This okonomiyaki recipe proves that weeknight dinners don't have to be boring! It cooks in a flash, and it's healthy, delicious, and super fun to make.
When you think of pantry recipes, okonomiyaki might not be the first thing that comes to mind. It certainly wasn’t for Jack and me. Over the last few weeks, we cooked our way through a whole slew of bean recipes, rice recipes, and pasta recipes before it dawned on us that we had everything we needed to make this popular Japanese street food right in our kitchen!
Jack and I first tried okonomiyaki on a trip to Japan nearly ten years ago, and we’ve loved it ever since. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s sort of a frittata-like Japanese savory pancake made with cabbage, scallions, and assorted meat or seafood (Jack often calls it a cabbage hashbrown). This homemade version isn’t entirely authentic, but it’s healthy, delicious, and so darn easy to make. If you’re looking for a fun cooking project that doesn’t require hours in the kitchen, you have to try this okonomiyaki recipe!
The first time I tried okonomiyaki, Jack and I were in Hiroshima. In Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, layers of fried vegetables, meat, seafood, noodles, and eggs top a thin flour pancake. It’s delicious, but it’s tricky to replicate on a regular stove at home.
Instead, my recipe is a riff on Osaka or Kansai-style okonomiyaki. In this style, the ingredients are all mixed together. Typically, they include cabbage, green onion, and some combination of meat and seafood like pork belly, octopus, squid, or shrimp. Of course, my recipe is vegetarian, so you won’t find any meat or seafood here.
Instead, I mix together lots of shaved cabbage, scallions, and panko breadcrumbs. Then, I tie it all together with a few beaten eggs. It’s super easy and super tasty too. 🙂
Once you’ve cooked your okonomiyaki, it’s time for the fun part: the toppings! In Japan, it’s traditionally topped with okonomiyaki sauce, drizzles of Kewpie mayo, dried seaweed flakes, and bonito flakes. At home, I like to use these ingredients:
- Vegan Worcestershire sauce – Traditional okonomiyaki sauce contains oyster sauce, so it isn’t entirely vegetarian. Instead, I top mine with Annie’s vegan Worcestershire sauce. It actually has a fairly similar ingredient list to regular okonomiyaki sauce, but it’s entirely plant-based! Its sweet umami flavor is fantastic in this recipe. If you can’t find it, use a drizzle of tamari or soy sauce instead.
- Mayo – If you can find Kewpie mayo, I highly recommend using it here. It’s made with rice vinegar, so it really complements the Japanese flavors in this recipe. Otherwise, Sir Kensington’s is my go-to because it has great flavor as well.
- Nori – Nori keeps for months in the pantry, so I almost always have it on hand. Its umami flavor really takes this recipe over the top.
- Pickled ginger – It adds a sweet, tangy pop of flavor.
- Sesame seeds – Sprinkle them on top of the pancake to add toasty, nutty crunch.
- Extra scallions and microgreens – Because I can never resist topping anything with fresh garnishes!
Use all of these toppings, or just choose a few. Then, dig in, and enjoy!
Okonomiyaki Recipe Tips
- Shred the cabbage finely. These come out best when they’re made with really thin shreds of cabbage. If your cabbage is too chunky, they won’t hold together well, and they’ll have a denser, less delicate texture. I always use my mandoline when I make this recipe. If you don’t have one, finely shred the cabbage in a food processor or with a sharp knife.
- Don’t pack it down too much. When you add the mixture to your skillet, gently press it down with a spatula until it’s about 1/2 inch thick. Your goal is just to get the loose mixture to come together. Don’t press it down too much, or your okonomiyaki will be dense.
- Eat it right away. Like many egg-based dishes, okonomiyaki is best hot off the stove.
More Favorite Japanese-Inspired Recipes
If you love this okonomiyaki recipe, try one of these Japanese-inspired recipes next:
- Matcha Green Tea
- Tamago Kake Gohan
- Sesame Soba Noodles
- Shiitake Maki Sushi
- Avocado Cucumber Sushi
- Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream
- 3 packed cups finely shredded cabbage, about ½ medium*
- 1¼ cups chopped scallions, about 1 bunch
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- 3 eggs, beaten
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
- Vegan Worcestershire sauce, (Annie’s recommended)
- Mayo, (Sir Kensington’s or Kewpie recommended)
- Sesame seeds
- Pickled ginger
- ½ sheet nori, sliced**
- ½ cup microgreens, optional
- In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, scallions, panko, and salt. Gently mix in the eggs. (Note: the mixture will be very loose and cabbagey, not like a flour pancake batter. If it's very dry, let it sit for 10 minutes).
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Brush the skillet with olive oil and use a ¼ measuring cup to scoop the cabbage mixture into the skillet. (It's ok if it doesn't seem cohesive, it'll bind together as the egg cooks). Flatten gently with a spatula so that the mixture is about 1/2 inch thick. Cook 3 minutes per side, or until browned, turning the heat to low as needed. Repeat with the remaining mixture, wiping out the skillet and brushing more oil, as needed.
- Drizzle the okonomiyaki with Worcestershire sauce and thin strips of squeezed mayo. Top with sesame seeds, pickled ginger, and nori. Sprinkle with microgreens, if desired. Serve hot.
**Use scissors to cut nori into thin strips.
Oh my! This was outstanding! Very easy – exactly as written. I made three “pancakes” – about 1 cup each of batter which I spread out by hand into each little non-stick frying pan to 1/2” thick. I did add a fried egg on each since each seemed small for dinner. Now I can make larger pancakes in larger pans for next time. I didn’t want to modify the recipe too much (other than adding grated ginger into the batter for extra gingeriness). I did read all the reviews and flipped at the 5 min point which was perfect on low/medium heat. Nothing broke.
I’m so glad you loved it!
This has become a staple in my house, so thank you so much for turning me on to it.. I sometimes add grated daikon radish (Korean mu) if I have a lot, and keep the recipe simple. I use flour, rather than panko, and they hold together well while cooking.. My latest food crush has me adding Spicy Chili Crisp to the batter, along with a dash of soy sauce and a dash of black vinegar.. You can mix up the topping, with anything from nothing to a thin drizzle of teriyaki sauce, to the worcester sauce included here. They’re all good, and one of my favorite ways to add more cabbage to my diet. Google gives hundreds of variations of Okonomiyaki . I’m going to try chopping some kimchi into it next.
I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed it – thank you for these variation ideas, they sound delicious!
One of my favourite healthy snacks, I add bacon.
Hi Tommy, so glad you love the recipe!
Didn’t bind into a pancake, pieces broke when cooking
Hi Benny, yes, these are delicate! To help prevent them from breaking apart, I recommend waiting until they’re fully set on the first side, about 3 minutes, before flipping.
This was really good. I subbed out some of the veggies and added an extra egg (it was still tricky to keep together while cooking).
I put it on sushi rice with salmon, & it was perfect. This was the kind of food magic I love, where the end result seems much more than merely the sum of its parts.
I’m so glad you loved it!