Chinese Fried Dough

March 9, 2023

One cannot resist the temptation of biting into the crispy exterior and soft interior of Chinese fried dough, popularly known as youtiao. Despite its Cantonese nickname “oil-fried-devil” or “ghost,” this classic Chinese breakfast food is a beloved staple for many.

Youtiao is typically served with porridge, soy milk, scallion pancakes, Shao bing, and/or steaming sticky rice, all new to you. You can find youtiao in various dishes, from a simple soy sauce soup to a beef and youtiao stir-fry, both of which I have seen on restaurant menus.

If you make these Chinese crullers fresh and serve them with a dipping sauce of hot chili oil, soy sauce, and a splash of vinegar, you won’t need anything else.

Here’s how you make it!


  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of softened (NOT MELTED) unsalted
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
  • 1½ teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • butter
  • oil (for frying)


  1. Start by combining the flour, egg, salt, baking powder, milk, and softened butter on the lowest setting of your electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. While still on “stir” speed, gradually pour in the water.
  2. The dough needs to be worked on for 15 minutes. The dough should be sticky, but not so much that it sticks to the sides of the basin. It’s best to let the dough rest in the fridge for 30 minutes, covered. You may do this by hand if you don’t have access to a mixer. If you need more time, just knead the dough for another 5-10 minutes.
  3. Shape the dough into a long, flat loaf, approximately 1/4 inch thick and 4 inches wide, and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Just be sure that everything is consistent. Whether you’re using a baking sheet or a long, flat dish, put it in the middle of a huge sheet of plastic wrap. Completely encase the dough in plastic wrap, tucking the ends under the bread. Cool and store in the fridge overnight.
  4. In the morning, unwrap the dough and let it rest at room temperature for 1-3 hours, or until it is entirely pliable again. This is a necessary procedure, which could take more time if it’s winter. The dough won’t fry evenly if you don’t let it return to room temperature before attempting to cook it.
  5. Get some oil heated up in your wok, because we’re about to start frying. For even more security, you can use a deep, wide pan. To make genuine, lengthy crullers, a huge vessel is required. Oil should be heated at between 400 and 425 degrees Fahrenheit (205 and 220 degrees Celsius) over a medium flame.
  6. Unwrap the dough while the oil is heating up. Carefully remove the plastic wrap and invert the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Lightly dust the top of the dough as well. After that, slice the dough into 1-inch broad strips. After that, stack them lengthwise such that the chopstick is pressed into the center of the stack. Gently stretch the dough into a 9-inch long rope by holding the two ends of each piece.
  7. When the oil is hot, gently lower the dough strips into the oil. If the oil is hot enough, the dough will rise to the top immediately. The dough should be rolled out using a long cooking implement in a swift, continuous motion for about a minute.
  8. Only two things at most can be fried at the same time. Take your time and keep rolling the dough in the oil. Once they reach a pale golden brown color, the youtiao is finished cooking. Overfrying results in a less desirable texture, so keep an eye on the timer.
  9. Do the same thing with the remaining dough and set aside. One person may be needed to shape the dough and deposit it in the fryer, while a second person may be needed to roll the dough once it has been dropped into the oil.
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