15 Food Similar to Dumplings

This is a look at the platter of Japanese gyoza.

Used as a side dish or as the primary part of a meal, dumplings are undoubtedly one of the most versatile foods on the planet. Seemingly every culture on earth has its own version of this humble dish; from Italy to China to Argentina, in fact, dumplings make up a significant portion of traditional cuisines.

As you might expect, dumplings can be made in a variety of different ways and can take on a variety of different forms. Essentially dough made with a meat, vegetable, or fruit filling, dumplings can serve as savory dishes or sweet desserts; cheese dumplings are also popular in a variety of different cultures. There is truly no limit to the versatility of dumplings.

The Popularity of Dumplings

Dumplings are particularly popular in the United States due to the country’s “melting pot” status as a crossroads of world cultures.

For example, Italian-Americans brought ravioli dishes to the United States from Southern Italy in the 19th Century and early 20th Century; Chinese-American immigrants popularized steamed dumplings with American consumers over the course of the 20th Century; more recently, Russian and Ukrainian immigrants have made “pelmeni” dumplings popular with Americans. Every immigrant group in the United States seems to have its own favorite dumpling recipes.

How nutritious a dumping will be will depend on its particular recipe and mode of cooking; however, expect to find between 50 and 100 calories in a single dumpling depending on its primary ingredients.

A variety of foods from around the world resemble dumplings; here are just a few great options if you love dumpling-based dishes and you’re looking to broaden your culinary horizons!

1. Gnocchi

A dish filled with tomato and parmesan gnocchi.

Gnocchi is an ancient Italian pasta dish resembling small cubes of dough with a history stretching back to the Roman Empire. It’s a great option to try if you love pasta: Gnocchi is low in both fat and calories and tastes great to boot.

There are a variety of different ways to cook gnocchi; because most Italian immigrants came to the United States from Southern Italy, however, most gnocchi that you will find in America will probably feature tomato sauce or an accompanying meat dish. Northern Italian cooking styles of gnocchi may include pesto sauces or a simple olive oil glazing.

Gnocchi is also surprisingly easy to prepare; after a few minutes of boiling, they rise to the surface of the water and are ready to eat almost instantly! Gnocchi isn’t as popular as other Italian pasta such as spaghetti, linguine, or fettuccine, but people who love gnocchi swear by it.

2. Matzah Ball Soup

A bowl of warm Matzah Balls Soup.

A celebratory and longstanding Passover staple in Ashkenazi Jewish culture, matzah ball soup is a delicious dumpling-like dish made from meals and eggs served in a hot chicken broth. Matzah ball soup is a perfect heartening food to eat on cool autumn days; moreover, few meals are as comforting as matzah ball soup in cold winter months.

But matzah ball soup is primarily seen as an early spring dish in Jewish culture due to its centrality to Passover celebrations. The dish’s healthful properties are also legendary: As a form of chicken soup, it has been a home remedy staple food for people with colds and other illnesses for generations.

Matzah ball soup is also surprisingly easy to make and lends itself to cooking for large gatherings. If you want to broaden your palate with an age-old recipe, it’s tough to beat this wonderful and delicious meal.

If you end up creating a feast for friends and families featuring matzah ball soup, just remember to raise a toast to life! In Hebrew: “L’chaim!”

3. Italian Wedding Soup

This is an Italian wedding soup with meatballs.

Italian wedding soup is a staple of Italian-American households and was most likely brought to America by immigrants from Naples in Southern Italy. Folklore has it that the dish was served at Italian weddings to fortify guests through long celebrations.

Italian wedding soup is made by cooking small meatballs with carrots, celery, garlic, and other ingredients in chicken broth. As you might expect of a famous Italian dish, it makes a perfect meal to share with friends and family. This is communal food done right. To your health! Alla vostra salute!

4. Chinese Steamed Buns

These are Chinese-style steamed pork buns.

A fun offshoot of traditional dumpling recipes and a well-known “dim sum” dish, Chinese steamed buns work great as both appetizers and the main dinner spreads. Primarily made up of meat and savory sauce cooked in soft dough, these dishes act as comforting meals for guests in Chinese households. With just a hint of sweetness and complexity, they’re also a remarkably versatile dish.

Chinese steamed buns are a favorite meal for people who love warming up with friends and family on chilly winter evenings. As you might guess, they also make fun celebratory dishes. Often cooked and steamed in woks, these buns tend to be low in calories. And what a taste!

5. West African Fufu

The African Food of FuFu and Pounded Yams on plate.

One of West Africa’s most popular comfort dishes, fufu is the name given to a rich dough made from yams or other root vegetables. The word “fufu” is an Akan dialect word for “mash” and refers to the way in which yams or cassavas are pounded with mortar and pestle to create a soft and delicious dough.

Fufu is often served alongside hot and savory stews or soups made from ingredients such as peanuts. If you’re feeling adventurous, West African fufu might just hit the spot on a chilly night; however, their spiciness can make them perfect for outdoor summer eating. Fufu is definitely a healthy and low-calorie option for health-conscious eaters. And it’s delicious to boot!

6. Australian Damper

This is a freshly baked Australian Damper Loaf with onion.

A staple food for settlers of the Australian Outback, damper is a rich dough-based dish adapted from Irish-style soda bread. In Australia, damper served an important role in keeping settlers and explorers healthy and happy; its butter-based or even beer-based recipe tastes especially delicious when this chewy and satisfying bread is cooked outdoors Outback-style.

No one is quite sure how damper became such an important meal for Australian explorers and bush-rangers. Some people believe that traditional bread made by Australian Aborigine cultures influenced the making of damper.

One thing is certain: This rich bread is designed to keep you satisfied even when you’re on the go. Think of it as an energy bar before the fact!

After all, if it got Australian swagmen through the tribulations of the Outback for generations, damper certainly must have something going for it!

7. Dutch Banket

This is a traditional Dutch blanket pastry.

Essentially a dumping-like almond pastry, banket is a delicious and relatively low-calorie dessert with a lot of heart and close associations in Dutch culture with the Christmas season. It’s been a seasonal favorite in the Netherlands for generations.

Because both the dough and the almond paste used in making these wonderful pastries are low in fat, banket is a great dessert for health-conscious eaters who nonetheless have a sweet tooth. Banket also offers a wonderful glimpse into the warmth and joy of a traditional Dutch Christmas. Be sure to leave some out for Santa Claus this year!

8. Russian and Ukrainian Piroshki

A platter of traditional Russian Piroshki.

A fast favorite of Russian and Ukrainian immigrants in the United States, piroshki is a delicious dumpling-like treat that is easy to make and filling to boot. A piroshki is essentially a fried or baked sandwich filled with ingredients like cabbage and ground beef.

As you might imagine considering Russia’s and Ukraine’s freezing climate, piroshki is a wonderfully filling meal that really packs a punch in winter; if you’re calorie-conscious as an eater, try baking piroshki instead of frying it. You’ll get all the taste without all of the calories.

Sweet piroshki dishes are also popular in Russian and Ukrainian communities. Sweet piroshki fillings might include anything from jams to dairy products. If you want to get a sense of what Russian comfort food is all about, you’ll want to start with piroshki. This is comfort food at its best.

9. Viennese Apple Strudel

This is a sliced Vienese Apple Strudel with raisins.

On a snowy day in Vienna, there is nothing quite like eating a “Wiener apfelstrudel” or Viennese apple strudel accompanied by a hot cup of Viennese coffee or a cool glass of Viennese beer. Along with Vienna’s famous Sacher-Torte chocolate cake, Viennese apple strudel is one of the most famous comfort dishes in Austria. The dish has an international reputation for a good reason.

Like most traditional dumplings, the essence of a good apple strudel lies in its respective ingredients. In Vienna, a hot apple strudel will typically be combined with cinnamon and baked in an oven to achieve a sense of crispness and culinary brightness. Try baking a few today to bring the land of Mozart and Beethoven into your own home. Prost!

10. Argentine Empanadas

This is a platter of Argentine empanadas.

As one of Argentina’s most popular comfort foods, empanadas combine crisp pastry textures with phenomenal flavor combinations via meat and vegetable fillings. Typical empanada recipes include a lot of spices like oregano and cayenne pepper, but it’s the spicy beef typically used in these dishes that really make the Argentine empanada a bonafide comfort food classic.

As you might expect of a dish with a variety of compelling ingredients, empanadas are meals unto themselves and are filling to boot. The number of calories in an empanada will depend on a variety of factors including size and ingredients; nonetheless, these are still reasonable dishes to eat even if you’re on the lookout for healthy meals. A typical empanada will contain around 400 calories.

11. Norwegian Skolebrod

Pieces of skolebrod bread with custard.

In many countries, dumpling-like meals tend to be popular around winter holidays like Christmas or Passover. In Norway, skolebrod is no different: This delicious holiday treat is typically made with a sweet pudding or custard filling topped with grated coconut. Needless to say, it’s heaven with a cup of coffee or a glass of ale on a cold winter night: In communities living nearer to the arctic, skolebrod is considered a celebratory meal to mark the passing of the darkest night of the year.

For an easy-to-make dessert that will really sweep you off your feet, it’s hard to go amiss with skolebrod. This is Norwegian comfort food at its most traditional and joyous.

12. Czech Kolaches

A bunch of czech kolaches with various filling.

One of Eastern Europe’s most popular comfort foods, kolaches are sweet dumpling-like desserts with a lot of heart and a lot of flavors. Somewhat similar to traditional pies in America, kolaches became popular in Western Europe and America as Czech immigrants introduced the dishes to their adopted communities.

It’s easy to see why kolaches are so popular: At once savory and sweet, these dishes are hearty and filling for desserts. In fact, they’re often eaten for breakfast and are great when combined with hot coffee.

13. Indian Chicken Roti

A platter of roti pieces with chicken curry.

A dumpling-like flatbread-and-chicken dish, roti is one of West India’s most delicious traditional exports with a hint of London zing thanks to its association with England’s fine dining scene. Popularized by Indian expatriates in immigrant-owned restaurants across Britain over the course of the last century, chicken and roti is a spicy-savory dish unlike any other. It’s easy to make on a stovetop and is remarkably filling for such a simple dish.

14. Baked Scotch Eggs

A close look at Scotch Eggs on a plate with parsley.

As one of Scotland’s most cherished traditional dishes, Scotch eggs are a dumpling-like dinner side with a lot of spirits. And in the true Scottish style, they’re sure to go great with your favorite beer or single-malt whisky!

These items are definitely savory and filling despite their small size: After being wrapped in sausage meat, eggs are deep-fried to perfection and then dipped in mustard for a tangy flavor that is hard to beat.

To get the full effect of Scotch eggs, try cooking them up with a quality recipe to celebrate Burns Night on January 25th. This wonderful holiday commemorates the work of the great Scottish poet Robert Burns. Raising a toast to “Rab Burns” as he was known and chowing down on some delicious Scotch eggs are great ways to party Scottish-style.

15. New Zealand Maori Fry Bread

A staple meal of many aboriginal peoples of New Zealand, Maori fry bread differs from dumplings in a few key ways. For one thing, Maori fry bread isn’t usually filled with meat or jam; however, savory or sweet fillings certainly can add to the eating experience central to this traditional meal.

Like dumplings, on the other hand, Maori fry bread serves as a great wrap for cooked meats. For an authentic New Zealand “kiwi” experience, try cooking Maori fry bread outdoors with a group of friends. Half the fun of cooking this unique dish lies in turning your meal into a social event. And no one parties quite like New Zealanders!

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