The Ultimate Guide to Elevating Your Frozen Dumplings

When it comes to quick, easy, and tasty convenience foods, it doesn’t get much better than frozen dumplings. Unlike many foods, dumplings hold up well in the freezer, and having a stash on hand means you’re less likely to find yourself shelling out for expensive delivery the next time hunger strikes. Whether you make your dumplings from scratch or purchase some of the countless store-bought options on the market, there are several ways to cook frozen dumplings. Steamed, boiled, air-fried, or microwaved, they take just minutes to go from the freezer to the table.

While frozen dumplings are generally delicious when served solo, you can kick them up a notch with a few simple tips and tricks. Spending just a few extra minutes in the kitchen can make your dumplings feel more like a complete, balanced meal, and even transform these crescent-shaped delicacies into something you’d be proud to serve guests.

No matter where you stand in terms of culinary abilities, here are some ways to upgrade frozen dumplings into a restaurant-quality meal.

Make a homemade sauce

Dumplings on plate

There’s nothing wrong with serving frozen dumplings with store-bought soy or ponzu sauce. However, trust us when we tell you that making your own dipping sauce from scratch is the quickest, easiest way to make your dumplings taste more like they came from your favorite restaurant rather than from next to the pint of Ben & Jerry’s sitting in your freezer.

A classic dumpling sauce recipe features just a few ingredients that you most likely already have on hand and takes mere minutes to prepare. Soy sauce, black vinegar, sesame oil, and toasted white sesame seeds are all you need to whisk together this game-changing dumpling addition.

If you like your dumplings spicy, don’t hesitate to add a generous spoonful or two of red chili flakes, sliced chili peppers (check out this definitive guide to different types of chilies if you need help determining how spicy you want to go), or our favorite, chili oil.

Put them in soup

Bowl of dumpling soup

If you’re in the mood for something warm, comforting, and easy to make, try using frozen dumplings as a simple soup’s stars (or, more accurately, moons). This easy wonton soup recipe features just a handful of ingredients and only six steps, so you won’t have to wait long to start slurping down a bowl of savory, salty goodness.

Chicken broth, bok choy, and green onions are common ingredients, but you should think of any dumpling soup recipe as a chance to use up veggies on their last legs in the fridge and make do with the spices and sauces already in your cupboard. For a protein-packed option, feel free to experiment with various types of broths such as seafood, veggie, beef, or even bone broth.

You can also add noodles if you want something more filling, or a protein like shrimp if you feel like going the extra mile.

DIY dim sum

Dim sum dishes on table

Sometimes all you need to make frozen food feel more special is to serve it with other frozen food. In this case, we’re talking about creating your own dim sum spread by serving your frozen dumplings with an assortment of other classic dim sum dishes. Pairing frozen dumplings with other thoughtfully curated bites can make a boring Tuesday night dinner feel like an occasion, and you’ll be surprised to find how many great frozen dim sum items are out there.

Dim sum has a long and fascinating history, and it’s worth reading up on everything you need to know about dim sum to truly appreciate this cuisine. Dim sum dishes that are easy to find in the frozen aisle (and that should be included in your DIY dim sum night) include BBQ pork buns and scallion pancakes.

We highly recommend making a trip to an Asian grocery store to purchase these items, where you’ll have a lot more options that will make upgrading your frozen dumplings a true success.

Give them a crispy dumpling skirt

Crispy dumplings held by chopsticks


If pan-frying your frozen dumplings is your cooking method, all it takes is flour, cornstarch, salt, and water to elevate them with a crispy, crunchy, addictive dumpling skirt.

A dumpling skirt is a thin, lacy crust attached to the underside of dumplings that are created in the bottom of the frying pan. The added texture acts as the perfect foil to dumplings’ tender filling and can make your dumplings exponentially more delicious.

To give your dumplings a crispy skirt, the first thing you need to do is create a slurry with the aforementioned ingredients. Next, cook your dumplings seam-side up by pan-frying them in canola oil over medium heat in a non-stick skillet. When the bottoms are golden brown (this should only take a minute or two), pour the slurry over the dumplings, cover the pan with a lid, and allow them to steam for an additional five to six minutes.

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Add them to a stir-fry

Stir-fry in a hot wok

A stir-fry can be a real lifesaver when you need to whip up a satisfying-yet-healthy meal, make the most out of produce that’s about to go bad, or satisfy a takeout craving. That said, combining your favorite stir-fry recipe with your go-to frozen dumplings can be a match made in heaven.

The best way to think about adding dumplings to a stir-fry is to treat them like the protein element of the dish. For example, you can swap the chicken in this orange chicken stir-fry recipe with frozen dumplings for a unique spin on a crowd-pleasing favorite.

All you need to do is cook the dumplings in a separate pot or pan and then add them to the rest of the ingredients during the final few minutes of cooking. Be careful not to overcook — you just want them in the pan for long enough to heat through and combine with the sauce.

Serve them on a salad

Assorted veggies on cutting board

Salads are another context where frozen dumplings make for an easy add-on. Using a base of crunchy veggies like cabbage, carrots, and cucumbers is a great template to work off of, but you can make a dumpling salad with whatever ingredients you have on hand. Dress the salad with a homemade Asian-inspired dressing, like this one from Marion’s Kitchen, or use a store-bought option when you want to prepare a meal in a hurry.

Spending a few minutes to wash and chop your vegetables ahead of time means you can assemble this salad in the time it takes for your frozen dumplings to cook. This upgrade is the perfect solution for switching up your packed lunch routine and a simple, healthy weeknight meal.

Salads don’t have to be drab; this option will prove just how tasty they can be when you use the right ingredients. Fresh herbs like cilantro, crunchy wonton strips, slivered almonds, and toasted sesame seeds are all great additions that can make even the most staunch salad skeptic change their mind.

Air fry to crispy perfection and smother them in sauce

5 Asian dumplings in air fryer

Air-frying frozen dumplings makes them super crispy and delicious, just like the deep-fried ones you’d get from a restaurant. So, if you prefer fried dumplings over steamed, this is an exceptional preparation method. Air-frying dumplings is also the easiest way to make them. It takes practically no effort at all, and they are done in just eight to 15 minutes, depending on the quantity and particular air fryer. While not 100% necessary, you can lightly spray them with oil to ensure even crispiness. However, they will crisp up nicely as is, so if you’re aiming for a healthier alternative, leave the oil out.

Once your dumplings are crunchy, try smothering them with sauce to make a heartier dish. If you enjoy spicy foods, sweet chili sauce is a fantastic choice for dumplings. Not only does it add a flavorful kick, but the balance of sweet and spicy balances out the filling quite well. Spicy peanut sauce also makes a great choice here. It is nutty, savory, and has just enough heat to keep you wanting more. Covering dumplings with your favorite sauce adds a ton of flavor. Plus, it eliminates the need for dipping, which can become messy, and there’s no need to concern yourself with double-dipping because the entire dumpling will be evenly coated.

Serve them with an Asian-style slaw

Potstickers on a bed of Asian-style slaw

In restaurants, Asian slaws are often served as a garnish with dumplings. They typically come on the edge of the plate and often go uneaten because it is more of a decorative touch. Aesthetically, this works wonderfully, but Asian slaw actually makes a superb main component, too. To elevate your frozen dumplings at home, make Asian slaw a central part of the dish by using it as a base or serving a hearty amount on the side. Either way, this turns a dumpling appetizer into a main course, perfect for lunch or dinner.

Asian-inspired coleslaw generally contains many of the same ingredients found inside dumplings, so the two specialties complement each other perfectly. With cabbage, bell peppers, and carrots, the slaw provides a fresh, crunchy mix that goes well with both steamed and fried dumplings. Asian slaws also have a light dressing, similar to the sauce used for dipping dumplings in restaurants. Typically, the sauce is made with soy plus sweet and spicy elements, all of which are delicious on dumplings. To take it a step further, toss the dumplings and the slaw in the same sauce. You won’t regret it.

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