How to buy, boil, fry and enjoy Zongzi

Zongzi, a.k.a. “glutinous rice dumplings”, a.k.a. “Chinese tamales”! We already showed y’all how to make these in an earlier video, so for this year’s Dragonboat Festival we wanted to give you a bit of a ‘supermarket zongzi’ buying and prepping guide.

0:00 – Introduction to Zongzi
0:48 – Why do people eat Zongzi for Dragon Boat?
2:06 – Should you make Zongzi, or buy them?
2:42 – Types of Zongzi at the Supermarket
5:00 – How to Boil Zongzi
5:50 – How to Eat Zongzi
6:24 – How to Panfry Zongzi, Two Methods
9:01 – Sauce to Dip?
9:39 – Which frying method for which Zongzi?


Generally speaking, Zongzi packages will come with boiling times on them. When in doubt, go with the package. This table is just in case the package doesn’t have instructions, or if you can’t read them for whatever reason.

Weight | Shrink-wrapped/fresh | Frozen

100g | 10 minutes | 15 minutes
150g | 12 minutes | 20 minutes
200g | 15 minutes | 25 minutes
250g | 20 minutes | 25 minutes
300g | 25 minutes | 30 minutes
500g | 30 minutes | 40 minutes

note: Do *not* let frozen Zongzi thaw before cooking. They will become a gloopy mess.


If working from frozen Zongzi, boil the Zongzi first (around half the time you’d boil otherwise). If using fresh or shrink-wrapped zongzi, no need to pre-cook: just charge forward straight.

Smush-fry method:

Fry the zongzi over a medium flame with ~1 tbsp oil. Optionally slice the Zongzi in half. Smush the zongzi until a lid can cover it, ~2-3 minutes. Once a lid can cover, cook with the lid on, periodically continuing to smush and shape the zongzi into a pancake, ~5 minutes. Optionally crack an egg over the zongzi, and once the egg’s formed, flip. Cook for ~5 minutes until everything is crispy and golden brown.

Slice & Fry method:

Slice the Zongzi into 1-2 inch pieces with the string that it came wrapped with, then fry the zongzi pieces over a medium flame with ~1 tbsp oil. For the first five minutes of cooking, keep the lid covered to help soften the rice. After that point, flip the pieces occasionally. After about ~20 minutes in total of frying, the Zongzi should be nice an golden brown.

Footage of the family celebrating Dragon Boat is from the super wholesome channel 农村小遥 (I believe they’re from up in the Northeast?). Check out the whole video here:

Also check out the whole video of Dragon Boat racing from Vassili Chui, here:

And check out our Patreon if you’d like to support the project!

Outro Music: คิดถึงคุณจัง by ธานินทร์ อินทรเทพ
Found via My Analog Journal (great channel):

What do you think?


  1. EDIT: Apparently some corners of Weibo [i.e. the Chinese Twitter] have never heard of pan fried Zongzi before! First time getting roasted on the Chinese internet haha. Nobody's perfect – us included – but before mindlessly criticizing, maybe do like… two seconds of Googling: Yes, pan fried Zongzi is a thing.

    To address a couple other critiques: (1) yes, dipping savory zongzi in granulated sugar is a absolutely thing in Guangdong (2) yes, I agree that the honey quantity at 4:43 was too much, this was an artifact of filming (I wanted to get a nice clean shot of pouring honey over the 碱水粽, this took a couple tries to get right) and (3) as I articulated at 9:01, dipping pan fried zongzi in a sweet chili sauce is my own personal thing that I enjoy (though – as I explained in the video – there's also a tangential tradition in Fujian and Taiwan).

    A fair critique of this video is that perhaps we did not clearly enough delineate which traditions were unique to Guangdong, and which traditions could be generalized to China as a whole. If you're interested in discussing Zongzi traditions from around the country, we're down to discuss; if you're interesting in poorly cosplaying Uncle Roger, we're not overly interested.

    We've got one more quick little 2-3 minute video coming in the next few days, then… the move. So tentatively, we'll be planning to be off until ~6/28 (there's a lot of stuff we'll need to sort getting settled in), but then after that time we'll try our best to get out weekly videos until we swing back to the USA for a trip in August. Lots of video ideas we're excited to do on the docket once we can get our kitchen in order 🙂

  2. uhhhh…. i think that YOU should not call them "Chinese tamales" because there is actually a culture in Mexico where Chinese immigrants are like the second most populated area and THEY may have something to say about it. Because there is a big cross culture thing. And this does not look like what i would describe as a "Chinese tamale" because i have had actual "Chinese tamales" which are very sweet in the breading.

  3. I grew up eating Cantonese joong dipped in sugar 🥰 Thanks for the tips in the video, Steph and Chris!

  4. Chinese tamales? Well, I've never seen a tamale before so I'll take your word for it. But "duan wu" or the 5th day of the 5th month… after the Tamale reference, you didn't see the "Cinco de Mayo" = "duan wu"?.

  5. Like many, I grew up eating these. My Grandma used to make these and were the best. Pork belly, Yellow bean, Salted egg and chili sauce

  6. Had a strange craving for these today. Had no idea they were traditional foods to be eaten at this time of year. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Who isn't surprised to see the worst take is left by a Russian username with an anime avatar

  8. Hi, please soak the rice with soy sauce, and soak belly pork chops with soy sauce too.
    Stuff soaked belly pork into soaked rice, and boil.
    That is more delicious than this sweet Zongzi. You can also stuff Zongzi with soaked pork rib, and/or york.
    The best Zongzi in Chinabis cooked in this way. People in the city of the best Zongzi in China eat Zongzi in this way.

  9. Holy shit!How can you treat Zongzi like this!I now understand why Italians always so angry about American pizza.
    Anyway, no stupid frying pan,no embarrassing ketchup,no honey which will cause you some incurable diseases,you need to treat it like a sandwich,OK?These methods are INCREDIBLE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS!This heresy is simply a blasphemy against the traditional Chinese food culture!

  10. I loved the flash-card introduction to the dish, I love how you guys contextualise and add your own anecdotes. You're both as good Storytellers as you are teachers and chefs! I love you guys!

  11. One thing you didn't mention: which is better? boiling or steaming storebought frozen / shrink wrapped zongzi?

  12. Appreciate the guide on buying zongzi! I am not Chinese and I live in Australia, so this is probably the only way I'd ever get to try them.

  13. 广东人在此澄清,在广东蘸糖或者加蜜糖吃的只有碱水粽,请勿轻信谣言。另外粽子只有米还是生的时候才会放进水里煮,熟的粽子一般用来蒸。这个视频几乎就是在欺骗。
    I am Cantonese, let me clarify here. In Guangdong, only Alkaline Water Zongzi will dip sugar or honey, plz dont be credulous this video. And Zongzi are boiled in water only when rice is still raw, but we usually buy cooked food that has been processed, this kind of Zongzi will become weak when cooked in water, So we usually steam it. This video is completely deceiving.

  14. Thumbnail looked like a hamster bound up in string and I was somewhat concerned until I gave it a second look. 😄🐹

  15. Weird… I have this behaviour… not sure if it's considered a tic or what; where I read things subconsciously and say it out loud, usually in some random accent.. So when I saw this title I read it out loud in a Chinese accent without thinking. And then I started looking for the video I heard myself read, because I was suddenly curious how accurate my random reading was… And it was strangely accurate*; I also happened to match the tone pretty well. No idea how I did that.. lol

    (* especially considering that my reading tic also quite often is in a ridiculous accent with completely wrong tone and stress)

  16. Are these wrapped in banana leaves? I noticed that the water was colored after boiling and wondering if you could use the flavored water in other recipes.

  17. You have made many inventions but the way you cook it is quite different from people in China

  18. Man…this is like adding pineapple pieces to a pizza in front of an Italian…Actually if you want to enjoy zongzi you just need to boil it by hot water and peel it, then just eat with a spoon is OK…

  19. My mom used to make sweet zongzi with a date in the middle and you can dip it in sugar. She also makes a salty one with mung beans and a chestnut 😋

  20. Love the tabby cat… What is this felijz's name…? Warm regards, Pang, Shiro and Calla..

  21. 写给微博观光团
    首先,Chinese Cooking Demystified频道从成立以来几年多,已经为自己的频道发展了一批忠实稳定的观众群体,不少观众早已熟知Chris和Steph这对双人组合。因此他们在制作视频时有时会默认观众已经对基础的中国菜烹饪有一定的知识基础,并针对性的在视频内容上进行主次详略的取舍,而略过一些人尽皆知的常识性内容。


    其次,从菜品选择上,CCD从早期比较主流的红烧肉小笼包等认知度高的大众向菜品起步,后面逐渐发展为以从自己居住地和旅行所到之地周围的街头美食进行取材,形成了独属于自己频道的硬核向特色,因此CCD所介绍的菜谱通常都带有强烈的地区文化印记。比如他们在前往当地探访后,介绍了贵阳的街头小食怪噜洋芋,糯米饭,云南哈尼族的舂洋芋等等。由于Steph本人生在广东且在顺德居住,他们也详细介绍过粤港茶餐厅文化下诞生的西多士,瑞士鸡翼,传统粤菜的炒鲜奶,黄埔鸡蛋,大马站煲等等。不用说在英文频道,其中不少在川菜鲁菜为主流的中文网络都是罕有人进行详细介绍的食物。作为一个常看各种美食内容的中国人,CCD都时不时能为我提供eye opening experience,因为很多独属于当地的料理都是我平生第一次所见。且就我所了解的部分来看,他们对菜谱的质量有相当的追求。因此并不是他们第一次介绍小众菜谱,而是频道一以贯之的独特风格。



    我认为不是每一个频道都天生要面向所有人创作最主流的内容,因为千人一面的互联网没有任何乐趣。我也完全无法理解,一群正常的人会突然窜进一个此生毫无交集的的频道,按照自己的想法颐指气使地对别人的作品大加指点,仿佛连频道的未来都给别人规划好了。您是入股了还是赞助patreon了?是什么让您觉得you are entitled to everything?

    对一个认知外的事物既不了解也从未尝试着去了解,仅凭一条热传微博就任凭自己的认知被别人所塑造。这就是狭隘的体现。本频道的男主人Chris是一个非常热爱中国烹饪文化的美国人,女主人Steph是中国人,他们夫妇俩这些年为了探寻中国美食走访了很多地方,也做过很多research。CCD并不是什么烹饪专家,但绝对称得上对文化怀有诚挚热爱的资深爱好者。在covid疫情期间西方媒体将武汉菜市场抹黑为脏乱差,滋生病毒的wet market时,Chris也立刻出面拍摄视频对中国菜市场的真实状况进行了澄清。


  22. Great video, I've never thought to make the pancake or fried rounds, I'll definitely try both of these cooking methods in the future. Also I've never seen the pyramid shape, they look very good and like a good/large sized meal. I've also never had them frozen or sealed, but living in Seattle maybe I'm spoiled by so many Asian restaurants and groceries to never think to look for frozen, I'll go out to do so and see if I can find new flavors. I tend to buy Zonzi more often than Lo Mai Gai ever since I developed a shellfish allergy as Zonzi are less likely to have shrimp in them, new flavors sound exciting. Thanks. 🙂

  23. ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  24. Noooo, we never pan fried zongzi! Noooooo this is similar when you serve pineapple pizza to Italians! Hay ya😢😢😢uncle Roger feel sad!😢😢😢

  25. This video is literally about telling people to make pizza with pineapple.
    But a Chinese one.

  26. “我将以意大利人的形态出击”
    – 群重聊斋
    慕名而来naroda www

    "I shall go forth and march forward with the spirit of the Italians"
    – Random QQ Group Chat

  27. Not one, not even one way of cooking is right. (Yeah 90% of the time, you steam it… ) and every way else then boiling it is fucking wrong. Please respect some people's culture