What’s better than pancakes with maple syrup? Learn what makes pancakes fluffy and see how to make your favorite breakfast meals with Jow.
Think of your dream breakfast. You might imagine crispy bacon with perfectly-scrambled eggs and toast. If you prefer a more adventurous breakfast, you may picture plump eggs benedict with creamy hollandaise sauce. Or you might think of fluffy, buttery pancakes topped with delicious syrup and fruit.
When you make pancakes at home, how do they turn out? If you’ve been preparing this breakfast food for years, you might have the hang of flipping hotcakes on the griddle. On the other hand, you might feel that you’ve been trying for years to get the perfect consistency in your pancakes.
Getting a fluffy pancake isn’t as hard as you’d imagine! By learning what makes hotcakes fluffy or flat, you can start implementing your knowledge into your breakfast preparation. After some practice, we think you’ll be on your way to crafting the most delicious breakfast cakes topped with melted butter for Saturday mornings or any day you feel like making a morning meal that’s warm and sweet.
Let’s get into talking about the real reason pancakes have some fluff to their consistency. After that, we’ll show you ways to spice up your hotcakes and introduce you to breakfast recipes that make morning meals a breeze.
The Real Reason Pancakes Are Fluffy
If you want to know how to make fluffy homemade pancakes, you may want to start with understanding what makes pancakes fluffy. In just a moment, you’ll see a recipe for delicious pillowy pancakes, but first, let’s talk about the science behind the fluff.
One of the primary reasons pancakes rise or remain flat is air pockets that form and solidify in the batter. What causes these bubbles to occur or not occur? As you mix your batter, you’ll notice many recipes call for the addition of baking powder.
Perhaps you’ve wondered why you’d need to add baking powder or baking soda to your pancake mix in the past. Baking powder functions as a leavening agent in your batter, and when it becomes activated, it produces gas, which forms bubbles.
How does the baking powder activate? There’s a more scientific answer than waving a magic wand. There are two primary steps for this reaction to occur:
- When you whisk your dry ingredients (including baking powder) with liquid in a bowl, the chemicals in the baking powder begin to react. The powder releases an initial wave of gas that forms bubbles by interacting with liquid. It’s a slow and steady process as the bubbles form.
- Next, as you pour your batter over the heat, this also causes a reaction, making the batter begin to rise and become fluffy. If you add your batter to high heat, it will produce a more significant reaction, and thus, a higher amount of bubbles.
The Chemical Side of Gluten
Want to get even deeper into why bubbles form in your pancakes? It has to do with the chemical makeup of the batter. When you make traditional pancakes, the batter includes gluten in the flour portion of the mix.
Glutens are long protein molecules that have an elastic quality. Just like dough expands when you allow it to rest before baking, the gluten in the pancake batter stretches and expands. As it stretches, pockets of air begin to form, making your pancakes airy and light.
Heating Your Hotcakes Adds to the Fluff
There is way more to appreciate about how pancakes become fluffy. In addition to bubbles forming in the mixing stage, your pancakes also become airy when they hit the skillet and begin to cook. That’s why cooking your pancakes in the microwave or on a baking sheet likely won’t give you the same results.
Here are a few reasons why:
- First, as we already mentioned, the wet batter hitting the hot surface of the griddle causes air bubbles to form quickly.
- As the batter heats, the liquid begins to cook away and becomes steam.
- At the same time, the proteins in your eggs (part of your wet ingredients) start to coagulate, causing the mixture to solidify.
- These three factors together cause CO2 bubbles to quickly form and solidify into multiple tiny air pockets throughout, making your pancakes fluffy.
A Tip To Remember When Making Pancakes
The heat of your griddle plays a significant part in the fluffiness of your hotcakes. When the surface is sufficiently hot, the bubbles in the batter can form and harden quickly enough to give the pancakes their full shape.
On the other hand, if your pan isn’t hot enough, the bubbles in the batter will form too slowly and pop before they can solidify. A solid temperature to aim for is 375 degrees.
A Few Other Factors Play a Part in Your Pancakes
Each time you eat pancakes, you’re probably not thinking about each of the individual factors playing a part in the structure of your meal. Still, as you enjoy each buttery bite, there are even more elements that contribute to the taste, texture, and appearance of your hotcake breakfast.
Let’s look at a few examples of how the ingredients in your pancakes help give them a fluffy texture.
Other Tips for Fluffy Pancakes
If you’re truly on a mission to create the fluffiest pancakes possible, you might want to consider adding whipped egg whites to the mix. Separate the egg yolks and whip the whites in a separate bowl until they form soft or stiff peaks. You’ll then fold the egg whites into the rest of your batter.
Another Tip for Flipping
Combining the right ingredients for tasty flavors is one of the essential elements for enjoying your pancakes. Still, as you cook your pancakes, you’ll also want to keep the appearance of your hotcakes in mind.
Do you want to savor the taste and look of beautiful, fluffy pancakes? You may want to keep an eye on how you flip each cake. When flipping with a spatula, don’t get ahead of yourself. Instead, try to be gentle as you flip the uncooked side of the batter onto the hot pan. By flipping your pancakes delicately, you’re more likely to end up with stunning hotcakes that look fluffy and delicious.
Who doesn’t love saddling up to the breakfast table, and finding a heaping stack of pancakes waiting to be devoured? The glistening of syrup running down the tower of baked goods was like tears of happiness. You know it’s going to be a good day because it’s already starting off right.
That is unless the pancakes are absolutely butchered. You’d think pancakes should be easy enough to make, right? Only a few ingredients, fry it up, then devour. But therein lies the problem. There are minimal ingredients, which means a single error can greatly affect the entire quality of your breakfast.
If you’re struggling with preparing perfectly tender, with just a hint of crispy-edged pancakes, chances are there is a small mistake taking place at some point during your preparation and frying process. But don’t worry, you can put that box of backup breakfast cereal away. Here are many of the most common mistakes you might be making when cooking pancakes, and how you can go about correcting them.
You are mixing dry ingredients first
Steve Baccon/Getty Images
Maybe you saw someone on TikTok tossing wet ingredients into a bowl of dry ingredients. Or perhaps you are going off a recipe that simply says to toss all the ingredients together at once. Well, what these recipes and social media personalities aren’t telling you is that the order in which you mix them is especially important. And if you’re mixing dry ingredients first, you may already be ruining your breakfast before barely getting started.
So what exactly is going on? When you mix all the dry ingredients first, then add in the wet, the flour is going to end up sticking to the mixing bowl, you’ll have to work extra hard to dissolve everything, and there’s a chance the fat from the dry ingredients won’t fully blend in the water, which can lead to clumping and other problems, none of which you don’t want with your pancakes.
In fact, this might cause a domino effect, leading to the second problem on our list (more on that in a second). Instead, start with your liquids mixed first. From here you can control the pour of flour and dry ingredients, allowing you to gently whisk everything together while ensuring everything is perfectly mixed without any clumping (or sticking to the mixing bowl).
Over mixing the pancake batter
Your pancakes look great. You’re dolloping your favorite Vermont maple syrup over top. It smells perfect. Taking a mouthful you begin to chew, and that’s when you notice a problem.
You over-mixed the batter. If you over-mix, the gluten will begin to develop within the flour. Once this happens the fried cake will respond to the developed gluten, resulting in harder, chewier pancakes. There are a few reasons why you might have over-mixed the batter. First, you’re using an electric mixer. That’s really not necessary. It doesn’t take much to whisk everything together. Even if you are using good old-fashioned wrist strength and a whisk, it’s possible you tried to obtain a completely smooth batter by working out the little chunks.
We’re here to tell you the little chunks are perfectly fine. This can help with the overall texture. Don’t keep mixing and mixing and mixing the batter until all these smaller globs have been taken care of. Because by doing so you’re only causing an inferior product later down the line. If you are a stickler for little globs, simply pour the dry ingredients more slowly into the wet ingredients.
Not giving your batter time to sit
Pancake batter needs to be treated delicately. It needs to be loved and cared for. It’s not just a few ingredients beaten together until you toss it onto a hot stove. If you want to churn out the best-tasting pancakes ever you need to show it some love, and it will show you that love in return.
This means you need to let your batter sit after it’s been mixed. Let the ingredients get to know each other in the bowl. This is because there are leaveners within the mix that need time to activate. Immediately going to the griddle and pouring in the batter prevents this from happening.
You should let your batter sit for at least 30 minutes before cooking with it. However, you can let it sit for a little longer if that works for your schedule. So maybe you need to wake the kids up, or it’s time to get the bacon or coffee started. Perhaps you just need to let the dog outside or grab the paper. Whatever you need to do, go do it after you’re done mixing the batter. This way, when you’re back inside and ready to go, your batter will be ready for the next step in expertly prepared pancakes.
Using the wrong cooking surface
So here’s the thing. We love a classic cast iron skillet as much as the next person, but it isn’t always the best option when it comes to cooking pancakes. Why? Because cast iron on top of a stovetop doesn’t always give you an even cooking surface. Part of the cast iron might be slightly thicker than the rest of the skillet, which means the temperature will be slightly off. Or perhaps you use a gas stove that produces a ring of fire to heat. While some people swear by gas stoves (even though there’s a movement to have them banned from kitchens), it doesn’t offer a unified surface. An induction stove top is great for this, but realistically, the true ultimate cooking surface for pancakes is an electric griddle.
We love electric griddles for a number of reasons. First, it is going to give you an entire cooking surface that is unified. This lets you cook several pancakes at the same time. It also heats up quickly. It’s also great because you can take an electric griddle with you for camping or those early morning tailgates (we personally love a delicious short stack of pancakes fresh off the griddle while camping in the woods, as there’s just something different about being in the great outdoors eating pancakes, but hey, that’s us).
So if you’re serious about your breakfast cooking game, now is the time to invest in a quality electric griddle.
Not following the recipe exactly
Tom Merton/Getty Images
This is true with pancakes. Many pancake recipes call for buttermilk. If you don’t like buttermilk you won’t be the first and we know you won’t be the last. There are plenty of people who love a good ranch dressing, but if they see “buttermilk” slapped on the label they’d rather toss the dressing in the trash than use it.
Here’s the thing with buttermilk in pancakes, though. The acidic aspect of buttermilk reacts to the baking soda within the recipe. This is what helps deliver the amazing taste of your pancake. When you substitute buttermilk with regular milk (or any other milk alternative) you are not going to get that same reaction with the baking soda. So, if you’re either using a non-buttermilk recipe, or you’re substituting something for the buttermilk and your pancakes are tasting off, this might be why.
Using butter on the skillet or griddle
There are those who prefer to cook with butter, while others might prefer to cook with oil. Ideally, you’ll have some flexibility with this. While you might prefer the taste of the fat that comes from butter instead of oil, there is one major problem you will run into when trying to cook pancakes with butter. The smoke point.
The smoke point for butter is far lower than that of most oils. Because you are cooking your pancakes at a higher temperature there’s a greater chance of your butter burning than if you use oil. So, if you’re pancakes have been burning, or there is a smoky taste to them, it is because you’re using oil on your skillet, pan, or griddle. Butter may also affect the color of your pancakes, resulting in a deep brown color to it.
Instead, keep the butter for slathering on top of the pancakes and use cooking oil instead. Canola oil, for example, has a higher smoke point, and because you won’t hit this smoke point while cooking the pancakes, you’ll avoid the brown colors, smokey taste, and burnt bottoms. Not a fan of canola oil? It is okay, there are other kinds of fats you might want to experiment with. Clarified butter is a suitable alternative, and if you are a ghee lover, this will also work.
You are using the wrong heat to cook your pancakes
You want to set your cooking surface, whether it is the stove top, skillet, or griddle, to medium heat. This consistent temperature will give you the perfect texture and fluffiness that helps make pancakes so delicious.
Of course, every cooking surface is a bit different. This is especially the case if your oven is on the older side and the surface temperature may not be as consistent as a newer appliance. Thankfully, there are some signs that will indicate whether your cooking surface temperature is too hot or too cold.
First, if you’re ending with a burned outside but a soggy, almost liquid inside, it is because the temperature is too hot. The exterior cooks far too fast and you’re forced to flip sooner than necessary to avoid burning, resulting in a mushy interior. On the flip side, if the inside of the pancake is good but the outside edges of the pancake are limp and even damp, it’s because the temp is too low.
Thankfully, because it’s easy to whip up a large amount of batter for pancakes, there’s nothing wrong with cooking a test pancake to make sure everything is good to go (and we won’t tell anyone if you enjoy that fresh cake all by yourself before everyone else is up. That secret is between you, us, and maybe your dog that’s eagerly waiting by your feet, hoping they can assist in your taste testing.
Adding the batter to the cooking surface too soon
With bacon, you want to start with a cold cooking surface and then allow it to heat up with the cast iron skillet. With pancakes though, you need to start off with a hot cooking surface. If you’ve poured your batter onto a cold cooking surface in the past, you know it is likely going to spread and ooze out of that nice circular shape you poured as it begins to break apart in the oil on the griddle.
There’s nothing wrong with turning your cook surface on as you begin to work on the pancakes (or even when you step away for a few minutes to let the batter sit). You know your cooking surface better than us, so however long it takes to fully heat up, give it the time it needs.
Pouring batter onto a surface that isn’t hot enough is going to result in a gooey mess, and nobody likes gooey blobs of pancake batter that have partially dissolved into the oil. So if your pancakes aren’t resulting in the nice circles you’d like, it’s likely because you’re pouring the batter far too soon.
Cooking too many pancakes at once
Do you remember when you were a kid and you tried to help your mom or grandmother bake cookies? Maybe you put too much cookie dough into the oven, and when it came time to pull the cookies out there had all melted and smooshed together. Well, that is exactly what is going to happen with your pancakes if you’re cooking too many at once. Sure the occasional conjoined pancake twins are going to happen, but as is the case with just about anything else you cook on a stovetop or griddle, cooking too many at once is going to interfere with the ability to cook properly, which in turn results in an inferior product.
This is another reason why we love using an electric griddle. You have a larger cooking space and have the ability to cook more pancakes at the same time. With a traditional stove top and cast iron skillet, you might only have enough room to cook one at a time (or maybe a few really small ones).
Overcrowding your cooking surface will prevent your pancakes from getting those all-important crispy edges, so make sure to give yourself more than enough room. And if you’re cooking for a large family or a group of friends, consider investing in that electric griddle ahead of time. The money you spend to be able to cook four or six pancakes at a time instead of one is well worth it.
Flipping the pancakes too soon
Of all the problems we have run into while cooking pancakes, this is probably the most frustrating.
There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. The pancake is almost done. It smells delicious and looks amazing. You slide your spatula under the pancake, and in the process of flipping the entire thing falls apart into a gooey mess. Sure, it might taste the same, but nobody wants a pancake that looks like the dog chewed it up before being served.
So what’s the trick? How does anyone know when to flip pancakes, or is it just a game of luck? Thankfully, there’s no luck involved with flipping pancakes. You just need to know what to look for. Watch the top of the pancake. Eventually, you will see tiny little bubbles begin to form. This means you’re almost there. Once the air bubbles begin to pop it’s your time to flip.
We’d recommend using a wide, flat spatula for flipping. Use the widest spatula you have on hand, as this will help reduce the weight of the unsupported part of the pancake hanging off the edge of your utensil, which in turn will help prevent any breakage of the pancake during the flip.
Not giving your pancakes enough time to cool
At the restaurant, if you watch the kitchen staff prepare your pancakes, they will stack all the cakes on top of a plate and sling it out in front of you in a matter of moments. This is perfect for melting butter and whatever other toppings you plan on adding to the pancake.
That is great if you plan on eating the pancakes immediately, but it isn’t going to work all that well if you’re preparing a large number of pancakes for the family or guests. If you begin stacking the pancakes immediately, the heat from the pancakes will cause the other cakes in the stack to begin sticking to one another. If they sit there for a few minutes the pancakes will then pull apart when being served up, and do you really want all your hard work to be ripped up right at the moment of glory? You want your guests to see and appreciate your beautiful work.
Instead, avoid stacking your pancakes immediately. Let the pancakes dry momentarily on a rack before serving. It only takes a few minutes for the temperature to cool down to a point they won’t stick to each other. Now, if you’re cooking your pancakes one at a time on a skillet you can likely skip this step as it’s already taking a few minutes in between finished cakes. However, if you are using a griddle, keep a cooling rack nearby.
You haven’t mastered traditional pancakes yet
Perhaps you enjoy regular pancakes, but you absolutely love specialty pancakes. You want to add chocolate chips immediately, or your grandmother always added fresh blueberries to yours, or a restaurant you once visited specialized in fried banana pancakes. All of this sounds amazing, so you decide to skip out on learning how to make traditional pancakes and instead jump right to making those specialized pancakes.
We applauded your eagerness to cook, but we also recommend you slow down a bit. Your fried banana pancake will turn out even better if you first learn how to make delicious, traditional pancakes. There isn’t much to regular pancakes, there are only a few ingredients, and while there are plenty of ways to mess up, as you can see from this list it is incredibly easy to correct all of the mistakes.
Once you have regular pancakes down pat, you’ll be able to move on to the elevated pancakes. That way, if something isn’t working or it isn’t as good as you’d hoped for, you will have only a few areas to troubleshoot. Don’t worry, after a few traditional pancake weekends, you’ll be ready to step up to the big leagues for specialized pancakes in no time.
Pancakes are the all-star of the breakfast (and brunch) table. They should be easy to make, and yet there’s so many ways to ruin them. Here are the mistakes you may be making, and how to overcome them to craft the perfect pancakes.
Taste of Home
Using the wrong pan
Ask anyone: an electric griddle with the temperature set to 375° is your best choice for your most predictable pancakes (predictable being a good thing here!). If you don’t have one, then the next best thing is a well-seasoned cast-iron griddle, or any large skillet that heats evenly and has a lot of flat surface space. A non-stick skillet will also work. Get yourself the right pan, and get started plowing through our best pancake recipes.
Using the wrong utensils
It’s crucial to use a bowl that’s large enough for you to comfortably and lightly mix all of your ingredients with a fork or a whisk. As for your spatula, use one that’s large, wide, angled and heat-proof. Some people say pancakes are all in the flipping. You won’t know if it’s true unless you have the right spatula.
Not using salt or sugar
Baking powder and baking soda will build lift and lightness. They also contain a slightly salty taste, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the salt. If you skip it, you’ll miss it. Same goes for sugar. It’s not about the sweetness so much as it is the crystallization that creates crispiness at the edges of your pancakes (although it is a little bit about the sweetness). Here is a pretty darn perfect buttermilk pancake recipe, which uses just the right amount of sugar for a sweet crispiness at the edge and the right amount of salt to bring out that sweet taste.
Not taking “buttermilk” seriously
Admit it. You’ve skipped the buttermilk, substituting whole milk, right? Big mistake. If the recipe calls for buttermilk, use buttermilk (here’s how). It brings a pleasant, acidic tang to this soothing comfort food, but more importantly, reacts with baking soda and helps to tenderize the flour. If your recipe calls for buttermilk and you use something else, your pancakes will lack in soft texture. But if you don’t have buttermilk, here’s a trick: stir in a few tablespoons of mayonnaise with your eggs and oil. Seriously, it’s the secret ingredient for the fluffiest pancakes ever.
Overmixing the batter
Pancake batter should never be overmixed. Overmixing overdevelops the gluten, which will make a tough pancake, regardless of your use of buttermilk (or mayo). Stir the ingredients until they’re just blended. One way to avoid overmixing is to mix the dry ingredients together first, and then make a well in the middle of them, into which you pour the wet ingredients. You can blend the wet ingredients in the well before stirring the whole thing together. And don’t worry about the lumps; they’ll take care of themselves.
Not fully preheating
Be sure to preheat the skillet fully before you add batter, or you won’t get those crispy edges you know you want in your perfect pancake. It should sizzle when you pour your batter (you can test that with a drop of water, which also makes the sizzling sound).
Using the wrong fat
Butter tastes great, but it browns too quickly on the high heat of your skillet to be useful for making pancakes. A good pancake requires a fat with a higher smoke point—such as canola oil, shortening, coconut oil or even ghee or clarified butter. Coconut oil’s slightly sweet taste makes it an extra attractive option if you’ve got it.
Bookmark this guide on all the different cooking oils.
Crowding the pan
If you crowd the pan, your pancakes won’t crisp up at the edges because the relative coolness of the batter will cool down the cooking temperature of your pan. So be patient, and keep your pancakes at least one inch apart. (This’ll also give you more space to flip them.)
Eye For Images/Shutterstock
Speaking of patience, resist the urge to flip your pancakes before you see bubbles all over the surface. Watch for them to pop—that’s when you’ll want to turn them, and not a moment later.
Not paying attention to the heat as you go
If you don’t have an electric skillet, you’ll need to pay attention to the heat as you go. The general rule of thumb is to use medium heat. Too hot means you’ll burn the outside before cooking the inside. Too low means you won’t get crispy edges. If while you’re cooking, the skillet starts to smoke, the heat has become too high—turn off the burner and wait a few minutes before continuing.
Think you’ve gotten a handle on hotcakes? How about moving on to mastering the art of making French Toast?
Disorganized gluten, carbon dioxide formation, and timing is everything for the fluffiest pancakes possible.
There’s nothing better than a piping hot stack of pancakes. They’re a weekend family crowd-pleaser, the perfect dish to serve a lucky breakfast-eater in bed, and the most delightful anytime snack. However, while there’s nothing better than these griddled cakes, there’s also nothing worse than messing them up. Here, we present our recipe for pancake success.
Mix the Batter Lightly
There are two factors that promote fluffiness in pancake batter, underdeveloped gluten and dissolved baking soda. Gluten is a mix of very long proteins that are disorganized in structure. Once gluten is dissolved in water, these proteins can more easily rearrange their structure. Kneading or mixing gluten elongates the proteins and somewhat organizes them, an action similar to combing the strands of your hair. As the proteins start to lie more or less parallel to each other, the dough becomes elastic and less tender. By reducing the mixing time of your batter, you give the gluten less opportunity to organize.
Baking soda (either on its own or as part of the baking powder formula) creates the bubbles that make pancakes rise. When baking soda encounters an acid, carbon dioxide is formed to produce the bubbles in the batter. The stirring of the pancake batter speeds bubble formation by moving the baking soda and acid together. Unfortunately, stirring also causes the release of carbon dioxide gas by bringing formed bubbles to the surface of the mixture. Just a little too much stirring and the bubble-forming capacity of the baking soda will be quickly exhausted. To make the fluffiest pancakes possible, then, you should stir the batter until the ingredients are just incorporated—and not one stir more!
Use the Batter Within an Hour
To determine how far in advance we could make pancake batter, we mixed up a few batches of basic pancake batter and held them for different lengths of time before cooking: one hour, two hours, and three hours. Holding the batter for one hour had no detrimental effect on the pancakes. After two and three hours, however, the batter spread out too easily, producing thin, floppy cakes that were much less appealing than the ones made from fresh batter. Here’s why: In fresh pancake batter, baking powder reacts quickly, releasing most of its gas in a short period of time. The longer the batter sits, the fewer bubbles there are left when it’s time to cook, increasing the likelihood of flat flapjacks.
At first we thought we could add a bit more baking powder to the batter to provide some extra lift, but this merely lent an unpleasant chemical taste to the pancakes. Next, we tried adding a stiffly beaten egg white to the batter. The resulting pancakes were not quite as fluffy as those from fresh batter, but the egg white added a good amount of height. So the next time you find yourself with pancake batter past its prime, simply add a stiffly beaten egg white.
Heat the Pan Properly
The best way to determine when the skillet is ready is to make a test pancake the size of a half-dollar (use 1 tablespoon of batter). If after one minute the pancake is golden brown, the pan is ready. If the bottom of the pancake remains blond—or is close to burning—adjust the heat accordingly.
Serve Them as Soon as Possible
We tried several methods to determine how to hold pancakes before serving, from stacking up the pancakes on a heated plate, to covering them with foil, or to placing the plate of stacked pancakes in a warm oven. All of these methods did the job as far as keeping the pancakes warm. Even by the last batch of pancakes, the temperature reading would hit somewhere between 145 and 150 degrees. But these pancakes were compressed from being stacked, and they steamed from the heat and became very rubbery.
We found the best method was to spread the pancakes on a large cooling rack placed on a sheet pan. (Be sure to spray the cooling rack with vegetable cooking spray to save yourself from sticking pancakes). Place the pan and the rack in a 200-degree oven and place your pancakes on the rack in a single layer, uncovered, for up to 20 minutes (or be warned-they will start to dry out.) The warm oven keeps the pancakes hot enough to melt a pat of butter, and leaving the pancakes uncovered keeps them from becoming soggy.
RECIPE FOR MEMBERS: Best Buttermilk Pancakes
To create a buttermilk pancake recipe with a tangy flavor and fluffy texture, we added sour cream for flavor and cut back on leaveners to keep the pancakes from rising too high and then collapsing.
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Pancakes are something that many people love having for breakfast multiple times per week. Even if you just enjoy them as an occasional treat, it’s likely going to be something that you look forward to.
They’re sweet, fluffy, and very filling when you make them right. Being able to make perfect pancakes will ensure that your family is happy and well fed in the morning.
If you haven’t been making them for very long, you might still be learning how to perfect them. Are you having issues with your pancakes burning?
Why do they burn sometimes? Is there a good way that you can avoid having this happen?
Keep reading to learn about the common causes and what you can do to fix them.
1 – Cooking at the Wrong Temperature
The most common reason why pancakes burn while you’re cooking them has to do with temperature issues. You might be cooking them at a temperature that is far too high.
Some people choose to do this because they’re hungry and they just want to get the pancakes finished quickly. This is understandable, but it’s going to be a bad idea since it can lead to you burning them.
The high heat that you’re using isn’t actually going to be helpful. It’s going to make the pancakes cook unevenly instead of turning out the way that you want them to.
Often, you’ll find that the outsides of the pancakes will be burnt while the insides will still be a bit doughy. This is pretty much the worst-case scenario when you’re making them.
The ideal way to cook pancakes is to set the heat to medium. It’s also recommended to allow your pan to heat up for approximately three minutes since using a cold pan can cause them to soak up too much of the oil.
If the pancakes soak up the oil, they’re going to turn out flatter than normal. Exercise patience and let the pan heat up for a few minutes before putting your batter in.
2 – Not Paying Enough Attention
Of course, cooking pancakes using medium heat won’t guarantee that you’ll get things right. It’s still possible to burn the them if you aren’t paying close attention to what’s happening.
You’ll find that many people will burn pancakes because they wind up getting distracted. If you allow them to cook too much on one side, you could easily wind up with burnt pancakes instead of the golden brown ones that you desire.
Someone might send you a text message in the morning and you’ll stop to respond to it. This amount of time might not seem like a big deal, but it could mean the difference between flipping the pancakes on time and burning them.
It’s easy to get distracted by talking to your family members while you’re cooking, too. If you want to avoid burning pancakes, you’ll just have to make an effort to pay attention while you’re cooking them.
You should try to cook them until bubbles start to form on the top. This will take about three minutes on average and then you’ll be able to flip them.
The second side should only take about two minutes to cook the rest of the way. Once done, you’re going to want to use your spatula to put the pancakes on a plate.
3 – Using Butter Instead of Oil
Some people make the mistake of using butter to grease the pan when they’re getting ready to make pancakes. This might seem like a solid idea at first, but it’s actually going to be a good way to burn them.
Butter can burn up in the pan and that makes it less than ideal for cooking pancakes. If you notice that your pancakes are coming out burnt, it might simply be because you’re using butter in the pan.
Instead of using butter, it’ll be better to use olive oil or canola oil in the future. This is pretty much the standard way that people make pancakes, but you might not have known that going in.
Make the swap and you’ll likely see a big difference in the way that they turn out. This might be all that you need to change to get the results that you’ve been hoping for.
4 – Pouring Oil Directly Into the Pan
How you add the oil to the pan can actually have an impact on how the pancakes will turn out. This might seem like a weird thing at first, but you’ll understand once you dig into the details.
If you were to pour oil into the pan after each pancake you cook, the oil would pool up in the pan at certain spots. This actually causes the pancakes to cook unevenly and it could possibly cause them to burn because you won’t quite get the results that you want.
You can have an easier time with the oil if you add it to the pan in a different way. Consider pouring the oil onto a paper towel and then rubbing it on the pan to cover it completely.
Doing things this way should ensure that the batter is getting hit by the oil in all spots. It isn’t hard to do this, and it’s just going to make it that much simpler to cook the pancakes evenly.
Other Important Pancake Tips
You know enough that you should be able to cook pancakes without burning them now. There are still a few things that you should consider if you want to make the tastiest pancakes possible, though.
Don’t Overmix the Batter
Overmixing the batter is going to cause problems when you’re making pancakes. You might think that mixing too much would be better than not mixing thoroughly enough, but both mistakes are equally as bad.
If you mix the batter more than you should, it’s going to cause gluten to develop. This makes the pancakes turn out way tougher than they normally would.
When you bite into them, they’re not going to be light and fluffy. They’re going to be chewy and perhaps a bit dense.
You don’t want them to turn out lumpy either, but you have to figure out how to mix things just right. Mix the batter without going overboard and things will turn out way better.
Allowing the batter to rest is important too. You shouldn’t put the batter in the pan right away because it needs time to rest.
Resting the batter ensures that gluten will be activated. This makes things a bit thicker overall.
If you don’t rest the batter, your pancakes will be a bit too thin. Resting batter doesn’t take too long either.
You can rest the pancake batter for at least five minutes to get good results. Some people choose to rest the batter for up to thirty minutes.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.
As you can probably tell, nothing excites us more than sharing our insights about the lovable breakfast staple that are pancakes. They have to be one of the most iconic dishes with over 15 types of pancake recipes around the world. Working to get your pancakes to be airy, crispy, and fluffy takes practice. As simple as the ingredients are to make this popular dish, it can be just as easy to make slight errors in preparation, causing the pancakes to be dense, gummy, or flat. With all the love that we have for preparing this classic breakfast dish, we decided to answer one of the most common questions asked by pancake lovers, which is – how to fix rubbery pancakes?
As much as we may love the art of cooking, it’s absolutely normal to find ourselves making small mistakes.
Sometimes that can lead to great discoveries, other times it can lead to catastrophic results. Either way, the more we try out our recipes, the more experienced we become and the better our food eventually tastes. While pancakes involve only a few ingredients, it is very easy to make slight errors in preparation, which can result in an undesirable batch. However, there are ways in which we can fix our batter to avoid such bad batches. Before we learn how to fix rubbery pancakes, let’s go over the key ingredients needed to make a winning batch.
How to Prepare Pancakes
Preparing pancakes from scratch is not as daunting as it may seem. Pancakes require only a few ingredients that are commonly found in our kitchens:
- Flour: The most commonly used types of flour are all-purpose, whole wheat, or buckwheat flour, as a gluten-free option.
- Sugar: While granulated sugar is most recommended, it is also possible to use coconut, brown, or raw sugar as substitutes for pancakes.
- Baking Powder: For truly fluffy pancakes, is the magical ingredient that brings the batter to life. For best results, use a freshly opened can of baking powder.
- Salt: This ingredient is necessary to help balance the sugar, and give the pancakes some taste. If no salt is used, the pancakes may end up tasting bland.
- Milk: Any type of milk, dairy or non-dairy, is suitable to use for pancake batter.
- Butter: Both salted and unsalted butter are suitable. However, if you prefer the pancakes to be plant-based, you can use coconut oil as a substitute.
- Eggs: This ingredient is the glue that holds the batter together and provides texture. As a substitute, you can use ground flaxseed mixed with water.
- Vanilla Extract: The vanilla acts as a sweetener and adds flavor to the pancake. Other flavor extracts may be used to make the pancakes to your liking.
Key Steps to Follow When Frying Pancakes
While there are different methods to cook a delicious batch of pancakes, we thought it would be useful to compile a list of general tips to help you the perfect stack of pancakes every time.
- Whisk all the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar – separately. (Wire are best for mixing dry ingredients.)
- Use warm milk and melted butter.
- Mix the wet ingredients separately.
- Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients and stir to create the batter
- Use a flat pan to allow for even distribution of heat. You can use a non-stick, skillet, or cast iron pan.
Common Mistakes that Lead to Rubbery Pancakes
After completing all the steps above, it can be frustrating to discover that your fresh stack of pancakes turn out to be elastic, rubbery flatbread. There are a few reasons as to why your pancakes have unfortunately turned out this way. Before we can fix them, let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes people make which result in rubbery pancakes.
Over-Mixing the Batter
Flour is an essential ingredient when making pancakes. When you mix flour with water, it creates gluten, a protein responsible for a dough’s elasticity. However, by excessively mixing, and activating the gluten, this may cause your pancakes to develop a gummy and elastic consistency. When preparing the batter, avoid over-mixing the ingredients as it leads to the formation of gluten, which ultimately makes the pancakes rubbery. Instead, mix the ingredients just until they’ve combined.
Excess Number of Eggs
Eggs provide additional support to bring the batter together and allow the pancakes to rise. However, using too many eggs in your mixture can make the pancakes more dense and rubbery. In addition, adding fewer eggs can make the mixture more dry and crispy.
Adding Too Much Baking Powder
Baking powder is responsible for providing pancakes with their sought after fluff. If too much baking powder is added to the batter, it will cause the pancakes to have a chalky flavor and a gummy consistency.
Inconsistent Temperature When Cooking
Setting your stove to a temperature that is either too hot or too cold, will produce an undesirable pancake.
Using Refrigerated Batter
While there are efficient ways to store and use pancake batter at a later time, it’s important to know how to reactivate the batter before use. Failure to adequately revive the batter will cause pancakes to be soggy and flat. Most active ingredients, such as baking powder, will lose their effectiveness, resulting in tough and rubbery pancakes.
Using the Wrong Equipment
It is important to use the proper equipment for mixing the ingredients. Using small bowls, or incorrect utensils, can lead to the disproportionate mixing of the batter, producing rubbery pancakes.
How to Fix Rubbery Pancakes
While there are many ways to accidentally produce rubbery pancakes, the brightside is that there are just as many ways to fix your batter.
- Use Gluten Free Flour: Although all-purpose flour is ideal, using gluten-free flour makes it easy to avoid gluten formation, even when you may over-mix the ingredients.
- Avoid Preparing Batter Too Far in Advance: Preparing a fresh batch of batter, right before cooking, ensures that the ingredients remain active. It prevents the loss of activation initiated by the baking powder, making pancakes fluffier and softer.
Aida Solomon is a digital marketing specialist who’s passionate about bringing her creative ideas to life. As an avid homecook, Aida loves to explore the way food has the power of bridging the world together. When she’s offline, she loves to travel through new recipes, and run long distances — paying homage to her Ethiopian roots.
Not everyone wants to have eggs, bacon, or cereal for breakfast every single morning. It’s great to have breakfast staples, but mixing it up with something sweet now and then might really appeal to you.
Perhaps you decided to make some delicious pancakes for breakfast this morning. This is a breakfast food that is going to appeal to the whole family, assuming that everything turns out well.
The problem is that some people do encounter issues when making pancakes. For instance, you might have noticed that they turned out very dense for some reason.
Dense pancakes might not be all that appealing because they’re harder to eat. They might be too filling and they’re likely going to be sort of hard to chew as well.
Why are your pancakes dense and what can be done to fix this issue? Keep reading to explore the reasons why this can happen so that you can keep it from happening moving forward.
1 – You Used More Eggs Than Necessary
One of the most common reasons why people will make pancakes and have them turn out too dense involves using too many eggs. Typically, a pancake recipe is going to call for you to use a specific number of eggs.
The recipe will also likely tell you the size of the eggs that you need to use. For example, the recipe might state that you should use two large eggs.
Assuming that you’re buying eggs from a grocery store as most people do, it’s going to be easy to know what egg size you have. You can then find a pancake recipe that makes sense based on the ingredients that you’re working with.
If you wind up using too many eggs in your recipe, then you could have the pancakes turn out very dense. Having more eggs than you need in a recipe such as this will alter the consistency of the pancakes and make them so that they are way thicker than they should be.
Eggs are indeed a necessary component when you’re making pancakes, though. The eggs are going to be the ingredient that helps the pancakes turn out to be fluffy.
When you accidentally use too many eggs, the pancakes are going to have a custard-like consistency. Essentially, it’s not going to turn out how you want it to and you’re going to want to start over again.
It’s very possible that you simply miscounted how many eggs you used. Sometimes people will decide to make a double batch to feed more people and get the math wrong as well.
Everyone makes mistakes, but you can just try to be more careful the next time that you decide to make them. Of course, there are other reasons why your pancakes could have turned out dense that you still need to consider.
2 – Mixing the Pancake Batter Too Much
Another very common reason why pancakes turn out dense involves mixing the batter way too much. Mixing the batter is something that you have to do to get your pancakes ready, but you can go overboard if you aren’t careful.
The best way to explain this is to just say that you need to be mindful of how the batter looks while you’re mixing it. If you mix the batter until it is very smooth, then your pancakes aren’t going to be as fluffy as you would like them to be.
Sometimes mixing too much just causes the pancakes to turn out worse. Your batter should be somewhat bubbly still when you’re getting the pancakes ready to cook.
It might be a good idea to try to use a lower setting on your hand mixer if you’re using an electric mixer. Also, try to stop mixing the batter for so long.
At the very least, it’ll be a good idea to stop and check how things are going. It isn’t hard to get into the groove of mixing pancake batter perfectly, but you might have to stop yourself if you have a tendency to go overboard when mixing things.
Try to be mindful of how much you’re mixing the pancakes to avoid little mishaps. If you make an effort to avoid mixing things too much, then you’ll be far less likely to have issues.
3 – Expired Baking Soda or Baking Powder
Baking soda or baking powder will be used in most standard pancake recipes. In some circumstances, your pancakes will turn out dense due to something being wrong with the baking soda or baking powder.
You should know that these ingredients aren’t going to stay good forever. Baking powder is something that only stays good for a year, but sometimes it’ll expire when it’s nine months old.
Baking soda is supposed to have an indefinite shelf life, but it could have been exposed to moisture and this will cause it to not work properly. You can actually test your baking soda and baking powder to see if they’re still fine to use for baking.
To do this, you’ll just need to drop some of the baking soda or baking powder into a bowl of vinegar to see if it causes a reaction. If it doesn’t, then you’ll know that you need new ingredients before you proceed with making pancakes.
The reason why baking soda and baking powder are so important has to do with the reactions that they can cause. They cause the pancakes to inflate by injecting carbon dioxide into the mix.
Your pancakes will inflate and become fluffy if the recipe works out as intended. If the baking soda or baking powder has expired, then this reaction will not occur and your pancakes will turn out flat and dense.
4 – Use Room-Temperature Ingredients
Many people who make pancakes regularly say that it’s a good idea to work with room-temperature ingredients. If you’re using ingredients that are fresh out of the refrigerator, then you might get results that are less than ideal sometimes.
This means that it could be a good idea to get your ingredients ready well ahead of time when you know you want to make pancakes for breakfast. It’ll give your ingredients a bit of time to become room-temperature before you start trying to mix your batter.
It’s said that this is going to make it easier for air to get in the batter. The air is going to help the pancakes to be light and fluffy so that they can taste just right.
If you use cold ingredients, then you might have a harder time injecting air into the batter. This could be one of the reasons why your pancakes are turning out dense, and it’s easy enough to try using room-temperature ingredients to get better results.
Consider preparing your ingredients and laying them out on the counter before you get to work on making the pancakes. It might take a bit more time to do things this way, but if it can help the pancakes to taste delicious, then it’ll be well worth the effort.
There are a number of different reasons why your pancakes might turn out to be rather dense. Depending on the type of recipe that you are using, one of the reasons above might be to blame for your woes.
Some pancake recipes will call for baking soda or baking powder. Using expired or inactive baking soda or baking powder won’t work properly, and your pancakes will probably wind up being flat and dense.
Even using room-temperature ingredients can help you to get the pancakes right. If you’ve been using very cold ingredients that are fresh out of the fridge, then you might want to try to mix it up.
Avoid mixing your batter too much and you should be able to keep your pancakes from turning out too dense. This will help you to keep the batter in the right state so they turn out fluffy and light.
Knowing about the common reasons why pancakes turn out dense will make a difference. You should be able to troubleshoot and figure out where you went wrong during the process.
If you already made pancakes that are dense, then you won’t be able to save them. You can either choose to eat them as they are or you can throw them out and try to make a fresh batch.
Use the above advice to your advantage so that you can have the best possible pancakes. You’ll enjoy your breakfast time that much more, and it’ll be easier to make them the right way each time that you want some.