Having grown up eating roti canai, I find scallion pancakes to be just as delicious and delightful! Incredibly flaky, crispy, light and layered, these savory and flavor-packed laminated pancakes are quite easily my absolute favorite flatbread ever!
Learn how to make the best Homemade Scallion Pancakes, with all the tips and tricks to get perfect, flaky results every single time!
- Why I love this recipe
- Ingredients to make scallion pancakes
- How to make scallion pancakes
- How to make the dipping sauce
- Serving suggestions for scallion pancakes
- How to store scallion pancakes
- Videos on how to fold scallion pancakes
Scallion pancakes, also known as cong yu bing or green onion pancakes, originate from china. You’ll find different variations of this flatbread throughout the world. Most notably, roti canai in Malaysia, which is also known as roti paratha in Indian and other South Asian countries. Does a roti by any other name taste just as flavorful? Why yes, yes indeed! Our love of food, and apparently flatbreads, knows no boundaries or land borders.
I love scallion pancakes because they taste like an elevated roti canai. While roti canai is super flaky and buttery, scallion pancakes have an umami savory taste from sesame, five spice, and scallions.
Why I love this recipe
- This recipe is so similar to paratha, and I’ve always loved making paratha. So this is an easy recipe to make.
- I’ll show you how to make it ahead, and freeze it as well. That way, you’ll have scallion pancakes for whenever that snacking crave hits ya.
- There’s so much flavor in the dough AND the scallion filling. Seriously, once you’ve made this at home, there’s no going back.
- I’ll show you multiple ways to create layers in your scallion pancakes.
- I’ll also show you what to eat and pair scallion pancakes with, specifically a delicious, sweet, salty, tangy soy sauce based dipping sauce!
The method of making scallion pancakes involves laminated dough, just like paratha. While croissants are also a laminated dough where the dough is laminated with butter, scallion pancakes are made with dough laminated with an oil and flour paste. Scallion pancakes and roti canai are also SO MUCH easier to make than croissants!
This scallion pancakes recipe has been perfected over many years! I tried this technique for the first time as a tender 10 year old, and now I love making these (and most definitely eating them too). While I first learned how to make paratha, scallion pancakes are (in my humble opinion) the tastiest version of a flaky flatbread out there.
Crispy and golden on the outside, with soft, flaky layers on the inside that are packed with umami sesame paste and scallions. These are SO good to be eaten on their own (especially while still warm), but the dipping sauce takes them to a whole new level too!
Ingredients to make scallion pancakes
For the dough
- All purpose flour
- Hot water
- Room temperature water
For the sesame paste filling
- All purpose flour
- Five spice powder
- Sesame oil
- Vegetable oil
How to make scallion pancakes
Making the dough
The dough for this recipe is super simple to make. The dough is a hot water dough, because hot water is mixed with the flour to form the dough.
What is hot water dough?
Hot water dough is made by mixing hot water and flour. This technique reduces gluten formation, because the hot water denatures (breaks down) the proteins in the flour. The hot water also helps to gelatinize the starch in the flour. This means the starch molecules in the flour will absorb a lot more water, without developing any gluten, forming a stable, soft matrix that creates a cushion-like, spongy texture in the final product. The resulting dough is incredibly soft and supple.
Hot water dough is used to make wrappers for dumplings as well (potstickers and steamed dumpling). This technique is also very similar to making tangzhong, which helps to create very soft bread loaves.
Since we are also adding regular water and kneading the dough, there will be some gluten development so that we can stretch out the dough well with little resistance.
You can make this dough by hand, or with a stand mixer, OR with a food processor as well.
Mix the flour and salt together. Then pour the hot water into the flour while mixing. With a food processor or stand mixer, this can be done while the machine is running. However, if you’re mixing by hand, use a dough whisk, fork, or spatula to mix the hot water into the dough. Otherwise you may hurt yourself with the hot water!
Next, add enough cold water to form a scraggly dough.
Mixer and food processor
Once the hot water is added, mix for a few seconds till the water is absorbed by the flour. Follow it up with the cold water, until starts to form a scraggly dough. Mix the dough for about 3 – 5 minutes until the dough looks smooth. Next, place the dough in a bowl and cover it and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, knead the dough a little by hand to make sure that it’s nice and smooth.
Mixing by hand
Once all the hot water is added, mix the dough until the water is mixed into the flour. Next, add enough cold water until a cohesive, scraggly dough is formed. Since the dough is hot, it’ll be hard to knead at this stage. Just mix the dough until all the water is absorbed by all the flour. Next, cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, the dough will be much easier to work with and you can knead it for about 5 minutes until it’s smooth. Try to add as little flour as possible to prevent drying out the dough. Stiff dough will result in crumbly and dry scallion pancakes.
Storing the dough
Next, the dough should be divided into 8 portions and placed on a tray or plate. Put some oil on the tray and also over the dough. Make sure each dough ball is coated with oil by moving it around. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
Why add oil?
I’ve been making roti canai since I was 10 years old, and I was always told to coat the dough well with oil. This really changes the elasticity of the dough!
That softening of the dough allows it to be stretched out until it’s nice and thin, and this is helped significantly by the oil.
Making the sesame paste filling
Place flour, spice powder, and salt in a bowl. Add the oil and sesame oil to the flour and mix until you have a smooth paste.
You can also use plain sesame oil instead of the paste for a quicker and easier “filling”. But I love the flavor in the paste more than just the simple sesame oil.
Traditional scallion pancakes usually use lard to make the paste. You can absolutely use lard instead of vegetable oil if you prefer. But vegetable oil is more accessible.
Making the scallion pancakes
This is where you create the beautiful layers in your scallion pancakes. There are SO MANY ways to create layers in this laminated flatbread.
Different ways to fold scallion pancakes
There are several methods to fold and roll the dough to create layers.
I’ve learned ways of folding the dough to create layers when making paratha. I use the same techniques with these scallion pancakes.
- Basic roll up and swirl
- Roll up and swirl from both ends (dual roll up and swirl)
- Accordion fold and swirl
- Babka method and swirl
- Cone roll up and smash
- Serious Eats talks about rolling and folding twice to create extra layers, but personally, I just don’t want to spend extra time rolling and folding for a second time.
Check out the VIDEOS here on how to fold the scallion pancake according to these different methods.
You can use any of these methods, but I usually default to the basic roll up and swirl OR the dual roll up and swirl. These are easier, and give the best results for flakiness. The flaky layers are not as visible from the surface, but rest assured they are present inside the flatbread.
If you want to see the flaky layers on the surface, then I recommend following the accordion or babka method, where the layering is certainly more visible on the surface.
Basic roll up
Roll out the dough into a circle or rectangle. Brush the surface with the sesame oil paste, and sprinkle the chopped scallions on top. Then roll up the dough like you would cinnamon rolls.
Next, form a scroll with the rolled up log of dough. Flatten it with your palm to make sure the dough sticks together.
Once all the dough portions have been rolled up, place them aside and cover with plastic wrap. Let them rest for 30 minutes. Resting them will make it easier to flatten them out before pan frying.
Dual roll up and swirl
Roll up the dough and brush it with the paste and scallions. (Roll up the dough from opposite ends towards the middle.)
Next, take the rolled up dough log and form a scroll from both ends. Start scrolling the dough log from opposite ends, in opposite directions, to meet in the middle. Stack the two “scrolls” on top of each other and smash it a little to make them stick together.
Once all the dough portions have been rolled up, put them aside and cover with plastic wrap. Let them rest for 30 minutes. Resting them will make it easier to flatten them out before pan frying.
Cooking the scallion pancakes
Preheat a non-stick pan at medium heat (or medium high heat, depending on your stove and the thickness of your pancakes).
Add a little bit of oil on the pan, and when the oil is hot, get the scallion pancake ready.
Place the dough ball on a smooth surface. Flatten the dough and roll it out to about 6 – 8 inches.
Transfer the scallion pancake onto the hot pan and cook the flatbread for about 3 – 4 minutes per side. The thicker it is, the longer you willl need to cook the pancake.
The cook time will vary, so make sure to do a test pancake first. Both sides of the scallion pancake should be golden brown and crispy, and the inside should be fully cooked through, soft, and have lots of layers!
Once the scallion pancakes are cooked, place them on a wire rack to cool, while they still retain their crispness.
How to make the dipping sauce
The dipping sauce is super easy to make!
The traditional dipping sauce has a lot of vinegar, which is nice! But I’m more partial to a salty and sweet dipping sauce with a hint of sourness for balance.
So I adapted a traditional dumpling dipping sauce to my taste buds! You are ABSOLUTELY welcome to increase the amount of vinegar so that this dipping sauce is more similar to the traditional version.
I mix soy sauce, honey, black vinegar, and chili oil in a bowl. Add chopped scallions and roasted sesame seeds as well. Add a splash of water and mix. Taste and adjust to your liking!
If you do not have black vinegar, you can absolutely use rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar instead.
I do make my own chili oil, but I also LOVE azuko chili oil. Laogan mama chili oil is also excellent for this dipping sauce. But if you don’t want chili oil, you can just add some sesame oil too.
Instead of honey, you can use brown sugar. Maple syrup is good too, but it will change the flavor a little.
Serving suggestions for scallion pancakes
I don’t think you need anything with these pancakes, because they are just so flavorful on their own as a snack or appetizer. But traditionally, they are cut into wedges and served with a dipping sauce.
These are also perfect for breakfast. I lightly beat an egg and place the egg in a heated non-stick pan. Season lightly, and before the egg sets, place a cooked scallion pancake on top and move it around to coat the entire surface of the flatbread. Then let it cook until the egg is completely cooked through. Flip, and reheat the other side as well. Add some leftover meat (bbq pork would be delicious!), seafood, cheese or vegetables on top of the cooked egg, and you can eat it like a wrap!
Another option is to make stuffed scallion pancakes. Split each dough portion into two and roll them out and layer as per the recipe here. Then roll out two portions of scallion pancakes, place your favorite dumpling filling in the middle of one portion, and seal it with the second dough portion. You should now have two smaller scallion pancakes together, with a filling in the middle. Cook at medium low heat so that the filling cooks through, and serve warm with a dipping sauce.
How to store scallion pancakes
Cooked scallion pancakes can be stored in an airtight container for about 3 – 4 days in the fridge. The longer you keep them, the less fresh they will taste.
However, you can also freeze cooked pancakes. Place freezer paper or parchment paper between the scallion pancakes and place them in a freezer bag or air-tight container. This way you can easily separate them when you want to re-heat them later.
To reheat, place the frozen scallion pancake on a heated non-stick pan and cook until heated through. Be careful not to burn them.
Can I store uncooked scallion pancakes?
YES! This is what I like to do.
I roll out the scallion pancakes to the desired size, and then layer the pancakes between freezer paper or parchment paper. Then I place these in a freezer bag, and then a container. This is to prevent them from being squashed in the freezer.
You can cook them from frozen too. Just let it cook for an extra minute or so on each side.
I highly recommend you try these scallion pancakes (and I know you want to, that’s why you’re here after all!), because they are incredibly delicious! Crispy and flaky, savory and flavor packed, these are perfect as a snack or for breakfast, but fancy enough to be served as appetizers too.
Homemade Scallion Pancakes Recipe
For the dough
- 500 g AP flour 2 cups, measured by spoon and level method
- 1 ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- 240 mL boiling water 1 cup
- 100 – 120 mL room temperature water 6 – 8 tbsp
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
For the filling
- 1 ½ cups finely sliced scallions if the scallions are thick, cut them in half lengthwise and then slice them (about 12 small scallions or 6 – 7 large scallions)
- 100 g AP flour scant 1 cup
- 100 g vegetable oil or melted lard
- 3 tbsp roasted sesame oil
- ½ tsp 5 spice powder
- ½ tsp fine sea salt generous ½ tsp
- ¼ tsp finely ground szechuan peppercorn optional
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp black vinegar or rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp chili oil or sesame oil
- 2 tbsp finely chopped scallions
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds optional
- 1 tbsp finely chopped red chili deseeded, optional
For the dough
- In a bowl, mix the flour and salt together. Add the hot water while stirring the flour with a fork or spoon to mix in the hot water with the flour. After the hot water is added, stir to form small clumps of flour.
- Next, add the room temperature water, while mixing the dough. Add just enough water to moisten all of the flour (and there are no dry spots of flour), and form a scraggly dough.
- When there are no dry spots in the flour and the dough is formed, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 45 minutes. The dough should be soft, but not too wet or sticky.
- After 45 minutes, remove the dough from the bowl and knead it for a few minutes until smooth. The dough will be very soft and a little sticky, but avoid adding too much flour. The more you knead the dough, the less sticky it will become, but if you add too much flour, the dough will become firm and dry.
- Divide the dough into 8 portions (about 100 – 110 g each). Roll each portion into a smooth ball and place them on a tray or in a container.
- Pour the oil over the dough and make sure to lightly coat each ball with the oil. Cover and let the dough sit for at least 1 hour, or up to overnight.
Prepare the filling and oil paste
- Remove the white ends of the scallions, and finely slice the light green and dark green parts. If the scallions are very thick, cut them in half lengthwise before slicing. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix the flour, 5 spice powder, salt, and the szechuan peppercorns (if using).
- Pour in the vegetable oil or melted lard, and sesame oil, and stir to form a paste. Set aside.
Optional – to add more flavor to the oil paste
- You can infuse the oil with more flavor before adding it to the flour, if you prefer. To do this, place the oil in a small saucepan, along with your aromatics of choice. I like to add the white parts of the scallions and szechuan peppercorns. Cardamom pods and star anise are also good additions.
- When the oil is hot and the spring onions are sizzling in the oil, remove the oil from the heat and let it sit for about 15 – 20 minutes. Strain the oil into the flour mix and stir to combine. Discard the aromatics.
Prepping the scallion pancakes
- Take one dough portion and place it on a rolling surface.
- Stretch it out with your hands into a circle (or rectangle). You can also use a rolling pin to roll it out, but I prefer to use my hands to stretch it out. The dough should be stretched out to about a 1 – 2 mm thickness. It’s OK if it’s a little see-through as well.
- Place 1 – 1.5 tbsp of the sesame paste on the dough and spread it out in a thin layer. Sprinkle the chopped scallions on top as well.
- Roll up the dough like a cinnamon roll. Once you have a rolled up dough log, gently stretch it.
- Form a tight coil by tucking in the end of the log under the coil.
- Firmly press on the rolled up coil for the dough to stick together, and then place it back on the tray / plate that was oiled. Cover with plastic wrap and repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Allow the coiled dough to rest for at least 30 minutes, preferably 1 hour.
Cooking scallion pancakes
- Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.
- Roll out the dough to a desired thickness. I prefer a thin scallion pancake – which is about 8 inches in diameter. Or you can also roll it out to 6 inches in diameter for a thicker pancake.
- Drizzle a little oil (½ tsp) on the heated pan, and cook the pancake for about 2 – 3 minutes per side, until golden brown and crisp on both sides, and soft and cooked through on the inside. The cook time can vary depending on the thickness of the pancake, so adjust the heat of the pan and cook time accordingly.
- Serve warm with the dipping sauce.
- In a bowl, place all the ingredients and whisk to combine.
- Add about 2 – 3 tbsp of water if needed, and mix well.
- Serve with the scallion pancakes.
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