How many calories is in a steamed dumpling?

Steamed dumplings are a popular appetizer or main course in many Asian cuisines. Filled with meat, vegetables, and sometimes seafood, they make for a savory treat. But with their doughy exterior and rich filling, many dumpling lovers wonder just how many calories are in one steamed dumpling. The answer depends on the size and ingredients of the dumpling. In this article, we’ll break down the average calorie count in different types of steamed dumplings and look at ways to enjoy them as part of a healthy diet.

Calories in Different Types of Steamed Dumplings

Dumplings come in many shapes and sizes. Here are some estimates for popular steamed dumpling varieties:

Pork dumplings

Pork is a common filling for Chinese-style dumplings. A typical pork dumpling contains around 50-80 calories. For example, a 50g shu mai dumpling has 78 calories. Potstickers and gyozas with pork filling also have 50-60 calories per dumpling. The calorie count comes mostly from the pork filling rather than the thin, steamed dumpling wrapper.

Chicken dumplings

Chicken dumplings are lighter than their pork counterparts. One average chicken dumpling has approximately 30-50 calories. For instance, a popular Taiwanese chicken dumpling contains 43 calories per piece. The lean chicken breast is lower in fat than pork, accounting for the fewer calories.

Vegetable dumplings

For vegetarians and vegans, vegetable-stuffed dumplings are a tasty option. Vegetable dumplings tend to be the lowest in calories. One average-sized steamed vegetable dumpling contains around 25-40 calories. The filling relies on healthy ingredients like cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, and tofu. With less oil and no meat, the calorie count is lower.

Shrimp dumplings

Shrimp dumplings are common in dim sum. A standard shrimp dumpling contains around 40-50 calories. The plump shrimp contribute a lean, protein-rich filling. When wrapped in a thin dumpling skin and steamed, shrimp dumplings make a light appetizer choice.

Soup dumplings

Also known as xiaolongbao, Chinese soup dumplings contain both filling and hot broth inside the dumpling skin. Popular versions include pork, crab meat, and combinations. Soup dumplings range from around 50-100 calories each. Their larger size accounts for more calories than other petite dumplings. The savory soup-filled interior makes them higher in calories but delicious in flavor.

Factors That Affect Dumpling Calorie Counts

Several factors influence the number of calories found in a steamed dumpling:

Filling ingredients

As seen above, dumplings filled with meat tend to be higher in calories than vegetable-based ones. Lean proteins like chicken or shrimp have fewer calories than fattier pork. Vegetarian fillings like cabbage and tofu are lowest in calories.

Dumpling wrapper

The dough used to wrap dumplings also impacts their calories. Thin, translucent skins are lower in calories than thick, bread-like wrappers. Wheat or rice flour wrappers are lighter than dough made with egg.

Cooking method

Steamed and boiled dumplings have fewer calories than pan-fried potstickers which absorb oil as they cook. Steaming leaches out fat for a leaner potsticker. Deep-fried dumplings soak up the most oil, significantly increasing their calorie count.

Portion size

Larger dumplings mean more calories. Miniature dumplings served as dim sum contain 20-40 calories each. Larger dumplings served as a main course have 80-150 calories. Soup dumplings are often golf ball-sized and higher in calories.

Condiments and dipping sauces

While plain steamed dumplings are relatively healthy, accompanying dipping sauces can add calories. A tablespoon of soy sauce only has 10 calories. But chili oil, hoisin sauce, and duck sauce all contain 50+ calories per tablespoon.

Dumpling Type Calories per Dumpling
Pork 50-80
Chicken 30-50
Vegetable 25-40
Shrimp 40-50
Soup dumpling 50-100

Healthy Ways to Enjoy Dumplings

While steamed dumplings are relatively healthy compared to fried variations, they can still be high in calories, carbs, and sodium. Here are some tips for enjoying dumplings as part of a balanced diet:

Watch your portion size

Stick to 3-4 dumplings as an appetizer, or 6-8 dumplings as a main course. This prevents overeating and keeps calories under control.

Fill up on veggies

Balance dumplings with a big serving of non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, carrots, bok choy, or snow peas.

Choose healthier dips

Opt for low-calorie condiments like soy sauce, rice vinegar, mustard, or hot sauce. Avoid high-fat duck and hoisin sauces.

Load up on broth-based soup

Enjoy dumplings in a steaming bowl of broth-laden soup, instead of deep-fried as an appetizer. The soup fills you up without many added calories.

Add protein and healthy fats

Round out your meal with salmon, tofu, eggs, avocado, or nuts to feel satisfied. Protein and fats help stabilize blood sugar levels.

Select healthier cooking methods

Steaming and boiling are healthier cooking methods than frying dumplings. You’ll avoid adding unnecessary calories from cooking oils.

The Bottom Line

Steamed dumplings can range from 25-100 calories each depending on the filling, size, and cooking method. Vegetable and shrimp dumplings on the lower end of the scale can be a nutritious addition to your diet when enjoyed in moderation. Heavier pork and soup dumplings have higher calorie counts but can still fit into a healthy lifestyle. Focus on controlling portions, filling up on non-starchy vegetables, and limiting high-calorie dipping sauces. With mindful eating habits, steamed dumplings can be a delicious part of a balanced diet.

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