Easy Hotteok (Korean Sweet Pancake)
Hotteok is a pan-fried Korean sweet pancake filled with gooey cinnamon and brown sugar syrup. It’s a beloved Korean street food sweet. This simple recipe using a few basic ingredients brings you the classic taste with easy-to-follow instructions and visual guidance.
When you visit Korea, don’t miss out on hotteok, a favorite Korean sweet pancake. The golden, fried dough are filled with a sweet sugar syrup and are a must-try. You’ll easily spot them in street markets and tourist areas, especially during cooler weather.
They’re not just delicious, but also a great way to experience Korean food culture. I’m a big fan of these pancakes and I’m always on the lookout for the tastiest ones.
What is Hotteok?
Hotteok is a delectable Korean sweet-filled pancake made from wheat flour (or a mix of wheat and rice flour for a better texture), water, milk, and yeast.
The dough is transformed when filled with a mix of brown sugar, cinnamon, and peanuts. Once on the griddle, it’s flattened, fried until golden and crispy, and the heat transforms the filling into a piping hot, sweet syrup.
It offers a taste of warm, spiced syrup encased in a soft, crispy pancake, complete with a subtle cinnamon aroma and a satisfying nutty crunch. These Korean fried dough is so hard to resist, and you will surely want a second piece.
The classic Korean hotteok from my childhood were lightly pan-fried with just a little oil, which I still love the most. Nowadays, many street vendors opt to deep fry them in a lot of hot oil for a modern twist.
Personally, I have a preference for the lightly pan-fried version. While you may need to look a bit harder for this old-fashioned style, I believe it’s definitely worth the effort to find them.
These sweet treats hold a special place as one of the most beloved sweet snacks in Korea, alongside Twisted Donuts and Bungeoppang (Fish-shaped bread). As you wander through various street markets, especially during the cold season, you’ll easily find these Korean winter treats.
As tastes evolve, so do Korean sweet pancakes. The range of fillings now stretches from sweet to savory.
The traditional hotteok has sweet filling made with brown sugar, cinnamon, and crushed peanuts. But depending on where you are, especially in tourist areas or depending on the vendor’s recipe, you might find hotteok with a variety of nuts and seeds, red bean paste, creamy custard, apple pie filling, or even melted chocolate.
Savory versions are becoming increasingly popular too. Some are stuffed with japchae (stir-fried glass noodles) or fillings similar to dumplings, like mandu, and others feature a fusion twist with melted cheese. With such a wide array of options, there’s a hotteok to suit everyone’s taste.
My Best Tips
- Mix Different Flours: While you can make hotteok with just wheat flour, adding sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour) improves the texture, making the dough softer and chewier. Using only wheat flour might result in the dough becoming harder once it cools.
- A Hint of Baking Powder: Incorporating a small amount of baking powder into your yeasted dough can make a big difference. It helps make the texture lighter and fluffier.
- No Kneading Required: My recipe takes out the hassle of kneading. Just mix the ingredients with a spoon for about a minute, then let the dough rise until it doubles in size. It’s that simple!
- Using a Hotteok Press: It is a handy tool with a flat, round stainless steel bottom and a wooden handle. It’s designed to press the dough or dalgona candy, giving it that perfect circle shape. You can find one in most Korean markets or online.
- Don’t have a press? No worries – a round bowl with a smooth flat bottom or even a spatula can work as a great substitute.
You have the option to purchase pre-made sweet Korean pancake mix or frozen hotteok at a Korean market. However, making this delectable Korean dessert from scratch with just a few basic ingredients is incredibly easy and highly rewarding.
This recipe guides you through making the classic version – cinnamon and chopped nut stuffed pancakes. It’s a delightful treat that combines the sweetness of cinnamon sugar and the crunch of nuts.
- Flours: We’ll use a combination of all-purpose flour and sweet rice flour, also known as glutinous rice flour. The sweet rice flour is key to achieving that perfectly chewy texture.
- Instant Yeast: For leavening the dough. If you have active dry yeast, remember to proof it in the liquid ingredients before adding it to the mixture.
- Baking Powder: A little baking powder helps soften and lighten the texture of the dough.
- Sugar and Salt: These not only season the dough but also help in the yeast’s fermentation process.
- Milk and Oil: These add richness and moisture to the dough, ensuring it doesn’t dry out during cooking.
Cinnamon Brown Sugar Filling:
- Brown Sugar: This forms the base of your filling, offering a deep, molasses-like sweetness.
- Cinnamon: Adds a warm, spicy note that pairs wonderfully with the sweetness of the sugar.
- Peanuts: Chopped peanuts give a delightful crunch and nutty flavor.
How to Make Hotteok
Make the dough
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, sweet rice flour, instant yeast, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
- Heat the milk until it’s lukewarm and stir in the oil.
- Pour the milk and oil mixture into the flour mixture. Mix everything together with a spoon for 1-2 minutes until you get a sticky dough.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it doubles in size in a warm place, which should take about 1-2 hours.
- You’ll know it’s ready when the dough shows spider web-like gluten strands if you pull it.
Cinnamon Brown Sugar Filling
- While the dough is rising, prepare the filling by mixing brown sugar, cinnamon, and chopped peanuts in a small bowl.
Stuff dough with sweet filling
- Once the dough has risen, divide it into 8 equal portions.
- Lightly oil your hands. Take a portion of dough and flatten it in your palm, creating a small well in the center.
- Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of the brown sugar filling into the center of the dough.
- Gently pull the edges of the dough over the filling towards the center and pinch them together to seal. Ensure it’s completely sealed to prevent the filling from leaking out during cooking.
- Repeat with the remaining dough portions and set them aside on a greased plate.
Fry The Dough
- Heat a generous amount of oil in a large griddle or skillet over medium-low heat.
- Place the filled dough on the griddle, seam side down, ensuring they are spaced apart. Allow them to cook for 30-60 seconds, then flip them over.
- Gently press down on the second side of each dough with a hotteok press until they are about 1/2-inch thick. Be careful not to press too hard to avoid tearing the dough.
- Fry until each side is golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per side. Lower the heat if they brown too quickly.
Fresh off the griddle, hotteok can be very hot to handle. In Korea, a popular way to serve them is in a small paper cup.
Simply fold the pancake gently in half and nestle it into the cup. This not only saves your fingers from the heat but also neatly catches any syrup that drips while you eat. It’s a clever and practical way to enjoy this delicious treat!
Be aware that the syrup inside a freshly cooked hotteok is extremely hot. Take extra care if serving to young children. Letting the pancake cool for a couple of minutes before serving is a good idea for safety. However, for the fullest flavor, it’s best enjoyed quite warm, even if it means tolerating a bit of heat.
While hotteok tastes the best when fried freshly, you can reheat the leftover for later. Use a toaster to make them crispy or warm them up in a 350˚F oven for about 10 minutes until heated through.
You can also freeze the leftover by placing them in a freezer-safe zip bag for up to 3 months.placing them in a freezer-safe zip bag for up to 3 months.
Watch recipe video
More Korean Sweet Snacks
Here are a few Korean snacks that has a sweeter side.
- Kkwabaegi (Twisted Donut)
- Pan Roasted Korean Sweet Potato
- Fish Shaped Bread (Bungeoppang)
- Yakshik (Korean Sweet Rice Dessert)
- Patbingsu (Korean Shaved Milky Ice)
Easy Hotteok (Korean Sweet Pancake)
- 2/3 cup (130 g) light brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 4 tbsp peanuts or any nuts of your choice, finely chopped
- Mix flours, yeast, baking powder, sugar, and salt with a whisk in a large mixing bowl. Heat milk to lukewarm and add oil. Pour the milk/oil mixture into the flour mixture and mix to combine with a spoon for 1-2 minutes. The dough should be on sticky.
- Cover the dough mixture with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in volume, about 1-2 hours. You should see the spider web-like gluten development when the dough is pulled.
- Meanwhile, make the hotteok filling by mixing brown sugar, cinnamon, and peanuts in small bowl.
- Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Grease your hands with a little bit of oil. Take one portion of dough and flatten it in your hand in a cupping shape. Put 1 1/2 tablespoonful of brown sugar filling on the center of the dough.
- Pull the edges of the dough together, pulling toward the center, and pinch together to seal. Make sure you seal it completely by pinching well. Repeat the other dough portions in the same manner and place them on a greased platter.
- Heat a generous amount of oil in a large griddle or skillet over med-low heat. Place the filled hotteok dough, seam side down and maintaining space from each other, in the griddle and let it cook for 30 seconds. dough and explode the filling inside.
- Flip to the other side and press down on the dough with a hotteok press until it becomes about 1/2-inch thick. Do not press it too thin; you don't want to tear the dough and explode the filling inside.
- Cook hottoek until golden brown on both sides, about 1-2 minutes per side. Lower the heat if it browns too quickly. Use thick cardboard or layers of napkins to hold a piece of hot hotteok when serving.
The syrup inside the hotteok that just came out of skillet will be extremely hot. So be cautious when you offer it to young children. You can let hotteok cool for 1-2 minutes before serving. But enjoy the hotteok as hot as you can stand it – they taste so much better even if you burn your tongue a little!