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Chinese Onion Bread

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We’ve been making Chinese Onion Bread in our kitchen for years. It is a flatbread sold from street vendors in northern China that I read about in one of my very first Asian cookbooks, Pacific Flavours. Author Hugh Carpenter’s is known for his amazing flavour combinations and interesting interpretations of Asian cuisine. That cookbook forever changed what we eat in our kitchen.

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Chinese Onion Bread is sometimes called scallion bread, scallion pancakes or onion pancakes. Since this onion bread is not made from a batter pancake would be technically incorrect. Regardless of the name, this Chinese Onion Bread is a flatbread made without yeast. A simple mixture of flour and water, although nothing about gluten free flour could be called simple.

Step By Step – Chinese Onion Bread

Rolled Dough for Chinese Onion Bread
Rolled Dough for Chinese Onion Bread
Rolling and Shaping Chinese Onion Bread
Rolling and Shaping Chinese Onion Bread
Chinese Onion Bread Rolled Out and Fried
Chinese Onion Bread Rolled Out and Fried

Substituting a Gluten Free Flour Mix

When I came across a recipe for onion bread made with chickpea flour and tapioca starch I was inspired to recreate a gluten free version of my old recipe. Although this first attempt was good I thought it could be a little lighter if I used my gluten free flour mix. Then I substituted some of the flour mix with chickpea flour. After several variations I came up with this recipe.

You can follow the recipe exactly but as you gain confidence I encourage you to try different flour combinations. If you simply pay attention to the properties of different flours over time you will learn how to substitute. That is what I learned writing my yearlong blog series on How To Use different gluten free flours. Now I feel well equipped to substitute different flours and don’t worry if I run out of one.

If you are adventurous you could try and replace the amount of chickpea flour with something else and see how it works. After looking at several recipes I found some using oat flour, millet flour, corn flour or masa harina.

Sesame Oil – The Recipes

If you are new to Asian cooking, or new to gluten free, you may find helpful information in my comprehensive blog post titled a Gluten Free Asian Pantry. One of the key ingredients in this recipe is sesame oil. Used as a flavouring rather than a cooking oil, sesame oil has an assertive taste that works well in many Asian recipes.

For years I struggled with finding other ways to use all the new and unusual ingredients I purchased. But over the years as I amassed a huge collection of recipes I have learned what recipes use the same ingredients. And now that I have this blog I can share that helpful information.

So in case you were hesitant about purchasing sesame oil here are several recipes that use it. I hope you go and buy some soon.

Let me know in the comments below if you tried the bread or have a question about it.


1½ cups gluten free flour*(I used my mix)
½ cup chickpea flour*
½ tsp xanthan gum
¾ cup boiling water
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1½-2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp minced green onion, white and green part
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
½ Tbsp sesame seeds
tapioca starch or sweet rice flour for dusting
generous amount of oil for frying
*See recipe description for suggestions of different flour combinations.


Measure flour and xanthan gum into a food processor.
Pulse a few times to mix the flour. With the processor running add hot water until the mixture comes together as dough. Remove from processor and flatten into a disk. Cover with plastic and let rest for 30 minutes.
Use a small amount of tapioca starch or sweet rice flour to dust the dough as you roll it out to a 10-inch circle.
Spread sesame oil over top of dough.
Sprinkle with salt, green onions, cilantro and sesame seeds.
Using your hands roll the dough into a long rope.
Pinch the ends then starting at one end coil the dough into a circle. Flatten it with your hands then roll the coil into a 10-inch or 11-inch circle. Flip it over a few times dusting it with small amounts of flour to prevent it from sticking to the counter.
Sprinkle additional sesame seeds on top pressing into the dough, if desired.
Heat oil in large frying pan over medium-high heat.
When very hot gently place the round of dough into the frying pan.
Cook turning every 2 minutes until golden brown and cooked through, 8-10 minutes.
Cut in wedges and serve warm. Best eaten the day it is made.


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