Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

How To Make Dumplings From Scratch Without Baking Powder

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Nothing quite fills you up like dumplings in your favorite soup or stew. So, what if you want dumplings but you don’t have any baking powder handy (or worse, you’re allergic)?

Today, we’re going to tell you how to make dumplings from scratch without baking powder so that you can scratch that culinary itch with some delicious dumplings in record time! We’re also going to tell you about some substitutes that you can use for baking powder in a pinch, and answer some popular questions along the way.

If you’re ready, then let’s talk about making delicious dumplings when there’s no baking powder in the house!

What is baking powder and what does it do for dumplings?

eight dumplings with two sauces on red plate on table next to white napkin with fork and spoon
Making dumplings from scratch and have run out of baking powder? No worries!

Understanding the role of baking powder in achieving fluffy homemade dumplings helps appreciate alternatives for tender dumplings without it. Baking powder is a leavening agent, which is just a fancy way of saying that it helps the dough to rise properly into delicious bread form. It’s made from baking soda and cream of tartar (sometimes with a little cornstarch in the mix) and once it gets wet, it starts creating carbon dioxide bubbles to fluff up your dough.

This occurs because the cream of tartar is acidic and with the baking soda, it’s ripe for a chemical reaction once water is added to it. This common ingredient is what makes all your favorite bread products – loaves, muffins, pancakes, etc. — all nice and fluffy.

The thing is, you can certainly make dumplings without it and there are several recipes that tell you how to do exactly that. We’re going to share 5 of them with you shortly, but before we do, we’re going to give you some quick substitutes that you can use in a pinch instead of baking soda.

4 Baking powder substitutes for your favorite recipes

If you’re out of baking powder and you don’t have any self-rising flour in the house, then what can you do to fluff up your dumplings? Well, as it turns out, you’ve got 4 very good options that you can whip up from things around the house quite easily.

Here’s what you can use:

  • Homemade baking powder – If you’ve got cream of tartar and baking soda, you can make your own darned baking powder! For every teaspoon of baking powder required in the recipe, substitute ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and your recipe should work out just fine!
  • Baking soda and vinegar (or lemon juice) – Just as baking powder uses acidic cream of tartar to kick off the baking soda bubbles, so can vinegar or lemon juice do the same with baking soda in your recipes. To do this, use 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar and ½ teaspoon of baking soda for every cup of flour in your recipe. It’ll bring on the fluff without harming the flavor.
  • Whipped-up egg whites – Separate the egg whites from 2 eggs and whisk them up until they form peaks. You can then fold this into your batter and it will add a little fluff and you should use 2 eggs worth of egg whites for every teaspoon of baking powder your recipe asks for.
  • Buttermilk and baking soda – Replace the water in your recipe with baking soda-infused buttermilk and it makes a great substitute for baking powder. Mix at a ratio of 1 cup buttermilk to ½ teaspoon of baking soda and it should be just about perfect for fluffy dumplings!

Now that you have some substitute options to file away for later, let’s take a look at some baking-powder-free recipes that you can try out and keep — if you find them to your liking!

5 dumpling recipes – No baking powder required

In the section below we’ve compiled 5 dumpling recipes that require no baking powder and to keep things fun, 3 of them are just for the dumplings themselves but recipes 4 and 5 are for whole meals that you can enjoy at home.

Let’s take a look at those recipes now and you can if any of these tempt your tummy!

Caribbean Flour Dumplings (aka ‘Sinkers’ or ‘Spinners’)

This easy recipe for Caribbean flour dumplings sometimes referred to as ‘Sinkers’ or ‘Spinners’, doesn’t require baking powder, making it a great choice for those on a medically restrictive diet

This particular recipe comes from Zuleika L. at Food.com, and in about 26 minutes (15-20 of which is cooking time) you can make 1 dozen dumplings (or 2 dozen if you double the recipe!).

If you want something easy that you can whip up to compliment your soup, chili, and other favorites, then give this one a try and see what you think – you’ll be happy that you did!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of All-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • Cold water (as needed)

Steps to make:

  1. In a large bowl, sift your flour and salt together and add water slowly, until you’ve got a nice, firm, and sticky dough.
  2. On your stove, place a large pot full of water on high heat to bring it to a boil. Add in your pinch of salt and cover for now – we’ll be using this shortly.
  3. On a floured board (or even in the bowl, if you like), knead your dough until you get it as smooth as possible.
  4. Start pulling off walnut-sized pieces, rolling them in your hands so that the middle is cylindrical, but you’ve got pointy tips at both ends. You’ll want each dumpling to be around 3 – 4 inches long for best results.
  5. Drop your dumplings in the salty, boiling water and let them cook for 15 – 20 minutes and you’re done!

Try playing with these now that you know this simple recipe – simple additions like honey or sugar are good, and you can try herbs, bouillon cubes, or whatever else you think might cook up nicely in your dumplings. You’d be surprised what an amazing difference one or two small ingredients can make!

If you’re looking for different types of dumplings that are simple to prepare, our next easy drop dumplings recipe is an excellent choice.

Egg Dumplings

This egg dumpling recipe comes to us from Dawn at Words of Deliciousness and it will really add that all-important ‘comfort food’ factor to your favorite soup.

If you like European foods, then you may recognize these dumplings, which are sometimes called Spätzle in Germany and Austria or ‘Drop Noodles’ in Poland. The total time involved in making them is about 40 minutes – 30 of which is your actual cooking time – and this recipe will make 3 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs (large)
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups All-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp milk

Steps to make:

  1. Get a medium bowl, crack your eggs into it, add your milk, and beat them together until well-blended.
  2. Put a large pot of water on the stove on high heat, so that we can bring it to a boil while we do the next steps.
  3. Get your flour and slowly add it to your mixture, beating it as you go. We want to do this until we have a fairly thick batter but don’t overdo it – we want it to be smooth and moist.
  4. Take your mixture to the stove and with a teaspoon, start scooping out your dumplings and dropping them in the boiling water. Once they are all inside, cover the pot, and cook for 15 to 30 minutes (until your dumplings are cooked in the middle).

These dumplings make for fast comfort food if you add them to a little chicken broth (or even canned soup) and if you want a little more flavor to them, ¼ or ½ tsp of salt is a small modification that makes a difference!

Jamaican Cornmeal Dumplings

For those who enjoy experimenting with different herbs, the Jamaican Cornmeal Dumplings recipe, which pairs well with your favorite stew or homemade chicken soup, is an exciting variation.

It’s easy to make and quick (just 25 minutes, 15 of which is cooking time!), these dumplings go well with soups, stews, or even a homestyle pot of bacon and red beans!

This recipe comes to us from Charla at Thatgirlcookshealthy and if you’re ready, let’s take a look at how it’s done!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups fine cornmeal
  • 1 ½ cups flour (gluten-free)
  • 1 ¾ cups water
  • ¼ tsp Himalayan salt (for dumplings)
  • ¼ tsp Himalayan salt (for boiling the water)

Steps to make:

  1. Place a large pot, half-filled with water, on top of your stove at high heat. Add ¼ tsp of Himalayan salt and be sure to reduce the heat to medium once it gets to a nice, roiling boil.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix your cornmeal, remaining salt, and flour until it’s blended together nicely.
  3. Start pouring in water slowly and mixing the dough with your hands. Our goal here is to make a large, doughy ball. We want to be careful that it’s not too stiff or too sticky – we want it to be a little firm but easy to shape.
  4. Pull off a piece of your dough ball and roll it together into a ball, about the size of your average golf or ping pong ball. Flatten it and you should have about a ½ disk once you do, smoosh your thumb in the middle to make an indention. 
  5. Using a spoon, lower your dumpling into the water and repeat this process until you run out of dough. 
  6. Using a wooden spoon, give your dumpling a quick stir to help minimize sticking, and then bring the water back to boiling. 
  7. Reduce the heat down to medium and let your dumplings simmer for 15 – 20 minutes (or until the insides are cooked). Remove your dumplings with a slotted spoon and they are ready to serve or add to your chili, stew, soup, or whatever else you like!

Now that you know how to make these, be sure to play with the recipe a bit to see what you can do. A little sugar, for instance, makes them like a nice and sweet mini-cornbread and you can also use honey if you like and the results are delicious!

Grandma’s Southern-Style Chicken and Dumplings

This traditional way of making dumplings involves combining flour and other common ingredients to create a soft dough, perfect for a hearty chicken pot pie or a creamy chicken soup.

One of (if not THE) ultimate comfort foods out there, southern chicken and dumplings is always a treat and you can make it without baking powder with this recipe from JB at thegratefulgirlcooks

Once you’ve given it a try, we can just about guarantee that you won’t even need to be sick to whip up a batch of this amazing chicken and dumplings recipe – and it only takes 15 minutes of prep and an hour and 15 minutes of cooking time!  Let’s take a peek at how it’s made and you can try it out for yourself.

Ingredients:

Chicken and broth

  • 1 whole chicken (cleaned/giblets removed)
  • ½ cup mixed veggies (carrots, celery, and onions)
  • Water (as-needed – enough to cover chicken)

Dumplings

  • 1 cup All-purpose flour
  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp All-purpose flour (separated from 1st cup)
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 2 tbsp vegetable shortening
  • 1 tsp salt

Soup

  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes (large)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Steps to make:

  1. In a large stockpot, add your chicken and vegetables and pour in water until it’s all covered. Bring this to a boil, stirring occasionally, and let this cook for about an hour.
  2. Move your chicken into a large bowl so that it can cool down a little and using a strainer, separate your veggies so that you’ve only got your broth left in the stockpot.
  3. When your chicken cools down enough, then remove the skin and start cutting it up into bite-sized bits. You can use the whole chicken if you like but there’s a lot of it – you may want to simply cut up half of it to save in the fridge or freezer for later.
  4. Dump your chicken pieces back into the stockpot and heat it back up to boiling, adding in your salt and pepper and your bouillon cubes at this time.
  5. Now that your chicken and broth is heating up, it’s time to make those dumplings! In a large bowl, cut your shortening into pea-sized bits (you can use two knives but a pastry blender is even better, if you’ve got one!).
  6. Mix the shortening, salt, and flour in your bowl along with ½ cup of hot water, as well as ½ cup of flour + 2 tablespoons, and stir it well until you make one big dough ball. Divide this to make 3 dough balls and let them sit for about 10 minutes before we go to the next step.
  7. Flour up your favorite rolling surface and roll each dough ball about as thin as a pie crust. Cut these into inch-wide strips with a knife or a pizza cutter, and do this for the 2 remaining dough balls.
  8. Drop all of your 1-inch strips two at a time into your stockpot and don’t make a face at us – these are giant noodle-style dumplings and you’re going to LOVE them – and add a little butter into the pot and let them cook.
  9. We’re going to thicken up the mix by taking ½ cup of water and mixing it with 2 tablespoons of flour. Once it’s mixed well, add it to the stockpot, and let the whole thing cook for another 10 minutes before you give it a taste.

Other than adding salt and pepper to tweak the flavor to perfection, your Grandma’s Southern Chicken and Dumplings are ready to go. Just be sure to serve them up with a ladle so that your noodle dumplings come out intact and enjoy – this is one recipe that you’ll be craving again soon!

In our exploration of various soup recipes, we’ve come across a unique dish perfect as a privacy policy-friendly addition to any cookbooks – the Klepe, and Bosnian ravioli, which are like tender chicken and beef stew-filled dumplings.

Klepe – Bosnian Ravioli aka Mani-style beef dumplings

This fantastic dumpling delight comes to us from Aida at the Balkanlunchbox and when we found it, we simply had to share! If you’ve never had it, imagine dumplings stuffed with ground beef and two kinds of sauces playing perfectly together – one is a sour cream sauce while the other is garlicky and buttery with a touch of paprika. 

It’s pretty mind-blowing, but don’t take our word for it – get your ingredients and give it a test drive for yourself. While it takes the longest to make (2 hours of prep and 45 minutes of cooking) trust us on this one – what you get is well worth your while!

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 1 pound of flour (with a little extra for your rolling surface)
  • 1 ½ – 1 ¾ cups (12-14 ounces) of warm water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg (optional)

Filling

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion (minced fine)
  • 2-3 cloves of minced garlic (optional, but if you’re a garlic lover, definitely add this)
  • 1 tbsp generic or Vegeta vegetable bouillon (crushed)
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Sour cream sauce

  • 1 ¾ – 2 cups (14 – 16 ounces) sour cream
  • 1 ¾ – 2 cups (14 – 16 ounces) heavy cream

Buttery garlic-paprika sauce

  • 3-4 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp paprika

Steps to make:

  1. Starting off, get a large bowl and inside it, we’ll mix your flour, salt, egg, and water – taking care to add the water a little bit at a time. You can knead it with a spatula at first until it gets pliant enough to do so with your hands. Our goal here is to make a giant dough ball that is smooth and pliant – if it’s too hard, add a little water, but if it’s too sticky then add a little flour until it’s just right.
  2. Wrap your dough ball up in saran wrap and stick it in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes (longer is better, but you can try that on the next batch if you’re feeling impatient!).
  3. Now we’re going to make our filling, so in a small or medium-sized bowl, add and hand-mix all your filling ingredients (ground beef, onions, bouillon, pepper, and that optional garlic if you’ve got it). Divide the filling mix into 3 equal portions and we’re ready for the next step.
  4. Flour up your favorite rolling surface and we’re ready to shape and fill your klepe dumplings. To do this, first, get your giant dough ball out of the fridge and make it into 3 smaller dough balls. 
  5. Knead your first dough ball for 2 – 3 minutes and then roll it flat, to the thickness of two coins stacked on top of each other. You should have a finished rolled mass of about 15 x 18 inches to work with.
  6. With a ravioli stamp (or a 3-inch diameter glass) cut out as many circles as you can with your rolled dough. Each ball should yield about 25 – 30 of them and you can combine the leftover dough to make more when we’re done. 
  7. Take a moment to fetch a large pot and fill it ¾ of the way with water, placing it on your stove on high to bring it to a boil.
  8. Put one teaspoon of your filling in the center of each circle, and then flip them shut so that you have a crescent-shaped dumpling. Mash around the edges to make sure that they’re properly closed up and press a fork on them to make a nice, ridged pattern where they seal. Do this with all of your dough circles and then you can roll up the leftover dough to make the last of the dumplings.
  9. Drop your first batch of dumplings into the boiling water and reduce the heat to medium-high, cooking your dumplings for 10 – 12 minutes.  Try not to overload the pot – this will help to reduce the chances of your dumplings sticking together.
  10. Use a strainer to remove them so that you can get most of them out in one go, putting them into a glass baking bowl (and layering as we go) before moving on to the next batch until they’re all cooked. Stick to 10 -12 minutes, even if you think they’re already cooked – this will ensure that the meat inside is cooked properly.
  11. Once all your dumplings are done, it’s time to make the first sauce, but go ahead and preheat your oven to 400 degrees before you do.
  12. In a medium-sized bowl, mix your sour cream and heavy cream with a wire whisk and pour it as evenly as you can over your stacked dumplings. If you need to mix them a little, do so carefully so that they don’t break. 
  13. In a small pot, mix up your ingredients for your garlic-butter-paprika sauce and heat them until they are bubbling hot. Pour this evenly over the top of your dumplings and then put the bakeware glass onto the middle rack of your oven.
  14. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes and serve it up with bread and a yummy salad – Congratulations, you’ve just baked your new favorite meal!

As a final note, leftovers may be stored in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours – if you have any – and you can see a video of this being made on Aida’s page (we’re reposting it here for your convenience).

FAQ

It’s almost time for us to bid a fond and formal farewell, but before we close up shop here we’ve collected a few frequently asked questions that we thought you might find useful. Let’s take a look and then we’ll go ahead and wrap things up here!

Can you fry dumplings without baking powder?

Frying dumplings without baking powder is possible. For a delicious dumpling experience, try using a mix of chicken stock and flour mixture, or substitute with simple dumplings made from biscuit mix.

What happens if you make dumplings with plain flour?

If you make dumplings without baking powder, they’ll still be yummy, but they’re a little more on the dense side. The bubbling action from baking powder is what makes bread rise, so you’ll need to use it or a good substitute if you want your dumplings to be fluffy.

Why are my dumplings not fluffy?

If your dumplings are coming out too dense, even with baking soda or a substitute added, then you might be overworking the dough. Try to get in the habit of just kneading it until all of your dry flour is gone.

It’s okay if it’s a little lumpy, we just want to make sure that the wet and dry ingredients are mixed and then leave it at that – you should find that your dumplings come out fluffier than if you’d spent 5- 10 minutes kneading and over-kneading the dough.

Some final words on dumplings from scratch (with no baking powder)

Today we’ve explored your options for how to make dumplings from scratch without baking powder and as you can see, you’ve definitely got options! Baking powder works through an acidic reaction that works with baking soda to create a bubbling reaction in the dough.

That bubbling up is what adds the fluff factor to your favorite bread goods, but you can substitute things like lemon juice and baking soda, buttermilk, homemade baking soda, or even whipped-up egg whites if you like. Alternatively, you could also just go with a recipe that doesn’t need baking powder!

Be sure to give one or more of the recipes we’ve shared today a try and you can see for yourself – even without baking soda, you can whip up a batch of some seriously delicious dumplings. We’d like to thank you for visiting today and until next time, we wish you and yours the very best!

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: David McLemore

David learned to cook at an early age after his mother told him that he couldn't live on pizza forever, Dave uses his modest kitchen skills to recreate sorely-missed recipes from home and to occasionally make new favorite ones from places he is visiting.

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