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Hotteok (Korean Sweet Pancakes) is a popular Korean street food made from a simple yeast dough with a sweet syrupy filling made with brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts. It makes a tasty snack or dessert, and could even be enjoyed at breakfast!
One of these days I’m going to make it to Korea, where hotteok (pronounced ‘ho-tok’) is sold from carts on the street. But even though I can’t be in Korea for the winter games, I’m happy to enjoy this delicious treat in my own home!
What is Hotteok like?
The chewy hotteok dough is fried in a little oil in a hot pan to make a golden crispy outer shell surrounding a cinnamony, hot, syrupy center laced with chopped walnuts.
Hotteok actually reminds me a lot of what we call Utah scones or Indian fry bread since it’s basically a simple yeast dough made from flour, water, yeast and a little sugar, salt, and oil, then divided into individual portions and fried in hot oil until crispy and chewy.
The main difference with these Korean sweet pancakes is that they are filled inside with a sweet filling, typically consisting of brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts. I’ve read that you can find other varieties of hotteok though, filled with things like honey, peanuts, and even chocolate chips, although I’m doubting the authenticity of a chocolate filling in a Korean hotteok.
I think these are best eaten hot and fresh, right out of the pan, when the filling is still all melted and syrupy.
I’ve even frozen hotteok and then reheated them in the oven or a toaster and they are delicious!
How to make Korean Sweet Pancakes (Hotteok)
The dough is really simple to make and is traditionally made by hand, although I just used my stand mixer.
After proofing the yeast in some lukewarm water with a little sugar, salt and oil, you will mix in the flour and knead for a few minutes until a smooth dough ball forms.
After letting the dough rise for an hour, punching it down, and letting it rise another 20 minutes, the dough gets divided into 8 balls to make 8 individual hotteok.
You will want to make sure you are working on a well floured surface, with extra flour for your hands because the dough is very sticky.
Working with just one ball of dough at a time, you first flatten it out using your hands, then spoon about a tablespoon of the filling into the center of the disc.
Then pinch the sides up all around the filling, enclosing it and sealing the filling into the center of the dough ball.
Once all of the balls are filled, heat a large pan over medium heat and add a little oil so that it can get hot. It doesn’t need a lot of oil – just a couple of tablespoons is enough to fry the hotteok.
Working in batches of 2 or 3 at a time, place each ball seam side down into the hot pan and let it cook for just 30 seconds or so, until the bottom is just getting lightly golden brown, then flip it over and press down using a large, flat spatula to create a wide circle.
Cook for about a minute on the second side, then flip the pancakes over again and immediately cover with a lid and turn the heat down to low.
Cook the hotteok for 1 more minute until golden brown on the bottom and the brown sugar is melted inside, then remove from the pan and serve hot!
More Korean Recipes You Might Enjoy!
- Korean Beef Tacos (Bulgogi)
- Oven Baked Korean BBQ Chicken Wings
- Korean Pancakes with Scallions (Pajeon or Pa Jun)
- Slow Cooker Korean Beef Short Ribs (Kalbi)
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons chopped walnuts
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the lukewarm water, sugar, yeast, oil and salt. Let the yeast proof for about 5 minutes until it starts to get foamy.
- Add the flour to the yeast mixture and knead with the mixer until smooth. This could also be done by hand or just using a rubber spatula, but I just thought it was easier to let the dough hook do the work.
- Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 1 hour at room temperature until the dough has doubled in size. Coat your hand lightly in cooking spray and punch down the dough to remove gas bubbles, then cover again and let the dough rise another 20 minutes.
- During the last rise, mix together the filling ingredients in a small bowl.
- When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured surface and coat your hands with flour (it's a very sticky dough to work with). Divide into 8 equal-sized pieces and shape into balls.
- Working with one dough ball at a time, flatten it out and mound about a tablespoon of the filling in the center. Then pinch the edges of the disc together up around the filling, enclosing it completely in the center of the ball of dough as seen in the pictures. Repeat with the remaining balls of dougha and filling. You may need to re-flour your hands between dough balls if the dough starts sticking too much.
- Heat a large pan over medium heat. When hot, add a little oil (about 2 tablespoons) to the pan and let that heat up as well. When the oil is hot, place a dough ball in it, with the sealed area down and cook until lightly golden brown on the bottom (just about 30 seconds), then flip. Using a large, flat spatula, press down on the hotteok to flatten it into a wide disc and cook until the bottom is golden brown.
- Flip the hotteok one last time and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for another minute or so, just until the bottom is completely golden brown and the filling inside is melted and syrupy.
- You can cook more than one hotteok at a time if your pan is large enough. Just make sure to leave enough space between each dough ball so that it can be pressed flat into a disc. I can do three at a time in my largest cast-iron pan.
- Serve hot!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 235Saturated Fat: 1gSodium: 153mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 2gSugar: 16gProtein: 5g