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Korean Cinnamon Sugar Stuffed Pancakes (Hotteok)

October 1, 2012

Last fall I visited Korea right after the Chuseok holiday and tried hotteok for the first time.

I couldn’t figure out how I had possibly missed these scrumptious snacks during all of the time I’d spent in Seoul in the past. But then my friend/Seoul-roommate/honorary-sister Kyongsuh gave me an English-language Korean cookbook as a souvenir (or maybe because I’d recently started this blog?) and there was hotteok!

The cookbook described it as a “delectable Korean treat in the winter season.”

That explained it. All of the time I’d spent in Seoul before had been in the summer (icky heat, humidity, and mosquitoes, yes, but also patpingsu, sujeonggwa, and samgyetang, which more than kind of made up for it).

I spent the autumn harvest festival, Chuseok (which was yesterday!), in Seoul once in 2008, but had yet to stay past September to sample the changing foods of the colder months.

Discovering an entirely different assortment of seasonal Korean street food was an unexpected (but welcome) little reminder of just how much more I have to learn about Korean food, language, and culture, etc. You can’t just spend a season– let alone a week– and expect to really get to know a place inside and out; for that, you have to spend years!

(And this is why I have trouble reading most travel writing, why I am skeptical of travel advice from Rick Steves, and why I am dubious that Anthony Bourdain could really have stumbled upon the BEST of the best local food in each locale– yet still of course a little impressed and jealous whenever he gets it right.)

But back to the hotteok. Redundant though this may be from the photos, hotteok is basically baked or fried dough surrounding either a sweet or a savory filling. These sweet hotteok are filled with brown sugar, cinnamon, and crushed toasted peanuts.

The cinnamon sugar hotteok I bought in Seoul’s Namdaemun market were baked inside a cast iron mold. It’s easy to achieve a similar brown crispy exterior with this homemade version, too. All you need is a frying pan and a little bit of peanut or canola oil.

Gluten strands!

The trickiest part (in my opinion) is handling the yeasted dough, but it was my girlfriend’s idea to try making our own hotteok and considering how much yeasted bread she’s been baking, she certainly wasn’t afraid to tackle this recipe.

(Some varieties of hotteok are actually made from a glutinous rice flour rather than wheat, but wheat works, too!)

Our dough was a little bit thicker than that of professional street food hotteok, but the results were still wonderful: a crispy yet chewy warm toasted pastry filled with sticky, practically caramelized and gooey brown sugar, cinnamon, and crumbled peanuts.

Now I hope you understand why I just couldn’t wait until winter to share this recipe with you.

Oh and Happy Chuseok (one day late)!

p.s. I’m guessing that either 1. you’re pleasantly surprised by how little hotteok actually resemble pancakes, or 2. you’re incredibly disappointed by how little they resemble pancakes. (Or 3. you’ve stopped reading by now…) To the second group: I’m sorry, but I couldn’t think of what else to call them– though they are more like snacks or dessert than breakfast– if you can think of a different fitting word besides “pancakes,” please let me know!

Print this recipe.


Korean Cinnamon Sugar Stuffed Pancakes (Hotteok)
Barely adapted from Korean Favorites, by Yu-kyoung Moon and Jonathan Hopfner.

(Makes 14-18 hotteok)

~ 1½ tsp. active dry yeast
~ 1½ tsp. sugar
~ ½ cup warm water
~ 3 cups flour
~ 1 cup milk
~ 1 tsp. salt
~ 3 Tbsp. roasted (or salted) peanuts, crushed
~ ½ cup brown sugar
~ 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
~ peanut oil or canola oil for pan-frying the hotteok

How to make it:

1. Combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water in a small bowl, then proof the yeast by letting it sit for about 5 minutes until it becomes foamy.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, milk, and salt. Once the yeast mixture has proofed, add it to the large bowl, and mix the dough into a flour. Knead the dough with your hands on a floured surface until it is smooth and elastic, then place the dough in a bowl, cover with a cloth, and let the dough rise in a warm place for 2-3 hours until it’s doubled in size.

3. To prepare the filling: If using peanuts that have not been roasted, you can toast them on a sheet pan in a toaster oven or an oven at 350 degrees for only 2-3 minutes, or until they’ve just started to brown. Then finely chop or crush the peanuts. Combine the crushed peanuts with the brown sugar and the cinnamon and mix well.

4. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 14-18 equal portions. To fill the hotteok: roll a portion of dough into a ball, then flatten it using your palm or a rolling pin. Place 1-2 heaping teaspoons of filling in the center of the circle, then fold the edges in and over the filling, sealing it into the center of the “pancake.” Once again flatten the now-stuffed hotteok with the palm of your hand until 1-2 cm thick.

5. Once all of the hotteok have been stuffed with filling, sealed, and flattened, prepare a frying pan (I used a cast iron skillet and it browned them nicely). Heat 2 Tbsp. of oil in the frying pan, then fry a batch of 4-5 hotteok over low heat until browned, for 3-5 minutes on each side. Once browned, set aside on paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Add a new 2 Tbsp. of oil to the pan for each new batch of hotteok.

6. Serve immediately, while still hot! (Also good the next day, warmed up on a skillet or in the toaster oven, but they’re really best on the first day.)

Print this recipe!

Related posts:
> Pumpkin Pancakes
> Kimchi Fried Rice (Bokkeumbap)
> Travel Photos: Markets and Street Food in Seoul

53 Comments leave one →
  1. October 1, 2012 8:51 am

    Wow. I will definitely have to be making these!

  2. October 1, 2012 8:51 am

    Yum – Gangnam style!

    • October 1, 2012 9:34 am

      Exactly. :) I guess I could have called them: Classy Cinnamon Hotteok, Gangnam-style.

      • October 1, 2012 5:14 pm

        I’m just showing off… that’s the only Korean I know :)

      • October 2, 2012 10:33 am

        That’s an excellent trait in a beginning language student– use whatever you know whenever you can. ; )

  3. October 1, 2012 8:58 am

    I’ve never had a chance to visit or live in Korea, but cooking…I can try the cooking at least! Good post.

    • October 1, 2012 9:36 am

      Thanks! And yes, cooking is one of the best ways to travel vicariously!

  4. October 1, 2012 9:20 am

    Wow… that is stunning Allison! And so yummy! Bravo!!!!!

    • October 1, 2012 9:38 am

      Thanks, Anne! Yep, other than the slightly-too-thick dough, I was really happy with how they turned out– they were so addictively tasty!

  5. October 1, 2012 1:04 pm

    Stuffed pancakes? Only the best idea for a long time :)

    Choc Chip Uru
    P.S. Come check out my international giveaway for my Blogiversary :)

  6. October 1, 2012 1:31 pm

    Totally brought back old school memories, huddling around a food cart after school to get a hottoek. I am totally making this! I really enjoy your stories from Korea. Could be because I have so many wonderful memories of Korean and I can relate when you talk about Namdaemoon or hotteok!

    • October 1, 2012 4:11 pm

      Yay, I’m so glad it brought back good memories for you! Korean 포장마차 are the best!!

  7. October 1, 2012 1:32 pm

    YUUM. How do you pronounce Hotteok?

    • October 1, 2012 4:14 pm

      :) The vowels are kind of like: “hoe-talk” except you strengthen (tense) the ‘t’ sound in the middle. (Does that help? :/ )

  8. October 1, 2012 1:46 pm

    Wow- these look sooo good! Great post!

  9. October 1, 2012 5:07 pm

    Oh my. I have never seen or heard of anything like it. Amazing Allison!

    • October 2, 2012 10:20 am

      Thanks! You should try making some if you get a chance– you can stuff them with anything, sweet or savory! :)

  10. October 1, 2012 8:50 pm

    Reblogged this on boxerorbriefs and commented:
    yummy yummy … this looks sooo good !!!

  11. October 2, 2012 6:58 am

    This is like Asian baklava (with obvious differences)! Those ingredients can’t make anything bad (unless you’re allergic to peanuts, I guess). I will definitely have to try this!

    • October 2, 2012 10:24 am

      True! :) And right, you could definitely use walnuts or almonds if you’re allergic to peanuts (or to make it more baklava-like), or make it without any nuts at all– the sweet ones I tried in Korea actually only had cinnamon and sugar inside. I bet these would be wonderful with hazelnuts, too…

  12. October 2, 2012 3:40 pm

    These look delicious, I love lots of different Korean snack foods but I have yet to try these! Thanks for the post, I’m going to have to try my hand at making some.

    I also think calling them pancakes is perfectly fitting. :)

    • October 3, 2012 1:39 pm

      Thanks! I hope you get to try making some soon. And yeah, I suppose calling them pancakes is reasonable, since in the end they do get fried and flipped on a skillet… it’s just that they are definitely finger food, whereas pancakes are (usually) definitely not!

  13. October 2, 2012 9:25 pm

    These look fabulous. Is it sort of like a crumpet?

    • October 3, 2012 1:42 pm

      I guess so… I mean, same size and shape as a crumpet, but sweeter, stuffed, and no baking powder to give it air bubble pockets. (And are crumpets only cooked on one side? I’ve never made them!)

  14. October 3, 2012 6:43 am

    Ideas, ideas! My mind is trying to fit in when I’d be able to make them and what else I would fill them with! Spicy minced meat? What do you think Allison?

    • October 3, 2012 1:47 pm

      Nice! That sounds good. Or you could stuff them with some kind of chopped dark leafy greens and cheese/seasonings, like chard or kale?!

      Actually there’s a Japanese cookbook– which I am going to post all about this coming Monday– that has a recipe for a regional (northeastern Japan) dish called oyaki, which seems very similar to hotteok, though it’s always savory. Anyway the recipe for oyaki in the cookbook has them stuffed with a finely chopped eggplant mixture stir-fried in miso…

      And in Korea they make savory hotteok, too… the savory one I tried in Seoul was actually stuffed with vegetarian japchae– the Korean noodle dish made from dangmyon (transparent sweet potato noodles) seasoned with sesame oil and with stir-fried vegetables, like spinach, carrots, and onions.

      • October 3, 2012 2:14 pm

        I am looking forward to your post already! They sound promising. This is in the comfort food category for sure!

      • October 3, 2012 2:19 pm

        Yes, it’s definitely good fall/winter comfort food! Although– sorry, I wrote this kind of confusingly– I’m posting a different recipe from that cookbook on Monday; not the oyaki. I’ve still never tried making oyaki, though now that the hotteok turned out so well, I will try to make it sometime this fall! :)

  15. October 3, 2012 8:50 am

    How exciting! I delicious sweet treat that I’ve never heard of before- Such a discovery is becoming increasingly rare, so I’m thrilled to learn more about this stuffed delight. Sort of like a Korean cinnamon bun, I guess? ;)

    • October 3, 2012 1:48 pm

      Yes, I like that comparison! Cinnamon hotteok could definitely be considered a member of the extended cinnamon bun family… which makes me start thinking of ways to incorporate frosting. Hm…

  16. October 3, 2012 1:32 pm

    Hi Allison,
    These little guys look scrumptious! I’ve never tasted them but I know I’d love them. Anything cinnamon is just perfect in my world:) Thanks for sharing.

    • October 3, 2012 1:51 pm

      Hi Nancy,
      I absolutely love your blog, so I’m delighted and honored to have you stop by! I agree with you on the cinnamon, and my girlfriend loves cinnamon even more than I do– we drink cinnamon coffee every morning, and she always says there’s no such thing as too much cinnamon. (I actually increased the amount a bit from the Korean cookbook in my adaptation of the recipe!)

  17. October 3, 2012 10:46 pm

    Those look so pretty and super scrumptious Allison!!

    • October 4, 2012 8:34 am

      Thanks, they were very scrumptious! And it’s a little early in the fall still, but I think making hotteok will be my new favorite holiday-season treat.

  18. October 3, 2012 11:21 pm

    Waw, Allison! What pretty & alternative stuffed pockets! I must make these soon! They look so well flavoured too!

  19. December 17, 2012 10:25 am

    My daughters have just fallen for Korean food and we had a 5 hour marathon making 12 different recipes to create an amazing feast recently. These amazing and addictive bun/doughnut/yeasty pancakes were the finale and what a finale! I can’t recommend this recipe enough…even after 11 different types of food and a stomach doing backflips these pancakes were heavenly…give them a try, so simple but just like inside out doughnuts with attitude :)

    • December 17, 2012 3:59 pm

      Yay, that’s awesome to hear!

      I’m jealous of your 5-hour Korean cooking & eating marathon. That sounds like the best kind of day and the best kind of feast.

      Hotteok really are heavenly– and I love that you described them as “doughnuts with attitude.” :)

      • December 17, 2012 6:48 pm

        I would imagine that if you rolled them in a mix of cinnamon, castor sugar and a bit of ground cardamom they would be absolutely amazing! My daughters are very adventurous cooks and cook like this all the time. I was just lucky to be staying with them for the weekend and have taken lots of ideas away with me :)

      • December 18, 2012 7:41 am

        That does sound great. I am as much a sucker for cardamom as my girlfriend is for cinnamon…

        You’re lucky to have such food- and cooking-adventurous daughters! :)

  20. February 12, 2013 9:12 am

    I’ve never even heard of such a thing! Sounds wonderful and looks delicious. I’ll have to try to attempt it gluten free. :)

    • February 12, 2013 9:16 am

      Thanks! And please do! :) The first thing I’d try would be the more traditional (and gluten-free) “glutinous rice flour” that hotteok are often made with. It should be available in most Asian markets.

  21. March 27, 2015 10:19 am

    You’re awesome. These look amazing. I love how you cook.


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