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How to fry potstickers without burning the bottoms?

Try as hard as I might I often screw it up. Last night, I burnt the bottoms of my handmade potstickers again. Any foolproof methods? Please, share. Thanks

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  1. Perhaps you could share what you're doing with your potstickers now? It would easier to weigh in with that info available.

    1. I do this all the time...
      1) oil your pan with a light coating
      2) layer your potstickers on
      3) turn on to med-high heat and let those suckers sizzle
      4) after a few minutes, they should start browning to your desired color
      5) add a small bowl of water and cover the pan (leaving some room for steam to escape)
      6) turn up the heat and let the dumplings steam a bit
      7) as the water boils away, you'll start to hear the bottoms sear again, just let them recrisp.
      8) The leftover water / starch becomes that crispy film that i love on gyoza.

      1. My method is exactly the same as fatty dumplin's. I don't have a nonstick skillet, so don't know if that plays a role. Last night, the dumplings were frozen, then thawed out in the fridge and brought to room temp, just before frying. I used about a 1/3 cup of hot water and cooked them covered for a few minutes over medium heat. The only thing different that I did was to add a tbs or two of water when I saw that the dumplings were still a bit raw on the top when I uncovered the skillet. So, total ten minutes or so of cooking time. Maybe it is a matter of calibrating the heat.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Firatcim

          1) non stick definitely helpful, and that could be the issue, but defer to others?
          2) try doing it without thawing... save you some time and it works fine. Just need to extend the time a bit.
          3) and yeah, sometimes you get that white crackly edge at the top of hte dumpling, where it didnt quite cook and i also add extra water.

          but overall, once you have this method down, its pretty foolproof.

          next time i do it at home, i'll try to take more detailed instructions. at this point, its sort of intuitive for me and tough to recall exact times.

          1. re: Firatcim

            Exactly what the others have said; don't thaw them, and use a non-stick pan. You'll just need to steam them a little bit longer.

          2. Non-stick pan, and cook from frozen. Freezing adds moisture so defrosting will make them soggy.

            5 Replies
            1. re: letsindulge

              I'm going to disagree on this one. My dumplings would have required a much longer cooking time, had I not partially defrosted them beforehand. In the past, I tried straight from the freezer method and ended up with dumplings with crisp and hot exteriors with a cold filling.

              1. re: Firatcim

                Im beginning to think its the pan. what are you using? I'm wondering if the pan surface gets too hot and that's why you burn without fulling cooking through. I've never had that issue before and have been doing this since I was 10yo, starting with frozen dumplings and always ending up with crisp brown skin and fully cooked filling... learned it from my grandmother.

                1. re: FattyDumplin

                  My skillet is a heavy bottomed copper lined All Clad.

                  1. re: Firatcim

                    There's your problem. Cooking potstickers in a stainless pan is an exercise in masochism. Use nonstick or cast iron and a lot of your problems will go away. A good steel spatula with a thin, rigid blade to get under the dumplings helps a lot too.

            2. If you scroll to the bottom of this link, here's how Andrea Nguyen (my goddess for all things dumpling!) did them.


              3 Replies
              1. re: c oliver

                I follow Andrea's method, as well, and have seen the video.

                1. re: Firatcim

                  I took her dumpling class last year and this is how it was done.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Thanks, C. I have good success with Andrea's method, but not always. Want to minimize burning, especially after going to the trouble of making them from scratch.

              2. Try turning the heat down and being patient. I don't own a non-stick and always cook them from frozen. Hot pan (not scorching but high,) cold oil, add frozen potstickers, give them a minute and then turn the heat down a little so they don't burn. After a couple off minutes I add a couple tablespoons of water and put the lid on to cook through. Take the lid off to let the remaining water evaporate and let the bottoms crisp a little more. I watch them closely at the end.

                1. If I'm cooking from frozen, I do a variation on what everyone here has suggested - I steam first. I put a bit of oil in the pan, then the frozen dumplings, then some water, and cook over medium heat, covered. After about 6-8 minutes of steaming I uncover the pan and allow the water to boil away, leaving just oil and a film of starch (which helps browning) in the pan. At this point I let them cook until they're as brown as I want them. No chance of burning and the initial steam takes care of thawing/heating.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: biondanonima

                    That's what I do, too, since it's how the owner of the Asian market where I buy the potstickers told me to do it. A fair amount of water - about halfway up the sides of the dumplings.

                    It's important to preheat on medium-medium hi for a while, 5-10 minutes depending on your pan and burner. Then a film of oil, frozen potstickers flat side down. Once the bottoms start to change color, add the water and lid, and leave it alone until you hear sizzling. There will still be water at this point but leave the lid off and wait till it's gone, then check the potsticker bottoms. It may help you to put a marble in the pan. It will rattle around and make noise so you can't forget the water is gone.

                    1. re: greygarious

                      I don't even let the potstickers start to color before adding water - and since I usually use a non-stick skillet, I don't preheat the pan. If I were using a pan without a non-stick coating, I probably would preheat the pan and oil.

                    2. re: biondanonima

                      From frozen: I do things slightly differently that biondanonima, but I think the results are similar. I put water in the pan (enough to go halfway up the sides of the potstickers, like greygarious says). I also put in 1-2 T of oil. I bring this to a boil, covered, which is usually very quick, and then I add the potstickers, flat-side down. I steam them (covered) for about 6-8 minutes, then uncover and allow the water to boil away. And then, like biondanonima, I let them cook until they are as brown as I want them.

                      So, basically, with frozen potstickers I skip that initial browning step, and the potstickers still come out nice and browned and crispy. Non-stick pan is best, but I've had success with nicely seasoned cast-iron as well. I try to use a pan-size that is equal to the number of dumplings I'm making...seems to work better when the pan is full.

                    3. I usually make PS's in batches of 50 or 100, and dust the bottoms with flour as I go to prevent sticking to the sheet pan and keep sogginess at bay.

                      I;ve never had a problem with burning unless I lost track of them on the stove cooking.

                      Peanut oil or veg. oil in skillet, thawed or fresh potstickers added to thin layer of hot oil and cook until browned. Add stock or water, cover and cook until done and pan becins to dry out and sizzle.

                      I do use a non-stick pan and then take a papertowel and wipe down the pan between batches. Then do another batch.

                      I don;t do store bought frozen since so easy to make at home as you want them.

                      YOu want the oil hot enough to do a good quick fry (which is where the dusting flour helps too) as slow fry or too cold of oil = soggy, but too hot and they brown quick.

                      Since you are dumping room temp water/broth into a hot pan, they cool down quick, thus whay they are so hard to burn.

                      Using a pan that also holds heat well also helps.

                      Love to help ya more but not sure I can.

                      1. Since you're making them from scratch (not commercially frozen), don't freeze them. Just put them in a pan and use your regular method, but turn the heat down. Let your nose tell you when they're done - you'll smell the wrapper getting all toasty and delicious. That's when you take 'em out and huff 'em down.

                        1 Reply
                        1. I use a triple layer stainless steel pan. I have cooked potstickers both fresh and frozen for more than 10 years. And the cooking time and amount of water varies with different size and type dumplings. The stove can also make a difference. On my stove the left burner tends to burn everything, while the right burner works like a charm. Both have identical heat settings.

                          You cannot expect to have a single formula that works for all dumplings all the time. There's too many variables that affect the result:
                          - The dough may be too thick.
                          - The size of your dumplings.
                          - The amount of filling, and fat content.
                          - The amount of water.
                          - The stove's heat and amount of cooking time.

                          Those who buy frozen dumplings from an Asian grocery are ready in 4-5 minutes (for Japanese brands, or a bit longer for Chinese brands) because those are par-cooked (they also spray the exterior with oil to shorten cooking time). A homemade raw filling takes longer than that (and require more water, but too much water will make the dough soggy). The homemade dumpling cooking time might also vary if you change the filling. For example, from meat to vegetarian, or from high fat (less time) to lean meat or vice versa.

                          All cooking should be completed with the lid on. You remove the lid to do the browning step. If the dumplings (fresh or frozen) are still cold inside, is because your cooking time with lid was too short or not enough water. Write down the cooking time and water amounts for each type of dumpling, so you'll have a reference of what works for you.

                          If the only problem you have now is burned bottoms, then turn off the heat as soon as the water evaporates. Remove the pan from the stove, and let the bottoms brown with the remaining pan heat.

                          Note that the first step of Andrea Nguyen's outline is poorly explained. You don't want to brown the bottoms at first, you're lightly "toasting" them, so the wet dough won't fuse to the pan when they're boiling. All the real browning happens in the last step, after the water evaporates.

                          Cheap cookware made with thin metal (like the one in Andrea's pic) takes longer to reach high temperatures. So it's less likely to burn food, the way a stainless steel pan (with heat retention qualities like a multi-layer core or thick bottom) can quickly do.

                          1. The only way they should burn is either the heat is too high, or you're cooking them too long.

                            I use the same method as FattyDumplin -- oil in the skillet (I use a large nonstick one) and when it's shimmering, I put in the potstickers. I let those cook for a minute or two, then add in about 1/4 cup of water and cover the pan quickly. Cook until the water is gone and the dumpling tops looked cooked, then uncover and let them panfry for another minute or two until browned. I use a medium-high heat, but when they are steaming, I turn the heat to medium, not to high like FattyDumplin does. Then I crank it back up for the panfry at the end.

                            My homemade dumplings are usually freshly made, but the storebought ones I buy are cooked from frozen. I've never thawed frozen dumplings before cooking -- I just cook them a little longer. If your filling is cold while the outside is cooked, I'm even more convinced your heat is too high, because the outside will burn by the time the inside is hot. Try using slightly lower heat.