A savory, thin pancake loaded with kimchi and fried to crispy perfection in a cast iron pan. Kimchi pancakes are good as an appetizer. Even better as a late night snack.
I grew up eating savoury pancakes at parties. They were reserved for special occasions. 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. This is really the perfect pantry dinner. You know, for those days when you get home too late and too tired to cook? This might not be your idea of a proper meal, but that’s the whole point, isn’t it?
If you want to be fancy, Kimchi Pancakes also make a great appetizer for dinner parties. Garnish with green onion and sesame seeds to make it look pretty. Guests will be eating them as fast as they are lifted out of the pan.
My favourite way to eat Kimchi Pancake?? Late at night, after the kids have gone to bed, and I’m raving, starving hungry. I’ll chop up kimchi and heat up the cast iron pan. Within minutes, the first pancake will be sizzling away.
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.
I’ll dump the finished pancake on the cutting board. While the next pancake fries away, I’m already tearing into the first one. It’s not pretty. Blowing on my fingers, gulping down huge bites, not caring if I look decent or not. Yeah, it’s that good.
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, more fermented etc. 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!
Dipping Sauce. A quick Yangnyum Jang (Korean dipping sauce) makes these pancakes SO tasty!
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.
Cast Iron Pan. Many people use non-stick skillets when frying kimchi pancakes. But I find that cast iron distributes heats more quickly and evenly. Plus, I don’t have to worry about ruining the non-stick coating when cranking up the heat!
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.
How to Make Kimchi Pancakes:
Whisk flour, potato starch, salt, pepper, sugar, and cold water in a bowl. Make sure there are no lumps.
Add green onion and chopped-up kimchi. Mix with a spoon until well combined.
Fry in a cast iron pan! Enjoy!
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.
- 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
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- pinch sesame seeds optional
- pinch Gochukaru (Korean chili flakes) optional
- Whisk flour, cold water, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Make sure there are no lumps.
- 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.
- 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.