Introduction: How to Make Chinese Hot Pot

Hot pot is a popular cuisine in China and is spreading around the world. Many variations of hot pot have been developed by different ethnicities, but I will be teaching you how to make traditional Chinese hot pot.

In China, many people see hot pot as a group activity, not so
much as a typical dinner. Everyone contributing to the cooking to is what makes this dish so unique.


I have included accommodations for people that cannot eat spicy food in Step 2.

I will be showing you a setup that supports up to 6 people.

Step 1: Setup


Pot dimensions can vary, but the size is typically 1 foot in diameter and 6 inches deep.

I have an induction cooker, but you can also use a portable camp burner and a similar sized pot. The main goal is to have a pot of soup cooking in the middle of a table where everyone can sit around it.

Step 2: Soup Base

The soup base is to provide flavor to the food. All the ingredients will be cooked in this soup and the flavors of the soup will sink into the ingredients. Hot pot restaurants have divided up pots to make two different soup bases, typically one spicy and one non-spicy to accommodate everyone's taste.


I only use the spicy soup because many people like it spicy and the mild soup does not offer as much flavor.

I buy premade soup packets from oriental stores because I don't want to spend time preparing a soup base. Oriental stores are small grocery stores that sell Asian ingredients. The premade soup packets save a ton of time and allows you to choose among a vast variety of different flavors. A popular one is the Little Sheep soup base. They can be found on Amazon, but the price is marked higher than in-store . I recommend you search for a nearby oriental store and see if they sell these ingredients. If not, Amazon is always a good back up.

The soup base in the photo above is the one that I use. I use about 10-20% of the packet per hot pot because it can get very spicy if you add too much.

!WARNING!Make sure you don't put in the whole package of soup base. it is very spicy, so put it in little bit at a time and taste the soup to your satisfaction.


The non-spicy version of hot pot is typically made with a meat broth, seasonings and mushrooms. The Little Sheep brand also makes a plain version, but I have never tried it. There are a ton of soup bases out there. If you cannot find one you like, you can always make your own!

Step 3: Ingredients

(Click on the picture above to view the names of the ingredients)

You want more raw ingredients than attendees. For 6 people, I recommend around 10 raw ingredients listed below. Any ingredients are fine, so make sure you tell participants to bring their own favorites!

You can add anything in as an ingredient. Just make sure they are in small pieces and can be cooked quickly. Prepare them small enough so it can be cooked within 2 minutes.

Most of these ingredients can be found in local Oriental grocery stores, but if you can’t find some, add in anything you want as a substitute.

Below are some of my favorites:


  • Rice Noodles - takes a long time to cook, but can stay in pot the whole time


  • Beef slices*
  • Lamb slices*
  • Small pork sausages
  • Beef Tendon Balls

*Make sure to cut meet into thin slices around 2mm thick. The thinner it is, the faster it cooks.*


  • Chinese Napa
  • Bok Choy
  • Winter Melon
  • Enoki Mushrooms


  • Fuzhou Fish Balls - stuffed with meat inside (One of my all time favorites)
  • Shrimp


  • Tofu
  • Tofu Sheets - Really absorbs the soup flavors (One of my all time favorites)


The most popular ingredient is Sesame Paste.

This recipe is for a sauce that I like, it is a bit salty. Feel free to make your own sauce with whatever you have!

  • Sesame Paste (3tbsp)
  • Fermented Bean Curd (1 tbsp)
  • Chinese Barbecue Sauce (not the same as barbecue sauce) (1/2 tbsp)
  • Chili Oil (1/2 tbsp)
  • Minced Garlic (1 tbsp)
  • Sesame Oil (1/4 tbsp)
  • Soy Sauce (1/2 tbsp)

I made this sauce because I like all the ingredients. Feel free to experiment with your own favorites! You want to end up with around ½ cup of sauce but make more if you run out!

Step 4: Preparing to Eat

Hot pot is made by putting in ingredients as you eat. You eat it while you cook it!

Set up the cooking pot on your dinner table. Everyone should put their prepared ingredients on the table near the cooking pot.

You should make your sauce before starting so you are ready to eat as soon as the water boils!

Step 5: Cooking Instructions (Eating)

  1. Start by filling the cooking pot with a lot of water (3/4th full).
  2. Add your soup base in (Make sure the flavor is to your liking!)
  3. Wait until the water boils, then add in ingredients that takes a long time to cook (Rice Noodles, Fish balls)
  4. Start adding other ingredients and start eating!

You are still cooking food, so make sure the food is edible before you take it out of the pot!

DON'T leave the heat on high for too long! Turn it down if the eating slows down and turn it up when new ingredients are being added.


Can be cooked quickly (around 20-30 seconds) if sliced thinly. I typically swish it around the water and when it changes color, it is ready to eat. If the water is not hot enough, leave it in the pot a little longer.


Can be cooked quickly (around 1 minute) since veggies can be eaten raw. Different veggies will require different cooking times. Some ingredients will take longer to absorb the flavor in the soup. Like for Winter Melon, I typically leave it in for a bit longer, so it can soak up the flavors.

Don't be intimidated by the amount of varieties available! You can never go wrong in making hot pot because you can add anything! Just remember to HAVE FUN eating!