Stuffed Dough: Ethnic-Inspired Dishes Satisfy Modern Guests

From empanadas to ravioli, pirogues to samosas, nearly every culture has a variation of stuffed dough in its traditional recipe book. Dough stuffed with savory or sweet filling have often represented comfort food for those within that ethnic background, both hearty and heart-warming. Now, the diverse roots of filled dough, also known simply as a dumpling, are taking on a new life in gastronomy by reaching today’s consumers who dine differently and who embrace ethnic cuisine.

Typically served in batches, stuffed dough dishes make excellent small, shareable plates, a major trend among Millennials who love to snack in social groups at nontraditional mealtimes. AF and Co., which ranked dumplings as a key food trend of 2016, cited the chorizo empanadas offered at San Francisco’s Sens Restaurant as “the perfect happy hour bites”. These dishes are also popular with food trucks or mobile kitchens, which feed the growing population of “on-the-go” consumers seeking a convenient meal. Restaurateurs can easily introduce stuffed doughs and dumplings on the menu by serving them in the new ways today’s guests are getting their food. But regardless of how an eatery’s filled dough dishes are plated, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, and fillings inspired by ethnic cuisines reign supreme.

Here’s a breakdown of some of our favorite Stuffed Doughs, created by Chef Kenny Gilbert, featuring our Big Banana® and Tio Jorge® Products.

Boniato Agnolotti Pasta with Pastrami, Caremlized Onions and Queso-Shaved Brussel Sprouts

Tio Jorge Boniato Agnolotti Pasta

Chili Shrimp Wonton Soup with Plantain Tidbits

Chili Wonton Soup with Big Banana Plantain Tidbits

Goat Cheese Dessert Empanadas with Sweet Plantains in a Passion Fruit Vanilla Syrup

Goat Cheese Dessert Empanadas with Sweet Plantains in a Passion fruit Vanilla Syrup

Yuca Gnocchi with Smoked Lamb Shoulder and Collard Green Curry

Tio Jorge Yuca Gnocchi with Smoked Lamb Shoulder

Boniato Spring Roll, Pepper Jelly, Persian Cucumbers and Cilantro

Tio Jorge Boniato Spring Roll


A study by Datassential used 250 dishes from a dozen different cultures to analyze consumers’ preferences among ethnic food. The top-rated recipe of the entire survey was actually a stuffed dough dish—pastelitos, Cuban pastries filled with savory ingredients like ground beef or sweet treats like guava paste. “Interest in a variety of global cuisines continues to intensify,” said publications manager Mike Kostyo, “whether you are seeking out the next sriracha, finding lesser-known dishes within cuisines consumers already love or diving deep into a cuisine that is suddenly trendy or in the news.” This is backed by the National Restaurant Association, whose 2015 research showed two-thirds of guests eat a larger variety of ethnic food than they did five years prior. Stuffed dough dishes seen on menus from coast to coast, like those referenced in this article by FoodFanatics, are reflective of a variety of cultural origins.

Restaurants may not be able to compete with a guest’s traditional family dumpling or filled dough recipe, but they don’t need to. By being cognizant of the new ways modern diners are eating and giving a nod to the dishes’ ethnic origins, restaurants can win guests’ hearts with each bite of their delightful, diverse stuffed dough.

To get a closer look at the stuffed dough trend, check out our recipes at



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