Xiao Long Bao – Shanghai Steamed Soup Dumplings

Xiao Long Bao Dumplings

Inspired by Bon Appetit’s May issue featuring Xiao Long Bao and deliciously elegant Kuidaore, I decided to try making XLB for the first time. If you’ve never had XLB before, its one of those foods that you absolutely must try in your lifetime. Inside the dumpling are little pockets of gelatinized broth made from chicken, pork and cured ham. When you steam the dumpling, the broth gelatin melts. If you would like to be seduced, read on. If you aren’t in a spot where you can comfortably moan out loud (like at work, or at school, or if your kids are running around), I suggest that you close this site, come back another time with a glass of wine – you really can’t skip the foreplay.

Beginning of Foreplay

Aromatic chicken, pork bone and cured ham broth set & cut into shimmering ribbons of translucent gelatin:

Broth Gelatin

Cut into cubes they look like jewels:

Xiao Long Bao Broth Gelatin

Are you hungry yet? The little dumplings are begging to be nestled between your lips.


See the steam? The sun was just starting to come down as we began our feast. Do you see the spicy Sriracha “Rooster Cock Sauce” seducing you from behind?

Dumplings in Steamer

This is the end of Foreplay

Don’t be shy, I’ll hold your hand and walk you through it.

Pick up one of those wooden soup spoon and a pair of chopsticks. Gently lay down one of those tender, juicy, dumping so that it drapes seductively in your spoon. Glide the warm wooden spoon towards your mouth, let your lips lightly brush against the nipple of the dumpling. Slowly move down and take a little nibble on on of the folds of the skin. Let the wisps of steam escape out and caress your upper lip and the tip of your nose. Surrender to the aromatic symphony of the filling tickling your senses. Ok, now go ahead, slowly bite into it. An explosion of rich, steaming, hot juice oozes into the groove of your tongue, dribbling down the side of your chin, and you try to catch any escaping broth with your spoon. No, don’t just stop at one…go ahead, take another one.

Don’t you feel deliciously alive?!

This is the end of Orgasm


While I typically specialize in easy, fast Asian recipes – this is not fast and easy. So I’ll give you fair warning that this does take time to make. It took about half a day to prepare the soup, chill & set with agar-agar, prep the filling, make & knead the dough, cut out dough circles, wrap, and steam. Whew. I know you’re saying, “those damn dumplings better taste mighty fine.” And oh, yes they did (you have my permission to skip to the beginning of this post to have another go at it or to see the picture of our Sunset Soup Sdumpling Supper. but please do come back because it took 2 hours and 3 glasses of wine to figure out how to use the slide show thingy below. maybe the wine had something to do with it taking 2 hours, but who knows)

Notes on Hot Water Dough:

Since I had never made XLB before, another call to Mom…and no, she didn’t advise me to get a can of Pews-bewry dough. The combination of using hot water and cold water was perfect and is one of the secrets -the boiling hot water partially cooks the dough & forms gluten better, resulting in a soft, stretchy, pliable and very easy to work with and do multiple pleats. The dough rolled beautifully, but it was still very strong and held the filling without breaking. When you add the hot water, take a pair of chopsticks and use that to stir vigorously to get the gluten going. How vigorous? Well, the best way to describe is to show the dough who’s boss and slap the dough around!

After a couple of minutes of all that slapping, add the cold water, stir more. Dump it out on your floured surface and knead. Magically, the dough changes and becomes so soft and springy. Simply put, the dough is giving in to you. Tired of being slapped. Yes, you’re the boss.

My mom initially told me 300g of all purpose flour, however, I found that not to be enough and kept adding more flour as I went along. In the recipe, I’m going to estimate that it is 400g. However, I’ll talk a little about how I know when to add more flour below.

Notes on Kneading:

When I am making anything that involves flour and kneading, I always use 90% measurement of flour than what the recipe calls for initially. The reason is that I can always add more flour if needed – its very simple to do that and very simple to knead the additional flour in by hand. However, if you have too much flour, it is very difficult to add more water to the dough. I also measure out the flour by weight, not by cups, as everyone measures a little different and ingredients may settle in the measuring cup a little different. So I initially use 90% of the flour and reserve the remaining 10% on my counter to incorporate bit by bit as I knead. This ensures that I never use too much flour. Your counter should be floured, so that the dough doesn’t stick to the counter. While you are kneading, if the dough is very sticky, add 1T of flour at a time. Sprinkle some on top of the dough, some on the counter – and knead to incorporate the new flour thoroughly. It feels right when its slightly tacky, but not sticky. The dough should come together beautifully in a nice, smooth, round ball. Let it rest (you’d be tired too if you were slapped around). When you poke it with your finger, the dough should slowly ease back into position.

The Pleating:

Master XLB pleaters pleat lightening fast. And, they pleat the dumplings with one hand. I just don’t have that kind of talent and I didn’t count how many pleats there were. Each dumpling was a little different based on how well I managed to get my fat fingers out of the way on the last fold. For me to explain how I did this in words, I’d probably need a couple of cocktails in hand. Here’s a series of images to show you instead!

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 3.53.24 PM Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 3.53.33 PM Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 3.53.38 PM Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 3.55.35 PM Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 3.55.43 PM Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 3.55.50 PM Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 3.55.58 PM Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 3.56.07 PM Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 3.56.17 PM

A confession about the oh-so-perfect cubes that were pictured in the Foreplay section. I started out with perfect cubes – trying to imitate the method Kuidore used. I should have known that for me, someone who compulsively has to touch and mess up the columns of flawlessly folded t-shirts at The Gap, it was just too perfect for me. So, instead, I took a fork and ran it quickly through the gelatin cubes to break it up into smaller pieces and mixed that directly into my pork/shrimp filling.

Another note about the recipe in Bon Appetit: Anita Lo’s filling recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of sugar, which I think is too much. Maybe she meant 3 tsp? I don’t want to doubt the recipe from Anita, whom I really respect. Well, anyways, it tasted great with 2 tsp. The filling shouldn’t be too sweet. Its a savory dish.  Anita’s version of using pre-made won-ton wrappers is great if you’re in hurry, but since I’m going to take the time and energy to make the broth and the filling, why not just take a little more time and love to make your own wrapper too? Using won-ton skins really would be such a waste on this dish! I guess its like making a delicate, home-made chocolate souffle and then squirting Hershey’s chocolate syrup on top of it. Yeah, you could….but why?  Also, most won-ton skins are too thin to make XLB – I can’t imagine how well it would work. Regarding the round 3″ cookie cutter used to cut out the dough rounds: I didn’t have one. So I took a small can of bamboo shoots, opened both sides of it and used the can as my cookie cutter. Since I have one of those nifty Oxo no-sharp edges can openers, it was pretty easy and no cut fingers.

Don’t worry, the bamboo shoots didn’t go to waste, they went into a batch of My Mom’s Famous Egg RollsChinese Egg Rolls.



Xiao Long Bao - Chinese Soup Dumplings Recipe

Servings: 4 Prep Time: 2 hours + 3 hours chill in refrigerator Cook Time: 10 minutes
Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 1.16.50 PM

Thank you, Mom, for the recipe!


2 quarts of water
2 pounds chicken bones (wings/back/neck)
2 ounces of Virginia Country Ham (or cured Chinese ham if you can get it), cut into 4 pieces
1/2 pound of pork skin & fat (you can ask your butcher for this, he'll most likely just give it to you. you could also use pork belly, or just a fatty cut of pork)
1 inch piece of ginger, sliced into 4-5 ginger "coins"
2 green onions, cut into 3" pieces
2 large garlic cloves, smashed with side of your knife
2 teaspoons of Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
1 lb ground pork
1/4 lb shrimp, shelled, deveined and minced finely
3 stalks green onion, finely minced
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (use rasp grater)
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
(makes about 40 dumplings)
400 grams of all-purpose flour (but please re-read the part above re: dough)
3/4 cups boiling hot water
1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon of sambal (hot chili & garlic sauce)
1/4 cup black vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled



1 tablespoon powdered Agar Agar or 1 tablespoon of unflavored gelatin

Place 4 cups of the broth in a pot, turn on the heat. When just about to boil, turn heat off and add the agar-agar or gelatin. Whisk for 2 minutes until all powder is dissolved. Pour broth into an 8x8 baking dish (size really doesn't matter. if you have a few plastic containers, use those instead. remember how you used to make jello?) Refrigerate until set, about 3-4 hours. (I stuck mine in the freezer after the first hour because I got impatient...it only took 2 hours for mine to set)


Mix all ingredients. Remember the broth gelatin above? When the broth gelatin is set, run a fork through it, with criss-cross motion, to break up into very small 1/4" pieces. Take about 1 1/2 cups of the broth gelatin and add that to the filling mixture. Stir to incorporate evenly throughout. Refrigerate until ready to use.


Put 90% of the flour in a large bowl. Pour about a third of the hot water in the flour. Use a pair of chopsticks to stir vigorously. Add more hot water. Stir more. Add the last bit of the water and stir vigorously until the dough begins to form. Add the cold water and oil. Keep stirring vigorously with chopsticks. Stop when you can't stir anymore.

Dust counter with the remainder 40 grams of flour. Place dough on floured surface, use your hands to knead the dough for 8 -10 minutes, until it becomes soft, smooth and bounces back slowly when you poke with your finger. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Take one piece (cover the remaining 3 pieces with plastic wrap) and roll it into a long log, about 1-1/4" diameter. Using pastry scraper or knife, cut dough into pieces about the size of a golf ball. Roll one of the balls between your palms to get a nice, round, smooth ball. Using a rolling pin, roll it out flat. Use 3" cookie cutter or improvise with my ghetto version of a cutter to cut out the dough circle. **Note, you may need more flour as your are rolling out your dough. I always keep the counter dusted and a small pile of flour nearby so I can quickly nudge some over if I need it.

Fill with 1 tablespoon of filling, pinch pleat by following the slideshow above. Repeat with rest. Make sure that you cover any dough that you aren't currently using and cover the dumplings with a towel to prevent drying.

1 head of Napa cabbage, leaves separated

Fill steamer with 1 layer of Napa cabbage leaves. Steam over medium heat for 2 minutes to warm up the steamer and to soften cabbage. Place dumplings on the cabbage leaves, leaving 1 1/2" space between each dumpling. Steam for 12 minutes. Serve in bamboo steamer.

Shave the ginger - Use your sharp paring knife to get a flat surface on one of the long sides. With a vegetable peeler, cut thin strips along the long side of the ginger. Use knife to further cut the strips into super-thin slices. This way, you get the full flavor of ginger in your sauce + the crunch of the little strips of ginger as you eat without tough, fibrous pieces of ginger.

Whisk together the ingredients in a bowl with the ginger.


More Xiaolongbao Recipes

Top Chef Lee Anne Wong’s Chinese Soup Dumpling Recipe with Pork and Crab – Steamy Kitchen

<a href=”http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/04/soup-dumplings-xiao-long-bao-recipe.html” title=”chinese soup dumpling recipe”>Chinese Soup Dumplings</a> – from Serious Eats

<a href=”http://thewoksoflife.com/2014/09/steamed-shanghai-soup-dumplings-xiaolongbao/” title=”steamed shanghai soup dumplings”>Steamed Shanghai Soup Dumplings</a> – The Woks of Life

Did not load Widget Area 5

Comments 193

  1. erikthebold

    although your recipe gives me a raging erection, i have a hard time believing the dumpling noodles in xlb don’t include lard (mmmmm… lard. talk about erotic!)

    when you’re in shanghai, you should consult with another source. i’m curious to hear the results.

    i’m off to attempt your recipe, plus bacon drippings.

  2. Howard

    Fabulous site, and discovering by searching for xiao long bao is extra special.

    Do you plan to present a comparably steamy sheng jian bao experience?

    I hope so. Thank you very much for all your work. I’m waiting for your cookbook with high hopes.


  3. Carlo Graziani

    Excellent, thank you. I’m gearing up to try this.

    One question: What do you think of prosciutto ends as a source of both the pork rind and the ham? I have a source in the Chicago suburbs that sells them (basically, the tapered shank end of a prosciutto that has been sliced to the point that new slices are too small to sell) for about $5/lb, at which price you can put substantial amounts of prosciutto in soup without having to get a second mortgage.

    Superficially, this would seem to fit the bill here. Each end comes with quite a bit of rind, maybe even the required 1/2lb (I’d have to check). In addition, the ham itself, while moister than smithfield and unsmoked, is cured, and fairly salty. Do you see a problem with this?

  4. SteamyKitchen

    I’m sure it would be fine to use in the soup to replace the Smithfield ham – ALTHOUGH – using it in place of the pork skin and fat may make the broth very salty.

  5. Carlo Graziani

    Good catch, thanks. I’ll try soaking the prosciutto ends in cold water for an hour or two before putting them in.

  6. Gaosheng

    I love how well you describe and detailed the process of making it plus the slides and pictures helps a lot. I’m going to make it soon.

  7. greasemonkey

    i’d type something at least halfway intelligent but my head feels like it’s going to explodafjdskl;adsjfasj;dfjas;dkjgasddslf;kjasdfj;alksjdf;alskdjfaksdjf;askldjf




  8. Vlcatko

    Hello Jaden,

    what a fantastic blog you have! And this recipe!!! Let me say it with just one word, because no matter how many I say, I still wouldn’t be enough: AMAZING!

    I have recenly fallen in love with Asian cuisine and I have already eaten quite a few things (not as many as I would like, but it is very hard to get Asian anything here…) and I also made several attempts at cooking Asian food.

    The last thing I made were gyoza dumplings and I was surprised how well it turned out. So I went and did some research on different kinds of filled duplings and your recipe looks too good not to try.

    However, as I was doing my research, I read at several other sites that if you want to steam the dumplings, not fry them like gyoza, you should not use water/flour dough but water/flour/egg dough because the water/flour dough would get yucky by the steaming. – Is there any truth in there or should I forget about that?

    Thanks so much for your great work!

  9. Lilly

    I am in the midst of making this recipe as I type this message out! The soup is on the stove boiling away and I have also made the filling which is sitting in the fridge. I pan fried a little bit of the filling just a few minutes ago to see if the taste is right and it tastes delicous! Will let everyone know how the end product turned out. Thanks for the recipe!

  10. Pingback: Quick Bite: Chef Liu | Eat It, Atlanta

  11. Veron

    Hah…I’m I glad when I went looking for chinese soup dumplings I landed on your blog… I know you can’t ignore me when i pester you with questions , right 😉 (just kidding …I know how busy you are).
    My question for now, how thin do you roll the dough? As thin as the wonton wrappers I see in the chinese market?
    Also, I only have metal steamer…would that make a difference other than authenticity of presentation?

    No, the dough is not super thin – you’ll never get it that thin and it will break anyways! I’d just say as thin as you can without breaking during folding. Using one of those fold-out metal steamers (the ones that fold in/out like a flower?) won’t work, you’ll only get 4 buns in it. If you’re using a BIG metal steamer ie like the bamboo steamer but just metal, it’s fine. I have one of those as well. If the holes are big, then you might want to put double layer of parchment and also control your heat.

    xo, jaden

  12. TabzChewy

    I’m glad your site came up first on google when I searched for XLBs. I’ve never seen such an interesting description of eating XLBs, and it definitely made my day!

    Thank you for the recipe as well! Must definitely try it when I have the time!

  13. ting

    what what what, you make xiao long bao too?!!!! love the juices in those cute bao zi.. yummmmy

  14. Pingback: Food, glorious food. Part 5 « stepho&crank

  15. Rincon

    I just found this site a couple weeks ago and I love it! 5 stars.

    Xiao Long Bao is perhaps my favorite dim sum item, and after seeing your recipe I was inspired to try it (after a previous success with your Pho recipe!).

    The main shortcut/difference was that I used chicken stock I had previously made and frozen. The gelatine “trick” worked, and I indeed produced soup-filled dumplings that were actually pretty tasty, although lacking the super-rich porky goodness from the real thing. But what I found most lacking in the final result was related to dough: my dumplings were *way* thinker-skined than ones I’ve had at restaurants (especially at the top), and instead of staying round and plump, they flattened into little pancake shapes. Any suggestions for these two problems?

    Thanks! Off to read more of this fantastic site…

    THANK YOU!!! As for the flat dumplings, you could try putting more filling in the dumplings and making the wrappers thicker. I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe! ~j

  16. Pingback: Three months and three days! « Go big or go home…

  17. susan

    Both my husband and I LOVE Xiao Long Bao, I am planning on making these this weekend. Have you ever frozen these dumplings. If so how did they taste when you cooked them.

  18. SteamyKitchen

    Susan – They taste great – just freeze them on a plate or tray (dumplings not touching). Once frozen, gather them up and put in a freezer bag. Steam them while frozen– just add a few more minutes to cooking time.


  19. Pingback: THE RAGING SPORK › Well that was fast…

  20. Ruth


    Making XLB with my boyfriend was such a great experience. Your witty and informative writing style made directions easy to understand, allowing us to modify as desired.
    Btw, our “dump-rings” were kick-ass. I impressed people at a business lunch meeting at my home office the next day with the leftovers.

    ps…where’s the straight up CHINESE cooking show at? Do one! People think cooking “Asian” is complex, but with a few choice ingredients, and slightly rendering it for the American kitchen as your mom suggests with the Pillsbury buns, it’s totally doable and delicious.



  21. Kelley

    ^-^ hallo! I read this post a long time ago, but I haven’t had time to try this recipe until today (gaaah AP/IB testing!)

    The stock I made + agar agar is currently setting, but the oil droplets on top of the soup have hardened and turned into those white circly oily things… (ew!) should I skim them off or just leave them on?

    Also, if I wanted to leave everything until tomorrow morning to make them, is it okay?

    Thanks so much!
    ~<3 Kelley

    Skim off the oil and yes, you can make it all tomorrow ~j

  22. Kelley

    Oh no! I forgot to mention I absolutely LOVE your site! So many pretty pictures, and such funny stories.

    P.S. your son is really cute :]

    thank you~ j

  23. Wendy

    Hi Jaden,
    I’m in the process of making these buns (currently simmering the soup). For the wrapper recipe, I’ve noticed that other sites use high gluten flour in combination with all purpose flour. Would there be a significant difference in the texture of the wrapper once steamed? I would like a smooth, thin and slightly chewy wrapper. Please help! Thanks a lot!!

    Gluten will make a chewy-er, tougher wrapper! ~jaden

  24. misoriffic

    I’m obsessed with XLB and this sight is amazing! I made them today. I actually use my pasta roller to roll out the skins, but I made them with the thinnest setting and my XLB soup leaked out during steaming. 🙁 however, that soup is DAMN good and i slurped it up anyway. :)))) I’ll make it next time with the second thinnest setting instead. 🙂

    Question, I have half of the gelatin soup leftover. Can I use that for anything else?

    It’s perfect as broth in a noodle soup! Once you heat it up, the gelatin melts. Your broth will be hearty, flavorful, delicious. Full of body!

    Or you can freeze in little ice cube trays or cupcake trays and use them for cooking (like steaming vegetables) ~Jaden

  25. Carolina

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this beautifully illustrated and fun to do recipe ! I felt in love with XLB last month on a trip to Beijing, my parents took me to a Shanghai restaurant specialized on these marvels and I could not believe my tastebuds, this has got to be one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. I live in Paris and I still could not find a restaurant that serves real XLB. The dough part scares me a little (I made jiaozi the other day and got so tired rolling the tough dough I almost gave up) but it’s really worth it. Maybe with a pasta roller it might be easier… Thanks again for your cool blog, will let you know how it went !

  26. Swede

    Made this recipy, whats the trick to get the dough thinner, manually it didnt work out, they were too thick compared to the ones I ate alot of in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

    Otherwise thanks for awesome recipe it worked out nicely.

    I’m gonna try using the pasta machine to make it thinner next time I make it

  27. Pingback: Dump Day! East Dumpling King | ILikeToEatAndDrink

  28. Courtney

    I just tried making this.. Thanks for the recipe! I had them in LA and LOVED them so I’m in the process of perfecting. The one tip I would make is let the dough rest over night. I used part after letting the dough rest for 30 min and then used the rest the next day and the one I let rest overnight was soo much better and a lot easier to work w/.

  29. Russell

    You are a god. I’m half chinese and when I was younger I always used to go to my grandparents house to enjoy various dim sum dishes, XLB included. Sadly, by the time I got interested in cooking, my grandmother had become a little too senile to pass on the recipes and cooking techniques I grew up loving so much. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to make this for her. Thank you so much for an amazing (and incredibly detailed) recipe.

  30. Isabel Gauthier

    I had soup dumplings for the first time a couple of weeks ago on a trip to Hong Kong. I have never cooked anything Chinese (that I remember) and your recipe was so detailed I made them, and they were perfect. Thank you!

  31. Pingback: Preparing for a birthday! « TaraYang

  32. Pingback: Xiao Long Bao at last! « TaraYang

  33. modn1

    thanks for the recipe. i tried it but it didn’t have much soup in it. i think next time, i’ll fill it, then add the aspic / gelatin separately. was still tasty.

    i love your website!

  34. c oliver

    I made XLB for the first time a few days ago and followed this recipe exactly. They turned out SO well. XLB are one of my favorite dishes and completely unavailable where I live so I was pretty motivated. I’m quite dough-phobic but this dough was so easy to make and, most importantly, to work with. It was so elastic. I posted about this on Chowhound and got so much praise. I’m Caucasian and was told that plenty of very competent Chinese cooks won’t try to make XLB. Thank you for this recipe (and great directions and pix) and thanks for this site. I’m already eyeing those baked Parmesan chicken wings 🙂

  35. Pingback: Happy (Lunar) New Year! 恭喜发财! « Bloggingforfood's Blog

  36. charlene

    Hi there!
    I’ve been looking round for a XLB recipe for the longest time, so I was glad to find one so thorough and scrumptious-looking!
    I’ve tried this recipe twice now, and I just can’t seem to get it just right!
    The skin is very very fragile and breaks easily, releasing all that wonderful soup. Any ideas how to improve this? Perhaps the dough is too wet?

  37. Pingback: Yes, you can make Shanghai Soup Dumplings | Three Squabbling Asians

  38. Pingback: Basketcase « Curve Happens

  39. Newbilong

    great recipe and instructions!! we became addicted to xiao long bao in Shanghai, especially the ones with hairy crab roe, but nobody makes them properly back home in our country. this recipe is spot on — the best i have tried since shanghai. i double the sugar, salt, ginger and green onion quantities in the filling (sometimes i use mirin instead of sugar) and i leave out the sambal and oil from the dip. the pastry recipe is perfect — that’s the real key to getting good xiao long bao.

  40. UpSorn

    Hello there,
    Thank you for your tip about hot and cold water dough. I have one question to ask you before jumping in. When you said ‘cold water’ do you mean refrigerated water or just tap water (might be a litter cooler than room temperature)?

    Thank you in advance.

  41. Brighid

    I love making bao, especially char siu bao or plain grilled chicken bao, but never tried making xiao long before. Too time consuming (impatient cooker) XD maybe I try sometime.

  42. Pingback: Takenoya: Chinese Steamed Soup Dumplings in Mexico City!! – Midwesterner in Mexico

  43. Xinmei

    I’ve always wondered how they got the soup there! Shall be trying this, thanks for the dough recipe. I always thought that any kind of ‘baozi’ had to have yeast in the dough, which I found difficult. Looking forward to the seduction 😉

  44. Pingback: International Dumpling Incident Party : Off the spork

  45. Pingback: Crystal Jade « Sinfully Sabrina

  46. Pingback: Xiao Long Bao or Soup Dumpling Recipe | Sasasunakku

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *