Kimchi Pancakes (Kimchi Jeon)

A savory Korean pancake loaded with kimchi and fried to crispy perfection in a cast iron pan. Kimchi pancakes are good as an appetizer, late night snack, or light meal.

kimchi pancake on a plate, cut into pieces

I grew up eating Korean savoury pancakes at parties. Oh, if you were lucky enough to snag a fresh, crispy one straight out of the pan. They were so good! Bindaetteok, Pajeon, Haemul Pajeon, Buchim – I loved them all.

Nowadays, I like to make Kimchi Pancakes (also called Kimchi Jeon/Jun) for dinner. Fast, simple, tasty, and filling. The perfect easy pantry dinner, really.

What are Kimchi Pancakes?

Kimchi Pancakes are a Korean savory pancake. Made with old, sour kimchi — it’s the perfect way to use up the well fermented kimchi sitting in the back of your fridge.

Also called Kimchi Jeon (Jun), they can be eaten as an appetizer, side dish, snack, or light meal.

Generally, there are two kinds of Kimchi Pancakes: thin + crispy OR thick + chewy. They are both good, just different. For this recipe, I went for thin + crispy.

Can I be real with you and say that I don’t even bother with plates or forks or chopsticks? These taste best straight out of the pan, blazing hot, with all those crispy fried edges. Easy, fast, and tasty.

Seriously, when you lift the first pancake out of the pan, don’t wait. Eat it quickly, while it burns your fingers and scalds the back of your throat. Life will never taste as good as this moment.

kimchi pancake on a plate with dipping sauce

Ingredients:

  • Kimchi. The star ingredient. Use the best you can find. Chop into small bits — no one wants to bite into a big chunk of kimchi. Kimchi that’s older, sour, and more fermented will taste better than fresh or new kimchi. Also, pour a little kimchi juice into the batter for flavor.
  • Potato Starch + Flour. Using a mixture of 50% potato starch + 50% flour leads to an extra crispy pancake that’s also chewy but not too dense. While I’ve made kimchi pancakes with 100% flour in a pinch, it will not be as crispy as the half-and-half mixture recommended!
  • Sugar. Just a little to balance the acidic sour flavor of old kimchi!
  • Dipping Sauce. A quick Yangnyum Jang (Korean dipping sauce) makes these pancakes SO tasty!
kimchi pancake, held by hand
kimchi pancake with hand dipping into sauce

How to Make Kimchi Pancakes:

  1. Whisk flour, potato starch, salt, pepper, sugar, and cold water in a bowl. Make sure there are no lumps.
  2. Add green onion and chopped-up kimchi. Mix with a spoon until well combined.
  3. Fry in a cast iron pan! Enjoy!

PRO TIPS for the CRISPIEST Kimchi Pancakes:

  • Cold Water. Cold water makes for extra crispy batter. There’s a greater contrast between the hot pan and cold batter, leaving room for faster evaporation and crispier edges! I use cold, filtered water from the fridge dispenser. If you don’t have one, add a few ice cubes to tap water and chill in the fridge.
  • Potato Starch. The high amylose content of potato starch produces a light, extra crispy texture when fried. Regular flour alone will not yield as crispy of a result. Corn starch is a good substitute.
  • Non-stick Surface. Either non-stick skillet or cast iron skillet work great. You’ll need a non-stick surface so the pancake doesn’t stick to the pan.
  • Shake the pan! A key element to crispy Kimchi pancakes! Shaking the pan back and forth distributes the oil. The sliding motion ensures that oil goes UNDERNEATH the pancake instead of pooling around the edges. That’s the secret to all around crispy-ness.
  • Oil. If you are squeamish about oil, this recipe is not for you. My recipes calls for 2 Tbsp oil for every pancake. I’ve tried to make it with less oil. The pancake just doesn’t get crispy enough. Also, choose oil with a high smoke point. Grapeseed oil, Avocado oil, peanut oil, and even vegetable or canola oil all work great.

More Korean Food Inspiration:

kimchi pancake on plate

Kimchi Pancakes (Kimchi Jeon)

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
A savory, thin pancake loaded with kimchi and fried to crispy perfection in a cast iron pan. Good as an appetizer. Even better as a late night snack.  
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Appetizer, Booze Food, Casual Party, Dinner, Party Food, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Korean
Servings 3 10-12 inch pancakes
Calories

Ingredients
  

Batter:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch (corn starch also works)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 3 green onions, chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups kimchi chopped into bite-size pieces

Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • pinch sesame seeds optional
  • pinch Gochukaru (Korean chili flakes) optional

Instructions
 

  • Whisk flour, cold water, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.  Make sure there are no lumps.
    savory pancake batter in bowl with whisk
  • Add green onion and kimchi, into the batter. It's ok if your kimchi is juicy. Mix well with a spoon. The texture should be similar to thin pancake batter.
    kimchi pancake batter in bowl
  • Heat a 12-inch, well seasoned, cast iron skillet on medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add 2 Tbsp neutral oil (I use grapeseed oil). The oil should thin on contact and smoke slightly.
  • Add 1 cup of kimchi pancake batter. Use a spoon to spread the batter as thin as possible, all the way to the edges. Shake the pan so the oil distributes evenly and slides underneath the pancake, not just on the edges. When the bottom is crispy with browned spots, flip to the other side. Shake again and finish cooking. Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side.
  • When the second side is done, flip back to the first side and cook for an additional 1 minute. This will ensure the crispiest pancake.
  • While the pancake sizzles away, make the dipping sauce. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Remove from pan. Slice into pieces with a pizza cutter or knife. Garnish (if desired) with green onion or cilantro and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Serve with dipping sauce and eat immediately.
    kimchi pancake with hand

Notes

*The garnish and the dipping sauce are entirely optional but delicious.  
**Each pancake should take about 10 minutes to fry. Here’s how I estimated the time: 1 minute to spread batter and shake pan. 4 minutes on the first side. 4 minutes on the second side. 1 minute to crisp up the first side again.
Keyword Kimchi Pancake
15 minutes, All Recipes, Appetizer, Kimchi, Korean, Side, Snacks, Weeknight Meals

4 Comments

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  2. Grace Chen

    Hi Lis! This is delicious! I wanted to add frozen oysters to this recipe…do you think I need to change the proportion of water/flour at all? Thanks!

    • I’m so glad you liked this recipe!! Frozen oysters produce a lot of water when thawed so make sure to drain them well and pat with a paper towel. I think they would be great in this recipe but I’ve never tried it myself. You could also deep fry the oysters in the same batter to make it really crunchy! Let me know how it goes!!

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