Everyone loves Chinese scallion pancakes! This classic recipe uses only 4 ingredients. The key to make the best pancakes is in how you prepare the dough, which you can see in a helpful video below. This Chinese scallion pancake recipe was originally written for my cookbook, Vegan Chinese Cookbook.
The simplest foods are sometimes the best. All we need is a little oil, salt, and scallion to flavour these thin flatbreads. They are soft and crispy, with flaky layers. You can nibble them on their own or use these popular pancakes in place of rice. They pair well with any dish.
Using Hot Water to Make the Dough
Depending on what we are cooking, we can make the dough with cold water, hot water, or half-hot-then-half-cold water in Chinese cooking. Each formula achieves different result that’s the most desirable for a particular dish. For the scallion pancakes, the use of hot water partially cooks the dough, making the dough easier to work with and quicker to cook through on the frying pan. This dough is so soft that there is no need to rest it for more than 15 minutes. Therefore, you can work with the dough pretty much immediately, unlike many other flour-based recipes that often require longer resting time.
How to Create Layers in Chinese Scallion Pancakes
The most distinctive feature of the Chinese scallion pancakes is the many thin layers with flavourful scallions in between. These layers are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, spiralling in a circle. Every bite is perfectly tasty and fun to enjoy! The following images illustrate the steps to fold a small piece of the dough into a disk to create the layered effect. Watch the video to see exactly how it is made.
Working with Scallion Pancake Disks
I demonstrated the process of making a single pancake from start to finish in the video. However, when you are making the whole batch (8 pancakes in total) of the recipe below, you will be making all the disks first. By the time you finish folding the last disk, the first one has already rested for about 15 minutes. This resting time allows the dough to relax, making it easier to roll out the disks.
Now you can move onto flattening the disks right away and cook them, one by one, in the order the disks were made. You would flatten the first disk first, then drop it in a hot pan. While the first pancake is cooking, you would flatten the second disk. As soon as you remove the first pancake from the pan, drop the second pancake into the pan and roll out the third pancake. Continue until all the pancakes are cooked. This is the most efficient workflow.
I highly recommend cooking the pancakes right before eating, as they are the best when hot. If you want to prep in advance, you can do all the steps up until you finish folding all the disks. Store the disks in an airtight container to prevent them from drying, and keep them in the refrigerator for no more than 1 day.
Rolling Out Pancakes with Parchment Paper
As you can see in the video, I placed a piece of parchment paper on top of the disk before flattening it with a rolling pin. The parchment paper prevents the pancake from shrinking back. I only peel the parchment paper away from the pancake right before putting the pancake into the pan. You can reuse the same parchment paper for rolling out the next pancake.
Freezing Flattened Chinese Scallion Pancakes
Alternatively, you can flatten the pancakes but not cook them. Keep the parchment paper on the pancakes (you would need a new parchment paper for each pancake), and stack all the pancakes on a plate, separated by parchment paper in between. You can freeze the stack and keep them wrapped up in the freezer for months. This is a wonderful meal prep method! When you are ready to cook the pancakes on a later day, take out the number of frozen pancakes you need. There is no need to thaw the pancakes, simply cook them directly on the hot pan, as if cooking the unfrozen ones but increase the cooking time slightly. You will have hot fresh scallion pancakes served in minutes!
More Plant-Based Favourites from Vegan Chinese Cookbook:
- Eight Treasure Congee (八宝粥)
- Mung Bean Cakes (Gluten-Free, Vegan, 3 Ingredients)
- Chinese Eggplant Recipe: Red-Braised Eggplants
- Vegan Mapo Tofu
Chinese Scallion Pancakes (葱油饼)
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour for the dough
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour for the scallion oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt divided
- 1 cup hot water
- 8 tablespoons canola oil divided (see notes)
- 4 scallions thinly sliced
- In a medium bowl, mix 2 1⁄4 cups of the flour and 1⁄2 teaspoon of the salt. Add the hot water while stirring quickly with a pair of chopsticks to form lumps. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the bowl and mix. Using your hands, knead the dough in the bowl for 2 minutes. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a heatproof medium bowl, combine the scallions and the remain- ing 1 teaspoon of salt. In a skillet, heat 6 tablespoons of oil over high heat until it just begins to smoke. Immediately pour the hot oil over the scallions in the bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour to the scallions and oil and stir to combine.
- Rub a thin layer of oil on a cutting board. Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces. Cover it with a damp towel. Working with one piece at a time, use a rolling pin to flatten a piece of dough into a 5-by-12-inch rectangle no more than 1⁄8 inch thick. Spread one-eighth of the scallion mixture over the entire rectangle. Starting at a long side of the rectangle, roll up the dough to form a long thin rope. Take both ends of the rope (still flat on the cutting board) and spiral each end in toward the center. When the two spirals meet, stack one on top of the other and press them down to make a disk about 1 inch thick and 3 inches in diameter. Transfer the disk to a plate to rest for 15 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
- Working with one at a time, place a disk on the cutting board, top it with a piece of parchment paper, and use a rolling pin to flatten it to 1⁄s to 1⁄4 inch thick (about 7 inches in diameter). Cook the first pancake (see next step) before rolling out the next one.
- Heat a large dry skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Place the pancake in the pan and cook it for 1 1⁄2 to 2 minutes per side, until it is golden and crispy. While the pancake is cooking, roll out the next one. Repeat with the remaining disks. Serve hot.