Deliciously fluffy vegan dumplings to cook with your favourite stew or casserole. Quick and easy to make, they steam-cook in the pot. No comfort-food stew is complete without them!
So, dumplings..... they're not sexy, they're not fancy and not at all trendy, but they are the ultimate British comfort food. Is there anything more unashamedly doughy and deliciously stodgy than these fluffy little balls, steam-cooked in a hearty stew?
After I published my Vegan Stew with Ale & Pearl Barley a few weeks ago I was inundated with readers asking "what about the dumplings?!", so voilà, here you go.... if you don't ask you don't get!
These are so incredibly easy to make. I've included step-by-step photos for those who are less confident in the kitchen, but they are pretty much foolproof, so do give them a go.
They steam-cook in your stew or casserole, either on the hob (covered with a lid) or in the oven. I then like to pop them under the grill to slightly brown and crisp the top, (I just put the whole casserole dish under the grill, but you could take them out if you don't have room). But I know many purists would turn their nose up at that and like them steamed-only, so it is entirely your call.
Once you're a confident dumpling-maker, I've included lots of ideas for variations to match your dumpling flavours to whatever stew or casserole you have on the go.
And if you have bought a pack of vegetable suet to make these, and you're not sure what else to do with it, don't worry - I've given plenty of ideas at the end of the post too.
📝 What you need
Plain flour - the storecupboard staple. If you don't have plain to hand, you can use self-raising instead and just leave out the baking powder in the recipe. Or how about trying half-and-half wholemeal and white plain flours?
Baking powder gives the dumplings their super-impressive rise - and ensures they have a bready rather than cake-y texture (which bicarbonate of soda would give).
Vegetable suet is something I only ever seem to use for homemade puddings or mincemeat at Christmas or lovely dumplings like these ones! It is fairly easy to find in supermarkets - the most common brand, Atora, is vegan (at time of writing), but if you use any other brand do check the ingredients.
If you don't have suet handy or don't want to buy some just for these dumplings, a good alternative is to use a vegan 'butter' (block margarine) instead. Something like Flora Plant Butter or Naturli block would be ideal. (Don't use a tub of spread, its water content is far too high and these won't turn out nearly as well). Just cube or grate the 'butter' into the flour then rub in with your fingertips, as if you were making pastry. Then continue from step 3 of the recipe onwards.
Fresh parsley For me, parsley is the ultimate herb for old-fashioned British comfort food like this, and it gives a nice fresh, green zing to what is otherwise a fairly doughy concoction. Chives are also a lovely addition if you have some to hand, snipped through the flour as well as or instead of the parsley.
Dried thyme This is completely optional but adds another herby note to the dumplings. You can also use fresh thyme leaves picked from their stalks if you prefer.
You can add all sorts of flavourings to this basic dumpling recipe to match it to your casserole or stew. How about:
- Make them cheesy with some grated vegan cheddar mixed through the flour before bringing the dough together. Some chives snipped through the dough are particularly good with this variation, or my special favourite - chopped jalapeños from a jar.... yum!
- Make them wholemeal by using wholemeal or spelt flour in the recipe.
- Make them pesto by kneading some vegan pesto through the dough (I like the Sacla vegan pesto, or make your own with my recipe here)
- Make them curried by stirring 1 tsp mild curry powder through the flour before bringing the dough together, then steam-cook in a curried casserole or stew.
If you've made too many dumplings, or want to batch-cook some stew and dumplings, good news.... these dumplings are fine to freeze. I tend to freeze one in an individual portion of stew, then once defrosted, reheat the stew and pop the dumpling in the oven for 5 minutes or so.
A quick blast in the microwave until piping hot throughout is a very easy way of defrosting it, but separate the dumpling from the stew and microwave them individually as they will need quite different defrosting times.
You can also freeze the dumplings on their own, then just defrost and cook as many as you need.
🤔 What else can I make with vegetable suet?
You will usually find suet in the baking area of the supermarket, or near the flour. I usually buy it at Christmas, and use it for making:
- Homemade Beetroot & Hazelnut Mincemeat for delicious mince pies, and
- The Ultimate Vegan Christmas Pudding
You can also use it to make a very soft-textured pastry (there's a good step-by-step recipe from Delia here - just swap vegetable suet for beef suet), which you can make either savoury or sweet as a delicious topping for pies.
For more quick and easy vegan recipes take a look at my latest book Vegan in 15.
"Brilliant! Chock full of easy recipes and great tips and advice" Hello! Magazine
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And if you have tried this recipe, please do leave a star rating and comment below which is so helpful for other readers wanting to try the recipe. 👇🏼
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- 100 g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 50 g vegetable suet (check it is vegan)
- salt and black pepper
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- ½ tsp dried thyme (optional)
- Weigh the flour and baking powder into a bowl.
- Stir through the suet.
- Season well with salt and pepper, then add the parsley and thyme (if using).
- Add water a little at a time - just enough to bring it together into a dough.
- Divide the dough into 6 sections and roll each into a round ball.
- Place the dumplings in your stew or casserole, and press down until half-submerged in the liquid. Cover with a lid and cook on the hob or oven for 25-30 minutes until well risen and fluffy.
- If you want to brown your dumplings a little on top, you can put the casserole dish under a hot grill for a minute or two. Serve immediately.