I'm giving you all my best tips and tricks to get fluffy and delicious pancakes out of the pan and onto your plate! Golden brown on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside, these are the pancakes of your dreams!
When I was growing up, we weren't a big pancake family. I don't know why. Maybe we were too busy eating biscuits with gravy? My only childhood memory of pancakes was a folktale about some old ladies who make a giant pancake that hops out of a pan and runs away from a fox, and a rabbit, and a horse, until it finally hitches a ride across a river with a pig that ultimately ate it. The End. That story scared the pancake cravings right out of me.
Anyway, I'm not scared of pancakes anymore. But for a long time, I just couldn't get the hang of making good pancakes. That was scary. Boxed mix or made from scratch, all of my pancakes looked like my first. Just bad.
After a lot of disappointment, and a lot more practice, practice, practice, I've finally gotten my pancake game on point! I've eliminated much of the human error and made a simple, foolproof batter with techniques that bring me light and fluffy pancakes every time! Fear no more, I have achieved pancake success!
Ingredients in buttermilk pancakes
- All-purpose flour I've seen some complicated recipes that call for bread flour, or pastry flour, or even cake flour, but for me all-purpose flour does the trick. Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour from Bob's Red Mill is a good substitute if you are gluten-free.
- Sugar Controversial, but I like a sweet pancake. I would rather have a pancake with just butter that I dip in a little bit of syrup, so I add more sugar than some recipes. You can reduce the sugar to one or two tablespoons, but you need to have at least one tablespoon to get the moisture and browning that you want.
- Baking powder and baking soda These rising agents give you the lift you need to be able to call these fluffy, otherwise you're making crepes, really. I use both because the baking powder acts twice; once when it combines with liquid, and the other when it hits the hot pan, while the baking soda reacts with the buttermilk to add even more poof. If you can't find buttermilk, you can use whole milk instead. Just leave out the baking soda and add another ½ teaspoon baking powder.
- Buttermilk Why do I prefer buttermilk over plain milk? Buttermilk not only works with the baking soda to give your pancakes extra lift, but it also helps to snip the gluten strands that form while mixing the batter, giving you softer and more tender pancakes. I know that's too much technical info for some people, so... TL;DR It's because science says so. That being said, I know a lot of people don't want to buy a special milk, so whole milk is a good substitute! Just be sure to follow the instructions above regarding the baking soda.
- Eggs Two eggs are just enough to give the pancakes structure and help them rise, without making them custardy.
- Butter Butter adds moisture to pancakes, along with its fatty friend the egg yolk, and also flavor. You can substitute an equal amount of oil, if you are so inclined.
How to make Buttermilk Pancakes
- Dry ingredients In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Wet ingredients In a large measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Add in cooled melted butter and whisk thoroughly.
- Combine Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold all the ingredients until they just come together. I like to use my danish dough whisk, because it gently mixes the ingredients, without overmixing, but you can use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon.
- Rest Let the batter rest for 10 minutes. This gives time for the flour to become fully hydrated, lets the baking powder and baking soda have a chance to puff everything up, and allows the large lumps to dissolve.
- Heat the pan While your batter is resting, heat a large nonstick pan (my preferred pan for pancakes) over medium-low heat.
- Cook Add 1 teaspoon of butter or oil to your preheated pan and pour in your desired amount of pancake batter, depending on how big you like your pancakes. I prefer to use a medium scoop, which portions out ¼ cup of batter, with little mess.
- Flip After about 2-3 minutes, look for the bubbles forming on the top and sides of your pancake. When the bubbles on the edges look dry and airy, use a thin pancake spatula to gently lift one side and peek underneath. When the pancake is golden brown, flip and cook on the other side for 2-2 ½ minutes, or until the bottom of the pancake is golden brown.
- Keep warm Place cooked pancakes in a pancake or tortilla warmer, or on a plate with a large bowl turned upside down over the top, while you cook the rest of the pancakes.
- Clean up Between each pancake, wipe out your pan with a paper towel. You might not notice it, but the residual butter or oil left from each pancake will start to burn. This could lead to your later pancakes tasting a bit acrid.
Tips for flawless pancakes
- Use a nonstick pan I wanted to be like a full-on chuck wagon "cookie" and make flapjacks in an iron skillet, but alas, that dream was squashed when I could only get the top half of my pancakes out of the pan most of the time. I'm a convert to using a large nonstick pan, to ensure I can actually put my pancakes on a plate.
- Watch your heat I used to think "the hotter the better", but then I also used to make black on the outside/raw on the inside pancakes 😕 Low and slow gets you beautifully golden brown pancakes that are fully cooked and fluffy inside. Medium-low is the way to go!
- Use the right spatula My nonstick pan can handle metal utensils, but I still prefer a flexible plastic pancake spatula to get underneath the pancakes. The face of the spatula is wider, to allow all of the pancake to go for a ride, and the handle is shorter, giving you more control over your flip.
- Nonstick spray It might sound silly, but I spray both sides of my spatula with nonstick spray, because sometimes the edges of your pancakes try to cling when you're flipping them. Silly or not, it works!
- Show no fear Don't hesitate when flipping your pancakes. Take your (sprayed) pancake spatula, slide it all the way under the pancake, and flip it, all in one smooth motion. It might take you practicing on the first pancake, but everyone knows the first pancake is like your first child; that's where you get to make all your mistakes 😂!
How do I store leftover pancakes?
Well, if you have leftover pancakes, congratulations. You are stronger than I am. Moisture loss is the enemy of pancakes, so individually wrap each pancake in plastic wrap and store in a zip top bag. Reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds, or until warm.
Looking for more fluffy breakfast treats?
- Buttermilk Waffles: Better than Basic
- Not So Basic Buttermilk Muffins: Better than Basic
- Cinnamon-Cardamom Mini Donut Muffins
- Strawberry-Peach Cornbread Buckle
- 1 ½ cup (195 g) all-purpose flour
- 3 tbs (37 g) sugar
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups (360 g) buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 3 tbs (42 g) unsalted butter melted, or vegetable oil
- Melt 3 tablespoons of butter and set aside to cool.
- Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. In a large measuring cup, whisk the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Add the cooled, melted butter and whisk until well combined.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and fold together until combined. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. When warm, add a teaspoon or so of butter and let melt. Drop ¼ cup scoops of pancake batter into pan. It will spread out a bit. After 2-3 minutes, bubbles will start to form on the edges and surface of the pancake.
- When the bubbles on the edges look dry and airy, use a thin pancake spatula to gently lift one side and peek underneath. If the pancake is golden brown, flip and cook on the other side for 2 to 2 ½ minutes, or until the bottom of the pancake is golden brown.
- Place cooked pancakes in a pancake or tortilla warmer, or on a plate with a large bowl turned upside down over the top, to keep them warm.
- Serve with warm maple syrup, fruit compote, or your favorite toppings.
The nutritional and caloric information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It does not assert or suggest that readers should or should not count calories, and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s or doctor’s counseling.