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

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Comments 193

  1. divisible_by_zero

    I tried your recipe, and everyone who sampled it (myself included) agrees that it getz da nomnomnomnomnom (with extra nom). My Chinese roommate suggested that the dough could use a little salt. What do you think?

    1. SteamyKitchen

      You really don’t need to (traditional recipes don’t call for salt in dough) because the filling and soup contains the flavor. Plus you have a dipping sauce.

  2. Angela C

    Oh my! I am so excited to try your recipe!
    I never even noticed the post of this recipe before!

  3. Angela C

    Yay! I don’t know how I’ve missed this recipe before!
    I can’t wait to try it finally! your pictures look the best out of all the ones I’ve googled! 🙂

  4. Heinz

    Thanks a lot for this wonderful recipe.

    I love your easily cooking and/but artful recipes. Especially your photos are always a great pleasure to view, so that we HAVE to try and taste it.
    And this Xiao-Long-Bao-recipe was really a great hit!

    Kind regards from Austria

  5. Randal

    This is a really good recipe. I’m making it for the second time tonight. I found that I like to add more garlic to the broth. The leftover stock I use for saimein. I’m glad I found this. Thank you

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  13. Josephine

    Your photos look so great I cant wait to try the recipe myself. I have some questions though. Can I make these in advance and freeze them? Will the dough dry out?

  14. Wesley Nickum

    First, an addiction to your garlic scallion noodles, modeled after the variety from Than Long in SF, and now this. I love you Jaden. I really do.

  15. Nadhia

    Hi, thank you so much for this recipe. I had an older XLB recipe but I won’t be able to make it because it requires too much meat (too expensive for me). I love your gelatin trick. By the way, I was wondering if I could replace the 1/2lb pork rind with chinese ham. I went to a chinese market and I was happy to find that they have very fatty chinese ham. Unfortunately, they are in large package. I don’t really use chinese ham in my cooking. Therefore, I was hoping that there will be a way to completely utilize the ham. If the substitution is possible, how much ham should I add? 10 lbs? Thank you in advance. I cannot wait to try your recipe.

    1. SteamyKitchen

      Hi Nadhia-I’m sure you can replace with Chinese ham, but I’m not sure amount since I’ve never tried it! Just replace pound for pound, so use 1/2 pound. Remember the ham is salty, so you might also want to cut back on soy.

  16. Eulis

    I came across your recipe for Xiao long pau and cant wait to try. It looks really yummy
    Is it possible to keep the uncooked paus in the freezer and steam it before eating or should they be steamed first and then kept in the freezer and will the dough absorb the soup if it is kept in the freezer after steaming.

    1. SteamyKitchen

      Freeze right after you wrap them. When you are ready to eat, take them from freezer and put in steamer directly. Add 2 minutes to steaming time since you’re steaming frozen.

  17. Hello Panda Biscuit

    This recipe looks amazing! My Chinese boyfriend loves~ xiao long bao and I thought I might try this recipe sometime, but since it takes so long, I was wondering, if I made extra dumplings could I freeze them? Thank you ^^

    1. Hello Panda Biscuit

      oops! sorry, didn’t notice that you had just answered that question! Anywayz, can’t wait to try them!!

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  21. Eric Nestler

    I am curious to know how many people this recipe will serve? I am planning a dinner party for six and wonder if this will be enough?

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  24. Santy

    This recipe call for 4 cups broth but you only used 1 1/2 cups mixed into the filling. Where to used the 2 1/2 cups? Thanks!

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  26. Bonnie

    Thanks for the recipe! will def. try it out!
    Quick question: Can I make it with a chicken or chicken broth? Do I need to cook it with chicken Bones??

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  29. Emily

    I want to make this for my family, but most of them have shellfish allergies, so… I can’t do shrimp. Will that affect the flavor of the recipe at all? Is there something I can use in place of shrimp perhaps?

  30. Megan

    Does anyone, anywhere sell these frozen to be shipped? I’ve tried before and failed miserably and am a bit gun-shy.

  31. Chelsea

    I tried these tonight and my dough was too doughy! What did I do wrong?? I followed the recipe exactly how you said to do it… Also maybe you could put up
    Another link for the video, it wasn’t working for me. Please help bc hen we go home we always go to this restaurant in Chinatown that specialize in these dumplings. I would love to make these the right way. Thanks!!!

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  33. R

    Is the soup meant to be unsalted? my broth is cooking away and i took a sip of it, it smells delicious, but theres no traces of salt at all and im almost 2 hours in. is it suppose to be that way? thanks! 🙂

    1. SteamyKitchen

      The ham should have provided the salt, but feel free to add more. If you are already at gelatin stage, don’t worry….just add a little more salt to the pork filling. Best thing to do is prepare the pork filling and cook a bite sized bit in a small frying pan. Add a little bit of gelatin in last minute to melt. Taste test! Adjust the pork filling seasoning to taste.

  34. Chocolate Lady

    LOVE this post! I’m making these dumplings now (okay, I’m cheating a bit and making deconstructed XLBs because everyone is starving and I don’t have time to turn the broth into gelatin – maybe tomorrow). I’ll miss the salty liquid that seeps out upon first bite, but can’t wait to nibble the skin and savor the goodness within:))

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  36. nicole

    my wrappers keep turning out very thick after steaming. when i roll them out they are very thin, but they plump up during steaming. any suggestions?

  37. Christine

    Hi! Are you suppossed to cook the shrimp and pork first before you fill the dumpling? I feel dumb asking, but just wanted to double check. Thank you for all of your yummy recipes!

  38. Eric

    Thanks so much for this recipe! It tasted great, but unfortunately the dumplings flattened out significantly as they steamed, so they were more like little pancakes with a ball of meat in the middle. What did I do wrong? Not fill the wrappers enough?

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