Cantonese Sticky Rice Dumplings (廣東鹹肉糭) | Christine's Recipes: Easy Chinese Recipes | Delicious Recipes

Cantonese Sticky Rice Dumplings (廣東鹹肉糭)

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Cantonese Sticky Rice Dumplings01

Sticky rice dumpling (Zongzi 糭子 in Chinese) is a classic Chinese food often eaten for celebrating Dragon Boat Festival. It’s mainly made of glutinous rice, stuffed with seasoned pork belly, salted duck egg yolks or many different fillings, then wrapped in bamboo leaves, cooked in boiling water. My family especially loves the Cantonese sticky rice dumplings and would love to have them all the time through out the year, either for breakfast or lunch. There are two camps of how to eat these dumplings, dipping with soy sauce or going with white sugar. So, guess which way my family loves to go for? Sugar. In fact, either way is fantastic and delicious.

Wrapping a sticky rice dumpling is quite a challenge, especially for a beginner. A friend of mine shared this method with me and I found it’s the easiest way for beginners. You only need 3 pieces of bamboo leaves to wrap as much as fillings you like without ending up with messy results. You might give it a go if you haven’t tried wrapping sticky rice dumplings yourself. Enjoy!

Cantonese Sticky Rice Dumplings Recipe (Printable recipe)
By Christine's Recipes
Prep time: 30 mins (plus soaking time)
Cook time: 3 hrs
Yield: 20 dumplings (each about 170 grams)

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  • 60 pieces bamboo leaves
  • 1 kg glutinous rice
  • 600 gm peeled mung beans
  • 350 gm pork belly, no skin
  • 8 shiitake mushrooms, soaked and shredded
  • 10 salted egg yolks (store-bought or homemade), halved
Marinade for pork belly:
  • 2 tsp five spice powder
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • white pepper, to taste
  • a dash Shaoxing wine
Seasonings for shiitake mushrooms:
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
Seasonings for glutinous rice:
  • 1½ Tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1½ Tbsp oil
Seasonings for mung beans:
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp oil
Ingredients of Sticky Rice Dumplings
Top left: glutinous rice.  Bottom right: smooth side of a bamboo leaf.
  1. Cut the pork belly into chunks, about 3cm in size. Mix with marinade and refrigerate for 2 to 3 days. Sauté the mushrooms until aromatic. Mix with the seasonings. Set aside.
  2. Rinse mung beans and rice separately. Soak mung beans for at least 4 hours or overnight. Drain well and mix with seasonings. Soak rice for at least 1 hour. Drain well and mix with seasonings.
  3. Soak bamboo leaves one day ahead or overnight until softened. Use a sponge or clean cloth to wipe clean both sides of each bamboo leaf. Carefully place the leaves into a large pot. Pour boiling water to cover all the leaves. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil. Cook over high heat. Bring it to a boil. Remove from the heat. Keep the lid on and let it cool down or until warm. (Remark: By doing this, the bamboo leaves won’t break easily while wrapping.)
  4. To wrap dumplings, please refer to this tutorial video. Layer two leaves, with the smooth sides up and form a cone. Add the fillings in this order: 1 heaped tablespoon of rice, 1 heaped tablespoon of mung beans, pork belly, mushrooms and salted egg yolk, then followed by 1 heaped tablespoon of mung beans and 1 heaped tablespoon of rice. Add another leaf around the edge of the cone to make the edge wider. Fold the leaf towards the middle, upper remaining part of the leaves towards the back. Use kitchen string to wrap tightly around the dumpling. Repeat this step to finish wrapping the rest of the dumplings. Place the dumplings in a large pot. Pour boiling water to cover all the dumplings. Cook over high-medium heat for 3 hours. Drain out the dumplings and let them cool down.
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  • I used a thermal cooker to save energy. Simply bring the dumplings with boiling water to a boil, then continue to cook for 5 minutes. Place the pot into the outer container, cover for about 1.5 hours. Then remove the pot from the container and cook over high heat to bring it boil again. Place it back into the container for 1.5 hours. Done.
  • If your pot is not large enough, cook the dumplings in two batches.
  • Bamboo leaves are dried in the sun. Their colour should be light yellow or light green. After soaking, the smell is very fragrant.
  • Beware of those are in bright green colour. They might be treated by some chemicals. Do prepare more bamboo leaves than enough as some of them might break apart while wrapping. If the leaves have been soaked with oil, they won’t break apart easily. If you find any broken along the way of wrapping, don’t panic. Just place another leaf over and wrap with string to prevent any rice from coming out. That’s easy.
Here's a tutorial video I uploaded on youtube. You might want to challenge yourself with another pentagonal version.

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  1. I love these sticky rice dumplings! I think it's so great every family has their own "version". My grandmother always put in peanuts. Great tutorial on how to fold!

    1. I love adding peanuts into the dumplings too. But my husband seems to be a bit put off if I add some. Thanks for dropping by.

  2. Thank you Christine, for the easy tutorial. I always have trouble wrapping the traditional dumpling. Will try your method .

  3. They look delicious. I could have 5 in one sitting yummy...

  4. They look so so delicious, Christine. Thank you for the step-by-step tutorial.

  5. Your photos are beautiful! It brings back childhood memories of mother making these every year for this annual festive celebration. It usually takes Ma several days to prepare dozens of these to share with neighbors, family and friends. My mother is 81 years old this year, and my sister and I will get together and make some with her this weekend. Thank you for bringing back such beautiful sentiments.

  6. Thank you so much for your awesome recipes and tutorials. Do you know the ingrediants to make the rice dumplings with red bean to make it sweet versus savory? Appreciate your time.

    1. Sorry, don't have the recipe you're after on the blog yet.

  7. I'd love to learn to make this. I have tried so many times, but I just can fold the bundle tight enough, this is something I have to overcome. Thank you for the step by step images.

    1. Hi Judy,

      Good to make some sticky rice dumplings ourselves.
      Here's a tutorial video I posted on youtube that might help as well - How To Wrap a Sticky Rice Dumpling (easy version).

  8. After boiling the leaves with oil, is it all right to wipe the oil away?

    1. The oil is to soften the leaves so that they won't crack easily. You can wipe them away after soaking for a while.

  9. Is it all right if oil is not mixed with the beans and rice? Will it affect the final product?

    1. Without the oil, the beans will be very dry and will easily fall apart. The amount of oil I added is the minimum. I don't like too oily dumplings either.

    2. can banana leaves or pandan leaves be used instead?

  10. This is my favourite.
    Thanks for the recipe n tutorial, certainly will want to try it.

    1. Wonderful ! We are on the same page.
      Wish you have great success.

  11. Does brown rice works as well?

    1. I'm afraid it won't work as brown rice is not sticky enough to hold the dumpling together.

  12. I don't have enough time to marinate the meat 2-3 days ahead, is there a way I can make it just as tasty?

    1. The meat needs time to absorb the flavours of the marinade.

      If you really don't have any time to marinate ahead, you might cut the meat in a smaller size and marinate it at your convenience. This work around might help the meat pick up the flavours within a shorter span.