Simple Dumplings Without Suet Recipe

When the word “dumpling” is mentioned, you may be thinking of those popular in Asian cuisine, which are usually small parcels of meat or vegetables wrapped in a pastry layer and steamed or fried.

But when we talk about dumplings, we mean the kind you’ll find in the United Kingdom. The ones that Phil grew up with and still raves about.

Dumplings without Suet Recipe - in a pot with mince

Delicious morsels of doughy goodness cooked on the top of a flavoursome stew, or as the case often is in Scotland, on top of Mince and Tatties – or the mince part of the dish anyway!

Dumplings are really easy and quick to make, but can really add to a dish!

What are Dumplings

Dumplings, for our purposes, are basically a mixture of flour and some sort of fat, traditionally beef suet.

A dough is made from flour mixed with fat and water. You then divide this into balls and place them directly onto the stew or mince to cook as that finishes cooking.

Serve all together and enjoy!

Dumplings are also often called “Dough Balls” in Scotland, which helps avoid some of that dumpling confusion!

Making Dumplings with or without Suet

Dumplings are traditionally made with beef suet, an animal fat which enhances their flavour. However, as suet is not necessarily something everyone has to hand these days, it can be easier to substitute it for butter instead.

We will note that suet is generally cheaper than butter, however, so you may want to give it a go!

It is also now possible to get vegetable suet, made from oils combined with flour, so this is another alternative option to using beef suet or butter.

You can essentially use whatever you like to make dumplings – from suet to butter, margarine, or even oil. The ratio of flour to fat and water will just need to be adjusted depending on the fat and water content of whatever you’re using.

Dumplings without Suet Recipe - in a pot with mince

We’ve chosen to make our dumplings without suet and use butter instead, but we’ll also outline some other alternatives under the ingredients list below.

We also have some fun ideas for different flavourings to add for those who don’t mind straying from the traditional!

Things You’ll Need to Make Dumplings

  • Large Bowl
  • Butterknife
  • Pastry Cutter – optional, but it can help to make mixing the flour and butter together easier on your hands

Ingredients for Dumplings without Suet

  • 250g Self Raising Flour
  • 125g Cold, Cubed Butter
  • 3-4 tbsp water

Alternatives to Butter

While we’ve titled this recipe, dumplings without suet, it is entirely possible to substitute the butter for suet and make dumplings WITH suet. You can use either beef or vegetable suet.

If you want to substitute the butter for margarine, add an extra teaspoon of margarine as it has a higher water content than butter. Some people prefer Stork, a margarine brand primarily made from palm oil and water.

Alternatively, use a half-and-half mixture of oil and milk to make up the 120-125g of fat.

Dumplings without Suet Recipe - Ingredients

How to Make Dumplings – Step by Step Method

Rub the butter and flour together with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Alternatively, use a pastry cutter to help start the process and then finish with your fingertips.

Add 3 tbsp of water and mix with a butterknife to bring everything together. If necessary, add more water one tbsp at a time.

Trying not to handle too much, divide the dough evenly and form it into around 8 balls.

Place on top of the mince or stew 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time, with a little space between them as they will grow in size. Leave the lid on, then remove it for the last 5 minutes.

Serve the mince or stew with the dumplings and enjoy!

Can you add herbs or flavourings to the dumplings?

Yes! We love our dumplings as is, but you can definitely add various things to enhance the flavour if you like.

Some people add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the mixture or use salted butter. Adding pepper is an option too.

We know that some of you will gladly accept the above, but no more, whereas others will want to try all sorts of different dumpling flavours.

Dumplings without Suet Recipe - Dumplings in a pot with mince

So here we go!

Onion powder and garlic powder are common additions, with around a teaspoon or two of each added, depending on how strong you like them.

Parsley or mixed herbs can make for a lovely herby taste.

For cheesy dumplings, add 150g of grated cheese just before you start adding the water.

From here, it’s up to you how creative you get!

Add cheese and a few pinches of chilli flakes for cheese and chilli dumplings, or add cheese and mixed herbs for cheesy herb dumplings.

Add a teaspoon of dijon mustard for a sharp bite to your dumplings.

What sort of dish should you cook the dumplings on?

We’ve mentioned that you can cook dumplings on top of either stew or mince and tatties, as is most popular in Scotland.

It doesn’t matter what type of stew it is, whether it’s beef, chicken, or vegetarian. It just needs to have some boiling liquid left to cook them in.

Can you cook dumplings on their own?

Maybe you’ve already made your main dish but want some dumplings to go with it; what should you do?

You can make a small mix of stock or gravy in the bottom of a pan and cook the dumplings on that. Just make sure they don’t sink!

It is actually possible to cook dumplings in the microwave as well.

You’ll need a wide-based dish and a little hot stock or gravy in the bottom (heat it first, so it’s hot). Place the dumplings in it and cook for 3 minutes on high.

They won’t grow as much as dumplings cooked in a pot and may not be as fluffy, but they’re still tasty!

Dumplings without Suet Recipe -

Should you flip the dumplings?

Some people like to cook their dumplings for 12-15 minutes with the lid on and then flip them over with the lid off for the last 5-8 minutes. This means they’ll be coated in the sauce of the stew or mince.

We prefer to keep them on one side to allow them to rise nicely and be slightly drier on one side and therefore a little less stodgy. However, if flipping works for you, then go for it!

Can you make vegan dumplings?

Vegetable suet is vegan, so you can use this in place of butter to make vegan dumplings.

Top Tips for Making Dumplings

  • Your dough should not be sticky but firm and easy to roll into balls. If it’s sticky, then you’ve added too much fat or water, so add some more flour to the mix.
  • Don’t make the dough in advance, as it uses self-raising flour, and this will start to activate right away. Make it and put them straight into the stew or mince.
  • Make sure there is still plenty of liquid left in your stew/or mince, and keep the lid on so it doesn’t evaporate too quickly at the beginning of cooking the dumplings.
  • Also, make sure it is boiling or “simmering briskly” so that enough heat is generated to cook the dumplings.
  • If your dumplings are chewy, they may have needed another 5 minutes, or there may not have been enough liquid for them to cook properly or enough space for them to grow. You can return them to the pot to cook for a little longer, as long as they have something still to cook in!
Dumplings without Suet Recipe - Dumplings in a pot
Yield: 8 dumplings

Easy Dumplings Without Suet Recipe

Dumplings without suet

These delicious morsels of doughy goodness are cooked on the top of a flavoursome stew, or as the case often is in Scotland, on top of Mince and Tatties. They're really easy and can add a lot to your dish!

Dumplings are traditionally made with beef suet, which enhances their flavour, but as suet isn't a common cupboard staple anymore, you can also substitute it with butter or other options. See our notes below!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 250g Self Raising Flour
  • 125g Cold, Cubed Butter
  • 3-4 tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Rub the butter and flour together with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Alternatively, use a pastry cutter to help start the process and then finish with your fingertips.
  2. Add 3 tbsp of water and mix with a butterknife to bring everything together. If necessary, add more water one tbsp at a time.
  3. Trying not to handle too much, divide the dough evenly and form it into around 8 balls.
  4. Place on top of the mince or stew 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time, with a little space between them as they will grow in size. Leave the lid on, then remove it for the last 5 minutes.
  5. Serve the mince or stew with the dumplings and enjoy!

Notes

Alternatives to Butter

While we’ve titled this recipe, Dumplings without Suet, it is entirely possible to substitute the butter for suet and make Dumplings WITH suet. You can use either beef or vegetable suet.

If you want to substitute the butter for margarine, add an extra teaspoon of margarine, as it has a higher water content than butter. Some people prefer Stork, a margarine brand primarily made from palm oil and water.

Alternatively, use a half-and-half mixture of oil and milk.

We hope you enjoy making this easy dumplings recipe, and trying out some alternatives. Let us know what you come up with!

You an check out these other savoury recipes too:

Happy cooking!

Sonja and Phil x

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Dumplings without suet recipe pin

4 thoughts on “Simple Dumplings Without Suet Recipe”

  1. My Granny made them with Cookeen fat and they were called dough balls cooked on top of mince, that’s the way I make them and they are delicious.

    Reply
  2. A wonderful dumpling side dish that I grew up with is tomato dumplings. My grandmother would season tomato juice with salt and pepper, bring it to a simmer, and then add the dumplings and cook, covered, as in the recipe above. Great Canadian comfort food❤️

    Reply

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