Hotteok is Korean sweet pancake stuffed with brown sugar, cinnamon, and chopped nuts. It’s a popular winter snack and well known Korean street food. Use this simple recipe with step-by-step instruction to make the best light and chewy hotteok.

Korean sweet pancake has cinnamon brown sugar syrup with nuts inside.

Anyone who visits Korea should taste hotteok (호떡, sometimes called hoddeok) from a street food vendor. If not, you are missing out one of the best Korean snacks.

What is Hotteok?

Hotteok is a sweetly filled Korean pancake made from wheat flour (or mixed with rice flour for a better texture), water, milk, and yeast. The dough is filled with a tantalizing mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, and peanut, then cooked on a griddle with oil and pressed flat into a circle using a tool called a hotteok press. Then the flattened dough is fried until golden brown and crisp on the outside, while the filling turns into a superb, piping hot syrup.

Origin of hotteok

Although Hotteok is a popular street food in South Korea, it originates from the Korean Chinese cuisine brought by Chinese merchants who immigrated to Korea in the 19th century. Unlike many Chinese pancakes, which often contain savory meat fillings, Korean hotteok is usually stuffed with sweet fillings, making a very satisfying snack.

You can buy pre-made hotteok mix or frozen hotteok in a Korean market, but this delicious Korean sweet pancake is so easy to make from scratch with a few basic ingredients.

The best part is that you don’t even need to knead the dough. Just mix with a spoon and let it rise.

Hotteok is a nostalgic sweet treat for Korean people young and old. And it seems like the world is falling for it, too.

Why not? It’s chewy, hot, sweet, and delicious!

A hand holding a slice of Korean sweet rice pancake is showing hot brown sugar syrup inside.

Recipe tips for making better hotteok

1. Add sweet rice flour to the dough

Sweet rice flour (aka glutinous rice flour) enhances the texture of hotteok and makes the dough softer and chewier. A drawback of many hotteok recipes that are made with wheat flour alone is that the dough hardens quickly once cooled. Sweet rice flour will extend the chewy soft texture longer.

2. A hint of Baking Powder

Adding a tiny amount of baking powder to the yeast dough helps the overall texture light and fluffy.

3. No need to knead the dough

You don’t need to knead the dough with this recipe. Just mix the dough ingredients with a spoon for 1 minute and let it rise until doubled in volume. You can’t get any simpler than that.

What is hotteok press

A hotteok press is a tool with a flat, round stainless steel bottom with a wooden handle on top. It is used to press the hotteok dough to flatten it into a circle shape. You can purchase it inexpensively through most Korean markets or online. Or, use any round bowl with smooth flat bottom to achieve the same result.

Hotteok press is a Korean cooking tool to press down Korean sweet pancakes

Variety of filling

Typically, Korean sweet rice pancake is stuffed with brown sugar, cinnamon, and nut mixture but savory filling is also well considered. Try hotteok with different types of fillings to suit your taste.

Some examples are:

  • sweetened fruit filling or jam
  • apple pie filling
  • various seeds and nuts
  • savory filling – meat and vegetables (try with leftover japchae)
  • cheese filling – ay meltable cheese

Ingredients you’ll need

This recipe will show you how to make the classic version–brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped peanut.

For the dough:

  • all-purpose flour
  • sweet rice flour – glutinous rice flour
  • instant yeast – if using the active yeast, proof it in the liquid before adding to the mixture.
  • baking powder – helps soften the texture of the dough.
  • sugar
  • salt
  • milk – lukewarm
  • oil

For the filling:

  • brown sugar – I prefer light brown sugar
  • cinnamon
  • peanuts – finely chopped

How to make hotteok

Make the dough

Mix flours and yeast in a bowl to make Hotteok.

Mix flours, yeast, baking powder, sugar, and salt with a whisk in a large mixing bowl.

Pour milk and oil into the flour mixture of hotteok.
Korean sweet pancake (hotteok) has sticky dough texture

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 sticky.

Hotteok dough has risen in volume in a bowl.
Hotteok dough shows spider web-like texture when pulled from side of a bowl.

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.

Cinnamon brown sugar filling

Hotteok filling is mixed in a bowl.

Meanwhile, make the hotteok filling by mixing brown sugar, cinnamon and peanuts in small bowl.

Stuff dough with filling

Hotteok filling is added to the center of flatten hotteok dough.

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.

Bring the edges of dough toward the center and pinch together to seal.

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.

Fry in oil

Three hotteok dough is placed on a hot griddle to fry.

Heat a generous amount of oil in a large griddle or skillet over med-low heat. Place the filled hotteok doughs, seam side down and maintaining space from each other, in the griddle and let it cook for 30-60 seconds.

A hotteok press is flattening hotteok dough in a griddle

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.

Hotteok dough are flatten by a hotteok press and fried to golden brown.

Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 1-2 minutes per side. Lower the heat if it browns too quickly.

Serving idea

When hotteok is just fried, it will be really hot. In Korea, typically a small paper cup is used as a holding tool for a hot hotteok.

Gently bend the hot pancake in half and shove it in the cup. That way, you can protect your finger from hot fried dough and catch any syrup dripping as you eat. Smart!

Caution!

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 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!

A piece of Kroean sweet pancake is place in a cup.

How to reheat hotteok

It’s best to enjoy when they are freshly fried. But the best way to reheat leftover hotteok is by using a toaster to make them crispy. Or warm them up in a 350˚F oven until heated through, about 10 minutes.

To freeze leftover, put them in a freezer-safe zip bag and freeze up to 3 months.

Watch Hotteok recipe video

More Korean Sweet Snacks

Here are a few Korean snacks that has a sweeter side.

This recipe was originally posted in November, 2011. I’ve updated the recipe with a minor change, new photos, and more information.

Korean sweet pancake has cinnamon brown sugar syrup inside.

Simple Hotteok Recipe (Korean Sweet Pancake)

Hotteok is a sweet Korean pancake filled with brown sugar and cinnamon. With this simple recipe and detailed instruction, you can make the light and chewy Korean sweet snack easily at home.
5 from 4 ratings

Ingredients

Hotteok filling

  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp peanuts or any nuts of your choice, finely chopped

Equipment

Instructions 

  • 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 doughs, seam side down and maintaining space from each other, in the griddle and let it cook for 30 seconds. 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.

Notes

Caution:
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!
Calories: 334kcal, Carbohydrates: 62g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 5mg, Sodium: 361mg, Potassium: 196mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 22g, Vitamin A: 67IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 93mg, Iron: 2mg
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