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Green Onion Cakes

Green Onion cakes 1

I’m a bit ashamed to admit I didn’t realize what a big deal green onion cakes are, and have been for decades, in Edmonton. They’ve become the quintessential market and festival food, introduced to the city back in 1979 by restaurateur Siu To. I’ve been meaning to make a batch using the masses of green onions that nearly took over my garden, and when I finally harvested them all (and replanted the bulbs for next spring), I took his lead to make my own. Yes!

Green onion cakes 6

If you’re not familiar with them, green onion cakes are these crispy, doughy savoury cakes cooked in a skillet, made by rolling dough out, sprinkling it with masses of chopped green onion, much like you’d spread cinnamon-sugar over dough for cinnamon buns, then rolling, twisting, squishing – there are as many techniques as there are cooks making them. The process seems complex, but is simple once you get the hang of it—roll, sprinkle, roll, cut, squish, roll—there’s no need for perfection here, it’s all just a matter of distributing loads of green onions more or less evenly throughout the dough.

Green onion cake 5

It can be messy, with melted butter oozing out the ends, so roll them out between pieces of parchment. That way, you won’t incorporate too much extra flour into the dough either. A storm blew in while I was making these, turning the kitchen darker than dusk, so apologies for the possibly helpful but less than beautiful photos.

Green onion cake 4

You can even freeze the uncooked ones, still rolled between layers of parchment, and cook them from frozen as you want them. Yes, it’s like the grown-up version of taking an Eggo out of the freezer and popping it in the toaster.

Green onion cake 3

And look – one more must-make thing off my to-do list! It’s too bad this edible list is so much more fun to tackle than the other ones.

Green onion cake 2

Green Onion Cakes
Green Onion Cakes

Green Onion Cakes

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November 22, 2018


4 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups warm water

1/4 cup butter (Siu used shortening)

1/4 cup canola oil, plus extra for cooking

1 tsp sesame oil

2-3 bunches green onions, roughly chopped

1-2 tsp salt


1In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the water and stir until the dough comes together; knead until the texture is, as Siu says, the same as your cheek. Cover the bowl with a towel and set aside for about half an hour.

2Set a skillet over medium-high heat and melt the butter, oil and sesame oil.

3Roll the dough out to a large oval as thin as you can get it. Dip a pastry brush into the melted butter-oil mixture and brush generously all over the dough. Sprinkle with chopped green onions and salt.

4Starting at a long side, roll the dough cinnamon-roll style into a long roll. Cut crosswise into eight pieces. Squeeze and pinch the ends of each roll shut, twisting it slightly as you go. Flatten into a pancake with the twisted ends at the top and bottom.

5Roll each out into a thin pancake between two pieces of parchment. (At this point, the cakes can be frozen, with layers of parchment in between—cook them straight from the freezer.) Cook the cakes in the hot skillet, with a bit more oil or butter if you need it, until they’re golden on each side. Serve warm, with hot sauce.


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18 comments on “Green Onion Cakes

  1. Alison
    November 22, 2018 at 8:58 pm


    And in case anyone would like to watch Siu To making these, there’s a video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3FTJESc1GY

  2. Duckie
    November 23, 2018 at 8:55 am

    These sound really good. Thanks.

  3. Gail Ursulak
    November 23, 2018 at 9:59 am

    Dont be so hard on yourself… the pics look as good as the cakes! Darn skippy I’m going to try these out. You’re under the ultimate critic for the final say … my Ukrainian mother! Lol

  4. Niki
    November 23, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    Even though I’ve never heard of them, I thought they sounded good, then l got to Sesame oil in the ingredients and have to up the ranking to excellent. I’m a sucker for anything with Sesame oil in it. Can wait to try once l restock the oil.

    • Julie
      November 27, 2018 at 2:07 pm

      I love it too!

  5. jake
    November 28, 2018 at 9:41 am

    Thanks for the recipe.

    The now demolished Peking Dragon on 4th Street had the best Green Onion Cakes! I miss that place, although they have a take out spot a couple of blocks away ton 17th Ave that i haven’t tried. Their Mu Shu with mandarin pancakes was pretty amazing too…

    • Julie
      November 28, 2018 at 10:05 am

      ooooh, I had no idea!

  6. Colleen
    December 5, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    A mixture of soya sauce and rice wine vinegar is the old school sauce for dipping – Edmonton in the 80’s

    • Julie
      December 6, 2018 at 10:59 pm

      Oooh, thanks!

  7. Carole Mayne
    December 10, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    Thanks for posting something that looks fun to make and a different side or snack (or dinner!). (-:

    • Julie
      December 11, 2018 at 3:16 pm

      You’re welcome!

  8. Lena
    January 12, 2019 at 1:23 am

    What kind of sesame oil was used, dark (toasted) or light? I understand toasted sesame oil can only be used as a flavouring (it has a very strong flavour) and is not suited for frying.

    • Julie
      January 14, 2019 at 10:09 pm

      It does have a strong flavour, but I do use it for fried rice and other things.. usually I just add a small drizzle along with my regular cooking oil or ghee.

      • Lena
        January 15, 2019 at 1:23 am

        Hmmm… So is it dark brown or a light golden color? I just want to make sure I buy the right one, the same one the Siu To uses in his recipe.

      • Julie
        January 22, 2019 at 8:23 pm

        I’d think either would work! I’m not sure which exact brand he uses.

  9. Carol Aubee Girard
    April 2, 2020 at 12:26 pm

    Delicious, found myself with surplus green onions so had to try. Loved the rice wine vinegar and soya sauce dip!

  10. xfinity stream for pc
    April 16, 2020 at 5:43 am

    Although I’ve never thought of onions in a cake, but I’d love to give it at try now, a sweet cake with onions. Haha.

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