What is Cream Cheese Wonton?

Cream cheese wontons are a popular Chinese-American appetizer consisting of small deep-fried wonton wrappers filled with a cream cheese filling. Also known as crab rangoon, these crispy dumplings have a creamy, rich interior encased in a crunchy outer shell.

What is Cream Cheese Wonton

Cream cheese wontons are easy to make at home and are a fun twist on traditional wontons. They are a crowd-pleasing appetizer perfect for parties or enjoying with a Chinese takeout dinner at home.

How to Make Cream Cheese Wontons

Making cream cheese wontons is simple with just a few basic ingredients. Here is an overview of how to make these delicious dumplings at home:

Ingredients Needed

To make cream cheese wontons you will need:

  • Cream cheese - regular full-fat cream cheese works best. Allow it to soften to room temperature before using.
  • Green onions - for flavor, use just the green tops, finely chopped.
  • Garlic powder - add a bit of garlic flavor to the filling.
  • Wonton wrappers - find these in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.
  • Egg - makes an egg wash to help seal the wontons.
  • Oil for frying - use a neutral oil like vegetable, canola or peanut.
  • Dipping sauces - sweet & sour, Thai chili sauce, etc.

How to Assemble the Wontons

Assembling cream cheese wontons is easy:

  1. In a bowl, mix together the softened cream cheese, green onions, and garlic powder until well-combined.
  2. Lay a wonton wrapper flat and add 1 tsp of filling to the center.
  3. Use your finger to brush water or egg wash around the edges of the wrapper.
  4. Fold the wrapper in half to form a triangle, pressing along the edges to seal. Make sure the filling is enclosed.
  5. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.

Cooking the Wontons

You can either fry, bake or air fry the assembled wontons:

  • To fry: Heat 1-2 inches of oil to 375°F in a pot or deep fryer. Fry a few wontons at a time for 1-2 minutes until golden.
  • To bake: Place on a baking sheet and bake at 400°F for 10-12 minutes until crispy.
  • To air fry: Cook at 360°F for 8-10 minutes, shake basket halfway.

Enjoy the cream cheese wontons immediately while hot, with dipping sauces!

Key Takeaway: Cream cheese wontons are made by filling wonton wrappers with a cream cheese mixture, sealing, and frying, baking or air frying until crispy.

Origin and History

Cream cheese wontons likely originated sometime in the 1950s-1960s in Chinese restaurants in America. They came about as Chinese cooks experimented with blending American and Chinese cuisine.

While wontons have been around for centuries in China, the cream cheese filling is a modern American spin. Adding a rich cream cheese mixture to the traditional wonton resulted in an appetizer fusion food that became beloved in Chinese-American cuisine.

The earliest cream cheese wontons were called "cream cheese patties" or "cheese wontons." Over time they became known as crab rangoon due to their similarity to Chinese crab rangoon, which also feature a creamy filling in a crisp wrapper.

However, true crab rangoon contains crab meat while cream cheese wontons are vegetarian. The terms are now often used interchangeably.

Cream cheese wontons grew in popularity across the U.S. as Chinese takeout restaurants proliferated. Today, they are so ubiquitous that many Americans assume they originated in China.

In truth, this tasty appetizer is a delicious example of how Asian and Western cuisines blended together in America to create something new and uniquely Chinese-American.

Why Are They Called Crab Rangoon?

Cream cheese wontons are sometimes called crab rangoon, which leads to some confusion. So why are they named after a seafood appetizer when they don't actually contain crab?

The reason is that crab rangoon and cream cheese wontons are very similar in appearance and texture.

Authentic crab rangoon consists of crab meat and cream cheese wrapped in crisp wonton wrappers, which are then fried.

So cream cheese wontons mimic the flavor profile and preparation method of crab rangoon very closely. The only difference is the lack of crab meat in the filling.

When cream cheese wontons grew popular in the U.S., consumers and restaurants likely associated them with the similar crab rangoon. Hence, the two names became used interchangeably over time.

The bottom line: cream cheese wontons got their nickname from their close resemblance to crab rangoon in look, taste and texture. But you don't need crab meat to enjoy this delicious appetizer!

Ingredients in Cream Cheese Wontons

Cream cheese wontons have only a few main ingredients, but each one contributes important flavor and texture.

Cream Cheese

Cream cheese provides the signature creamy, rich filling and binds the other ingredients together after softening. Regular full-fat cream cheese works best to achieve the right smooth, lush consistency.

Reduced fat or nonfat cream cheese does not provide the ideal texture or flavor for the filling. Make sure to allow refrigerated cream cheese to soften at room temperature before preparing the wontons.

Green Onions

Finely chopping the green tops of green onions adds a punch of fresh onion flavor to the filling. Green onion pairs perfectly with the richness of the cream cheese.

For convenience, many recipes call for dried onion flakes instead of fresh green onion. However, fresh imparts better flavor.

Garlic Powder

A touch of garlic powder gives the filling a little zing without overpowering the other flavors. Use just 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per batch of filling.

Other options like fresh minced garlic or garlic salt can work too but may provide a stronger garlic taste. Garlic powder blends in more subtly.

Wonton Wrappers

To make the signature crispy dumpling exterior, use thin square wonton wrappers. Look for them near the tofu in the refrigerated section of supermarkets.

Wonton wrappers labeled for frying or potstickers are ideal. Rice paper or egg roll wrappers don't work as well.

Egg Wash

Brushing the edges of the wonton wrappers with egg wash helps them seal tightly together when folded. Just whisk together 1 egg with 1 tsp water.

Egg wash prevents the filling from leaking out. For a vegan option, use water instead.

Frying Oil

For frying, you want a neutral-flavored oil with a high smoke point. Good choices are peanut, vegetable, canola or rice bran oil.

Olive oil is not recommended, as it can impart unwelcome flavors after frying.

Tips for Making Creamy, Crispy Wontons

With a few simple tips, you can achieve the perfect cream cheese wonton - crispy and brown on the outside surrounding luscious, creamy filling:

  • Don't overfill - too much filling will prevent the wonton from sealing tightly and will ooze out. Use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per wrapper.
  • Remove air bubbles - lightly press out any air pockets that form in the filling to prevent explosions during frying.
  • Moisten wrapper well - ensure egg wash coats the entire edge so wrapper adheres completely when pressed together.
  • Press and pinch seams - seal tightly by pressing firmly along the edges, then pinch for extra insurance.
  • Fry at proper temperature - fry between 360-375°F. Too low, and they will get greasy, too high and they will burn.
  • Don't crowd the pan - fry just a few at a time so they cook evenly.
  • Blot oil - drain fried wontons on a paper towel-lined plate to soak up excess grease.

Key Takeaway: Follow tips like not overfilling, sealing tightly, and frying at the right temperature to achieve the ideal crispy, creamy wonton.

How to Fold Wontons

One fun part of making cream cheese wontons is folding the wonton wrappers around the filling to form the dumplings. There are a few common methods.

Triangle Fold

The triangle fold is the easiest folding technique for beginners. To do:

  1. Place filling in center of wonton wrapper.
  2. Lightly wet 2 adjacent edges with egg wash or water.
  3. Pull bottom corner up over filling and press to top corner to adhere.
  4. Repeat on other side to form a triangle. Pinch seams tightly.

This forms an easy triangular dumpling. The fusion of two corners seals in the filling well.

Envelope Fold

For a more sealed, square dumpling:

  1. Place filling off-center toward bottom of the wrapper.
  2. Fold bottom corner up over filling to form a triangle, sealing the bottom seam.
  3. Then fold 2 side corners in toward each other, pressing to adhere.

The final result looks like a little envelope enclosing the filling.

Ruffled Pouch

For a pretty, ruffled appearance:

  1. Place filling in center of wrapper.
  2. Pinch opposing corners together and fold partially inward to form a pouch.
  3. Gently ruffle the unfolded corners by pinching little folds into them, so they fan out attractively.

The ruffles give the dumpling a cute, decorative look with extra surface area for getting crispy.

Common Filling Variations

While the classic cream cheese wonton filling contains just cream cheese, green onions, and garlic, the filling can be jazzed up in lots of ways. Get creative with mix-ins!


Add shredded imitation or real crab meat to make them into crab rangoon. Use about 1/4 cup crab per 8 oz. cream cheese.


Cooked, crumbled bacon adds a smoky crunch and salty flavor. Fry about 4 slices of chopped bacon per 8 oz. cream cheese.


Mix in shredded cheddar, Monterey jack, Swiss or American cheese for more cheesy flavor. Use about 1/4 cup per 8 oz. cream cheese.


For spice, finely dice 1-2 pickled jalapeño peppers and stir into the filling. Reduce to 1/2 jalapeño for milder heat.

Sweet Corn

For sweetness, mix in 1/4 cup of either fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels per 8 oz. cream cheese.


Fresh chopped cilantro gives the filling a light, bright flavor. Add 2 tbsp per 8 oz. cream cheese.

Experiment with mixing and matching ingredients to invent your own signature cream cheese wonton filling!

Cooking Methods

While frying makes the crispiest cream cheese wontons, you can also bake or air fry them for a lower-fat option.


Deep frying in oil is the traditional cooking method. It yields the crispiest, crunchiest texture:

  • Heat 1-2 inches oil to 360-375°F in a pot, deep fryer or Dutch oven.
  • Fry just a few wontons at a time, 1-2 minutes per side until golden.
  • Drain on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess grease.

Frying tips:

  • Maintain proper oil temperature to avoid greasy or burned wontons.
  • Use a neutral high smoke point oil like vegetable or canola.
  • Don't overcrowd the pan to ensure even frying.


For oven-baked wontons:

  • Place filled wontons on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  • Lightly coat wontons with cooking spray or brush with oil.
  • Bake at 400°F for 10-14 minutes until crisped and golden brown, flipping halfway.

Baking gives you a lower-fat option while still achieving a nice crunch. Keep an eye on them as baking times can vary.

Air Frying

An air fryer lets you crisp up wontons with minimal oil:

  • Spray wontons lightly with oil and place in air fryer basket in a single layer.
  • Air fry at 370°F for 6-10 minutes until browned, shaking basket midway.

The circulating hot air crisps up the wonton wrappers beautifully. Adjust timing as needed based on your model.

Key Takeaway: Traditional frying makes the crispiest wontons, but baking or air frying are healthier lower-fat alternatives.

Serving Suggestions and Dipping Sauces

Cream cheese wontons are fantastic on their own but dipping sauces take them to the next level. Here are serving ideas:

  • Sweet and sour sauce - the tangy zip balances the richness.
  • Thai sweet chili sauce - adds sweetness and moderate heat.
  • Chinese hot mustard - spicy and pungent, a classic accompaniment.
  • Duck sauce - savory, gingery and a little sweet.
  • Soy sauce - the saltiness plays nicely off the creamy filling.
  • Sweet chili sauce - doctor up store bought with Sriracha and lime juice.

For variety, set out several dipping sauces and let guests mix and match their flavors.

Serve cream cheese wontons hot right after frying or reheating for maximum crispness. Offer with dipping sauces in small bowls for dunking or drizzling.

Garnish the platter with sliced green onions, sesame seeds, diced chilies or microgreens for a pop of color.

Key Takeaway: Offer a variety of dipping sauces like sweet chili, sweet and sour or hot mustard for flavor contrast with the richness of the wontons.

Storing Leftover Wontons

Like many fried foods, cream cheese wontons are best eaten freshly made. But you can extend their shelf life with proper storage.

After cooking, let wontons cool completely at room temperature. Place in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag.

Refrigerate cream cheese wontons for 3-4 days. The wonton wrappers will start to lose their crispness over time.

Do not freeze the wontons as the filling and wrappers will become soggy. Frozen cream cheese wontons will turn out mushy and soft once thawed.

To reheat leftover wontons:

  • Oven: Bake at 300°F for 5-10 minutes until warmed through and crisp.
  • Air fryer: Air fry at 300°F for 3-5 minutes to re-crisp.
  • Microwave: Not recommended. Will turn wontons soggy.

Enjoy leftover wontons within a few days for the best texture and flavor. Reheating restores some of the coveted crispness.


Are cream cheese wontons fried?

Traditionally, cream cheese wontons are deep fried for the signature crunchy, crispy texture. However, they can also be baked or air fried for a lower-fat option.

How do you fold a cream cheese wonton?

Bring 2 opposite corners together over the filling, then repeat with the other corners until all 4 corners meet together. Press firmly to seal. Fold into a triangle or envelope shape.

Do you put egg in cream cheese wonton?

Egg is usually used as an egg wash to seal the wonton wrappers, not in the filling itself. Whisk 1 egg with 1 tsp water and brush around the wonton edges.

Can you freeze cream cheese wontons?

It's not recommended to freeze cream cheese wontons as the filling and wrappers will turn soggy when thawed. Refrigerate leftovers for 3-4 days instead.

Do crab rangoon have crab in them?

Authentic crab rangoon contains crab meat in the filling while cream cheese wontons do not. But cream cheese wontons are sometimes nicknamed crab rangoon due to their similar look and taste.


Cream cheese wontons are a beloved Chinese-American appetizer that are easy to recreate at home. With just cream cheese, green onions, garlic powder and wonton wrappers, you can make these crispy, crave-worthy dumplings.

Fry, bake or air fry the wontons until the wrappers become golden brown and crispy. Offer fun dipping sauces for the full restaurant experience.

Feel free to get creative with the filling too by adding crab, bacon, jalapeños or other mix-ins to suit your tastes.

Served alongside classic Chinese takeout dishes or enjoyed on their own as a party snack, homemade cream cheese wontons are sure to be a hit!

AGAH Productions
AGAH Productions