportunity. and another opportunity to tell you how jealous i am that you took her class.

                                    this book is failsafe.

                                    1. re: eLizard

                                      It was the best time and money (not very much) I've spent. I'd had the book quite a while but was frankly intimidated to try anything. She totally demystified the subject.

                                      You may want to check out her online classes:


                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        i have her kindle cookbook which has snippet videos. so far my dumplings have been great!

                                2. re: cryssy

                                  Does the water have to be boiling or not so much?

                                  No, just regular tap water. Room temp is fine.

                              3. Recipes for Asian dumplings, such as jiaozi, commonly call for boiling water or hot water. Hot water helps denature proteins and inhibit gluten formation. Contrast this with the typical cold-water dough you might use for bread, pizza, etc., where you want to develop the gluten so that the dough becomes stretchy/elastic.

                                Sorry--I don't know what you did wrong. You sure you followed the recipe exactly?