Make Ahead

Popo's Pot Stickers

December 30, 2013
10 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Prep time 40 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Makes about 50
Author Notes

My mother's mother, a feisty Chinese woman in horn-rimmed glasses and a hand-knit cardigan, lived with our family for several years during my childhood. We called her Popo -- the Cantonese name for grandmother -- and she was a legendary cook. She would cook elaborate multi-course dinners for us every night, shooing us kids out of the kitchen if we got in her way. The one time she would accept help from her grandchildren was when she embarked on her pot sticker project, a half-day affair which would take over most of the kitchen and dining room table. She would make hundreds of little pot stickers -- guo tie in Cantonese -- and pack them for freezing, for the family to eat over the next few months until we ran out and she did it all over again. During these epic days, she would sit down her small army of pot sticker stuffers and carefully demonstrate just the right amount of filling to put in and how to crimp the edges. My uncoordinated little fingers always made misshapen, overflowing dumplings, but Popo would just laugh and show me one of her impossibly perfect creations. Because we had a language barrier between us, it was always such a great opportunity to interact with her without the stress of words.

And the pot stickers themselves? They continue to be the gold standard against which all other dumplings are measured. They're full of zippy flavor with tons of ginger and garlic. In fact, I credit these pot stickers with getting me over my childhood aversion to ginger. I use Sichuan peppercorns in mine just because I like the added spiciness, but Popo would just use white pepper. —vrunka

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Vrunka is a librarian, gardener, pie enthusiast, and kitchen mischief-maker living in Portland, OR.
WHAT: Her grandmother's potstickers: the gold standard of dumplings.
HOW: Mix together your pork and seasonings, then work in a mixture of egg, soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch. Shape into dumplings. Pan-fry.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Popo has figured out a way to work an extreme amount of flavor into each dumpling; each little packet is singing with garlic, chili, ginger, and intense porkiness. We love the classic, foolproof fry/steam method used in cooking these. They freeze beautifully, so make a big batch -- and enlist the whole family to help. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 1 cup cilantro, minced
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup green chives, minced (or green onions)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground Sichuan peppercorns (or white pepper)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 package round gyoza/pot sticker wrappers
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine pork with ginger, cilantro, garlic, chives, salt, and pepper. In another bowl, whisk together egg, sesame oil, soy sauce, and cornstarch. Mix this into the pork mixture with your hands, making sure it's well combined.
  2. Make sure your wrappers are completely defrosted before starting. Have a small dish of water nearby. Put one wrapper at a time one a clean working surface and place a scant teaspoon of filling in the middle. Using your fingers, dampen the edge of the wrapper and fold it into a half-moon. Push the edges together tightly; you may also decoratively crimp the edges if you like. Repeat until finished (with or without child labor!).
  3. Dumplings can be fried, baked or boiled, but the traditional Cantonese method for cooking pot stickers is a hybrid of frying and steaming. Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium high and lightly coat the bottom with oil. Place about 20 or so pot stickers in a tight circle, flat side-down. Allow them to sizzle in the pan for about 1 minute then add about a half cup of water. Cover immediately, as it will splatter. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until you can see the moisture inside the dumplings boiling, about 10 minutes. Remove lid and increase heat to medium high. Allow the water to boil off and the bottoms to brown, about 5 minutes. Gently unstick the stickers with a spatula. Invert a plate over the pan then flip the whole circle of pot stickers onto the plate, browned side-up. Popo would serve these with a simple dipping sauce of equal parts soy sauce and vinegar, but they're great plain, too.
  4. You can freeze any extras before cooking them. You can use the same method to cook them from frozen, but it might take about 5 minutes longer.
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  • Alan Haughton
    Alan Haughton
  • Wendy
  • vrunka
  • Chef Lisa
    Chef Lisa
  • Miss Rumphius
    Miss Rumphius
I love experimenting in the kitchen and learning new techniques.

53 Reviews

Carmen April 19, 2022
Delicious! I did add a little shrimp paste to the mixture to give it some umami flavor but not sure if it really needed it with all the herbs and aromatics. Saving this recipe.
Alan H. May 24, 2019
I made these tonight, they are incredible, one of the best potstickers I have ever tasted, thank you!
vrunka May 28, 2019
wonderful! My grandmother would be so proud! :)
Wendy April 18, 2018
Made these last night and they were wonderful! Quite a process for a weeknight meal but it was worth it and I have some stashed in my freezer for later. Made two dipping sauces to accompany and yet, as stated, they were delicious on their own!
vrunka April 30, 2018
Yay, so glad you liked them! I pretty much always keep a stash of these in the freezer, too!
vrunka January 11, 2018
Hi folks -- just wanted to add a note to say that the traditional way to fry these is with the seam facing up,not on its side like in the picture. but either way they'll still be tasty! :)
Heather November 10, 2016
I am hoping to make these in advance for a buffet, and will need to keep them warmed in a chafing dish. Any recommendations to keep them tasting fresh over a couple of hours as guests graze? How to keep texture of freshly cooked?
dillybug February 19, 2015
Made these last night for an early Chinese New Year's celebration. Can you say YUM?!?! I didn't have Sichuan peppercorns so I just added Sriracha to taste. A definite REPEAT. Popped a few in the freezer to see how they match up to the fresh ones. Hoping they'll taste equally as yummy so I can always keep them on hand when a craving strikes. Many thanks for the recipe and the reader's suggestion to substitute with beef which I'm going to try next time as well! Happy belly makes for a happy person, indeed.
vrunka February 19, 2015
so glad these worked out well for you. Happy New Year !
Chef L. December 8, 2014
I'm making these for an open house this weekend. I apologize if it's in here, but approximately how many does this make? Thank you for sharing this great recipe!
vrunka December 8, 2014
Hi Lisa, the recipe makes about 40 to 50 pot stickers, about the same number as is in a package of wrappers. Remember when you cook them to put them flat side down, seam facing up, not on their sides like in the Food52 picture. If you put them on their sides you won't be able to fit very many in the pan!
vrunka December 8, 2014
Good luck and let us know how it goes!
Jessica November 26, 2014
The description mentions chili, is there an ingredient missing from the list?
vrunka November 27, 2014
Hi Jessica,

I don't see anything about chilis in the recipe! Do you mean chives?
vrunka November 27, 2014
though I think chilis would be delicious in the mix if you like spicy food!
Jessica November 27, 2014
The 'why we love it' section says something about chili, but when I made these this evening I just went with the recipe as written. But in the future I'm definitely going to add some spice!
vrunka November 28, 2014
oh, funny, I never noticed that. I guess the F52ers decided to add a little heat -- which sounds great. I'm all for changing the recipe to suit your tastes!
cream C. September 17, 2014
Question: do you prefer red or green Szechuan peppercorns?
vrunka September 17, 2014
I've only ever used red -- I don't think I've ever seen green ones before! If you try it,let me know how it turns out.
Miss R. May 5, 2014
I am a newbie to this site and this is the first recipe I have tried. Glad I did but next time I will be sure to read the comments first! I was going by the photos so fried then on their sides. I put in less water than called for because I had a smaller pan that fit only about 10 pot stickers at a time. I put in only 3/4 of the cilantro and chives because that is all that I had on hand and I added some chopped water chestnuts for a little crunch. Delish!
vrunka May 8, 2014
sorry for the misunderstanding! but I'm glad they turned out anyway.
Hibatt April 29, 2014
I made these today. Didn't have any ground pork but did have grass fed ground beef from a friends ranch. They turned out amazing! Thank you for this recipe!
vrunka May 1, 2014
oh, yum! that sounds fantastic. lucky you -- a friend with grass-fed beef, is a friend indeed!
Harriette C. April 10, 2014
I love making pot stickers! So tasty and you can freeze them for a rainy day. One question, what do you usually serve them with. I've tried white rice (too boring), I've tried fried rice (okay, but too salty). Any ideas?
vrunka April 10, 2014
I usually think of them as an appetizer, not really part of the main meal. But they are often part of dim sum meals so you could add other dumplings and dim sum items. Otherwise, I'd recommend something lighter like a hot and sour soup or egg drop soup plus a plate of stir-fried veggies to go with it.
GAIL W. May 7, 2014
denise&food April 4, 2014
These are really good. I had leftover filling so I stuffed mushrooms with the filling and baked for 20 minutes and now have a delicious new appetizer...Asian Stuffed Mushrooms!!
vrunka April 10, 2014
wow, that sounds amazing! I'll have to try that.
Ann-Marie D. March 24, 2014
Excited to try this. Am living in Bogota, Colombia - can I use wonton wrappers instead? What are gyozo wrappers - not sure if I've ever seen them.
vrunka March 25, 2014
They're all pretty similar -- they're all really just thinly rolled sheets of pasta cut in a particular shape. For these pot stickers, it's really mostly about the shape -- they need to be round. You could even make your own if you're feeling ambitious!
AAK March 23, 2014
I love potstickers so much-- but I think cilantro is Satan's weed. Can I just leave it out? It seems like there's so much it might need a substitute.
vrunka March 25, 2014
Ha! I certainly know a lot of people who feel the same. I would suggest a leafy green -- spinach and cabbage are commonly used. They would need to be cooked down (steamed or sauteed), cooled, and then squeezed out thoroughly before being used.
AAK March 25, 2014
Duh, cabbage is the perfect sub. Thanks!
Sidney H. April 7, 2019
How we add Chinese cabbage is raw leaves, chiffonade, let sit in a couple tsp salt for 15-20 minutes. Then squeeze out liquid and add to the meat filling with a little extra sesame oil. I have a similar PoPo recipe.
vvvanessa March 22, 2014
Popo was grandmother, too, and in making these this week, I was reminded of two more ways to make them just like she did. First, you have to use chopsticks and only chopsticks to fill them. Second, you should have a stack of clean Styrofoam meat trays at the ready for lining the postickers up on; just be sure the trays are well coated with cornstarch! (If you don't buy meat on Styrofoam trays, Popo would probably let it slide if you just used a baking sheet.)
vvvanessa March 22, 2014
Sorry-- Popo was *my* grandmother, too.
vrunka March 25, 2014
The only time I wish I bought my meat on styrofoam trays is when I'm making these potstickers. They really are perfect for storage. I just put mine in ziploc bags, but they do tend to get beat up a bit in the freezer.
Sidney H. April 7, 2019
That is funny! My popo was adamant about 4 chopsticks and you have to mix in one direction, adding up to a cup of chicken broth to the mixture until a small ball floats in a cup of ice water. That way the giaozi were super juicy.
Burf March 21, 2014
The flavor of these is delicious!
My only experience with pot stickers are ordering them in restaurants. I'm doing something wrong in the cooking method. I saute them for the minute, and they get a great color. I add the water and cover so they steam, but when I take the lid off, the remaining water seems to have mixed with the flour in the gyoza wrapper to make a thick pasty sauce. i don't seem to have enough oil in the pan to fry them. I ended up with tasty little buggers stuck to the pan. I need a Popo!
After a few feeble attempts, I steamed the rest, and while not crispy, they were still fantastic.
vrunka March 21, 2014
well, they don't call 'em pot stickers for nothin'!

But seriously, sorry that that didn't work out for you. Two main things to keep in mind: make sure the whole bottom of the pan is oiled. They shouldn't be sitting in a pool of oil, but the whole surface should be covered.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, if the stickers are sticking, keep letting them brown a little longer. At some magical point, the crust browns enough that it actually hardens a little and separates from the pan.

Also, be aware that pot stickers should be sitting on the flat bottoms, not on their sides as is shown in the Food52 picture. flip through the other pictures so you can see how they should sit in the pan. This allows you to cook more at once without them overlapping. Plus it minimizes the surface area touching the pan.
vvvanessa March 22, 2014
It's also possible you added too much water to the pan. I add enough to reach up less than halfway up the sides of the dumplings. More than that can result in gumminess. I sometimes get slightly gummy potstickers, but they still taste darn good.
JohnL March 23, 2014
Burf, one possible culprit causing "thick pasty sauce (if you followed the instruction to set the raw dumplings onto a cornstarch coated surface): That cornstarch will dislodge from the potstickers during the boiling away of the water, and become pasty. Try patting off any cornstarch the dumplings have picked up off the plate, or don't set them into cornstarch at all. If your dumplings stick to the styrofoam (or plate) you could also try spraying the plate with Pam instead of using cornstarch.
Joy H. March 18, 2014
In case anyone's interested, I posted a short little video on how to fold the dumplings the traditional way with creases here:
It makes a difference when you're pan-frying the dumplings because when you fold it with the creases, it allows the dumplings to sit upright (and I happen to think they look prettier that way). There's a plethora of other tips on making dumplings in that post, too!
vrunka March 21, 2014
Thanks, Cooking of Joy! that video is fantastic!

I must not have explained very well in the recipe what the "flat side" of the dumpling is because in the Food52 pics it looks like they fried them on their sides rather than standing up straight. Oops ! But rest assured that Popo would always fry them upright (and I do, too!) !

Your mom's recipe looks fabulous. I love the idea of putting mung bean noodles in the pot stickers.
hardlikearmour March 18, 2014
Congrats on you wild card win! Please invite me over next time you make these :-)
vrunka March 21, 2014
anytime, HLA!
loubaby January 17, 2014
Thanks for adding the 1 cup cilantro...I tested this from the community pick and flavor was definitely lacking...but it didn't include the cilantro and now I know why...1 cup of it would definitely add flavor...Thanks...I will try them again with the cilantro...otherwise was easy and good