I've been having a problem lately with my potstickers sticking to my pan too much. This didn't start happening until recently.

I'm using my stainless fry pan rather than a nonstick. Mostly, because I like this pan the most. But perhaps I'm just using the wrong tool for the job.

I've tried to let them cook longer after the water has evaporated even until some of the bottoms burned as an experiment. even then some still stuck.

Here is my current method.

  1. Get pan hot over medium high heat.
  2. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. I've tried more and less with little change.
  3. Let oil heat to ripple.
  4. Add potstickers.
  5. Add .5 to .75 cups of water.
  6. cover and steam for about 10 minutes.
  7. Let dumplings fry for a minute or two.
  • Are your potstickers cold/frozen?
    – s_hewitt
    Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 19:47
  • Yes, they are frozen.
    – Haydar
    Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 20:32
  • are these 'potstickers'?: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiaozi
    – Sam Holder
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 8:19
  • Yes, that's what they are. We purchased them from Costco one time on a wim and just love them.
    – Haydar
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 19:46
  • btw, these are the actual potstickers I'm talking about. LingLing Potstickers. We Absolutely love them (except for my ineptness lately).
    – Haydar
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 20:06

9 Answers 9


This trick made cooking in my stainless pan much more non-stick, including potstickers (or "mandu" in Korean^^)

Edit: That's unusual that the cooking instructions have you add water. I usually fry my frozen potstickers straight from the frozen state (perhaps they are pre-boiled?). You will have to use the BOIL/BROWN method to utilize the technique below.

Use the "water test" to know when the pan is hot enough to add oil. Besides being fascinating to watch, passing the water test ensures the pan becomes amazingly non-stick.

When the pan is hot enough, water will ball up like mercury and slide around the pan without evaporating. The temperature required is pretty high, but I've found the non-stick properties remain if I add the oil and let the pan cool to the cooking temperature I want.

Note: preheating the pan like this applies to non-stainless steel pans, but water only balls up like mercury on stainless steel.

Detailed explanation of how/why this works: On properly heating your pan


Your problem is probably between steps 3 and 4. When the oil is rippling, it is developing ridges and troughs of varying thicknesses of oil. The troughs, or thin spots are the most likely culprit for sticking.

After the oil has started to ripple, turn the heat down and tilt the pan so the ridges and troughs in the oil start to even out, then add the potstickers. Wait for a minute or two before turning the heat back up.

  • I had never heard about the ridges and troughs. Thanks.
    – Haydar
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 19:51

I know this is an older question but here is a method I developed over the years:

I use nonstick pans but I‘ve done it also in stainless. I use a small amount of oil and warm it to thinly cover the pan bottom. I add the potstickers, tight but in a single layer, and cover with hot water about 2/3 of their height. I bring it to a boil moving the pan slightly back and forth just to move the potstickers in it. I do not use lids. I boil them, turning them halfway and moving the pan regularly to not let the dumplings settle and stick.

I continue until the water nearly evaporates and slimy dough residue starts showing in the pan. I increase the heat and now I move the pan in a circular motion until the potstickers “pick up” all the dough slime. After a minute or two the dumplings sit in clear oil (just coating the surface). I sear them on three sides until they start showing crispy surface.

I use 2 pans simultaneously to make about 30 potstickers. This method requires staying nearby pretty much the whole time (once they are frying you can step away as they will no longer stick but you still have to watch the browning). The dumplings are soft and juicy on the inside and crisp on the outside. After using several other methods I settled on this one and my diners love it.

(I understand my answer is broader than the narrow question of why the sticking problem recently emerged with a stainless pan. Recent scratches in the pan may be the cause but I found that moving the pan and making the potstickers slide prevents the sticking even in pans than no longer have perfect surfaces, stainless or nonstick).


These answers have touched on your solution. An even layer of oil is good because you wont let the edges touch the hot pan, where the oil is shallow. But also, another thing you can try is to cook the pot-stickers from non-frozen and/or bake them for a few minute and then fry.

If you choose to keep your current procedure, when the oil ripples, grab the pan handle (with a hot pad) and shake gently back and forth to evenly distribute the oil. This often gets rid of the ripples and allows for even depths. I would recommend experimenting with different techniques, though, like thawing first and/or baking or nuking for a few minutes before frying.

How are these pot-stickers made? From scratch or from a bag? If there are instructions, what are they?

  • These are from a bag, but my wife likes them so much I'm thinking of trying to make them myself.
    – Haydar
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 19:41

I sometimes get the individually frozen potstickers and I use the inverse procedure. I fry each one in medium heat until you get the brown bottoms and then I add the water (or stock) to the pan.

Food likes to stick to metal, that is why cast iron pans need to be seasoned. In stainless steel the oil is supposed to get into all the microscopic crevices in the pan, but this does not always happen.

  • THe ones I buy direct this on the package.
    – bmargulies
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 1:58
  • One of the things we like about them is that they are sort of crispy and it seems like that would be lost if I added water after they fried. Is my assumption wrong?
    – Haydar
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 19:44

I know it dirties one more pan, but the two-step method is better for potstickers:

  1. Boil the potstickers the specified time (usually around 8 minutes)
  2. Heat up a pan on high, add the oil, fry the pot stickers.

As much as I love olive oil, for frying things on high heat, you can't use it - it'll be burning. For potstickers, fried rice, stir frying vegetables, I use grapeseed oil. And unless you're doing just a few potstickers, I'd use more than 2 tablespoons.

  • I wish the burners on my electric stove could get that hot. It takes everything it has to get olive oil smoking. :)
    – Haydar
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 19:50

Please, all pot stickers should first go into hot oil for 1-2 minutes to get the browning that will create your Sticky, Crispy bottom. As soon as you can sense the browning is right, you could peek at one, add enough Chicken Stock to steam covered for 4-5 minutes. Remove cover and let all remaining liquid evaporate, tilting pan to keep liquid in contact with pot stickers. When evaporated, pot stickers are ready. They will now have a caramelized bottom that is far more flavorful than any you've had prepared without the stock! you will need to remove them from the pan carefully with a metal spatula, but it is so worth it!
Happy dining!


You can use a lower fire when frying to avoid sticking. After it's fried, let it rest in the pan with the fire off.

Or use a nonstick pan.

  • Sticking actually comes from too cold, not too hot.
    – daniel
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 3:06
  • I had always that that is was from oil being too cold or trying to move food too soon. Could you elaborate? Thanks.
    – Haydar
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 19:51
  • @Haydar, as mentioned here, see these videos
    – zanlok
    Commented Jan 27, 2011 at 4:20

You want perfect potstickers?

Steam them first, you may need parchment paper or cabbage or oil underneath so they don't stick.

Then sear on high heat for color, with oil. Thats how restaurants get this perfect dumplings.

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