You can absolutely make juicy and flavorful mandu, or Korean dumplings, at home. And it's a lot easier than you may think! Let me show you with step-by-step instructions and different cooking methods.
Mandu (or mandoo) are Korean dumplings that are made with various savory fillings and wrapped into pillowy packages of goodness.
They’re super versatile as you can fill them with any type of meat and/or seafood or make it vegetarian. You can also add all kinds of vegetables, the most common ones being cabbage, bean sprouts, green onion, mushrooms, and zucchini.
There are several ways to cook these delicious dumplings and they all have different names - steamed (jjin mandu), boiled (mul mandu), pan-fried (gun mandu), or deep-fried (tuigin mandu).
So you can see, everyone's mandu will be unique and special and today I'm so excited to share one of my family's most treasured recipes!
My mother-in-law has been making these dumplings for over 40 years! And so you can imagine, my husband has so many fond memories of his family gathering around the table every Christmas and Korean Lunar New Year and making dumplings together while swapping stories and life happenings with one another.
Pictured is my Italian brother-in-law who has the reputation of eating more than making :).
What a heartwarming and delicious tradition it is, and I am determined to carry it on with my own family. Give this recipe a try and perhaps you will be moved to make this a part of your family's timeless tradition as well!
- Ground meat - My mother-in-law uses a combination of ground beef and pork, but feel free to use whatever you like. Chicken, turkey, shrimp also work. Pictured here is 90% lean ground pork, which my MIL would totally frown upon because she doesn't like to go leaner than 85% for flavor and juiciness. But I think it's still quite tasty and so do the kids.
- Dumpling wrappers (mandu pi) - You can use homemade or store-bought, which is what we always get. You will need about 40-50 wrappers for this recipe. We prefer the round ones. They are typically frozen so you will need to plan ahead and thaw in the refrigerator for a day.
- Tofu - firm or medium-firm tofu will work best because you want it to be crumbly. It adds great texture, moisture, and nutrition. Don't use soft or silken tofu as it will make the filling too wet.
- Mung bean sprouts - also added for texture and moisture. You can also use chopped cabbage or sweet potato glass noodles (dangmyeun).
- Green onion - You can also use Asian chives, which is what my mother-in-law always uses.
How to make dumpling filling
- Prepare the mung bean sprouts - Blanch for 3-4 minutes in boiling water until soft but still with a bit of crunch. Remove and allow to cool before adding to a clean dishcloth or cheese cloth. Wrap tightly and squeeze out as much water as possible. Give them a rough chop.
- Prepare the tofu - There's no need to press the tofu. Simply wrap in a dish cloth and press with your hands to remove excess water. Then using your hands, crumble into small pieces.
- In a large bowl, add all the ingredients for the filling -meat, tofu, sprouts, chopped onion, green onion, garlic, egg, salt, and pepper. Mix well with your hand until all the ingredients are well combined.
How to make the mandu
- Using a spoon, scoop up some filling and place into the center of your dumpling wrapper. do NOT overstuff! Using your finger tip, lightly apply a thin layer of water or egg to the outer ¼ inch of the wrapper.
- Gently fold over and pinch the edges tightly together. You can make into whatever cute and fancy shapes you wish - pleated, half moon, etc. My family just keeps it simple with the basic folded and pinched look.
Pictured: my niece and nephew helping out!
How to Cook Mandu (2 ways)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and working in batches, gently add the mandu. Stir so they don't stick together.
- Simmer for about 6-8 minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon.
- Place water in a pot and bring to a boil. The surface of the water should be under the basket.
- Place the dumplings in a steamer basket (you can use a bamboo steamer or a stainless steel steamer), making sure they're not touching each other.
- Once the water comes to a boil, add the steamer basket. Cover and steam for about 8-10 minutes, until cooked through and the skin turns semi-translucent.
This is hands down our family's favorite way to make dumplings. You are essentially frying and steaming at the same time, and you will end up with a crispy exterior and moist, juicy interior. Heavenly!
- Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into a skillet or pan over med-high heat. Add dumplings (don't overcrowd the pan) and cook 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
- Add a splash of water to skillet (not too much! Just 3 tablespoons or so) and cover with a lid immediately as oil will spatter. Cook for 2-3 minutes in medium-low heat.
- Remove the lid and cook for a minute or so.
Tips for Success
- Be sure to squeeze out as much water from tofu and bean sprouts as possible! This helps maintain a compact filling as well as reduce splatter from excess water hitting the oil.
- Make the filling the night before so it's one less thing to do on the big day. Since we usually make these during the holidays, it just makes the day of much less stressful.
- Taste the mixture before wrapping. Another genius tip from my mother in law. Cook a small patty in a pan, taste, and add more salt, pepper, or garlic powder as needed.
- Run out of dumpling wrappers? Shape remaining filling into patties, dunk in beaten egg and cook them! Hello mini hamburger patties.
- Cover the mandu while wrapping - Unless you have many hands helping, it will take some time to assemble the mandu. So cover the ready-to-cook ones with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.
How to Freeze Homemade Dumplings
You can freeze both cooked or uncooked dumplings using this method.
First, spread them out on a lined baking tray, making sure they're not touching each other, and place in the freezer for an hour, or until frozen solid. Then transfer to a freezer bag or container.
This will prevent them from sticking into a big clump. Freeze for 3-4 months.
When ready to enjoy, do not thaw first. Otherwise, the wrapper will break and it will turn into a big mess. Just be sure to cook a bit longer until the dumplings are fully cooked through.
More Korean Recipes
Did you make this recipe? Leave a rating below and let me know how you liked the recipe! Your feedback means so much to me!
Mandu Korean Dumplings
- 1 pound ground meat, see note
- 1 cup mungbean sprouts, cooked and roughly chopped
- ½ pack firm or medium-firm tofu
- ½ med onion, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup chopped green onion
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 60 Dumpling skins
- Low-sodium soy sauce and vinegar 3:1 ratio
- A thin slice of garlic
- Red pepper flakes optional
- Boil bean sprouts hot water for about 5 minutes. Remove and transfer to ice bath.
- Using a kitchen towel, squeeze all the water out from the sprouts. Run the knife through for a coarse chop. *
- Similarly, squeeze all the water out from the tofu and crumble into small pieces.*
- In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients together. Mix well!
- Place a wonton skin in the palm of your hand. Brush the edges of the skin with water. Place a spoonful of filling in the middle. DO NOT OVERSTUFF!
- Fold skin in half over the filling and press the edges together FIRMLY to seal!
- Repeat with rest of skins.
- Pour 2 Tbs of EVOO into a medium-sized skillet over med-high heat. Cook about 8 dumplings at a time, approx 3 minutes on each side or until browned.
- Pour about 3 Tbs of water to skillet and cover with a lid immediately as oil will spatter
- Cook for additional 2 min.
- Enjoy! Don't forget the dipping sauce!
- It doesn't always come out to be 40 dumplings. sometimes more sometimes less. I say have at least 60 skins on hand, just in case.
- Be sure to squeeze out as much water as possible! This helps maintain a compact filling as well as reduce splatter from excess water hitting the oil.
- Pan frying the dumplings allows for crispy skin while the addition of water steams the filling. Also by using this method, less oil will be needed.