Youtiao Recipe

This another instance where yeast is supplemented with chemical leavening for a little extra…oomph. Interestingly it’s in Chinese formulas that I see this the most. Typically youtiao recipes call for baking soda, but I’m going to use baking powder because a.) I don’t have an acid reactant in this dough — oddly, many recipes don’t — and b.) I don’t want to lose my chemical pop before I get them all fried, and wet baking soda reacts faster than wet baking powder.

8.5 ounces ( 1 2/3 cups) bread flour
8.5 ounces (1 2/3 cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) cup warm water
peanut, canola or vegetable oil for deep-frying

If desired: 1/2 teaspoon baker’s ammonia added to the dry ingredients will make them crispier, more like the real thing

In the bowl a mixer, sift in the flours. Add the remaining dry ingredients and stir them with the paddle to combine. Steadily add the water and stir about 30 seconds until all the ingredients are moistened. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough until it’s smooth, 3-5 minutes. Remove the dough to an oiled bowl and let it rise about 1 1/2 – 2 hours until doubled in size.

Set the oil on the heat while you shape. Roll the dough out into a thin sheet about 1/4 inch thick. Cut the dough into roughly 1-inch strips. Run a wet finger down the length of a strip and lay another on top, pressing down lightly to seal (this will give the youtiao the dough shape they’re famous for). Let them proof about 15 minutes as the oil finishes heating to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fry for about one minute per side and remove to a rack to drain. Eat them warm!

38 thoughts on “Youtiao Recipe”

  1. “Set the oil on the heat heat while you shape.”

    Does saying heat twice mean it really gets hot and be careful? Sounds like a great recipe to try though I’m not much for frying donuts or treats. You might tempt me!

    1. Hehe…yes you caught me reciting a magical incantation. I’ll fix that.


      – Joe

      1. We always knew there was a bit of magic in what you do. BTW, the Red Velvet Cake recipe turned out great and the nonagenarian (who knew that was the term for 90+!) had a wonderful time and enjoyed it. I highly recommend the recipe to anyone looking for a good Red Velvet Cake.

        1. Fabulous to hear, Linda! Thanks for reporting back on that. I always want the feedback!


          – Joe

  2. Lawdy: dontcha ya hate people who point out the typos.

    “…and wet baking powder reacts faster than wet baking powder…”

    Well, either it does or it doesn’t…


    1. I depend on people spotting my idiocy, Ted!

      Let’s make the first incidence “soda” and call it a day! Thanks,

      – Joe

  3. Hi Joe!!

    I love your website and I’ve tried some of your recipes. The yeast doughnut was great, and the pizza was delicious.
    I’m also from Indonesia, I usually call it cakue. I was looking around your web yesterday and found this recipe. Actually I’ve been looking for simple and easy youtiao recipe, since the recipes I’ve found in my country are using ammonia powder for raising the dough. I haven’t tried those recipes since my mom doesn’t like if I use ammonia powder for cooking.
    Anyway, I tried your recipe today. The result was great and my mom loves it! I’ll make it again this Saturday morning and eat it with a bowl of hot porridge.

    Thank you so much Joe!

    Love from Indonesia,

    Maybe you can try cooking some Indonesia traditional cakes too if you like or interested.:)

    1. I’m delighted to hear that, Midia! There really is no reason to use baker’s ammonia in something like this, unless of course you are accustomed to the flavor. Baking powder works just as well!

      And I’d love to try some traditional Indonesian cakes. Where should I start? And more importantly, do you have any recipes? 😉


      – Joe

      1. Hi Joe!

        Actually there are many delicious traditional Indonesian cakes, we call it “kue” here. There are Bika Ambon, Lapis Legit (a Dutch-Indonesian layered cake), Klappertaart, Kue Mangkok (Mangkok: bowl), Kue Serabi, Martabak, and others. We have traditional bread like Kue Ku Terigu (almost the same like baozi but the filling is sweet mashed potato), Roti Bakso (the filling is sweet minced pork, using palm sugar), and we also have many traditional cookies. Many traditional Indonesian cakes using coconut milk, we don’t use cream or milk like western cakes, so it’s very tasty.

        I just learned how to cook recently, not an expert like you, hahahaha… I wish I had good recipes, my grandma was very good at cooking traditional cakes but she had passed away. Later when I get the recipe I definitely share it & it will be my pleasure can share it with you. 🙂


        1. Sounds good, Midia!

          In the meantime I’ll look around for some good Indonesian recipes!


          – Joe

  4. Hi Joe,

    Finally found the youtiao, because i want to make jian bing.
    We love lentil flour, so can i use that for the youtiao???
    Does it mix with the rest of the taste from the jian bing???
    Boy, all this makes me drooling and then running to the kitchen.


    1. Hey Louise!

      You can use a little, maybe about 25%, but if you do that make sure that the rest of the flour is bread flour to make up for the gluten loss. You’ll need it to get those nice big bubbles in the finished youtaio. Best of luck and let me know how they turn out!


      – Joe

  5. Hi Joe,

    Just tried your recipe and it tastes spot on! It’s a great compliment to chicken porridge. Thank you so much!

    1. Great to hear, Emilie! I’m gratified to hear that as I plan to have some Chinese friends over for some this month. I won’t be as nervous now!

      – Joe

  6. Hello! I’m interested in trying out this recipe to use in Jian Bing pancakes and I was wondering once you’ve made these how long do they keep for?

    1. Hello Keeley!

      Like any type of fried dough they’re best eaten as soon as they’re made since they start to lose their crisp right away. They’ll still be very nice for several hours afterward, but warm is the best way to serve them.

      – Joe

      1. Thanks Joe! I made them the other day and they were so yummy after I served them there were none left to keep anyway! 🙂

  7. Hi Joe,

    Love your site and eecially appreciate your branching out o test youtaio. In answer to questions that have come up about substitutions:

    Alum is a slow release, heat activated leavener, as is ammonium bicarbonate. Baking soda and cream of tartar are immediate release leaveners. Both soda and cream of tartar work well for doughs that aren’t handled much and are cooked immediately. The latter two are not very helpful in making youtaio as most of the co2 needed to provide the large air pockets will have dissipated long before the youtaio are fried. Most of the recipes on the web seem to be variations made by home cooks to avoid alum and ammonium bicarbonate. Unfortunately, most are not aware of the differnces in leaveners. Your choice of double acting baking powder mitigates much of that co2 loss. Harold McGee is a great resource for food science info.

    The recipes calling for just soda without a neutralizing acid probably rely on the baking soda for that vague alkaline flavor that is characteristic of youtaio..

  8. My school had a function where each group was a different country and my group was Singapore. I was in charge of food (because I’m studying to be a chef) and we made four dishes including Youtiao with some Kaya. Your recipe was amazing 😀 it was a big hit. Thank you so much.

    1. Wonderful news, Ammarrah!

      Thank you for getting back to me about it!

      – Joe

  9. So…can you tiao be microwaved? I have to get some for my project presentation at around 8am but the latest i can get you tiao is at 6.15am…

    1. Hello!

      They can be microwaved, but the effect is not as good as steaming. They warm and expand to some degree, but are not as moist and tender. Best of luck whatever you decide to do!


      – Joe

  10. Nice! Usually the inside is a bit less bready (more empty) – but that might just be my personal taste, or the way the place I usually hit up for breakfast makes them 😀 Please continue to venture into Chinese pastry – I challenge you to ??? (super flaky lard pastry encasing a wintermelon paste filling) next — my personal favorite.

  11. Hi Joe! Your recipe looks good based on the comments! I was curious though, how long can i keep the formed dough before I fry it? Refrigerated or room temp? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hey Colin!

      The dough will keep in the fridge for about three days. My suggestion is to start the chilling after the first half hour or so of rising. Beside to let it warm up for at least half an hour once it’s out of the fridge!

      Cheers and have fun!

      – Joe

  12. hi Joe,
    Tks for your youtiao recipe. We tried it and the color and inside honeycomb texture was good. However, immediately after taking it out of the frying pan, it cooled down and went soft. There was no crispiness at all. What is it that we are not doing right? Kindly advise. Thanks so much.

    1. Hello KB!

      Sorry for the late reply. The original youtaio have a small amount of ammonium carbonate (baker’s ammonia) in them. This gives them that crispier texture you are after. Baker’s ammonia can easily be found online. Add 1/2 teaspoon to this recipe to get the effect you want.

      Have fun!

      – Joe

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