Paleo Egg Foo Yong

Egg Foo Yong has a deliciously confused identity. It’s not quite an omelet, almost a pancake, and somewhere beyond a fritter. It has become a 100% American dish, although its culinary roots reach back to Shanghai, and its name—with at least six accepted spellings—is Cantonese. Egg foo yong appeared in the first Chinese cookbook for American cooks in 1912, but reached the pinnacle of its popularity after World War II. The country was wild for Tiki culture and egg foo yong became ubiquitous in “Polynesian” and Chinese restaurants across the U.S. I was introduced to egg foo yong on a date with a very cute boy in high school; I was smitten with both. (For more on Egg Foo Yong, read my brief history of the dish.)


Egg Foo Yong from Well Fed 2

Prep 10 min | Cook 20 min | Serves 2 | Whole30 compliant

Egg Foo Yong:
  • 4 large eggs

  • 4 ounces cooked chicken thighs, diced (in a pinch, use rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)

  • 2 cups steam-sautéed cabbage, minced

  • 4 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced

  • 2 teaspoon coconut aminos or homemade substitute

  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil

  • additional scallion tops, for garnish

Spicy Secret Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil Mayo

  • 1 teaspoon coconut aminos or homemade substitute

  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon rice vinegar

  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced (about 1/2 teaspoon)

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • pinch cayenne pepper


Preheat the oven to 300 F.  Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.


In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk or fork, then add the diced chicken, cabbage, scallions, coconut aminos, five-spice powder, cayenne, and sesame oil. Blend well.


Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Add coconut oil and allow it to melt. Place pancake rings in the skillet, and pour 1/4 cup batter into each ring. Cook 5 minutes, remove the rings, and flip the patties to brown the other side. Cook about 5 minutes, then remove to the baking sheet and place in the oven to keep them hot while you make the rest of the patties.


To make the Spicy Secret Sauce, place all the ingredients in a small bowl and use a fork to mix until blended.


To serve egg foo yong, stack the patties on a plate top with a dollop of Spicy Secret Sauce, and sprinkle with sliced scallion tops.

NOTE:  I use pancake rings to make 3-inch egg foo yong patties; you can also make large, skillet-sized omelets instead.

Fun Fact! If you’d visited the restaurant New Joy Young in Knoxville, Tennessee in the 1950s, you could have enjoyed a $3.20 feast of wonton soup, egg foo yong, chow mein, and egg rolls.

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  • Brandy says:

    Sounds tasty. Totally going to try this. I just need to go get some cabbage. I think this could be a good breakfast meal too.

  • Lydia says:

    I have some sad Savoy Cabbage that I forgot about, sitting forlornly in my lower left crisper drawer. This is how it shall fulfill its purpose in life. YAY!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, ladies! Hope you like it. It *is* excellent for ANY meal — or make one, cut it into two pieces and eat it for snacks.

  • Danni says:

    I might make this for lunch. Looks great. Also, great article. I hope you're on the upward climb from the personal crisis. I admire your approach and candor about dealing with a horrible rough patch.

  • michele says:

    i cooked with coconut oil for the first time today – interesting. for sauteeing vegetables, totally works.

    gotta get ahold of those aminos next.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Danni –> Thank you, on both counts. I'm doing mostly OK these days. Definitely healing.

    Michele –> I found my coconut aminos at Whole Foods — near the Bragg's Aminos. You can also get them online.

  • .:a:. says:

    Looks great! Damn, I've missed Egg Foo Yung – what a great faux version! Wondering what the "Chinese five spice powder" is and where I can obtain it? Thanks!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hooray! I'm glad you like the recipe. Chinese Five Spice Powder is available at well-stocked grocery stores (Whole Foods, for example) or you can get it online. I get mine from Penzeys. (

    Chinese Five Spice is made from cinnamon, anise, ginger, and cloves, so in a pinch, you can substitue a little cinnamon and cloves with either fresh or dried ginger. The egg foo yung is also good without it, but it has extra zing and Asian flavor with it. Good luck!

  • Brandy says:

    Thanks for the heads up on Whole Foods for the Coconut Aminos. I just got around to finally making this tonight, and it was fab! I 4xed the recipe and between hubby and I we snarfed it all. Yes, that is probably a lot of food, but we are big people, and he was very hungry. =-) For the record, I used some leftover ground turkey taco meat for the protein. It was very tasty.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Brandy, that sounds yummy! Now *I* want to make it with ground beef or turkey.

  • WordVixen says:

    That's the first that I've heard of coconut aminos! I love my Tamari, but have eliminated soy from my diet as much as I've been able. Thai fermented fish sauce just doesn't cut it as a replacement, so I'm definitely going to look into this. Thank you!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    WordVixen, the coconut aminos are a gift from the food gods! They're slightly sweet, but definitely salty like soy sauce… and good for us. YAY! They're a little spendy (about $6) a bottle, but very potent so you need very little to make stir fry, Sunbutter sauce, and egg foo yung taste good. Hope you like them!

  • Amy Roberts says:

    This recipe is amazing! I just made it tonight (july 17, 2011) – my husband and I both love EFY – and this was the bomb.

    • Mel says:

      Amy! Thanks so much for letting me know you liked it! I’ve been tweaking the recipe as I re-test it for the cookbook, and I think the new version is even better. Can’t wait to share it with all of you!

  • Meredith says:

    Yum yum! I just gobbled mine up. Actually half of it, since I truly threw everything in and it got huuuge…. Your recommendations plus some chopped sauteed onion, shiitakes, and grated carrot…. Also, I couldn’t avoid the gravy, so I whisked up some chicken stock with a bit of aminos reserved from the egg mixture, plus some ground ginger and mustard powder plus a twitch of arrowroot powder (blah blah not strict I know but works for me) .. Into the hot pan after the egg was cooked, stir stir, and nom! So tasty and felt so indulgent. Better than Chinese buffet! Can’t wait for the new recipe too! Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      YAY! Glad you liked it. Grated carrot and mushrooms sound like awesome additions. I’ve been trying to find the optimal amount of veg vs. egg so that it holds together just right. Love the arrowroot-gravy mod.

  • Alison Webster says:

    I tried this today and it was really pretty good. I will keep this one in my Paleo arsenal of recipes.

  • Sarah V. says:

    Sooo good, thanks for sharing!

  • Beth says:

    Making this for dinner tonight with bean sprouts, arugula and green onions. Serving with chicken cooked in coconut oil and garlic along with roasted carrots and beets. Probably going for a little gravy with leftover turkey bone broth too. 😉

  • Michelle says:

    I made your EFY recipe from Well Fed for dinner last night, and it was a huge hit! The dipping sauce in the book is so tasty–I’m going to use it for my veggie dip this week. This meal is going into regular rotation.

    • Mel says:

      YAY! We have EFY in our weekly rotation because it’s just so easy — and so yummy — to make when I get home late from work. Love that I can throw in just about any veggies and protein, and it tastes great. So glad you’re enjoying it, too!

  • Rose says:

    This is totally a “clean out the fridge spectacular!” I made this last night for my boyfriend and a last minute guest- his mom. uh-oh… eggs and cabbage and Mel save the day! Everyone, including self-chef-depracating me, loved it. I also topped it with a mushroom sauce consisting of sesame oil, sliced mushrooms, and coconut aminos. (And I served it with a cucumber & red onion salad.) Again, awesome meal for the end of your grocery/cpa week. Just wish I had some damn chickens to keep up with the egg consumption in this house!

  • Rose says:

    This is totally a “clean out the fridge spectacular!” I made this last night for my boyfriend and a last minute guest- his mom. uh-oh… eggs and cabbage and Mel save the day! Everyone, including self-chef-daprecating me, loved it. I also topped it with a mushroom sauce consisting of sesame oil, sliced mushrooms, and coconut aminos. (And I served it with a cucumber & red onion salad.) Again, awesome meal for the end of your grocery/cpa week. Just wish I had some damn chickens to keep up with the egg consumption in this house!

  • Mer says:

    I made this tonight in honor of the Year of the Dragon. They were so tasty that I told my boyfriend he had to come over for lunch tomorrow so I could make them for him. 😉

    • Mel says:

      Hey, Mer! Love that you’re have an egg foo yong two-fer!

      This has become my go-to dinner when I don’t know what to make because I always have cooked chicken, veg, and eggs in the fridge. I mean, I guess it’s “just an omelet” but it’s so much more fun as egg foo yong!

  • Oooh, I just cooked your Egg Foo Yong from the e-cookbook and I served it with an old (really old–wartime era) recipe my grandma gave me for Cabbage Chop Suey and they absolutely ROCK together. It’s like the missing link. These two foods belong together. Best egg foo yong I’ve ever had. Love the sauce. I blogged the chop suey recipe if you’re curious–
    (I use soya sauce in my recipe because its such a marginal amount, but you can sub in coconut aminos, I’m sure…)

    • Mel says:

      Just left you a comment on your Chop Suey post. Um… YUMMY! Can’t wait to try your recipe. And thanks for the sweet words about the egg foo yong. It really is tasty, right?!

  • Elsie says:

    I just tried this with leftover “Sausage n’ Cabbage Noodles” from Everyday Paleo. It was really really good! Thanks! I love your cookbook and blog. I read your blog and MDA almost daily.

  • Angela says:

    Just made this for my little monster’s dinner with some leftover char sui. He’s 5 and loved it! I’m quite jealous after stealing a little, so I think I’ll do it for my lunch tomorrow 🙂

    (I had intended to serve it with Sunshine Sauce but someone appears to have beaten me to it. I’m assured that it is very tasty with almond butter, though!)

    • Mel says:

      Oh, man! Egg foo yung made with char siu is SO good. I wish I’d eaten at your house! And yes, you kinda have to hide the Sunshine Sauce if you want to keep it around 😉

  • Jill says:

    This and your pad thai recipes are two of my absolute favorites!! I have fallen in love with thai-type foods, thanks to you! I have a question for you about coconut aminos. I just finished my first bottle of it and was looking at ordering it again on amazon. I can buy a gallon of it for the same price as like 4 small bottles, so I was thinking of going for the gallon. Can you freeze coconut aminos? I would think you can, but I just wanted to check with someone more experienced with it than me! Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      YAY! Glad you’re enjoying my faux Asian food. It’s not authentic, but it is yummy and healthy… so that’s good enough for me.

      Depending on the expiration date, you might not even need to freeze it. But I can’t see why freezing it would do any harm. I have NO experience with freezing it, so I’m basically making up my answer. But I’d be willing to bet you could just store it at room temp in the bottle, without freezing for a long period of time. Maybe get in touch with the coconut secret people and ask them?

      Leslie’s Organics, LLC
      298 Miller Ave.
      Mill Valley, CA 94941

      Phone: (415) 383-9800
      Toll Free: (888) 369-3393
      Fax: 415-383-9804

      • Jill says:

        Great! Thanks for the info…or at least the contact info!!

      • drew says:

        Don’t refrigerate coconut aminos! They continue their fermentation process on the shelf, and just get more intense over time. Watch when you open the bottle after a while, it will be pressurized from the gas that’s made from fermentation, like any good Kim Chee

        • Mel says:

          Hmmm… really? The bottle says to refrigerate after opening. The idea of not keeping them in the fridge makes me feel oogey.

          • Jill says:

            I actually did end up contacting them about this (a long time ago, but just saw my note on here) and they said it’s shelf stable for several years! I am just now getting near the bottom of my gallon!

  • Chris says:

    I bought and downloaded the E-book to my desktop. How do I get it to my IPad?



  • Tiffany says:

    I’ve made this a few times, and my twin 3 year olds love it. They call it Egg Foo yummmm.

    I also bought your cookbook. Getting the ebook was a really nice bonus. Thanks

  • Niki says:

    Well Fed is seriously the greatest cookbook I’ve come across! Love everything I’ve made so far and I really like that I don’t need to buy super exotic stuff each week. Thanks for helping to expand my spice knowledge (and tastebuds!) One question: How important are the chicken thighs in a lot of your recipes. I have a deep freezer full of boneless breasts and would rather use those if it doesn’t make a big difference.

    • Mel says:

      Oh… thank you! I’m glad you’re enjoying Well Fed. Awesome!

      Yes, you can always replace chicken thighs with breasts. For max flavor and tenderness, you might want to brine the thighs first. Just follow the brining instructions on The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat and leave out the cumin and coriander seeds — then you’ll just get chicken flavored with salt, pepper, garlic, and the umami of the coconut aminos. Or… you can skip that step and just use the breasts as is.

  • Jsunnen says:

    Made this for brekkie using leftover meat from last night’s short ribs. I think I will add some spicy chili sauce next time.

    Thanks for great recipes! I make your chili every Sunday as my emergency go-to!!

  • Terri W says:

    Hi Mel! I just wanted to know that this reciipe for egg fu yung inspired me to make a sweetened version for those mornings when I’m craving pancakes. I substituted grated apple and grated carrot for the cabbage and scallions. Added chopped chicken apple sausage. Used cinnamon for flavoring. Added a little almond flour to hold it together along with some ground flaxseed. It has become one of our favorite breakfasts thanks to your basic recipe.

  • meera says:

    Hi Mel,

    I just made this for dinner tonite following the recipe in your book and it was so delicious!! I didn’t have plain ol’ cabbage, but some mild (red pepper-free) kimchi so I subbed that in and it was super savory. I think I could eat this every day with a pile of sweet potato fries and a couple of slices of bacon every now and then and live happily ever after. Except the kimchi might give me ghastly breath.

    My hubby dubbed it Gangnam Style. I have to agree: it rocks!

    Thanks for another super delicious recipe!!

  • Paula says:

    I totally love this recipe — it is the gift that keeps on giving! This dish has made pastured eggs, a food I’m not too keen on despite their gorgeous, orange, and highly nutricious yolks, a go-to favorite food…I’ve made it many times with whatever veggies/proteins I happen to have. Today, I must have overstuffed it with veggies because it looked more like a stif-fry after I “flipped” it…But, not to worry, it was much easier to eat with chopsticks in this form… Thank you for your amazing recipes…They have been immensely empowering and helpful in implementing a Paleo lifestyle.

    • Mel says:

      Woot! So glad you like it. It’s my favorite “I don’t feel like cooking” comfort food, and it really is great at using up weird odds and ends. Thanks for letting me know you like it!

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  • Kim says:

    Super yummy! Made for breakfast using leftover Stovetop Pork Carnitas (or reincarnitas, as my husband said :)). Also made some jicama home fries.

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  • Jennifer G says:

    Another successful recipe from the Well Fed cookbook that even my picky teenage daughters liked. And the sauce. YUMMERS. I’ll make it again tonight with the Char Sui leftovers from yesterday. I even went out and bought pancake molds so the foo yong will more resemble your photo (thicker and perfectly round).

  • Dina says:

    This was so good! My husband, 10yo and 7yo, and I all loved it. I used my english muffin rings and they turned out picture perfect. I will need to at least double or triple the sauce, because it was delicious. I added about a teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds to the sauce for taste and added visual appeal. I served this with roasted broccoli, which was great dipped in the sauce, as well. I can’t wait to try this with other meat and veggie combos. I’m thinking I might try adding in some mushrooms and carrots next time.

  • Terri W says:

    I tried the Egg Foo Young recipe; it was good. Then I used it as a ‘template’ for Paleo Pancakes. After several trial and error attempts, I finally landed on the right combination: eggs, grated carrots, grated apple, overripe banana, cinnamon, and a few tablespoons of almond meal to help it all hold together. Thank you, Mel, for the inspiration!

  • E says:

    Wow. This is absolutely the most delicious egg foo yong I’ve ever had. Like ever. My fiance freaking loves it and it’s now his favorite dish! I have both of your Well Fed books on my tablet, and use them all the time – so inspired!! You rock; I can’t wait for the next collection of awesome recipes!

    • Right on! I’d glad you guys like it! It’s my go-to when I’ve forgotten to plan for dinner since you can throw just about any leftovers into it, and it tastes awesome. Thanks for buying our cookbooks!

  • Beverlee says:

    Oh my. Bacon and Egg Foo Yong.

  • Becca says:

    Do you think this could be made without chicken?

  • Leeann says:

    This recipe is delicious! Last time I made it per recipe except adding left over chicken fat for frying. This afternoon, though, I didn’t want to fry them so made it a casserole! I know it’s not traditional, but it was the tastiest abomination I’ve ever had :p Thanks Melissa!

  • Christine Whittington says:

    Thank you so so so much for posting this recipe! I was feeling nostalgic and ordered egg foo yung for the first time in decades–literally 50 years probably–at a Chinese restaurant in Denver. I love it, but was a bit turned off by the heavy brown sauce and grease. I went looking for another recipe and when I saw that you had one, had to try it! I also very much appreicate your history of the dish, of which I was unaware. I made a couple of modifications: left out the five-spice-powder (didn’t have any and don’t much like it in savory dishes) and used shrimp instead of chicken plus a few water chestnuts. It was absolutely awesomead will be in the weeknight dinner rotation from now on. Thank you once again!

    • I’m so happy you found my recipe! Water chestnuts sound like a great addition! I have a recipe in my new cookbook that’s similar and uses shrimp — so tasty! Happy cooking. Thanks for taking the time to send me this note.

  • Heather says:

    I finally made these last night. WOW! I wish I’d tried it sooner, sooo good and that sauce is amazing. 🙂