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Tutorial: Mongolian Dumplings (Buuz)

May 24, 2012

Ask and you shall receive!  (You just have to be patient for a few months sometimes!)  You asked for a recipe for traditional dumplings.  I hereby present not just a recipe, but a tutorial!

Buuz is a Mongolian Dumpling stuffed with meat, onions and sometimes vegetables such as cabbage.

Buuz are super fun and really delicious.  But, I’ll just be completely up front here: there’s a learning curve.  It has taken me quite a while to really get the technique.  It’s been a long and delicious journey.

When I moved to Mongolia I wanted to learn to make Mongolian food.  My friend, Ariunaa, who started out working for me, never used a recipe.  She made buuz the way her mother made buuz, who made buuz her mother made buuz, who made buuz the way her mother….well, you get the idea.  I soon realized that this was the case for every Mongolian woman.  My mother-in-law who makes mouth-wateringly phenomenal buuz never used a recipe.  How was an American girl to learn?!

Trial and error, baby.  Learn by doing.

BUT, we lived in Mongolia where Ariunaa or my mother-in-law were only too happy to make Mongolian food for me.  So, I didn’t really learn until we moved to the States four years later and my husband got so homesick and needed some native food!


5 cups flour

Approximately 2 cups water

1 teaspoon salt


2 pounds ground meat (beef or sheep)

(Use the highest fat content you can find, which is usually 80/20.)

1/4  cup water

1/2 cup finely chopped cabbage

1/4 – 1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 teaspoon salt

If you are tempted to add other stuff to your dumplings go right ahead.  Just don’t tell my husband.  He’s a purist when it comes to his native food.  One time I added some cumin and jalapenos to them as a joke and I still haven’t heard the end of it.

Place all the dough ingredients in a bowl and start mixing it with your hands.  It will be stiff.  This is normal.  The dough must not be even a little bit sticky.  If you need more water, add it very cautiously.  You may have to play back and forth between the flour and water additions until you get it just so.

When it has basically come together, place it on the board and cover it with the bowl and let it rest.  This is really important.  The gluten has to relax or you’ll never get it smooth–unless kneading bread is your superpower.  I let it rest for 20-30 minutes.

Then you’ll knead it until smooth.

It will be so smooth and stiff that when you poke it with your finger the impression will remain.


Cover it with the bowl again so it won’t dry out.  Now you get the filling ready.

chop that cabbage very finely


Add the salt

Mix all your filling ingredients with your hands until everything is evenly combined.

Now comes the tricky part: You must rolled out the dumplings, fill them, and pinch them closed.  Here’s where this recipe truly becomes a tutorial.  You can do this!  We believe in you!

This picture shows the phases of the buuz.

Cut off a piece of the dough and make a rope about twice the thickness of your thumb.  Unless you have a chubby thumb, then just the size of your thumb.  🙂  Keep the rest of the dough covered.  Then cut the dough into about one inch pieces.

Using a rolling pin (you can steal a round block from your kids toys) roll it out very thin.  If you made your dough thick enough this will NOT stick to the rolling pin at all so there is usually no need to oil or flour the pin or board.

This is what it should look like.

Now you pinch it closed.  Every Mongolian family has their own unique way of doing this.  Here is a very traditional way that is “simple” to Mongolians, but might require you to start drinking if you are not Mongolian.

Place a spoonful of filling in the middle of the round piece of dough and cradle it in your hand.

Holding it in your right hand, use your left hand to make the first pinch.  Really pinch it closed so that the inside steams and the juices don’t flow out.

First pinch

Now you advance your fingers just a bit, fold over some of the wrapper and pinch it again.

Second Pinch

Now you repeat that on the other side.  Advance a bit, adding a new piece of the wrapper to the original pinch.  Pinch it closed.

Third pinch, opposite side

Repeat, repeat, repeat until closed


Pretty, no?

 Once you have all your buuz prepped, you get your steamer ready.  This is our steamer:

Yours will most likely be closer to this size:

Place lots of water in the bottom and oil the grates.

Steam for 20-25 minutes.

Open the top with caution as the steam can burn you!  Fan the hot buuz with a towel so that they dry a bit.  Remove carefully and enjoy piping hot!

There ya go!  A tutorial for Mongolian buuz!  If any of our adventurous readers try it, we’d LOVE to hear how it goes!  (I make these about once a week.  Yep.  I’m practically a Mongolian now.)

(Linked to Tasty Traditions)

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Deborah permalink
    May 25, 2012 4:12 am

    my husband loves these…now I can make them at home and not have to go out to get them…thanks so much

  2. Titi* permalink
    May 25, 2012 11:50 am

    You can have your buuz, I’ll just take those two cutest kids in the world right there, please.

  3. Micah permalink
    June 1, 2012 6:54 am

    Must try this. Must find me a steamer first. THANK YOU! I am very adventurous in the kitchen. Now a tutorial on how to say Buuz correctly – is it “buzz” like the bees, or “booze”, or “boos”? Or none of those?

  4. June 1, 2012 9:00 am

    That is a great question, Micah! OK, so I’ve been saying it over and over to myself all morning wondering how to write it phonetically because there isn’t necessarily an English equivalent to the “uu” sound in Mongolian. So, I asked my Mongolian husband, “Buuz is like uu in…..” He said, “I have no idea.”

    So, I got the Lonely Planet phrasebook. They say it’s like the “o” in “bone”.

    Although, to a native speaker, even that doesn’t sound quite right. Depending on your English/American accent it may be close to the right sound or not.

    I think it’s like the “o” in “orcs” (I’ve been reading Lord of the Rings to the kids). If you can isolate the “o” there without the “r” then that’s the “uu” in Buuz, which is not actually even written in Roman characters but in Mongolian Script or Cyrillic.

    How’s that for a tutorial?! Clear as mud? Mud as in the “u” in “uh-huh”? LOL!

  5. March 29, 2013 2:11 am

    Thanks for the recipe i love Mongolian food we leaved there for 4 years my kids miss the food

  6. Johanna permalink
    February 1, 2014 2:07 pm

    Thankyou :). Our big question – what is the trick to get juice inside the buuz? Perhaps in one out of six times making buuz we have juice 😦

    • February 1, 2014 3:00 pm

      Oooo…the juice is so nice. The best part! 🙂

      So, make sure that you don’t use lean meat. You need that fat for juice and flavor. And then make sure you add a bit of water to your filling and mix it well.

      If your problem is not that they are dry, but that you are losing the juice, make sure you are making a stiff enough dough. It’s really got to be thick and not even a bit sticky or else the bottoms will break during the steaming and the juice will be lost.

      Hope that helps!


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