Plump and tasty pan-fried pork and cabbage dumplings (aka potstickers) with crispy bottoms and juicy fillings! What's not to love? The key to juicy dumplings is using fatty pork. More on this later.
Already delicious on their own, Chinese pan-fried dumplings are also fantastic with a quick dipping (with a zing!) sauce. If you like things on the spicy side, a drizzle of aromatic crispy chilli oil will be the perfect cheery on the top!
Folding dumplings for the first time may seem a bit daunting. But, with a bit of practice, you'll get the hang of it. Watch my how-to video inside the recipe card below 🙂. Hopefully, like me, you'll also find it quite therapeutic once you get into the groove of it!
- Fatty pork mince (ground pork) - very important! Actually, it's probably the most important must when it comes to dumplings. It's the fat that will make the dumplings juicy, tender and heavenly tasty! As a rule of thumb, the ideal fat to meat ratio for dumplings is at least 20% fat and 80% meat. 30% fat is a good amount to aim for. Anything leaner than that, the filling will be a little tough/dry. If you only have lean pork mince, I suggest adding some oil (or pork lard) to the filling mixture.
- Cabbage - can use either green cabbage or napa cabbage (aka Chinese cabbage). Growing up, my family and I always used white cabbage I suspect because it does not require the additional step required had napa cabbage is used. More on this below. Important tip: chop cabbage as finely as possible.
- Dumpling wrappers - sometimes called 'dumpling skins'. Can be found at Asian grocers, in the fridge section, usually where you can find fresh noodles and tofu. To my Aussie readers, certain Woolies stock these too!
- Oil (optional) - I like adding oil to my filling mixture if the pork mince I've got is on the lean side (less than or around 20% fat). Oil helps tenderise meats and fat is key to juicy dumplings! Love prawn dumplings (har gow)? Usually, pork lard is added to the filling to make them juicy and flavourful. In my version, I add oil as I never have pork fat lying around in my fridge/freezer!
- Shaoxing wine - adds depth and complexity to the overall flavour profile. Substitute: dry sherry or any other type of rice wine.
There are 4 core steps to making these pan-fried pork and cabbage dumplings:
- Prepare the filling
- Fold the dumplings (can be done in advance and freeze - more on this below)
- Dipping sauce
Prepare the filling
First, finely chop cabbage. The goal is to get the cabbage to asimilar size to the pork mince so they bind seamlessly.
I find the easiest method is to finely slice the cabbage then methodically, chop/dice them finely against the strips.
To finish off, go ahead and chop the diced cabbage to get them nice and small (just like mincing garlic). This usually takes me about 5 minutes.
If using napa cabbage, squeeze out excess liquids: after finely chopping, lightly season with salt in a large bowl. This will help release moisture from the cabbage. Then, pour the cabbage in the middle of a clean tea towel, gather all ends of the towel and squeeze out the liquids. This is crucial otherwise the filling will be too watery to work with.
To bring the filling together, in a large mixing bowl, add pork, cabbage, minced ginger, garlic, soy sauce, shaoxing wine, sesame oil, oil (or lard, if using) sugar, salt and white pepper.
To mix, I always prefer mixing with a (clean!) hand to properly and evenly mix. This also kind of massages the seasonings into the meat and cabbage.
The dumpling mixture is ready to go when a thick paste-like mixture is formed. This happens quite quickly. Like the picture below. Before folding or pleating dumplings, firmly press down the filling so that they're nice and compact. This will make the folding process much easier.
How to fold dumplings
There are 2 very important tricks to adhere to when folding dumplings (so that they don't fall apart):
- Firmly pack the filling in - like the picture below. Filling that's loosely placed on a dumpling wrapper is a nightmare to fold and seal properly.
- Lightly dampen half of the rim of the dumpling wrapper around the filling - outlined in the picture below. The moisture will help seal the dumplings properly. This step is a must when using store-bought dumpling wrappers. Homemade dumpling wrappers don't need this extra step as they're a lot more malleable.
- Firmly press down the pleats - so that they don't fall apart.
The best way to learn how to wrap dumplings successfully is by watching and practising. Head down below where the recipe card is for my how-to video.
If you're a beginner, I suggest packing a little less filling than shown in my video. It'll be slightly easier to pleat. As you become more comfortable, add more in. Remember, no loose filling!
This recipe makes approximately 35 - 40 plump dumplings.
Most dumpling wrappers are sold in 30-ish wrappers per pack. If you have run out of dumpling wrappers, just pan-fry the excess dumpling filling. I like shaping mine in mini patties.
Pan-fry for crispy bottoms potstickers
When ready to cook, add a little oil into a non-stick frying pan on medium-high heat. Neatly place dumplings (like so below) and add about ½ cup of water.
Make sure there is a little space between dumplings and that they're not on top of each other. There is no need to turn the dumplings throughout the cooking process.
Place the lid on and cook for about 6 minutes.
After 6 minutes I usually take the lid off to help evaporate all the water. These pan fried dumplings are ready when the bottoms become crispy and golden!
You will need to cook all 30-ish dumplings in 2 batches as most large pans won't fit all 30.
That's it! Juicy, plump pork and cabbage dumplings with crispy bottoms.
No dumpling dish is complete without a quick, punchy sauce!
Takes about 2 minutes (depending on how quickly you can mince garlic and grate ginger). To make the dumpling dipping sauce, combine minced garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sugar, Chinese black vinegar and sesame oil. Mix well.
To further up the flavour profile (and spice), add some fragrant Sichuan style chilli oil.
I also find a little coriander (cilantro) works really well with these dumplings too.
Useful tips and tricks
- Firmly pack the filling in - loose filling is very hard to wrap with and pleat. It can get messy real quick and the dumpling can fall apart easily if boiled in water (instead of pan-frying).
- Chop cabbage as fine as possible - for better integration with the meat and if too chunky, the dumpling filling can turn out a little crunchy.
- Perfect for freezing! You can easily make 2 batches and freeze half of the uncooked dumplings for a rainy day (or emergency food).
- Do not make the filling in advance by more than 1 hour - it is best to wrap the dumplings up as soon as the filling is made. This is because the filling will get watery when left too long in the fridge. Moisture from cabbage releases when it is in contact with salt (from filling seasoning). This is the case with all vegetables.
Good to know (FAQs)
Fat! The secret to juicy dumplings is using fatty pork. Always aim for at least 20/80 fat to meat ratio.
Yes, in Mandarin, dumplings with crispy bottoms are often referred to as pan-fried dumplings or potstickers. They're called potstickers as the dumplings need to literally stick to the pan as they crisp up!
Gyoza is essentially the Japanese version of Chinese pan-fried dumplings. Gyoza tend to be thinner, slightly more rectangular shaped and are often served as a
Make ahead - perfect for freezing!
Never store folded dumplings in the fridge overnight. They will get soggy and almost always break apart when you lift them up.
The only way to make dumplings ahead of time is to fold and then freeze. This is how:
- Neatly line uncooked dumplings in freezer-friendly trays (I use either my cutting boards or oven trays that would fit in my freezer) without overlapping.
- Place in the freezer for about 1 hour or until completely frozen.
- Once frozen, dumplings will no longer stick together and can be stored, stacked inside airtight containers and freeze.
Raw pork and cabbage dumplings last up to 6 months in the freezer.
To cook frozen dumplings, do not thaw:
- Pan-frying method: no change to the cooking method, simply extend cooking time to ~10 minutes (from ~7 minutes).
- Boiling method: add directly into boiling water and cook for about 8 minutes or until fully cooked. Dumplings are cooked once they all float to the top of the boiling water.
Any leftover cooked pork and cabbage dumplings will keep well in the fridge for 3 to 4 days stored in airtight containers.
Made this recipe? Let me know your thoughts or questions by dropping a note in the comments section below! I'd love to hear from you. 🙂
Happy cooking! - Gen
Pan-Fried Pork and Cabbage Dumplings
- 1 packet dumpling wrappers (note 1)
- 500 g /1 pound pork mince fatty, ~20% - 30% fat
- 3 cups green cabbage finely chopped ~300g/11ounces (note 2)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced (about 1 thumb-sized)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine
- 2 tablespoon (optional - note 3) neutral-tasting oil eg. canola, grapeseed or lard
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ½ teaspoon ginger minced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar Substitute: malt vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoon neutral-tasting oil eg. canola, grapeseed
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all filling ingredients and mix well. Best use a clean hand as it'll be much easier.
- To fold the dumplings, watch my how-to video below. This recipe makes approximately 35 plump dumplings.
- In a large non-stick frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of oil then neatly line with half of the dumplings, ensuring a little space in between each. Never overlap the dumplings.
- Add ½ cup of water and place the lid on. Cook on medium-high heat for 5 to 6 minutes. Then, remove the lid and allow the liquids to evaporate and the dumplings to crisp up at the bottom.
- Remove from the pan once the bottom of the dumplings is golden and crispy. Repeat for the second batch.
- Combine all dipping sauce ingredients and serve with dumplings.
- Pan-frying method: no change to cooking method, simply extend cooking time to ~10 minutes (from ~7 minutes).
- Boiling method: add frozen dumplings directly into boiling water and cook for about 8 minutes or until fully cooked. Dumplings are cooked once they all float to the top of the boiling water.