Dumplings come in different shapes and sizes all over the world. Broadly defined as a small mass of dough cooked by boiling or steaming, dumplings take the form of perogies, wontons, samosas, and even gnocchi. Most commonly today, dumplings from Asian cuisines are popping up everywhere from fine dining restaurants to fast casual spots. One of the most popular types of dumplings are potstickers, so here is where the clarification of potstickers vs dumplings will be defined.

All potstickers are dumplings, but not all dumplings are potstickers.

dumpling, gyoza, ravioli, dough, pork, meat
Naomi Hoffner

Dumplings begin with meat or vegetable fillings, which are then wrapped by pieces of dough made of bread, flour, or potatoes. The dumplings can be boiled, fried, simmered, or steamed. According to Andrea Nguyen, author of "Asian Dumplings," the Chinese invented the Asian form of dumplings, called "jiaozi." These are the foundation for what most people know as the potsticker and are what differentiate potstickers vs dumplings.

From Mistake to Tradition

vegetable, dough, chicken, pork, ravioli, gyoza, meat, dumpling
Monica Cheng

Rumor has it that a Chinese chef intended to boil jiaozi in a wok, but walked away and returned to find all of the water boiled off. Here's where the distinction of potstickers vs dumplings happened. The dumpling stuck to the pan and got crispy, which is how the dumpling got its name of potsticker, which literally means "stuck to the wok."

The Gateway Dumpling for Beginners

tortellini, ravioli, flour, pork, dough, meat, dumpling
Lauren Siu

Potstickers are some of the most common forms of dumplings, found everywhere from Chinese restaurants to the frozen aisle of the grocery store. Typically two to three bite dumplings with a thick and soft wrapper that becomes crispy after cooking, they can be filled with cabbage and carrots for a vegetarian version or with ground pork for a meat version.

fish, soy, vegetable, chicken, sauce, tofu
Benjamin Martin

Although menus might still be confusing, the basics of potstickers vs. dumplings are that they are both doughs on the outside and vegetable or meat filling on the inside. Potstickers are just a slight twist on what most people think of dumplings – that they're crispy on the outside due to how they're cooked. As long as you're in the mood for a delicious pocket of doughy goodness, you'll certainly get your fill wherever you go.