How to Cook Pot Stickers




Introduction: How to Cook Pot Stickers

About: Middle aged geek username also works at,,,

Pot stickers are a Chinese Dim Sum (appetizer, more or less) consisting of a noodle-like wrapper around a filling that normally has meat, cabbage, onions, and seasonings. I understand that in the eastern US, they're called "Chinese Ravioli", which is somewhat more descriptive of their nature, even though "pot sticker" is pretty descriptive of their behavior. There's a similar item in Japanese cuisine called "Gyoza", though those are usually smaller and have a thinner noodle.

They are one of my son's favorite foods. They can be boiled, steamed or deep fried, but the name comes from a combination cooking method where they are browned by pan-frying AFTER the noodle is cooked by steaming or boiling. Here's how I cook them.

Step 1: Introduction

You CAN make pot stickers from scratch. This is made easier if you have somewhere you can buy pre-made pot sticker wrappers (which are like wonton wrappers, only thicker), but it is STILL (imnsho) one of those things that isn't worth the effort. Counting asian markets, Trader Joes, Safeway, and CostCo, there are probably about a dozen different varieties of pre-made frozen pot stickers that I can buy. After some exploring, including a "pot sticker tasting", we decided that these Ling-ling brand "chicken and vegi" ones are our favorite. YMMV; do your own experiments.

Unfortunately, if you follow the instructions on the package, they don't come out the way we like them, so I've come up with my own method.

Step 2: Prepare the Pan!

Teflon coated pans are a really good idea for pot-stickers. I supposed that a properly seasoned non-coated pan would work too, but this method involves boiling water for some time, which is not such good treatment for a "seasoned" pan.

Heat your pan so it's nice and dry. If your Teflon is getting a bit old, like mine, it will help to pre-season it with a light coating of oil (and heat for a minute or so over high heat) before starting the main part of the cooking procedure.

Step 3: Add Oil and Pot Stickers.

After the pan is seasoned and hot, add about one to two Tablespoons of cooking oil, and then put in your pot stickers, flat-side down, in a single layer, being sure to get oil on the bottom side of each pot sticker. You can cram the pan pretty full, but they will expand a bit as they cook.

The pan stays over high heat for the entire cooking process, but you can turn it down a bit while loading the pot-stickers to reduce the amount of splattering. Especially watch for splattering if your pot stickers have ice crystals.

Step 4: Add Water

Now add enough water to cover the pot stickers about 3/4 of their height. For the 12inch skillet I'm using here, this is ABOUT 2 cups of water.

This is the main departure from the package recipe. IT calls for using 2/3 C of water for the whole pan, and boiling/steaming till dry. MY procedure has a separate boiling time, after which the remaining water is poured off.

Cover the pan and allow to cook for 10 to 12 minutes. (This includes time for the water to come to a boil. You're looking for that typical 7 to 10 minute pasta boiling time. In smaller pans, it takes less time for the water to come to a boil, and you'll be at the 10minute total time.)

Step 5: Empty Excess Water and Pan-fry Till Brown.

Using the lid to retain the potstickers, dump any remaining water (typically quite a bit) into the sink (it'll take most of the oil with it, making these "healthier" than average!) and return the pan to the stove (still on high heat) with the lid off.

Pan fry until the pot stickers have reached the desired degree of brownness on the bottom. For us, this is about 3 minutes after the remnants of water have boiled off, or 4 minutes total.

Step 6: Remove From Pan.

The "Desired degree of brownness" can vary quite a bit, from hardly brown at all to nearly burnt. You'll have to decide how you like them for yourself.

Remove from pan using a pan-safe spatula. This can vary from "dump them onto a plate" to "scrape them out leaving as little noodle behind as possible", depending on the pan and other factors that I'm not entirely clear about. Cooking longer MAY make them easier to remove. Don't allow them to cool, or they'll stick worse (but you can re-heat again to make it easier.)

Step 7: Cool Slightly and Serve.

Pot stickers are best fresh from the pan, while there's still a big texture difference between the crunchy bottom and the chewy top of the noodle. The Ling-ling pot stickers come with a sauce that's pretty good, but I prefer a more sour sauce made mostly from cider vinegar with a bit of soy sauce and chili oil.

Pot stickers are still good re-heated in a microwave. For parties, we put a bunch in the steamer baskets or a rice-cooker, where they'll stay hot and edible for a couple of hours before they're steamed into a less-appetizing soggy state.



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    22 Discussions

    I got a big bag of these things a while back and got tired of them sticking to the pan so I just wrapped them in bacon. Problem solved.

    I work at a restaurant at the San Diego Airport. We make pot stickers from scratch. The cooking preparation that we use is different from what is shown here, but the end result is still the same. Thank you for your cooking tips.

    thank you!!!! i just failed miserably following the directions on such a package of pot stickers. so I came to look up a better way. I am so grateful for your approach!

    I would certainly not make them in a teflon pan. Especially with the coating gouged as this pic shows...(i know, it's just for the pic, you didn't really use that pan) The method i use there is no sticking involved. I bring salted water in a large pot to boil and drop a few dumplings in at a time for 3 min. remove and blot dry before they go in a pre heated cast iron skillet. The cast iron i use is well seasoned so i need no extra fat at all.

    I'm Chinese and I make home-made potstickers/dumplings with my family all the time, and they're SO much better than the pre-made kind, definitely good enough to justify the extra work. Granted, we use store bought wrappers; the ones we make don't hold up very well.

    These are my favorite boiled, but i found these other ones from somewhere i don't remember atm, that were just SO good when fried. Attempting to fry these now however.

    Instead of water, I add a couple generous splashes of chicken broth with oil then cover them and boil before removing the lid and letting them start to fry. The chicken broth contributes to the crunchy underside then I finish with a drizzle of sesame oil when almost finished-in my house I brown 2 sides-because that is what we like.

    Yeah, making them from scratch is better. I mean the taste. Me and my Chinese crew come over and make these together, then get tanked up with 5 kilos of the stuff. Yum. Making these and then eating them with friends makes the scratch route worth ones while. Really good instuctable westfw!

    these arent chinese they are japanese in japan people call the gyoza but in chinese they are called dumplings but there is a difference in taste though...

    1 reply

    These are Chinese 锅贴, guotie. There's dumplings and then there's dumplings, like hundun, the stuff that goes in soup. But Koreans also do these - gun mandu. Does it matter though? They all taste the same [ga...dribble].

    Everytime I make these, they have less of a pan-sticking effect, and more of a bottom-blackening one. They keep getting better, but they never look like ones I would get served in a restaurant.

    1 reply

    shake around the pan every few seconds to keep them from sticking. I've found a vaguely stir-fry type approach works best with these. trick is to keep them active so they don't scorch but still cook only on the one side.

    These look a lot like perogies. Similar structure, similar cooking methods.

    I personally add less water and boil it off completely. I only add oil at the end. Results are similar though. Siracha, white vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil make a really good sauce. I shun the name pot stickers though no pot is ever involved during the entire process. I call em fried dumplings in my language (that is my native tongue english). :-P

    3 replies

    I suspect in the US, "pot stickers" distinguishes them from other sorts of fried dumplings that one might get. "dumpling" to most americans probably brings up an image of a thickish noodle-like thing (as in "chicken and dumplings") (which one wouldn't want fried.) Or maybe something Eastern European like Slavic Pierogi.

    Never heard of that dish before. Makes sense I guess.... But i still don't have to like it.....hehe ;-)

    yep this is how we make em too but make them from scratch mainly- p.s. the pot stickers from Trader Joe;s are pretty good, but it's better when you make em and add ginger and mock duck, delicious!

    1 reply

    What is "mock duck" ? I've made them from scratch (even the wrappers), but I don't find it a good use of time (it's not ENOUGH better to justify a LOT more effort.) Still, I'd welcome an Instructable on the full scratch process!