Extra-Flaky Scallion Pancakes

updated Jan 18, 2024
Scallion Pancakes Recipe

You’ll be surprised by how easy it is to whip up a batch at home with ingredients you already have in your pantry.

Makes4 (8-inch) pancakes

Prep10 minutes

Cook30 minutes to 35 minutes

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Cut scallion pancakes on a serving plate with a chili dipping sauce.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Scallion pancakes — a popular Shanghai breakfast item and street food snack — feature a crispy outer shell with lots of flaky layers on the inside. Nowadays, scallion pancakes are served in almost every Chinese restaurant and are also available in the freezer aisle of Asian grocery stores.

While there are more versions out there, including ones that resemble thick pancakes that are a meal in themselves, this recipe delivers thin and crispy scallion pancakes. 

The method is similar to making Indian parathas or other pan-fried breads, but it can be a bit of a project. That said, it’s easy to break up the prep to make the recipe more approachable and weeknight-friendly. Plus, the dough is really easy to work with and delivers the crispest pancakes. Here’s how you can make the freshest, flakiest scallion pancakes at home. 

Ingredients in Scallion Pancakes

This delicious snack comes together using mostly pantry items. You’ll probably only need to buy the scallions!

  • Scallions: When purchasing scallions, buy thinner bunches so there’s enough whites that can be used in this recipe.
  • Fat: Lard is my go-to; it has that nostalgic flavor I grew up eating. You can use peanut oil, which is easier to work with since it won’t solidify when the roux cools, or vegetable oil for a cleaner, stronger scallion flavor. If you use peanut or vegetable oil, the scallion pancakes will be vegan.
  • Flour: During my research, I made scallion pancakes using bread flour and bleached all-purpose flour. Bread flour has too much protein, resulting in a dough that’s too difficult to roll out, and ultimately contributes to a chewier, thicker pancake than what I’m looking for.  Bleached all-purpose flour is lower in protein than unbleached flour, so it yields a dough that’s easier to work with and a softer, more tender pancake with a slight chewy, crispy texture just like the ones at restaurants. 
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

How to Make Scallion Pancakes

  • Make the dough. The hot water dough (also known as tangzhong) has just three ingredients: flour, salt, and hot water. The inclusion of hot water denatures the proteins in the flour, reducing gluten formation. It also helps gelatinize the starch in the flour, so that it can absorb more water without developing any gluten, creating a spongy, cushion-like texture in the scallion pancakes.  
  • Make the roux and cut the scallions. While the dough rests, make a roux with flour, salt, and melted lard, along with five-spice powder and MSG if using, stirring until it forms a paste. Finely chop a lot of scallions. 
  • Assemble and cook the pancakes. Split the dough into four portions. You’ll roll each one out, spread roux across the surface, sprinkle some scallions on top, roll it up into a rope, then form into a coil. This folding method is the traditional way and achieves the flakiest layers. 
  • Throw together an easy dipping sauce. All you need is soy sauce, Chinese black vinegar (or rice vinegar), sugar, and chili oil if you like. 

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips

You can make the dough ahead of time, then cover and refrigerate it for up to one day. If you prefer, you can also shape the dough into coils then refrigerate for a full day. 

At this point, you could roll out each uncooked pancake and freeze them for up to three months. When you’re ready to cook, just pull them straight from the freezer, adding a couple minutes to the cooking time. Leftover pancakes can be refrigerated for four days, and reheated in a low oven (but trust me, there won’t be any leftovers!).

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Scallion Pancakes Recipe

You’ll be surprised by how easy it is to whip up a batch at home with ingredients you already have in your pantry.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes to 35 minutes

Makes 4 (8-inch) pancakes

Nutritional Info


For the dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 3/4 cup

    boiling water

  • 2 tablespoons

    cool water, plus more as needed

  • Vegetable oil, for coating the dough ball

For the roux and frying:

  • 1/4 cup

    melted lard, peanut oil, or vegetable oil

  • 1/2 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    five-spice powder (optional)

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    MSG (optional)

  • 1 1/2 medium bunches

    scallions (about 12)

  • 1/2 cup

    plus 1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as vegetable or canola, plus more as needed

For the dipping sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons

    soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    Chinese black (Chinkiang) vinegar or rice vinegar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    chili oil (optional)

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    granulated sugar


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Make the dough:

  1. Place 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large bowl and stir to combine. While stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or chopsticks, pour 3/4 cup boiling water over the flour mixture a little bit at a time. Continue stirring until combined.

  2. Add 2 tablespoons cool water onto the dry pockets of flour and knead the dough with your hands until a shaggy dough forms and the sides of the bowl are clean, 2 to 3 minutes. Knead in more cool water a teaspoon at a time as needed if it’s too dry.

  3. Transfer the dough onto a work surface. Knead until the dough is smooth, about 4 minutes. Drizzle a little vegetable oil onto your hands and use it to coat the dough ball. Return the dough to the same bowl it was kneaded in. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the dough and let rest at room temperature for at least 1 and up to 2 hours, or refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Make the roux and cut the scallions when the dough is almost ready.

Make the roux:

  1. Place 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder if using, and 1/4 teaspoon MSG if using, in a small heatproof bowl. Stir until evenly combined.

  2. Heat 1/4 cup melted lard, vegetable oil, or peanut oil in a small skillet over medium heat until 400ºF or a tiny bit of flour sprinkled in sizzles immediately. Pour the oil over the flour mixture and stir to combine until all the flour is hydrated and a paste is formed. Set aside to cool for a few minutes. If the roux solidifies, reheat in the skillet over medium heat until loose, or microwave in 15-second intervals until melted into a liquid paste

  3. Trim and halve 1 1/2 medium bunches scallions lengthwise, then finely chop until you have 1 1/4 to 1 1/3 cups.

Assemble the scallion pancakes:

  1. Place 1 tablespoon of the neutral oil in a small bowl.

  2. Divide the dough into 4 portions (about 130 grams each) and form each portion into a smooth ball. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time (keep the remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap), place in the bowl of oil and flip to coat until covered with a thin layer of oil. Place on a work surface (do not flour) and roll out into a rough, very thin rectangle (about 11x12-inches) with a longer side closer to you. If the dough is cold and hard to roll out, let sit for a few minutes before trying again.

  3. Spread 1 1/2 tablespoons of the roux evenly over the dough with your fingers. Sprinkle evenly with a quarter of the scallions (about 1/3 cup). Starting at the long side closest to you, roll tightly up into a thick rope and firmly press down to seal the seam. Position seam-side up, then roll the rope into a coil, tucking the tail end underneath the coil. Firmly press down to flatten until about 3/4-inch thick and 3 1/2 inches wide.

  4. Repeat with the remaining dough balls, reserving the remaining oil in the bowl. Place on a plate or small baking sheet in a single layer. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 1 hour at room temperature or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Make the dipping sauce and cook the scallion pancakes:

  1. Place 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons chili oil if using, and 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar in a small bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

  2. Heat a large (at least 12-inch) cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot, at least 3 minutes. Meanwhile, dip your hands in the reserved oil and coat each dough patty with a thin layer of oil. Roll out one of the patties on a work surface (do not flour) until 8-inches wide and about 1/4-inch thick.

  3. Add 2 tablespoons of the neutral oil to the heated skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the pancake, cover, and fry until the bottom is golden brown and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the pancake and fry uncovered until the second side is golden brown and crisp (drizzle a little more oil around the edges if the pan is dry), 2 to 3 minutes more. Meanwhile, roll out the next pancake.

  4. Position 2 flat spatulas (or a spatula and chopsticks) vertically on opposite sides of the pancake in the skillet. Push the spatulas inward towards each other; this pushes the pancake up slightly to separate the flaky layers (it’s okay if it breaks apart a bit). Repeat pushing up the pancake in a few spots. Transfer to a wire rack (or place the rack on a baking sheet and keep warm in a 200ºF oven while you fry the remaining pancakes).

  5. Repeat cooking the remaining pancakes, using 2 tablespoons neutral oil for each pancake. Pat any excess oil on the pancakes with a paper towel if desired. Cut into wedges and serve with the dipping sauce.

Recipe Notes

Stand mixer variation: To make the dough in a stand mixer, mix the flour and salt with the hook attachment until evenly combined. With the mixer on low speed, slowly drizzle in the boiling water, aiming for the dry pockets of flour, then slowly drizzle in the cool water and mix until a dough forms and the side of the bowl is clean. Continue to mix on low speed until the dough is smooth, about 4 minutes. Proceed with resting the dough.

Make ahead: After forming the dough and kneading it, the dough can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Alternatively, assemble and shape the pancakes into a coil and refrigerate up to 24 hours before doing the final roll and frying.

Freezing scallion pancakes: Place each rolled-out, uncooked scallion pancake between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Stack onto a plate and freeze until solid. Transfer, still between parchment, to a zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Cook from frozen, adding 1 minute cooking time to each side.

Storage: Leftover scallion pancakes and dipping sauce can be refrigerated in separate airtight containers for up to 4 days. Reheat the pancakes in a low oven until heated through.

A version of this recipe was first published in February 2015 by Faith Durand.