Dumplings are a versatile and fun food to make: you can use them as an appetizer, entrée, or even dessert, and you can stuff dumplings with almost anything you have in the fridge.
But what if you’re inspired to make some Japanese dumplings or chicken and dumplings and realize you have no baking powder in the house?
Worry not! We can help you make dumplings without baking powder during those times when you are right in the middle of your cooking and you realize you’re missing this vital ingredient.
Remember though: baking powder is not something you can just omit from a recipe. You may just have to wing it.
There are a few substitutes for baking powder you can use. However, you have to make adjustments to some other ingredients in your recipe for it to work.
We have some recipes to make homemade dumplings without baking powder from scratch that will be just as good, or maybe even better than, their original versions with baking powder.
What’s even better is that these ingredients are things you will probably already have in your pantry!
What is Baking Powder and Why Do We Use It?
Baking powder is a common ingredient used to add volume to, and lighten the texture of, baked goods.
Baking powder releases carbon dioxide gas into your batter or dough through an acid-base reaction. This causes the bubbles in the mixture to expand, thus leavening the mixture.
Baking powder is usually made of three dry ingredients: an acid, a base, and a filler. A typical recipe for baking powder would be cream of tartar (an acid), baking soda (a base), and corn starch (a filler). This will create a great leavening agent for your dumpling dough.
What is a Leavening Agent?
A leavening agent produces the gas that causes your baked products to rise while cooking. This happens when the created gas forms thousands of very small bubbles, or air pockets, in the dough, which causes it to inflate.
Since dough is elastic, the air pockets can expand without bursting. The gas remains trapped inside during the cooking process. When the gas finally escapes, the air pockets hold their shape instead of deflating.
The size of the air pockets determines the texture of what you are baking. The smaller they are, the smoother the texture is, like with a cake. On the other hand, crusty bread, which has a coarse texture, contains larger ones.
Baking soda can be added to other ingredients to substitute for baking powder.
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What Can Be Substituted for Baking Powder?
The mixture mentioned above (cream of tartar, baking soda, and cornstarch) would be the perfect substitute for baking powder.
The following ingredients, when combined with baking soda, can also be substituted for baking powder:
- Buttermilk (1/2 cup + 1/4 teaspoon baking soda = 1 teaspoon baking powder)
- Plain yogurt (1/2 cup + 1/4 teaspoon baking soda = 1 teaspoon baking powder)
- Molasses (1/4 cup + 1/4 teaspoon baking soda = 1 teaspoon baking powder)
- Cream of tartar (1/2 teaspoon +1/4 teaspoon baking soda = 1 teaspoon baking powder)
- Sour milk (1/2 cup + 1/4 teaspoon baking soda = 1 teaspoon baking powder)
- Vinegar (1/2 teaspoon = 1/4 teaspoon baking soda = 1 teaspoon baking powder)
- Lemon juice (1/2 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon baking soda = 1 teaspoon baking powder)
Adjust the other ingredients in your recipe based on which of these you decide to use as a substitute for baking powder.
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What Types of Dumplings Can Be Made without Baking Powder?
You can make all kinds of dumplings without baking powder. Wontons, egg roll, dumplings, and gyoza have wrappers that all start from a basic dough. It’s just the shape and size of the dough that will determine which type of dumpling it can be used for.
Four Fantastic Recipes for Dumplings without Baking Powder
Gyoza (Japanese Dumplings)
Gyoza is a dish of Japanese dumplings stuffed with vegetable and ground meat filling. They are wrapped in a thin dough, which is then sealed by pressing the edges together.
Gyoza can either be pan-fried or steamed. Either way, you will have a dumpling with a crispy bottom, a tender top, and a juicy filling.
Gyoza without Baking Powder Recipe
- ¾ lb ground pork
- 5 oz cabbage (just the leaves)
- 2 stalks green onion or scallion
- 2 pcs. shiitake mushrooms
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1-inch fresh ginger, grated
- 1 tsp sake (optional)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- ¼ tsp salt
- Ground pepper
- 2 tsp sake (optional)
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/8 tsp Japanese chili oil (optional)
You will also need:
- 50 pcs gyoza wrappers (see recipe below)
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tsp sesame oil, roasted
- Mix 1 tsp of sake to the ground pork. If you do not like or want the taste of sake, skip this step and go to step 2.
- Cut the cabbage, green onions, and shiitake mushrooms into small pieces. Combine everything in a large bowl. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Mix well and knead the mixture until you get a sticky consistency and its color becomes pale.
- Take one wrapper and place it on the palm of one hand. Take a small amount of the mixture with a teaspoon and put it in the middle of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half over the filling. Pinch it in the center and form small pleats along the top to seal the gyoza. Do this for the rest of the filling.
- Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Put the gyoza in a single layer, flat side down in a circle or columns. Cook until the bottom part of the gyoza starts to turn golden brown. This should take around 3 minutes.
- Add ¼ cup of water and cover the pan with a lid. Steam the gyozas for 3 minutes or until most of the water evaporates. You can now remove the lid to remove any remaining water. Drizzle 1 tsp of sesame oil on the gyozas in the frying pan. Continue to cook uncovered for 3 minutes or until the bottom of the gyoza is crisp and golden brown.
- To make the dipping sauce, combine all the ingredients for the dipping sauce together.
Here’s how to make gyoza wrapper from scratch without using baking powder and with just 3 ingredients.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (preferably the unbleached kind)
- ¾ cup hot water (wait about 2 minutes to add to recipe after boiling)
- In a bowl, put the flour and salt. Make a well in the center. Using a wooden spoon, add ¾ cup of water in a steady stream while stirring the flour. (You can pause either pouring or stirring since it is hard to do both at the same time.) Moisten the flour evenly. When all the water has been added, you will have a lot of small lumps. When the dough has cooled and can be handled, knead it in the bowl to bring it into one mass. If it does not come together easily, add water by the teaspoon until it does.
- Transfer to your work surface and lightly dust it with flour. Knead the dough with the heel of your hand for about 2 minutes. You should aim for a dough that is nearly smooth and somewhat elastic. When pressed, it should slowly bounce back and have a light impression of your fingers in it. Put the dough in a zip-top plastic bag, seal tightly, and make sure no excess air remains inside the bag. Set aside at room temperature for 15 minutes or up to 2 hours. After resting, the dough can be used right away to form gyoza wrappers.
- Roll out half of the prepared dough very thinly and cut out circles using a large cookie cutter. All your homemade wrappers will look the same and so will your gyoza dumplings.
Chicken and Dumplings
Here is a simple chicken and dumplings recipe, an old-time favorite and a comfort food made from scratch. The chicken is simmered until perfectly tender. The dumplings are made from ingredients that are sure to be found in your pantry. They are also simmered until they are plump and tender.
Chicken and Dumplings without Baking Powder Recipe
- 1 whole chicken (2-3 pounds)
- Water to boil chicken
- 1 1/3 cups flour, sifted
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- Cold water
- In a large stockpot, cover a whole chicken with water and put salt. Simmer until perfectly tender. Remove the chicken from the pot. Keep broth boiling.
- Remove meat from bones and cut to desired sizes. Set aside and keep warm while you make the dumplings.
- Mix the oil, salt, flour, and just enough cold water to form a cohesive ball. Make sure that the dough ball has no excess flour and is slightly damp to the touch, but not sticky. Knead the dough on a lightly floured board for a few seconds.
- Separate the dough into 4 parts and roll as thinly as possible. Cut into 1 inch wide pieces, then break into 2-inch strips.
- Drop into the boiling chicken broth. Add a small layer of ground pepper over the dumplings. Stir well and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Add prepared chicken meat. Simmer for a minute or so and then serve.
Chinese Pork Dumplings
If you are tired of eating frozen pork dumplings, here is a great recipe for this Chinese cuisine staple. The dumplings are everything you expect them to be: filled with tender pork, deliciously chewy, and flavored with chives, fresh ginger, and sesame oil. It comes with a recipe for a dipping sauce to give you the full flavor experience.
Chinese Pork Dumplings without Baking Powder Recipe
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp chives, chopped
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 tsp chili-garlic paste
- 1 lb ground pork
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tbsp chives, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1.5 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
- 50 pcs dumpling wrappers (you can use the gyoza wrapper recipe above)
- 1 cup vegetable oil, or more as needed
- 4 cups water, or more as needed
- Mix soy sauce, rice vinegar, chives, sesame seeds, and chili-garlic sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Combine the pork, garlic, egg, chives, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger in a larger bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Put a dumpling wrapper on a work surface lightly dusted with flour. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the filling in the middle of the wrapper. Dampen the edges with water and pinch together to form small pleats to seal. Repeat with the remaining filling.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Put 8 dumplings in it and cook until they turn brown. This will take about 2 minutes per side. Pour in 1 cup of water, cover, and cook until the pork in the dumplings is cooked through. Repeat for the remaining dumplings.
- Serve with the prepared soy sauce dipping sauce.
Spatzel (German Dumplings)
Spatzel (or Spaetzle) is one of Germany’s most popular and beloved foods. Below is a fool-proof, authentic, and made from scratch recipe. It is just how they enjoy dumplings in the Swabia region of Germany where egg noodles originated.
Spatzel without Baking Powder Recipe
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 eggs
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- a pinch of white pepper, freshly ground
- ½ tsp salt
- 1-gallon hot water
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- Combine the flour, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Whisk the eggs and milk. Add to the flour mixture. Stir until everything is well combined. If the mixture is too runny, add a bit more flour, but if it is too thick, add a bit more milk.
- In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil over high heat. Place your spaetzle maker over the top of the pot. You can use a large-holed sieve or metal grater if you don’t have one.
- Pour half the batter mixture into the cup of the spaetzle maker. Do the same with the other half of the batter. Work quickly with this half until you have all the batter cooking in the pot. Set aside the spaetzle maker.
- Give the spaetzle inside the pot a good stir. Let them cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they are floating on the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon.
- Saute cooked spaetzle in butter and sprinkle chopped fresh parsley on top.
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There will come a day when you decide to make dumplings on your own instead of having the frozen, store-bought ones. They are so easy to make that you’ll wonder why you waited so long to try it at home.
When looking for recipes on how to make dumplings from scratch, you will almost always find baking powder is one of the ingredients. You don’t have to worry if you don’t have it at home, though. There are substitutes for it and all you have to do is adjust your recipe. Or, try any of our recipes above. Either way, you’re never going back to frozen dumplings again!
Frequently Asked Questions:
What can I substitute for baking powder in dumplings?
There is no direct substitute for baking powder, which is usually used to make the dumpling wrapper. For a recipe with no baking powder, only three ingredients are usually used: all-purpose flour, salt, and water. Others use cooking oil instead of water.
Either combination will produce dense and chewy dumplings. This is the reason why others may actually prefer making their dumplings in this way.
Can I use baking soda instead of baking powder?
Yes, you may be able to substitute baking soda for baking powder, but only if you add acidic ingredients to your recipe. You also need to lessen the amount of baking soda, since it is three times more powerful than baking powder.
For example, in a recipe that calls for a tablespoon of baking powder, substitute with a teaspoon of baking soda. You should also add 2 teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice to the recipe to add acidity.
Image Credit from Pexels: Photo by bishop tamrakar from Pexels
Image Credits from Flickr: “homemade gyoza” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by nanik0re; “chicken dumplings” (CC BY 2.0) by jeffreyw; “Steamed Peking Dumplings – China Red AUD” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by avlxyz; “Spaetzel Nuremberg Germany Albert Durer” (CC BY 2.0) by amanderson2