The U.S. market for Asian appetizers, particularly potstickers and egg rolls, is a very diverse and complex realm. Both dishes offer a wide array of preparation and presentation methods, and even ways of purchasing. For both appetizers, research was conducted to identify two trends for each dish that are relevant to the restaurant industry. These trends were defined not only based upon their mention across multiple sources, but also because of the availability of hard data, both past and present, to verify their relevance. For each trend, an additional 2-3 data points have been provided for reference.
From there, we also identified two key strategies that restaurants in the U.S. utilize when they opt to include one or both of these dishes on the menu. These strategies were distinguished between each dish and focused on how the product is identified, defined, and presented to customers. This information was pulled primarily from industry research reports. To help visualize these points, a reference restaurant was provided that followed the strategy listed.
As a final component to this research, we identified 5 key insights regarding consumption habits of both potstickers and egg rolls by consumers in the U.S. Each insight was paired with a relevant statistic or point of interest to better depict how, when, and why customers choose to eat each respective dish, particularly as an appetizer within a restaurant.
Restaurant Trends: Potstickers
Potstickers have long been the most popular Asian-inspired appetizer on menus across the U.S., and still remain as such today.
- Dumplings, wonton-based appetizers, and potstickers have consistently remained one of the most common Asian-themed appetizers in restaurants across the U.S. Each of these varieties of dumplings has maintained more than 10% menu penetration over the last 4 years, growing in popularity each year.
- Other varieties of Asian-inspired appetizers and meals are found on more than 31% of restaurant menus in the U.S, including both potstickers and egg rolls.
Potstickers remain predominantly meat-based on menus in the U.S., with vegetarian options dwindling in popularity.
- Vegetable potstickers have decreased in popularity significantly since the start of 2020. Annually, this product is decreased in consumption by 57.08%.
- Chicken and pork potstickers remain the most popular proteins found in potstickers in U.S. restaurants, each constituting 34.74% and 34.56% of potstickers found on menus, respectively.
- Potstickers are traditionally made with a meat and vegetable blend that is finely minced or shredded. The most popular meat filling remains pork.
Restaurant Trends: Egg Rolls
Egg rolls have been and remain the most popular ethnic, Asian-themed appetizer in restaurants across the U.S., especially in quick-service restaurants.
- In 2007, a study by Technomic found that 43% of all listed appetizers in quick-service restaurant chains throughout the U.S. were egg rolls of some variety.
- Technomic later found in 2017 that egg rolls were still the most popular ethnic appetizer to be ordered by consumers in restaurants in the U.S., followed by Mexican snacks, potstickers, and other Asian-inspired foods.
Traditional flavored egg rolls still dominate the market, but more ethnic flavors are growing in popularity.
- Between 2016 to 2020, appetizer egg rolls flavored with ginger increased in popularity by 18%, and appetizer egg rolls flavored with soy increased by 9% in popularity. Today, ginger is found in nearly 12.3% of egg rolls as a flavor component.
- To date, the most popular proteins found in egg rolls include chicken (35.54%), pork (18.75%), and steak (12.89%).
- Other components that are typically found in egg rolls include onions (16.03%), cabbage (12.77%), greens (12.4%), and carrots (10.16%).
Restaurant Insights: Potstickers
- Based purely on name, “potstickers” are found in nearly 10% of U.S. restaurants, while “Gyoza” is found in only 3.38% of restaurants. “Dumplings” vary significantly due to the wide array of varieties of the food.
- Hello Dumpling in Dallas, TX is an independent restaurant that serves 8 potstickers per order, and allows customers to choose if they want the dumplings boiled or pan fried. This establishment offers an array of fillings, including pork, chicken, fish, beef, and shrimp (each with vegetables), as well as a single vegetarian option. Each serving costs between $7.50-$10.00 per order depending on the filling and cook finish.
Potstickers are typically served with a gyoza dipping sauce. Some finer and independent restaurants will provide consumers with the ingredients that compose the sauce so that they can make it to their desired taste.
- Gyoza dipping sauce is typically composed of soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil (7.52%), chili oil (19.86%), and garlic (23.74%).
- Wow Boa in Chicago, IL is a local chain restaurant that serves potstickers in 5, 8, and 12-piece portions. All potstickers are pan seared and come with a choice of dipping sauce.
Restaurant Insights: Egg Rolls
From a consumer perspective, egg rolls are often confused with spring rolls in restaurants. Many establishments will choose to have only one of these two items on the menu to reduce confusion and encourage ordering.
- To help define the difference between egg rolls and spring rolls for customers, many restaurants note in the product description that egg rolls are made with wonton skins or egg roll wrappers. Spring rolls, on the other hand, are often made using rice papers or even lettuce.
- Pei Wei Asian Kitchen, the fast casual restaurant chain, includes both spring rolls and egg rolls on their menu. To help differentiate between the two, the spring rolls are kept strictly vegetarian, while the egg rolls are noted to include pork in them. Each of these dishes also only comes with one roll per order.
More often than not, restaurants choose to fry their egg rolls, whether in a wok or deep fryer, as the process gives the final product a flakier, crunchier taste. However, some opt to bake the egg rolls as a healthier alternative.
- When frying egg rolls, it is important to ensure that the roll is sealed with egg wash to prevent leaking during the cooking process.
- Some restaurants will make batches of egg rolls and freeze them for later use. This can be done both pre- and post-cooking and saves preparation and cooking time.
- Both cooked and uncooked egg rolls can be held for up to 6 months in a freezer without spoiling or expiring.
- House of Egg Rolls in Santa Clara, CA offers egg rolls for dine-in, take-out, and catering. As their catering portions can be upwards of 100 rolls, these items are typically batched ahead of time and frozen until ordered. The establishment offers vegetable, chicken, and pork egg rolls for customers to choose from. However, they also sell shrimp and vegetable spring rolls (separate).
Consumption Insights: Potstickers
- According to Dataessential’s Flavor report, 26% of Millennials and 23% of Gen Z consumers report that they “love” dumplings.
- In the Midwest U.S., potstickers have been a popular choice for dinner during the COVID-19 pandemic when ordering out via DoorDash and other similar food delivery services. In Canada, however, gyoza (dumplings) are the 17th overall most ordered food items in 2020 so far.
- Consumers in the U.S. have increasingly positive reviews of potstickers according to a study by OpenTable. From 2017-2019, review mentions of “potstickers” by consumers that had reservations at a restaurant with potstickers on their menu increased by 61%.
- Egg rolls remain one of the most-ordered products during the Lunar New Year each year, right around the time of the Super Bowl. From 2018 to 2019, egg roll orders during this time increased by 130%.
- Data from Tastewise suggests that egg roll consumption rates are increasing at an annual rate of 30.25%, with the average consumer eating egg rolls 1.49 times per year.
Consumption Insights: Egg Rolls
- According to the National Restaurant Association, 63% of U.S. consumers report that egg rolls are their number one favorite snack food. Nearly three quarters of these consumers will purchase egg rolls and other Asian-style food via convenience stores on a monthly basis.
- A study from Technomic ad MenuMonitor found that the most popular in-restaurant dipping sauces for egg rolls include lobster-ginger (43%), sriracha (35%), soy-sesame (22%), dragon (17%), and miso (5%).
- In 2019, egg roll sales were up 34% from the previous year, particularly in the form of appetizers at restaurants.
- Some Millennial consumers are interested in deconstructed egg rolls and Asian dishes, as it allows them to incorporate the ingredients into new dishes. This is a common practice between egg rolls to noodle dishes.
- Consumers prefer egg rolls that have a variety of fillings to choose from. More options in both filling and portion are likely to increase sales due to customization capabilities.