How 14 Countries Make Stuffed Dumplings

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Dumplings have been popular for thousands of years – find out why with these 14 versions
Xiao Long Bao

Photo Modified: Flickr / Alpha / CC BY-SA 4.0

Xiao Long Bao are dumplings stuffed with soup.

Most scholars think that stuffed dumplings were first made in China — one story is that they originated during the Han Dynasty, roughly 1,800 years ago, as a warming cure for frostbite — though they may well have arisen independently in several areas concurrently, according to History.com. Dumpling recipes have been found in Roman texts, one suggesting chopped roasted pheasant seasoned with salt and pepper as a filling.

Dumplings are pieces of dough wrapped around a filling — meat, poultry, cheese, fish, vegetables, almost anything — and then boiled, fried, steamed, or just heated through in broth. (We're just considering stuffed dumplings here, not just lumps of dough, like gnocchi or Central European bread dumplings.) Almost every culture in the world has its own version of dumplings, and within those recipes, there are countless regional variations depending on area, proximity to ingredients, climate, and other factors. The popularity of dumplings increased more out of necessity than luxury, as they were a dependable method of making a small amount of meat go a long way in terms of feeding a family.

From traditional Chinese pot stickers to Argentinian empanadas, here is a roundup of 14 dumplings across the world to open your mind and expand your palate.

Bolinhas de Carne (Brazil)

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Bolinhas de Carne

These Brazilian dumplings are filled with chicken, beef, or pork, based on the cook’s preference. They are cooked with onion, garlic, and salt and baked until golden-brown. 

Daifuku (Japan)

Photo Modified: Flickr / Quinn Dombrowski / CC BY-SA 4.0

Daifuku

A popular Japanese sweet, daifuku are mochi, or glutinous rice cakes, most often filled with anko, or sweet red bean paste. They come in pastel colors like pale green and pink and are often given as holiday gifts.