The Leung Family Has a Secret Recipe for Crispy, Pan-Fried Scallion Pancakes (2024)

Welcome to The Pioneer Woman Cookbook Club! This month, we're featuring Kaitlin Leung, home cook, co-founder of the beloved Leung family food blog, and co-author of The Woks of Life: Recipes to Know and Love from a Chinese American Family. Read on to learn her favorite survival recipe, how Ree Drummond helped inspire the blog, and grab a delicious scallion pancake recipe to try with your own family.

Life is coming full circle for Kaitlin Leung in a serendipitous way. Before her family began their beloved food blog, the Leungs were "OG fans" of The Pioneer Woman, logging on every day to see if Ree had posted anything new (this was before the cooking show, Kaitlin clarifies). "It was one of the handful of blogs we followed religiously," she says, "and we were like, we could do something like what Ree does."

Kaitlin started The Woks of Life in 2013 with her older sister, Sarah, and their parents, Judy and Bill. On one level, having a shared blog was their answer to craving go-to family recipes when everyone was spread out between home, college, and China. On a deeper level, it became a means for preserving family history, culture, and memories through food. "We wanted to write these recipes in a way that we could actually learn them and save them—for our sake, but also for people in similar positions as us," says Kaitlin. "Kids who grew up relying on like their Chinese parents to cook them all the delicious, familiar foods."

Their website became a wildly popular catalog of Chinese home cooking and an important recipe resource for other young people living in the diaspora. A decade later, they published their first cookbook, which includes 100 recipes paired with many memories. "It's our family story as told through food."

One of Judy's most nostalgic foods was classic scallion pancakes. In her recipe blurb, she talks about wandering the streets of Shanghai in middle school and being unable to resist the aroma wafting from street vendors. "Even though one pancake cost only a handful of pennies, I rarely had money to spare, and more than once my friends chipped in so I wasn't left out of the fun. It was one of my greatest simple pleasures and I'm forever grateful."

Judy recreates the pancakes as she remembers them from childhood: small, crispy, chewy discs of fried dough with scallions folded inside. They're flavorful enough to eat alone as a snack, but you can also serve them as a party appetizer with the Leungs' perfect dumpling dipping sauce.

Reading her mother's short essay was a treat for Kaitlin, and she hopes other people can find a similar level of quiet enjoyment with them. "It's one of those things that hits the table—if it even makes it to the table—and it's gone."

8 serving(s)
Prep Time:
1 hr 45 mins
Cook Time:
32 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 17 mins


  • 1 1/2 c.

    all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 c.

    boiling water

  • 2 tbsp.

    cold water

  • Neutral oil, for shaping dough and cooking

  • 1 tsp.

    fine sea salt

  • 1 c.

    finely chopped scallions (from about 4 scallions), white and green parts, patted dry

    before chopping


    1. Step1Add 1 1/2 cups flour to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, slowly stream in the boiling water. Periodically stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to push the flour toward the center of the bowl, until the dough hook has worked in all the flour.
    2. Step2When a shaggy dough has formed, gradually add the cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, just until the dough lifts off the sides of the bowl. Give the dough about 1 minute to absorb the liquid after each addition of water.
    3. Step3Transfer the dough to a clean surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes, until soft and smooth. If the dough is sticky or tacky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough smooths out.
    4. Step4Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and form each piece into a smooth ball. Brush the dough balls with a little oil to prevent them from drying out, then cover them with an overturned bowl. Let rest at room temperature for 45 to 60 minutes.
    5. Step5To test if the dough is properly relaxed, use your palm to flatten a dough ball. If the dough stays flat and doesn’t bounce back, it's ready to be rolled. (Be patient because relaxed dough will be easier to work with and yield a softer pancake.) Brush a clean work surface and a rolling pin lightly with oil. Transfer a dough ball to the oiledsurface and roll it out into a thin 4 by 9-inch rectangle. Brush it with a thin layer of oil and sprinkle it evenly with a pinch of salt (about ⅛ teaspoon) and 2 tablespoons of the chopped scallions. Roll the pancake lengthwise into a tight, long cigar with the seam side up.
    6. Step6Press the seam closed so no scallion bits are poking out. Roll the tube up into a spiral—like a snail shell—to form adisc. Tuck the loose ends under the disc, then brush the top with some oil and repeat these steps with the remaining 7 dough balls, oiling the work surface and rolling pin as needed.
    7. Step7Finally, roll each disc into a pancake 4 to 5 inches in diameter. (A 4-inch pancake will be thicker and chewier; a 5-inch pancake will be flatter and crispier.)
    8. Step8Heat a large cast-iron pan or nonstick pan over medium heat. (If using cast iron, preheat until it just starts to smoke; if using a nonstick pan, simply heat it until hot.)
    9. Step9Add 2 to 3 tablespoons oil, or enough to coat the bottom of the pan in a generous layer (to get even coloring and crispy results.) Add 2 pancakes at a time to the pan, and cook each side for 3 to 4 minutes, until they're an even golden brown. Repeat with the remaining three batches of pancakes. (Don't be tempted to rush the process; higher heat levels will burn the pancakes before the dough cooks through!)

Tip: Make them ahead of time!Place the rolled, uncooked pancakes between layers of parchment paper, and transfer to a resealable plastic bag. Freeze for up to three months. When you're ready to cook, simply follow the cooking steps in the recipe. There's no need to thaw the pancakes before cooking.

The Leung Family Has a Secret Recipe for Crispy, Pan-Fried Scallion Pancakes (2)

The Woks of Life: Recipes to Know and Love from a Chinese American Family

The Leung Family Has a Secret Recipe for Crispy, Pan-Fried Scallion Pancakes (3)

The Woks of Life: Recipes to Know and Love from a Chinese American Family

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Reprinted with permission from The Woks of Life by Bill Leung, Kaitlin Leung, Judy Leung, and Sarah Leung, copyright © 2022. Photographs by Sarah Leung and Kaitlin Leung. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.

The Leung Family Has a Secret Recipe for Crispy, Pan-Fried Scallion Pancakes (2024)
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