Hotteok are Korean sweet pancakes made with a yeasted dough and sweet nut filling. They’re a classic street food, especially in winter, and make a delicious anytime treat.
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If you’re a regular here, you probably know we are big fans of pancakes for breakfast at the weekend. We tend to go back and forth between an individual Dutch baby pancake with berries and little pancakes with carrot and apple. The latter are ones I somehow never get round to sharing but are similar to my beet pear pancakes.
Both are pretty different from the British pancakes that I grew up with, and I am always looking to try others as well. These Korean filled pancakes are definitely a great one to add to the list.
Hotteok are more of a snack than breakfast, really, but I won’t judge when you choose to enjoy them. They take a little more preparation than some since you need to let the dough rise, and they take a little time to get the filling in the middle, but the actual hands on time is still relatively short.
What are the origins of hotteok?
While these sweet pancakes are always considered Korean, they are actually believed to have been developed by Chinese immigrants. Rather than the savory fillings you will more typically find in Chinese filled pancakes (like scallion pancakes), the filling for these was adapted to suit Korean tastes.
Originally hotteok were made with a peanut filling, but you can make them with a range of nuts and seeds. Walnut is one of the more common fillings these days, as I used here, but you can use pine nuts, pecans or other nuts.
In fact, you don’t even need to feel restricted to nuts – they are definitely something you can get creative with. You can also make them healthier by combining pureed dates, for example, with seeds rather than using sugar.
For now, though, I am sticking with a pretty typical, classic recipe as it’s really delicious as a base. Give it a try, then experiment from there!
Tips for making hotteok
These pancakes are not really difficult to make, but they are a bit different from other pancakes so worth planning a little. For one, they are more of a dough than a batter, so you handle them differently. Then, you fill them and seal them up which is also less typical. But they don’t take too much effort to master!
- Make sure the dough has enough time to rise – this helps both flavor and texture.
- Rub some oil on your hands before forming the individual hotteok. This helps avoid the dough sticking to your hands.
- Start by pinching the sides of the dough across the filling then pull together the rest of the sides until it is all joined. Try to make sure you avoid having any gaps or else filling will escape as you cook (not the end of the world, but would be a shame!)
- Put the sealed pancake into the pan of hot oil by letting it slip off your hand, the join side down to start.
- Don’t be afraid to flatten the pancake well on each side as you cook it – this helps as much of the dough as possible have contact with the pan and crisp up. It also heats the filling through.
These filled pancakes don’t need any additional toppings, as the sweet nut filling adds more than enough flavor as it is. But do be careful not to dive in to bite them too quickly – the filling will be incredibly hot – it’s molten sugar, after all. Hard as it is, wait a minute or two.
Hotteok may take a little more effort than some other pancakes, but it’s time well spent for a deliciously sweet and slightly chewy treat. I know we’ll be adding them to things to make when I feel the boys deserve a treat!
Try these other sweet snacks:
- Eccles cakes (British pastries with a sweet currant filling)
- Swedish cardamom buns
- Plus get more snack recipes, both sweet and savory, and Korean recipes in the archives.
Hotteok (Korean sweet pancakes)
For pancake dough
- ⅓ cup water 80ml, lukewarm
- ½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp instant yeast (fast acting yeast)
- 1 cup all purpose flour 140g plain flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp walnuts 16g, approx (or use other nuts as you prefer)
- ¼ cup brown sugar 40g
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil (or other non-aromatic oil, using more as needed)
- Stir the sugar into the warm water, sprinkle over the yeast then leave a minute while you prepare the other ingredients. Measure out the flour and salt, stir gently then add the yeast mixture. Mix well to form a relatively firm dough, adding an extra tablespoon or more of water if needed to make sure it comes together.
- Gently knead the dough for a minute, stretching it out slightly, then place back in the bowl and cover. Leave in a warm room temperature, draft-free place to rise for at least an hour, but three hours also works.
- While the dough is rising, mix the filling. Chop the nuts relatively finely and mix with the sugar and cinnamon.
- Once the dough has risen, knock it back slightly and divide into 6 even pieces, rolling each into a ball. Warm the oil for cooking in a small-medium skillet/frying pan over a medium heat.
- Lightly oil your hands, take a piece of dough and flatten it into a disk with a slight indent in the middle. Hold it in one hand and spoon around 1tsp of the filling in the indent then pinch two opposite sides together to join. Work your way around the rest of the sides, stretching the dough in to join the rest in the middle around the filling, making sure to not have any gaps.
- Repeat with the remaining balls of dough and filling, putting them on a lightly oiled surface once done to avoid them sticking too much.
- Cook three at a time in the warmed oil, letting the pancake slide off your hand (you kind of flip your hand over to let it drop in the pan, taking care not to get splashed with the warm oil), the side with the join down first. Press the pancakes down fairly firmly with a spatula to flatten them (but not so much it leaks the filling).
- Cook for around 3 minutes until it's starting to brown on the bottom then turn over, flatten again, then cook for another couple minutes until browning again. Turn the temperature down if they brown too fast. Flip back to the first side for a final minute, pressing down a little again, before removing from the pan, draining any excess oil and letting them cool a minute before eating. Repeat with rest of pancakes.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline’s Cooking Amazon store.
Check out all these other delicious pancake recipes:
- Andes Chocolate Mint Pancakes from Daily Dish Recipes
- Black Forest Pancakes from Our Good Life
- Easy Pancake Mix from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Mandarin Pancakes with Moo Shu Pork from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Old-fashioned Cornmeal Griddle Cakes from Savory Moments
- PB&J Stuffed Pancakes from Kate’s Recipe Box
- Sheet Pan Bananas Foster Pancakes from Palatable Pastime