If you’re anything like most of the world, food items that are full of yummy deliciousness wrapped in some sort of dough shell are always appealing. There are so many of these out there and they always draw us in.
There’s just something about that combination of meats and vegetables or fruits and sweet sauces wrapped in a tasteful breading of some sort that really makes these foods desirable. Just think about it – things like pies, calzones, wraps, dumplings, potstickers, and more!
Some of these foods are quite similar in nature and it’s hard to even tell them apart.
What’s the difference between potstickers and dumplings? Potstickers are a type of Asian dumpling that traditionally contains pork and vegetables. The term “dumpling” is a broad category that can include African, European, American, and Asian dumplings. Both potstickers and dumplings can be boiled, steamed, fried, or baked.
In this guide, we will walk you through potstickers vs. dumplings and share with you all of their identifying features to let you know just what sets these two items apart. While they are similar in many ways, they are also quite different in many ways as well.
Keep reading to learn the difference between potstickers and dumplings.
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:
Overview Summary: Potstickers Vs Dumplings
As you can see, dumplings and potstickers have a lot in common. In fact, potstickers are a type of dumpling while the category of dumpling is a very broad category that covers a lot of different options.
Dumplings are a broad category that can be quite versatile. They can be filled with a variety of fillings, sweet or savory, or they can have no filling at all.
Dumplings and potstickers can be cooked in a variety of ways. You might find them boiled, steamed, fried, or baked.
The primary difference here is that potstickers are a type of dumpling while dumpling is an all-inclusive category with many options.
We hope that you find this guide to understanding the differences between potstickers and dumplings to be a valuable resource that truly sets the two apart for you. These two things tie together in an interesting way.
We invite you to review the following question and answer section for some additional information that could be useful.
Are Potstickers Unhealthy?
This primarily boils down to what you put in them and how you prepare them. For the most part, they are not unhealthy when eaten in moderation.
They contain meat and vegetables. If you deep fry them in extensive amounts of oil, this could affect their health quality.
What are Substitutes for Making Your Own Potsticker Dough?
You can use any kind of pre-made dough wrapper for potstickers. You can try spring roll wrappers, won ton wrappers, or dumpling skins.
These wrap alternatives are commonly found in the Asian section at most grocery stores.
How Do You Keep Dumplings from Getting Hard?
The trick to having the perfect dumplings is to not overcook them.
It is when they are cooked for too long or in too intense heat for an extended period that they turn hard rather than a soft, delicious dumpling.
Up Next: How To Reheat Potstickers