Plate of dumplings and bowls of sauce on a wooden table

Inspiring restaurant dishes from around the globe.

As people, ideas, and culinary traditions moved around the world over centuries, similar dishes popped up with exciting new flavours. Case in point: the dumpling. It has found its way onto menus from Bhutan to Poland.

Thinking of opening a restaurant and want inspiration from global cuisines? This guide will take you around the world as we discover 8 equally delicious dumplings and what makes them each unique. 

1. PIEROGIS

WHERE IN THE WORLD THEY’RE FROM: Eastern Europe, including Poland, Russia, and Ukraine (where they’re known as varenyky).

THEIR ORIGINS: They most likely made their way to Europe through Middle Age trade routes to China.

HOW THEY’RE MADE: These little guys are boiled and then sometimes pan-fried. Savoury pierogis are topped with sour cream and fried onions.

WHAT THEY’RE STUFFED WITH: Savoury varieties include potato, cheese, mushrooms, and ground meat, while sweeter options are made with seasonal fruits, like cherries, plums, or stoned prunes.

FUN FOOD FACT: Early recipes (we’re talking 1600s) were filled with chopped kidneys and veal fat. 

2. GYOJA

WHERE IN THE WORLD THEY’RE FROM: Japan

THEIR ORIGINS: The recipe came to Japan through soldiers stationed in China during WWII. 

HOW THEY’RE MADE: With a thinner wrap than their Chinese counterparts, gyoja are either steamed or pan fried, and often served in a hot bowl of ramen. Yaki-gyoja has the best of both worlds, with one crispy fried side and one soft steamed side.

WHAT THEY’RE STUFFED WITH: Minced pork, chicken, or mushrooms, with cabbage and ginger.

FUN FOOD FACT: Revealing its roots in China, gyoja is spelled with the same Chinese characters in Japan.

3. EMPANADAS

WHERE IN THE WORLD THEY’RE FROM: Spain, and countries across South and Central America (in Belize, they’re called “panades”), Indonesia and the Philippines. 

THEIR ORIGINS: They got their start in Spain, where “empanada” means wrapped in bread.

HOW THEY’RE MADE: More of a flakey, pie-crust style pastry, folded over into half-moons.

WHAT THEY’RE STUFFED WITH: Beef, pork, chicken, fish, beans, plantains, or our fave, cheese and sweet guava preserves.

FUN FOOD FACT: April 8th is National Empanada Day.

4. MANDU

WHERE IN THE WORLD THEY’RE FROM: South Korea

THEIR ORIGINS: Perhaps brought to the Korean peninsula by 14th-century Mongolians or through the Middle East’s Silk Road.

HOW THEY’RE MADE: Boiled, fried, or steamed.

WHAT THEY’RE STUFFED WITH: Beef, pork, fish, vegetables, or, kimchi, of course.

FUN FOOD FACT: Manduguk, a soup made with beef broth and mandu, is a Lunar New Year favourite in Korea. 

5. MOMO

WHERE IN THE WORLD THEY’RE FROM: Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim, Bengal, and Bhutan.

THEIR ORIGINS: Nepali merchants perhaps brought the recipe back from their journeys through Tibet.

HOW THEY’RE MADE: Round dumplings, twisted in the centre, then steamed or steam-fried. 

WHAT THEY’RE STUFFED WITH: Ground meat, vegetables, tofu, paneer cheese, soft chhurpi (a local hard cheese), or combinations of vegetable and meat.

FUN FOOD FACT: Super hungry? Try the momo’s supersized sibling, the thaigo.

6. JIAOZI 

WHERE IN THE WORLD THEY’RE FROM: China

THEIR ORIGINS: When it comes to dumplings, all roads lead back to China. Although there are various origin stories, the most prevalent being that they were created to treat frost-bitten ears by traditional medicine practitioner Zhang Zhongjing around AD 25-220.

HOW THEY’RE MADE: Pan-fried, deep-fried, steamed, or boiled in water or soup broth. 

WHAT THEY’RE STUFFED WITH: Chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, or fish mixed with chopped vegetables, including napa cabbage, scallion, celery, leek, spinach, mushroom, carrot, garlic chives, and even edible black fungus.

FUN FOOD FACT: It’s a tradition to eat jiaozi at midnight on Chinese New Year’s Eve, because it is said to bring prosperity in the new year.

7. MANTI

WHERE THEY’RE FROM: Turkey, but also popular in the Balkans, Armenia, Afghanistan, and parts of China and Russia.

THEIR ORIGINS: The earliest mention of them in transcripts dates back to 14th-century Mongolia, and they perhaps made their way from there to Turkey along the Silk Road.

HOW THEY’RE MADE: Boiled, baked, or fried, and served with yogurt, melted butter, and fresh mint.

WHAT THEY’RE STUFFED WITH: Fillings can vary from region to region, including lamb, cabbage, potato, and pumpkin.

FUN FOOD FACT: Some manti can be super tiny – but still big on flavour!

8. BUUZ

WHERE THEY’RE FROM: Mongolia

THEIR ORIGINS: Buuz may have their origins in the Chinese baozi (also known as bao), the steamed buns similar to their jaozi relatives. 

HOW THEY’RE MADE: A meatball is placed inside a small pocket of the buuz dough, then folded around the dough with a small opening at the top, and steamed.

WHAT THEY’RE STUFFED WITH: Most commonly, minced mutton or beef, flavoured with onion, garlic, and salt. Some chefs add mashed potatoes, cabbage, rice, or sprouted fennel seeds.

FUN FOOD FACT: Mongolia’s cold temperatures mean storing buuz is easy: simply put them outside to freeze. 

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