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How to Make Fluffy Pancakes Without Baking Powder

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: May 28, 2020 • 3 min read

Most pancake recipes call for baking powder, a common leavening agent. If you don’t have baking powder at home, you can still make fluffy pancakes with this baking powder-free recipe.



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7 Traditional Pancake Ingredients

There are a million different recipes for perfectly fluffy, golden pancakes, but the basic ingredients tend to stay the same:

  1. Flour: While all-purpose flour is the most common, you can get creative with other types of flour, such as whole-wheat flour, rye flour, and spelt flour. For gluten-free pancakes, try buckwheat flour, cornmeal, or rice flour.
  2. Eggs: For optimal results, bring your eggs to room temperature before mixing them into your pancake batter. Whisking the egg yolks with the butter and beating the egg whites separately will yield the fluffiest pancakes. (For vegan pancakes, substitute a mashed ripe banana.)
  3. Buttermilk: Buttermilk provides acid that reacts with baking powder to make your pancakes extra fluffy; If you don’t have it, make your own by combining whole milk with lemon juice, vinegar, or yogurt. (Try almond milk for vegan pancakes.)
  4. Butter: Use unsalted butter to control the taste of your pancakes.
  5. Baking powder: Baking powder, which contains baking soda, reacts with the other ingredients to create a rise in the batter.
  6. Sugar: Granulated sugar is best for the pancake batter while powdered sugar is best as a topping. You can skip the sugar if you prefer your pancakes less sweet.
  7. Salt: A pinch of salt balances the flavor profile and helps the pancakes maintain their shape.

Why Does Baking Powder Make Pancakes Fluffy?

Most pancake recipes rely on baking powder to achieve a fluffy texture. Baking powder is bicarbonate soda, a basic chemical leavening agent, mixed with a powdered acid such as cream of tartar that does not react with dry sodium bicarbonate. When a liquid is added, the sodium bicarbonate, a base, reacts with the acidic cream of tartar to create air bubbles that make pancakes light and fluffy. This effect is further amplified by the addition of acidic buttermilk.

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4 Ways to Make Fluffy Pancakes Without Baking Powder

If you don’t have baking powder, don’t worry—you can still make fluffy pancakes with what you have at home. Here are some options:

  1. With baking soda: If you have baking soda, you can make homemade baking powder by combining one part baking soda with two parts cream of tartar.
  2. With self-rising flour: Self-rising flour is simply a mix of all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. You can use this in place of regular flour and skip the baking powder.
  3. With egg whites: One way to incorporate air into your pancakes without leavening agents is to separate your egg whites from the yolks and beat the egg whites into soft peaks. This method uses the unique protein structure of the egg white to create lots of air bubbles. Gently fold the egg whites into the rest of the pancake batter to preserve as much of the airiness as possible.
  4. With sourdough starter: If you make sourdough bread at home, you’ll probably have a jar on your counter containing flour, water, and living yeast cultures that work to make your bread rise. You can use some of that starter in your pancakes to add air bubbles without the addition of chemical leavening agents.


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No Baking Powder Pancakes Recipe

Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min


  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Maple syrup, for serving
  1. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and set aside.
  2. In a large measuring cup, whisk together buttermilk and egg yolks and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl), beat egg whites on high speed (or by hand) until stiff peaks form.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the flour mixture with the wet ingredients. Stir in the melted butter.
  5. Gently fold egg whites into the batter, trying to maintain as much volume as possible.
  6. Spoon the batter onto a preheated griddle, large cast-iron skillet, or nonstick pan. Flip when bubbles appear on the surface of the batter and continue cooking until both sides are brown. Serve immediately drizzled with maple syrup.

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