Pocket Levels 101

Pocket Levels 101

Pocket Levels 101

What makes a pocket food?

Pocket foods are a way to see the world. Most places on this planet can claim some sort of specialty made by putting food inside of food and making it somewhat portable. Pockets are comforting, delicious, and an often memory-driven food.

We are often met with the question: “What makes something a pocket food? Aren’t we just talking about dumplings?” We’re glad to look at the world through dumpling-colored glasses, but it would be doing a disservice to the world’s pockets to call them dumplings and call it a day.  

Classifying food-inside-of-food, calling them pockets and telling their story is what we do here. While pocket food is the niche where we like to spend our time (and our money!), we are breaking it down to help y’all identify what type of pocket we’re dealing with at any given moment.

As tasty and beloved as they may be, all pockets are not created equal. Allow us to introduce you to the official hierarchy of pocket food. Get on our level!

Illustrations by  Lauren V. Allen

Illustrations by Lauren V. Allen

Level 1: Perfect Pockets

  • “Perfect” pockets are fully enclosed, with the outer shell completely wrapped around a delicious filling.
  • They can be folded, crimped, formed, or pressed together.
  • Perfect pockets can have seams like an empanada, or can be seamless like a Chinese pork bun, pupusa, or papa relleno.
  • Examples: Dumplings, empanadas, hand pies, pupusas, mandu, gyoza, cha siu bao, tamales, papa relleno, qatayef, pierogi, pasticiotto, samosa, savory kolaches, turnovers, kubueh


Levels 2-6 are living on the edge of the pocket spectrum: something on the outside is still holding a filling in the center (and a big place in our hearts).

wrap-pocket (1)i.jpg

Level 2: Wrapped Pockets

  • “Wrapped” pockets have the outer shell wrapped around a filling.
  • The shells are rolled up like a burrito, lumpia, or egg roll, but do not have to be fully enclosed.
  • Examples: burrito, lumpia, egg roll, pain au chocolat, collard wraps, rolled baklava, temaki

Level 3: Boat Pockets

  • “Boat” pockets’ outer shell is made from a base and walls that come up and contain the filling.  
  • They can be shallow or deep and can be made from dough, like khachapuri, galettes, personal pies,  or vegetables, like zucchini or bell peppers.
  • Examples: khachapuri, stuffed bell peppers, zucchini boats, hamantaschen, kueh pie tie, siu mai, galettes, sweet kolaches, cheese danishes, Taco Bell Crunch Wrap

Level 4: Hinged Pockets

  • “Hinged” pockets have a hinge that allows the walls of the outer shell to wrap up around the filling.
  • The opening of hinge pockets can be from either folding over the dough, like tacos or bao, of from splitting open the side of a pocket, such as a pita, falafel sandwich, panucho, or gordita.
  • Examples: panuchos, pita sandwich, falafel sandwich, stuffed crepes, quesadilla, arepa, gordita, taco, gua bao

Bonus! Double Pockets!


This list isn’t comprehensive, just a fun guide to compartmentalize our favorite compartments. Did we miss something? What level is your favorite pocket? Not sure where your pocket fits? Ask us! We’ll find a place!

Luna Rotisserie and Empanadas

Luna Rotisserie and Empanadas

White Peaches Wrapped in Cream Biscuits

White Peaches Wrapped in Cream Biscuits