This Vegan Zongzi recipe is the perfect way to enjoy classic Sticky Rice Dumplings without meat! It’s filled with flavourful mushrooms, peanuts and sticky rice. It’s vegan, gluten-free and only calls for a few simple ingredients.

Vegan Zongzi Sticky Rice Dumplings Veggiekins Blog

Vegetarian or Vegan Zongzi

Zongzi (粽子) is a sticky rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves, usually filled with meat, egg and other ingredients. It’s common to make and enjoy zongzi during Dragon Boat Festival (端午节) which occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month (according to the Chinese calendar). It is said that people threw zongzi in the river that poet Qu Yuan drowned himself in, to feed the fish so they would not feed on him. While this dish is symbolic to Dragon Boat Festival, it can be enjoyed any time of year!

Vegan Zongzi Sticky Rice Dumplings

The fillings vary based on region, and zongzi are enjoyed all over China, Hong Kong and Taiwan but this version is most similar to the version my grandpa used to eat. He would always eat his filled with dried shrimp, mushrooms, pork and lots of peanuts. 

To make this vegetarian and/or vegan, you can simply substitute the meat with a vegan or vegetarian meat substitute (which is actually very commonly found in Taiwan due to the influence of the Buddhist religion) or use vegetables alone. I decided to use savoury mushrooms and peanuts alone, but you can also add ingredients like carrots, sweet potato or pumpkin. You can even play around with the grains used and throw in job’s tears or millet.

Vegan Zongzi Sticky Rice Dumplings

Sticky Rice Dumpling Ingredients

To make these delicious vegan zongzi, you’ll need a handful of ingredients:

  • Bamboo leaves. These are essential for the recipe as they are the vessel for the rice dumpling and they actually do impart a nice flavour and aroma. 
  • Sweet glutinous rice. This ingredient cannot be substituted with regular rice. Use short grain glutinous/sweet rice.
  • Dried mushrooms. I used dried shiitake mushrooms which have amazing umami notes.
  • Peanuts. Typically raw are used, but I’ve found it works just as well with roasted peanuts.
  • Gluten free soy sauce. Tamari also works!
  • Sesame oil. Just a touch for added flavour.
  • White pepper. This is one of my favourite underrated ingredients! We’re seasoning our mushrooms with this.
  • Chinese five spice. To give that authentic flavour to the mushrooms.
  • Sugar.
  • Salt. 

Vegan Zongzi Sticky Rice Dumplings

How to Make Vegan Zongzi

I like to think of making the sticky rice dumplings as a three part event.

First, all of the prep work. This actually starts the night before:

  • Soak bamboo leaves, rice, peanuts and dried mushrooms.

The day of, just a bit more prep work is involved:

  • Rinse and scrub down the bamboo leaves to remove any debris.
  • Drain and sauté the mushrooms with spices and seasonings.
  • Drain and boil peanuts until nice and tender.
  • Rinse and drain the rice, then season with tamari and salt.

Finally, to assemble:

  • Use 2-3 bamboo leaves per dumpling. Add rice, filling, more rice and then fold.
  • Secure with cotton string.

To cook:

  • Add all your dumplings to a large pot and cover with water.
  • Cook for about 2-3 hours, making sure to refill the pot with hot water so that the dumplings are always submerged.

Vegan Zongzi Sticky Rice Dumplings Veggiekins Blog

The steps themselves are quite simple but this dish does require some time and patience. It’s a fun but rewarding process.

Equipment and Tools for Making Vegan Zongzi

There are a few essential tools that are necessary when making zongzi: 

  • Bamboo leaves. Banana leaves may work as a substitute here, but please do your best to find bamboo leaves for this. You can find them sold dry at most Asian grocery stores. 
  • Cotton string. You want to use cotton string and make sure it’s something that can withstand the boiling. You absolutely need this in order to keep your dumplings nice and tight!
  • Steamer basket. This is optional but I highly recommend it for re-heating zongzi once ready to enjoy.

Vegan Zongzi Sticky Rice Dumplings

Where to Find Vegan Zongzi Ingredients

My best recommendation is to check out your local Chinese grocery store, Chinatown, or general Asian grocery store.

I do not recommend substituting the bamboo leaves or the sticky rice as both are essential to making zongzi! 

How to Serve and Store

Because these are quite a labour of love to make, I usually end up with leftovers and I like to freeze them for future enjoyment. They can stay in the freezer in an airtight container for about 3-4 months, or in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

When you’re ready to enjoy, you can wrap with a damp paper towel or kitchen cloth and microwave or steam in a steamer basket until warm through. Peel open the leaves to reveal your delicious rice and enjoy!

More Taiwanese Recipes to Try

If you make this Key Lime Cheesecake recipe, be sure to let me know what you think with a comment below!

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Vegan Zongzi Sticky Rice Dumplings Veggiekins Blog

Vegan Zongzi (Sticky Rice Dumplings)

  • Author: Remy Park
  • Total Time: 13 hours
  • Yield: 6-10 zongzi 1x


This Vegan Zongzi recipe is the perfect way to enjoy classic Sticky Rice Dumplings without meat! It’s filled with flavourful mushrooms, peanuts and sticky rice. It’s vegan, gluten-free and only calls for a few simple ingredients.


Units Scale
  • 2030 dry bamboo leaves, for wrapping
  • 3 cups short grain, sweet glutinous rice
  • 1/2 lb dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 tbsp tamari, or gluten free soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup raw peanuts

mushroom seasoning

  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp five spice


Ingredient Prep

  1. Start by soaking your ingredients the night before. Add the rice to a large bowl and cover with filtered water, cover the peanuts with water in another smaller bowl and in one more bowl, cover the dried mushrooms with water. In a large bowl or pan, cover your bamboo leaves with water and place a bowl or heavy object on top to submerge them in the water.
  2. Once ready to assemble, drain the rice and add tamari and salt. Stir with a spatula to combine and set aside.
  3. Give your peanuts a quick boil for 5 minutes, then set drain and set aside.
  4. To prepare your mushrooms, drain and squeeze out any excess water. Add the mushrooms to a small saucepan with sesame oil, then add all remaining ingredients and toss to evenly coat. Once the sauce has been absorbed, remove from the pan and cut into bite sized chunks.
  5. Finally, to prepare your bamboo leaves, remove them from the water and gently scrub both sides to remove any debris and dirt. Return the leaves into a fresh container of water to sit while you assemble. If you find your leaves to be tough, you can boil them to help soften them further.


  1. To assemble the zongzi, start by making a cone shape with one bamboo leaf. Hold it tightly in your left hand and add a spoonful of rice. Wrap another bamboo leaf around the front edge of your cone to elongate the walls and give you extra height to work with.
  2. Add in your fillings (I like to add about 1-2 tbsp of mushrooms and peanuts) followed by more rice to top it off.
  3. Gently fold the edge of the cone closest to you away from you and press down. Then fold each side inwards and finally fold the top down to close the cone. Holding it tightly, wrap with cotton string and secure.

Cooking the Zongzi

  1. To cook your zonzgi, you want to add it to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a low boil, then let simmer for 2-3 hours.
  2. You’ll want to continuously top it off with hot water to ensure that the zongzi is always submerged, so using a hot water kettle is the easiest way to do this.
  3. Alternatively, you can pressure cook your zongzi for about 45 minutes.
  • Prep Time: 10 hours
  • Cook Time: 3 hours



Filed under: Eat, Main Dishes

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BY Remy Park • June 3, 2022

Vegan Zongzi – 粽子 (Sticky Rice Dumplings)

Vegan Zongzi Sticky Rice Dumplings Veggiekins Blog

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  1. Remy says:
    Aw hope you get the chance to try them! They're also so fun to put together :)

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Hi there, I’m Remy! Welcome to Veggiekins Blog, home to nourishing vegan + gluten-free recipes and tips to live your best balanced and holistic life. I’m a human on a mission to empower you to be well and be kind to your mind, body and soul with the healing power of plants.

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