Pancake Tips

Who loves starting the weekend with flipping pancakes? Saturday morning hubby and I would get up, take the pancake box mix out of the pantry, add some water and make a few pancakes. Making pancakes from scratch is too much work. Or so we thought! Not only are homemade pancakes so much better, they really are not difficult to make. Now I would not touch one of those box mixes! Over the years we learned a lot about how to make good homemade pancakes. Today we are sharing pancake tips and techniques. We start with a checklist of what to do and not to do. For those who would like more information, we are providing step by step instructions on making pancakes and demonstration videos. We are sharing pancakes that did not come out so great! Because that is how we learn. Plus we are providing several easy to make recipes that you can practice your new skills!

A stack of pancakes topped with blueberry syrup that are cut into by a knife with a fork piercing them on a white plate
Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes

Pancake Tips: What To Do

  1. Take your time. Don’t rush when making pancakes.
  2. Make sure ingredients are not expired.
  3. Sift dry ingredients removing any lumps.
  4. Mix the batter just before making the pancakes. 
  5. Let the batter sit for 10-minutes.
  6. Use a ¼ or ⅓ measuring cup for consistent pancakes.
  7. Preheat griddle maintaining the same temperature.
  8. Know how hot the burner becomes and how the griddle pan maintains heat.
  9. An Electric griddle with temperature control is the best.
  10. Flip the pancakes once bubbles start to pop forming holes that do not refill with batter.  If you are unsure, carefully check the underside of a pancake to see if it is brown.
  11. When flipping the pancakes, slide a small, flat spatula under the center of the pancake. Lift the pancake a few inches with then quickly turning it over into the same spot.
  12. Flip a pancake once. 
  13. Make a test pancake to see if the griddle is at the right temperature. The first batch typically is not the best looking pancakes!

Pancake Tips: What Not To Do

  1. Overmix the pancake batter.
  2. Mixing the batter ahead of time.
  3. Do not press down on the pancakes.
  4. A griddle that is too cold or too hot. This can result in undercooked or overcooked pancakes.

Making Pancake Batter

We mix the pancake batter when ready to cook them. Once you mix together the ingredients the baking soda and baking powder is activated. We start with ingredients that are not past their expiration dates. It seems obvious not to use expired ingredients. Right? But your baking powder and baking soda are tucked away in the pantry. It is easy to just grab them, measure and add to the dry ingredients. But stop for a moment to check their expiration dates. Another way to check baking powder is to add one teaspoon to one cup of hot water. If the mixture bubbles, we are good to go. Otherwise throw it away! 

Pancake Griddle Tips

Options when making pancakes includes the stovetop or an electric griddle. On the stove top, my preference is a flat griddle over a skillet pan. In my experience, lower sides makes it easier to flip the pancakes. If making pancakes on the stovetop it is important to know how hot the burners heat and the weight of the griddle pan. My stove has a burner that is fairly hot. Once when making pancakes on this burner they were coming out too dark – to almost burnt. I moved the operations to another burner that is not as hot. But sometimes I need to adjust the burner since my griddle pan is thinner and can get fairly hot. The idea option is an electric griddle where you set a temperature of 350 or 375 degrees. A consistent temperature is the best.

The picture on the left shows my pancake griddle and a skillet with higher sides. Plus I use a flat spatula to maintain control over the pancakes when flipping. The middle picture is the first pancake using the hotter burner. It came out nice which is unusual since the first pancake typically is too light. The last picture shows how the burner is getting too hot and now the pancakes are getting too dark to almost being burnt! Even reducing the flame did not help given this is the burner meant to quickly boil water. So key tip, know your burners and how your pan maintains the heat.

Making Perfect Pancake Tips

Ok, let’s get started with gathering our ingredients, griddle, and spatula. If keeping the pancakes warm in the oven, preheat the oven to the warm setting and get out your cookies. Sift together the dry ingredients into a large bowl to ensure everything is blended together and aerated. While sifting, remove any chunks (no one wants to bite into a little chunk of baking soda). In a second smaller bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. Stir into the sifted dry ingredients. It is important to not overmix the batter to ensure light and fluffy pancakes. This should be a quick process of blending the wet and dry ingredients together. There might be a little flour left at the bottom of the bowl and that is okay. Let the batter sit for ten minutes to ensure the gluten can relax for more tender pancakes.

Preparing a Pancake Griddle

Prepare the griddle with olive oil or a non-stick spray and preheat on medium heat. I do not use butter since it tends to burn. But if you want to use butter, add it after preheating the griddle. When a drop of water or batter sizzles, the griddle is ready. Pour the pancake batter onto the griddle using a ¼ or ⅓ cup measuring cup. The first pancake is typically not the best looking one. So start with making one pancake. That also allows you to test the heat of your stovetop. You may need to increase or reduce the heat. I only add olive oil when initially preheating the griddle. Once I start flipping pancakes additional olive oil is not necessary – in my experience.

The first picture shows the griddle preheating with olive oil. The next three pictures shows pouring the pancake batter onto the griddle. The last picture are Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes kept warm in the oven!

How to Flip a Pancake

Before flipping a pancake, we need to know when are pancakes ready to flip. Cook the pancakes until bubbles start to pop forming holes that do not refill with batter. The pancake appearance will not look as “wet” as when you poured the batter. If you are unsure, carefully check the underside of a pancake to see if it is brown. But honestly, with practice you can skip that step. When turning the pancakes, I find using a small, flat spatula to work best. A large spatula tends to get in the way while flipping. So does a spatula with a thicker surface. It is hard to slide the spatula underneath the delicate pancake. 

When ready to turn the pancakes, lift the pancake a few inches with then quickly turning over in the same spot. Basically lift and flip into the same spot. Cook for about another minute or until cooked through. You might need to adjust the heat for the second batch to ensure they cook through. The griddle is hot and the pancakes might brown quickly but not be cooked through. At the end of our instructions are a few how to videos.

Can Pancakes be Frozen?

Pancakes can be made ahead of time and placed in the freezer. Before freezing, cool pancakes completely to avoid moisture. Wrap the cool pancakes in either wax paper or parchment baking sheets. A final wrap with aluminum foil and then into a freezer safe Ziploc bag. 

When ready to enjoy the pancakes, there are several ways to reheat them. My preference is to take the pancakes right out of the freezer to reheat in a toaster at a higher setting. Similar to the pancakes you find in the freezer section of the grocery store. This method retains the crispy edges while maintaining the tender texture. Another option is using the microwave. Place a single layer of frozen pancakes on a microwave safe plate for about 15 to 30 seconds. Or reheat them in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, place frozen pancakes on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake for about 10-minutes.

Can you make pancakes without baking powder?

Both baking powder and baking soda are leaveners meant to help baked goods rise. If they expired, your pancakes may not rise properly. The question becomes which one do you use when making pancakes? We activate baking powder and baking soda differently. Baking soda needs an acid such as buttermilk to activate. Whereas, baking powder includes baking soda and only requires a liquid to activate. As discussed in the Fine Cooking article, buttermilk pancakes would use both baking powder and soda since they affect flavor and browning differently. Baking soda alone with the buttermilk would neutralize its acid and tanginess. The baking powder brings along some acid leaving some tang and helps with producing light pancakes! And too much acid inhibits browning that is where our friend baking soda comes in. It helps with browning those beautiful pancakes!

Pancake Recipes

Our quest to try different recipes started when we learned about Shrove Tuesday also known as Pancake Tuesday. UK bloggers were posting recipes to support Shrove Tuesday. And we started making pancakes! What a delicious adventure with venturing beyond the traditional pancake. Are you an apple lover? Then try our Apple Cinnamon Pancakes with an overly generous topping of apples. A fall favorite is our Pumpkin Spice Pancakes! And our famous Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes – just shut the front door right now. Our number one pancakes is our Blueberry Whole Wheat Pancakes! And my personal favorite. But honestly, I love them all!

Demonstration of Pouring and Flipping Pancakes

Our pancake tips would not be complete without a few videos! The videos do not contain any audio (except for the sizzle of a hot pan) or verbal instructions. I am sharing videos of pouring the batter and flipping the pancakes. The first video demonstrates how to flip a single pancake with the quick wrist motion. Then the second video we move on to pouring the batter for four pancakes. You can hear the wonderful sizzle of the griddle as the pancakes are poured and cooking! The third video shows flipping four pancakes. They are a little darker than desired so I turned down the heat for the next batch. Plus the last one is a little too big, which I corrected during the next batch. The final and fourth video shows the batch where I made a couple of changes. My flipping was not the greatest but the low sides of the griddle saved me! My iPhone is in my left hand taking the video while I am making the pancakes. It is a little challenging to be flipping with my right hand while taking a video with my left! But I was happy with this batch of pancakes!

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Pancake Recipes!

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes
Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
Blueberry Whole Wheat Pancakes
Pumpkin Spice Pancakes