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How to Steam Soup Dumplings When You Don’t Have a Steamer

How to Steam Soup Dumplings When You Don’t Have a Steamer

October 26 2023

A soup dumpling craving can strike any time, often without warning—breakfast, lunch, dinner, or at 3 a.m. But what happens when a craving strikes while you’re on vacation somewhere or at a friend’s house, and there’s no steamer basket to be found?

Don’t worry; at MìLà, we’ve got some alternatives that will have you on your way to Xiao Long Bao heaven in 11 minutes. Explore how to steam soup dumplings without a steamer using some of our favorite methods.

The Pressure Cooker Method of Cooking Soup Dumplings

The principle of this method also applies to rice cookers, Instant Pots, and similar small appliances. Here is the equipment you’ll need:

  • Soup dumplings
  • A rice cooker
  • An Instant Pot
  • A colander or wire rack that can fit inside your small appliance of choice
  • Water

Fill your appliance up with water and place the upside-down colander or wire rack in the bottom. The water should not exceed the wire rack or colander. Place the steamer liner from your soup dumpling bag on top of the rack or colander. This will prevent that devastating moment when a dumpling rips open and spills all its delicious soup into the water below. 

If you’re using a rice cooker or Instant Pot, place your dumplings on the steamer rack and cover the lid. Timing varies depending on appliance, but in general, start by steaming the dumplings on low pressure for at least three minutes in an Instant Pot, or for a full 10 minutes at a rolling boil in your rice cooker.

How to Steam Soup Dumplings with the Wire Rack Method

Now we’re getting into MacGyver territory, using an item that’s popular for camping and often comes with an Instant Pot or rice cooker. For this steaming method we’ve highlighted on YouTube, you’ll need the following items:

  • Soup dumplings
  • A saucepan, pot, or wok 
  • A wire steaming or cooling rack
  • A plate
  • Water

Place your wire rack on the bottom of the pot, and pour enough water into the pot that it doesn’t evaporate during the steaming process but also doesn’t overflow onto the plate. Then, turn on the stove.

Once your water is at a rolling boil, place one of the steamer liners from your bag of soup dumplings onto the plate. Set your frozen soup dumplings on top of it, 1 inch apart from each other—soup dumplings like their personal space, or they tend to get too attached to their friends.

Once the plate is in place on top of the rack, cover the entire setup with your pot’s lid and set a timer for 11 minutes. Let your dumplings sit for another minute, during which time you can prepare your soup dumpling sauce of choice. Try not to inhale them, but we won’t judge if you do.

The Aluminum Foil Method

Aren’t sure how to steam soup dumplings if you don’t have a wire rack? This one is for you. All you’ll need to steam the soup dumplings is a plate, a shallow pan, and three balled-up pieces of aluminum foil. The aluminum foil balls should all be roughly the same size.

To get started, place your aluminum foil balls in the pan. Fill the pan with about 1.5 inches of water, and turn on the heat.

Once the water has reached a steady boil, set the plate on top of the three aluminum balls. Make sure the plate is as level as possible. Then, cover the whole setup with the pan’s lid.

Just like any other cooking hack, this process will take 11 minutes—throw on an old episode of SpongeBob SquarePants while you wait if you’re feeling nostalgic, and your dinner will be ready in no time.

Chopsticks and Instant Noodles (a.k.a. “The TikTok Method”)

As the name implies, this method achieved TikTok fame as a cooking hack a while ago. 

In theory, all you need to do is get water boiling and start cooking the instant noodles of your choice. Once they’re cooking, you can set a pair of flat-headed chopsticks over the boiling water and place the dumplings on top, before finally covering the whole setup with the pot’s lid.

Having tried this method with our own soup dumplings, we don’t recommend it for soup dumplings specifically. With the way our XLB sit on the chopsticks, it doesn’t allow them to heat through correctly. However, it might still work with other types of pre-cooked dumplings, so you may want to try it at home.

However, there is another option we’ve tested that just requires a frying pan. Here are the steps at a glance:

  • Place 1 tablespoon of cooking oil into the frying pan
  • Set the steamer basket liner from the dumpling bag in the bottom of the pan
  • Place the dumplings on top of the steamer liner and make sure they do not touch
  • Add just enough water to cover ONLY the liner
  • Cover the frying pan with a lid
  • Heat the dumplings on medium heat for nine minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165º Fahrenheit.
  • Let stand for one minute

Can You Microwave Soup Dumplings?

While some types of soup dumplings can be cooked in the microwave, we wouldn’t recommend this method for our soup dumplings. The reason is that, unlike other frozen XLB out there that are precooked, ours are raw until you cook them.

However, we like it this way (and so do our grandmas). Instead of having to worry about the meat inside the soup dumpling tasting rubbery or too crumbly or just not quite right, ours end up perfectly juicy and tender. Even though it takes a bit more time, the better taste is worth the time it takes to steam them all the way through.

Buy a Bamboo Steamer Basket

At the end of the day, the easiest method of all is to just use a steamer basket from the start. We sell a two-tier bamboo steamer basket that’s lightweight and perfect for bringing your steamed XLB from the kitchen straight to the table.

Our steamer liners are perfectly sized to fit with this standard steamer basket, meaning you won’t have to worry about the trial and error of making sure your soup dumplings cook evenly. Simply place the liner and as many dumplings as you want in the steamer basket, place the basket into a water-filled wok or pot of your choice, and cook as directed. It’s really that easy! If you want to cook more dumplings, all you have to do is use the second tier.

Even more, our steamer basket is easy to clean. Just wash it with mild dish soap and hot water and rinse it thoroughly—however, we discourage soaking, because bamboo can absorb flavors quickly. You definitely don’t need your next batch of dumplings tasting like soap.

Don’t Have Soup Dumplings to Steam?

We can help you with that. Order your favorite soup dumpling flavors from MìLà, and we’ll deliver a melt-free guarantee bag (or three!) from anywhere in the world today.