These smoky tofu dumplings are pan-fried to a delicious crisp and served with spicy sweet chili dipping sauce. A show stealing vegan appetizer that everyone will love!
These dumplings are a vegan spin on some pork dumplings that I accidentally took a bite of at a Thai restaurant. Apparently the Thai word for "vegetable" is similar to "pork." Or maybe the English word "vegetable" sounds like "pork" in Thai? I'm not sure, but in any event, I had myself one of those accidents while dining out.
I made some tofu dumplings in order to make myself feel better. And I decided to make the tofu nice and smoky and savory, just like a pork dumpling, but better because it's vegan!
What You'll Need
For the Dumplings
- Oil. Any high-heat variety should work. Try peanut, vegetable or canola oil.
- Tofu. You'll want to use firm or extra-firm.
- Soy sauce. Tamari or liquid aminos work as well!
- Liquid smoke. Look for this near the barbecue sauces at your supermarket. Can't find it? Try a little smoked paprika instead. You can also skip this if you're no a fan.
- Wonton wrappers. Check the ingredients to ensure the ones you use are vegan. I used Dynasty brand (found at Wegmans). If you can't find vegan ones, try making your own using this vegan wonton wrapper recipe.
For the Sauce
- Sambal oelek. Look for this type of chili paste in the international foods section of the supermarket.
- Maple syrup. Or use another liquid sweetener, like agave.
- Rice vinegar. White vinegar can be subbed if you don't have this on hand.
- Sesame seeds. These are optional — just a nice garnish!
How to Make Tofu Dumplings
The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll down if you'd prefer to skip right to the recipe!
Make the Filling
- To make the filling, heat up some oil in a skillet, then add minced garlic, grated ginger, chopped scallions, and diced carrots. Sauté everything just until the carrots begin to soften up.
- Now crumble in some tofu. Tip: freezing and then thawing your tofu before cooking will give it a nice crumbly texture. You can find more details on tofu freezing in this tofu taco recipe.
- Cook the tofu for a few minutes, stirring it often, until it begins to dry and crisp in spots.
- Now add your soy sauce and liquid smoke. Continue cooking everything just until the liquid dries up.
Stuff the Dumplings
- Fill a small bowl with water. Now dip your finger in the water and lightly wet the edges of a wonton wrapper — this will help it to seal!
- Spoon a bit of filling over the center of the wrapper.
- Fold the wrapper over the filling, making a triangle shape.
- Gently press to seal the edges of the dumpling.
Fry the Dumplings
- Heat up some oil in a skillet. You want to very generously coat the bottom — this means about ⅛ inch of oil.
- Give the oil a minute to heat up, then add a few dumplings. Make sure you've got plenty of room in the skillet — if the dumplings touch each other they'll probably stick together.
- Fry the dumplings for a few minutes on each side, until they're lightly browned and crispy.
- Transfer the dumplings to a paper towel-lined plate to drain when they're done cooking.
- Now stir your sauce ingredients together in a bowl and serve your dumplings with the sauce. Enjoy!
Tofu Dumpling Tips & FAQ
- Can these dumplings be made gluten-free? Sure! Substitute gluten-free tamari for the soy sauce and use vegan gluten-free wonton wrappers.
- Shelf-life & storage. These dumplings will keep in the fridge for about 3 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months. To reheat, thaw (if frozen), then pop them into a 400°F oven until hot.
- Where can I find vegan wonton wrappers? You might luck out and find them at the supermarket (I did!). Otherwise, try an Asian market.
- Don't feel like making your own sauce? Use bottled! I like Trader Joe's sweet chili dipping sauce.
- Can these be made without oil? Possibly. The filling could be cooked using a good nonstick surface and a bit of water instead of oil. Instead of frying the dumplings, try steaming them like I did for these tofu potstickers.
More Asian-Inspired Appetizers
- Ginger-Glazed Tofu Meatballs
- Vegetable Spring Rolls
- Tofu & Peach Summer Rolls
- Scallion Pancakes
- Teriyaki Tempeh Meatballs
Smoky Tofu Dumplings with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
For the Smoky Tofu Dumplings
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed, divided
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 scallion, white and pale green parts, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, finely diced
- 7 ounces extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
- 20 wonton wrappers*
For the Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
- ¼ cup sambal oelek
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- A few sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
Make the Dumplings
Coat the bottom of a large skillet with 1 ½ teaspoons of oil and place it over medium heat.
When the oil is hot, add the garlic, ginger, scallion, and carrot to the skillet. Cook everything for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the carrot begins to become tender.
Crumble the tofu into the skillet and continue to cook everything for about 5 minutes, until the tofu dries up just a bit, flipping occasionally with a spatula.
Add the soy sauce and liquid smoke to the skillet and flip everything a few times to distribute the ingredients. Continue cooking the mixture for about 5 minutes, until most of the liquid dries up.
Remove the skillet from heat, taste-test the mixture, and adjust any seasonings to taste.
Fill a small bowl with water. Set a wonton wrapper on a work surface, then moisten the edges of the wrapper with water.
Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of the wrapper, then fold it over the filling, creating a triangle shape. Press to seal.
Repeat until all of the wrappers and filling are used.
Wipe out the skillet that you used for the tofu, then generously coat the bottom with oil and place it over medium heat.
When the oil begins to shimmer, add a few dumplings, being careful not to crowd the skillet.
Cook the dumplings for about 3 minutes on each side, until crispy.
Transfer the cooked dumplings to a paper towel-lined plate.
Repeat until all of the dumplings are cooked, adding oil to the skillet as needed between batches.
Make the Sauce
Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl. I like to garnish mine with scallions and a few sesame seeds.
Serve the dumplings with the sweet chili dipping sauce.
*Check the ingredients to ensure that your wonton wrappers are vegan. I usually buy them at Wegmans or an Asian market. You can also make your own without too much effort.