Har Gow, Jiaozi and Wonton: 3 easily confused Chinese dim sum

Chinese dim sum is a universe of its own: there is a large range of beautiful, small dishes for brunch that can take you many tries to sample them all. However, after trying numerous dim sum dishes, I realized there are three popular types that I’m often confused by: wonton, har gao, and jiaozi. The confusion arises from the similarities in the wrappers or the fillings between them. Let’s discover what they are and how to distinguish wonton, har gao, and jiaozi.


Wontons originated in China and are particularly popular in southern China, such as Guangdong and Hong Kong. Following in the footsteps of the Chinese, wontons also became very popular in neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Singapore, or Malaysia. To differentiate wontons from other types of dim sum, we should learn a little bit about their wrapper and filling.

  • Wrapper: Wontons feature a simple yet distinctive square-shaped wrapper. These wrappers are thin and made from a mixture of wheat flour, egg, and water, giving them a slight yellowish hue. In general, wonton wrappers have a square shape and contain wheat flour and egg.
  • Filling: The filling inside a wonton can vary, but the classic combination includes ground meat, such as pork or shrimp, mixed with seasonings like garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. Usually, the filling of wontons doesn’t include vegetables like napa cabbage, but there are some variations with vegetables inside.
  • Cooking method: Boiling, steaming, or deep-frying are three cooking methods for wontons. Generally, they are served in a clear broth as part of a comforting wonton soup or enjoyed with a dipping sauce.
fried wonton
Fried wonton

In summary, for a dumpling to be called a wonton, it should have a square wrapper made from egg, wheat flour, and water, with a filling typically made from ground meat and shrimp. It can be boiled, steamed, or deep-fried.

Har Gow

Har Gow (also known as Gar Gao or Ha Gao) is a common type of Cantonese dim sum originating from the Guangdong region of China. Below are the characteristics of har gow:

  • Wrapper: It has a translucent and delicate wrapper. These wrappers are extremely thin and usually made from a blend of wheat starch and tapioca starch. Therefore, they appear white, nearly see-through, and have a slight chewiness thanks to tapioca starch.
  • Filling: Har Gao usually has a distinctive shrimp filling. The shrimp is typically seasoned with ingredients like ginger, sesame oil, and white pepper, resulting in a flavorful and aromatic interior. However, nowadays, there are also many variations of har gow fillings with ground pork/beef.
  • Cooking method: To preserve its unique appearance and texture, Har Gao is always steamed. This cooking method ensures that the dumpling wrapper remains translucent, revealing the succulent shrimp filling within. Har Gao is often served with a soy-based dipping sauce to enhance its delicate flavor.
Har Gow

In summary, to distinguish har gow from other dumplings, remember its unique features: translucent, see-through wrapper, usually shrimp filling, and steaming method.


People believe that Jiaozi, one of the most popular Chinese dumplings worldwide, originates in Northern China. Nowadays, it is a common dish throughout the world, especially in Asian countries like Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

  • Wrapper: It has a moderately thick and round-shaped wrapper. These wrappers are made from wheat flour and water, with or without egg, giving them a sturdy and chewy texture. They are typically white, sometimes yellow if egg is included. They are usually larger in size compared to wonton wrappers.
  • Filling: Jiaozi fillings are highly customizable and can include a wide range of ingredients. Commonly, they consist of ground meat such as pork, chicken, or beef, combined with vegetables and seasonings like garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. The filling’s diversity allows for a variety of flavors and textures, so a typical jiaozi filling usually combines meat and vegetables.
  • Cooking method: Similar to wonton, jiaozi can be cooked using three methods: pan-frying, boiling, or steaming. Pan-fried jiaozi are often referred to as potstickers, as they develop a crispy bottom while maintaining a tender interior. Boiled jiaozi offer a soft and comforting texture, while steamed jiaozi have a lighter and healthier appeal. They are typically served with a dipping sauce, often a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar.
jiaozi recipe
Boiled jiaozi

In summary, a dumpling is called jiaozi when it features a round wrapper made from egg and wheat flour like wonton, and a filling that combines meat and vegetables. There are various ways to cook it, from pan-frying to boiling and steaming.

simple pork jiaozi recipe
Pan-fried jiaozi

Differences between Wonton, Har Gow and Jiaozi

Take a look on the table below:

Types of dumplingsWontonHar GowJiaozi
Wrapper– Square shape
– Includes wheat flour, egg and water
– Yellow
– Round shape
– Includes wheat starch, tapioca starch
– White, translucent
– Round shape
– Includes wheat flour, egg (optional) and water
– Yellow or white
Filling– Typically ground pork or ground pork & shrimp– Typically shrimp– Typically meat (pork, beef, shrimp) and vegetables (napa cabbage, etc.)
Cooking Method– Boil, Steam, Deep-Fry– Steam– Boil, Steam, Pan-Fry, Deep-Fry
Serving as a Soup– Yes– No– Yes
Comparison between har gow, jiaozi and wonton

After reading this post, I believe you won’t confuse between them anymore!

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