How to Make Pancakes Better Than Your Favorite Diner
Making pancakes from scratch can feel a bit daunting compared to stirring together a just-add-water boxed mix (or easier yet, chowing down on cereal). But we're here to teach you how to make pancake batter way better than store-bought. Plus, steal our Test Kitchen's best tricks for a stack of hotcakes that look as incredible as they taste.
Unlike their fussier cousin, crepes, mastering how to make pancakes from scratch is a cinch. Start with our Classic Buttermilk Pancake recipe, stir in our tips along the way, and you'll have a reason to boast at the breakfast table. We're also dishing about flavor variations and mix-in options for the ultimate flapjack. So tie your apron on and learn how to make homemade pancakes.
How to Make Pancakes Step-By-Step
It doesn't take more than a few pantry staples to learn how to make pancakes. This tried-and-true homemade pancake recipe from our Test Kitchen takes about 25 minutes, start to finish, and makes 12 standard-size pancakes or 40 mini pancakes.
Step 1: Make the Batter
In a large bowl stir together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Ensure your baking soda and baking powder are fresh for the optimal leavening power. (By the way, here's how to do just that, plus a refresher on the difference between baking soda and baking powder.)
Test Kitchen Tip: To save time in the morning, combine the dry ingredients the evening before in a resealable storage bag or a sealed mason jar.
In another bowl use a fork to slightly beat an egg. Stir in buttermilk or sour milk (see tip) and oil.
Test Kitchen Tip: To make sour milk, place 4 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar in a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Add enough milk to equal 1½ cups total liquid. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes before using.
Mix the Batter
Add the egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Whisk just until moistened (batter should be lumpy as in the photo above). Do not overmix the batter or the buttermilk pancakes will be tough.
If desired, stir your choice of the following fruits into pancake batter:
- Chopped fresh apple, apricot, peach, nectarine, or pear
- Fresh or frozen blueberries
- Chopped dried apple, pear, apricot, raisins, currants, dates, cranberries, blueberries, cherries, or mixed dried fruit
Step 2: Cook Pancakes
For standard-size pancakes, pour about ¼-cup batter onto a hot, lightly greased griddle or heavy skillet. Spread the batter with a wooden spoon if necessary (see photo, above).
For dollar-size pancakes, use about 1 tablespoon batter per pancake.
Cook over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until pancakes are golden brown. Pancakes are ready to turn over when top surfaces are bubbly and the edges look slightly dry.
Step 3: Top and Serve
Serve homemade pancakes immediately when hot, or transfer to an oven-safe platter or pan, cover with foil, and keep warm in a 200°F oven for up to 20 minutes.
Related: How to Freeze and Reheat Pancakes
10 Pancake Recipe Variations
Now that you know how to make pancakes, use some of our Test Kitchen's best variations.
- Plain Pancakes: Prepare Classic Buttermilk Pancakes using the recipe and method above, and substitute milk for buttermilk. Increase baking powder to 1 tablespoon and omit baking soda.
- Whole Wheat Pancakes: Prepare Classic Buttermilk Pancakes using the recipe and method above; use ¾ cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour instead of 100 percent all-purpose. (In case you missed it, here's more about our best all-purpose flour substitutes for any recipe.)
- Buckwheat Pancakes: Prepare Classic Buttermilk Pancakes as above; use ¾ cup all-purpose flour and add 1 cup buckwheat flour.
- Cornmeal Pancakes: Prepare Classic Buttermilk Pancakes as above; use 1 cup all-purpose flour and add ¾ cup cornmeal.
- Bran Pancakes: Prepare Buttermilk Pancakes as above; use 1½ cups all-purpose flour and add ¼ cup oat bran, wheat bran, or toasted wheat germ.
- Sheet Pan Pancakes: To feed a crowd without all the flipping, bake a big batch of batter in a 9- x 13-inch or 11 x 17-inch pan. Our Sheet-Pan Apple Pancake recipe explains exact ingredient amounts and directions.
- Muffin Tin Pancakes: For grab-and-go pancakes perfect for brunch parties or busy mornings, bust out your muffin tin and try our Puffed Oven-Baked Pancakes with Fruit.
- Egg-Free Pancakes: Aquafaba (the liquid in a can of chickpeas), starches, and seeds are your solution if you're egg-free seeking options. We'll walk you through the process here.
- Vegan Pancakes: A flaxseed egg replacement makes these banana-infused pancakes as light and fluffy as conventional pancakes. Learn how to make Vegan Banana Pancakes that will satisfy anyone on an eating plan.
- Pancake Mix Pancakes: Curious about how to make pancakes with pancake mix? Try one or a few of these tricks to make boxed pancake mix better, then cook according to package instructions.
More Homemade Pancake Pro Tips
Have you ever wondered how we make pancakes in the Test Kitchen? For homemade pancakes your family will flip for, try these tricks our recipe testers swear by. These six next-level short stack strategies will teach you how to make fluffy pancakes even better than your favorite diner.
- Fluff 'em up. Wondering what makes pancakes fluffy? Sometimes it's some fizz. For extra airy buttermilk pancakes, replace some of the milk or water with bubbly club soda.
- Perfect your portions. Measure batter evenly using an ice cream scoop or dry measuring cup.
- Start with a bottle. Wondering how to make round pancakes? Try using a pancake dispenser. Squeeze out the pancake batter at the middle of your pancake and allow the batter to flow out into a circle. It usually makes an even orb! If you're really passionate about how to get perfectly round pancakes, try scooping batter inside a circular cookie cutter that matches the size of your preferred pancake.
- Do a test run. Take the pressure off your first batch as you adjust the temperature level of the pan and your portioning. Try one pancake as a trial, then start your first batch once you're feeling more confident about your pancake-making skills.
- Wipe the skillet clean. Between each batch, carefully use a paper towel to clear any debris from the skillet. Lightly grease your skillet and start the next round.
- Put pancakes on ice. Made too much? Freeze! Top your counter with a 24-inch-long piece of plastic wrap. Starting on one end, add a buttermilk pancake, and flip it over to fully coat in plastic wrap. Add the next on top. This way, the homemade pancakes won't stick together and you can grab as many as you need. Simply toast and top as your pancake-loving heart desires.