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58.A typical Chinese breakfast: You Tiao


How to make traditional Chinese breakfast Youtiao at home
Chinese you tiao

Oil fried strips/sticks

I also call them “Chinese churros”. :)) The way of making the two and the taste of them are very similar. So whenever I could not get Youtiao, I would have churros instead to ease down my desperation. So you can see my emotional attachment towards it. :)

But, in contrast to Spanish churros, which are more of an afternoon snack, Youtiao is a popular Chinese breakfast. In English, probably it can be described as “oil fried strip’ (‘You’ means oil, tiao means things in strip shape) – just like churros.

In the North East of China, there is a term “lao you tiao” (old fried stips/sticks) used among locals to refer to somebody who is very skillful,— not always a positive description though. :))

You tiao in China

‘You tiao’ are very popular across different regions in China, of course, different regions have different way of serving them, for example, in North, we have them with soy milk, where other places, it can be wrapped in an other thin ‘pancake’, or stuffed with sausage.

Normally people would buy them from the morning ‘stalls’ in the street, or eat them in ‘open for breakfast’ restaurants. Less and less people make them at home nowadays. … Well, almost, except my dad. :))

My lovely doesn’t trust the oil used for frying You Tiao sold in the stalls, so if we want to have it, he would still make it at home. But when I was little, my dad would make it on almost every Sunday morning. Hearing my dad cooking You tiao in the kitchen was one of my most relaxed memories of my childhood ‘holidays’.

Back then in China, people still had to work six days per week, we, as kids who just entered school, very much looked forward to Sundays. And on Sunday morning, my dad would get up around 7am, put on his favorite music, and cooking You tiao, so we could have a relaxed Sunday breakfast around 8, otherwise it would be at 6 something. — It was such a good break for the busy study schedule. (Probably you already heard the hectic schedule for students in schools in China.)

The recipe: Chinese breakfast You Tiao

Youtiao are not difficult to make — raise up the flour, make it into shapes, then fry it in the oil. However, to make it nice is not so easy. (At least to me, I started to learn making it at home after the increasing ‘foodsick’’, but failed many times).

Different kinds of raising agents can be used for raising the flour dough, the trick is that you need to make it less ‘solid’ as you would make … for example, bread, but still good enough to hold up as a whole. The most important part for making ‘Youtiao’ is, after frying, the flour dough would raise up, having ‘bubbles’ in the middle, so the ‘Youtiao’ is very soft.

Well, saying that, there is another type ‘youtiao’ is crispy, which is also good, but the flour dough needs to be very thin.

And for the shape, if you buy from the restaurants or the ‘Youtiao’ stall, they normally are in ‘stick’ shape, but homemade is normally as a ‘fried flat bread’ with some cuts in the middle — easy for separating it when eating.


Flour, yeast (I used yeast, but other raising agent if you are familiar with will also ok), salt, oil


(raising up the flours)

I normally use the proportion as 4 cups of flour, 1 and half cup of water, and 2 tablespoon of oil, 1/2 tablespoon of salt, around 5g of fast yeast.


1) Brush the board with oil, and place raised flour dough on top of it.

Chinese you tiaoAuthentic Chinese breakfast recipe

2) Press the dough down to flat (around 1cm thick, for example), and divide the big dough into smaller portions.

Chinese fried flour sticksChinese breakfast recipe

3) You can use a rolling pin or just hand to press the smaller dough into thinner flat sheet. (Around 0.5cm, probably?)

4) Use a knife to make couple of ‘cuts’ in the middle of the ‘flat sheet’.

Chinese breakfast you tiaoFrying Chinese you tiao

5) In a wok, pour in oil (quite deep). When the oil is very very HOT, (if it is not hot enough, the dough would not raise up with bubbles, instead will be ‘solid’), place the ‘flat sheet’ in the oil.

6) Keep on turning over, make sure both sides are ‘raising up’.

Chinese breakfast you tiao recipeChinese you tiao recipe

7) Then remove it to the plate.

Typical Chinese breakfast
The final result

— Done, for your Sunday morning treat. :))

In northeast China, we normally have it with either rice congee or more popular with soy mike (to soak ‘Youtiao’ in the soy milk).

Dipping you tiao in Soya milk
You tiao dipped in soya milk

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