Chinese Pancakes: A Culinary Guide

by Ella

Chinese cuisine is a treasure trove of flavors, textures, and techniques that have been passed down through generations. One such culinary delight is Chinese pancakes, a versatile and delicious dish that can be enjoyed in various ways. These pancakes are often used as wrappers for savory fillings or served as a standalone dish. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of making Chinese pancakes from scratch, exploring different variations, fillings, and serving suggestions.

History of Chinese pancakes

Chinese pancakes, often referred to as “bing,” have a rich culinary heritage that dates back centuries. These pancakes are believed to have originated during the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589 AD), where they were created as a convenient way to store and transport food for soldiers. Over time, they evolved from simple sustenance to intricate delicacies enjoyed by people across various social strata.


Chinese Pancakes

Chinese cuisine, renowned for its diversity and complexity, offers a plethora of culinary treasures that have captured the palates of food enthusiasts around the globe. Among these gems, Chinese pancakes stand out as a versatile and delightful dish that embodies the art of balance in flavor, texture, and presentation.
Prep Time5 minutes
Active Time13 minutes
Course: Main Course
Yield: 1
Cost: $2


  • Mixing bowls
  • Rolling Pin
  • Non-stick skillet
  • Brush or kitchen towel
  • Wooden spatula


For the Pancake Dough

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the Filling (Optional)

  • A variety of vegetables (such as cabbage, carrots, and mushrooms)
  • Cooked protein (such as minced pork, chicken, or tofu)
  • Soy sauce, sesame oil, and spices for seasoning


Making the Pancake Dough

  • Prepare the Ingredients: Measure out the flour and salt and place them in a mixing bowl. Have your boiling water and vegetable oil ready.
  • Combining the Flour and Hot Water: Slowly pour the boiling water into the flour while stirring with a wooden spatula or chopsticks. Be cautious as the mixture may be hot. The hot water will start to form a dough with the flour.
  • Kneading the Dough: Once the mixture is cool enough to handle, use your hands to knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together and forms a smooth ball. If the dough is too sticky, you can add a little more flour.
  • Resting the Dough: Cover the dough with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let it rest for about 30 minutes. This resting period allows the gluten to relax and makes the dough easier to roll out.

Shaping and Cooking the Pancakes

  • Dividing the Dough: After the resting period, divide the dough into smaller golf ball-sized portions. Roll these portions into smooth balls.
  • Flattening the Dough: Take one dough ball and flatten it slightly with your palm. Dip it in a little flour to prevent sticking. Place the flattened dough on a lightly floured surface.
  • Rolling Out the Pancake: Use a rolling pin to gently roll out the dough into a thin, circular pancake. Aim for a thickness of about 1/8 inch (3 mm). If the dough sticks to the rolling pin, dust it with more flour.
  • Brushing with Oil: Lightly brush the surface of the rolled-out pancake with a thin layer of vegetable oil. This step helps the layers of the pancake separate while cooking.
  • Creating Layers: Fold the oiled pancake in half to create a half-moon shape. Brush the folded side with oil and fold it in half again to create a smaller triangle shape. You'll have a layered triangular pancake.
  • Resting the Pancake: Repeat the rolling, brushing, and layering process with the remaining dough balls. Allow the layered pancakes to rest for a few minutes. This step lets the layers set and makes the pancakes flakier.
  • Cooking the Pancakes: Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Place one of the layered pancakes in the skillet and cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side, until they turn golden brown and slightly crispy. Repeat with the other pancakes.

Adding Fillings (Optional)

  • Preparing the Filling: While the pancakes are cooking, you can prepare your desired fillings. Chop a variety of vegetables and protein options into small pieces. Season them with soy sauce, sesame oil, and other desired spices.
  • Sauteing the Fillings: Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a small amount of oil. Stir-fry the vegetables and protein until they are cooked through and well-seasoned.

Serving and Savoring

Chinese pancakes, whether simple or elaborate, are best enjoyed fresh off the skillet. The art of savoring these delights involves all the senses. The first bite reveals a symphony of textures, from the initial crispness to the tender layers within. The flavors of the fillings or the nuanced notes of scallions or spring onions dance on the palate, celebrating the culinary traditions that have shaped these pancakes.


The Pancake Palette:

1. Jianbing Guozi: A popular breakfast street food, Jianbing Guozi hails from Beijing and combines the flavors of a savory crepe and a pancake. It typically includes a thin pancake filled with various ingredients such as crispy fried dough, scallions, cilantro, and a hoisin-based sauce. Often, an egg is cracked onto the pancake as it cooks, creating a luscious layer that binds the components together.


2. Sweet Pancakes: Chinese pancakes can also be made sweet by adding fillings like red bean paste or sweetened condensed milk. Roll or fold the pancakes with the sweet fillings and serve as a dessert.


3. Scallion Pancakes (Cong You Bing): A beloved classic, scallion pancakes feature layers of dough infused with chopped scallions. These pancakes are a textural delight, with a crispy exterior and a tender, flaky interior. The layers are achieved through a process of rolling and folding the dough, creating an intricate and satisfyingly crisp end product.

4. Spring Onion Oil Pancakes: Similar to scallion pancakes, these pancakes boast an intensified flavor profile owing to the use of fragrant spring onion-infused oil. The dough is rolled out, brushed with the oil, and then coiled into a spiral before being flattened again. This technique results in a pancake with a mesmerizing pattern of layers and a deliciously pronounced onion aroma.

5. Chinese Meat Pancakes: A heartier variation, Chinese meat pancakes encompass a variety of fillings, including minced pork, beef, or even seafood. The dough enfolds the savory filling, creating a marriage of textures and flavors that is immensely satisfying. These pancakes often have a slightly thicker dough to accommodate the robust fillings.

What can Chinese pancakes be served with?

Chinese pancakes are incredibly versatile and can be served with a wide range of fillings, sauces, and accompaniments. Here are some popular options to consider:

1. Savory Fillings:

Peking Duck: A classic pairing, Chinese pancakes are often served with thinly sliced Peking duck, along with hoisin sauce, scallions, and cucumber.

See Also: Peking Duck with Mandarin Pancakes – Easy & Authentic!

Moo Shu Pork: These pancakes are commonly served with moo shu pork, a stir-fried dish featuring shredded pork and vegetables in a flavorful sauce.

Stir-Fried Vegetables: Fill your pancakes with stir-fried vegetables like cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Add a drizzle of soy sauce or hoisin sauce for extra flavor.

See Also: The Easiest Egg Fried Rice (15 Minutes)

Minced Meat: Seasoned minced meat, such as pork, chicken, or beef, can be cooked with aromatics and sauces and used as a savory filling.

2. Accompaniments:

Pickled Vegetables: Tangy and crunchy pickled vegetables, such as daikon radish or cucumbers, provide a refreshing contrast to the pancakes.

Cilantro and Scallions: Fresh herbs like cilantro and scallions can be sprinkled over the filling for added freshness and flavor.

Chili Oil: If you enjoy some heat, a drizzle of chili oil can add a spicy kick to your pancakes.

Fried Garlic or Shallots: Crispy fried garlic or shallots add a delightful texture and flavor element.

3. Sweet Variations:

Red Bean Paste: Sweet red bean paste is a common filling for Chinese pancakes, creating a delicious contrast between the crispy pancake and the smooth, sweet filling.

Lotus Seed Paste: Another sweet option, lotus seed paste offers a nutty and rich flavor profile.

Sweetened Condensed Milk: For a simple yet indulgent treat, drizzle sweetened condensed milk over the pancakes.

5. Side Dishes:

Hot and Sour Soup: Enjoy your pancakes with a bowl of hot and sour soup for a satisfying meal.

See Also: Hot & Sour Soup – Easy & Authentic!

Stir-Fried Noodles: Pair your pancakes with a side of stir-fried noodles for a complete and satisfying meal.

See Also: How to Make Authentic Chinese Dry Noodles: A Step-by-Step Guide

Steamed Vegetables: Light and steamed vegetables provide a healthy and refreshing side option.

FAQs About Making Chinese Pancakes

Q1. What are Chinese pancakes used for?

Chinese pancakes have a wide range of uses. They are often used as wrappers for savory fillings, such as vegetables, meats, and sauces, creating dishes like spring rolls and Peking duck wraps. They can also be enjoyed on their own, served with dipping sauces or as a side dish. Additionally, sweet variations of Chinese pancakes, filled with ingredients like red bean paste, are enjoyed as desserts.

Q2. What is the key to achieving the flaky layers in Chinese pancakes?

The flaky layers in Chinese pancakes are achieved through a process of rolling, folding, and sometimes coiling the dough. This creates multiple layers that separate during cooking, resulting in a crispy exterior and a tender interior. Ensuring that the dough is well-kneaded and rested before rolling, as well as brushing the layers with oil, are important steps to achieve the desired flakiness.

Q3. Can I make Chinese pancakes without a rolling pin?

While a rolling pin is the traditional tool used to flatten the dough, you can improvise if you don’t have one. A clean, smooth bottle or even a cylindrical jar can be used to gently roll out the dough. The goal is to achieve a thin, even layer of dough, so choose a tool that allows you to apply consistent pressure.

Q4. What type of flour should I use for making Chinese pancakes?

All-purpose flour is commonly used for making Chinese pancakes. It provides a good balance between tenderness and structure. You can experiment with different flours, such as cake flour or even a combination of all-purpose and rice flour, to achieve variations in texture and flavor.

Q5. Can I prepare Chinese pancake dough in advance?

Yes, you can prepare Chinese pancake dough in advance. After kneading the dough, cover it with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours. This can actually improve the texture of the pancakes by allowing the gluten to relax further, resulting in a more tender dough.

Q6. What are some common fillings for Chinese pancakes?

Common fillings for Chinese pancakes include:

Minced meat: Pork, chicken, or beef, often seasoned with soy sauce, ginger, and garlic.

Vegetables: Cabbage, carrots, and mushrooms, either stir-fried or blanched.

Seafood: Shrimp, crab, or fish, usually seasoned with sesame oil and Chinese spices.

Scallions: Chopped scallions are sometimes used as a simple and flavorful filling.

Q7. Can I freeze Chinese pancakes?

Yes, you can freeze Chinese pancakes. After cooking, let the pancakes cool completely, then stack them with parchment paper between each pancake to prevent sticking. Place the stack in an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze for up to a month. To reheat, you can use a skillet or an oven to restore their crispiness.

Q8. What are some common dipping sauces for Chinese pancakes?

Dipping sauces can elevate the flavors of Chinese pancakes. Some common options include:

Soy sauce: A classic choice for adding a savory and salty element.

Hoisin sauce: A slightly sweet and tangy sauce that complements the flavors of the fillings.

Sesame sauce: A nutty and aromatic sauce that pairs well with both savory and sweet pancakes.

Chili sauce: For those who enjoy a bit of heat, a spicy chili sauce can add a kick to your pancakes.


Mastering the art of crafting Chinese pancakes opens up a world of culinary possibilities. From savory wrappers for flavorful fillings to crispy scallion pancakes and sweet dessert variations, these pancakes showcase the richness of Chinese cuisine. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can create homemade Chinese pancakes that are sure to impress with their delicate layers and delicious taste. So don your apron, gather your ingredients, and embark on a culinary journey that celebrates the essence of Chinese flavors.



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