Jiaozi (Chinese: 餃子; [tɕjàʊ.tsɨ] (listen); pinyin: jiǎozi) are Chinese dumplings commonly eaten in China and other parts of East Asia. Jiaozi are folded to resemble Chinese sycee and have great cultural significance attached to them within China. Jiaozi are one of the major dishes eaten during the Chinese New Year throughout Northern China and eaten all year round in the northern provinces. Though considered part of Chinese cuisine, jiaozi are popular in other parts of East Asia and in the Western world, where a fried variety is sometimes called potstickers in North America and Chinese dumplings in the UK and Canada. The English-language term "potsticker" is a calque of the Mandarin word "guotie" (鍋貼). Potsticker was used by Buwei Yang Chao and her husband Yuen Ren Chao in the book How to Cook and Eat in Chinese, which was first published in 1945. In northern China, however, "guotie" specifically refers to a type of pan-fried jiaozi with its ends left open rather than just any pan-fried jiaozi.

A plate of boiled jiaozi with dipping-sauce
Place of originChina
Region or stateEast Asia
Main ingredientsDough, ground meat, or vegetables
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese餃子
Simplified Chinese饺子
Manchu name
Manchu scriptᡤᡳᠶᠣᠰᡝ

Jiaozi typically consist of a ground meat and/or vegetable filling wrapped into a thinly rolled piece of dough, which is then sealed by pressing the edges together. Finished jiaozi can be boiled (shuǐ jiǎo), steamed (zhēng jiǎo), pan fried (jiān jiǎo), or deep fried (zhá jiǎo), and are traditionally served with a black vinegar and sesame oil dip. They can also be served in a soup (tāng jiǎo).

Origin and custom

Pottery dumpling and delicacies from a Tang dynasty tomb

In China, there are several different folk stories explaining the origin of jiaozi and its name.

Traditionally, jiaozi were thought to be invented during the era of the Eastern Han (AD 25–220)[1][2] by Zhang Zhongjing[3] who was a great practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. Jiaozi were originally referred to as "tender ears" (Chinese: 嬌耳; pinyin: jiao'er) because they were used to treat frostbitten ears. Zhang Zhongjing was on his way home during wintertime, when he found many common people had frostbitten ears, because they did not have warm clothes and sufficient food. He treated these poor people by stewing lamb, black pepper, and some warming medicines in a pot, chopped them, and used them to fill small dough wrappers. He boiled these dumplings and gave them with the broth to his patients, until the coming of the Chinese New Year. In order to celebrate the New Year as well as recovering from frostbitten ears, people imitated Zhang's recipe to make Jiao'er.[4]

Other theories suggest that jiaozi may have derived from dumplings in Western Asia. In the Western Han dynasty (206 BC – AD 9) jiaozi (餃子) were called jiaozi (角子). During the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220–280), the book Guangya by Zhang Yi mentions jiaozi. Yan Zhitui during the Northern Qi dynasty (AD 550–577) wrote: "Today the jiaozi, shaped like a crescent moon, is a common food in the world." Six Dynasties Turfan tombs contained dumplings.[5] Later in the Tang dynasty (AD 618–907), jiaozi become more popular, called Bian Shi (扁食). Chinese archaeologists have found a bowl of jiaozi in the Tang dynasty tombs in Turpan.[6] 7th or 8th century dumplings and wontons were found in Turfan.[7]

Jiaozi may also be named because they are horn-shaped. The Chinese word for "horn" is jiao (Chinese: ; pinyin: jiǎo), and jiaozi was originally written with the Chinese character for "horn", but later it was replaced by the specific character , which has the food radical on the left and the phonetic component jiāo () on the right.[8]

Cooking jiaozi in a wok on a wood stove

At the same time, jiaozi look like yuan bao silver or gold ingots used as currency during the Ming dynasty, and as the name sounds like the word for the earliest paper money, serving them is believed to bring prosperity.[9] Many families eat these at midnight on Chinese New Year's Eve. Some cooks will even hide a clean coin inside a jiaozi for the lucky to find.[10]

Nowadays, jiaozi are eaten year-round, and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They can be served as an appetizer, a side dish, or as the main course. In China, sometimes jiaozi is served as a last course during restaurant meals. As a breakfast dish, jiaozi are prepared alongside xiaolongbao at inexpensive roadside restaurants. Typically, they are served in small steamers containing ten pieces each. Although mainly serving jiaozi to breakfast customers, these small restaurants keep them hot on steamers and ready to eat all day. Jiaozi are always served with a dipping sauce that may include vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, rice wine, hot sauce, and sesame oil. They can also be served with soup.


Four types of jiaozi. Clockwise from upper left: boiled dumplings (shuijiao), steamed dumplings (zhengjiao), deep fried dumplings (jianjiao), soup dumplings (tangjiao).

Chinese dumplings (jiaozi) may be divided into various types depending on how they are cooked:

  • Boiled dumplings (simplified Chinese: 水饺; traditional Chinese: 水餃; pinyin: shuǐjiǎo; lit. 'water dumpling')
  • Steamed dumplings (simplified Chinese: 蒸饺; traditional Chinese: 蒸餃; pinyin: zhēngjiǎo; lit. 'steam dumpling')
  • Pan-fried dumplings (simplified Chinese: 煎饺; traditional Chinese: 煎餃; pinyin: jiānjiǎo; lit. 'dry-fried dumplings'), and (simplified Chinese: 锅贴; traditional Chinese: 鍋貼; pinyin: guōtiē; lit. 'pan stick') also referred to as "pot-stickers"
  • Deep fried dumplings simplified Chinese: 炸饺; traditional Chinese: 炸餃; pinyin: zhà jiǎo; lit. 'deep-fried dumplings')
  • Soup dumplings (simplified Chinese: 汤饺; traditional Chinese: 湯餃; pinyin: tāngjiǎo; lit. 'soup dumpling')

Dumplings that use egg rather than dough to wrap the filling are called "egg dumplings" (simplified Chinese: 蛋饺; traditional Chinese: 蛋餃; pinyin: dànjiǎo; lit. 'egg dumpling').

Pan-fried dumplings can be joined together by a brown, crispy lattice base created by pouring a flour and water mix into the pan at the end of cooking. In Chinese, this is known as "frost" or "ice crystal" (冰花). The dumplings can also be joined together with an egg base which is topped with green onion and sesame seeds.


Suancai shuijiao (酸菜水餃, boiled jiaozi with suan cai stuffing), Northeastern Chinese style

Common dumpling meat fillings include chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, and fish which are usually mixed with chopped vegetables. Popular vegetable fillings include napa cabbage, scallion (spring onions), celery, leek, spinach, mushroom, carrot, garlic chives, and edible black fungus.

Folding technique

In north China, folded jiaozi are placed on bi (箅), in case the stuffing will make the shape saggy. Bi is made by dried sorghum stems, and it also gives Jiaozi a mark at the bottom.

There are many ways to fold jiaozi. Basically, steps for folding the skin includes putting a single pleat in the middle, putting multiple pleats along the edge, making a wavy edge like a pie crust, turning a pleated edge in toward the body resulting in a rounded edge, and putting both ends together resulting in a round shape. Different shapes of Jiaozi require different folding techniques, but the most famous and common technique is the pinched-edge fold.[11] Take a wrapper and put one tablespoon of filling into the center of the wrapper. Fold a half of edge to the other half. Use left thumb and forefinger to pinch one side of the half-moon wrapper, and then use right thumb to push the inside skin outward, right forefinger to make outside skin into small pleats. Use right thumb to clench those pleats. Repeat these steps to the other side of the wrapper, and make sure to clench the seal of Jiaozi.[12] This is crescent-shaped jiaozi, the most popular shape in China.



Jiaozi is called gaau ji in Cantonese and are standard fare in Guangdong style dim sum. The immediate noted difference to Northern style is that they are smaller and wrapped in a thinner translucent skin, and usually steamed. The smaller size and the thinner wrapper make the dumplings easier to cook through with steaming. In contrast to jiaozi, Guangdong gaau ji are rarely home-made because the wrapper, which needs to be thin but tough enough to not break, is more difficult to make. Many types of fillings exist, with the most common type being har gow (simplified Chinese: 虾饺; traditional Chinese: 蝦餃; Cantonese Yale: hā gáau; lit. 'shrimp dumplings'), but fillings can include scallop, chicken, tofu, and mixed vegetables; dim sum restaurants often feature their own house specials or innovations. Dim sum chefs and artists often use ingredients in new or creative ways, or draw inspiration from other Chinese culinary traditions, such as Chaozhou, Hakka, or Shanghai. More creative chefs may even create fusion gaau ji by using elements from other cultures, such as Japanese (teriyaki) or Southeast Asian (satay or curry), while upscale restaurants may use expensive or exotic ingredients such as lobster, shark fin and bird's nest.

Another Cantonese dumpling is yau gok (Chinese: 油角; pinyin: yóu jiǎo; Cantonese Yale: yàuh gok), which are made with glutinous rice dough and deep fried.


Making guotie
A plate of potstickers (guotie) and dipping sauce

Guotie (Chinese: 鍋貼; pinyin: guōtiē; lit. 'pot stick') are a northern Chinese style dumpling popular as a street food, appetizer, or side order in Chinese cuisine. Guotie differs from pan fried dumplings, or jianjiao, in that the shape of guotie is usually elongated and the two ends are often left open. Guotie is sometimes served on a dim sum menu, but may be offered independently. The filling for both guotie and jianjiao usually contains pork (sometimes chicken, or beef in Muslim areas), cabbage (or Chinese cabbage and sometimes spinach), scallions (spring or green onions), ginger, Chinese rice wine or cooking wine, and sesame seed oil. In southern China, the term "guotie" is often used as a synonym for the typical jianjiao rather than referring to a particular variety of it.

Fried dumplings served with green onion and sauce


Gyōza with chili oil
Making gyōza in Tokyo, 2021
Gyōza no Ōshō restaurant in Japan at Monzen-Nakachō Station

Gyoza are a Japanese version of jiaozi that were developed from recipes brought back by Japanese soldiers returning from the Japanese-backed puppet state of Manchukuo in northeastern China during World War II. The Japanese word gyōza derives from giǎoze, the Jilu Mandarin pronunciation of the standard Mandarin jiǎozi, and is often written using the same Chinese characters.

The prevalent differences between Japanese-style gyōza and Chinese-style jiaozi are the rich garlic flavor, which is less noticeable in the Chinese version, and that gyōza wrappers tend to be thinner, due to the fact that most Japanese restaurants use machine-made wrappers. In contrast, the rustic cuisine of poor Chinese immigrants shaped westerners' views that Chinese restaurant jiaozi use thicker handmade wrappers. As jiaozi vary greatly across regions within China, these differences are not as clear in the country of origin. For example, visitors will easily find thin-skinned jiaozi at restaurants in Shanghai and at street food vendors in the Hangzhou region. Gyōza wrappers are actually identical to jiaozi wrappers seen in Chinese households using store-bought machine-made wrappers. Gyōza are usually served with soy-based tare sauce seasoned with rice vinegar and/or chili oil (rāyu in Japanese, làyóu (辣油) in Mandarin Chinese). The most common recipe is a mixture of minced pork (sometimes chicken or beef), cabbage, Asian chives, and sesame oil, and/or garlic, and/or ginger, which is then wrapped in the thinly rolled dough skins. Gyoza share similarities with both pierogi and spring rolls and are cooked in the same fashion as pierogi, either boiled or fried.

Gyōza and gyōza wrappers can be found in supermarkets and restaurants throughout Japan, either frozen or ready to eat. Pan-fried gyōza are sold as a side dish in many ramen and Chinese restaurants. Both the wrappers and the prepared gyōza themselves are increasingly easy to find in Asian markets around the world.

The most popular preparation method is the pan-fried style called yaki-gyōza (焼き餃子), in which the dumpling is first fried on one flat side, creating a crispy skin. Then, water is added and the pan sealed with a lid, until the upper part of the dumpling is steamed. This technique is what the Chinese call guotie or potstickers (see above). Other popular methods include boiling sui-gyōza (水餃子) and deep frying age-gyōza (揚げ餃子).

Store-bought frozen dumplings are often prepared at home by first placing them in a pot of water, bringing it to a boil, and then transferring them to a pan with oil to fry the skin.


The Tibetan and Nepalese version is known as momo (Tibetan: མོག་མོག་; Nepali: मम). The word "momo" comes from a Chinese loanword, "momo" (饃饃),[13] which translates to "steamed bread". When preparing momo, flour is filled, most commonly with ground water buffalo meat. Often, ground lamb or chicken meat is used as alternate to water buffalo meat. In Nepal there is also a vegetarian option where mixtures of potato, cheese and other vegetable items are mixed. Finely chopped onion, minced garlic, fresh minced ginger, cumin powder, salt, coriander/cilantro, etc. are added to the meat for flavor. A sauce made from cooked tomatoes flavored with Sichuan pepper and minced red chilies is often served along with momo.

The Nepalese momo is usually served with dipping sauces that include tomato based chutneys or sesame based sauces. Sauces can be thick or thin consistency depending on the eatery (locally called chutney/achhar[14]), that is normally made with tomato as the base ingredient. In Kathmandu valley, the traditional way of serving momo (momocha) is 10 ping-pong ball sized round momo drowned in a tangy, tomatoey and nutty broth or sauce called Jhol (watery soup / broth in Nepali) achar (served at room temperature, with watery / runny consistency, also known as Kathmandu style momo). Jhol momo has a warm or hot broth poured over momo (not cooked in the soup / broth).[15] To make the jhol achar one of the main ingredients is Nepali Hog Plum (Lapsi), but if unavailable, lemon or lime juice can be used.

Jiaozi and wonton

Jiaozi are often confused with wonton. Jiaozi have a thicker skin and a relatively flatter, more oblate, double-saucer like shape, and are usually eaten with a soy-vinegar dipping sauce (and/or hot chili sauce), while wontons have thinner skin and are usually served in broth as soup. The dough for the jiaozi and wonton wrappers also consist of different ingredients.

See also


  1. "Frozen ears: The story of gyozas". The Malay Mail. September 26, 2022. One would always have suspected that the ubiquitous Japanese gyoza originated from China – and one would be completely right, unlike most economists. The origins of the gyoza are said to stem from the treatments invented by Zhang Zhongjing (150–219 AD), a Han dynasty physician born in Nanyang. One of his inventions was the jiaozi (though it was originally called "tender ears") and they were used to treat frostbitten ears during the freezing winters.
  2. "Seeking XLB". The Austin Chronicle. Chinese dumplings are said to have begun near the end of the Eastern Han dynasty with Zhang Zhongjing (AD 150–219), a famous northern Chinese medicinal herbalist known as "The Medicine Saint".
  3. "the origin of Jiaozi". people.com.cn. people.com.cn. Retrieved February 7, 2002.
  4. "你知道冬至为什么吃饺子吗? 医圣张仲景发明". 人民网. 人民网. December 23, 2015.
  5. "Archaeologists Discover Ancient Dumplings in China". February 16, 2016.
  6. "Dumplings served 1,700 years ago in XinjiangDumplings served 1,700 years ago in Xinjiang". China Daily. Xinhua. Retrieved January 24, 2022.
  7. Hansen 2012, p. 11.
  8. Norman, Jerry (1988) Chinese, Cambridge University Press, pp. 76–77.
  9. "Steamed pork dumplings 鮮肉大蒸餃". Graceful Cuisine. January 19, 2012. Retrieved May 6, 2012.
  10. Simonds, Nina (January 25, 1995). "Dumplings, for a Lucky Year of the Pig". New York Times.
  11. Yarvin, Brian (2007). A World of Dumplings. New York: The Countryman Press. Woodstock, Vermont. p. 50. ISBN 9780881507201.
  12. "饺子的N种时尚新奇包法". 百度经验. December 31, 2012.
  13. Jīn Péng 金鹏 (ed.): Zàngyǔ jiǎnzhì 藏语简志. Mínzú chūbǎnshè 民族出版社, Beijing 1983, p. 31.
  14. Williams, James. "Momos Chutney Recipe". ReciPickr.com.
  15. "Anup's Kitchen | Traditional recipes, without shortcuts". Retrieved September 26, 2021.
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