Is Dim Sum Vegetarian ? Solved !

Did you know that dim sum is not vegetarian? It’s not! But fortunately for vegetarians, it can be made so with just a few tweaks. Dim sum-style dishes are usually small plates of food which are shared among friends and family members. They also make for perfect finger food.

So what’s the fuss about being vegetarian again? The problem lies in the filling used to stuff those dumplings, buns, and other steamed goodies.

Dim sum is a type of Chinese cuisine that includes a variety of small dishes served as a single course. These dishes are typically served in steamer baskets, bamboo steamers, or small plates. There are many different types of dim sum, and each type has its own unique set of dishes.

However, one thing all types of dim sum have in common is that they are usually not vegetarian. That’s because most dim sum dishes contain meat. Some dim sum dishes do contain vegetables, but those vegetables are usually cooked in meat broth, which means they’re not suitable for a vegetarian diet.

Most dim sum restaurants also serve meat-based soups and other non-vegetarian dishes. So if you’re a vegetarian, it’s best to steer clear of dim sum.

With that being said, there’s no stopping you from using veggie substitutes instead. Let’s check out how to make dim sum without meat:

What is Dim Sum?

Let’s start with acquainting ourselves with what dim sum actually is. These bite-sized dishes are steamed or fried morsels served alongside Chinese tea.

They are pretty common in Chinese restaurants outside of China, and can be found in both Chinese and Asian restaurants in the US.

There are many different types of dim sum, and they all have different fillings and serving styles. While they are pretty much eaten as snacks with tea in China, they are often served as appetizers in the US.

The Problem With Dim Sum and Why It’s Not Vegetarian

Dim sum is usually made with pork fat, chicken stock, and sometimes with shrimp or fish sauce. All of these ingredients make it non-vegetarian. In fact, there’s only one type of dim sum which vegetarians can eat without a hitch: steamed buns (called mantou).

You can also go the fusion route and make some vegan dim sum as well. Traditionally, Chinese food contains a lot of condiments and sauce.

The problem with this is that most of these sauces and condiments contain animal-based ingredients such as fish sauce and oyster sauce. To make Chinese food vegetarian, you have to try and avoid these ingredients.

How to Make Vegetarian Dim Sum

The first thing you will have to do is replace the ground pork in the filling with chopped mushrooms. You can also use ground tofu instead of mushrooms if you want to. For the water chestnut in the filling, you can replace it with finely chopped bell peppers or finely chopped carrots.

If the steamed buns are made with eggs, you can use flax meal in place of eggs. If you want to make vegan dim sum, you can try substituting the water in the steamed buns with coconut milk. The way you shape and stuff the buns will have to change as well. You will have to use smaller bamboo or paper wrappers to make smaller buns.

Vegetarian Shumai (Steamed Dumplings)

Shumai is a steamed dumpling with a meat or seafood filling. It can be made vegetarian by replacing the meat or seafood filling with finely chopped mushrooms. You can also use finely chopped bell peppers or finely chopped carrots in place of the mushrooms.

Vegetarian Har Gow (Shrimp Dumplings)

Vegetarian Har Gow is a steamed shrimp dumpling. Instead of shrimp, use chopped and roasted mushrooms as the filling. You can also add chopped bell peppers or carrots to the filling.

What About Those Other Delicious-Looking Things?

Vegetarian Siu Mai: Siu Mai is a steamed dumpling with pork or chicken, mushrooms, and Chinese black mushrooms as filling. You can make a vegetarian Siu Mai by replacing the meat with tofu and the Chinese black mushrooms with finely chopped shiitake mushrooms.

Vegetarian Steamed Buns: The steamed buns are made with wheat flour and water, so there are no animal products present. Vegetarian Potstickers: Potstickers are a type of Chinese dumplings that are pan-fried instead of steamed. You can make vegetarian potstickers by replacing the meat with finely chopped shiitake mushrooms.


If you love Chinese food, then you will enjoy making vegetarian dim sum. It is a great way to try something new while sticking to your vegetarian diet.

It can be tricky to make dim sum vegetarian since most of the recipes use meat as the main ingredient. With a little experimentation, you will be able to make delicious vegetarian dim sum.