Introduction: How to Make Potstickers - From Scratch!

Picture of How to Make Potstickers - From Scratch!

There's nothing like homemade dumplings. Here I'll show you how to make Chinese dumplings with the classic filling of ground pork and Chinese chives, and how to make the accompanying sauce. This dumpling can be boiled or fried. And I'll also provide some tips on how to make substitutions to the filling if pork and chives are not to your taste.

Making dumplings from scratch can seem intimidatingly labor-intensive and difficult, but homemade dumplings taste so much better than frozen storebought ones that it's totally worth the effort. I recommend making dumplings in large batches and freezing them for later use. Depending on how quickly one works, it typically takes a few hours to make a large batch of dumplings - a perfect activity for a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Step 1: Ingredients

Picture of Ingredients

2 lbs of ground pork*
1 bunch of Chinese chives**
1 bunch of green onions
1 pieces of ginger
1 egg (optional)
some uncooked shrimp (optional)
3 packs of dumpling wrappers***
some all-purpose flour
soy sauce
sesame oil
rice vinegar
garlic (optional)
chili paste (optional)

*The preferred of pork for this recipe is pork butt, which has a higher fat content than most other cuts of pork. Leaner cuts can be substituted, but the filling will taste more dry.

**Also known as garlic chives or Chinese leeks. Chinese chives are in season during the summer. The Chinese chives can be substituted with an equivalent amount of cabbage. Jicamas can also be added to the filling for more crunch.

***Dumpling wrappers should be relatively easy to find in most Asian supermarkets. Make sure to buy the ROUND dumpling wrappers, not the SQAURE won ton wrappers.

Step 2: Prepare the Shrimp (optional)

Picture of Prepare the Shrimp (optional)

This step can be skipped if do not want shrimp in your dumplings.

Peel and de-vein some raw shrimp. If the shrimps are large, cut them into approximately 1 cm long pieces. Lightly salt the shrimp and blend the salt and shrimp together, gently squeezing the shrimp. This will force excess moisture out of the shrimp so it tastes more crunchy. Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel. Put salted shrimp in a bowl and refigerate while preparing the rest of the fillings.

Step 3: Prepare the Filling

Picture of Prepare the Filling

Cut one small piece of ginger and one stalk of green onion into large chunks and soak the pieces in water.

Mince the chives into small pieces (approximately 2-3mm long)*. Mince one stalk of green onions and one small piece of ginger as finely as possible.

Put the minced chives, green onions and ginger together with the ground pork in a large bowl. Add some soy sauce and sesame oil (approximately 1-2 tablespoons of each). Add one raw whole egg.** Blend all of the ingredients together by hand (don't be shy about squishing all the ingredients together!). If the filling seems too dry, add some of the green onion/ginger water. The filling should have a somewhat paste-like texture, with all of the ingredients sticking together.

*To substitute cabbage for Chinese chives, mince the cabbage (1/2 a head) into small pieces (again approximately 2-3mm large). Cabbage contains excess moisture that must be expelled so the filling is not waterlogged. To do this, salt the chopped cabbage lightly, then blend the salt and cabbage together, squeezing the cabbage firmly. The cabbage pieces should become limp, and there should be water coming out of the cabbage. Drain the cabbage well. Finely minced jicama can also be added to give the filling a more crunchy texture.

**The egg helps to make the texture of the filling more smooth and coherent. The addition of the egg can be skipped if desired.

Step 4: Wrap the Dumplings

Picture of Wrap the Dumplings

Lightly flour some pans and/or large plates. Fill a small bowl with water. Get a small teaspoon for scooping the filling.

The dumpling wrapper* is not perfectly round. It's actually an oval. Align the dumpling wrapper in the palm of your hand so that its longer axis is parallel to your fingers. Scoop up a heaping teaspoon of the filling, and put it in the center of the dumpling. The filling should be ovoid in shape, with its longer axis perpendicular to the longer axis of the dumpling. This will make it much easier to put as much filling into each dumpling as possible and still seal the wrapper with ease.

Dip one finger in the bowl of water, then moisten the perimeter of the dumpling wrapper. You don't need to go around the entire perimeter, it's sufficient to just moisten the top half of the wrapper. Pinch the dumpling together at the top with thumb and forefinger. Then cradle one side of the dumpling against the space between your thumb and the side of your palm and pinch the thumb and palm together to close the side of the dumpling. Repeat for the other side with your other hand.

This wrapping technique takes a bit of pratice, but when properly done, the dumpling will take on a curved "kimbo" shape. The dumpling will be pleated and bulging on the back side. Dumplings wrapped in this manner stand up by themselves easily.

If you are putting shrimp in your dumplings, put in slightly less filling. Put a piece of shrimp on top of the filling, then wrap the dumpling.

*For those of you who also want to make the wrapper from scratch, it's quite easy. Just mix all-purpose flour and cold water together until it is workable without being too sticky. Put the dough in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the dough rest. Make the wrappers by pinching off little balls (approximately 1" in diameter) and flattening it with a rolling pin. Wrap as with the pre-made wrappers, except you don't have to moisten the wrapper as much to seal it. Take care wrapping, because fresh wrappers are very stretchy. Homemade wrappers will tend to have a more chewy texture than storebought ones.

Step 5: Cook the Dumplings

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Place the dumplings inside a flat oiled pan. The dumplings should be tightly packed together. Set the pan to medium or low heat. Periodically pick up a dumpling to check the bottom. Once the bottom is golden brown and crispy-looking, you are ready to add water.

Add enough water into the pan to submerge all of the dumplings halfway. Turn the heat to high, and cover the pan with a glass lid. Make sure you don't lift the lids too often after this point, because the dumplings are partially cooked by the steam trapped under the lid. Cook the dumplings until all of the water appears to have evaporated. Your potstickers are ready!

Alternate cooking method (boiling): Boil water in a large pot. Put the dumplings into the boiling water, ensuring that all of the dumplings are completely covered by water. Raw dumplings will tend to sink to the bottom. When the water is boiling again AND the dumplings are floating, add in one cup of cold water. Wait until the water boils again, then add in another cup of cold water. When the water is boiling again, the dumplings have been sufficiently cooked and are read to eat. This method works for both frozen and fresh dumplings.

Storage method: Any dumplings that are not immediately cooked can be frozen. To freeze dumplings, put the plates and pans containing the dumpling into the freezer. Wait until the dumplings are completely hard, then you can re-package the dumplings in freezer bags. If you try to bag the dumplings too early, while they are still soft, they will stick to each other. Once the dumplings are frozen, cook them using the boiling method only. Frozen dumplings won' t taste as good fried.

Step 6: Make the Dipping Sauce

Picture of Make the Dipping Sauce

Now for the dipping sauce! Mix approximately equal amounts of soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil. If you like your sauce a little bit spicy, add in some chili paste or chili oil. If you like garlic, you can add minced or chopped fresh garlic.

Happy eating!


JohnD219 (author)2015-11-26

Funny thing about who came up with the filled dumpling. Potsticker -Chinese, -Gyozas -Japanese, Polish -Pierogi, Russian -Pirozhkí, Slovaks -Bryndzové Pirohy, Romanians -Colţunaşi, Hungarians -Derelye, Germans -Pirogge and Italians -Ravioli. There are many more countries that have a form of filled dumpling all good and filled with many different tasty fillings.

lauradongjordan (author)JohnD2192016-07-05

Who cares who came up with them?! Let's EAT!!!

Kris T. (author)2013-06-04

We call them potSTINKERS in my house. But oh, they are worth it!

Thanks for sharing this tasty recipe!

FriedRiceFreak (author)2011-02-16

I tried some cooked in the pan, steamed in my rice-cooker and deep-fried

yamchild (author)FriedRiceFreak2011-02-16

pretty interesting sounding variations!

2498timmy (author)2010-09-22

thnx so much it rox 4ever


MechEngSk (author)2010-07-05

Japanese dish not Chinese.

causeeffect (author)MechEngSk2010-09-15

Actually it is a Chinese dish that the Japanese later copied.

yamchild (author)MechEngSk2010-07-05

Actually the Japanese derived gyozas from Chinese potstickers. That's why in Japan gyozas tend to be associated with ramen restaurants, which are frequently labeled as "Chinese" restaurants. That's why you see gyozas served with ramen, but generally not with more traditionally Japanese noodle dishes like udon or soba.

Lokisgodhi (author)2010-08-22

They have the fried version at one of my local buffets. It not really a buffet for me because I just have these. Basically, I take all of them, wait for them to put more out and then take them all. Repeat until full.

They have some sort of sweet soy sauce with scallions and sesame seeds with them. Very good.

gnomedriver (author)2010-07-04

I lived in Japan and they were called ‘gyoza’. It is interesting how things are named around the world. I use to have gyoza for lunch with green tea. Sure beats a sandwich. The dipping sauce sounds tasty - a little grated ginger add a zing for those who like it.

I lived in Kyoto; my favorite gyoza came from Ohsho... NOM NOM NOM

I was up in Yokohama. Great town. Sadly, never made it down to Kyoto. What about dinner and having a rice bowl at Yoshinoya with an Asahi or Kirin beer. Oishii What were those little balls with octopus in them called? Really tasty.

Takoyaki. I don't really care for octopus that much, but I had a takoyaki maker, and I would fill them with tuna, cheese or corn instead. Just as delicious. Yokohama has an AWESOME Chinatown, though.

aadball504 (author)2010-07-04

Yummy!! Thanks it takes the sting out of lack of Japanese food in my town!

stochasticjack (author)2010-07-04

When I lived in Japan, my girlfriend used to make these; she used ground chicken, garlic, green onion, and regular cabbage, all minced very fine. We also used age (fried tofu), and some other stuff, to try and make a low-fat or veggie option.

a grain of alt. (author)2008-05-19

YES! I was eating frozen potstickers just yesterday and wishing I knew how to make them (I'm going to go the lazy route and use some creative folding with wonton wrappers- they're easier to find)

yamchild (author)a grain of alt.2008-05-19

Okay, for won tons, you'll want to use about 1/3 to 1/2 the amout of filling. Won ton wrappers are more fragile than dumpling wrappers. To fold won tons, put a small amount of filing in the center of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half so that it forms a triangle. Bring the two bottom points of the triangle together so that a crown shape is formed. They'll be nice in a soup, cooked in some broth. If you really want to make potstickers with won ton wrappers, make sure that when you wrap them that they have a broad surface on the bottom to stick to the pan.

a grain of alt. (author)yamchild2008-05-19

Wow, thanks for the advice! Sounds like I might be better off scouring rural PA for some dumpling wrappers (maybe Wegmans has them). I can't wait to make them!

just use a pasta dough with no egg using pasta machine do not make the dough thin maybe half scale, do run it through several times thoughbe fore that and letting it sit cold for a few hours is another good thing to do.

This is a keeper fil great instructable.

S.Steenberger (author)2010-03-29

I made these yesterday and they turned out fab!
I used the Won ton wrappers cuz the thai shop on the corner ony have that kind. But it worked out fine. Just shaped them as best as i could.
I also made som test-dumplings to try out the flavour of the filling before making the whole batch and i added a lot more chive, ginger and garlic. And some chilli as well.  Never thought it was so easy! Tanks!

yamchild (author)S.Steenberger2010-03-29

Wow that's great!  Now that you know how to make them you can tinker with the fillings a lot. Fish also makes for great dumpling fillings.

austinburke. (author)2008-12-30

Man, these look goood! How many pot stickers does each batch yield?

yamchild (author)austinburke.2008-12-30

I never count, but I'm guessing a couple dozen? I usually only eat a fraction of each batch and freeze the rest.

Tonamel (author)2008-05-19

Looks delicious! I'm going to have to try this some day. (And to satisfy the language stickler in me, "from scratch" means no prepared ingredients, so you'd be making the dumpling wrappers yourself, too. But that's just me being picky.)

voide (author)Tonamel2008-12-26

Well technically, from scratch would have to go even further. I personally am irritated when people say "from scratch" when they bought the flour in a store. To be really from scratch, you would need to harvest and prepare the wheat yourself! not to mention grow and process the veggies, and butcher the hog. I know thats way too much for most people - but thats how I plan to live the rest of my life! Ill always know whats in my food and where it came from.

yamchild (author)Tonamel2008-05-20

Hehehe you're right. I was thinking about that whilst writing the titles. "From scratch" just sounded catchier. I'm gonna edit this instructable to explain how to make wrappers from scratch.

nrlucre (author)yamchild2008-05-20

Great! I look forward to reading that one. I actually opened this 'ible for instructions on "from scratch" wrappers. I'll just have to wait.

joejoerowley (author)2008-05-20

Wow great instructable! Looks tasty! Thanks Joe

Patrik (author)2008-05-19

Hmm... these look great! Nice first instructable, yamchild! Any chance of adding a video of the wrapping technique itself? Also, I know this is probably heretical, but... any suggestions for vegetarians?

yamchild (author)Patrik2008-05-19

That's a good idea, adding an video. Unfortunately that won't happen until I make the next big batch of dumplings... I've never made vegetarian dumplings, but a filling that might work is chopped "pressed tofu" mixed with Chinese chives and chopped cellophane noodles. The filling won't cohere and will probably be harder to wrap, though, so you won't be able to get so much filling in each dumpling. Pressed tofu are flat squares that are brown on the outside. They are seasoned with soy sauce and have a firm, meat-like texture. You can find them in most Chinese supermarkets.

mrthumbtack (author)yamchild2008-05-19

You can actually press your own tofu, if you want. The kind you're talking about usually have some sort of flavoring already added to them. Just buy extra firm tofu, drain the water, and cut into roughly quarter inch slices. Place the slices flat on a folded dish towel (one without much lint) and put another one on top. Then put a cutting board or something flat on top of that, and then put something heavy on that. I like to use the Compact Oxford English dictionary for the pressing. Leave for about a half hour. Great Instructable, now I'm hungry.

yamchild (author)mrthumbtack2008-05-20

Didn't know it was so easy to press tofu at home. Learn something new every day! I like how you used the compact OED as a point of reference for amount of weight to put on the tofu.

Patrik (author)yamchild2008-05-20

Another trick I've heard (but not yet tried) is to put firm tofu in the freezer. After thawing it'll have a more spongy texture, allowing you to squeeze out a lot more water (and soak up more sauce...)

mrthumbtack (author)yamchild2008-05-20

Yeah, it really is easy. A lot of people don't know how to cook and prepare tofu properly, or say they don't like it because they've had it prepared badly. You've inspired me, I think I'm going to make a Tofu Instructable, today.

westfw (author)2008-05-20

Do chinese chives really taste enough like cabbage that cabbage is the appropriate substitute? I would have thought they'd be closer to the green onions... Looks yummy, though, even though you didn't make your own wrappers.

yamchild (author)westfw2008-05-20

Chinese chives and cabbage do taste fairly different. When you're making dumplings with cabbage, it's essentially a different flavor. Cabbage ones will have a milder, sweeter taste. I've made dumplings with both types of vegetables, and they all turned out fine. It's a matter of both taste and availability of vegetables. If you're feeling spendy you can even substitute regular Chinese chives with yellow Chinese chives.

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