Welcome back to Air Fryer Bro, and today we are looking at another type of frozen food that we can (hopefully) cook in the air fryer. Frozen dumplings (some people call them pot-stickers). Will they be yummy and crispy? What’s the best method to cook frozen dumplings in an air fryer? How long to cook frozen dumplings in an air fryer? We hope to show you in this very article!
We have done this before with frozen chicken wings, and now is the turn of the frozen dumpling 🙂
This will be a simple article, taking a couple of varieties of frozen dumplings, and trying some different methods to see the best way to air fry them. Your cooking times may vary depending on the size and thickness of frozen dumplings you use.
Also, bear in mind that I am using a Philips Turbostar air fryer. You may have to adjust the cooking times for your particular brand and model of air fryer, usually just some fine tuning.
Also, I am based in Hong Kong, somewhere that dumplings are eaten on a regular basis. Therefore, I have a wide variety of frozen dumplings to choose from. Hopefully, in your country you can find something comparable.
Pan Fried Frozen Dumpling
For my first attempt at cooking a frozen dumpling, I am starting with the dumplings that are supposed to be fried. These fried dumplings are supposed to have a crispy skin after cooking, so they will best suit the air fryer’s style of cooking.
Whilst looking around my local supermarket, my wife chose this pack of dumplings first. I know that the packaging is all in Chinese, but trust me they are frozen dumplings designed for pan frying! Why would my wife lie to me 🙂 Actually, the packaging was translated on the back 🙂 These are actually curry flavored dumplings, so if you see a slight yellow color, don’t worry, it’s just the curry sauce 🙂
The bare naked test!
The first test was to cook the dumplings in their natural form, without adding anything else to the mix. I want to see how they turn out, and if the skin of the dumplings can get crispy using this method.
I literally have never tried cooking air fried frozen dumplings, so was going into this one blind. I started with 5 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius or 356 degrees Fahrenheit.
What we got after that was a pretty pale looking bunch of dumplings.
I tried one of them, and actually the casing had some crisp to it but the insides were not fully heated all the way through. So, I tried another 3 minutes at the same temperature.
This was probably about as good as I was going to get these dumplings. The casing had a decent crisp to it, but had quite a dry texture (as you could imagine when only cooked with hot air!). The filling was well cooked at this point. They were edible and pretty decent, but nothing out of this world. Certainly not the perfect crisp we were looking for!!
The oil sprayed frozen dumpling!
As regular readers will know, I am a great believer in a quick spritz of oil helping to liven up anything that you want to crisp up in an air fryer. So, naturally, this was what I did for my second test.
I wanted to cook with the same timings, to see the exact difference the oil would make. I am using a quick spray of olive oil for this test, in my trusty oil mister you can see below. If you need a good oil mister, we have one on our recommended products page.
In my first test, I worked out that a total time of 8 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius was enough to cook the dumplings. When you spray oil, you need to turn the food over so that you can spray both sides. Therefore, this time I am cooking for 8 minutes, but flipping the dumplings and spraying the other side halfway through cooking. This is the result I got this time:
For me, this makes a massive difference. Not quite as dry as the first batch, and with an even crispier outer shell. As you would usually pan fry this type of dumpling in a pan anyway, this version feels more in line with that. Not exactly the same, still a little drier than cooking in a pan, but definitely a good alternative way to cook them.
Something I also noticed with the oil sprayed dumplings, is that they didn’t leak at all (unlike the first batch). Maybe, this was down to the integrity of the dumplings themselves, but I did cook three each time so I am not sure how likely this is. Maybe the oil helps seal the dumplings better as they thaw and cook!
Can you ‘steam’ dumplings in an air fryer?
For the second test, we are using the type of frozen dumpling my wife and I usually boil in water or steam. When you eat these dumplings, the outer shell isn’t supposed to be crisp and browned. I wondered how I can achieve this steamed or boiled style with an air fryer. It will be tough, but we will give it a go. Below are the frozen dumplings I used for this test.
Slow and steady approach
For this round, we are going to try a slow and steady approach, as we don’t want the dumplings to crisp up! For the first run, I opted for 110 degrees Celsius (230 Fahrenheit) for eight minutes. Let’s see what we get!
Firstly, the filling was fully heated all the way through and the dumpling was as cooked as it needed to be. The dumpling skin had an almost floury and dried out appearance. There was a slight crisp to it, but not much. Clearly a different experience from boiling or steaming these frozen dumplings.
The water bath approach
As we don’t want these dumplings to crisp up, I didn’t want to try spraying oil this time. Instead, I came up with another method. I put boiling water into the bottom of my air fryer cooking compartment., underneath the tray that had the dumplings on. It meant they weren’t in physical contact with the water, but I hoped the steam from the water may help the dumplings not seem so dry. Interesting idea, right!! Let’s see if it has any effect!
The results were pretty underwhelming actually! I didn’t notice a big difference from round one, and the dumplings were still slightly crispy on the outside. I think the problem is that the low temperature is not enough to make the water steam. If you turn up the temperature, this will then make the coating too crispy on the dumplings. So, I am afraid I will have to say that this method has no real use or effect!
What are the takeaways from our experiments?
To sum up, the best type of frozen dumplings to cook in an air fryer are those designed to be pan fried. The crispy texture (especially with oil) from air frying works out well, although still not exactly on par with pan frying.
When it comes to steamed or water boiled dumplings, you can’t quite replicate this cooking method with an air fryer. The results will always add a slight crisp or dryness to your dumpling’s outer casing. The only use case for this is when we are cooking frozen dumplings to put into soup noodles. In this case, the soup from the noodles would moisten up the dumpling again. Other than this, I wouldn’t recommend this style of dumplings in an air fryer.
I intend to do another article down the line doing similar experiments with fresh dumplings. I imagine that the results will be the same, just with much shorter cooking times. It will be interesting to compare results when I have the time!
If you have any tips or tricks to cooking dumplings in your air fryer, we would love to hear all about them in the comments section below.