Dumplings are generally made with flour (and not the amazing gluten-free kind), and although extremely delicious, they are typically not gluten-free. Read on to learn where you can enjoy some gluten-free dumplings in Toronto!
Disclaimer: we cannot guarantee all restaurants featured on our blog are 100% safe for those with celiac disease or severe gluten intolerances. Always inform your server of any dietary restrictions you may have.
Traditional Chinese Dumplings
Traditional Chinese dumplings are made by mixing flour and water to make a dough, then rolling out the dough into thin circles. The filling is typically made with ground meat and vegetables, such as pork and cabbage. The dumplings are then folded in half to form a crescent shape, and the edges are pinched together to seal the filling inside. They are then boiled or steamed until cooked through. Some variations also involve pan-frying the dumplings after boiling or steaming to give them a crispy exterior.
Dumplings typically contain gluten as the main ingredient in the dough is flour, which is derived from wheat and contains gluten. Traditional Chinese dumplings, as well as other types of dumplings from around the world, are made with wheat flour-based dough.
Gluten-free dumplings are made with alternative flours that do not contain gluten. Some popular options include:
- Rice flour: This is a popular option for gluten-free dumplings as it has a neutral flavor and creates a soft, chewy texture.
- Corn flour: This can also be used to make gluten-free dumplings, and has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor.
- Potato or sweet potato starch: These can be used to make a potato-based dough that is gluten-free and has a slightly sweet taste
- Tapioca starch: This is a good alternative for gluten-free dumplings, it has a neutral flavor, and is often used to make gluten-free doughs for various Asian dumplings and pastries.
- Gluten-free flour blends: These are pre-mixed flours that are specifically designed for gluten-free baking. They often include a combination of rice flour, corn flour, potato starch, and other gluten-free flours.
It’s worth to note that gluten-free dumplings can be made with the same fillings as traditional dumplings, such as ground meat, vegetables, seafood, or tofu.
Traditional dumpling sauces vary depending on the region and culture, but some popular options include:
- Soy sauce: A traditional Chinese sauce made from soybeans, salt, and wheat. It is a popular dipping sauce for dumplings and is usually not gluten-free – though it is very easy to find gluten-free alternatives in most grocery stores.
- Vinegar: Rice vinegar is a popular dipping sauce for dumplings in China. It has a slightly sweet and sour taste and is gluten-free.
- Sesame oil: A popular dipping sauce for dumplings, it’s made from roasted sesame seeds and is gluten-free.
- Black vinegar: A popular Chinese condiment that is aged for several months. It has a complex, tangy flavor and is gluten-free.
- Chili oil: A popular dipping sauce for dumplings in China, it’s made from chili peppers and oil. It’s typically gluten-free, and very spicy!
- Dipping sauce made from oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili sauce: This is a popular dipping sauce for dumplings and is not gluten-free.
It’s worth noting that many store-bought sauces may contain gluten, so it’s important to check the ingredients list or make your own sauce with gluten-free ingredients.
Tumi Dumpling House
Tumi Dumpling House is a lovely restaurant in Toronto’s West End, located in the Junction near Keele and Dupont.
They have a huge assortment of dumpling options, including some delicious gluten-free dumpling varieties.
Gluten-free dumpling options include:
- Gluten-free dumpling: a gluten-free dumpling wrapper with pork, cabbage, and gluten-free soy sauce inside.
- Pan-friend gluten-free dumpling: similar to the above, but this option is pan-fried.
- Gluten-free vegan dumpling: another gluten-free dumpling option, but this time it’s also vegan! Inside you’ll find tofu, mushroom, chive, vermicelli, and green onion. Their vegan dumpling also has a pan-fried version as well.
Dumplings aren’t the only gluten-free options Tumi Dumpling House has to offer! They also have a: Singapore Fried Vermicelli: gluten-free vermicelli with shrimp, BBQ pork, and bean sprouts.
The Riz on Yonge (and The Riz on St.Clair) are kind of superstars in the Toronto gluten-free cuisine scene, mostly because it’s here you can find some really tough-to-get Asian dishes that are not only gluten-free, but celiac safe as well!
The Riz offers the largest selection of gluten-free dumplings in Toronto, including:
- Ha gaow: shrimp dumplings
- Siu mai: chicken dumplings, tofu wrap, carrots
- Veggie gaow: organic spinach, bokchoy, carrots
- Lotus pocket: sticky rice stuffed with chicken wrapped in a lotus leaf
- Goyza: chives, chicken pot stickers, pan fried
- Golden veggie wontons: crispy, kale, spinach, sweet potato, sweet sour dip (vegan!)
- Thai peanut dumplings: chicken, steamed, spice peanut sauce
The gluten-free dumplings only make up a small part of the Riz’s gluten-free menu, so we highly recommend paying them a visit (likely multiple) to truly get the full experience!
The Bean Sprout
Though not technically located within Toronto, we feel we need to give The Bean Sprout an honorary mention here because of the wide variety of gluten-free prepared and frozen foods they offer. They are also nut-free and completely celiac safe!
The Bean Sprout are a family run business and can be found a bit North of the city, in Concord, Ontario. They also often host pop-up shops in different cities, so keep an eye out for those!
What we love about these guys is that they’re fully dedicated to making Chinese food more accessible to the celiac community, and they recognize how hard it is to find gluten-free Chinese food currently.
The Bean Sprout offers a hot menu, as well as frozen options if you’d prefer to buy and cook your gluten-free dumplings at home! Some of their gluten-free dumpling options include:
- Vegan dumplings
- Chicken dumplings
- BBQ pork dumplings
- Shrimp dumplings
- Scallop dumplings
- Chicken steamed buns
They also have a huge range of other gluten-free Chinese food options, so although they’re location is a little out of the city, we’d recommend making the trek for sure!
Overall, it can be very difficult to find gluten-free Chinese food at restaurants and in grocery stores, but as more people learn about celiac disease and gluten sensitivities, these options are quickly expanding! We hope that more Chinese restaurants will start to offer gluten-free options of classic dishes, and we will definitely keep you posted as new spots open!