Culinary Arts

How to Make the Best Pancakes: Tips and Recipe for Homemade Pancakes

Written by MasterClass

Mar 6, 2019 • 3 min read

Whether served in a towering stack or eaten one by one as they come off the skillet, pancakes are an undeniable breakfast, brunch—and yes, breakfast-for-dinner—classic.


What are Pancakes?

Pancakes are a light, flat cake made from flour, eggs, milk, and butter, often prepared on a frying pan or a griddle. They can be made sweet or savory to best compliment the rest of a spread, and can contain a plethora of delicious mix-ins for creative variations.

What are Classic Pancake Ingredients?

Like most breakfast recipes, pancakes are flexible enough to customize for everyone at the table. Basic pancakes always feature:

  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Baking powder
  • Sugar
  • Salt

Once you have a handle on the simple pancake, add fruits, candies, or nuts to the batter and get inventive with the toppings for a perfect finish.

4 Tips for Making Perfect Pancakes

  • Don’t overmix. You want little air pockets throughout the finished pancakes, and overmixing will knock all the bubbles out of your batter. Not only that, gluten begins to form as soon as the flour interacts with the wet ingredients—work it too much and you’ll have a tough, too-spongy pancake.
  • Use cast-iron. For even heat distribution when cooking, use a heavy non-stick griddle, or a well-seasoned cast iron skillet.
  • Make a test batch. Think of making pancakes in rounds. Your first round is a test batch. that will allow you to practice your flipping technique and adjust heat accordingly. No one has to see (or eat) these but you!
  • Avoid squishing with the spatula. After you flip, don’t press down with your spatula. This one seems obvious, but let the pancake do its thing naturally—remember, you don’t want to squish the lift.

Common Substitutions for All-Purpose Flour in Pancakes

Play around with the type of flour you use in pancakes for different flavor profiles and textures. Go for wholesome grains or make your pancakes gluten-free. Try:

  • Brown rice flour
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Corn flour
  • Buckwheat flour
  • Oat flour
  • Gluten-free flour (Widely available in grocery stores.)

How to Make Pancakes Without Eggs

Eggs help with structure and moisture in pancakes. When substituting, look for ingredients with similar properties. Try:

  • ¼ cup mashed bananas
  • ¼ cup yogurt
  • 1 tsp baking powder mixed with 1 tsp vegetable oil and 2 tbsp water

How to Make Pancakes Without Baking Powder

Because baking powder is baking soda combined with an acidic compound (like cream of tartar), you can easily substitute baking soda with 1 tbsp of another type of acid, like lemon juice or even buttermilk. If you have neither, simply mix batter as is for a stack of thin, lacy, crepe-style pancakes—and reserve any preferred mix-ins for a topping.

a stack of pancakes covered in syrup


Easy, Fluffy Pancakes Recipe

Ingredient Checklist

Total Time 20 min | Cook Time 15 min | Prep Time 5 min | Serving 1 Medium Pancake, Serves 12

There’s really no need to turn to boxed pancake mix: homemade pancakes are very simple and satisfying to make.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, vanilla extract, and egg.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Gently whisk to combine, until no floury bits remain. Add the melted butter and stir well.
  4. Heat a drizzle of vegetable oil or clarified butter (like ghee—regular butter will burn) on a non-stick skillet over medium heat, then reduce heat to medium-low to avoid scorching your first round. Using a measuring cup, ladle pancake batter into medium-sized rounds; use the back of the measuring cup to help spread them out evenly. Cook until pancakes are firming up around the edges, and little bubbles have begun to appear on the topside of the batter.
  5. Flip to second side, and cook until golden brown, adjusting heat as needed. Repeat with remaining batter, greasing the pan with additional butter or oil if too dry.

Serve with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.

Creative Pancake Mix-Ins and Toppings:

blueberry pancakes with syrup

  • Blueberries. For an even distribution, you can also place blueberries directly onto pancake batter after you’ve ladled into the pan. Be sure to add a little bit more batter over top if you can, so they don’t burn once you flip them and they’re good and sealed.
  • Chocolate chips. For a swirl effect, choose smaller chips (about ½ to 1 cup, depending on preference) and mix directly into the batter.
  • Raspberries. For lightly fuschia pancakes with a tart kick, gently mix 1 pint raspberries into batter.
  • Walnuts or pecans. Chop finely before adding to the batter.
  • Cinnamon apple. Peel and slice 2-3 apples into ½ inch wedges, then cook in 1 tbsp butter with ½ to 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp brown sugar, and 1 tsp lemon juice. Cook until soft and caramelized.
  • Red chili flakes. Maple syrup and red chili flakes are a match made in heaven, especially with salty bacon on the side. Simply sprinkle one pinch over a fresh maple syrup pour.