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Gluten Free Okonomiyaki (Japanese Cabbage Pancake)

This gluten-free okonomiyaki is a healthy twist on the savory Japanese cabbage pancake! Topped with bacon, scallions, and spicy mayo for an extra kick.

Overhead view of Gluten Free Okonomiyaki (Japanese Cabbage Pancake)  on a white plate drizzled with sauce

There’s this restaurant here in Charleston called Xiao Bao Biscuit. It’s housed in an old gas station, with picnic tables in the parking lot as an eating area. And it was at this gas station turned restaurant that I first encountered the food wonder that is okonomiyaki, otherwise known as a Japanese cabbage pancake.

They serve their okonomiyaki with some different topping options – it automatically comes with the spicy Sriracha mayo, but you can add a fried egg, crumbled bacon, or even candied bacon on top – and if you’re feeling ambitious, you can go for all three.

Don’t get me wrong -I love some candied bacon. And I’m all about finding balance. But I’ve learned over the years that my body is much happier when I go gluten free, and I want to eat these cabbage pancakes all day, erryday.

So, I decided to attempt my hand at a paleo okonomiyaki recipe. It took me quite a few tries, and like most of my recipe testing scenarios, I was a bit sick of okonomiyaki by the time I was done, but I finally got it nailed down.

And, this best part is that this recipe is completely paleo – gluten free, grain free, soy free…nothing but good for you, healthy, ingredients!

How to make gluten free okonomiyaki

This recipe ended up being easier than I expected. (I don’t know why I expected it to be hard, but I did. It isn’t.)

You’re going to whisk all your batter ingredients together in a bowl, then dump in your cabbage and carrots and toss them around to coat. Here’s what your batter should look like, before the cabbage and carrots go in:

Side view of batter in stainless mixing bowl with whisk for Gluten Free Okonomiyaki (Japanese Cabbage Pancake)

Once cabbage and carrots are added, you just scoop some out into the pan greased with coconut oil, pat it down and spread it out into a flat, round, single layer, and let cook for a few minutes on each side until its browned and cooked through.

What goes in cabbage pancakes?

First things first, make sure you get a paleo fish sauce – Red Boat fish sauce is my favorite brand. It’s a little pricey, but it will last you forever because you use so little of it at a time. Just to show you how long it will last – I just checked my Amazon account, and I purchased the bottle I have in January of 2015, and it’s 2017 when I’m writing this. It’s still more than half full. For-ev-er, I’m telling you.

For the toasted sesame oil, I buy mine at Trader Joe’s. There’s no need to pay a bunch of money for that, you can probably find an inexpensive bottle at your local grocery.

You’ll need a couple of gluten free flours as well – specifically, almond and coconut. I haven’t tested this recipe with any other variations, so I can’t say if anything else will work.

And cabbage and carrots, of course.

How to serve your Okonomiyaki

I served my gluten free okonomiyaki topped with bacon crumbles, green onions, and some Sriracha mayo.

Overhead view of Okonomiyaki (Japanese Cabbage Pancake) on white plate with toppings in blue bowls nearby

Get creative! The okonomiyaki itself doesn’t have a super strong flavor, so you can feel free to top it with a variety of ingredients depending on what you’re feeling like at the time.

I skipped the fried egg this time, but adding one definitely steps it up a notch – especially with the bacon.

What did you end up topping your okonomiyaki with? Let me know in the comments!

side view of hand holding fork cutting into an Okonomiyaki (Japanese Cabbage Pancake)
Okonomiyaki (Japanese Cabbage Pancake)

Gluten Free Okonomiyaki (Japanese Cabbage Pancake)

Yield: 4 pancakes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This recipe for Okonomiyaki ,or Japanese Cabbage Pancakes, is a gluten free and paleo version of a favorite. It's even Whole30 compliant! 

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut flour
  • 3 Tablespoons water*
  • 4-5 cups shredded cabbage, (10 oz bag)
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • diced green onions
  • diced bacon
  • sriracha mayo

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, aminos, sesame oil, vinegar, and fish sauce and whisk until smooth. 
  2. Add the salt, almond flour, and coconut flour to the mixture and whisk again to combine. 
  3. Add the water a tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition. You're looking to thin the batter out a bit, but not to make it runny. Different almond flours and coconut flours absorb liquid differently - you may not need all 3 tablespoons! 
  4. Add the shredded cabbage and carrot to the batter, and toss to combine and coat everything. If it still feels to dry, add a bit more water. 
  5. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add 1/2 tablespoon of the coconut oil to coat the pan. 
  6. Scoop out 1/4 of the batter into the pan, and using the back of your scoop or a spatula, spread it out into a single layer. 
  7. Cook 3-5 minutes, then flip and cook 2-3 minutes more or until browned and batter is cooked through. 
  8. Serve topped with bacon, green onions, and sriracha mayo, or with toppings of your choice - get creative! 

Notes

*Don't add all your water at once! Add it a bit at a time until you have the batter consistency you're looking for. 

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 pancake
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 461Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 103mgSodium: 604mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 17gSugar: 24gProtein: 19g

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Elizabeth

Friday 13th of November 2020

Is there a way to make these egg free? We just found out my littlest has a severe egg allergy so looking for new breakfast ideas and this looks like one my man would enjoy!

Jessica

Wednesday 18th of November 2020

Hi Elizabeth! I'm sorry to hear about your son's egg allergy, that must be tough. A typical egg substitute is what is called a flax egg, which is 1 Tbsp of flax meal mixed with 2.5 Tbsp of water. You would pre mix these together to make the "egg" and then use it as you normally would.

As a disclaimer, I have not tried using a flax egg in this recipe, so I don't know how it will hold up, or if it will hold them together, but it is certainly worth a shot!

Anna

Monday 7th of September 2020

Hi! Have you ever tried storing the batter/veggie mix in the fridge and just making a couple at a time? I love these so much!

Jessica

Thursday 10th of September 2020

Hi Anna - I have done this! I've actually made the batter and mix the night before and then made them the next day. It should be fine for a few days!

Rose

Monday 9th of March 2020

I love this recipe, worked a treat for me I didn't have your topping ingredients at home though, so used a lemony cashew sauce and finely chopped tomatoes from the garden. Not very traditional, but delish :)

Jessica

Wednesday 11th of March 2020

Rose, that sounds delicious! So fresh and bright. I can't wait to try it out!

Hanna

Saturday 24th of August 2019

I made these last week and they were soooooo delicious! I didn't make the pancake small enough so it ripped when I tried to flip it, but it still tasted super yummy. My partner said it was the best meal I made all year : )

Jessica

Wednesday 28th of August 2019

Hi Hanna, so glad you guys enjoyed it! They are one of our favorites too. :)

Diana

Thursday 11th of July 2019

How awesome to have found this after eating at xiao bao and wanting to recreate a healthier version! I'm excited to try this!

Jessica

Friday 12th of July 2019

Yay! So glad I could help. I love love love xiao bao but needed a gluten free pancake. Let me know how you like it!

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