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Steam dumplings are the ultimate winter comfort food. They’re healthy, juicy, and taste absolutely delicious, especially when you eat them warm. In fact, the legend says that a Chinese medicine practitioner from the second imperial dynasty of China invented steamed dumplings as a way to warm people up and help them get through the cold weather.
It seems like he took a little bit of dough and filled it with mutton and medicinal herbs that are wonderful for our health, then steamed the dough wraps to bind everything together. And, good thing he did because the idea of a dumpling was embraced by many cultures and spread throughout the world. Even the Italian ravioli and Brazilian empanadas can be seen as two variations of the traditional Chinese dumpling.
One of the reasons why people love steam dumplings is because they offer endless creativity when it comes to taste. You can experiment with your own preferred flavors if you want to make them from scratch or buy some delicious options at your local supermarket.
Regardless of your choice, you can quickly and easily prepare them in an Instant Pot. This way, you’ll get a perfectly cooked dinner in just a few minutes. The process is simpler than you might think, so let’s break down how to steam dumplings in an Instant Pot.
The Easiest Way to Steam Dumplings in an Instant Pot
Using an electric pressure cooker such as the Instant Pot has to be the easiest and quickest way to cook dumplings. It’s a totally hands-off process, which shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’re used to cooking with an Instant Pot.
We particularly love this method because even people who have no confidence in their cooking skills can enjoy this delightful treat. That’s the kind of low-effort cooking that we’re all looking for after a busy day.
Having said that, if you enjoy cooking and want to go all out, you can actually make steam dumplings from scratch, which is why the first step is to decide what recipe you’re going to follow.
Step One: Find a Recipe or Make Steam Dumplings From Scratch
There are two ways in which you make steam dumplings in an Instant Pot. The first one is to go to your local supermarket and buy frozen dumplings. If you already have frozen dumplings in the fridge, then you are just five minutes and a few clicks away from a tasty dinner.
The second option is a long road where you make your own dumplings at home by following a recipe that caught your eye or experimenting with your own recipe.
If you choose the second option, here’s one delicious recipe that we think you’ll like.
Steam Dumplings Recipe
- 6 round Wonton or potsticker wrappers (or any available dumpling wrappers in your store);
- 1 tbsp cooking oil;
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) soy sauce;
- 1/2 tbsp (7 ml) vinegar (wine vinegar preferably);
- 1/2 cup (35 g) minced mushrooms (shiitake or champignons);
- 1 cup (70 g) minced cabbage;
- ½ cup (55 g) shredded carrot;
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger (or other seasonings).
Plug your Instant Pot in and turn on the sauté function to the normal setting. The Instant Pot will automatically display the default sauté time of 30 minutes, but don’t worry, you can press “Cancel” at any time.
Add the cooking oil and wait until the Instant Pot indicates that the pot is hot. After this, add the mushrooms and stir until they release their juices. Then add the carrots, cabbage, soy sauce, and vinegar. Once the mixture is dry and you’re satisfied with the texture of the ingredients, press “Cancel.”
Then take a small glass of water and place it next to your cutting board. Place a piece of wrapping on the cutting board and add around 1 tablespoon of the sautéed mixture in the center of the wrapping. Wet your fingers with water and spread it around the edge of the piece of dumpling wrapper. With this, you’ll be able to stick the opposite edges together when you fold the wrapping. Once you fold it into your desired shape, firmly press on the sides to make sure the dumpling doesn’t open.
Repeat the same procedure with all the wrapper pieces or until you use all the filling. When you’re done, your dumplings are ready for steaming.
Step Two: Steam the Dumplings in the Instant Pot
The easiest way to steam dumplings in an instant pot is to use a steamer basket.
Some models of Instant Pot have a steam basket included as part of the accessories, while for others you can buy a stainless steel one from Amazon for around $20.
The steamer basket allows the dumplings to stay above the water, so they can be steamed instead of boiled.
To prepare the steamer basket, lightly brush it with cooking oil to prevent the dumplings from sticking to the steel. This is especially important if you’re using frozen store-bought dumplings, but all dumpling doughs are sticky in general, so don’t skip this step.
Second, add water to the Instant Pot. If you’re following an Instant Pot recipe, then simply check to see how much water the recipe recommends for you to add. In any other case, the general rule of thumb is to add at least 1 cup of water (you can use more, but make sure the steamer basket is above the water level).
The third step is to place the dumplings on the steam basket and lower it inside the Instant Pot.
Finally, close the lid and set the vent to a sealed position. The pressure valve should be set to steaming. Click on the steam function and set the cooking time.
Cooking Time for Steam Dumplings in an Instant Pot
How to know what the ideal cooking time for steam dumplings is?
Well, the ideal cooking time depends on several factors, and you need to experiment to find what works best for you and your Instant Pot (more powerful models might be quicker than others).
If you follow a recipe, follow their recommendations. In most cases, dumplings take around 5 to 10 minutes to be fully steamed. Whether it is better to leave them longer or take them out in 5 minutes depends on several factors, including:
- The ingredients inside the dumpling – meat and seafood take longer to be safely cooked (check this timetable for specific times for different ingredients).
- The initial condition – if the dumplings were frozen, they need longer cooking time, while freshly prepared dumplings are usually done quicker.
- The preparation – in our recipe above, the filling ingredients were sautéed before the dumplings were steamed. In this case, you won’t need more than 5-6 minutes of steaming time.
- The steam setting – the Instant Pot has three steam settings: low, normal, and high. Usually, you need a high setting for dumplings with meat, while low or normal settings for veggie dumplings. However, a higher setting can easily overcook the dumplings if you leave them for more than 6-7 minutes.
The more you practice, the better you’ll become at predicting the exact time for making delicious and juicy dumplings.
How to Steam Dumplings Without a Steamer Basket?
A steamer basket is a very convenient accessory for preparing a lot of meals, not just dumplings, but what if you do not have one?
In that case, you can still use the trivet that’s included in almost all Instant Pot products. This is a metal rack that keeps the food above water. Now, you can place the dumplings directly onto the trivet, or better yet, use a small bowl or plate that’s heat-proof. According to users, the result is almost the same as with a steamer basket.
If you do not have a trivet, please resist the temptation to use aluminum foil or other improvisations that some people might suggest online since these alternatives can be dangerous. Do not use any other material inside the Instant Pot unless it’s approved by the manufacturer. The Instant Pot works under pressure, which is why explosions and fires are a common sight when it’s handled improperly.
Step Three: Serve and Enjoy
When the Instant Pot has finished, quickly release all the pressure. This is done by pushing the knob to quickly release the pressure and steam – the method is called quick release. You’ll probably see the steam being released, so do not stand above the Instant Pot when you do this.
Quick release usually lasts 2 minutes, but we recommend waiting 5 minutes to prevent burns.
After this, take a serving plate and place the dumpling on the plate. Decorate with soy sauce and seasonings of choice.
Steam dumplings prepared in an Instant Pot are a great idea when you want to squeeze a quick but tasty dinner into a very busy schedule. With frozen dumplings that are available in all larger supermarkets, you can prepare dinner in just 5 to 10 minutes.
However, for many people, steamed dumplings are more than just a quick meal. If you enjoy cooking, love dumplings, and want to experiment with different tastes, then preparing dumplings from scratch is also a possibility. In this case, the Instant Pot is a valuable multi-cooker where you can saute your filling, steam the dumplings, or even pressure cook dumpling soups or make other elaborate meals with dumplings as the main ingredient.
We hope that you’ll love our recipe and find it very delicious. But more importantly, we hope that we’ve convinced you that preparing steam dumplings in an Instant Pot is a very simple and fuss-free process, so you’ll decide to give it a try.