The first thing I see when I open my freezer is a pile of frozen dumplings. Whether round and filled with kimchi or square and filled with chives, they are always practical when I want to eat well without exertion. I can pan-fry them, steam them, or air-fry them (which has been my preferred method lately), drizzle them with loads of chili chips and a dash of ponzu, and I’m delighted. But sometimes I want more.
So I started looking for fun ways to spice up my frozen dumpling game. As expected, the internet didn’t disappoint: there are so many creative dishes that I never thought about using dumplings, but I’ve now added them to my rotation. The common denominator is that frozen dumplings can do so much more than what it says on the box – the key is to think of them as a blank canvas, much like pasta, rice, or noodles. And since they’re already filled with meat and / or vegetables, it doesn’t take a lot of extra work to turn them into a truly impressive dish.
If you feel like doing something naughty:
Treat your frozen dumplings like any type of protein, like chicken or tofu. Dumplings are already filled with seasoned fillings, but when baked or covered in sauce, they become something completely different. I suggest making rice for serving to soak up the sauce, but these recipes are all flavorful enough that no other additives are really needed.
Dumplings with hot paprika sauce: This recipe is inspired by kkanpunggi, spicy, garlic-like fried chicken with vegetables. It is one of the most popular Korean-Chinese dishes, famous for its balance between spicy and sweet flavors. Instead of fried chicken, you can use crispy dumplings as a vehicle to put this delicious sauce in your mouth.
Dumpling Gyudon: Gyudon is a classic Janese rice bowl, and there are several variations with eggs, beef, and even frozen dumplings. Microwave your frozen dumplings with a dash of water for a minute so they aren’t completely frozen. Then treat them like protein with this recipe from Just a cookbook. While cooking, the dumplings steam and soak up the sweet and salty mirin soy sauce. Topped with a velvety soft-boiled egg, the steamed dumplings make a simple, cozy rice bowl in just a few minutes.
Dumplings in Alfredo sauce: Alfredo sauce is an easy way to upgrade frozen dumplings. Treat them like pasta and cook them in the simmering sauce; Sliced onions, chopped garlic, or bacon are all good additions for added flavor. If you don’t have a jar sauce on hand, milk or cream can be a quick fix.
Dumplings au gratin: Dumplings are fantastic with tomato sauce and cheese. All you do here is break them into bite-sized pieces, pour tomato sauce (or even marinara or vodka sauce) over them, add a few vegetables like corn, onions, and mushrooms, put some cheese on top, and the whole thing to heat in the microwave or in the oven.
Gochujang dumplings: Crispy dumplings, which are best cooked in the hot air fryer, can be covered with the sauce, which contains a lot of gochujang and gochugaru. Although it contains a lot of heat, the sauce is sweetened with corn syrup (or honey), which creates a balanced, hearty taste. Serve the dumplings with a bowl of rice for a full meal.
If you fancy something a little more hearty:
Sometimes I feel like I’m missing something just eating dumplings for dinner. I always have to pair them with something else, like crispy spring onion pancakes or peanut noodles, to make a full meal. But these recipes are so hearty and filling that they don’t need anything extra – just your little ones.
Dumplings jeongol: Jeongol is a Korean-style term for a hot pot. With frozen dumplings, you can put together a breathtaking centerpiece in just a few minutes: Simply arrange all the vegetables, make the seasoning paste, add the dumplings and the broth and you’re done. The nice thing about this dish is that there are no exact rules for adding it as long as you are making the seasoning paste. Just mix the vegetables you have in the fridge with different types of dumplings and enjoy this super filling dish.
Dumpling quesadilla: A cheesy quesadilla is one of the easiest, most filling snacks to make quickly, and mashed steamed dumplings can add an extra layer of savory flavor to it. Just load one side of your tortilla with the dumplings, sprinkle with plenty of cheese, crisp the tortilla, and add everything from hot sauce to mayo.
Fried rice dumplings: You can make fried rice with just about anything, and frozen dumplings are no exception. Since they’re already filled with seasoned meat and vegetables, you don’t have to prepare a lot of other ingredients, but I’d add a dash of oyster sauce to keep it all together. Don’t forget to finish with a fried egg rich in yolks.
Spicy coleslaw with crispy dumplings (Bibim Mandu): Combine crispy dumplings with flavorful, flavorful coleslaw for a refreshing and filling dish. The coleslaw is mixed with gochujang, soy sauce and vinegar, which combines spicy and spicy flavors. I recommend combining dumplings and coleslaw with every bite to enjoy the incredible textures. It’s the perfect drinking food.
Dumplings and eggs pancakes: When frying dumplings in the pan, you can mix water and starch into a slurry to form a starch rock, a thin, crispy layer that forms around the dumplings as it cooks. But how about eggs? Your dumplings may not get those super crispy edges, but you will get a halo of fluffy, silky egg around them instead. Round off with fresh spring onions, drizzle some furikake on top to garnish and you have an impressive two-ingredient dish.