Butternut Squash Crystal Dumplings

Butternut squash is one of my favorite ingredients to find on any fall inspired table. I love that its taste is somewhere between starch and vegetable, savory and sweet. In this recipe, we take the versatility of butternut squash to the next level, where East meets West.

For many, turkey is the highlight of a Thanksgiving meal, but for me it’s gotta be the sides. Butternut squash soup? We can do even better than that. These delicate little bites are stuffed with so many gorgeous autumn flavors…like Thanksgiving and Dim Sum hour all wrapped in one!

The goal when cooking with butternut squash is to enhance its subtle nutty flavor without overwhelming it. Some 5 spice (anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, and Szechuan pepper), soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, and freshly grated ginger add a touch of Asian flavor here. A twirl in the food processor after roasting and the flavors meld together to make a thick purée.

Stuffing roasted butternut squash into dumplings sounds like an impossible task, but it’s surprisingly easy to do as long as you use a secret tool…your freezer! Spoon out teaspoonfuls of the purée on to a parchment-lined baking sheet, then pop the sheet into the deep freeze until the blobs of squash harden completely.

Wrap each squash ball completely with a round piece of the crystal wrapper dough and you’ll have my cheat version of a crystal dumpling. No pleats or fancy edges here, just a simply constructed, round dumpling. And if you decide to go with store-bought dumpling wrappers you can skip the freezing step entirely.

What I love about these dumplings is that they are equally delicious with both Asian unflavored teas and other fall-inspired, flavored teas. Japanese houjicha, a fruity oolong tea, or even a vanilla and pepper laced Darjeeling will bring out the sweet nuttiness of the squash and Chinese 5 Spice. The most delicious way to serve these Butternut Squash Crystal Dumplings is atop some sautéed spinach for a colorful and healthful vegetarian meal…seasonal eating at its best!

Butternut Squash Crystal Dumplings

Makes 24 dumplings.



1 pound of butternut squash, rind and seeds removed, cut into 1″ cubes

1 Tbsp grapeseed or vegetable oil

1/2 tsp sesame oil

1/2 tsp Chinese 5 Spice

1/8 tsp white pepper

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp honey

1/4 tsp grated ginger

pinch cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)

{Crystal Dumpling Skin}

This is a half recipe of Ha Gao skins, where vegetable oil is used instead of vegetable oil spread.

1 cup wheat starch

2/3 cup tapioca flour

1/4 tsp fine salt

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 cup water just before boiling (175 degrees F)


sesame seeds

sautéed spinach



half sheet pan

food processor

medium bowl

small sheet pan lined with parchment

tsp measure

large mixing bowl

work surface


large ziplock bag

bamboo steamer lined with parchment

wok with slightly larger diameter than steamer OR a stockpot with exactly the same diameter as the steamer


1.)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. With clean hands, mix all of the filling ingredients on the half sheet pan thoroughly. When the oven comes to temperature, bake the butternut squash for 30 minutes, until soft and lightly browned. Remove the squash from oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

2.)  Process the roasted squash in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, until it becomes a smooth, thick purée. Place this purée in a medium bowl, then spoon out rounded teaspoonfuls on a small sheet pan lined with parchment. Place this sheet pan in the freezer until the squash balls freeze completely.

3.)  While the squash balls are freezing, make the Crystal Dumpling Skin by combining all the skin ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix the dough together with chopsticks, then use your hand to knead the dough until it comes together. Place the dough on a work surface and divide it into 24 equal pieces. Do this by shaping the dough into a log, and then cutting each log in half. Continue to cut each dough piece in half until you get 24 equal pieces. Roll each dough piece into a ball, then place the balls into a large sealed ziplock bag so that the dough balls don’t touch.

4.)  When the squash spoonfuls have hardened, start making the dumplings by flattening one ball of Crystal Dumpling Skin Dough in the palm of your hand. Using your other hand, flatten the dough into a 3″ circle, then place a squash ball in it. Envelope the squash ball completely with the white dough, sealing the edges so that the butternut squash doesn’t peek out of the skin. Place stuffed dumplings 1″ apart in a bamboo steamer fitted with parchment paper to prevent sticking.

5.)  Fill a large wok or stockpot half full with water and bring to a full boil. Place bamboo steamer on top of wok or pot, cover, and then steam the dumplings for 12 minutes while water is on full boil the entire time. Finish the dumplings with a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Serve them over sautéed spinach, right out of the steamer with soy sauce, mustard, or chilli sauce for dipping.