AIR FRYER Frozen Dumplings, Potstickers, Gyoza-How To Cook{CRISPY}

The Difference Between Potstickers and Dumplings

When you think of potstickers or dumplings, what kind of picture comes to mind? For us, potstickers stand out as a type of Asian cuisine while the term dumplings take us back to chicken and dumplings and dishes like that. 

What you need to know is that a potsticker is a type of dumpling, but these two items really do vary in nature and the way that they are prepared.

They are both unique in their own ways. As we progress through this guide, we will find out just how different they are. 

We will start by first detailing just what potstickers are and then we will do the same with dumplings. We will share some helpful information that will help to differentiate the two.

Finally, we will round out the guide with an overview summary just to bring the points home for a quick reference. 

Let’s get started! 

What Are Potstickers?

The official Chinese name for potstickers is jiaozi. These are commonly referred to as Asian or Chinese dumplings.

While most traditional dumplings are round, these are more of a half-moon shape with pinched tops from one side to the other. 

Potstickers are particularly popular for celebrating the Chinese New Year but you will find them available year-round as well. You might see them on the menu at your favorite local Asian restaurant. 

For the most part, potstickers are consistently made with ground meat and a variety of vegetables.

One unique characteristic is that the dough is very thin. It is so thin that it is almost translucent in nature. 

The ground meat and vegetable mixture is rolled into this thin dough. The edges are then sealed together with your fingers, or pinched together if you will. They are served with soups quite often. 

However, the traditional way to enjoy a potsticker is to steam, boil, or pan-fry it. In fact, it’s not uncommon to boil or steam them on one side and pan-fry on the other side to a nice golden brown. 

Potstickers are often served on their own, or with soup as mentioned above. They are served with a dip that is made of vinegar and sesame oil on the side.

They typically don’t require other sides as they contain both meats and vegetables. 

How Potstickers Are Made

To give you a good idea of how potstickers truly differ from dumplings, we feel as though it is pertinent to share with you how potstickers are made. This will help identify some unique characteristics that set them apart. 

You will see mixed reviews on how to make them and how to cook them. You choose what is right for you as you make your own potstickers.

Check out this video on Jaimie Oliver’s YouTube channel featuring The Dumpling Sisters on how to make traditional potstickers:

You can serve potstickers with basic soy sauce or you can make your own sauce using vinegar and sesame oil. Some people prefer to have them alongside liquid soup options as well. 

What Are Dumplings?

We’ve learned a lot about potstickers. Let’s talk about dumplings now.

Dumplings are a broad category and can be made in several different ways. For example, a potsticker actually is a type of dumpling. 

You might also see dumplings that are made more similar to resemble a biscuit. These are what are used for dishes like chicken and dumplings. 

A dumpling is essentially defined as pieces of dough that have been wrapped around filling but they are also classified as balls of dough with no filling.

Dumplings can be filled with anything. You can have mixtures of meat, cheeses, and vegetables but there are also dumplings that are made with sweet fillings instead.

When it comes to cooking dumplings, you can boil, fry, bake, steam, simmer, and more. 

Essentially, what we want you to understand is that dumplings are a very open category and potstickers fall into the dumpling category.

But dumplings go far beyond just potstickers. Dumplings are made differently all over the world: 

  • African Dumplings – These come in several different varieties. Most of these dumplings don’t have fillings, some are sweet and some are heavy dough that is steamed. 
  • Asian Dumplings – We’ve already discussed Asian dumplings in potstickers. There are some other varieties as well but they are all fairly similar overall as far as the process and ideas are concerned. The primary differences are the fillings and how they are prepared. 
  • Latin American and Caribbean Dumplings – These are more similar to Asian dumplings in style but have a thicker breading. If you’re familiar with empanadas, this is where they come from. In Brazil, they have a thick breading but are stuffed with cheese and fried. 
  • European Dumplings – These are typically designed to be savory. These are heavy dough balls that are not necessarily filled with anything but rather are used inside of soups, stews, and casserole dishes. They look a lot like biscuits but are heavier. 

When we consider the word dumplings, this is probably more what comes to mind and it is an accurate representation. 

For the purposes of this guide, we are going to assume American or European-style dumplings for the remainder of our explanation.

Remember that dumplings cover a large area and even include popular items like potstickers and empanadas. 

How American Dumplings Are Made

American dumplings are made with flour, salt, baking powder, warm water, and vegetable oil. These dumplings can be hard to perfect as far as weight and consistency but they use very few ingredients overall. 

Dumplings can be quite versatile and there are so many different options out there.

People use dumplings for traditional dishes like chicken and noodles but they can also be made to be served as a side with other meat dishes if preferred. 

You can make stuffed dumplings of many different forms of cuisine or you can make classic American or European dumplings.

Dumplings are a category of food and so many different things fall into this category! 

We thought you might like to check out this video of a breakdown of various dumplings around Asia by Tasty on YouTube:


Tips for the Best Potstickers

These Chinese Dumplings are one of my absolute favorite recipes to make with my kids. Here are my top tips for perfect potstickers:

  • Don’t overfill the wrappers. If you try to stuff too much filling inside they won’t seal properly and some filling will escape during cooking.
  • Don’t overcrowd your pan. Potstickers get bigger as they cook so make sure there is plenty of room for the bottoms to cook evenly.
  • Check the bottoms for golden color. While the potstickers are cooking, gently lift one or two periodically to check for golden color. 


For The Filling

  • Cabbage
  • Ground pork (or ground meat of your choice)
  • Soy sauce
  • White or black pepper
  • Cornstarch
  • Chinese rice wine
  • Sesame oil
  • Chives
  • Chestnuts
  • Mushrooms
  • Ginger

For The Dipping Sauce

  • Soy sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Garlic
  • Asian sesame oil
  • chili pepper (optional)

Potsticker Origins

The Chinese have been enjoying potstickers since the Song dynasty (960 to 1280 A.D.). The exact origins of potstickers are lost to history. However, according to a charming legend, they were invented by a chef in China's Imperial Court, who accidentally burnt a batch of dumplings after leaving them on the stove for too long. The overcooked dumplings were burnt on the bottom only, and not on top. With no time to prepare a new batch, the chef served the dumplings with the burnt side on top, announcing that they were his own special creation. Fortunately, court members loved them!

What do you cook dumplings in?

PAN-FRYING: If you love them crispy

  1. Heat up a little oil over a high heat then add the dumplings.
  2. Check the bottom part of a dumpling. If it turns light brown, pour in cold water (enough to cover ⅓ of the dumplings). …
  3. Uncover when the water evaporates completely. Cook another 30-60 seconds to crisp up.

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What Are Potstickers?

Potstickers are “steam fried” dumplings made with round wrappers and stuffed with flavorful fillings like pork and cabbage. They are medium sized dumplings that you can usually eat in two or three bites.

Potstickers are different from other Chinese dumplings in that they are lightly browned in oil first. Once they have a bit of color, then water is added to the pan, which is then covered so the dumplings can finish cooking in the steam.

Dads Chinese Black Vinegar Sauce

Dad likes to use a mixture of Chinese black vinegar, soy sauce and the thinnest slivers of fresh ginger. The most famous Chinese black vinegar is Chinkiang Black Vinegar, though Koon Chun brand is easier to find and will do just fine. What works just as well (and I often use) is cheap balsamic vinegar. Not the expensive, thick, sweet kind (save that for the strawberries!), but just regular ol’ supermarket balsamic vinegar.

Why black vinegar? It’s aged vinegar, so it provides an earthy, smoky, mellow zip and tang that goes well with Chinese dumplings and egg rolls.

Fresh ginger 2 tablespoons Chinese Chinkiang black vinegar 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

Peel the ginger skin off and discard. Use a vegetable peeler and peel thin slices of ginger. Use a chef’s knife to further cut these thin slices into slivers. You’ll need about a teaspoons worth of ginger. In a small dipping bowl, mix together the black vinegar, sesame oil and ginger. To enjoy, dip your potsticker into the sauce. Use your chopsticks to pick up a few slivers of ginger and eat together with your potsticker.

Step 3: Make Filling

Add all seasoning and spices to the meat and mix well.

Squeeze out water from the cabbage made in previous step.

Add the squeezed cabbage and mix well.

If the filling is dry, consider adding 1 tbsp of water at a time until it is soft.

P.S. In the video and photos, I was making a batch for 10 servings. Don’t be confused by the sight of the volume of the meat, whenever in doubt, use text as the right proportion for seasonings and spices. Everything in this recipe in text is given for a batch for 5 servings.

How to Serve Potstickers

In honor of that long-ago chef in the Imperial Court, flip the potstickers over before serving, so that the browned, pan-fried side is on top.

Are dumplings Japanese or Chinese?

Originating in China, the dumpling, more commonly called the pot sticker, is made of wheat flour dough wrapper filled with meat and/or vegetables. This common side dish is cooked many different ways. Dumplings are most commonly steamed, pan fried, deep fried, or boiled.

Why are they called Potstickers??

I actually never understood why they’re called Potstickers. They aren’t cooked in a pot, and you’d be seriously peeved if they stick to the pan.

They should be called Skillet-Non-Stickers.

But I made the effort to do a little Google and was interested to learn that pan fried dumplings are called Guotie in Chinese and the literal translation is “potstickers” or “panstickers”. So I guess any other tales you hear about where the name comes from are just that – tales! 😂 – Nagi x

How To Make Potstickers?

My recipe is very easy and fail-proof. First, you need potsticker wrappers that you can buy from Asian stores.

Next, make the filling for the potstickers. To wrap potstickers, check out Yum Sugar video

You will also find my step-by-step picture guide on how to wrap potstickers in the recipe card.

To cook potstickers, you will need a skillet or pan for both pan-frying and steaming.

Have you tried this recipe?

Have you tried this recipe?

Share on Instagram and tag @TheLittleKitchn and be sure to use the hashtag #thelittlekitchenrecipes. I can’t wait to see your photos!


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