These vegan potstickers are so incredibly tasty! A fragrant kale and tofu filling wrapped in a freshly fried, chewy and tender dumpling skin is one of the great pleasures waiting for you in your kitchen. Try these and wow friends at a dinner party or just yourself for a weeknight dinner!
When I was younger, we would have family dumpling parties–my siblings and I would help stuff pre-made wonton skins with scoops of pork or shrimp filling, and my mom would fry them up on the stove. I remember eating mountains of potstickers dipped in soy sauce with rice!
These dumplings are inspired by all the same flavors as those dumplings, but with tofu swapped in as the protein and kale for color and fiber. And we’re swapping out the pre-made skins for doughy homemade dumpling wrappers! (Though you can always use pre-made wrappers if you like.)
Here are the key ingredients for these vegan potstickers:
- Tofu: Tofu is an excellent source of plant-based fiber and can often be found in a 16 oz block size. I like making these with firm tofu, but you can also use extra-firm or soft tofu in a pinch. I wouldn’t recommend silken as that would likely make the filling too wet and mushy.
- Kale: I often turn to kale since it’s a cheap and nutrition-packed source of fiber. But you can swap in any leafy green vegetables you like–such as spinach, bok choy, cabbage or swiss chard.
- Sesame oil: While you can make the dumplings without this, I highly recommend it as an essential toasty flavor! This combines with the ginger, onion, garlic, soy and rice vinegar for the perfect dumpling flavor.
- Dumpling wrappers: In this recipe, we follow Molly Yeh’s simple recipe with just flour, water and salt. However, you can always look for pre-made wrappers at most grocery stores.
How to make vegan dumplings
To make these vegan dumplings, there are three main steps.
- Make the dumpling dough
- Make the dumpling filling
- Roll the dumplings and cook! I like to use a boil-then-fry technique here. The dumplings get a short bath in a salted pot of boiling water to take the raw dough edge off, then a brief saute in a hot, oiled pan to get a golden-brown, crispy exterior. But there’s many ways to cook dumplings!
Again, if you’d like to streamline this process, using pre-made wrappers makes this process a breeze!
How to make dumpling dough from scratch:
Step 1: Assemble your ingredients. It’s an easy 3-ingredient dough: water (1/2 cup boiling, 1/2 cup cold), 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt.
Step 2: Combine the flour and salt, then drizzle in the boiling water and stir until you have a mealy mixture.
Step 3: Add cold water a few tablespoons at a time until the dough comes together in a sticky mass.
Step 4: Knead the dough (sometimes I do it right from the bowl, or you can turn it out onto a floured surface) until it’s smooth and pliable. If the dough feels too wet, add another few tablespoons of flour. Cover with a towel and let the dough rest while you prepare the filling.
How to make vegan dumpling filling from scratch:
Step 1: Start by pressing your tofu. Drain the tofu of its surrounding water and place between two cutting boards. Place something heavy (like canned vegetables or a pot) on top to help squeeze water out of the tofu. This will help make your filling less watery!
Step 2: Roughly chop all of your aromatics: onion, garlic and ginger. I like using this Oxo vegetable chopper to make quick work of mincing the garlic. Add to a food processor and blend until you have a rough paste.
Step 3: Add the kale and pulse until combined. Do the same with the tofu, then add all the seasonings and pulse until fully combined.
How to fold the dumplings:
Step 1: Uncover the dough–it should be pliable and springy after resting. Pinch off tablespoon-sized balls and roll into circles. Cover the rolled balls with a towel to keep them from drying out as you work through the whole batch of dough. This gives the gluten in the dough time to relax so they’re easier to work with when you roll them out.
Step 2: Using a small rolling pin, roll out each dough ball into a round, flat circle.
Step 3: Add a spoonful of filling to the middle. Dab water around half of the wrapper’s edge, then fold the wrapper into a half-moon shape and pinch closed. (This is the simplest fold–feel free to pleat the edges if you like!)
Step 4: Boil the assembled dumplings in a pot of salted water until they float to the surface. This is the first cooking step to get the dough cooked through.
Step 5: Add a thin layer of oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the boiled dumplings and fry until golden and crispy on both sides, about 2-3 minutes on each side.
Serve hot and enjoy!
What’s the difference between dumplings, potstickers and gyoza? Dumplings tend to have a thicker skin and can hold up better to being steamed or boiled. Potstickers are typically steam fried (hence the name, as they may stick to the pan a bit in the process of getting a crispy bottom). Gyoza is the Japanese version of potstickers, and are generally a bit more delicate with a thinner skin.
Can you make these ahead of time? You can easily prep the filling ahead of time and refrigerate up to a day in advance! Make sure to drain any excess liquid before using. You can also flash freeze the assembled dumplings to cook at a later date.
What’s the best way to pleat dumplings? If you’re looking for some dumpling pleating tutorials, I can’t recommend Frankie’s tutorials enough! (You can see he’s much better at rolling perfectly circular, thin dumpling skins than I am.)
What should I serve with potstickers?
Potstickers are often served in restaurants as an appetizer, but my family always ate them as a full meal. You can eat them on a bed of rice (or even fried rice if you’re feeling fancy). You can also serve them alongside a vegetable like simple stir-fried green beans, bok choy or Chinese broccoli, miso eggplant, or a cucumber salad. You could also add a side of miso soup or corn egg drop soup or a noodle stir fry!
Vegan Tofu and Kale Dumplings
For the dough:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1/2 cup cold water
For the filling:
- 1 16 oz block firm tofu
- 2 cups kale, washed, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
- 1 small onion (yellow, white or red are all fine)
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
- 2 small garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Make the dumpling dough:
- Make the dough first, following Molly's recipe.
Make the filling:
- Place the drained tofu between two cutting boards and place something heavy on top, like canned vegetables to help press out the water. This step helps reduce the moisture in your filling, so it's not technically required, but a good idea.
- Add the onion, ginger and garlic to a food processor and blend until the mixture verges on forming a rough paste (alternatively, mince everything by hand).
- Add the kale and pulse until incorporated with no large chunks remaining. Add the tofu and pulse until roughly incorporated. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until desired consistency, using a spatula to scrape down the sides and incorporate everything evenly.
- Fill a small bowl with water and flour a clean surface for rolling your dough. Roll tablespoon-sized balls of dough into a circle, covering the dough balls as you work through all the dough to prevent them from drying out.
- Roll out each dough ball into a flat circle using a small rolling pin. Place a rounded ½ tablespoon of filling in the middle. Use your finger to dab water around half of the wrapper’s edge and fold over to form a half moon; pinch the edges to seal.
- Once all the dumplings are prepared, cover with a towel until ready to cook.
Cook the dumplings:
- Set a pot of salted water to boil over medium heat and a frying pan over medium heat. Once boiling, add a few dumplings to the pot (don't overcrowd the water). Boil for 2-3 minutes, until dumpling skin starts to look translucent and no longer raw, and they start to bob to the surface.
- As soon as dumplings are done boiling, add a tablespoon of oil to the frying pan and transfer the dumplings to the pan. They should start to sizzle when they hit the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until a golden crust starts to develop on the bottom. Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes, so a crust forms on the other side. Serve hot!