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What is the difference between fried wontons and cheese Rangoon?

Fried wontons and cheese rangoon are two popular Chinese-American appetizers found on many Chinese restaurant menus. Both are filled dumplings that are deep fried until crispy and golden brown. But there are some key differences between the two.

In brief, fried wontons are made of wonton wrappers filled with meat and/or vegetables. Cheese rangoon (also called crab rangoon) are made of wonton wrappers filled with a cream cheese and crab meat mixture. The fillings and flavors are quite different.

Below we will explore the history, ingredients, flavor profiles, and prep methods for both fried wontons and cheese rangoon in detail. We’ll also look at how to tell the difference when ordering and the nutritional content. After reading, you’ll be a fried dumpling expert!

History of Fried Wontons and Cheese Rangoon

Let’s start with a quick history lesson. Fried wontons likely originated in northern China, where heartier wheat-based wrappers and meat fillings were common. The wonton wrappers were filled with minced meat and seasonings, then sealed and either boiled, pan fried, or deep fried.

Cheese rangoon was invented in the 1950s or 60s in America, fittingly at a Chinese restaurant in Philadelphia. The crispy deep fried dumplings with a creamy filling quickly became popular across the country as a fusion appetizer. Rangoon refers to Yangon, the capital of Myanmar, which was called Rangoon in the past.

So fried wontons have a centuries long history in China, while cheese rangoon is a modern American creation. But both are beloved menu items at Chinese restaurants today.

Fried Wonton Ingredients

Fried wontons start with the wonton wrappers. Wonton wrappers are thin squares made with wheat flour, water, salt, and sometimes eggs. The traditional way to make wonton wrappers is to mix the dough ingredients together, knead briefly, then roll it out very thin and cut into squares. Store bought wrappers may also contain additional ingredients like sesame oil or cornstarch.

The filling is where wontons really vary. Some common fried wonton fillings include:

– Minced pork – Often mixed with shrimp or chicken. Seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, scallions, etc.

– Ground beef – Spiced with garlic, five-spice powder, sesame oil, etc.

– Diced vegetables – Cabbage, spinach, mushrooms, carrots are popular options.

– Crab meat – Mixed with pork or without meat.

– Cream cheese – A sweet, richer filling.

The most traditional fillings are minced pork and shrimp or all minced shrimp. But there are many variations. The fillings are seasoned for a savory flavor and the meat or vegetables act as the main ingredient.

That’s it for ingredients! Just wonton wrappers and creative fillings make fried wontons.

Cheese Rangoon Ingredients

For cheese rangoon, the most important ingredients are the filling. The filling is a creamy mix of:

– Cream cheese – The main ingredient and base of the filling. Softened cream cheese gives it the creamy texture.

– Crab meat – Imitation or real crab meat adds flavor.

– Onions or scallions – Finely chopped to add more flavor.

– Garlic powder – Extra seasoning.

– Worcestershire sauce – Adds umami and moisture.

The cream cheese makes the filling rich, sweet, and creamy. The crab meat gives it a seafood flavor. Onions, garlic, and Worcestershire enhance the flavors.

Cheese rangoon wrappers are the same as wonton wrappers – thin wheat flour dough squares. So the main difference from fried wontons is the cream cheese crab filling rather than a meat and vegetable based filling.

Flavors and Taste Profiles

Now let’s compare the flavors of the two dumplings.

Fried wontons have a savory flavor profile. With meat and veggie filled wontons, each bite will be umami, salty, and oily from the frying. Meat wontons may have hints of warm spices like ginger, garlic, or five spice. Vegetable wontons will be lighter tasting, focusing on the fresh flavors of the produce. Overall fried wontons are a hearty, fried, savory appetizer.

Cheese rangoon on the other hand has a sweet cream cheese flavor. The dominant taste is the crab and cream cheese filling. Unlike wontons, these are not highly seasoned with spices and aromatics. The overall effect is a rich, mildly sweet, creamy dipping dumpling. They are indulgent with a seafood twist rather than savory.

So in summary, fried wontons are savory while cheese rangoon is mildly sweet and creamy.

Cooking and Preparation

Fried wontons and cheese rangoon require similar preparation techniques.

To make fried wontons:

1. Make the filling. Mix together the minced meat and/or chopped vegetables with seasonings.

2. Place a small amount of filling (1-2 teaspoons) in the center of a wonton wrapper.

3. Dampen the edges with water and fold the wrapper diagonally to form a triangle, pressing to seal. Fry wontons can also be folded into rectangles or pouches.

4. Repeat until all the filling is used up.

5. Heat 2-3 inches of oil to 350°F in a pot or deep fryer.

6. Fry the wontons in batches for 1-2 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

7. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

For cheese rangoon, you’ll swap the savory meat filling for the cream cheese crab filling:

1. Make the filling by mixing together softened cream cheese, chopped crab meat, onions, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, and any other flavorings until fully combined.

2. Place 1-2 teaspoons of filling into the center of a wonton wrapper.

3. Dampen the edges with water and fold into a rectangle or triangle, sealing the edges.

4. Fry the rangoon in 350°F oil for 1-2 minutes until golden brown.

5. Drain on paper towels and serve warm.

The frying method is the same. Both dumplings are first filled and sealed, then fried at high heat until crispy. Frying gives them a crispy outer texture that contrasts nicely with the soft filling.

So the main difference in preparation is making the distinct fillings. Wontons have a flavorful meat and vegetable filling while rangoon has the crab and cream cheese filling.

Differences When Ordering

If you see fried wontons and cheese rangoon on the menu at a restaurant, here are some tips for knowing what you’ll get:

– Fried wontons will usually be listed as “fried wontons”, “beef wontons”, “pork wontons”, or something indicating the filling like “shrimp fried wontons”.

– Cheese rangoon may also be called crab rangoon or crab puffs. The name on the menu usually indicates a cream cheese based filling.

– Fried wontons often come as an appetizer served with sauce for dipping. Cheese rangoon may be an appetizer or side dish.

– For fried wontons, the menu may specify the filling like pork or vegetarian if they have different options. Cheese rangoon is almost always crab and cream cheese flavored.

– Prices will vary depending on the restaurant but cheese rangoon may be slightly more expensive given the cost of the crab meat.

– Neither appetizer is typically spicy, but you could always ask about spice level if you prefer mild or extra spicy.

So check the menu closely for the name and filling description. And don’t be afraid to ask your server if you are unsure between the fried wontons vs cheese rangoon!

Nutrition Information

Lastly, let’s compare nutrition. Below are some key nutrients per 6 fried wontons (80g) or 4 cheese rangoon (85g):

Nutrient Fried Wontons Cheese Rangoon
Calories 220 260
Fat 12g 18g
Carbs 24g 18g
Protein 4g 6g

As you can see, cheese rangoon is higher in calories and fat since cream cheese is the main filling ingredient. Fried wontons have slightly more carbs from the wrappers and less fat depending on the filling.

Both make a delicious appetizer but aren’t the healthiest options, since they are deep fried. If you are looking for a lighter appetizer, consider steamed or boiled wontons instead. But for a special treat, both give you crunchy, flavorful bites!


Fried wontons and cheese rangoon have become classics on Chinese food menus, even though they have very different origins. Fried wontons came from China as a hearty meat and vegetable filled dumpling. Cheese rangoon was invented later in America, featuring crab and cream cheese in a fried wonton wrapper.

The main differences come down to the filling. Wontons have a savory, umami filling while rangoon fillings are sweet and creamy. Both start with wonton wrappers but are folded and filled in distinct ways. When ordering, check the menu closely as the names and descriptions will indicate fried wontons vs. cheese rangoon.

While different in terms of flavors and history, both make a tasty and crispy appetizer or side. It depends on if you prefer savory meat or sweet crab and cheese! Either way, both fried wontons and cheese rangoon have earned their place in American Chinese restaurants as classic starters to a meal.