Have you ever desperately craved a warm homemade cinnamon roll? Yet the thought of having to deal with yeast may pull you into the sad reality—it’s just not going to happen. Fear not! We have a solution that will satisfy your cinnamon roll cravings with minimal effort and time. All it requires is a trip to Trader Joe’s.
A few weeks ago, a TJ’s freezer snag started showing up all over our Instagram feed. People raved about how it’s the best product to date and posted pictures of their shopping carts loaded with bags of this treat. We quickly discovered for ourselves that Sweet Cinnamon Filled Korean Pancakes, called hotteok in Korean, are the crème de la crème of instantly gratifying desserts.
Within minutes, you can enjoy this doughy pancake stuffed with warm, sugary cinnamon paste. For us, the chewy pancake combined with the cinnamon sugar filling is reminiscent of a cinnamon roll. Every bite is comforting and delicious.
What is Hotteok?
Hotteok is a very popular Korean street food, especially in the winter. We had once read and were entranced by Korean chef Judy Joo describing the warm scent of sugar and cinnamon filling the cold street air. The article also describes hotteok as "Korean soul food."
Though there are many varieties of hotteok, they are commonly stuffed with cinnamon, sugar, and sometimes nuts and seeds. They were brought to Korea by Chinese immigrants in the late 19th century. Though there were savory and sweet versions, Koreans preferred the sweeter ones and the classic cinnamon paste hotteok remains the most popular.
How We Like to Enjoy Trader Joe’s Hotteok
Trader Joe’s hotteok comes frozen in a package with four pancakes—for just $4.49—that are crispy on the outside and delightfully chewy on the inside when reheated. They can be cooked in the microwave, on the stovetop, or in an air fryer, which is our preferred method—we do 5 to 8 minutes in the air fryer set to 350°F.
For us, Trader Joe’s hotteok tastes novel and nostalgic at the same time. The delicious filling is reminiscent of brown sugar cinnamon roll filling, with the perfect balance of sweet and spice. The pancakes are delicious just as is, but what’s life without a little fun! Try adding walnuts or pecans for crunch or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top to make a sundae. Our favorite way to eat them is with a drizzle of tahini for a delightfully nutty flavor. We also enjoy them with our morning coffee, when we’re feeling cozy and indulgent.