Dumplings are delicious, comforting, and enjoyed all around the globe. They are fun to make and very versatile, as you can fill them with anything you like!
The two most popular methods of cooking them are by either frying or steaming them, leading to the great debate – fried vs steamed: which is better?
This article will unpack the differences between steamed and fried dumplings, so you can make an informed decision on which you think is the better option.
What Are Dumplings?
Dumplings are small masses of dough that are filled with a filling of your choosing, such as pork, beef, chicken, or vegetables, which are then rolled together and cooked.
They come from Asian-inspired dishes, such as Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese, but they have now become very popular all over the world.
In Chinese cuisines they are referred to as ‘jiaozi’, and in Japanese cuisines, they call them ‘gyozas’.
What Is The Difference Between Them?
Both kinds of dumplings follow the same method of preparation, the difference lies in the cooking.
Both variations are prepared by kneading and rolling out the dough, in order to hold a filling. This can be any filling of your choice, such as beef, vegetables, chicken, or even soup!
When the dumplings have been filled and closed off, they are to either be fried or steamed. When steamed, they are placed in a special kind of basket over a pot of boiling water and cooked this way.
Fried dumplings are cooked in a pan with some oil, or any other kind of fat. Frying gives the dumplings a crispy outer layer, with a caramelized, nutty flavor from the oil.
Many people enjoy fried dumplings, as they offer a crunchy bite that has a nice contrast to the soft filling.
Steaming dumplings, follow the more traditional way of cooking them. As they are made in a steamer, it gives them a chewy, soft exterior.
Their texture is also somewhat squishy, and there is less flavor in this outer layer than with fried dumplings.
|Differences||Fried Dumplings||Steamed Dumplings|
|Filling||Can be anything from vegetables, chicken, pork, beef, etc.||Can be anything from vegetables, chicken, pork, beef, etc.|
|Texture||Crunchy and hard on the outside, and soft on the inside.||Soft and smooth on the outside, as well as on the inside.|
|Flavor||An almost nutty flavor on the outside.||Not very flavorsome on the outside.|
|Cooking||Fried in a pan with an oil of your choosing.||Steamed in a basket over a pot of boiling water.|
|Nutrition||Less nutritional value due to them being fried in oil.||Slightly healthier than fried due to its cooking method.|
Regardless of whether you are having steamed or fried dumplings, you can use any filling you wish. This can include pork, beef, chicken, vegetables, or a mixture of all of them!
There is a vast difference between the texture of fried and steamed dumplings.
As mentioned earlier, fried dumplings will have a crispy exterior that is crunchy on the bite. However, they do remain soft of the inside.
They also take on the taste of what they’ve been fried in, and will often have a pleasant, nutty flavor.
Steamed dumplings, on the other hand, are very soft on the outside as well as the inside. However, they are blander on the outside, so they are often eaten with a certain dipping sauce.
Are Steamed Or Fried Dumplings Healthier?
All dumplings are relatively healthy, but when it comes to comparing steamed to fried, steamed dumplings are the healthier option.
This is because they have less oil than fried dumplings, and therefore a less fatty. The filling of your dumplings will also determine how healthy they are.
Those filled with lean meats are relatively healthy, as well as those filled with nutritious vegetables.
Can Dumplings Be Deep-Fried?
It is possible to find deep-fried dumplings, or to deep-fry them yourself. This will make them even crispier on the outside than fried dumplings, and adds some more intensity to their taste.
However, they will be significantly less healthy than if they were to be steamed or fried. The preparation and fillings are the same as steamed or fried dumplings, the only difference is in the cooking.
Air Fried Dumplings
If you love the crispiness of fried dumplings, but don’t like the idea of so much oil, then you can air fry them!
This is best done with store-bought frozen dumpling. All you need to do is brush them with some olive oil (or spray oil if you’re watching your calories), place in them in the air fryer and cook them at 390 degrees Fahrenheit.
The dumplings don’t need to be thawed before cooking, and the result is a bunch of golden, crispy dumplings that are crunchy on the outside, and smooth and delicious on the inside.
Fried VS Steamed Dumplings – Which Is Better?
Whether you feel steamed or fried dumplings are better, is entirely up to you and your personal preference.
The fillings for both varieties are completely the same, so the cooking method you choose has no bearing on the taste of the inside of the dumplings.
As fried dumplings are crispier and have slightly more of a taste on their exterior, some people prefer them, but steamed dumplings are known for being healthier, which is why some people may say that these are the better choice.
What To Serve With Dumplings
Delicious dumplings are normally served on the side of a main meal, and there are many different kinds of foods you can pair them with.
Chili Oil/Soy Sauce
If you’d like to enjoy your dumplings on their own, then try tossing them in your favorite chili oil.
If you prefer no spice, then you can have some soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, or sweet chili sauce as a dip on the side.
Throw Them In A Stir Fry
Adding some dumplings to a stir-fry is a great way to add them to a main meal. This can work with both steamed or fried dumplings!
Serve Them With Some Rice And Veggies
Make your dumplings into a meal by serving them on top of some of your favorite rice and veggies.
You’ll be getting enough protein from your meat-filled dumplings, regardless of weather they’re steamed or fried, so this is a perfect meal if you’re craving some dumplings for dinner!
Serve Them In A Broth
While this works best with wontons, if you’ve got some fried dumplings, they’ll be delicious after being soaked in a flavorsome soup along with some noodles.
This is a great option if you’re looking for a light lunch or dinner, and you can boost it’s nutritional value by adding lots of scrumptious veggies to the soup!
Dipping Sauces For Dumplings
If you’d like to enjoy your dumplings on their own, then you just need a yummy dipping sauce to go with them.
If you’re looking for a little kick to go with your dumplings, then this jalapeño and honey dipping sauce is the one for you.
The honey balances out the spiciness from the jalapeño, while adding a sweetness that will make you keep coming back for more.
This sauce is the perfect combination of sweet and savory, with a tangy kick from the ginger.
It is very simple to whip together, and as all you need is soy sauce, honey, ginger, and mayonnaise.
Sweet and sour sauce is a crowd-favorite when it comes to dipping sauces for Asian food. It is light, with a pleasant taste, and is very easy to make yourself.
You’ll need some pineapple juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch, ketchup and red food coloring.
The combination of these ingredients makes for a wonderfully flavorful sauce.
Black bean sauce is very versatile, and pairs well with several different Asian-inspired sides.
It is also a pretty healthy alternative to many other sauces, as it has much a lot less sugar.
It is very simple to make, and you can whip it up yourself at home, and keep it in a jar in the fridge, so you can have some whenever you want!
This pairs perfectly well with either steamed, or fried dumplings. If you’re a fan of other Asian-inspired dishes, then it would be worth making a good amount of this, as you’ll want to use it with everything!
Whether fried or steamed dumplings are best, depends on your own personal preference.
The preparation for both varieties is the same, as is the filling. The only difference is in the cooking, as fried dumplings are cooked on a pan in oil, and steamed dumplings are steamed in a special type of basket over boiling water.
Fried dumplings are crispier and have a slightly nuttier flavor on their exterior, and steamed dumplings are a lot softer, with less flavor in their outer layer.