Homemade pancakes stacked up high and drizzled with sticky maple syrup makes breakfast time better. To make super light, fluffy, and tall cakes, a combination of flour, buttermilk, yogurt, eggs, and leavening agents are used.
The most important meal of the day
There’s something special about starting the day with a tall stack of homemade pancakes topped with maple syrup. I’ve tested numerous recipes over the years from vegan pancakes to oat pancakes, but I’m now sold on using yogurt to enhance flavor, nutrition, and texture. Each pancake has a soft and slightly spongy texture, excellent for soaking up the sweet syrup.
These hotcakes bring instant satisfaction and are easy to make any day of the week. They also freeze and reheat well for a quick breakfast on those busy mornings and you can switch it up each day since the toppings are endless. Fresh whipped cream, chocolate chips, strawberries, bananas, chopped nuts or my favorite berry compote are all delicious choices.
Perfecting the batter
For this recipe, you’ll notice that the batter is thick and lumpy. This is exactly what you want! This will give a sturdy structure, yet keep the pancakes moist and tender. They will not be exact circles once poured, but you can use a small offset spatula or butter knife to help shape it for a more uniform appearance.
How to make tender pancakes
To avoid tough texture, fold the batter gently and minimally, with just enough mixing to combine the ingredients with lumps remaining. Overmixing to make a smooth batter will set off a lot of gluten formation, resulting in a rigid structure. A small amount of mixing plus letting the batter rest ensures that the gluten proteins relax for a more tender product.
What makes pancakes thick and fluffy?
The key to making fluffy pancakes is balancing how much leavening agents and acidic ingredients like buttermilk that go in the batter. Too much acid will cause the baking soda to react too fast and then deflate before the pancake finishes cooking. That’s why both baking soda and baking powder are used.
Baking soda forms carbon dioxide with the baking soda when mixing to lighten the batter right away. As the pancake cooks, the heat creates a secondary bubbling reaction with the baking powder for an extra lift. This ensures light, tall, and fluffy pancakes. Another important tip- never press down on the pancakes once flipped. This will press the air out, leaving you with dense and flat pancakes. Just let them rise and cook!
How to tell when to flip the pancakes
A good indicator of when to flip the pancake to the other side is when the edges start to set, and you see bubbles break the surface of the uncooked batter. The bottom should be golden brown and crisp, if you’re not sure, take a little peak on the underside to check. Gently turn them over and let them finish cooking.
Using yogurt helps with taste
A small amount of yogurt in the pancake batter adds a slight tartness without greatly increasing the acid level. Too much acid causes bubbles to form quickly and flatten once cooked. Yogurt also has fat, protein, and probiotics, to keep the cake tender and moist, with added nutrition. I recommend whole milk plain Greek yogurt like Fage 5%. The fat keeps the pancake delicate, and with the added protein you want more fat to prevent them from becoming dense.
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Why it’s important to let the pancake batter rest before cooking
Giving the batter 10 minutes to rest after mixing creates more tender and taller pancakes with better structure. The time allows the gluten formed to relax which affects the texture. It also allows the flour to fully hydrate so the batter thickens and holds its shape once poured, as it rises, and sets.
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- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups buttermilk
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt, whole milk, 5% milkfat
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- vegetable oil, as needed for cooking
- Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.
- Whisk together buttermilk, yogurt, eggs, and cooled melted butter in a medium bowl.
- Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients leaving a few streaks of flour, the pancake batter should look lumpy.
- Allow the batter to rest for 10 minutes before cooking.
- Heat a large 12-inch nonstick pan over medium heat.
- Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil to the pan. Use a paper towel to spread a thin layer of oil on the bottom of the pan.
- Measure out a ¼ cup (60ml) of pancake batter into the pan, 2 to 3 at a time.
- Cook until golden brown, the edges set, and bubbles begin to break on the surface of the pancake, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Carefully flip the pancake, and cook until the other side is golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Do not press down on the pancake after flipping or it will not be fluffy.
- Repeat with the remaining batter, and oil the pan as needed.
- Full-fat sour cream can be used instead of yogurt.
- The yogurt can be omitted from the recipe. The pancake will be slightly fluffier, but a little more bland in flavor.
- The batter is lumpy so the pancakes may not be perfectly round. Use a spoon or small offset spatula to lightly spread the pancake into a more circular shape right after the batter is poured into the pan if desired.
- Keeping Pancakes Warm: To keep the pancakes warm in between batches, heat oven to 200ºF (93ºC). Place cooked pancakes on a wire rack sitting in a sheet pan. Keep them warm in the oven for no more than 20 minutes so they do not dry out.
- Reheating Frozen Pancakes: Microwave pancakes in a single layer for 45 to 60 seconds, until hot. If you want crispy pancakes, toast the microwaved pancakes in a toaster/toaster oven.
- Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated, The Science of Good Cooking.
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