My gluten-free Egg Foo Young recipe is a fantastic portable savory Whole30- and keto-friendly meal that can be eaten with your hands and made with leftover meat and veggies!

A stack of Paleo Egg Foo Young on a plate. There is a red banner that says "Egg Foo Young" and "Paleo, Whole30, Keto."

I knew that Melissa Joulwan’s awesome site featured a great recipe for Paleo Egg Foo Young, but to be perfectly honest, I didn’t really know what egg foo young was actually supposed to taste like. After all, I grew up with the understanding that no self-respecting Chinese person ever orders this dish at an authentic Chinese restaurant.

Henry, on the other hand, grew up in the kitchen of his parents’ Chinese restaurant in the 1970s, which served up all the Westernized dishes that many Americans know so well: pot stickers, chow mein, deep-fried wontons, sweet-and-sour pork. To him, egg foo young was just a childhood favorite.

A picture of the four Chinese owners of Fong's Chop Suey.

I didn’t encounter egg foo young until after I met Henry in college, and he took me to visit his family’s restaurant. But as soon as I took my first bite of these savory egg patties, I knew I had to have the recipe.

What is Egg Foo Young?

Egg Foo Young is a Chinese American dish that was created when resourceful restaurant cooks served up pancake shaped omelets filled with random meat and vegetable scraps, often topped with a savory brown gravy. It can be filled with bean sprouts, water chestnuts, scallions, roast pork, shrimp, or ham.  There really isn’t a standard recipe because it was a leftover makeover!

A side view of Egg Foo Young-ish (Spinach, Egg, Ham & Coconut Pancakes) on a plate.

(By the way, eagle-eyed readers will note that I edited this recipe to reflect the latest version from our first cookbook. The recipe I originally posted here back in 2011 was a bit different. If that’s the version you crave, just use 2 teaspoons of Penzeys Sunny Paris seasoning in place of the scallions and cilantro.)

A plate of Egg Foo Young (Spinach, Egg, Ham & Coconut Pancakes) tipped on the side.

What are some filling options?

Although this recipe uses diced ham and frozen spinach, you can add any cooked protein or veggies you have in the fridge or freezer! For example, some great protein options are leftover Paleo Char Siu, Kalua Pig, and diced cooked chicken. Any leafy green (fresh or frozen) works great in this recipe—just make sure you squeeze out any excess liquid if you are using thawed frozen greens.

Want to use leftover stir-fry as the filling? Chop it up into bite-sized pieces and use about 2 cups in place of the frozen spinach and ham.

Can you substitute the coconut flour?

For sure! You can make these paleo egg foo young pancakes coconut-free by using double the amount of cassava flour. Both versions taste great, but the coconut flour pancakes are lower carb than the ones made with cassava flour.

What sauce can you serve with them?

I like these pancakes plain, but they’re also wonderful topped with sriracha, guacamole, Spicy Pineapple Salsa, or Mango Avocado Salsa. If you want to smother them in a Whole30-friendly brown gravy, you can spoon on Umami Gravy. Also, All-Purpose Stir-Fry Sauce is a simple and delicious dipping sauce.

How do you store leftovers?

You can keep the leftover egg foo young pancakes in the fridge for up to four days or freeze them for up to four months. I reheat them by popping them in a toaster oven or an air fryer set at 375°F for 5 to 8 minutes or until heated through.

Ingredients

  • Eggs
  • Coconut flour (or cassava flour)
  • Fish sauce (or kosher salt, to taste)
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Diced ham or cooked meat of choice
  • Frozen spinach
  • Scallions
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Baking soda
  • Black pepper
  • Ghee or avocado oil

How to make Egg Foo Young

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut flour (or cassava flour), fish sauce, and apple cider vinegar until smooth.

A closeup of the low carb Egg Foo Young batter mixed with a whisk until smooth.

Mix in the ham, spinach, scallions, cilantro, and baking soda, and some freshly ground black pepper.

The paleo Egg Foo Young filling is combined with the egg batter.

Melt a tablespoon of ghee in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Use a large disher (3-tablespoon size) to plop the batter in the pan, and flatten the pancake to ½-inch thick with the back of a spoon. I can comfortably fit 3 pancakes in my 12-inch skillet at a time—don’t overcrowd them!

An Egg Foo Young (Spinach, Egg, Ham & Coconut Pancakes) is being fried on a cast iron skillet.

Fry without disturbing the patties for 2 minutes before flipping the pancakes over and cooking it on the other side for about 1 to 2 minutes more. The pancakes  are cooked through when the centers bounce back when you press down on them with your finger.

An Egg Foo Young savory Chinese pancake is finished frying on a cast iron skillet.

Repeat until you’re out of batter. As each pancake finishes cooking, transfer it to a wire rack to cool. Then, plate ’em up and serve!

A plate of paleo and keto egg foo young on a plate in front of a window.

I like these pancakes plain, but they’re also wonderful topped with Sriracha, Guacamole, Spicy Pineapple Salsa, or Mango Avocado Salsa.

A closeup of gluten-free and paleo Egg Foo Young with a squiggle of Whole30 sriracha on top.

Like my mini egg frittata muffins, these pancakes can be eaten sans utensils, and are totally adaptable to whatever fillings you have in the kitchen. Remember: there’s no such thing as an “authentic” egg foo young, so don’t be afraid to experiment!

A cute Asian boy is happily eating a paleo Egg Foo Young.

Want to turn it into a St. Paul Sandwich? Click here for the recipe I made for Al Roker!

Two hands are holding a St. Paul sandwich, two egg foo young patties in between two slices of paleo and gluten-free bread.

Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2022).


 PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE CARD

Egg Foo Young (Paleo, Whole30, Keto)

4.84 from 31 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Servings 10 patties
My paleo Egg Foo Young recipe is a fantastic portable savory meal can be eaten with your hands, and are totally adaptable to whatever fillings you have in the kitchen. It's perfect for gluten-free packed lunches!

Ingredients 
 

  • 6 large eggs
  • ¼ cup coconut flour or ½ cup cassava flour
  • 1 teaspoon Red Boat fish sauce or kosher salt, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup diced ham or cooked meat of choice
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 scallions sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ghee or avocado oil

Instructions 

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut flour (or cassava flour), fish sauce, and apple cider vinegar until smooth.
  • Mix in the ham, spinach, scallions, cilantro, and baking soda, and some freshly ground black pepper.
  • Melt a tablespoon of ghee in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Use a large disher (3-tablespoon size) to plop the batter in the pan, and flatten the pancake to ½-inch thick with the back of a spoon. I can comfortably fit 3 pancakes in my 12-inch skillet at a time – don’t overcrowd them!
  • Fry without disturbing the patties for 2 minutes before flipping the pancakes over and cooking it on the other side for about 1-2 minutes more. The pancakes  are cooked through when the centers bounce back when you press down on them with your finger.
  • Repeat until you’re out of batter. As each pancake finishes cooking, transfer it to a wire rack to cool. Then, plate ’em up and serve!

Notes

Nutrition

Calories: 124kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 9g | Fiber: 2g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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33 Comments

  1. Can the batter be made ahead and refrigerated, and then fry up a couple patties each day for a few days? Wonder if anyone had had the batter keep in the fridge sealed up? Al

  2. I have been wanting healthy versions of the comfort food I grew up with and you delivered! So many of your recipes remind me of home and I can’t wait to make them! Thank you!!!

  3. 5 stars
    I made this with leftover ‘eggroll in a bowl’ as you suggested in that recipe. Had 2 for breakfast with a sunny side up egg, as I thought the runny yolk would be tasty on top and I was not wrong! Yum!
    I am wondering what the texture difference is between coconut and cassava flour. I have never tried the cassava but might try, just to see. I did really like them with the coconut but always up to trying other things!

  4. I have a zucchini egg fu yung recipe that I used to make for my kids that is similar but vegetarian. They loved it and called it “green eggs”. I make it now on Fridays which is a fast day for us since I am Orthodox Christian. Can I omit the meat in this recipe too?

    1. Definitely! I bet you can add some sautéed meaty mushrooms to them in place of the meat and they would taste great!