Fried vs Steamed Dumplings – What Tastes Better?

Dumplings are a traditional Chinese dish that is popular across the world. Because of their flexibility and deliciousness, they are a staple cuisine that has spread worldwide.

Dumplings can be filled with seafood like shrimp and fish, vegetables like cucumber or cabbage, and meats like chicken, cow, and even mutton.

You can fry or steam dumplings. But which is better? Does it matter how they are cooked? Which method of cooking tastes better?

People have different perspectives. Therefore we’ll investigate the fundamental distinctions between steamed and fried dumplings.

In this post, we’ll debate the merits of fried vs steamed dumplings, show you how to make them at home, freeze them, and even disclose a secret to making the perfect dumpling.

Difference between steamed and fried dumplings (At a glance)

 Steamed DumplingsFried Dumplings
TextureSoft and chewy on the inside and outsideSoft on the inside but crispy on the inside
TasteBland exteriorMore flavorful exterior
Cooking TechniqueCooked in a steamerFried and steamed at the same time in a pan
Cooking time20 minutes prep time, 10 minutes cooking time; total 30 minutes20 minutes prep time, 7-10 minutes cooking time; total 25-30 minutes

Steamed Dumplings vs Fried Dumplings

Dumplings steamed or fried has the same filling. So it comes down to the exterior. How they are cooked can make a big difference. But, before learning the differences, let’s first learn about each type of dumpling.

Steamed Dumplings

Steamed dumplings, also known as Jiaozi (pronounced ‘jow-zee’ are often formed like a crescent and eaten with a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

They are also available as soup dumplings,’ known as xiao long bao, which is fashioned like a pocketbook with a crimp. Baos are typically served during a dim sum brunch.

What Are Steamed Dumplings Made Of?

Cooked dumplings are often constructed with a thin, opaque wrapper that allows the food within to be gently steamed while adding flavor to the wrapper.

Despite their relatively bland taste and soft skin, steamed dumplings enable the contents within to speak for themselves by making every mouthful juicy, savory, and a perfect balance of spices.

Here are a few traditional fillings:

  • Ground pork adds fat, cabbage adds flavor, and scallions add color and crunch.
  • Shrimp with fatty meats, such as ground pork, ginger, and mushrooms for taste, and scallions for color
  • Crab bits with cooked pig flesh for fat and collagen-rich pork trimmings (most commonly seen in bars)

Is Steaming Dumplings Better Than Boiling Them?

The only difference between steamed and boiled dumplings is the cooking time and the outside texture.

Steamed dumplings, or zheng jiao, are firmer on the outside and require less cooking time since just a layer of water needs to be reheated.

Shui jiao, or boiling dumplings, on the other hand, are softer on the exterior and take longer to cook since an entire pot of water must be boiled before the dumplings are placed within.

Fried Dumplings

Fried dumplings, also known as potstickers, come in various forms and sizes and are generally eaten with a side of sesame or soy sauce.

Fried dumplings are frequently served with potsticker soups and various side dishes.

What Are Fried Dumplings Made Of?

Fried dumplings are often made with a thick, opaque noodle covering that freezes well and keeps the taste of the filling when fried.

Jian jio, or fried dumplings, have a crispy surface that seals in the filling’s moisture, making every mouthful juicy and smooth.

To prevent eating a dumpling that tastes like oil, the filling for a fried dumpling should be high in fat and aromatics.

Here are a few traditional fillings:

  • For fat, use 20% ground pork, mushrooms for flavor, and scallions for color and crunch.
  • Shrimp with minced pork for fat, Chinese cabbage for flavor, and garlic and scallions for garnish
  • Chopped prawns seasoned with ground pig trimmings for fat, chives, and scallions for taste, and white pepper, salt, and sesame oil.

Is Pan Frying Dumplings Better Than Deep-Frying Them?

The fundamental distinction between the pan and deep frying dumplings is the amount of crispiness at the end. 

Although pan-fried dumplings are traditional, deep-fried dumplings are a popular way to cook frozen or store-bought dumplings.

Although higher in calories, deep-fried dumplings are easier to cook than pan-fried dumplings and only take 2 to 3 minutes to prepare. They also have a consistent crisp texture and help to keep the filling soft.

What Is the Difference Between Fried and Steamed Dumplings?

Steamed dumplings and fried dumplings are essentially identical in preparation. It begins with a kneaded and rolled-out dumpling dough, commonly made from wheat or water, and a filling.

The most common filling in China is pork and scallions, although dumplings can also be filled with beef, poultry, or veggies, offering everyone alternatives.

Once the dumplings have been packed and mashed together, they must be cooked and can be steamed or fried.

Steamed dumplings are placed in a steamer for 10 to 15 minutes to soften, chew, and shine.

On the other hand, Fried dumplings are cooked in an oil-splattered frying pan. After placing the dumplings in the oil, a small amount of water is poured into the pan before covering it for around 10 minutes.

Frying dumplings provide a crunchy skin on one side of the dumpling, which contrasts nicely with the soft content. They’re also known as potstickers, although if you go to a restaurant, you may typically have your dumplings steamed or fried, depending on your preferences.

The main distinction between steamed and fried dumplings is the exterior, which might be crunchy or soft.

Which is Better? Fried vs. Steamed Dumplings

Though each type of dumpling has advantages and disadvantages, there are a few reasons why steamed dumplings have been the favorite choice for both children and adults for millennia.

Traditional Take

Steamed dumplings were created to treat frostbite among China’s impoverished. 

The soft skin helped children and adults to chew easily, the substantial filling kept their bellies full, and the warmth symbolized wealth, which is why steamed dumplings are still one of the most popular ways to celebrate Chinese holidays today.

Healthier Option

Steamed dumplings also maintain the filling’s nutritional intake full and have less calorie intake than pan-fried dumplings because no oil is used. 

Furthermore, the rice or wheat wrappers are thin and provide little heft to the dumplings.

Batch Cooking

Though handmade steamed dumplings are more difficult to freeze and get mushy after two days, store-bought steamed dumplings freeze better and may be stored in quantity for as long as needed.

What is the Secret to Making the Perfect Dumplings?

Dumplings are a complete universe of a food group that is incredibly adaptable, enabling you to choose the sort of filling and cooking manner you choose.

They are, however, rather fragile, and cooking them properly takes some experience. Steamed dumplings can get sticky after a second on the burner, while fried dumplings might become rough.

So, how can one make the perfect dumpling every time? Here’s how:

  • If you’re preparing your dough, fold in the ingredients and don’t overmix – it’s fine if there are lumps.
  • Always steam the dumplings; whether pan frying, air frying, or deep frying, make sure they’re fully steamed beforehand.

What to Keep in Mind When Freezing Dumplings?

One of the finest methods to store uncooked and cooked dumplings is to freeze them. To avoid soggy dough balls, keep the following points in mind while freezing dumplings:

Always allow cooked dumplings to come to room temperature before putting them in the freezer.

  • Batches of uniformly stacked dumplings should be frozen for 30 minutes before storing them in a Ziploc bag.
  • No need to defrost or thaw the dumplings before steaming or frying them.
  • Dumplings that have been refrigerated or refrozen will have a mushy dough.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dumplings the same as gyoza?

Dumplings are a vast cuisine category of doughy snacks that includes gyoza. 

Gyozas are Japanese dumplings normally made with minced pork and vegetables (cabbage, spring onions, and so on) wrapped in a thin dough, formed like a half-moon, steamed, and pan-fried. Potstickers are another name for it.

How many calories are there in a dumpling?

It is determined by how the dumpling is stuffed and fried. One dumpling can be roughly 35 calories per piece if it is vegetable-based, and one dumpling can be about 80 calories if it is meat-based. Furthermore, fried dumplings have more calories than steamed dumplings.

What can be served along with dumplings?

Dumplings are traditionally served with soy sauce and black vinegar for dipping. However, when serving dumplings as the main meal, there are countless alternatives for savory sides, which often include soup, protein, some rice, and, to top it all off, a dessert.

Final Thoughts

Dumplings are a quick and adaptable dish that is fun to create with family and friends. They may be served with only a dipping sauce or with various delicious foods that kick the dumplings up a level.

The cooking style is what makes or ruins the overall dish. Steamed dumplings are traditional, easy to cook, and healthful, yet some people find them tasteless.

On the other hand, fried dumplings are the most popular; they have a crispy texture but cannot be preserved for long after they have been fried.

Knowing the differences between fried and steamed dumplings may help you become a better cook, enabling you to experiment with numerous culinary styles and select the ideal one for you and your family.

I am Chef Harunur Rashid Azim. I inherited my family's love of cooking at a young age. I graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education in London, UK, with determination and passion to become a chef. Follow me on Twitter: @RashidIsChef, FB: Azim

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