Fried vs Steamed Dumplings

Dumplings have been a popular food choice for centuries, enjoyed by people around the world for their versatile flavors and textures. One of the main debates among dumpling aficionados is whether fried or steamed dumplings reign supreme. In this article, we will delve into the key differences between these two tasty treats and discuss what sets them apart.

From the ingredients and preparation methods to the taste and texture, both fried and steamed dumplings have much to offer. Although they may appear similar, the cooking technique used can significantly impact the final result, giving food lovers a wide range of options to choose from when craving dumplings.

Whether you are a fan of the crispy exterior of fried dumplings or the soft and tender consistency of steamed dumplings, understanding the distinctions between these two styles can help you appreciate the culinary artistry behind each type. So, let’s explore the world of dumplings and compare the characteristics of fried and steamed varieties.

What are Dumplings?

Dumplings are a versatile and widely-loved food that originated in Asia and can now be found in numerous variations worldwide. No matter the country, you’ll find that dumplings are a staple in various Asian cuisines, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese dishes.

At the core, a dumpling consists of dough wrapped around a filling. It can be sweet or savory, and the fillings can range from meats and veggies to fruits and more. What sets them apart are the cooking methods – primarily fried or steamed. Let’s explore the differences between these two popular versions.

Fried dumplings, or potstickers, as they’re commonly known in China, are usually made with a thin dough that’s lightly pan-fried, creating a crispy exterior and a tender, juicy filling. In Japan, gyozas are a popular version of fried dumplings, typically made with ground meat and vegetables, while Korea offers gunmandu, which may have similar fillings but are often deep-fried to achieve a golden-brown, crunchy texture. Vietnamese cooking also includes fried dumplings made with rice paper and various fillings, such as shrimp, ground pork, or mushrooms.

On the other hand, steamed dumplings have a different texture and appearance. The dough is typically a bit thicker than that used for fried dumplings, and the steaming process results in a soft, slightly chewy exterior. China is famous for its xiaolongbao, or soup dumplings, which contain not only a filling but also a flavorful broth. Japan’s answer to steamed dumplings is shumai, featuring an open top with a meat or seafood filling tucked inside. Korea has jjinmandu, which are similar to Chinese steamed dumplings in appearance and can be filled with a variety of ingredients. Vietnamese bánh bao, meanwhile, are round, fluffy, steamed buns filled with seasoned ground meat, vegetables, or hard-boiled eggs.

By now, you should have a solid grasp on the main differences between fried and steamed dumplings and how they tie into the culinary traditions of various Asian countries. Enjoy exploring the wide range of flavors and textures the world of dumplings has to offer.

Ingredients and Preparation

When it comes to choosing between fried and steamed dumplings, the primary differences lie in their ingredients and preparation methods. Both types of dumplings have a dough made from flour and water, which is rolled out to create thin wrappers. These wrappers are then filled with a variety of ingredients such as meat, vegetables, or even sweet fillings, depending on individual preferences and cultural traditions.

Dough and Fillings

The dough for both fried and steamed dumplings is typically made from wheat flour and water. Traditional recipes may vary slightly, but generally, the dough is kneaded and then rolled out into thin circles. Dumpling wrappers can also be purchased pre-made for convenience. The choice of filling is quite versatile in both versions, with common options including pork and scallions, shrimp, beef, mushrooms, and cabbage. In addition to these savory choices, sweet fillings like red bean paste or fruit can also be used.

Steamed dumplings are usually filled with leaner meats and a greater variety of veggies, making their filling less oily compared to that of their fried counterparts.

Preparation Methods

To make steamed dumplings, the filled wrappers are placed in a steamer basket or bamboo steamer, and cooked over boiling water until the dough is soft and the filling is cooked through. This method of cooking results in a tender dumpling with a slightly chewy skin, maintaining most of the vitamins and minerals in the ingredients.

On the other hand, fried dumplings, also known as potstickers, are cooked by pan-frying and then steaming briefly with a small amount of water. They are typically cooked in oil, resulting in a crispy, golden-brown exterior and a fully cooked, flavorful interior.

Nutrition and Calories

While both types of dumplings share similar ingredients, the differences in their preparation methods lead to variations in their nutritional values. Steamed dumplings tend to have a lower fat content due to the absence of oil used during cooking. As a result, they are generally considered a healthier option, with fewer calories per serving.

In contrast, fried dumplings have a higher fat content and calorie count due to the oil used in frying. However, this also contributes to their rich taste and satisfying texture.

In summary, the choice between fried and steamed dumplings largely depends on individual taste preferences, recipes, and nutritional considerations. Whether you prefer the soft, tender bite of a steamed dumpling or the crispy, flavorful exterior of a fried dumpling, both options offer a delicious way to enjoy these versatile, beloved dishes.

Steamed vs Fried Dumplings

When it comes to dumplings, there are generally two popular preparation methods: steamed and fried. Knowing the key differences between these two types of dumplings can help you decide which one is best suited to satisfy your cravings.

Texture: The most noticeable difference between steamed and fried dumplings is the texture. Steamed dumplings have a moist, soft, and somewhat translucent outer covering. On the other hand, fried dumplings have a crispy, golden-brown exterior, which adds an additional layer of crunch to the overall dish.

Cooking method: As the names suggest, steamed dumplings are cooked by steaming them in a bamboo steamer or a similar vessel. This method retains the moisture and aroma of the dumpling’s fillings. Fried dumplings, however, are first partially steamed and then pan-fried, resulting in a crispy bottom while maintaining a tender top.

Calories and fat content: Due to the cooking method, fried dumplings tend to have a higher calorie and fat content than steamed ones. Steamed dumplings don’t require any oil or additional fat for cooking, which makes them a healthier option for those watching their calorie intake.

Versatility: In a comparison chart, both steamed and fried dumplings offer a variety of versatile options when it comes to flavors and fillings. You can find both versions with meat, seafood, vegetables, or a combination of these ingredients. In addition, regional variations might lean more towards one preparation method than the other. For instance, Chinese soup dumplings, also known as xiao long bao, are predominantly steamed, whereas Japanese gyoza are usually pan-fried.

In summary, the main differences between steamed and fried dumplings lie in their texture, cooking methods, calorie and fat content, and regional preferences. By understanding these key differences, you can make an informed decision when choosing your preferred type of dumpling to enjoy during your next meal.

Fried Dumplings

Fried dumplings are a popular choice for those who enjoy a crispy exterior and a tender filling. There are two main methods of frying dumplings: deep-frying and pan-frying.

Deep-fried dumplings are submerged in hot oil, cooking them quickly and evenly. The oil should be heated to a temperature around 350°F (175°C) before adding the dumplings. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan; this allows the oil to maintain its temperature and ensures even cooking. The dumplings will become golden brown and crispy. This method is a bit more indulgent due to the higher fat content, but the result is a delicious, crispy exterior.

Pan-fried dumplings are cooked in a small amount of oil, usually in a skillet or frying pan. Heat the oil over medium heat and arrange the dumplings in the pan, being cautious not to let them touch one another. Allow them to fry until the bottoms are golden brown, then add a small amount of water to the pan and cover it with a lid, allowing the dumplings to steam for a few minutes. This method provides a nice balance between a crispy exterior and a tender filling while using less oil than deep-frying.

Both deep-fried and pan-fried dumplings can be made with a variety of fillings and doughs. The key is to seal the dumplings well and maintain the proper oil temperature throughout the frying process. No matter which method you choose, the result will be a delicious, crispy dumpling that’s sure to satisfy your cravings.

Steamed Dumplings

When it comes to steamed dumplings, you’ll find that they are quite different from their fried counterparts. Steamed dumplings are prepared by placing them in a steamer, which uses the power of steam to cook the dumplings evenly and thoroughly. This method allows the dumplings to maintain a soft and chewy texture, making for a delightful eating experience.

Steaming is generally considered a healthier option compared to frying since it doesn’t require any additional oil or fat to cook the dumplings. By choosing steamed dumplings, you’ll not only enjoy a delicious meal but also a healthier option as the nutritional value of the ingredients is better preserved during the steaming process.

The use of a steamer is essential when preparing steamed dumplings. This kitchen appliance is designed to maintain the right amount of moisture and temperature, ensuring that the dumplings are cooked perfectly without drying out or becoming soggy. There are various types of steamers available in the market, including bamboo steamers, metal steamers, or even electric steamers. The choice of steamer ultimately depends on your personal preference and how often you plan to prepare steamed dumplings.

In summary, steamed dumplings offer a soft and chewy texture along with the benefit of being a healthier option compared to fried ones. Using a steamer, you can achieve perfectly cooked dumplings that are delicious and nutritious. With these qualities, it’s no wonder that steamed dumplings have become a popular choice for many food lovers.

Taste and Texture

When it comes to taste and texture, both fried and steamed dumplings offer unique experiences. As you explore the differences, consider the essential components: texture, flavor, and overall sensory appeal.

Fried dumplings have a crispy, golden-brown exterior which contrasts with the soft interior. The frying process allows the dough to develop a crunchy texture, making it an appealing appetizer for many. The filling is typically juicy and flavorful, as the frying process helps to lock in moisture and enhance the taste of the spices used in the mixture.

On the other hand, steamed dumplings have a more delicate flavor and softer texture. The steaming process ensures that the dough remains chewy, while the filling maintains its natural flavors. Since steaming does not require extra oil, the taste of steamed dumplings can be lighter and less greasy than their fried counterparts, potentially making them more enjoyable for those who prefer a less heavy appetizer.

In terms of spices, both types of dumplings can include various combinations, such as garlic, ginger, and soy sauce, to enhance the flavors of the fillings. Fried dumplings may have a more robust and savory taste, as the frying process can amplify the spiciness and aromas of the spices. Steamed dumplings, however, provide a more subtle and clean flavor, allowing you to savor the natural taste of the ingredients within the filling.

Ultimately, the choice between fried and steamed dumplings comes down to personal preference and the culinary experience you desire. Some may be drawn to the crunchy texture and richer flavors of fried dumplings, while others might prefer the softer, more delicate taste of steamed dumplings. Don’t hesitate to indulge in both options on different occasions, as each variation offers a unique and delicious experience for your taste buds.

Cooking Methods

When it comes to dumplings, there are two primary cooking methods you’ll encounter: steaming and frying. Both methods have their own unique characteristics, and each can enhance the texture and flavor of your dumplings in different ways.

Steaming is a cooking technique that uses steam to gently cook your dumplings. To do this, you’ll need a steamer basket or a bamboo steamer, which allows the steam to circulate around the dumplings and cook them evenly. Steaming not only helps retain the natural flavors and nutrients of the dumplings but also provides a soft and tender texture. This method is commonly used for delicate dumplings with thinner dough, such as soup dumplings and shrimp dumplings.

Frying is another popular cooking method for dumplings, and it’s often used for varieties with thicker dough. In this technique, you’ll first heat some oil in a pan and then add your dumplings. There are two main ways to fry dumplings: pan-frying and deep-frying. Pan-frying begins with browning one side of the dumpling in the oil, and then a small amount of water is added, allowing the dumplings to steam and cook through before the remaining water evaporates and the bottom becomes crispy again. This two-stage cooking process creates a nice contrast between the crispy exterior and the soft, tender filling. On the other hand, deep-frying involves submerging the dumplings entirely in hot oil, cooking them evenly and ensuring a consistent crispy texture throughout.

Regardless of the cooking method you choose, remember that moderation is key. Ensure you have the right balance of heat and cooking time to achieve the desired texture and doneness without over- or under-cooking your dumplings. Also, allowing your dumplings to rest for a few minutes after cooking can help the flavors meld and improve the overall eating experience.

By understanding the distinct characteristics of both steaming and frying, you can decide which cooking technique best suits the dumplings you’re preparing and enjoy a delicious meal that caters to your tastes and preferences.

Versatility and Variations

When exploring the world of dumplings, you’ll find a wide range of possibilities, each offering their unique flavors and textures. Both fried and steamed dumplings can be incredibly versatile and easily adaptable to suit your taste preferences or dietary requirements.

Fried dumplings, such as gyoza (Japanese) and jiaozi (Chinese), are typically pan-fried, giving them a crisp, golden brown exterior. This adds an extra element of texture to your meal, and their rich flavor is a great companion to a variety of dipping sauces. If you’re a fan of a juicy interior with a crunchy shell, fried dumplings are a perfect choice.

In contrast, steamed dumplings, such as the popular Chinese wontons or Southeast Asian variations, hold a delicate, tender texture. Steamed dumplings have a subtler flavor profile and can be enjoyed with a myriad of broths or dipping sauces. If you prefer a lighter option, steamed dumplings can meet your culinary desires.

Regardless of your preference, both types of dumplings can be filled with a multitude of ingredients. From succulent meats, fresh seafood, and earthy vegetables to aromatic herbs and spices, the possibilities for fillings are seemingly endless. This flexibility makes it simple to cater to various dietary needs such as vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free diets.

To summarize, both fried and steamed dumplings have their unique characteristics. Fried dumplings offer a crispy exterior and versatile pairing with dipping sauces, while steamed dumplings provide a delicate and lighter option with an ample choice of fillings. The beauty of dumplings is that you can experiment with different styles, ingredients, and flavors to create the perfect dish to satisfy your cravings.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main differences in cooking techniques for fried and steamed dumplings?

For fried dumplings, you typically coat them with oil and cook them either in a pan or deep-fry them. In pan-frying, dumplings are cooked until a crispy crust forms on the bottom, while deep-frying fully submerges them in hot oil. On the other hand, steamed dumplings are cooked in a steamer, usually over boiling water, without using any oil. Both methods require different cooking times, with steaming taking slightly longer as it relies on indirect heat.

How do the calories and overall healthiness compare between fried and steamed dumplings?

Fried dumplings tend to have higher calorie content compared to steamed ones due to the cooking oil used. Additionally, the frying process can cause some nutrients to break down. In contrast, steamed dumplings maintain most of their nutrients and contain fewer calories, making them a healthier option overall.

What variations in taste and texture can be expected between fried and steamed dumplings?

Fried dumplings have a crispier texture, especially when pan-fried, and may have a slightly richer flavor due to the oil used. Steamed dumplings have a softer, more delicate texture, and their flavors can be subtler since they are not cooked in oil.

Are there specific types of dumplings that are better suited for frying or steaming?

Certain types of dumplings, like potstickers and gyoza, are traditionally pan-fried, while others, such as xiao long bao and har gow, are meant to be steamed. While you can choose to fry or steam most dumplings, it’s essential to consider the dough and filling types to determine which cooking method will yield the best results.

What is the difference between pan-fried dumplings and deep-fried dumplings?

Pan-fried dumplings are cooked in a small amount of oil, with a crispy crust forming on the bottom due to direct heat. They remain soft on the other side. Deep-fried dumplings, on the other hand, are fully submerged in hot oil, resulting in a consistent golden-brown, crispy texture on the entire outer surface.

How do steamed dumplings compare to boiled dumplings in terms of taste, texture, and cooking method?

Steamed dumplings and boiled dumplings have similar, delicate textures but steamed ones retain their shape better as they are not submerged in water. The taste of steamed dumplings can be more pronounced since they are not diluted by the boiling water. In terms of cooking method, steamed dumplings are cooked using a steamer over boiling water, while boiled dumplings are cooked by being directly submerged in boiling water.

Fried vs Steamed Dumplings + Recipe

Here's a simple recipe for fried dumplings:
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian, Chinese
Servings 4
Calories 288 kcal


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 lb ground pork or chicken
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • vegetable oil for frying


  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, warm water, salt, and vegetable oil. Mix until a dough forms.
  • Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 5 minutes, until smooth. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the ground pork or chicken, shredded cabbage, scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and black pepper.
  • Roll out the dough into a long log shape and cut into small pieces. Roll each piece into a small circle.
  • Spoon a small amount of the filling onto the center of each circle. Fold the circle in half and pinch the edges to seal.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the dumplings and fry until golden brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  • Serve hot with soy sauce or your favorite dipping sauce.


Calories: 288kcal
Keyword fried vs steamed dumplings
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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